#Ostersund2019 (Part 2) Johannes, Marte: Norwegian Domination, Highlights Video
Two of the last three competition days in Östersund were a continuation of the story line; more Norwegian victories in the single mixed, men’s and women’s relays giving them a sweep of the team events. Then on a beyond-snowy Sunday afternoon, the victory line made a sharp and somewhat unexpected veer south, with Dorothea Wierer and Dominik Windisch bringing two Gold medals to the Italians.
Part 2 of this 2019 IBU World Championships wrap-up goes from the Johannes/Marte Single Mixed Relay Gold medal to Windisch’s stunning 13th–to-Gold mass start win.
Marte plus Johannes Equals Single Mix Gold
Norway put their two best on the tracks for the single mixed relay: Marte Olsbu Røiseland and Johannes Thingnes Boe. They both skied fast; Johannes shot clean in his second leg. Game over; Norway wins; they capture both 2019 Mixed Relay World Championship Gold medals. This thrilling competition came down to the anchor leg, with Johannes, Hofer and young Sebastian Samuelsson of the home team duking it out. The trio went stride-for-stride into the final standing stage. Johannes cleaned in five for the win, while Hofer took Silver after using a spare that he later called, “one shot too many.” Samuelsson added another spare, but secured the Bronze medal.
Johannes “Really Great”
The Norwegian had enough time to grab a flag, skiing home with it held high, and right into his partner’s arms. Hofer gestured in joy at the finish; home crowd added more noise as Samuelsson crossed in the Bronze spot. After winning the first-ever IBU Single Mixed Relay World Championship Olsbu Røiseland said, “Johannes was really great today!”
Confident and Inspiring
Regarding their Silver medal-winning duo, Wierer added. “We know we can be a really good team but it depends on our shooting. We were confident today.” Samuelsson was thrilled with the Bronze called the anchor leg, “a really inspiring chance; going out with Luki and Johannes; it was a great fight. It was an amazing day. It was really fun to do it here in Östersund. It was amazing!”
The Norwegian women’s and men’s relay wins were pretty spectacular: the men because its ease and the women when Olsbu Røiseland out shot and then literally ran away from the usually on-target Hanna Oeberg.
The Norwegian women left the starting line, probably not the favorites to win, but definitely as potential medalists. The same team had three penalties in a fourth place finish at last year’s Olympic Winter Games, yet this season used just seven spares in their Ruhpolding second place eight weeks ago. The team that showed up was a mix of the two; Tiril Eckhoff made a tour of the penalty loop, but four of the other six stages were 5-for-5 perfection with just five spare rounds. Most importantly, Olsbu Røiseland was brilliant on the anchor leg. Oeberg came to the final standing stage with a 21 second over the Norwegian squad. Then, she needed all three spares to clean while Olsbu Røiseland cleaned in five to take a commanding 12 second lead. It was all over…the Olympic Sprint Silver medalist who seems to be a last-loop expert this season, blistered this one stretching the lead to 23.4 seconds for the Gold medal. She was relieved when she glanced at Oeberg’s missed targets. “I saw Hanna shoot and she had to use some extra; I just went for it. I am so happy that I was first out.”
Very Nice Silver Medal; 14 Spares Gift Bronze to Ukraine
The home team finished with a still very nice Silver medal. The Swedish anchor could not explain the missed shots. “I think that today I just lacked some percentage of focus. I cannot tell why now…” Germany using spare-after-spare round, 14 in all basically gifted the five-spare Ukrainians the Bronze medal, despite Laura Dahlmeier’s last loop dash.
The Best Team: Johannes and Co.
Johannes and Co. were plainly the best team on Saturday afternoon. Birkeland was steady, Christiansen perfect, and Tarjei terrific, leaving it up to Johannes to put the exclamation point on the win. However, he has not been the best standing shot recently and that was the case again. He used all three spares to clean, but no worries, the others except Alexander Loginov were also fumbling. Johannes skied the last loop with a huge smile, slowed down for a few waves, grabbed the Norwegian flag 400 meters before the finish and still finished 38 seconds in front of Germany’s Benedikt Doll.
