Pursuit Gold to Martin Fourcade; Defends 2016 Title
France’s Martin Fourcade won the men's 12.5K pursuit this afternoon, his first Gold medal of these Championships, while defending his 2016 IBU World Championships pursuit crown. Fourcade had a single last-shot penalty in his 30:16.9 win. Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe repeated his sprint performance, starting second and finishing with his second Silver medal, despite three penalties, 22.8 seconds back. Boe's teammate, the 43-year-old Ole Einar Björndalen, with one penalty, captured the Bronze medal, 25.6 seconds back..
Russia’s Anton Shipulin was fourth, just one step from the podium, with one penalty, 33.6 seconds back. Czech Republic’s Ondřej Moravec had two penalties, in fifth, 34 seconds back. Lowell Bailey of the USA was sixth, with one penalty, 34.7 seconds back.
Boe and Doll Falter Early
In the sunny weekend-closing competition, Sprint Champion Benedikt Doll and Boe had first-prone penalties, ceding the lead to Fourcade. Second prone was a Deja-vu, as both Boe and Doll repeated the penalties, opening the door for the clean-shooting Bjoerndalen, Bailey and Krasimir Anev. Simon Schempp also came back into contention, moving from ninth to fourth, with two clean stages.
Final Standing: One Penalty, but Gold
Fourcade approached the final standing stage alone, with a 30 second plus lead, dropping the first four targets before missing the final one. Despite this, he came off the penalty loop with 37-second advantage. His Gold medal secured; he crossed the finish line waving the French flag. The two other medal positions were being decided. Bjoerndalen cleaned and left In second, with Bailey in third. However, Boe, coming off the penalty loop, rocketed past Bailey; later catching Bjoerndalen to claim the Silver. The "King of Biathlon" finished third to the roar of 20, 000 spectators.
Fourcade: "Pursuit is My Favorite"
Fourcade admitted, “I think he Pursuit is my favorite race. There is nothing like crossing the line in the first position.”
He did enjoyed today's competition. “I took so much pleasure today on the track. I was satisfied with so many spectators. It's one of those days where you can just thank your parents who bought you your first pair of skis when you were 9-years-old.”
He explained the missed shot, “I lost concentration and I missed this one bullet. I was not satisfied, as I was hoping to celebrate my victory on the shooting range.”
Good Feeling for Johannes
Boe commented on the last loop, “I was not sure to catch Ole. When I closed and went past Bailey, I didn't actually think I was going to catch him. In the last uphill I managed to do it. When I looked back I knew Ole and I were going to catch a medal; that was a good feeling.”
Bronze is Like Victory
Björndalen's first podium of the year and the Bronze medal was very special. “I am really happy. It’s like a victory for me. It’s the first podium for me this year. “
He admitted that his wife Darya Domracheva’s Silver medal was motivating, “Of course, she was so strong today. I got a lot of motivation from her; I watched the race on TV today.”