JT Boe’s Last Loop Surge brings Ruhpolding Mass Start Win

Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe, after overcoming three penalties, surged away from teammate Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen in the last loop of this afternoon’s Ruhpolding men’s 15 km mass start, claiming his ninth victory of the season in 36:12. The Yellow Bib and Christiansen battled for the lead throughout the competition; Christiansen, with two penalties finished second, 19.3 seconds back.

Struggle to Catch Vetle

JT, atop the podium for the third time this week admitted the win was hard-fought. “My main rival today was Vetle. He was really good on the skis today. I felt it already in the first loop. He was there in the first part and I really had to struggle to catch him. We all know his sprint and there was just one uphill left. After catching seven seconds (out of he penalty loop), to push for an attack is hard but in the end a victory. It is already worth it.”

“What the sport is about”

Continuing, he added regarding the winning strategy. “There was only one chance to beat him. I attacked where I was the best and got the meters that I needed. It is hard to dig deep, but that is what the sport is about.”

Header iconBMW IBU World Cup 5 Ruhpolding Men's Mass Start

Winning a sprint

Teammate Sturla Holm Laegreid, with two penalties finished 35.3 seconds back, edged Tarjei Boe with two penalties by 1.1 seconds, giving Norway the top four places in the competition. Laegreid who has said he always gets outsprinted, finally won one. “I finally won a sprint but It was against Tarjei. He is not the fastest so I am not so sure I can count it. He beat me last year, so this is my revenge.”

France’s Emilien Jacquelin, after skipping the individual and relay here to work on his shooting had two penalties in fifth place, 49.7 seconds back. Lithuania’s Vytautas Strolia, with one penalty finished in a season-best sixth place, 55.6 seconds back.

Penalties for the leaders

It was another warm +8C day for the second mass start of the season, with overcast skies, swirling winds on the shooting range and the deep soft snow on the tracks. JT with Christiansen alongside set the pace in the first loop. The Yellow Bib revealed his strategy, “I think the others would be happy if I did not ski so fast, so I needed to play on my strengths.”

The duo, up ten seconds by the first prone stage, both missed their first shot. Thirteen men cleaned, led by Quentin Fillon Maillet, Fabien Claude, Tarjei and Jacquelin all within eleven seconds. The French trio, took control, setting the pace into the second loop.

Fighting back

JT and Christiansen responded, fighting back into the lead pack by the 4.9 km split. JT went back on lane one for the second prone stage. This time, the Yellow Bib was fast, clean and in the lead with 10-for-10 Claude on his shoulder and Christiansen a step behind. The next six in the chase pack were also perfect through two stages.

Opening the Door

The Yellow Bib took his lane one spot for the first standing stage, picking up another penalty as did Christiansen, with Claude’s two dropping him from contention. That opened the door for clean-shooting Tarjei, Sebastian Samuelsson and Strolia to move into the lead with JT and Christiansen joining them as they exited the penalty loop.

One More Penalty

The tempo slowed for a moment until JT pulled to an eight-second lead just before the deciding standing stage, again shooting aggressively and missing a shot again. Christiansen cleaned going out 5.9 seconds before JT, with Tarjei and Laegreid third and fourth, 20 and 28.5 seconds back, respectively.

Christiansen bolted from the stadium in the lead; the Yellow Bib eventually caught up, following on the tails of his teammate’s skis. With 1100 meters to go, JT attacked, skiing away from Christiansen for the victory. Tarjei and Laegreid battled for the last podium spot, with Laegreid pulling away into third place in the last 50 meters.

Christiansen, “out of energy”

Christiansen explained his strategy. “Today, I decided to try and not give Johannes anything for free. It started pretty rough with the last half of the first loop, he attacked and I decided to follow as long as I can. When we both missed (in prone), we both had some kind of contact with the first group (eventually catching them) … One miss too much in the beginning of the race was too much for me to keep up with Johannes on the last loop…I was out of energy. It was the second time in a row that I could give him some kind of a fight. I have to be satisfied with another second place.”

“The Real Hulk”

The fun-loving Christiansen gifted JT with a pair of Incredible Hulk gloves on the podium in honor of his dominating victory. “It was a plan that I should use them today. It is the first time that I brought them to a race, because I felt good am in good shape and the shooting is coming; just for insurance if I was on top of the podium. When Johannes caught me, he really deserved them. It kind of suits him because…he really earned the right to be the real Hulk.”

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Igor Stančík

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