The Blinkfestivalen weekend opened with the Lysebotn Opp, a beyond challenging 7.5 km of switchbacks with an average gradient of 10%. Rain stopped before the start but left the pavement wet on a 15C afternoon. Baiba Bendika topped the female biathletes in ninth place, just under three minutes behind the winner. Caroline Colombo and World Champion Marketa Davidova in 14th and 16th followed. A few hours later, World Total Score winner Quentin Fillon Maillet was the top biathlete in 14th, just nine seconds ahead of teammate Emilien Jacquelin in 16th place.
The Friday competitions kicked off with the always popular shooting duels. When the smoke cleared there was both a surprising and an equally unsurprising winner atop the women and men’s podiums. After two preliminary rounds, China’s Yen Wing topped Julia Simon for the women’s crown. Quentin Fillon Maillet after shooting 89% last season took the men’s title ahead of teammate Antonin Guigonnat, with Endre Stroemsheim in third.
The big evening show followed, starting with the super sprint qualifying, where the two shooting duel champions struggling. Chloe Chevalier shot clean to take the women’s qualifying in 8:53.2, just .6 seconds ahead of Linn Persson with a single miss in standing. Karoline Offigstad Knotten rounded out the top three with two penalties, just .1 behind Persson. Wen finished a non-qualifying 38th.
In the final, Marketa Davidova started poorly with three penalties in the first prone stage, rebounded with a single miss in the second stage before cleaning the two standing stages to take the victory in 15:26.4. Knotten continued her good form in second place with three penalties, 4.7 seconds back. Third went to last year’s winner Julia Simon with five penalties, 8.8 seconds back. Women’s World Cup Total Score winner Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, also with five penalties, finished 13th, 48 seconds back.
The men’s qualifying also saw Fillon Maillet struggle with five penalties, as Martin Uldal took the top spot with two penalties, 8. seconds ahead of defending champion Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, who shot clean and Kjerand Tronerud Kvelvane in third with one penalty.
The men’s final was déjà vu as Christiansen won in 13:19.2 with a single penalty in the last standing stage. Yet it was no walk in the park for Christiansen as Martin Femsteinevik after a penalty in the second stage, chased Christiansen to the line, finishing just 2.2 seconds back. Sturla Holm Laegreid, despite three penalties finished third, 6 seconds back. Men’s World Cup Total Score winner Fillon Maillet, with four penalties finished 10th, 53.1 seconds back.
The Blink competitions continue tomorrow with two mass start preliminary rounds and the final scheduled for 20:25 CET.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni