Laegreid’s Standing Stage Seals Pursuit Victory

Norway’s Sturla Holm Laegreid after finishing second to teammate Johannes Thingnes Boe in the past four competitions broke the cycle by winning the Annecy Le Grand Bornand men’s 12.5 km pursuit in 28:02.4 leading teammates Christiansen and J.T. Boe in a Norwegian podium sweep. Laegreid, with one penalty on the day, sealed the victory with a brilliant last standing stage to retake the lead from Christiansen.

Win “feels so good!”

Laegreid with his first win of the season was fired up after closing the last five targets, jubilantly pumping his fist in victory before skiing away. “It was just incredible! I came into the last shoot and knew I had to clean. It started happening; everything started to line up. I saw I had five targets after the shooting and all were right. So, I could have a great time. It feels so good!”

Crowd “really fires you up”

Regarding the support from the stadium and tracks filled to capacity with enthusiastic French fans, he added, “It is unbelievable. I am not a crowd person. I came into the World Cup circus just when coronavirus hit, so I am not used to the crowd. But it really fires you up; you feel invincible. The crowd pushes you through the tracks.”

Breaking the Streak

Laegreid was quite happy to break his string of second place finishes. “It is a really good feeling. It was like a curse, a good curse in second place. Still, I wanted that win and today I finally got it.”

Christiansen, with two penalties finished second, 27 seconds back. J.T.Boe also with two penalties finished third 34.3 seconds back.

Fabien Claude of host nation France, with two penalties finished in a season best fourth place, 51.7 seconds back. A fourth Norwegian Filip Fjeld Andersen, with one penalty finished fifth,1:00.5 back. Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson, with two penalties, finished sixth, 1:06.2 back.

Header iconBMW IBU World Cup 3 Annecy Le Grand Bornand

JT’s Penalty

After dreary weather the past couple of days, sunshine highlighted the surrounding mountain peaks this afternoon shadowing the shooting range with the temperature at freezing and light winds prevailing, but at the same time, the tracks were quite icy in places. JT skied the first loop, maintaining his lead, closed the first four prone targets, missing the last one. Laegreid capitalized on the penalty, cleaning fast to take a four-second lead over his teammate. Timofey Lapshin, Christiansen Michal Krcmar and Claude all had zeros but followed 47 seconds back.

Track Troubles

Although JT seemed not to have the same legs as recent competitions, he felt otherwise, due to the conditions. “That was not the case. Today was not a competition between athletes but between ski brands. The tracks were not groomed good enough; it was horrible… (it took) a positive mindset to do the best things you can do and do not mind so much about the track and the skiing, because I knew I would lose seconds on seconds throughout the lap so I was focused on the range, to maintain a good position at the end…I know for sure they will hopefully make it better tomorrow.”

The gap between the teammates stayed about the same into the second prone stage. Laegreid was quick and clean, adding a few seconds to his lead over the also perfect Yellow/Red Bib. Christiansen also cleaned, lagging 34 seconds back with Claude in fourth.

Aggressive skiing and a penalty

Laegreid skied the loop into the first standing stage very aggressively, while JT fell back as Christiansen caught up. This time, Laegreid missed a shot as did JT while Christiansen cleaned, slipping away 1.8 seconds ahead of Laegreid, with JT 18.9 seconds back.

Fist Pump Victory

Christiansen buried Laegreid, taking an almost 20-second lead into the decisive last standing stage, but he paid the price with two penalties. Laegreid responded with five perfect shots, pumped his fist knowing victory was his and left for a ceremonial victory last loop. “I saw (Vetle) had two mistakes when I came to the range. I had to shoot clean. I managed to do it and I was just really really happy. I knew I had a good chance to take the win. I just had to celebrate to the crowd to give myself more confidence and power in the last loop.” JT cleaned leaving second, with Christiansen in third, cementing a Norwegian podium sweep.

Christiansen’s Approach

Christiansen admitted he was pleased with his first podium of the season and would have approached the competition the same if he had to do it over again. “Looking back at my previous results this season, I am very happy with a podium. Today I had the opportunity to win. I felt I did the right thing. If I had the chance one more time with the last standing shooting, I would have done it the same way…When you miss the first shot, the rest are very difficult because you know in your head that one is enough and you can’t miss more. I got this defensive feeling today; it was very important to hit the last two shots. It was the difference between the podium and not the podium…I am happy I did not miss more than two.”

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Vianney Thibaut

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