Shooting Perfection Means Victory for Johannes Thingnes Boe in Östersund Individual
Johannes Thingnes Boe, with a perfect 20-for-20 shooting day won the men’s 20K individual in 53: 24.5 this evening at BMW IBU World Cup 1 in Östersund. This was the 24-year-old Boe’s first-ever win in biathlon’s classic competition, his 14th career victory. He commented, “This is a big day for me, because I've been waiting for long to win in this format; it feels great to have a win in each of them.” He left the field more than two minutes behind with French teammates Quentin Fillon Maillet, also shooting clean and Martin Fourcade, with two penalties, finished second and third, 2:01 and 2:14.3 back.
Fourth went to Austria’s Julian Eberhard, with one penalty, 2:17.5 back, followed by Russia’s Anton Babikov, shooting clean, 2:20.7 back. Lukas Hofer of Italy was sixth, with two penalties, 2:30.1 back.
After the women had to endure a very cold evening on Wednesday, the men got a bit of a break, with the temperature a bit warmer at minus 5C and the wind staying fairly calm once again but at times shifting from left to the right. The shifting wind limited the clean shooting, with only five men dropping every target, compared to the dozen women yesterday.
Bauer and Eder Start Fast
Number 6 Simon Eder of Austria set the pace for everyone behind him, with two fast clean stages to take the early lead. Yet, his top spot in prone disappeared once Fourcade came to the stadium with the fastest first loop time; he promptly took the lead. However, a couple of minutes later, Johannes came to the range a bit slower, but shot faster, cleaned and put Fourcade 10 seconds back. Eder continued his solid pace, cleaning the second prone stage, but lost some time with a slower than usual tempo while also needing a spare round after a jammed round. Eder’s slower tempo cost him when Klemen Bauer of Slovenia shot clean much faster and moved to within 10 seconds of the Austrian.
Johannes and Martin
However the biggest competition of the day was in between Fourcade and Johannes. Fourcade cleaned the first standing in his deliberate style to move into the top spot. Johannes countered with a clean stage, 10 seconds faster to grab a 17 second lead at the competition mid-point. As they headed to the second prone, Eberhard cleaned quickly for the third time, to jump ahead of his teammate. Eder fell out of contention with two missed targets in the last standing, as did Bauer who missed his final shot. Fourcade cleaned with another slow stage and Johannes matched but much faster to take a 20.6 second lead, going into the deciding last standing stage.
Johannes Perfect; Fourcade Falters
Eberhard missed his first shot in the last standing as Switzerland’s Benjamin Weger cleaned for the first 20-for-20 of the day. Still, the battle for the top spot was down to the French and Norwegian rivals. Fourcade faltered with two penalties. Johannes countered with another fast clean stage, to put him more than two minutes up on the field, guaranteeing him the win.
Three men, clean shooting Anton Babikov, Weger and Fillon Maillet and Eberhard sat in between Johannes and Fourcade going into the last loop. Fourcade, looking a bit tired pulled back everyone except Fillon Maillet. The podium was set, with Fourcade in third and his younger teammate taking second, behind Johannes.
Unexpected Margin; Knew He Could Win
Boe’s big margin of victory was a surprise. “I could not expect to finish 2 minutes ahead before the competition. But today I shot clean, while the others didn't.” Still, he was aware of what was happening in front of him. “I saw Martin shooting every lap because I was up at the water tower; when I saw he missed 2 in the last shooting I knew I could take it.”
Good Place and a Zero
Fillon Maillet was thrilled with his second place at a venue he likes, but paid a painful price in the last loops. “Two years ago I had great results here, so it definitely feels like a good place for me. This year I've had many problems with my shooting and I am so happy that I found a zero…It is very important for me to start with such a good result, because I worked very hard to be here. However, I had a cramp on the third lap and it was tough to get to the finish, my legs still feel like wood!”
Praise for Johannes
Fourcade praised Johannes, while also mentioning that he personally is not at the top of his game yet. “Johannes is in terrific shape…I knew that he was very strong today and even without the misses I couldn't challenge him: sometimes you can only congratulate your opponents and today is one of these days.
Continuing, he added on his current form, “Compared to last year I am far from that shape, but one never knows if such a form is coming back. I think I am 80% of that version of myself, but I can't tell you if this 100% will happen again. (Note: Fourcade did have the fastest course time today, with Johannes 11.3 seconds back) I had some pain on my wrist during the summer and then I've been sick in autumn, so I can be satisfied with today's result. I will focus on that rather than what I could have done better.”