Jacquelin recovering from cycling accident

Emilien Jacquelin and his French teammates headed up to Norway for a two-week training camp and to compete in the Blinkfestivalen. However, Jacquelin never made it to the Blink starting line. He crashed into a concrete wall while cycling, breaking his wrist in multiple places, had almost immediate surgery and went home to France.

That crash seriously interrupted his summer training plans, but by no means derailed his season. Jacquelin is back training sans rifle and a ski pole while working hard every day on rehabilitation. “We do 45 minutes of exercises every day after training, working on flexibility and it is really hard. It makes my days very long.”

Concrete Wall

His accident happened rather inauspiciously. “I was riding my bike; roads in Norway are many times quite straight. There was a wall on the right; I was focused on my wheel. I did not see the wall and crashed. I saw directly that my arm was in bad shape; my wrist was displaced.” He admitted that he was lucky to be with teammates. “I could not do anything; just taking my phone was really hard. I was actually lucky because it came after just 13 minutes; we were not so far from our hotel.”

Feeling Great after Surgery

That led to immediate surgery in Norway and some funny feelings. “It was really strange, because a couple of days after the surgery, I felt really fine. I was not anxious, but calm…Less than 12 hours after the surgery, I was in shape (under the influence of painkillers). I told the doctors that I wanted to go home; everything was okay and I was in good shape. The night after I got home, I was so good but it was weird. I felt great. I told myself, ‘this is not normal; after surgery I should be feeling bad.’ A few days later, it was very hard.” 

Running, Training, No Shooting

Getting back to some kind of training was a bit complicated, because Jacquelin was unable to put any pressure on his wrist. Cycling was unquestionably out; he tried an alternative: running. “Four days after surgery, I was doing some running. It was really hard because I had to run with my arm like this (gesturing with his arm bent and his wrist pointed up). Doing 30 or 40 minutes was enough for me. I felt very tired and my arm said, ‘Slow down.’ I did not stop training for a long time. Now I can train as usual, of course without this arm. I can do a lot of endurance like a cross-country skier; I can’t shoot which is quite hard for me. Maybe it will help me have more confidence in my shooting. I have no choice; I just have to trust myself and deal with it.”

Shooting Simplicity

Regarding the shooting conundrum, the French star thinks that maybe there is too much focus on what can be a simple skill. “We ask so many questions about our shooting because we go from May to November. You have so much time to think about the bs of shooting. After not shooting, you sometimes just go to the basics: these black targets have to be white! It is not about where you put your hand or whatever. Still there are times when I am stressed about not shooting. I saw the other guys this morning, doing intensity with shooting. Still, I know I am a good shooter and have to stay confident about it.”

Continuing about shooting, he added, “You know I am not that bad a shooter, around 87% even with some big bad shooting at the World Championships! Of course, I want to be better. The level of shooting was really impressive last season. If you want to be at the top, you have to be at 90-92%. The sport continues to get better and you have to do the same thing.”

Mental Approach

Up until the accident, the two-time IBU Pursuit World Champion was pleased with his summer. “The summer was really good. I put a lot of work into my skiing and shooting. I wanted to change my mental approach. I wanted to be more consistent and less fast. After World Championships, I was sure that I wanted to change this. I did that up to now, but now I do not know if I will continue like that or go back to the old way. All of this will depend on my shape. If I am in shape and confident on the skis, I will probably try this; to stay calmer and be more consistent. In the coming years I want to fight for the Overall Globe, so I knew I had to change to do this. But it all depends on how the wrist recovers.”

Staying in the Moment

Jacquelin reflected on last season and his consecutive World Championship titles, the only two victories on his resume. “It is a funny feeling and I want to stop it. I want to win some World Cups, but you know I am a person who loves one-day races. That is why I am so much better at the World Championships than World Cups. Last year was very hard for me with no public in the stands. I hope this season that it can be more normal and I can do my best every time. When you are focused on one thing you can be very strong, like this is “the Day.” Just mark a day and I want to be there and you do it… On the day of the pursuit, I just really wanted to keep my title. I just did my plan without thinking about anything else. I was just focused; there was no stress. I just stayed in the moment, like a musician reading the notes.”

“Back with the guys”

Less than three weeks after his accident and surgery, Jacquelin left home to go to an altitude camp in Bessans with the team. That was a big step both mentally and physically. “It is nice to be back with the team. It was quite hard to train at home alone. I am someone who likes to train alone, but sometimes you have to be with the other guys. I am just trying to stay focused and think about something else (not the injury). It is quite good preparation for the Olympic Games to be at altitude right now. I feel great, in good shape, but sometimes it is mentally quite hard to keep motivation and be focused on this winter and not only think about my arm.”

Long Road to the New Season

Looking into the crystal ball; the BMW IBU World Cup season and the Olympic Winter Games come out of the haze. It is there that goals lie for Emilien Jacquelin. “I am not sure how my shape will be at the beginning of the season, but Le Grand Bornand is week three and maybe I will be in good shape. Last year, winning there was one of my goals along with the World Championships and it still is this year. I want to be better in other places and win at the Olympic Games. But the road and tunnel to both of them is really long at this moment, but it could be a great story. I would be proud of myself if I do it and hope I will.”

Photos: IBU/Jerry Kokesh, Emilien Jacquelin, Quentin Fillon Maillet

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