JT Boe Dominates Antholz Sprint

Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe skied aggressively out of the start house, taking the lead at the first split time, skiing to an unchallenged wire-to-wire win in the Antholz men’s 10 km sprint this afternoon. JT, with a single prone penalty claimed his 62nd career victory in 22:44.1. Sweden’s Martin Ponsiluoma, always strong on the tracks also had one penalty, finishing second, a distant 31.4 seconds back.

“It is really tough”

JT affirmed just how good it is to win but also how hard the effort actually is. “It is the best feeling, before and after the race, During the race, I promise you, it is really tough. Your legs are burning, your brain is empty of energy from the start to the finish. It is rough here in Antholz.”

“Last two were easy-peasy”

The crowd helped him shoot clean the standing stage to ensure the win. “It was like to keep the mistakes to one or zero but when I missed one in prone, it was ‘go five, please’…I started very fast and after the first shooting I was feeling very empty. I used the first kilometer of the second loop to regain power and I did. Coming into the standing shooting, I was cold in the fingers…When I hit the third, I heard the people cheering for me and the last two were easy-peasy.”

“I think only about the next race”

Regarding his 62nd career win, putting him seventeen behind Martin Fourcade’s 79 victories, second on the all-time list behind Ole Einar Bjorndalen, he added, “For each race I am coming more close but I still think it is far off. I am in a good mood now and only think about the next race and not so much about the next victory. I like to do the preparation as well so I am very motivated daily.”

JT’s teammate Sturla Holm Laegreid, shot clean in third place, 37.3 seconds back.

Germany’s Roman Rees, shot clean, finishing fourth, 56.7 seconds back. Norway added another finisher in the top six with Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen in fifth place with one penalty, 57 seconds back. Emilien Jacquelin of France, with one penalty finished sixth, 1:07.5 back.

Penalties on a Perfect “Suntholz” Day

The 98 starters were treated to a perfect “Suntholz” day; the surrounding peaks outlined by bright sunshine and bluebird skies with a comfortable, but wintery -2C. Although the wind was very light, the altitude was a factor on the range; only ten men shot clean. JT set the stage for another victory, taking the lead by a wide margin at the first split time, actually passing David Zobel who started 30 seconds before him. However, despite a penalty, he went out in the lead. Laegreid cleaned prone rather slowly, a dozen seconds back. Jacquelin later cleaning just a few second faster than the Norwegian.

Header iconBMW IBU World Cup 6 Antholz Men's 10 km Sprint

Laegreid explained, “I used a lot of time in prone…I had a good start but then my pulse and everything started to build up. I saw my rifle moving so I had to stop and breathe more to be sure I hit the targets, one or two mistakes would be like 25 seconds. It was better to spend five or ten seconds for the two last shots to be sure they went in.”

Ponsiluoma in standing: “just shoot and not think”

The Yellow/Red Bib got back on track in standing after a second very fast loop with five perfect shots, setting the bar high. Laegreid responded with his own clean stage, but remained over 20 seconds behind his teammate. Ponsiluoma, after a prone penalty, quickly covered the loop into standing and cleaned, moving ahead of Laegreid. The Swede, with the fastest standing shooting of the day admitted that “I have been really struggling with shooting, especially standing, so with one miss, I am fantastically happy…. It did not feel so fast, but I saw the time and was like…it was really good. I really tried to just shoot and not think so much. It is really hard on this range; the breathing and the heart rate is really high. I tried to save some time on the range and not get shaky legs!” Jacquelin lost some time with a standing penalty, falling behind Laegreid by 10 seconds with 3.3 km to go. Christiansen spent a lot of time on the range to ensure he shot clean, while Rees shot faster and also cleaned, giving him a shot at the top six.

JT’s Last Loop

JT continued flying on the last loop, finishing with the best time of the day. Having Benedikt Doll helped push JT even faster. “It helped. I started ten seconds behind him. I thought, ‘yes, this will be the best final loop.’ It gave me good motivation to pass him; he is one of the strongest in the final loop.”

Ponsiluoma had a very good last loop, staying ahead of Laegreid and Jacquelin over the last loop, finishing one spot behind JT. No one else challenged, with Christiansen and Rees lagging behind; the podium was set after number 19 Ponsiluoma finished.

In “another world”

JT explained how special it is to be undefeated in sprints this season. “It is my favorite race. With the shape I have this year, if I only shoot nine or ten, then I know I will be there. It depends on the second fastest runner; what he will shoot. Today was enough with nine!”

Regarding his teammate’s domination Laegreid added, “Right from the start in like the first 100 meters I was eight seconds behind him (JT). I knew he was just going to be in another world today.”

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni

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