Jacquelin and Kaisheva Win Sjusjøen Sprints
The first competition day of the new season, with the sprints on the schedule, resulted in many problems for the athletes, making the day very challenging. Despite the harsh weather conditions, France’s Emilien Jacquelin managed to hit nine targets, claiming the first IBU Cup win of his career, in 25:26.1, while Russia’s Uliana Kaisheva was the day's only clean shooter, finishing first in the women’s sprint in 21:49.8.
None of the 130 men, who started in the morning shot clean; heavy fog and wind gusts on the shooting range made the penalty loop quite busy from the first competition.
Behind Jacquelin, second place went to Johannes Kuehn of Germany, who missed the last season due to injury, marking his comeback with a podium, with three penalties, 5.7 seconds back. Russia’s Alexey Slepov went for a penalty loop after each shooting stage, finishing third, 8.1 seconds back.
France’s Antonin Guigonnat missed twice at the standing and finished fourth, 16.3 seconds behind. Fifth place went to the Norwegian Fredrik Roervik with one penalty, 22.6 seconds back, while his teammate Aslak Nenseter also missed once to finish sixth, 33.9 seconds behind.
After the win, Jacquelin commented, “Actually, I like the fog, but today before the competition I was a little bit afraid; still, I managed to miss just once and I am very proud of it. Last year I was second in pursuit, and this year I wanted to get a win. Now it’s done, so we will see how the rest of the season goes.”
Kuehn was also happy about his podium place but admitted that last year was pretty tough. “This IBU Cup is special for me because it’s my first international race in 15 months. It was hard to watch all the competitions on TV last season because I was injured. But I started to train again and always believed that I could come back. It is a perfect start of the season.”
In the afternoon, women faced the same tough conditions, with heavy fog at the shooting range and soft snow with parts of the tracks icy. Behind Kaisheva, the only athlete of the day to hit 10 out of 10, second place went to the Norwegian Thekla Brun-Lie with one penalty, 41.9 seconds behind. Another Russian Olga Iakushova matched Brun-Lie at the shooting range, but was slower on the track, finishing third, 1:18.8 back.
Fourth went to Kristina Reztsova with two penalties, 1:21.1 back, her teammate Irina Uslugina despite 4 penalties finished fifth, 1:22.9 behind, while Aita Gasparin of Switzerland finished sixth with two penalties, 1:28 back.
Kaisheva admitted that conditions today were tough and was surprised by her clean shooting. “Honestly, when I came to the standing, I had to shoot randomly because could not see the targets. And I did not expect to win the first competition because last season I finished with a very low speed and bad shooting, but this year I had really good summer preparation, so hopefully everything will be okay.”