“This is the moment!”
Laegreid knew that despite falling behind, today was his best chance to become a Sprint World Champion. “When I heard I was just behind him at the last timing point, I thought, ‘Sturla, you have to dig for it! It is maybe your biggest chance to become a World champion in the sprint. This is the moment!” So, I just focused on the skiing, pushing, hitting every (step) and it was incredible as I was crossing the finish line…unbelievable!”
“Did not think I could beat Johannes”
The victory was special for Laegreid who mad his BMW IBU World Cup debut in Nove Mesto, albeit in an empty stadium due to Covid-19. “First of all, I did not think I could beat Johannes. I have been second so many times. That’s incredible! Here in Nove Mesto was where it all started for me four years ago, but it was without spectators. Today I got to share this World Championships victory with the crazy fans here in Czechia. I am so happy!”
Laegreid’s Gold medal topped a Norwegian podium sweep. JT, with one penalty, won the Silver medal, 3.5 seconds back. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, also with one penalty took the Bronze medal, 18.6 seconds back.
France’s Eric Perrot, with one penalty finished fourth, 28.9 seconds back with the second-best result of his career and a big step up from 49th in last year in Oberhof. Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson shot clean in fifth place, his best result since the Crthistmas break, 36.6 seconds back. Tarjei Boe, with two penalties finished sixth, 37.5 seconds back, giving Norway four of the top six finishers.
The men had a warm +9C evening with moderate winds and a Vysocina Arena capacity crowd. Despite favorable shooting conditions, Tarjei, JT and Christiansen all missed a prone shot. The t-shirt clad Perrot cleaned with the fastest prone stage. Laegreid, starting mid-way through the field matched, leaving just behind Perrot.
The Yellow Bib made up for his prone penalty, cleaning standing for the lead. Perrot missed once, leaving 11 seconds back. Christiansen recovered with a clean stage, putting him ahead Perrot. Laegreid matched, taking a seven-second lead setting up the last loop battle.
JT, full gas in the last loop, looked like the winner momentarily. Laegreid, a half-second behind JT at 9.1 km gathered himself, pressing the next 800 meters for the victory, and the flood of finish line emotions.
Photos: IBU/ Vianney Thibaut, Nordic Focus