Emilien Jacquelin anchors French Squad to Oberhof Relay Win
Emilien Jacquelin anchored France to victory in the Oberhof men’s 4 X 7.5 km relay this afternoon after taking control in his prone stage. He and teammates Simon Desthieux, Quentin Fillon Maillet, and Fabien Claude used six spare rounds in their 1:20:05.6 victory. Norway finished second, with one penalty and four spares after Johannes Thingnes Boe’s stirring anchor leg brought them from 55 seconds back in fourth to 4.1 seconds back at the finish. Italy after leading much of the competition finished third, with five spares, 1:06.6 back.
Anchoring Two Wins
Jacquelin after two poor early season relay performances has regained his confidence nad has anchored France to two consecutive wins; this one coming on the heels of Sunday’s single mixed win with Julia Simon. “It was a great win. Being the last one today; my team trusted me. I was pushed to be more confident. Last year (2020), we were not good on the relay. I was really bad, so it is a good win here in Oberhof. It is a nice track; the shooting range was windy but we know it is not simple in the World Cup. All the teammates did a great job. The guys, the staff, the skis were good. Thanks to everybody. I am tired but it feels good!”
Russia, with nine spares finished fourth, 1:55.3 back. Germany with three penalties and eleven spares finished fifth, 2:06.4 back. Ukraine, using just two spare rounds finished sixth, 2:31.8 back.
Light Snow; Germany Leads First Leg
Light snow on a windless afternoon greeted the 24 teams that started the men’s relay. Norwegian leadoff leg Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen led the pack into the first prone, dispatched his five targets and left second just behind Belarus, with nine teams following within 10 seconds. Italy’s Thomas Bormolini needed a spare to clean but left the range a step ahead of Erik Lesser who went 5-for-5 after using two spares in prone, with only Belarusian Mikita Labastau perfect on the range in the first leg. At the first exchange, Lesser tagged Benedikt Doll just .7 seconds ahead of Italy’s Lukas Hofer, followed by Fillon Maillet, Switzerland’s Jeremy Finello and Johannes Dale taking over for Norway 6 seconds back.
Pack of Five
By the time the second leg reached the next split, a pack of five led by Doll jockeyed for position, 25 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Hofer was quick and clean as were Fillon Maillet and Finello; they went out in that order. Dale melted down, shooting slowly in prone, using all three spares and still ending up with a penalty, falling 1:19 back. Hofer pulled away to a 12 second lead by the stadium, closed his five standing targets and was gone with Fillon Maillet matching but still 12 seconds back, with Doll 19 seconds back heading to the second exchange. Hofer tagged 20-year Old Tommaso Giacomel with a 17.7-second lead over Arnd Peiffer and Claude. Dale, after battling through the pack, tagged Tarjei in fourth, but 1:19 back and a big gap to the podium.
Giacomel Outshoots Experienced Rivals
The young Italian needed two spares to clean while his rivals each used one closing the gap to less than 4 seconds. Tarjei cleaned in five shots to cut his deficit from the leader to 50 seconds. By the time they reached the standing stage the top three teams were together. The upstart Giacomel outshot his more experienced rivals, downing his five targets in rapid succession to take the lead back out to 10 and 12 seconds over Claude and Peiffer, respectively. Tarjei again went 5-for-5 but remained 55 seconds back. Claude quickly closed the gap to make it a group of three for moment until Giacomel cracked. Peiffer tagged Philipp Horn with a 6.4 second lead over Emilien Jacquelin while Dominik Windisch took over 23.9 seconds back. Johannes took over for Norway, still in fourth, with a 55-second gap separating him from leading Germans.
Jacquelin Moves to the Front
In prone, Horn imploded, missing his first five shots before ending up with five penalty loop tours, Jacquelin cleaned in six shots to take the lead. Windisch cleaned in five to go out 21.7 seconds back. Johannes after a strong first loop, also cleaned in five to close the gap down to 35 seconds. The Norwegian star skied extremely aggressively, moving up to Windisch. Jacquelin blasted through five shots, missing one, reloaded, sent the target to white and was gone. Johannes shot like he skied, went 5-for-5 but remained 23 seconds back. Windisch after two spares left securely in third position,44.7 seconds back.
Jacquelin held on over the last loop to retain the lead and take the victory, despite Johannes closing fast, getting within 4.2 seconds after his French rival eased up to celebrate in the last 20 meters. Windisch brought Italy home in third place.
Johannes Dale, after his disappointing penalty loop which he admitted “should not be allowed” was not surprised by how Tarjei and ultimately his brother on anchor brought them to second place. “Right away I thought it was going to be hard, but anything can happen in a relay…Tarjei and Johannes are super strong; they feel quite confident in relays. I knew anything was possible and it was.”
Relay Podium Importance
Hofer said that getting to the podium is very important, especially since Italy’s last men’s relay podium was in Oestersund over 14 months ago. “It shows we had good summer training…It means a lot to bring a team to the podium: it shows how strong the team can be. All of us had really good legs, so we can only be happy.”