Perfect Babikov Wins Antholz Individual

Russia’s Anton Babikov did what none of his rivals could do this afternoon in the Antholz men’s 20 km individual, he shot clean, keying his second career victory in 49:46.8. Norway’s Tarjei Boe with two penalties in the last standing stage finished second, 9.7 seconds back. Babikov’s 23-year-old teammate Said Karimulla Khalili, with one penalty finished third, 48.5 seconds back, Khalili’s third place was his first-ever senior podium after winning multiple medals at the IBU YJWCH in recent years.

Header iconBMW IBU World Cup Antholz Men's 20 km Individual 2022

Mixed Emotions on victory

Babikov had mixed emotions about his first win since a pursuit victory at Oestersund in December 2016, constantly thinking about the fact that he is only a reserve on the ROC team for Beijing. “I am empty. I did not feel excited. Before the race all my mind was about the Olympic Games and our team. I think we deserve to be six athletes on the Olympic Games but it is only five, for me without a place. In the race, I thought about only this. Now, I do not think this Gold medal is a win. Maybe a bit later, I will be happier.”

Shooting secret: “slow and clear”

However, he had a secret that helped him shoot clean today when no one else could do the same. “It is a bit of a secret. Before the race, my wife sent me a video of my young daughter in ballet class. She did some exercises really slow but clear. On the shooting range today, I thought of the same. I needed to be slower, but all my concentration about clear and I did the same.”

He later added to his shooting comments. “When I saw the wind during zeroing, I knew it was my chance to be on the top. It is better when there are windy conditions. I thought it was on my side and helped me to be the winner today.”

Johannes Thingnes Boe, back after a week at home in Norway had three penalties in fourth place, 50.5 seconds back. Sturla Holm Laegreid, with three penalties, made it three Norwegians in the top six finishing fifth, 1:32.9 back. Simon Desthieux of France, with three penalties finished sixth, 2:08.2 back.

Suntholz: Norwegian prone success

Back to Suntholz but only partly sunny skies today with the thermometer at +4C at a stiff breeze cutting across the shooting range, making for tough shooting conditions, especially when adding in the effect of 1600-meters in altitude. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Laegreid, starting just a minute apart got the day going with clean first prone stages separated by just 6 seconds atop the early leaderboard. However, Benedikt Doll after an excellent weekend in Ruhpolding broke up the teammates with his own clean stage, just .6 seconds slower than Christiansen. Tarjei then one-upped them all, moving into the top spot. Starting at number 44, Johannes continued the Norwegian prone success, cleaning and going ahead of his brother, by a dozen seconds.

Tarjei Leads

Christiansen missed three times in the first standing, eliminating him from contention while Red Bib Laegreid also had a one-minute penalty. Although skiing slower than the Norwegians, Khalili after cleaning prone did the same in standing to take the lead briefly until Tarjei went to 10-for-10, moving in front by 38 seconds. Emilien Jacquelin after a moderate first loop and a clean prone picked up the pace, cleaning the first standing to jump into the second spot, ahead of the also clean Babikov. Quentin Fillon Maillet after a prone miss, came back with a fast loop and a clean standing stage, moving into fifth position.


and Anton

The second prone stage saw the Red Bib shoot clean to move into the lead. Tarjei went to 15-for-15 to go over a minute in front of Laegreid. Alexander Loginov then cleaned to move into third position, 35 seconds behind Laegreid. Babikov kept himself in contention with his third perfect stage and was just 30 seconds behind the veteran Norwegian. Jacquelin stayed clean, moving into third, one minute back. The Yellow Bib lost his podium shot with three missed targets.

Babikov’s last standing stage secures win

Laegreid’s two penalties in the last standing stage allowed him to stay in the lead, but his chances of the podium suddenly became very slim. Khalili cleaned the last standing to take the top spot momentarily. Tarjei’s prefect day ended with two minutes of penalties, yet he still left with a 10 second bulge on Khalili. Babikov shot slowly and carefully for four shots; then hesitated a long time before closing the last target to take a 46-second lead over Tarjei going into the last loop. Jacquelin had two penalties, dropping out of the top three. Johannes after adding penalties in the second and third stages had a perfect last standing, propelling him into fourth position, 1:07 back.

Babikov battled on the last loop, but with 1300 meters to go, his lead was down to 14 seconds over the then leader Tarjei. Although he slowed a bit more, Babikov had enough to take the win, the second of his career.

Globe collection complete; “even if you miss, you can still win”

Tarjei’s second place was a mixed blessing. Although he did not win the competition, he did win the seasonal World Cup Individual Score, giving the 33-year-old a complete collection of Crystal Globes: Total Score, Sprint, Pursuit, Mass Start and now Individual. “When you miss in the last shooting, you feel like a failure…It is easier to miss earlier and be clean at the end, even if the results are the same…I am not as good a shooter as Babikov so I need some luck. I need to ski fast and I did. I did the best I could. I was really disappointed when I missed but when I realized that I go the Globe, I am happy again…We talked about this yesterday. I found out it was the Globe I missed in my house and then I got the motivation to do it. I know I can ski and shoot but to do it over 20 shots is difficult. Today I did not manage to do it but I managed to get the Globe. You always have to stay positive. Like in the race today, even if you miss, you can still win.”

Khalili’s “good step before the Olympics”

Khalili’s first BMW IBU World Cup podium was keyed by his 19-of-20 shooting. “It was unbelievable for me. Sometimes it was good weather on the shooting range. I only had a big problem on my third shooting because there was a very strong wind; I thought, Oh, no.” I shot good in the strong wind but when it stopped, I did a mistake so that was not so good for me today…It is good step before the Olympics. It will be important that I can assure myself that I can fight for good places.”

Photos: IBU/Thibaut

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