Roeiseland’s sprint win with Elvira in second and Wierer in third sets up what should be a cracking pursuit. The Norwegian’s 10-for-10 shooting and masterfully fastest track performance alone make her the favorite. Additionally, she has won four of five pursuits this season, except Annecy Le Grand Bornand where she had three penalties, finishing fourth, 13.4 seconds behind, ironically Elvira.
Elvira and Wierer become the “wild cards.” The young Swede shot slowly and skied 28 seconds slower than the winner in the sprint. A few seconds less in each shooting stage and a slight uptick on the tracks puts her alongside Roeiseland. Wierer in the same carefree rapid-fire mode as in the sprint will pounce if her rivals two pick up a penalty or two. One of Wierer’s two career pursuit wins was at the 2020 IBU WCH where the Italian’s single penalty topped Roeiseland’s three. Plenty of intrigue with these ladies leading the pack.
Lisa Theresa Hauser said she “shot 10-for-10 and did everything she could on the tracks” in the sprint. A 20-for-20 with the same skiing puts her in striking distance. Fifth place Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold also needs a strong shooting performance to move up. ROC's Kristina Reztsova has the ski speed, but also needs to shoot clean.
The men’s pursuit will likely become a JT Boe vs. Quentin Fillon Maillet duel.
It is possible that a confident JT will go wire-to-wire in the pursuit, a feat he accomplished many times. However, Fillon Maillet is “king of the four-stage competitions” with four pursuit wins this season. They were 1-2 on the tracks in the sprint but the duo shot rather slowly. Look for JT to go out aggressively to protect his margin and Fillon Maillet to be safely offensive, trying to hunt him down.
Tarjei Boe has his medal so that pressure is off; his track speed is below the top two, but good shooting could put him in the mix. When JT told by ORF television that Tarjei would like to switch places with his brother in the pursuit, he replied, “That would be okay with me!”
Looking past the top three, Sebastian Samuelsson was the 2018 Pyeongchang Pursuit Silver medalist. He said that the sprint was one of his best and he now feels good on the tracks. Sturla Holm Laegreid likewise was pleased with his sprint, generally shoots faster and more accurately than the sprint medalists. Two-time IBU Pursuit World Champion Emilien Jacquelin loves the pursuit, admitted he is not in his best shape but raced the sprint as he likes, attacking with third fastest range time. Any of these three could move up if those in front falter.
The weather could be a bigger factor in both pursuits, with snow, colder temperatures and wind in the forecast. Still, there will be plenty of tactics as always, but when the dust settles, both pursuits will likely be decided with the usual “he/she who shoots well in the last standing stage” will win.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni