“One of the hardest races”
JT called his eighth win of the season, “One of the hardest races of the season with the deep snow here, tricky conditions as well with some electricity problems. It was difficult for athletes and hopefully we will not have it for the rest of the races.”
As for the confidence that comes from the unmatched skiing that keyed the win, “It gives me a lot of confidence, but in a race like the individual with one minute per mistake, it is not so confident. Because with three mistakes on one shooting, it is three minutes and you are just 40th or 50th.”
Last stage penalty, “from the podium to maybe seventh or eighth”
Regarding if he thought the victory slipped away with his last standing stage penalty, he added, “For sure, I thought of going from the podium to maybe seventh or eighth position. I was quite sad leaving the last shooting. I was really surprised; I checked the results when I was changing clothes and was still number one and I did not believe it!
Slovenia’s Jakov Fak, the only man in the field to shoot clean, finished third, 29.7 seconds back. Fak’s season-best third place was his first podium since he finished third in the 2021 Antholz mass start.
Biathlon “a big part of me” “I am really proud and happy that I am still here because this is really a big part of me; I want to be in biathlon longer. It is always a good thing to get on the podium and get recognition for the hard work you put in.”
JT’s teammate Sturla Holm Laegreid, finished fourth, 42.8 seconds back. Tommaso Giacomel of Italy, finished fifth, 56.3 seconds back while Germany’s Benedikt Doll, finished sixth, 56.3 seconds back. All three had a single penalty.
This traditional mid-week competition in Ruhpolding looked more like spring than winter, with a ribbon of soft, slushy snow between the green and brown grass, the wind flags flapping lightly on easy-to-shoot-on range and a balmy +4C on the thermometer. The day did not start well for the Yellow Bib wearing number 3, with one penalty in the first prone putting him at an early disadvantage. His teammates Laegreid and then Christiansen made sure a Norwegian was atop the leaderboard with clean stages, putting them 1-2. Fabien Claude slipped between the two with his 5-for-5, but never challenged after that.
JT made up for the prone penalty with a quick second loop and a blazingly fast clean first standing stage. “I was really ready before I started, after the first target, I reloaded…I so I just let loose; a great shooting.”
Giacomel went to 10-for-10, taking a 28-second lead, while Laegreid did the same, but was 5.2 seconds back. Christiansen again was perfect, remaining in the lead.
By the time the Yellow Bib reached the second prone stage, he was ahead of the two men who started 30 seconds and a minute before him. This time JT cleaned, taking over lead as the young Italian who missed one shot. Laegreid went to 15 straight hits, taking the lead but by only 3 seconds. Christiansen continued to roll, with another perfect five shots, going 23 seconds up on Laegreid.
Last stage penalty, “the devil of biathlon”
The chance of the Yellow Bib taking the victory faded as he missed a shot in the last standing stage. However, Christiansen giving him only a 6.9 second lead on his fast-skiing teammate with a 4 km loop to go. “From now on, I will call it the devil of biathlon, this last shot. Is it possible to be 100% satisfied if you miss the last shot? I am not sure but with my history on standing shooting this year, I have to be satisfied with nine hits, because I know it can be so much worse. Even if the last shot cost me the victory today, I am happy, because I decided to be attacking on the last shooting and I got a little bit punished by that. I had higher speed into the target and will try next time and hopefully I will make it.”
Just after this, Fak, in the top seven throughout the competition with faultless shooting went to 20-for-20, leaving just 5.2 seconds back in second position. Fak was most pleased with, “Definitely the shooting. it was not so easy conditions. I had some problems with shooting since the beginning of the season, I missed a few very good results at the shooting range.”
By the 18.1 km split, JT was back in front as Christiansen could not match his teammate’s torrid pace, with Laegreid in third, but the spoiler Fak yet to come. With 700 meters to go as they topped the last big hill, the lead was up to 6.5 seconds. Christiansen looked visibly fatigued as he entered the finishing straight, settling for second place. Fak struggled in the ever-deepening snow on the last loop but managed to hang on for third place dropping Laegreid from the podium to fourth.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Igor Stančík