Doll: “Never Expected Fourcade to Miss Three Shots”
With Martin Fourcade melting down and skiing two penalty loops, Doll moved from the Bronze medal to Silver while Loginov took advantage of the French meltdown to bring Russia the Bronze medal. Coming to standing in the Bronze spot, Doll explained, “I thought the Bronze medal was a little bit safe…I went into the shooting range really confident and safe. I really need to give a little bit of pressure to Martin and make a fast shooting. I think that is the reason why he got a little bit nervous. I saw he missed three targets…I never expected him to have three mistakes in the first five shots!”
The biggest surprise of the day came from Slovenia. They finished fifth, with their best relay result since 2011.
The Norwegian men’s triumph gave them a sweep of the four team events; no other team had the depth to match or challenge them. At the Medal Ceremony, their fans screamed with delight and the team ate cake for the umpteenth time in Östersund. Little did they know that the tide would turn in the favor of Italy on the final day of the Championships.
Doro Does It
It was snowing and windy when everyone awoke on mass start day. That meant slow tracks and possibly endless penalty loops. Dorothea Wierer sat out the relay with stomach problems. To this point, she had two medals: single mixed Silver and mixed relay Bronze, but no individual medals this year and only one in her career. She was skiing well but shooting erratically. Suddenly, she hit fifteen consecutive shots and was leading the mass start. “Today (before the start), I was just thinking about finishing my races here…I knew I could do it today after the third zero shooting…I was really nervous at the last shooting.” She picked up two penalties and ran the last loop scared because I “was not sure if Ekaterina and Denise would catch me so it was a hard final loop.” Crossing the finish line in heavy snow, she did it, becoming the first Italian women to win an IBU World Championship title and had a full set of IBU WCH medals this year; a fairy tale ending.
Smiling Yurlova-Percht’s Silver Medal
The Silver medal went to 2015 IBU 15K Individual World Champion Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht, despite two penalties, the always smiling Russian, who at one point considered retiring after missing the 2018 Olympic Winter Games held off Germany’s hard-charging Denise Herrmann in the last loop. Herrmann, with four penalties, was firing on every cylinder and flying over the tracks but settled for a Bronze medal to go along with her pursuit Gold medal from last week. Still, she was also a happy lady exceeding her expectations. “I am really happy about this World Championships, I hoped for one medal.”
By the time the men started their mass start, the snow was coming down ever harder. The 16,000 fans on the tracks and in the tribunes looked like snowmen. Dominik Windisch wore number 24 on his back, with no individual podiums this season, the Pyeongchang double Bronze medalist seemed to have no chance for the podium. A single penalty in each of the first three stages left him mired in 13th position. Coming to the last standing stage, with the wind was howling and heavy snow falling, Johannes and Evgeniy Garanichev lined up together. The almost unbelievable happened. Johannes missed five times and Garanichev four; virtually everyone had a penalty or more other than Windisch who cleaned. He left a 13 second lead. “I was the lucky one…I did not know I was in the lead; in the uphill the coach said I was leading. I said, ‘What?’ I was shocked…when they told me I was keeping the distance, I was really motivated to keep it to the end.”
Canmore Déjà vu
Windisch and Wierer both won their first-ever mass starts three years ago in Canmore. Now they did it again. “Yesterday I told Dorothea that I believed in her and she could do it. When she won today, I was so happy for her…I think she brings me luck…”
Antonin and Julian
In an equally unbelievable sequence, Antonin Guigonnat, 8th coming to the last standing and Julian Eberhard, in 12th had single penalties in the last standing, jumping up to the Silver and Bronze medals. What a wild ending to the 2019 IBU World Championships.
The Italian mass start wins ended a spectacular fortnight of competitions, dominated until the last 24 hours by Norway, but still filled with the expected wins, surprise medalists and all of the tears and back stories. One more week to go and the 2019 BMW IBU World Cup season will be history just like these Championships.