Kontiolahti Sprint Win for Anton Shipulin
Russia’s Anton Shipulin thrilled the mostly Russian crowd in the Kontiolahti stadium this evening by shooting clean to win the men’s 10K sprint in 23:51.6. The win was Shipulin’s first of the season, his first in Kontiolahti and the first win of this season for the Russian team. Second place went to Andrejs Rastorgujevs of Latvia, also shooting clean, 5.8 seconds back. Quentin Fillon Maillet of France, shooting clean picked up his second podium of the season in third place, 17.3 seconds back.
Fourth place went to Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway, with two penalties, 19 seconds back. Olympic Sprint Gold medalist Arnd Peiffer of Germany, with one penalty finished fifth, 27.4 seconds back, while Simon Desthieux of France, with one penalty, 28.3 seconds back.
Windy; Few Shoot Clean
The final three weeks of the season kicked off this evening under cloudy skies and moderate, by recent standards a minus 6C reading on the thermometer. As usual, there was a stiff breeze on this always windy shooting range, with only eight of the 103 starters going 10-for-10 on the range. Despite the shifting wind, a lot of men cleaned the first prone, after taking several clicks. Shipulin was the first of the biggest names to clean and take the initial lead, 3.1 seconds ahead of the also clean-shooting Rastorgujevs. Fourcade was expected next, but after checking in, did not start, giving several other men the opportunity for the podium, including Fillon Maillet. Johannes then took the lead from the Russian star by 3 seconds, with a steady clean prone stage.
Shipulin and Rastorgujevs
With Fourcade out of the mix, Fillon Maillet took up the French banner with a clean standing stage. Rastorgujevs was the next to take the opportunity with a rare 5-for-5 in standing to move to the top of the leader board with 3.3K to go. However, Shipulin, flying around the course, was a bit faster coming to the standing stage. He matched the Latvian’s perfect shooting and moved into the lead by 11 seconds. Johannes came to standing next, set up very fast and fired equally fast, resulting in two penalty loops. That left him 22.3 seconds behind the Latvian heading into the last loop, with little chance of the podium.
Shipulin on Top
Rastorgujevs struggled on the latter part of the last loop, with the infamous “Wall” taking a toll on the always fast skier. Still he took the initial lead at the finish ahead of Fillon Maillet. That lead did not last long. Shipulin struggled as did his rival, losing time on the last loop, but still managed to grab the lead by 5.8 seconds. Johannes looked stronger up the huge hill than his rivals, closing down to 18 seconds behind Shipulin and less than 4 seconds out the last podium spot. However, the young Norwegian looked spent in the final 500 meters and failed to crack the top three. The podium was set, with no one else able to crack this top three.
Good on Tracks and Range
Shipulin commented on his first win of the season. “I felt very good on the tracks and shooting and today it was enough to win. I am very happy about this…all of the Russian fans gave me a lot of support on the tracks.”
Rastorgujevs was pleased with his second career podium. “This is very important for my team. I would also like to congratulate all of the ladies and especially my mom on International Women’s Day.”
Glad to Be Back
Fillon Maillet after struggling on the shooting range in Pyeongchang was pleased to shoot clean today. “I am very happy to shoot clean and be back at my best today. This is good because I had a lot of problems. The podium today puts my head in a better place."