“Good day, a great day for me!”
Kuehn, with his career best and first podium since his third place sprint at Oberhof in January 2020 was feeling great after his big day. “It is a great feeling; everybody likes to be good. A win is something that happened the last time a few years ago. A World Cup win is crazy. I think everybody is dreaming of winning one time. My last win was in an IBU Cup in 2015 or something. It is a good day for me, a great day!”
“Far to the finish line”
Regarding his very fast last loop, he added, “I did not think so much. I was happy with my shooting and I tried to stay calm out of the range because it is far to the finish line. Last week, I had quite a bad last kilometer, so I tried to save some energy for that.”
Russia’s Alexander Loginov with one penalty finished fourth, 22 seconds back. Norway’s Tarjei Boe, with one penalty finished fifth, 23 seconds back. Emilien Jacquelin of France, also with one penalty finished sixth, 23.6 seconds back.
The heavy snow of Thursday moved on for today’s sprints, leaving a partly cloudy sky with patches of blue, a wintery -5C and a light breeze on the shooting range this morning. The snow changed the start order somewhat for the men, with many of the big names starting in the second group, in the middle of the field, thinking that the tracks would ski in and get faster as the competition progressed. Clean-shooting Kuehn set the bar high early for the 110 men behind him taking the prone lead. Jacquelin put in his bid for a good day with an efficient, perfect prone stage, just .3 seconds slower than Kuehn. Loginov put himself in contention with a perfect prone stage, 12.1 seconds faster than the field. Fillon Maillet was the next man to clean, matching Kuehn at 12.1 seconds behind Loginov. Tarjei upped the ante with his clean stage, moving to second position, just 10.8 seconds behind the Russian leader.
Prone leader Kuehn missed on standing shot. Sprint World Champion Ponsiluoma, after one prone penalty, cleaned standing after a strong second loop to move into the top spot, but less than a second faster than Kuehn. Jacquelin missed one standing shot but was just 3.5 seconds off the top time after leaving the penalty loop. Loginov came to standing with a huge lead, missed his first shot but still retained the lead. Fillon Maillet fell from the leaders with two penalties. Smolski, after cleaning prone but with the seventh fastest time, was again perfect in standing, moving into the lead. Just after Smolski, Tarjei shot very fast, missed his last shot, leaving 4.9 seconds behind the Belarusian.
I like Hochfilzen”
Ponsiluoma after struggling on the shooting range at home last week in Oestersund admitted he got his confidence back today. “I am really happy today. I had two really hard weeks in Oestersund with the shooting; I missed a lot. It was a bit annoying and get my confidence up on the shooting, today I had some luck; I hit one on the edge but it was in… I like this range and did really good results here: second in the mass start. I like Hochfilzen so that is why it was so good today.”
Kuehn’s powerful last loop proved to be the deciding factor, keeping him ahead of Ponsiluoma by a dozen seconds by the finish. Loginov slowed in the last loop and was 13 seconds back with 1300 meters to the finish. Smolski lost time as soon as he left the stadium, falling 8.9 seconds back at the 8.7 km split, but was faster than Loginov to secure third place at the finish.
Smolski had no idea his day had gone so well until the finish. “I did not realize what was going on until the end of the competition when I was waiting for the results. I am very satisfied and glad about my shooting because everything worked quite well for me in training but not in Oestersund. Maybe I was too nervous but right now, I am really happy… In Oestersund, I was skiing very well but forgot how to shoot. Here I focused on shooting and although the conditions were not that easy, I managed to shoot clean.”
Photos: IBU/Evgeny Tumashov