In snowy and cold Sjusjoen, it was Russia’s Anton Babikov taking the win in the men's 10 km sprint. Putting in a 10 out of 10 performance, Babikov finished the competition in 24:32.8. Doubling it up for the Russian team, clean-shooting Anastasia Shevchenko took the win in the women’s 7.5 km sprint in 21:30.2.
Babikov winning the competition, Norway’s Filip Fjeld Andersen missed once and had to settle for the second place, just .9 seconds behind the Russian. Andersen’s teammate Havard Gutuboe Bogetveit, after earning one standing penalty, came in third, 9.8 seconds behind.
Anton 10/10 Babikov
Babikov didn’t have the fastest start of the competition. While Bogetveit was first after cleaning prone, Babikov, after cleaning as well, was fourth, 8.6 seconds behind. Between the two were Germany’s David Zobel and Norway’s Endre Stroemsheim, second and third respectively. As the competition progressed, Babikov found his speed, overtaking Stroemsheim by the 5.7 km split. However, the gap with Bogetveit widened to 10.3 seconds; Babikov needed only to be patient and wait for his chance. As Zobel and Bogetveit collected one penalty in standing and Stroemsheim three, Babikov passed them by the end of the standing stage, taking a 7-second lead over Bogetveit. Keeping the position, the Russian crossed the finish line as the winner.
Babikov on his win: “It was not the best conditions for me in the previous races. I didn’t find my shooting and today for me the goal was the shooting range. I was really slow in prone and standing, but most important was that it was zero. On the track it was good work, thank you to my team because they helped me on every part of the distance.”
Double podium for Norway
It was all about the shooting today. Anton Babikov cleaned both shooting stages claiming the win. The question was who would join him on the podium. While Bogetveit was in the top throughout the competition, one prone penalty put Andersen on the 15th position after the first shooting round. But as it very often is the case with Filip Fjeld, he managed to put himself back in the fight for the podium after cleaning the standing stage. Leaving the shooting range in third, 8.3 seconds later than Babikov, Andersen cashed in his well-known ski speed to pass Bogetveit, who left the range in second, by the 9.1 km split. Despite being once again the fastest skier of the day he couldn’t beat Babikov. Only .9 seconds deciding the fate of the competition, Andersen was left to settle with the second place. Bogetveit, unable to match the speed of his teammate, came in third making it a double-podium day for Norway.
David Zobel of Germany finished sixth, with one penalty, 14.2 seconds behind. Norway’s Erlend Bjoentegaard missed once as well to finish fifth, 35.8 seconds behind. Also missing once, Martin Jaeger of Switzerland finished sixth, 50.4 seconds back.
After Shenchenko’s confident win, clean-shooting Karoline Erdal of Norway claimed second place, 1.2 seconds behind. Also shooting clean, Paula Botet of France finished third, 4.3 seconds back.
First win of the season for Shevchenko
With many athletes cleaning prone, Shevchenko found herself in fourth place after closing all five targets. Third by the start of the standing stage, Shevchenko had to show once again a steady hand to have a chance of catching the leading Erdal. Clearing also the standing, Shevchenko placed second, 7.9 seconds behind the Norwegian. While it might have seemed like Erdal’s ski speed was unbeatable, Shevchenko sped it up taking back seconds, approaching the 6.8 km split point. Now only 2.8 seconds behind Erdal, Shevchenko knew that she needed to find the strength to close the gap before crossing the finish line. Fastest on the last loop, Shevchenko passed Erdal to take her first win of the season.
Shevchenko was happy with today's win: “I am very glad that I won today. I tried to shoot clean and the two zeros made me very happy. The courses are not so easy here, so I am very happy! Right before the last loop I got the information that I was not the leader after standing and thanks to my team I had all the information about the gap and that helped me to win."
Botet back on the podium
Hitting all five targets in prone, Erdal was in it for the win. Unfortunately, Shevchenko had some other plans leaving the Norwegian to settle with the second place. Still, the fight for the last spot of the podium was still ongoing. Botet managed to close all five prone targets, but landed in fifth, just .3 seconds behind the winner-to-be Shevchenko. Dropping a spot before the last shooting of the day, she managed to take back three places by hitting all five standing targets. Leaving the range in third, she kept the position until the end claiming her second senior podium.
Sweden’s 18-year-old Sara Andersson had a 10 out of ten to take fourth place, 33.7 seconds behind. Clean-shooting Lou Jeanmonnot of France placed fifth, 38.2 seconds behind. Ekaterina Noskova of Russia with one penalty, finished sixth, 44.3 seconds back.
Photos: IBU / Evgeny Tumashov