One-penalty and a victory
cleaning in his first sprint win on Sunday, Samuelsson was surprised to win after a prone penalty today. “I am not sure (how I won with one mistake). I am surprised that I could win a race with one mistake here. I am at loss for words; it is amazing. I ma very happy and proud of my performance.”
“Very Special” last loop
He knew that he would need something extra after the early miss. “I knew that one mistake is not optimal in a sprint, so I had to do a good standing shooting I am happy I did it with I think some pressure. Then I think my final loop was something very special.”
Yellow Bib “dream come true”
Samuelsson’s second win in three competitions put him in the Sprint Red Bib but more importantly, the Yellow Bib. “It is unbelievable. I mean it is a dream come true. After my 48th place in the 20K, I thought I would not see the Yellow Bib this year. I am surprised but very happy with my performance!”
Russia’s Eduard Latypov shot clean but finished fourth, 26.1 seconds back. Norwegian teammates Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, with one penalty and clean-shooting Sturla Holm Laegreid finished fifth and sixth, 31.1 and 46,5 seconds back respectively.
Light snow continued for the early evening men’s competition with the temperature dropping to-13C. Started number one Jacquelin skied a fast first loop, then opened the day with a clean prone stage, setting the bar high for his rivals. Number 13 Latypov matched but was five seconds slower. Sunday’s sprint winner Samuelsson missed one shot, putting him at a 15-second deficit. However, Christiansen shot clean putting him just 3.7 seconds from the top spot and in contention. Fillon Maillet, starting with number 68 quickly closed his five targets, leaving with the second fastest prone time.
Jacquelin shot extremely fast in standing but missed one shot. Latypov closed all five targets again in standing to move into second position but remained five seconds back. Samuelsson was extremely efficient in closing his standing targets, enough to take the lead away from Jacquelin. Christiansen then picked up a penalty, dropping him to 18 seconds back. Laegreid unsurprisingly went to 10-for-10, setting up his run for the podium, just 7.8 seconds slower than Jacquelin in second position. Fillon Maillet missed a shot, but still left 9.8 seconds from the top spot.
Jacquelin kept up his torrid pace over the last 3.3 km, looking initially like the winner. By the 8.8 km split, Samuelsson continued to build his lead over his French rival, pushing the gap to 15.8 seconds. With 800 meters to go, he added another second. The Swedish star poured on the coals in the last downhill to cross with a 20 second bulge and a finger pointed skyward, proclaiming victory. By the 8.8 km split, Fillon Maillet was up to third position, closing fast. He was all out over the last 1200 meters, pushing hard down the finish stretch gaining valuable seconds to finish third for his first podium of the season.
Fillon Maillet was inspired by his disappointments last weekend, “I am very satisfied with my place today. Last week, my shape was not perfect…it was disappointing for me. And I missed a lot on the shooting range. After the sprint on Sunday, I got some wings. I watched the race again and saw if I stayed focused during the race, the shooting results, to push hard at the finish, I can fight with the best and that is what I did today.”
“Sebbe would catch me for sure”
Second place Jacquelin, after starting first, knew that Samuelsson would catch him. “I pushed a little too much in the first lap. I missed some energy in the last lap. I knew with my nine (hits), Sebbe would catch me for sure. But I am really satisfied after my injury. I did not expect to be in shape already. Now I am there; I am really proud and we will see what happens next. I just try to do my 100% every day and not think too much about if I am in shape. I just do my job.”
Regarding his fast skiing, he admitted the wrist injury helped his legs. “After the injury, I worked only with my legs. I think that helped me a lot in climbing. I was always fast on flat tracks; on tracks like Antholz or this one, it was really hard to have this speed in tracks with a lot of climbing. After the injury I am able to fight hard on climbs. (Today) I did not use a lot of energy climbing whereas in the past years, it was really hard for me.” Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni