December Sprint Hat Trick for Fourcade
Martin Fourcade of France added to the legend today, getting a December sprint hat trick with his 23:48 win, with a single penalty. Fourcade is the first man ever to win all three sprints before the holiday break. Second went to clean-shooting Russia’s Anton Shipulin, 2.6 seconds back, while third went to Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen, 6.5 seconds back with one penalty.
Just missing the podium was Svendsen’s teammate, Johannes Thingnes Boe, also with single penalty, 10.5 seconds back. Vladimir Iliev of Bulgaria, 15.8 seconds back while Andrejs Rastorgujevs of Latvia finished sixth, 16.3 seconds back. Both Iliev and Rastorgujevs had a single penalty.
Shipulin Leads; Fourcade, Svendsen and Boe Chase
This evening simply was a nice night for biathlon; minus 1C temperature, light winds and big enthusiastic crowd kept everyone’s adrenalin flowing.
The light breeze in the stadium meant that the shooting was good from the start, with more than 40 men cleaning prone. However, Boe, one of the favorites, missed a prone shot, while Fourcade and Svendsen both cleaned. Shipulin was behind this group, but looked confident as he quickly cleaned prone and repeated in standing to take the early lead. In standing, Boe cleaned while Svendsen and Fourcade both went to the penalty loop. Leaving for the last loop, the goal for all three men was simple: catch Shipulin. The gaps were 11.8seconds for Boe, 12.8 seconds for Fourcade and 15.5 seconds for Svendsen; all had a chance with the snow getting faster as the temperature dropped a bit. Boe did not have the speed and just pulled back a second, but Svendsen skied aggressively up the big climbs to climb to 5.5 seconds back at 7.8K. After that, he maintained his pace, but failed to gain any more time.
In five sprints, I did not miss any targets, so I think this is the reason why I missed today. All the journalists told me that when I hit the first 2 standing I thought 7 for 7; here comes another 10 for 10: then I missed the 8th. It was an advantage knowing the time of my opponents…I know how good these guys are on the last lap".
Fourcade Attacks…and Wins
Fourcade was the last of the three to challenge. He was up to the task, attacking from the moment he left the stadium, gaining 10.5 seconds on the hills, and then closing to .6 seconds by the 9.2K mark. Getting information from his coaches about that gap, there was little question about how he would ski that last 800 meters: very fast! He did just that and crossed the finish line, with an aggressive fist pump, knowing that he had topped Shipulin by 1.6 seconds.
Shipulin commented on just missing the win. “I am very happy about my execution in the range tonight, but surely I am a little disappointed I couldn't do more outside of it".
"Today is my son's birthday, so I hoped I could give him a Gold medal as a surprise, but Martin was a little faster today, but I hope next time (in the pursuit) I'll have a chance to give him a Gold medal".
Five of Six for December
Fourcade's victory gave the Yellow Bib win number five out of six individual competitions this season and extended his lead in the World Cup Total Score. It also put him in the record books with the December sprint hat trick, a feat no biathlete in history has ever accomplished before today.
Tracks Suit Svendsen
Svendsen who had a very successful IBU WCH at Nové Město in 2013 knows this is a good venue for him. "I really enjoy this place, the track suits me with the steep uphills, difficult turns and very hard track overall. So I am very happy with my 3rd place… a third place with one mistake is really good".