Another JT teammate, Filip Fjeld Andersen shot clean but finished fourth, 54.5 seconds back. Andrejs Rastorgujevs of Latvia, also went 10-for-10, finishing fifth, 1:00.4 back. Sweden’s Martin Ponsiluoma, with one penalty, finished sixth, 1:03.7 back.
Regarding his record of success and good skiing at Hochfilzen, where he has seven victories, JT added that he was unsure of why he does so well but, “it is a track with lots of ups and downs, turns, so you need to maintain speed and make speed quite fast. I am quite good at that.”
As for Sunday’s pursuit, the man who will start with a 43-second advantage said, “attack is the best defense. I will try to do my own race from the start and like everyone else, try to shoot clean.”
The men faced conditions almost similar but different than what the women faced yesterday, -1C, and light winds but lacking the bright sunshine and the tracks much slower. Unsurprisingly, JT after fast splits on the first loop, cleaned with the fastest time. Laegreid, second in last week’s sprint also cleaned with the second best time, five seconds slower than JT while Niklas Hartweg and Andersen matched a bit later. Jacquelin broke up the Norwegian logjam at the top leaving two seconds slower than JT. Fillon Maillet, continuing to look better cleaned prone but 10 seconds slower than JT.
Jacquelin was pleased with his ski speed, good shooting and focus. “It is a good performance. My shooting and skiing were good. On the track, I felt good; it was not the best shape I ever had, but it was really good to fight for the podium, always good to fight with Sturla and Johannes.”
I always to try to be more regular and stable. I know that sometimes, my emotions are a strength…or not. I try to stay above that and try to be focused doing my best performance…It is not (always) about results, just doing the best I can.”
Standing proved to be just as easy for the man in Yellow and Red, five shots, five targets closed and a big lead. Laegreid missed a shot but remained in second position, but 36 seconds behind his teammate. Andersen cleaned like his two older teammates, leaving in third position, setting up a possible Norwegian podium sweep. That is, until Jacquelin put in his bid, heading out three seconds in front of Laegreid after completing a single penalty loop.
Laegreid although confident on the range, was disappointed in missing that one standing shot. “I think my skiing shape is quite good now; it gives me confidence. I know I can ski my normal pace and it is good enough. That gives me a bit of confidence in the shooting range. I know I do not have to take too much risk. I am a bit disappointed with the one mistake, but you have to get this mistake to wake up. Then I finally hit the rest, so it did not bother me so much.” JT, once again the fastest man on the tracks, continued to pull away on the last loop, while everyone else struggled to match his speed. Laegreid turned in a solid last loop, but Jacquelin kept the pressure on, staying ahead of the Norwegian through the finish, sealing second place in between JT and Laegreid.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Jasmine Walter