Unchallenged Oberhof Sprint Win for Johannes Thingnes Boe
Once Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe approached the prone stage in the lead, today’s Oberhof men’s 10 km sprint was effectively over, as the Yellow Bib proceeded to shoot clean and take another unchallenged win in 24:43.6. His teammate Sturla Holm Laegreid also shot clean in second place, but 12.4 seconds back to give the Norwegian team another 1-2 finish. Germany’s Arnd Peiffer, equally perfect on the shooting range finished third, 27.9 seconds back.
“I did what I had to do”
The winner admitted that his clean shooting today was maybe his best day on the range this season. “It was such a great race today, even harder than the last sprint. From the start, I felt I had to work really hard on the track. I had good focus on the shooting range, Maybe my best performance on the shooting range this season. I am really happy with my race. I needed 10-fo-10 to beat Sturla and be the winner. I did what I had to do and I am really satisfied with that.”
“Good Performances Help”
Elaborating on his shooting especially after his troubles I standing over the weekend, Johannes added, “Sometimes this (shooting) goes in periods, sometimes you feel good on the range and sometimes you do not. But good performances help and this was in the right direction. To shoot clean in biathlon, that is what everyone is searching for; even if you are a winner or not, it feels really good to be clean.”
Peiffer’s teammate Erik Lesser, shooting clean finished fourth, 30,6 seconds back. Norwegian number three Johannes Dale with one penalty finished fifth, 38.3 seconds back while Italy’s Lukas Hofer with two penalties, finished sixth, 40.7 seconds back.
Clear after Tuesday Snowfall
After heavy snow and blizzard-like conditions, the sky almost cleared leaving the temperature just above freezing, although with light wind more wind on the range, still good shooting conditions. Most of the top men started in the second and third groups today, thinking that the course conditions would get faster as the competition progressed. Despite that, Laegreid started at number 22 set the tone with a strong but a bit cautious clean prone stage to take the early lead, while Peiffer matched, following just 4 seconds back. Fillon Maillet seemed to be back on track with his own fast clean stage when he moved to the second spot, with Lesser doing the same, both less than 2 seconds behind Laegreid. Number 56 Hofer was the first to top Laegreid, grabbing a 4 second lead after his prone stage. As expected, Johannes led into the prone stage and upped both Hofer and his young teammate by 3.7 and 7 seconds respectively.
Clean in Lane 30
Laegreid was equally efficient in his standing stage, quickly closing all five targets, only to be again matched by Peiffer who was now 16 seconds behind the Norwegian. Yet it was the veteran Lesser who jumped into the mix, just a head of Peiffer after closing his five targets. Johannes padded his lead as he approached the standing stage. Shooting on Lane 30 to protect him from the wind, the Yellow/Red Bib took a few extra seconds to set up and then with a good cadence went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and was gone, 9.1 seconds faster than Laegreid.
Laegreid held steady on the last loop with Peiffer also maintaining to cross 15.5 seconds later. By the 7.5 km split, Johannes had upped his lead to 14 seconds. The last big uphill slowed him a bit, but at 9 km he still held an 11-second margin on the field. The top man in biathlon added a second to his lead after that for another perfect unchallenged win, pushing his teammate to second and local favorite Peiffer to third but with the first individual podium for Germany in the New Year.
Laegreid was quite pleased with his second place. “I am very satisfied with my race. I had a good feeling on the tracks and I was able to use my energy well, gain a lot of speed and also on the shooting range I am very satisfied with 10-out-of-10 in these tough wind conditions.” Shooting clean added to his motivation today. “It is good motivation to know that you are fighting for something good. It really helps you push into your last energy reserves.”
Peiffer, with his third podium of the season said this one was unexpected after last week's poor showing. “I did not expect so much because in the last sprint, we were struggling a lot. I was struggling in standing shooting and on the tracks; I had lost so many seconds in the first and second loop in the last sprint but of course I tried to improve and do a better sprint (today). In the first loop, I had a good split time; I shot clean in prone and then I knew I had to clean in standing and maker a better race than last week. It worked out…being on the podium is very satisfying.”
He added that the turnaround from 47th to 3rd was the result of small things. “It is small things in biathlon that can change a lot. I tried to improve my technique in standing shooting. I did something wrong with the trigger; I was slow on the trigger and had three misses. Today I did better and I think we had better skis today. The track was harder today than last week which was better for me. It is those small things that make a deep impact.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni