Clean-shooting Martin Fourcade dominates Oberhof sprint
Martin Fourcade of France shot clean for the first time this season to claim a convincing 25:27.2 win in the Oberhof men’s sprint. The victory was just the second for the French star this season; he also won the season-opening 20 km individual in Östersund. Fourcade’s teammate Emilien Jacquelin, with one penalty, finished second 25.5 seconds back, giving France the top two spots on the podium. Germany’s Johannes Kuehn, also with one penalty finished third, 33 seconds back.
Good Race Management
A smiling Fourcade admitted that he took advantage of Johannes Thingnes Boe’s absence with good race management. “I am really satisfied in spite of the poor conditions here in Oberhof. My race management was really good. I think I took advantage of the absence of Johannes Boe because when he is here, you know that you need to start full speed if you want to stay in the race. Today without him, I knew that I could take it a bit slower in the first loop and then give it all for the end of my competition. I must say I am really satisfied about this victory. It is a good way to start 2020!”
Russian Teammates Matvey Eliseev and Alexander Loginov finished fourth and fifth 41.1 and 47.8 seconds back. Eliseev shot clean while Loginov had a single penalty. Simon Desthieux of France, also with one penalty finished sixth, 49.8 seconds back.
Rain Forces Course Modification
The weather cleared up a bit for the men this afternoon, with just light fog but again a warm +5C temperature and a light wind. Last night’s heavy rain plus the warm weather and wind softened the tracks to the point that the course had to be changed. Instead of the typical 3.3 km loops, the organizers went to the 2.5 km loop, meaning 2.5 km-prone-2.5 km X 2-standing-2.5 km-finish.
Tarjei Tops in Prone
Number 11 Loginov took the early prone lead, quickly downing the five targets, looking like a man who wanted to defend his title from last January. Fourcade shot deliberately matching as did Johannes Kuehn, both jumping ahead of the Russian. With Johannes at home in Oslo, brother Tarjei took over, shooting clean but faster than his rivals to take a 1 second lead. Number 40 Jacquelin made his bid for glory, cleaning prone and snatching the lead from the Norwegian star.
"it's the first time it happened in my life. I completely forgot and only remember after the downhill. It's probably the worst place to do it as then you need to climb back to the penalty loop. I've never been that popular in the mixed zone😅" @tarjei_boe in #OBE20 https://t.co/9wPWy77e3i pic.twitter.com/pRi1glZ8uR— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 10, 2020
Fourcade Takes Control
Although there was a lot of clean prone shooting, standing proved to be a challenge after skiing a 5 km loop. Loginov once again, despite a single penalty found himself atop the leaderboard briefly. Then Fourcade showed his old form, carefully closing the five targets to pull 32 seconds ahead of the field. Kuehn tried to catch his French rival, missed a shot but moved into second position. Tarjei lost his podium chance after he left the stadium without doing his penalty loop and had to return. Jacquelin lost his chance for the win with a missed standing shot that put him ahead of Kuehn but still 17 seconds behind Fourcade.
Master of the Tracks
Fourcade continued to be the master of the tracks, pushing hard and pulling farther ahead of the field, until he crossed with an initial 33 second gap between him and the field. Jacquelin looked tired on the last loop, but by 9.5 km, he was 10 seconds up on Kuehn finishing third to seal a 1-2 French finish. With the tracks slowing, no one else challenged and the podium set.
Jacquelin said that having some fast men around him helped during the competition. “I was lucky to find Tarjei, Martin and Vetle Christiansen in my third loop. So I knew I was in good shape today and was just focused on my skis and how to be fast, because sometimes it is hard to finish races; the last lap is really tough. Today was not like this.”
Tough Middle Loop
Kuehn was pretty mellow as he commented on his day. “I am generally satisfied with my race. One miss on the range is always good, especially in conditions like this. Skiing was fine; nothing special. It was hard skiing today; the second loop of the middle loop was pretty tough.”