First World Cup Win for Henrik L’Abee Lund in Oslo Sprint
Henrik L’Abee Lund of Norway outskied and outshot all of the big names to claim his first-ever World Cup win, easily closing all ten targets in 26:10.3. His teammate Johannes Thingnes Boe, with one penalty finished second, 6.1 seconds back. Third place went to Martin Fourcade of France, shooting clean, 6.9 seconds back.
Third Career Podium: 22nd in World Cup Total Score
L’Abee Lund’s victory is only the third individual podium of his career and is first since a third place at Antholz in January 2014. He currently is ranked 22nd in the World Cup Total Score. His previous best this season was a clean-shooting fifth place in the Hochfilzen sprint in December. The winner commented on his big day. “It is difficult to describe. Of course, it is a dream come true. I do not believe what happened. It is just amazing!
Austria’s Julian Eberhard finished fourth, with one penalty, 7.1 seconds back, while Italy’s Lukas Hofer had a season-best fifth place, with one penalty, 15.5 seconds back. Olympic Sprint Champion Arnd Peiffer of Germany finished sixth, also with one penalty, 16.8 seconds back.
Sun, Snow; Good Prone Shooting
The sun broke through by the time the men’s sprint started this afternoon, but then some light snow started to blow in. At the same time, the pesky wind seemed to slow as the light snow came in on the shooting range at the Holmenkollen Ski Arena. Good prone shooting marked the early part of the competition. Of the big names, Shipulin led briefly before his old teammate Lapshin closed all five targets very fast to move to the top of the prone standings, 9 seconds ahead of Shipulin. Fourcade, after breaking a ski pole on the first loop, shot calmly and left 5 seconds behind the Korean. Late starter Johannes watched his rivals and knew what was necessary to get to the podium; thus a clean prone put him at the top of the prone standings, 12.1 seconds ahead of Fourcade.
Fourcade in Control
It became obvious early that clean shooting would be more commonplace and possibly be crucial to the podium, when five of the first ten men in standing cleaned. Garanichev led that parade as the early leader after standing. Shipulin gave a rapid-fire demonstration and gave Russia an initial 1-2. Fourcade responded with not as fast shooting but still quick enough and left the Russians 5 seconds back. Fillon Maillet made his push with a 5-for-5 to slip into third position, dropping Shipulin down. Hofer after a prone penalty, cleaned standing, putting him in contention. While the focus was on Fourcade, Eberhard was putting together another strong day, closing 9-of-10 targets, 16 seconds behind the French star after standing.
L’Abee Lund’s Surprise
Just a short time later, L’Abee Lund surprised the field with an amazing performance. He shot clean and left the stadium with a .5 second lead on Fourcade. He put in a very strong last loop, continuing to pull back time. Johannes missed a single standing shot, but got ahead of his teammate, by a small margin with a lap to go. With 500 meters to go the lead was just .8 seconds. Johannes tried to match but slipped 2 seconds back.
It's a surprise victory at @hkskifestival - Henrik L'Abee-Lund gets his first ever World Cup win at home ahead of @7ohannesbo and @martinfkde— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) March 15, 2018
You can rewatch the entire #HOL18 men's sprint on https://t.co/Z1cUg23KzH pic.twitter.com/TwmxsKTh5v
Johannes Challenges: L'Abee Lund Holds On
Hofer pushed past the Russians with a very fast loop, making a podium push to take the early lead at the finish. That did not last long as The Yellow Bib put in another strong loop to cross the finish line 8.1 seconds ahead of the Italian. While the top two waited, Eberhard was tearing up the last loop; closing fast down the last 100 meters, but even with a hard sprint missed the top spot by .2 seconds, but ahead of Hofer. L’Abee Lund burned up the last 500 meters and moved past everyone to cross 6.9 seconds ahead of Fourcade. Johannes continued to slow but held his form well enough to finish between L’Abee Lund and Fourcade. It was a 1-2 finish for Norway.
Last Loop Fight
L’Abee Lund described his day. “I felt good in the beginning. I heard Martin was behind me after his prone shooting; I just wanted to stay ahead of him. He did not catch me so I knew my speed was okay. The (standing) shooting was in control and the last loop was just a fight. I heard at one split that we had the same time; it was a hard fight but in the end, it was okay…it was just amazing!”
Johannes admitted that today was a different experience. “It was a different race today when I started in a different group. It was not so easy to watch when every other athlete had a zero. But I just had to try my best and in the final loop, I was leading, then I was number three and in the end I was number two…Of course you want to be better, but I am very happy for Henrik. It is fun when other athletes other than me and Martin win the race.”
Good Race: Fall and Broken Pole
The race was quite good; I knew it would be quite difficult after the week I had in Kontiolahti. I am very satisfied about what I did on the track. I am only disappointed that I fell on the first loop, broke my pole and lost a lot of time. That is just a part of biathlon, but are things I should avoid if I want to catch a victory on Saturday.” (Photo courtesy of Andrei Ivanov.)