Quentin Fillon Maillet skis to Pokljuka mass start win
Quentin Fillon Maillet of France cleaned the last standing stage and skied away from his rivals in the last loop to win the Pokljuka men’s mass start in 36:21.5. Fillon Maillet had just single penalty en route to his third career win, the second consecutive season where he won mass start that ended the January BMW IBU World Cups. Benedikt Doll of Germany, also with one penalty finished second, 10 seconds back. Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe with two penalties finished third, 10.3 seconds back.
First Win of Season
Fillon Maillet explained what it took to win today. “I knew on the last loop and the last shooting; there were many people who could win. I knew that I must shoot clean…fast, because I knew that I had a good shape. I did my best today and am very happy to have this first win this season.”
Boe’s teammate Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen finished fourth, with one penalty, 10.6 seconds back. Yellow Bib Martin Fourcade of France finished fifth, with one penalty, 10.8 seconds back. Norway rounded out the top six with Erlend Bjøntegaard, with two penalties, 21.4 seconds back.
France versus Norway Tussle
Pokljuka provided another nice afternoon for the final competitions, with partly cloudy skies, +2C temperature, and mild shooting range conditions. The first prone stage set up exactly what the first loop looked like: a French blue versus Norwegian red tussle. Seventeen men cleaned with the French trio of Desthieux, Fillon Maillet leaving in the first two seconds followed by Christiansen and Tarjei in hot pursuit. The next dozen were all within 12 seconds. Johannes was number eighteen after one penalty loop.
Fourcade and Fillon Maillet
Fourcade resumed the lead quickly in the next loop. Fillon Maillet cleaned the second prone stage a bit faster than the Yellow Bib, but they stepped off the mat almost simultaneously to assume the lead followed by the equally perfect Christiansen and Dale. Johannes cleaned, leaving 7.9 seconds back in fifth, the only man in the top 9 with a penalty.
Group of Five
This group of five controlled the front with Hofer and Nawrath moving up as they headed to the standing stages. Everyone shot aggressively in the first standing with only Christiansen, Johannes, and Nawrath of the top group cleaning, to go out uncontested. Fourcade, Fillon Maillet, Hofer and Dale each had a penalty and now were just over 20 seconds back.
By 10.4 km, the chase group caught the German, closing down six seconds on the two leading Norwegians. The chasers led by Fillon Maillet continued to get closer to the front as they approached the stadium for the last standing stage. The two Norwegians both missed one shot, while Fillon Maillet shooting quickly cleaned as did the Yellow Bib, who left 7 seconds behind his teammate. Doll, after a 19-of-20 day moved into third, 12.9 seconds back with Johannes at 17 seconds back in fourth.
Fillon Maillet Skis Away; 2nd, 3rd place Battle
Fillon Maillet continued to extend his lead out to 17 seconds as Fourcade faded into the chase group, now fighting for the remaining podium spots. Doll put a small gap on his rivals in one of the downhills, but Fourcade, Christiansen and Johannes kept close. The three continued to jockey as they approached the stadium. Fillon Maillet crossed with his ski poles high in the air for his first victory this season. The German put on a burst to claim second with Johannes in third just ahead of Christiansen and Fourcade.When the dust settled, Norway had three in the top six, while France had two including the winner.
The French victor commented on the last loop. “When I left the shooting range, I knew I had some seconds on Martin. I pushed, pushed hard for all of the loop to stay on the first place.”
Doll Risked, Succeeds
Doll was surprised with his fast last loop and second place finish. “I really did not expect it today. My skis were not so good in the first half of the round but in the second they were really good. I knew it and said, ‘in the first half, I need to get close to Martin; for the second half, I need to try, risk it.’ It worked. I was a little bit surprised. I was waiting for Johannes to fly beside me; in the end I am really happy.”
Photos: Petr Slavik