Simon Schempp Captures Mass Start; First Individual WCH Gold
Germany’s Simon Schempp closed the 2017 IBU World Championships with his first-ever IBU World Championships medal, notably the Gold medal in the men’s mass start. Schempp, shooting clean took control in the last loop to cruise home unchallenged in 35:38.3. Defending mass start Gold medalist Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway won the Silver medal, with one penalty, 9 seconds back. Austria’s Simon Eder, also shooting clean claimed the Bronze medal, 10.1 seconds back.
Early leader Anton Shipulin of Russia, with two penalties, finished fourth, 25.3 seconds back. Martin Fourcade of France, with three penalties, finished fifth, 31.3 seconds back, while individual Gold medalist Lowell Bailey of the USA, shooting clean finished sixth, 33.5 seconds back.
Spectacular Conditions and Prone Shooting
The men had the same spectacular conditions that the women had in their earlier competition: lots of sunshine and brilliant blue skies, with the wind continuing to be a non-factor. The first prone stage looked almost like the women’s with 18 men cleaning; Shipulin led the charge with Bailey, Eder, and Dominik Landertinger on his tail as they left the stadium. Fourcade fell to the back of the field with a single penalty.
Shipulin picked up a penalty in the second prone, but 16 men cleaned again, all within 13 seconds. The pack remained bunched as Bailey led the group out of the stadium followed by the two Austrians; Fourcade recovered with a clean stage and was now in the middle of the group of 16. Benedikt Doll moved into the lead, pushing the pace as they skied the next 3K loop.
Eder Moves Up
The first standing stage cut down the number of contenders to eight, led by Eder, with Bailey and Fourcade on his shoulder. The next five were Schempp, Landertinger, Boe, Krasimir Anev and Arnd Peiffer. All were clean through three stages except the Yellow Bib, with his one early penalty. By mid-loop, he was in front, controlling the pace.
Three Clean Final Standing; Schempp Prevails
The final standing changed everything; Eder cleaned again as did Schempp and Bailey, with Boe in fourth trying to get onto the podium. Fourcade and Landertinger both had two tours of the penalty loop, falling out of contention. Eder and Schempp now were locked in a battle for the Gold medal. Schempp made a big move on the uphill and got away, cruising home throwing kisses to the crowd. Boe had now moved up into the Bronze spot, chasing Eder. The two jockeyed back and forth, but Boe held off the Austrian for the Silver medal.
Schempp beamed after his victory, commenting, “This was my last chance; it is amazing to get this title in the mass start. The previous days have not been so easy explaining every day in the mixed zone why I did not win a medal. Today was much easier.
He was full of confidence after dropping the last five targets. “After the last shooting, I was sure I could win. I felt good on the tracks and gave all I had on the uphill…Today was my perfect race.”
Johannes Thought, “Medal was Lost”
Boe admitted that one point, he thought a medal was out of the question. “I felt really good after15-for-15. I was just laying back and saving power for the last loop. When I missed that shot in the last standing, I thought the medal was lost. Then I passed Bailey and saw Eder. I pushed hard and used all of my energy. That last lap was quite hard…I am really satisfied; quite happy.”
Not Enough Power
Eder commented, “It is really difficult to get an individual medal. I tried not to think too much. I knew after the first 1500 meters of the last loop that my legs were not too good. I tried to push on the last uphill, there was not enough power.”