5 things we learned in the second week of Pokljuka 2021
Tiril Eckhoff was undisputedly the best and most decorated athlete of the IBU World Championships, Sturla Holm Laegreid used the Martin Fourcade style of shooting and added gold in the individual and in the mass start to what was already an amazing rookie season, single mixed relay proved as entertaining as ever, Sweden almost matched the French tally of medals and Vanessa Voigt ruled the two IBU Cup weeks in Brezno-Osrblie.
- Tiril Eckhoff has cemented her legacy
Tiril Eckhoff won four gold medals, two of them in the individual competitions, one silver and one bronze to finish the IBU World Championships in Pokljuka as (by far) the most decorated athlete. Tiril was fully focused for a 10/10 shooting in the sprint where her skiing was not as fast as it normally is. She doubled down with a first place in the pursuit and added wins in the mixed relay and women’s relay to her golden collection. She fought hard to bring in her closing leg to take home a silver in the single mixed relay after her partner JT Boe didn’t have the finest day on the shooting range. The last loop of the mass start featured a fight-back ending with a bronze medal that might be the best image of Eckhoff that we didn’t have before this season: she is managing her mistakes without getting down on herself. She is also leaving Pokljuka atop of the BMW IBU World Cup Total Score standings, but the battle for the Crystal Globe is far from over.
- Sturla Holm Laegreid modelled his shooting after Martin Fourcade
Sturla Holm Laegreid started the Pokljuka 2021 World Championships with an opening leg and a gold medal in the mixed relay. He learned about the high level of form displayed by his main rivals in the sprint, where he finished seventh despite scoring 10/10 on the shooting range, and in the pursuit, where he finished sixth with just one miss. As a leader in the individual Total Score standings, he knew this was the competition he could and wanted to win. He visualised his race at least 10 times in his meditations and then stayed clinical in his golden 20/20 performance. He got a tip of the hat from the great Martin Fourcade after the competition, which meant the world to Sturla, for he modelled his approach to shooting after Fourcade when he was ill with mononucleosis in 2018 and couldn’t do physical training. “Studying how he keeps his composure and shoulders low on the shooting range helped me win today,” said Laegreid, who then clinched his second individual gold with a win in the mass start. He is also in a very strong position to challenge JT Boe in winning the Total Score standings.
- Single mixed relay is full of surprises
Julia Simon was so disappointed after her seven misses in the individual that she decided to stop the competition before the finish line. Her partner in the single mixed relay, Antonin Guigonnat, was expecting to be picked for the individual competition, but his coaches decided otherwise. While the pairings of JT Boe and Tiril Eckhoff for Norway and Hanna Oeberg and Sebastian Samuelsson for Sweden looked much stronger on paper based on the results from the BMW IBU World Cup, it turned out that Julia and Antonin had the best day of the Pokljuka 2021 Championships and won a gold medal. The fact that the women competed in the last leg made the single mixed relay even more entertaining.
- Nine nations won medals
Norway was the most successful nation in Pokljuka 2021, winning 14 medals, seven of them gold, three silver and four bronze. France came in second with eight on the medal table; Les Bleus won two gold medals, two silver and three bronze. Sweden had their best World Championships ever with six medals: one gold, three silver and two bronze. Lisa Theresa Hauser’s gold in the mass start was Austria’s first for women. Austria won one gold, one silver and one bronze; Hauser was involved in all of them. The Czech went home with Marketa Davidova’s gold from the individual, Germany celebrated silver medals from Arnd Peiffer and the women’s relay, Belarus gained a bronze from Hanna Sola in the sprint while the RBU (men’s relay) and Ukraine (women’s relay) won a bronze each.
- Vanessa Voigt shone in the IBU Cup
Vanessa Voigt of Germany shot a combined 49/50 in the first sprint, first pursuit and short individual for three wins in a row in the first week of the IBU Cup double-week stop in Brezno-Osrblie. Voigt’s form dipped slightly in the second week when she finished fifth in the second sprint with one miss and 19th in the second pursuit with four misses. She collected 242 points in Brezno-Osrblie for a commanding lead atop of the IBU Cup Total Score standings with 381 points. In the men’s field, Germany’s Philipp Nawrath has a narrow lead and is being chased by a Norwegian pack including Filip Fjeld Andersen, Sivert Guttorm Bakken, Aleksander Fjeld Andersen, Haavard Gutuboe Bogetveit and Endre Stroemsheim.
PHOTO: V. Thibaut, C. Manzoni, I. Stancik/IBU