Christiansen calm in the cold
Christiansen stayed calm in the victory-sealing last standing stage. “It was amazing; it was such a tight fight all the way between me and Sebbe and Emilien. I was so pissed off after missing the last shot in the first standing. Ziggy (Siegfried Mazet) told me after the second sprint here in Oestersund that I should never miss one more last shot. On the last shooting, it was only focus 100% on myself. The other two guys were a bit faster than me but I tried to take it in my tempo especially before the first shot to get some calmness in the very cold body because it was cold out there for sure!"
Man in Yellow
The victory put Christiansen in the Yellow Bib, something right out of his dreams. “Oh my god, I can’t really believe it. It is a dream come true and a lot of my dreams are pretty unrealistic. I dream a lot of crazy stuff in the night. The Yellow Bib was one unrealistic thing until today, so it is an amazing feeling and I will be very lucky to wear it in the sprint at Hochfilzen. Our plan is to be focused on the Olympics so I am not sure we are going to race all the World Cups but if I am in the battle for the Yellow Bib, I do not think I can skip a World Cup, for sure!”
Czech Republic’s Michal Krcmar, with one penalty, finished in a season-best fourth place, 51.5 seconds back. Finland’s Tero Seppala had a career-best finish in fifth, also with a single penalty, 52.1 seconds back. Austria’s clean-shooting Simon Eder finished in a season-best sixth place, 52.2 seconds back.
The first men’s pursuit of the season closed the two weekends in Oestersund, a final competition under the lights on a dark, cold late afternoon. Samuelsson led the field of sixty men out of the stadium, supported by the cheering Swedish fans. He hit his first four prone shots before missing the last one. Jacquelin shooting very conservatively cleaned to take a 4-second lead with also clean-shooting Latypov third 7.2 seconds back and Christiansen also clean 10 seconds back.
The Yellow Bib came back to Jacquelin’s shoulder over the second 2.5 km loop, letting his French rival set the pace. The two went shot-for-shot until Jacquelin cleaned and Samuelsson added another penalty. Latypov and Christiansen were perfect, moving into second and third, just over 13 seconds back. Samuelsson trailed by 25 seconds after leaving the penalty loop.
Jacquelin stretched his lead to over 25 seconds, powerfully skiing the next 2.5 km into the first standing stage, while Samuelsson moved back even with his Russian and Norwegian foes. Jacquelin shot fast bust missed twice, while Christiansen and Samuelsson both had single penalties. By the time the trio exited the penalty loop, the French star had a tenuous two second lead over the Norwegian and Swede.
Tactics prevailed on the tracks with Jacquelin holding the other two men just behind him. At one point, he lost a ski pole but quickly retrieved it, falling to the back of the trio. The Yellow Bib led set up on point one for the deciding standing stage with Christiansen on two and Jacquelin on three. Christiansen cleaned while Jacquelin and Samuelsson went for a single penalty loop, heading out for the last loop, 15.9 and 18.6 seconds back.
Christiansen was unchallenged in the last loop, skiing to victory. Jacquelin held a slight gap on Samuelsson for a while, then they reversed positions. The Yellow Bib had a .4 second lead with 400 meters to go; then sprinted down the finish stretch to take second with Jacquelin third.
“Fun to beat the super-fast French guy”
The second place finisher knew what he wanted to do in the last loop, calling the pursuit, “a very exciting biathlon race; it was fun. When you are out there, it is always tough for your head, but you push, push, push…After the first standing shooting, it was me, Emilien and Vetle. We were a little bit alone; we did not push that lap so hard…In the last standing shooting, you always need to shoot clean and I did not do it, but I was happy to have a fight with Emilien on the last loop. I knew I wanted to be first into the stadium; it was fun to beat the super-fast French guy!”
Jacquelin, after two individual and a relay podium in Sweden, reemphasized how pleased he was today and the other competitions in Oestersund. “I am really proud because it is my best start of the season since I am in the World Cup. I am really satisfied about how I ski. Like Sebastian, maybe I am not so satisfied with my shooting. It is not a technical thing, just to stay focused and be confident in myself…I prefer this situation. I am able to make a pretty great race without being at 100% in shooting or skiing. It was a good race without being a good race.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni