Confident Fillon Maillet
Fillon Maillet, with today’s victory moved to the top spot in the World Cup Sprint Score. He felt confident, keeping his goals in mind. “The goals for the end of the season is the Globe and continue to have good races. That is what happened today. It was not my perfect day today but I felt good in the head and was confident. I was a little bit lucky in the standing shooting because I had two bullets very close to the border.”
Andersen’s teammate Sivert Guttorm Bakken, with one penalty finished in a personal best fourth place, 31.2 seconds back. Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson, with two penalties finished fifth, 32.4 seconds back. Fillon Maillet’s teammate Emilien Jacquelin, also with two penalties, finished sixth, 34.2 seconds back.
Little changed from the time of the women’s sprint to the men’s start: still breezy on the range and still -3C. Simon Desthieux was the first to go clean in prone, taking the early lead. Samuelsson, wearing the Red Bib skied a fast first loop came to prone, cleaned with ease, leaving with the lead, 17 seconds faster than anyone. A minute later, Fillon Maillet also cleaned but was 6.4 seconds slower than the Swede. Bakken and Andersen both cleaned later in the competition, with the former having the third fastest prone stage.
Desthieux’s standing penalty knocked him from the top group. Jacquelin, after two prone penalties, cleaned standing very fast to get in the podium mix. Kuehn followed his one-penalty prone stage with a clean standing, going out in second position. Samuelsson came to standing with the chance to seal the win but missed twice. However, the Yellow Bib did just that, closing his five targets very fast, skiing away with a 29-second lead over Samuelsson. Leitner, then went to 10-for-10 jumping 1.5 seconds ahead of Jacquelin, but the Austrian faded after that. The first big surprise came when Bakken after a perfect prone stage, picked up a standing penalty, but left the stadium in second position. The second surprise also came from Norway as Andersen, with a perfectly clean shooting day was out of standing 5.6 seconds faster than his Norwegian teammate.
Jacquelin and Kuehn had equally fast last loops, with Kuehn finishing just 4.6 seconds faster, after leaving standing less than two seconds apart. Fillon Maillet did not gain any time on the field in the last loop, but did not need to, steady was good enough for him to take the victory pushing Kuehn to second for the moment. Bakken going after his first individual World Cup podium sprinted into the stadium, crossing the line with arms out and skis stretched to the limit, finishing 1.2 seconds ahead of the Red Bib.
With 1800 meters to the finish, Andersen was solidly in second position. With 900 meters to go, Andersen had the podium well in hand, crossing in second place, for his second individual World Cup podium just a day after his first World Cup relay podium. Kuehn dropped to third and Bakken to a non-podium fourth place.
“Pedal to the floor and push for second”
Andersen, on the podium with the relay team yesterday and now back with a personal best result, continued to be amazed by his good fortune. “It feels amazing; it really does. I was nervous before the weekend when I go the message that I was going to ski the relay. It was a great experience and getting the victory there gave me a lot of confidence, especially on the shooting range. Today was really cool! I did not feel that great on the first loop, but had confidence that if I did my own race, I would do fine. In shooting I was calm and confident so when I hit the last shot, it was just pedal to the floor and push for second place.”
Kuehn was back in form, with a strong start and fast last loop that put him on the podium after recovering from a bout with Covid-19 back in January. “I tried to start fast because the first 500 meters are flat; that does not suit me so well and I usually lose a lot of time, so I tried to push as hard as I can. I paid the bill for that in the second lap…my legs were hurting. So, I focused on shooting after missing one in my strong part, prone shooting…I was happy to shoot clean in standing…I tried to save some energy for the last part of the last lap…At the last split time, I was not on the podium, following five or six guys…At the finish I was first (among) them.”
Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni