JT Boe Goes Wire-to-Wire for Sprint/Pursuit Double

Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe shot clean, securing his first-ever IBU World Championships sprint/pursuit double with an unchallenged wire-to-wire win in this afternoon’s men’s 12.5 km pursuit. JT’s time of 33:34.5 put him 1:11.2 ahead of Silver medalist and teammate Sturla Holm Laegreid who also shot clean. After starting in 11th position, Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson, with two penalties won the Bronze medal, 1:54.1 back after a thrilling last loop battle with Norway’s Tarjei Boe who finished fourth.

Very proud of the race”

JT, happy as expected felt strong on a day when nothing hindered him in his Gold medal quest. “Today the flag was going straight down; there were no wind issues, no fog. I could go out in the lead and felt really good on the skis; The best day so far in the Championships. It looks like the shape is coming and shooting clean as well which is not too often. I am very proud of the race today.”

Complete Set of IBU WCH medals

The Norwegian’s Pursuit Gold medal today in a perfect competition completed his collection of IBU World Championships medals, as he has now won Gold in every discipline. “I have been thinking about that for many nights. Now I have all seven of them. That is quite an achievement.”

Norway’s Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, with two penalties, finished fifth, 2:14.7 back. Germany’s Johannes Kuehn, with two penalties finished sixth, 2:27.1 back.

Perfect first prone stages

Little changed in the two hours between the women’s and men’s competitions, except that the fog diminished in the stadium greatly as the afternoon progressed, but remained thick on the tracks in places. JT set the tone with his usual aggressive pace right from the start. All alone on the range, the first prone was clean and fast; same for Tarjei, with the gap between the brothers at 25.6 seconds. Laegreid and Dale shooting side-by-side also cleaned, trailing out of the stadium 48 seconds back.

“Not much could stop me”

JT was sure of himself as soon as he completed the first prone stage. “I felt in the first shooting that this is my day; very calm; very good picture in the sight. I think there was not much that could stop me.”

The second prone stage was more of the same with the top three cleaning once again. However, JT increased his gap to Tarjei to 31 seconds while Laegreid slipped to 53.7 seconds back. Dale fell back with a penalty, moving the also 10-for-10 Dmytro Pidruchnyi and Samuelsson into fourth and fifth positions.

Header iconBMW IBU World Championships Oberhof Men's 12.5 km Pursuit

Standing Perfection

The wind flags were fluttering a bit when JT came to the first standing stage, but it mattered little as all five targets closed easily. Not so for Tarjei who picked up two penalties, dropping him to fifth. Laegreid cleaned, jumping to second but 1:10 back with the also perfect Christiansen moving into third, with Samuelsson and Tarjei just two seconds behind, 1:30 in arrears.

JT’s last standing was totally perfect; five quick shots, five targets white, a fist pump of victory to the crowd and he was gone, heading to an IBU WCH sprint/pursuit double. Laegreid also went to 20-for-20, securing the Silver medal.

The three battling for Bronze all ended up with two penalty loops, with Tarjei leaving the loop 2.5 seconds ahead of Christiansen and Samuelsson, setting up a last loop showdown on the tracks.

Final Lap Fun

JT skied the last loop comfortably, acknowledging the crowd and before the finish, bowed to them, then knelt just before the line and gestured to the fans with a big smile. “The final lap was fun. I was enjoying it. The next final laps will not be like that.”

Sturla’s Silver Strategy

Laegreid waved and slapped hands as he came down the last hill to claim his Silver medal spot. After losing strategy partner Johannes Dale early in the competition, Laegreid knew his medal hopes were in his own hands. “I knew the guys were more than one penalty loop behind me. I just kept the gap. I knew I had every chance to take the Silver medal if I just did the job on the shooting range and make it hard on the other guys…The fact that I am taking medals here is just a sign that the old Sturla is back!”

Samuelsson Wins Bronze Battle

Samuelsson and Tarjei broke Christiansen early in the last loop; the two battled from there. Tarjei led until the last few hundred meters when Samuelsson put on a powerful sprint to take the Bronze medal.

“Loose screw” Redemption

His third career IBU WCH pursuit medal was simple redemption, after a disastrous mixed relay with three penalties, explaining, “To do biathlon you have to have a screw loose, but not on your rifle. When I saw that was the problem, I was angry with myself because it should not happen. I knew if I fixed the rifle, I would have a much better chance to do better shooting.”

“Fight to the very end”

That fix gave him the confidence needed in the sprint and especially today. “I was not on the podium before this but I knew I could do it. I just wanted to show my best today. I felt strong on the skis. The first three shootings were very good and gave myself an opportunity. With two mistakes in the last shooting, you know it will be tough for the medals. Luckily, all the others were nervous as well. It was just to fight until the very end.”

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Bjorn Reichert

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