New Season, But Fourcade Still on Top
|28.11.2012, Oestersund / IBU Info JK|
|One Penalty; Fast Enough on Tracks|
|Martin Fourcade of France kicked the 2012-13 E.ON IBU World Cup biathlon season with what else: a victory in the 20K individual, in 50:44.7, with a single penalty in the first standing stage. Second went to Dominik Landertinger of Austria, 12.3 seconds back with one penalty. Unheralded Erik Lesser of Germany gained his first-ever World Cup podium in third place, 21.7 seconds back clean shooting.|
Fourth went to Emil Hegle Svendsen 37.1 seconds back with two penalties. Evegeny Ustyugov of Russia was fifth, with two penalties, 1:01.3 back; followed by Austrian Fritz Pinter, with one penalty, 1:06.1 back.
It has hardly snowed over the past week here in Östersund, yet tonight about an hour before the men, light snow started to drift over the shooting range. It was not enough to affect the competition, but at least it started to look like winter here in middle Sweden.
Fourcade in Control
This competition got off in an interesting manner with Russia’s Evegeny Ustyugov taking an early lead after the first prone stage. Local favorites Carl Johan Bergman and Bjorn Ferry, matched the Russian with clean shooting, putting them up near the top of the standings. That is until Svendsen shot clean in the first prone stage and took the lead from Ustyugov by 5 seconds with Fourcade just a second back. In the first standing stage, Bergman shot clean again, while Fourcade slipped back to 15th position with a single penalty. Svendsen slipped even farther back with two minutes of penalties. While this was happening, Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic slowly moved up with three clean stages and had a chance for a podium. Yet he failed to unseat the big names, by missing two shots. It looked like a battle between Svendsen and Fourcade, but the Norwegian was skiing fast, the extra penalty was a heavy burden. Both shot clean in the final standing stage.
Landertinger and Lesser
For a while it looked like a classic Fourcade-Svendsen 1-2 finish, but Landertinger, fourth here last season, was crafting a single-penalty day, which put him ahead of Svendsen. The order seemed to be set until Lesser, with bib 79 shot clean in all four stages. That was just enough to slip into the top three, pushing Svendsen down to fourth.
Fourcade admitted that he was not “in my best shape,” after two cross-country races in the last 10 days. He added, “I was able to shoot slowly today and not push so hard on the tracks…I was confident with my shooting today.”
Continuing, he added, “I had some bad moments after the cross-country. I did not shoot and was tired…. I am a better athlete than last year. I was not so fast on the skis, but I was a better biathlete today with shooting and skiing.”
Fourcade admitted that his focus was not to win the Yellow Bib, although he expects to compete hard in every World Cup. “It is a good beginning. I am happy to still have my Yellow Bib, and I will try to keep it. But I am more focused on Nove Mesto and the Nordic Skiing World Championships. I need new goals.”
Hard Training and Good Health
Second place Landertinger cited many things that helped him get back on the podium. “I made a lot of hard training this year and my health is good. My shape is better than last year. We also have very good skis and a new service team. All of this was important.”
Regarding the final standing stage, he said, “I thought nothing and was cool; I shot zero mistakes there to make it an almost perfect day.”
Cool Like Martin and Landi
Lesser seemed a bit shocked at his first-ever podium result, admitting that he had to fight for it. “It was a hard race on the tracks; I tried to keep some speed. I knew I had to be good on the shooting range, so on the last standing I tried to be cool like Martin and Landi and shot zero.”
He came into the competition with low expectations and was a bit humbled to be in the top 3. “Top 20 was my goal but this is better…I am just a small guy from Germany who made it to the podium.”
The women’s 15K individual is the next competition here, at 17:30 CET on Thursday.