Best race in my career
Samuelsson’s second career victory was special. “Amazing feeling; first sprint win as well. It was the perfect biathlon race and for me maybe the best race in my career so far. I am very happy.”
Last year’s second place in the season-ending Oestersund sprint, as well as the local fans was a big motivation. “It was, especially in the last loop, I knew that last year I was so close and maybe this time the fans were the difference. It is cold here today so I am impressed by so many people here today. It was nice to give back to the spectators after a bad Swedish day yesterday.”
Emilien Jacquelin of France with one penalty, finished fourth, 23.7 seconds back. Jacquelin’s teammate Simon Desthieux also shot clean in fifth place, just .1 seconds behind Jacquelin. Germany’s Philipp Nawrath matched Desthieux on the range but finished tied for sixth with clean-shooting Fabien Claude of France, both 27.5 seconds back.
The first men’s sprint of the season had the same cold, cloudy conditions as the women had earlier with hard fast tracks and Oestersund’s pesky wind lying in wait on the range. Samuelsson, skiing fastest of anyone on the first loop cleaned to grab a 13-second lead, while Jacquelin followed with a slower but clean stage, putting him in second position. JT wearing the Red Bib confidently cleaned to move .1 seconds ahead of Jacquelin. Fillon Maillet and Desthieux also closed all five prone targets putting both in the top six. Fabien Claude did the same as his teammates, but was much faster, leaving prone just 1.9 seconds behind Samuelsson.
Samuelsson proved to be the man to beat, coming to the range with a big lead, shooting clean with ease while putting 38 seconds on the field. Jacquelin responded with a single penalty, but still left 19 seconds behind his French rival. JT made his bid with a blindingly fast stage to close within 5 seconds of Samuelsson. Nawrath went to 10-for-10 to get in the podium fight, leaving in third position. Despite one tour of the penalty loop, Claude left standing in third, just seconds ahead of his teammates and Nawrath. However, starter number 62 Christiansen after a perfect prone stage, upped them all, leaving in third. 1.1 seconds behind JT.
Samuelsson had a strong last loop and flew down the last hill, crossing the finish line with hands held high. At the same time, JT was falling back at each split, dropping to 10.9 seconds back with 700 meters to go. He was not fast enough to stay ahead of the flying Christiansen who grabbed second by just .4 seconds.
“You will have some trouble winning today”
Christiansen’s knew his first podium in almost two years would not come easy. “Sebastian was very good; it was a perfect tactical race; very efficient on the shooting range. Before the start I told myself, ‘Vetle, you will have some trouble winning today; it was a pretty good race from him.”
“Do not waste good days”
He admitted staying on the Norwegian team is hard. “We have some good young guys. I think it is important to use your chances when you feel good, to shoot clean those days and do not waste the good days. It is a very good feeling to get this podium this early in the season. It does a lot for your self-confidence; you can lower your shoulder and have some more fun in the next races.”
JT, despite his third place evaluated his day, “I did one of my best races ever. I shot clean. I was fast on the skis from start to finish; great pace on the track. I did what I could and finished third. I am happy with that.” Regarding his first two competitions, he added, “I have done a lot of good things. There is not much more that I want to add; I want to ski faster, but how I behave on the shooting range is excellent, so no I just need some days to relax…and hopefully I can get a podium or two next weekend.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni