Julia Simon Sprints, Brings France Single Mixed Relay Gold
Julia Simon of France blew past Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff on the last uphill and then sprinted to the finish in this afternoon’s IBU World Championships Single Mixed Relay. securing the Gold medal in 36:42.4. Simon and her teammate Antonin Guigonnat used five spare rounds in their Gold medal effort. Eckhoff and teammate Johannes Thingnes Boe with nine spare rounds won the Silver medal, 2.8 seconds back. Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg and Sebastian Samuelsson, with eight spare rounds won the Bronze medal, 22.6 seconds back.
Good on Downhills
The winning team complemented each other but emphasized their skiing as part of the key to the win. Guigonnat called the victory, “Incredible…both of us did a great race with skiing. It is a quite fast and technical downhill; we are very good at going down; I will let Julia speak.”
Hard Last Lap
Simon after her spectacular last loop added, “It was really nice for us. Antonin did a great first leg. I had to finish it off. It was very hard on the last lap with Tiril. I am really happy. My shooting was much better than the other days; just really, really happy!”
She later explained what happened on that last loop, adding, “After the shooting, I saw Tiril in front of me. I tried to stay with her and see what would happen. In the uphill, I was really good; I had a good shape and a good feeling. I tried to attack and I pushed more and more. I was first in the downhill; it was a good day for me, for us, for our team.”
Ukraine with the day’s best shooting: two spares, finished fourth, 35.9 seconds back. Italy with a penalty and six spares finished fifth, 55.2 seconds back. Austria with a penalty and eight spares finished sixth, 1:03.5 back.
Twenty-eight Teams; Norway Leads
The last mid-week competition at this year’s IBU World Championships again was perfect for the 28 teams with +5C on the thermometer, blue skies and light stadium winds. Although there was little wind, the whole shooting range was in the shadow created by the late afternoon sun, making it much darker than the sun-filled- tracks.
The relatively easy loop made this always quick event even faster, especially with fast downhill range approach. Accordingly, Johannes jumped ahead of the field immediately, opening a small gap. He used one spare to clean the first prone while Hofer was perfect to get out in the top spot with the also clean Simon Eder on Johannes’ shoulder in third. The two opened a small gap on the rest of the top ten teams following within 17 seconds into the standing stage. Eder again cleaned in five to take the lead as he tagged Lisa Theresa Hauser with Hofer tagging Dorothea Wierer next and Eckhoff leaving 4.5 seconds back.
Top Three Skiing Together
Hauser, Wierer and Eckhoff skied their first loop together, with Oeberg nine seconds back. Wierer went 5-for-5 in prone while Eckhoff and Hauser with single spares; clean-shooting Oeberg followed. The Norwegian was back with her Italian rival by the standing stage, with the Austrian and Swede another 8 seconds back. The top two went shot-for-shot until Eckhoff missed her last shot; Wierer cleaned to tag Hofer in the top spot, followed by Eder leaving in second and Guigonnat for France next and Samuelsson 13 seconds back.
Hofer and Johannes
Hofer held Johannes off up to the stadium and their prone stage. The Italian used a single spare to take the lead followed by Guigonnat and Samuelsson, while Norway falling 20 seconds back. The top two came to the standing stage together. Guigonnat cleaned in five to give Simon the lead with Wierer next and Oeberg in third, 10 seconds back; Ukraine and Norway followed 16 seconds off the pace.
Last Standing Stage
Eckhoff pushed hard to close the gap to the top three. Simon held a couple of seconds lead as she and Wierer came to the last prone stage. Wierer cleaned in five to retake the lead while Simon used a spare to go out second just ahead of the clean-shooting Eckhoff, now 9 seconds back followed by Darya Blashko and Oeberg in fifth. The top two were even as they came to the deciding standing stage. Simon and Eckhoff cleaned while Simon used a spare but they left together for the last loop with Oeberg third after a perfect standing stage; Wierer’s penalty dropped Italy from the medal hunt.
Simon Sprints to Gold
Eckhoff set the pace in the 1500 meter loop with Simon on her heels. On the last uphill, Simon blew past the Norwegian opening up a couple of seconds. Simon mastered the quick downhill and sprinted like Usain Bolt over the last 100 meters, turned quickly to see Eckhoff two seconds back, then screaming with joy as she captured the Gold medal for France. Oeberg came home in the Bronze medal spot.
Eckhoff Unhappy with Sprint
Eckhoff, on her last loop and sprint said, “I am very happy with my shooting but not my sprint. That is another story.” She then continued, “The last loop, I was really, really stiff. I had a tactic going into the last loop and suddenly Simon was there…It is a little bit bitter but I am going to use it for my motivation!”
Oeberg Focused in Last Standing
Oeberg had to stay focused and calm in the last standing stage to secure the Bronze medal “I am really impressed with Sebbe; he did really good legs and made us stay in the game for the medals. The last leg for me was not a perfect start with two extra shots in prone but then went behind Hauser in the loop. That was the first time I could go behind someone in the tracks so it was good for me to do that before the last standing.”