Oestersund 2023: Mass Starts! | biathlon23
It was perfect weather for biathlon on the final day of racing in Oestersund. We had two mass starts to enjoy and some very good shooting.
The women started us off in the sunshine and it was overall leader Julia Simon who got off to a flier. She along with most of the field cleaned the first prone to move into first place. Hot on her heels were Dorothea Wierer along with Simon’s teammates Anais Chevalier-Bouchet and Lou Jeanmonnot.
Chevalier-Bouchet headed to the front of the pack on the second loop but it didn’t work out for her. She missed three in the second prone to drop right out of contention. Simon with a laser focus was clean again taking a 2 second lead over Wierer with Jeanmonnot 4 seconds back and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland at 6 seconds adrift.
All four at the front cleaned again in the first prone. Simon was rock steady in the lead with Jeanmonnot in second but now with a 7 second deficit. Wierer was third a further second back and Olsbu Roeiseland was 12 seconds down on the front runner Simon.
The final standing stage was crucial. Simon’s first four targets went down with ease and she looked set for victory but something happened and she missed her 5th shot! It was very strange as she was brilliant on the range today but probably her brain got in the way thinking about the win and the total score.
Taking full advantage was Dorothea Wierer. She hit the perfect 20/20 to head out of the range just 3 seconds ahead of Jeanmonnot who also shot 20/20. Meanwhile Simon was coming off the penalty loop in third place. On the final loop Wierer was too strong for Jeanmonnot and skied to her second win here after her individual triumph on Thursday. Jeanmonnot was second and Simon took another step towards the overall title in third. Wierer is now in second place in the overall ahead of Vittozzi in third.
Olsbu Roeiseland was fourth in a photo finish with the charging Caroline Colombo who got her personal best in fifth. Hanna Oberg was sixth.
With no Boe brothers, Samuelsson or QFM racing today fingers were crossed for a new name on the men’s podium. And we got one!
Sturla Laegreid was back after missing Nove Mesto and the first two races in Oestersund. However it was a different Norwegian that we all had our eyes on today. Vetle Christiansen put on a masterclass in the mass start. He took the lead outright after the second prone and never looked back shooting 20/20 in a brilliant display of biathlon. He was untouchable today building up his lead after each shoot eventually leaving the range for the final time 26 seconds ahead of everyone else. That dwindled to just 9 seconds on the finish line but he was taking it easy by then. The win puts him in pole position to win the mass start crystal globe with one race left – the final race of the season in Holmenkollen.
The race for second and third was very exciting. Laegreid managed to maintain second place up until the final shoot where his break from racing showed missing two and skiing home a lot slower than normal. Third position changed quite a lot with Johannes Kuehn up there after shoots two and three. Like Laegreid he also missed two shots on the final standing. Johannes Dale was next in line and he also missed but just once. Then it was Michal Krcmar’s chance and he also missed one. That gave the second chasing pack the opportunity to move up and it was Sebastian Stalder and Eric Perrot who took it hitting their final five targets.
Stalder was second with Perrot third and they were joined by Dale coming off his penalty loop. There was less than three seconds between them so it would be a battle on skis for the two spots left on the podium. Dale and Perrot quickly dropped Stalder and then there were two. Perrot managed to hang on to Dale for most of the lap but towards the end Dale made a break and was too strong for the young Frenchman. Dale took second and Perrot was third getting his personal best and first ever World Cup podium.
Krcmar skied past Stalder to take fourth but the young Swiss was fifth for his personal best result. Aleksandr Andersen came home in sixth.
Johannes Boe has already won the overall title but the mass start is still up for grabs in Holmenkollen.
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