Johannes Thingnes Boe dominates Hochfilzen Sprint
Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe, despite one penalty had another of his patented wire-to-wire wins in taking the Hochfilzen men’s sprint in 25:07.8. His victory put Boe back in the Yellow Bib. France’s Simon Desthieux with a furious last loop finished second, also with one penalty, 7.8 seconds back. Russia’s Alexander Loginov, shooting clean, finished third 14.6 seconds back.
“As good a feeling as the first one”
Regarding his standing shooting and the win, the Norwegian said, “I tried to get a good speed so when I started shooting, I would not wait between the shots and this was successful. I wanted to shoot clean but in the end I got one penalty but it was close enough to get the victory. Even though you win race after race, it is still as good a feeling as the first one. This brings a lot of motivation; you know if you go really hard on the skis and you push all you can, you know there is a small chance to get the victory.”
Loginov’s teammate Matvey Eliseev also perfect on the shooting range was fourth, 20.6 seconds back. Italy’s Lukas Hofer, with one penalty finished fifth, just .2 seconds behind the Russian. Tarjei Boe of Norway with two penalties, finished sixth, 23.4 seconds back.
Conditions changed by the time the men’s sprint started with intermittent heavy snowfall that slowed the tracks, but dropped the wind to almost nothing. However as the snow disappeared, the tracks got quicker.
Clean Prone Parade
Erik Lesser cleaned early to start off a clean prone stage parade that put 32 men within 30 seconds after prone. As soon as Johannes came to the shooting range, he set the bar at a level no one could reach. Loginov matched the Norwegian but stayed second behind him. Ten minutes later, Eliseev did the same but was 10 seconds back. Late starter Fourcade with number 78 came to the range with the wind flags virtually motionless. Still he shot conservatively but perfect, to move into fifth position after the prone stage, while his teammate Desthieux was several seconds faster than his teammate to slip in just behind Johannes’ top spot.
Johannes came to standing with a huge lead of more than a minute; his one missed shot cut that in half. Loginov also cleaned and got close, just 3.5 seconds back. Tarjei then picked up two penalty loops while Eliseev cleaned to move just a half second behind Loginov. The Yellow Bib entered standing 13 seconds back, missed twice and fell out of podium contention. Desthieux missed once, leaving 11 seconds back in fourth position but skiing faster than almost everyone in front of him.
In the last loop, Johannes’ superiority on skis showed once again. Skiing aggressively, he put distance between himself and every challenger with each stride. With 1100 meters to go, he was 14 seconds ahead of the Russian and held that to the finish. Tarjei and Eliseev were locked in a podium battle, separated by just .3 seconds. Both pushed extremely hard in the uphill finish sprint, with the Russian claiming a 2.8 second advantage at the line. Hofer later pushed hard in the last loop to get ahead of Tarjei. However, Desthieux closed the gap on Eliseev down to 3 seconds by the 7.7 km mark and was up by 2 seconds coming into the last kilometer. His furious last loop propelled him past both Russians into second to set the podium.
Four, Three, Two…
Desthieux was thrilled with another podium so early in the season. “Just a fantastic beginning to the season for me… I am very happy to be on the podium again. It was not easy to start in the back of the race with a big bi (#83). We were not sure about the snow condition (but) I think it was a good idea.”
Regarding his speedy last loop, he added, “The last loop was funny with all of the team saying, ‘you are four; you are three; you are two. I knew it was close and had to be on my best.”
Photos: Evgeny Tumashov