#HOL19 Johannes’ Hat Trick, Nastya’s Dominating Double; Highlights Video
What a finish to the 2018-19 BMW IBU World Cup biathlon season! Highlight after highlight filled with emotions every day in the Holmenkollen Ski Stadium.
Obviously Johannes Thingnes Boe’s Hat Trick and joyous mass start ending was tops, but not far ahead of Anastasiya Kuzmina’s emotional Oslo career-ending sprint/pursuit double, capped by her first-ever 20-for-20 shooting day. Then there was Hanna Oeberg’s mass perfectly executed mass start win. It was all capped off with Dorothea Wierer securing her and Italy’s first-ever big Crystal Globe for the World Cup Total Score, followed by Johannes’ sweep: the big Crystal Globe and plus all four discipline Globes.
Farewell Sprint Title for Nastya
Less than two weeks ago, Kuzmina added an IBU Sprint World Championship to go along with her two Olympic Sprint Gold medals. On Thursday, she won for the fifth time at Holmenkollen taking the women’s sprint with her usual fast last loop. Since she will retire after Oslo, the win closed her sprinting career, with ten victories and sixteen podiums. “During my whole career, you can see that the sprint is my favorite competition. Today, I just understood it again that it is true.”
Outrunning the Penalty
On a brilliant spring-like afternoon with the sun sparkling under blue skies, Kuzmina missed a prone shot, refocused to clean standing and then outran the penalty with a blazing last loop for a 19:56.1 win. Clean-shooting Franziska Preuss and Paulina Fialkova had no chance against Kuzmina, finishing 21.2 and 25.1 seconds back. Celia Aymonier shot clean for the first time in her career, finishing in a personal best fourth place.
Her third sprint win this season gave Kuzmina the World Cup Sprint Score title for the second year in row, the third discipline Crystal Globe of her career. "It is not easy to find the right words to say how happy I am…I cannot believe I could win three times this season and win the small Globe.”
Individual Globe to Vittozzi; Relay Globe to Norway
After Kuzmina received the sprint Globe, the World Cup Individual Score titlist Lisa Vittozzi received her small Crystal Globe, the first of her career. Vittozzi secured her title at last week's IBU World Championships in Östersund.
The Norwegian women followed with their own Crystal Globe, taking the Women's World Cup Relay Score.
Foggy Eighth Sprint Win
It only took 28 starters out of the 113 man field to determine the sprint winner. Number 28 Johannes buried the field for his eighth sprint win on a foggy, dreary afternoon as he has done numerous times this season: fast start and faster finish. After cleaning prone, he came to standing with the lead, but missed a shot. As usual, no problem; ski the loop fast and get back in the lead. Then the Yellow Bib went even faster to finish 31.7 seconds faster than clean-shooting Lukas Hofer in second place and Quentin Fillon Maillet in third place. Those two and 10th place Felix Leitner were the only men to shoot clean.
No one else challenged Johannes. He was completely dominating as he has been all season. Other than Johannes everyone else was feeling the effects of the long season, struggling to find the extra gear to challenge him. “Even though it is the end of the season, my wish to do good races and the motivation is still there.”
Fourteen Wins Tie Fourcade
The victory was a milestone in the 25-year-old’s career, tying Martin Fourcade’s single season victory record with win number 14, with two more competitions remaining. After the competition, Johannes received his first two small Crystal Globes of the season for the World Cup Sprint and Individual Scores.
Kuzmina, Johannes Double Dip with Pursuit Wins
Nastya’s Remarkable Pursuit Finale
Kuzmina’s big 21-second win in the sprint was simply the warm-up for a truly amazing pursuit. Prior to this week, the biggest winning margin in a pursuit this season for men or women was Wierer’s 41 second gap at Pokljuka. Most were decided by less than 10 seconds. At Oslo, after slowing down in the final 600 meters to soak in and enjoy the atmosphere, she still finished 1:42.1 ahead of second place Denise Herrmann. Saying the multi-Olympic Gold medalist dominated the final pursuit of her career is a vast understatement. Besides the victory, the 20-for-20 shooting in any four stage competition was a first in her long career that dates back to the 2002 IBU YJWCH.
The Slovak star’s pursuit win was a clinic on pursuit domination. Using her considerable track talent, she started fast, never letting up until entering the stadium for the finish. Each clean stage seemed to add confidence and adrenalin, putting her rivals farther in her rearview mirror. “It was my best shooting result in my whole career. It was perfect from the first meters of the competition until the end.”
Kuzmina was the only woman to shoot clean. Behind her, the rest of the field struggled with fatigue, the soft snow and targets that would not close. Herrmann’s two penalties, one in the first prone and last standing along with third place Hanna Oeberg’s single standing penalty being the exceptions. The young Swedish star explained, “I was really focused on the range; I was avoiding the penalty loop, one shot at a time.”
