Martin Fourcade Back on Top with Antholz Mass Start Win
Martin Fourcade, after finishing second in three consecutive competitions moved back to the top of the podium by winning the Antholz men’s mass start, with two penalties in 40:18.6. After falling back with a prone penalty, the man in Yellow took control with a clean first standing stage and was unchallenged. Second place went to Tarjei Boe, also with two penalties, 2.8 seconds back. His teammate, Erlend Bjoentegaard, with two penalties, had his first-ever World Cup podium in third place, 5.1 seconds back.
Germany claimed fourth and fifth place with Benedikt Doll and Johannes Kuehn, with two penalties each, 16 and 18.3 seconds back, respectively. Johannes Thingnes Boe gave Norway three men in the top six, with his five-penalty sixth place, 29.2 seconds back.
Snow Stops; Fourcade and Shipulin
The men caught a break; it stopped snowing by the time they started. Fourcade set the tone by immediately taking the lead with Johannes on his shoulder as the 30 men left the stadium. The Yellow bib cleaned while Johannes picked up two penalties. However Fourcade was in second position, following teammate Simon Desthieux by one second with Shipulin in third. Eleven men escaped penalty-free. By the time they reached the shooting range, Fourcade and Shipulin were 1-2. They shot simultaneously and both went to the penalty loop! That opened the door for Arnd Peiffer and Emil Hegle Svendsen, both of whom cleaned and moved into the top spots with Fourcade and Shipulin now chasing, 18 seconds back. Jakov Fak in fifth place was the only other man without a penalty.
Clean First Standing and the Lead
Fourcade pulled back almost 10 seconds by the first standing stage. The two leaders, Svendsen and Peiffer had two and three penalties, respectively, dropping them from contention. The man on lane three cleaned and now had a 23 second gap on Tarjei who like Fourcade, had only one penalty at this point. His position was far from safe, with 5 other men including Windisch, Shipulin and Fak within five seconds of the older Boe brother.
Missed Shot, Grimace, and the Win
The French star skied aggressively and held his lead through the next 3K loop, with Tarjei and Bjoentegaard working together in the second and third spots, as Shipulin drifted 15 seconds farther back. No one else was on the range as the leader settled on lane on for the final standing stage. He missed the final shot and grimaced, but none of the closest chasers cleaned. The lead was now 30 seconds over Tarjei and Bjoentegaard, both with single trips around the penalty loop. They would battle for the other two podium spots. Tarjei out sprinted his younger teammate for second place.
It's victory for @martinfkde in the men's mass start in #ANT18 who continues his phenomenal run of Podiums - @tarjei_boe and Erlend Bjoentegaard complete the podium and a strong team effort for @NSSF_Biathlon— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 21, 2018
Join us for the flower ceremony on: https://t.co/Z1cUg23KzH pic.twitter.com/girVfOJonh
Fourcade eased up coming into the stadium, waving to the crowd as he crossed the finish line. “It is nice to find this first position here again; it is only my second win here. The last was in the 2011 mass start. I am really happy to be back on top of the podium in Antholz.”
My race was really good. I was a bit nervous on the last bullets in prone and standing, but I was quite in control. I felt good on my skis today; that was the key to my success…That was good for my confidence before the Olympics…
Tarjei was all about shooting. “My focus today was just to think about myself and the standing shooting. My shooting was bad in the sprint and pursuit and I was really angry. So today I needed some revenge and it was better! I also felt a little lucky. When you miss in the last shooting you do not always get the podium, but then everyone else missed and I was fighting with my teammate for second place.”
Fun Last Loop
Bjoentegaard had some fun on the last 3K loop. “The last loop was actually quite fun. I’ve had a lot of hard sessions with this guy in recent years. We were talking in the fourth loop and tried to trade off who was in front and it worked out quite well. I know he is stronger in the head at the end but I gave it a good shot and fought.”