Sprint Title to Martin Fourcade
|03.03.2012, Ruhpolding / IBU Info JK|
|Fast Skiing Overcomes Penalties|
|France’s Martin Fourcade claimed his first Sprint World Championship today in 24:18.6 with two penalties. The Silver medal went to Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway, also with two penalties, 15.1 seconds back. Third went to clean-shooting Carl Johan Bergman of Sweden, 17.7 seconds back.
Fourth to Mesotitsch
Daniel Mesotitsch of Austria was fourth, also shooting clean, 27.1 seconds back. Fourcade’s older brother Simon was fifth, with two penalties, 35.4 seconds back, just ahead of Bergman’s teammate Fredrik Lindström, with one penalty, 35.6 seconds back.
Perfect Day, Fast Skiing
Today was a perfect Championship day for the athletes and fans; clear skies, warm temperatures. A light breeze blew across the shooting range as the field of 135 men took up the challenge. Number 1 Svendsen took to the tracks like a man in pursuit of a title. He flew into prone and promptly had a single penalty. Just behind him, Simon Fourcade was going even faster, but also hit a bump with two penalties. Brother Martin had a single penalty, but was the fastest of the Fourcade duo. The German men seemed initially to respond to the huge roars of the crowd. Andi Birnbacher looked like the best of them with a clean prone stage, but he faded in standing with two penalties. The rest of the men met a similar fate, with just enough penalties to take them out of contention.
Championship on His Mind
Martin Fourcade came into the standing stage a couple of seconds up on the field. Once again he had a single penalty. However, that made little matter; his skis were fast enough for him to outrun the trips around the penalty loop. From the time he left the penalty loop, climbed the tough hills, negotiated the tight turns and entered the stadium area, he was continuously gaining time on everyone else, including his nemesis Svendsen. With 1100 meters to go, Fourcade had 12 seconds on the Norwegian. As Fourcade came down the finish stretch, he looked like a man possessed; with one thing on his mind, a World Championship title. He crossed the finish with his arms raised and huge look of relief; a medal was surely his.
Over the next several minutes, several other men challenged including Mesotitsch who shot clean, was in second after standing, but faded in the final round of the hilly tracks. However only one came close as Fourcade watched from the Leaders lounge with Svendsen. Bergman had missed a few competitions with a cold and also to spend time with his wife who is expecting their first child any day. He only came to Ruhpolding on Thursday, but he was the man who won the first two sprints of the season and is always dangerous. Bergman shot clean in prone and then took the lead after a clean standing stage. However, he could not keep up with Fourcade or Svendsen on the tracks and in that final 1100 meters fell back to third place.
Although he was in contention for the Gold as he left the standing stage, Bergman admitted, “I was tired on the final loop. I was trying to focus on my strength, but I did not ski as fast as in the first two loops. I thought I did a good job of saving my energy and had the power to push but not as good as these guys.” After the Bergman challenge, the podium was set with the second Gold medal of these Championships going to France and Martin Fourcade.
Happy to Catch the Victory
Fourcade commented on his day. “I am really happy with my race today. My shooting was not as good as I expected, but I am very happy to catch the victory.”
Regarding his fast skis, he added, “I am very proud of my team today; they made perfect skis for me.”
Fourcade won the World Championship Pursuit title last year and he hopes to defend that tomorrow. “I think I am in a good position to fight for the medals with Emil and Carl Johan.”
Number One and Nerves
Svendsen commented on being starter number one. “It was special for sure. I felt like everyone was looking at me and it was bit scary! But I have to thank number one as I had perfect tracks.” That number one also added to the tension for him. “I was nervous on the shooting range. You should not be on the podium with two penalties. I think that I have some things to work on before tomorrow, if I want to catch Martin.”
Extra Time at Home
Bergman was maybe the happiest of the three on the podium. The first thing he said was, “I am really happy to be up here!”
He felt that his extra time at home helped today. “I am really satisfied with my preparation. Of course being sick for 10 days was not part of the plan. But it was good to be at home with just myself as I prepared with no other distractions.”