Sturla Holm Laegreid Powers to IBU World Championships Mass Start Gold
Norway’s Sturla Holm Laegreid, with one penalty in the last standing stage,. powered his way to the IBU Men’s 15 km Mass Start Gold medal this afternoon pulling away in the last loop to finish in 32:51.5. Laegreid’s victory was his second individual title, upping his Gold medal total to four (mass start, 20 km individual, mixed relay and men’s relay) at Pokljuka. Johannes Dale with two penalties won the Silver medal, 10.2 seconds back giving Norway a 1-2 finish. Quentin Fillon Maillet of France, also with two penalties, won the Bronze medal, 12.8 seconds back.
Follow the Plan
Laegreid who just celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday felt little pressure and followed his plan today. The win, “was just incredible. I had a plan to not use too much energy in the first two loops and be really focused on the shooting. I did according to my plan and had some power for the last loop. I am extremely satisfied…I try to not think that this is the World Championships; I try to imagine it like being a normal training day. I know I shoot well in training; I know I can and today I did!”
Conquering the Mass Start
The win gave Laegreid a first place in each individual biathlon discipline. He explained why the mass start was the last one he conquered. “Maybe because I am too eager. The mass start is really fun. In the mass starts earlier in the season I went so fast and used all my energy. So today I was a bit more calm. I saved the energy and had some power for the last loops.”
Austria’s Simon Eder, with one penalty finished fourth, 23.1 seconds back. Slovenia’s Jakov Fak also with one penalty finished fifth, 30 seconds back while Norway’s Tarjei Boe with two penalties finished sixth, 33.1 seconds back.
Exciting Last Competition
The concluding competition at this year’s IBU World Championships was a carbon-copy of the earlier women’s mass start: sunny, warm, windless and exciting. The first loop was typical with Johannes controlling the pace leading the pack of thirty men into the first prone stage. Yet the Yellow Bib paid for his aggressiveness with two penalties to fall 44 seconds back. His teammate Laegreid shot clean and fast to go out in the top spot with Lukas Hofer, Fak, and Emilien Jacquelin all matching and less than a second back; nine more were also clean with the front group all bunched within 13 seconds as they entered the second 3 km loop.
Group of Five
Hofer took up the pacing chores, with Fak on his shoulder on the next loop. Fak and Laegreid again both shot with a very fast cadence, cleaning the second prone. Just .2 seconds separated them as they went up the small hill out of the stadium. Sebastian Samuelsson, Eder, and Arnd Peiffer all matched the leaders following four seconds back. The Yellow Bib also cleaned to move up to 11th position but 29 seconds back. The pack of five stayed close over the next loop, with the first standing stage looming as a hazard.
Fastest on the Range
Laegreid continued to be the fastest on the range cleaning the first standing stage with ease. Fak and Eder did the same and left just two seconds behind the young Norwegian. Hofer after a second prone stage penalty rebounded with his own clean stage, leaving fourth but 29 seconds back with Peiffer in fifth. Two penalties knocked Johannes out of contention.
Top Three on the Penalty Loop
The Norwegian set the pace with Fak and Eder just sitting a few meters behind for most of the next loop. As they neared to the last standing stage, he put a six-second gap between him and his two rivals. Laegreid missed a shot and went to the loop. Both Eder and Fak did the same, but they still got away in that exact order. The IBU 20 km Individual Gold medalist had a 9.7 second lead over the hometown hero and the veteran Austrian with just 3 km between them and the podium.
Victory for Laegreid; Dale, Fillon Maillet Move Up
Fillon Maillet and Dale cleaned the last stage quickly closing the gap to Eder and Fak as they hit the tracks This group of four fought for the Silver and Bronze medals with Laegreid safely in the Gold position. With 900 meters to go, Dale attacked, pulling away from the group to seal the Silver medal and a 1-2 Norwegian finish. Fillon Maillet crossed in the Bronze spot after separating from Eder and Fak who fell back to fourth and fifth.
Ready to Explode
Dale literally came form nowhere to get up into the medal fight, similar to Tandrevold and Eckhoff earlier. “It was a similar situation with Ingrid and Tiril and me and Quentin. I felt quite fresh today, wanting to just explode in the last uphill. Everything went as planned. I am super satisfied to get the Silver medal today.”
Fillon Maillet Finally in the Medals
Fillon Maillet after three fourth places in the pursuit, individual and relay made the big step to the podium and could not have been more pleased. “Finally third in the mass start. I am happy to finish with a good result…I am actually quite happy about my Championships, not about the results but my good shape on the skis, very good standing shooting but some mistakes on the prone shooting. That is why I missed so many good races for the Gold and medals, a little bit sad about my whole Championships but happy to finish finally in the medals.”
Photos; IBU/Thibaut, Manzoni