Julia Simon, Quentin Fillon Maillet Romp to Wiesbaden Victories
The French duo of Julia Simon and Quentin Fillon Maillet dominated the Wiesbaden City Biathlon on Sunday, overpowering the international men’s and women’s fields with sterling shooting and powerful track performances. Simon won the women’s mass start impressively cleaning all five stages for a 29:10.6 victory. Marketa Davidova finished second, 25.8 seconds back with four spare rounds, while Clare Egan finished third, 33.2 seconds back with two spares. An hour later, Fillon Maillet used just three spare rounds in his 25:24.1 win. Tarjei Boe finished second, 30.6 seconds back with one penalty and eight spares. Third place went to Michal Krcmar, 34.5 seconds back with five spares.
On Sunday, City Biathlon in Wiesbaden became the only international summer competition to be held this year, with athletes from ten nations competing in a preliminary round and then a six-lap, five-shooting stage mass start. However, the road to Sunday was fraught from the start due to the coronavirus pandemic with the organizers overcoming plenty of obstacles. First, the event was moved from its normal mid-summer date to this weekend while adding safety protocols and limiting spectators to a handful. Over the last several weeks, they lost some big names, namely The Italians Dorothea Wierer and Lukas Hofer when their federation banned all Italians from competitions at home or abroad until late October. Then injuries and illness took Vanessa Hinz and Monika Hojnisz out while Dmitry Pidruchnyi tested positive for Covid-19 and had to stay home. Strong replacements like Marketa Davidova. Michael Krcmar, and at the last-minute Clare Egan filled the open slots admirably.
Simon and Eberhard Top Qualifications
Simon topped the women’s qualification round, finishing just a half-second ahead of Lena Haecki, with Marketa Davidova and Egan third and fourth, setting the tone for the mass start. On the men’s side, Julian Eberhard led the men’s qualification followed by Tarjei Boe, Serafin Wiestner and Fillon Maillet.
Wire-to Wire Mass Start Romp for Simon
Simon set the tone in the women’s mass right from the start, coming to the first prone and quickly going 5-for-5 to take a 6.7 second lead over Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht and Egan who also were perfect. From that point on, there was never any doubt that the upcoming French star would top the podium. By the second prone, Davidova replaced Yurlova-Percht in the lead trio as Simon again cleaned quickly. The rest of the field was out of contact after numerous spare rounds and penalty stops. That Simon a dozen seconds ahead of the field heading towards the standing stages.
Work of Art
The standing stages were a French work of art, with each one executed crisply and confidently. Each stage took Simon no more than 18 seconds, adding to her lead. Likewise, both Davidova and Egan were steady on the range and aggressive on the tracks. Even when the speedy Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold briefly challenged in the first standing stage, the USA/Czech duo stayed close. Tandrevold’s podium challenge melted in the second and third standing stages when she picked up three 10-second penalty stops.
Simon’s last standing stage put the finishing touches on her masterpiece: confident, fast and clean to secure the win. The two women battling for second both shot carefully, but Davidova, two shots faster than Egan, left for the last loop 4.7 seconds ahead, but trailing Simon by 40 seconds. The last loop was a mere formality, with Simon cruising home waving as she crossed the finish line, followed by Davidova and Egan.
Standing Stages Set Up Fillon Maillet’s Win
Fillon Maillet’s win took a bit longer to develop than his teammate, but was just as decisive. Top man in the qualifying, Eberhard controlled the pace into the first prone with the field tightly packed behind him. The Austrian cleaned in five shots as did Jakov Fak and Wiestner, with 2.5 seconds separating them. Fillon Maillet and Tarjei cleaned but lagged 8.5 seconds back. Johannes struggled with a slow stage that included three spares. The second prone put the eventual top three of Tarjei, Fillon Maillet and Krcmar in front after all cleaned.
The man who won twice last week in La Feclaz took control in the first standing with a steady five shots and did the same in the next bout. Those ten closed targets pretty much closed the door on his rivals, as his Norwegian and Czech rivals needed spares to clean. After the second standing, the French leader had 21 seconds on Tarjei and 33 on Johannes. However, Krcmar was less than a second behind the two-time World Cup Total Score winner.
Sweeping with a Smile
The last standing stage settled the day although Fillon Maillet needed on spare to close the last target. With all five white, he turned, pumped his fist, heading out with a 44.9 second lead. Tarjei and Johannes both used spares and took penalty breaks opening the door for Krcmar to jump into third. A broad smile lit up Fillon Maillet’s face as he crossed the finish line, giving France a sweep in Wiesbaden.
French Shooting Skills and a Hats Off
With the wins by Simon and Fillon Maillet reaffirmed the ongoing strength and shooting skills of the French team. Their dominance gave the other competitors a benchmark to work towards in the coming weeks until the BMW IBU World Cup season starts.
At the same time, hats off to the organizers who overcame many obstacles to conduct a safe, enjoyable and competitive event.
Photos: IBU/Bjorn Reichert