"A fabulous run"
JT’s nineteenth win put an exclamation mark on his season. “Now I can celebrate and look back on the achievements this year, all the way from Kontiolahti to here in Oslo. It was just a fabulous run. Nineteen victories in a season is…pretty good! I could not have imagined all those victories. The season I have had is amazing!” "I really wanted another win"
Although his season was filled with highlights, he admitted that he was most proud of, “the total: every win, every relay win for Norway, the focus throughout the season. Even the final race today, I pushed hard. I really wanted another win. Now I can sit back and take some days off.”
The win today added to JT’s overwhelming margin in capturing the World Cup Total Score for the fourth time. He finished with 1589 points to second place Laegreid with 1098 and Christiansen in third at 935 points.
Switzerland’s Niklas Hartweg shot clean to equal his personal best in second place, 26.2 seconds back. Today’s second place gave the 23-year-old Hartweg the World Cup Blue Bib (U25) trophy, ahead of Italy’s Tommaso Giacomel.
He explained the difficulties he encountered to get through the season, take second today and win the title. “The season was so long. I have never completed a whole season, especially in the World Cup. When you are doing well, you race every race. My body was not quite used to that…Coming into the weekend, I felt I was better rested and I cannot complain, the weekend was amazing…Today I had more confidence and coolness coming into the last shooting when there was something at stake and that is a big part of what I learned this season.”
Mass Start Globe to Vetle
JT’s teammate Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen shot clean in third place, 35.2 seconds back. The third-place finish gave Christiansen the World Cup Mass Start Score title and his second small crystal globe this season and the second in his career, after earlier winning the World Cup Individual Score.
“Impressed by myself that I hit 20!”
Christiansen described what it took to hit 20-for-20 and claim the Mass Start Score win. “These conditions are quite tough. You get nothing for free. With the fog on the range, we all changed our front aperture (making it bigger). When you do that, you have to be more careful. If you are sloppy with the sighting, you have a miss. This was demanding with these conditions and you are tired after a long season. I am impressed by myself that I hit twenty in this situation and fighting for the globe. I am really satisfied…I am really proud that I handled the pressure, especially here on home soil with the audience cheering for you. I am beyond happy that I made it!”
France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet, with one penalty finished fourth, 36.8 seconds back. A third Norwegian Sturla Holm Laegreid, also with one penalty finished fifth, 40 seconds back, with Sweden’s Martin Ponsiluoma, after four penalties finishing sixth, 43 seconds back.
A bit cooler day at -1C, softer snow, the fog creeping in and the wind flags lying low greeted the 30 men in their final competition of the 2022/23 season, with the mass start globe on the line for Christiansen. Unsurprisingly, JT bolted to the front from the start with Ponsiluoma on his shoulder, separating from the rest of the field by more than 10 seconds. Both had a single penalty in the first prone stage, dropping 9 and 11 seconds back. Doll cleaned and left first with nine also clean following within six seconds including Fillon Maillet, Christiansen, Laegreid, and Tarjei. JT moved quickly back into the middle of the long train as they headed to the second prone stage.
Fillon Maillet shot on lane one and missed a shot in the second prone, while Hartweg, Christiansen and the Boe brothers cleaned going out in that order; the lead pack down to six. At the 7.4 km split, JT. back in the lead, pulled away from the field with a 10-second gap.
Five fast shots closed the first set of standing targets; JT was gone before anyone else fired a shot. Christiansen and Hartweg both cleaned, going out 14.5 and 19.5 seconds back with Tarjei after a penalty loop in fourth but 38 seconds back.
By the last standing stage, the Yellow Bib’s lead was over 40 seconds. He missed the first shot and went to the penalty loop, but emerged sixteen seconds in front of the 20-for-20 Hartweg and 19 ahead of the also perfect Christiansen. JT, looking tired skied the last loop, waved to the fans down the finish stretch, ending his season with his nineteenth victory.
Medal with Tarjei, Hat Trick and the King
Thinking about his personal highlights, JT thought and summed up, “It is hard to say. For sure to combine it with the World Champs, winning the Gold medal with my brother was the main thing. Of course, having the Hat Trick here and meeting the King of Norway two days in a row is a perfect ending to a perfect season.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni. Igor Stančík