First World Cup Victory for Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen in Soldier Hollow Sprint
Norway’s Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, shooting clean, claimed his first-ever World Cup victory today taking the Soldier Hollow sprint in 23:39.7. France’s Simon Desthieux with one penalty had his first podium of the season in second place, 1.3 seconds back. Germany’s Roman Rees, with an outstanding last loop earned his career-first podium in third place, with one penalty, 22.4 seconds back.
20 Years in the Making
Christiansen was elated with his first win. “It is unbelievable for me; there are a lot of emotions. I have been doing biathlon since I was six years, so you could say I have been waiting for this for 20 years. There have been a lot of down times over the years, but here in first place, I forgot all of them.”
Continuing, he added, “When I shot clean in standing and saw Johannes on the penalty loop, I thought maybe, today is the day.”
Germany’s Erik Lesser shot clean but finished fourth, 23 seconds back. Sixth went to France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet,, with one penalty 42.9 seconds back.
Sprint Globe to Johannes
Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe, with four penalties, finished fifth, 41.5 seconds back, but this fifth place gave him enough 394 points to Alexander Loginov’s 264 points, securing the World Cup Sprint title for the Norwegian, his first outright win in any discipline. Last season Johannes shared the World Cup Individual title with Martin Fourcade, with both men receiving identical small Crystal Globes.
Cloudy and Windy
The cloudy skies yesterday brought heavy overnight rains to Soldier Hollow, but today the sky brightened with fluffy clouds and some sun, bringing temperature up to +6C. The change in weather added two variables: wind shifting from left to right as well as from behind at times and the tracks softening as the weather warmed up.
Johannes Tops in Prone
With the wind whipping in several directions, exercising caution in prone was crucial, with many athletes taking clicks shooting slowly to drop all of the targets. Nevertheless, Johannes, shooting clean had a 16 second gap on the rest of the field. However, numbers 33 Christiansen and 34 matched but were more than 30 seconds behind the Yellow Bib. Desthieux put himself in an immediate hole with a penalty loop. Once these 34 men had shot prone, everything would matter on the standing shooting, maybe…
Standing shooting was in many ways a “lottery” today; at times the wind settled a bit and all of the targets fell. Desthieux shot very fast and clean trying to make up for the prone penalty, putting him at the top of the leaderboard. Number 31 Johannes shot on lane 30, next to the wall, hoping to gain some protection from the wind. The wind was howling as he shot and missed one, two, three, four times before closing the last target. This seemingly put him well out of any of the top spots. Just after Christiansen cleaned and took a 13.1 second lead into the last loop. Lesser then matched, leaving 5.3 seconds later. Johannes despite four penalty loops was only 47 seconds back. Late starter Rees cleaned prone and missed a standing shot, heading into the last loop 24.2 seconds behind Lesser.
Fast Last Loops
The last 3.3K loop settled the podium. Desthieux flew around the wide open tracks to again sit in first position. Christiansen held his pace well enough to slip ahead of his French rival. Rees, like Desthieux had a stunning last loop, inching up on Lesser with each meter, eventually grabbing third place. As for the Yellow Bib, he miraculously jumped from 10th after the four standing penalties to finish fifth!
Matched Career Best
Desthieux, with two fourth places and a fifth place this season, was quite happy to finally match his career best. “There is a lot of happiness; it is good to be back here.” As for his strategy which resulted in the fastest last loop, he added, “The tracks are hard to ski with the altitude; the conditions were not that good. I started with not full gas to save for the last loop.”
Roman Rees “Awesome”
Rees was almost in shock with his first podium. “This is an awesome day for me since I did not expect it. I felt really strong and had an easy feeling on the uphills…I knew I was in fourth after standing, but not how far back. On the last uphill, the coaches said the gap was 3 seconds and I should push hard…Sometimes things just work out!”