No offense to anyone else in the season’s final pursuit but as Kuzmina said, “It was just a good day and on that I waited so long for and I will remember this…” So will everyone else…
Pursuit Globe to Wierer
Italy’s Dorothea Wierer finished 11th, but secured the Women’s Pursuit Score title Crystal Globe, the first pursuit title of her career. She won her only previous small Crystal Globe in 2016, taking the World Cup Individual Score.
Milestone Fifteen Victories
Johannes also crafted his own sprint/pursuit double for the fourth time this season, but it was a bit different, struggling with two penalties in the second prone; winning by a more normal 13.9 seconds. Yet his win was a huge milestone: the Norwegian’s fifteenth individual title this season! That broke Martin Fourcade’s record of fourteen wins. The Norwegian called it, “a big achievement. To make history in any sport is to know that you have done something right.”
The Yellow Bib has been doing things right all season by simply winning. His formula, similar to Kuzmina: start fast, keep pushing and in his case, outrun any penalty loop visits. Even with three loops, he finished ahead of his older brother Tarjei who had a single miss. Their 1-2 finish focused the spotlight on the brothers at the finish line. Johannes, waving the Norwegian flag a he finished, crossed the line, turned and waited as Tarjei crossed in second; the brothers embraced in what years ago would have been described as a “Kodak Moment.”
Peiffer and Leitner
Arnd Peiffer, almost forgotten in third place earned his podium spot after what he called a “hard fight” with 22-year-old Felix Leitner in the last loop. Fourth place Leitner, whose previous personal best was 10th recorded just the day, before shot clean to the German World Champion’s one penalty.
More Norwegian Crystal
The Norwegian team added more Crystal by taking the World Cup Men’s Relay Score and the World Cup Mixed Relay Score, giving them a sweep of the team trophies. They previously picked up the Men’s Nations Cup Crystal Globe.
Consistent Hanna in Mass Start
Oeberg commented after winning the Oslo mass start, “I am most proud of my consistency this season.” That consistency includes 12 times in the top five in her 17 competitions starting with Nove Mesto and was the key to the Oslo win. She was at the top of the leaderboard after each shooting stage, going fast and clean in prone. Then even with single penalties in each standing stage, she scurried around the loop to stay just ahead of her rivals. Although eventual second place Tiril Eckhoff made a bid for the win with a furious last 700-meters charge, the calm, cool and collected Swedish star glanced back just once, confidently skiing to victory with hands held high. Oeberg proved all season that she can shoot in the 90%+ range on any given day, her two penalties was simply typical.
Mass Start Globe
The win was on another big stage where she always performs well; think IBU YJWCH Gold, OWG Gold, IBU WCH Gold, IBU OECH Gold, and BMW IBU WC Oslo. It netted the 23-year-old the World Cup Mass Start Globe, the first of her career. Does anyone need any more proof that this lady (5th this season) will challenge for the World Cup Total Score title very soon.
Egan’s Huge Day
Almost lost in the shuffle of the final day of the season, Clare Egan had a career-topping day with a clean-shooting third place, just 10.4 seconds behind Oeberg. Just a day after the ninth in the pursuit, the US Biathlete hung with the leaders throughout the mass start, even boldly passing the speedy Eckhoff at one point in the last loop. Mass start honorable mention goes to Herrmann for another fine track performance and decent shooting that brought her home in 4th place.
World Cup Total Score Queen Doro
After a nail-biting season in-and-out of the Yellow Bib and a 12th place finish in the mass start, Italy’s Dorothea Wierer won big Crystal Globe for the World Cup Total Score with 904 points, Italy’s first-ever Total Score title. The Crystal Globe was the new Biathlon Queen’s crowning glory on her season that included three wins, IBU WCH Gold plus Single Mixed Silver and Mixed Relay Bronze.
Mr. Hat Trick Johannes
The season ended with the biggest bang of them all when Johannes completed his Oslo Hat Trick with a clean shooting mass start demolition of the top 30 men in biathlon. When he shoots clean, no one else has a chance for the victory. After cleaning the prone stages, he came to the first standing with teammate Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen alongside. However, Johannes burned through the targets, closing all five before any of his rivals fired two shots. Suddenly, Johannes was 9 seconds in front of the field. Afterburners kicked in and he was gone; competition over. There was enough time to high-five wax techs, stop for a flag and Viking helmet before his glorious finish in front of his adoring fans. Arnd Peiffer, also 20-for-20 but hopelessly in second place admitted, “he (Johannes) pushed in the fourth loop…I had no chance, so I knew I had to do my own race.” Peiffer was still 19.2 seconds back even after Johannes stops, starts and bows to the crowd in the final few hundred meters. Benedikt Doll used his track skills with a hard uphill acceleration in the last loop to secure third place from Julian Eberhard.
Historic 16, Globe Sweep
The resounding mass start win put Johannes in uncharted historic territory: victory number 16, two more than Martin Fourcade’s previous record. After the competition he received the big Crystal Globe for the World Cup Total Score and the final piece giving the Norwegian a 2018-19 Crystal Globe sweep, the World Cup Mass Start Score Crystal Globe. Sixteen wins, Crystal Globe sweep, and five IBU WCH medals…priceless domination.