Jakov Fak Takes Individual Gold
|06.03.2012, Ruhpolding / IBU Info JK|
|First-ever IBU World Championship for Slovenia|
|Slovenia’s Jakov Fak, who almost lost his trigger finger to frostbite last season came full circle in his recovery by taking the Gold medal in the men’s 20K individual today. He covered the course in 46:48.2, with a single penalty, claiming the first-ever IBU World Championship for his country. The Silver medal went to Simon Fourcade of France, also with one penalty, seven seconds back. Surprising Jaroslav Soukop of the Czech Republic won the Bronze, with one penalty, 12.3 seconds back.
Birnbacher Just Misses Podium
Germany’s Andi Birnbacher, with one penalty was fourth, 13.1 seconds back, while Fak’s teammate Klemen Bauer was fifth, with one penalty, 16.6 seconds back. Sixth went to Soukop’s teammate Michal Slesingr, with one penalty, 25.1 seconds back.
Soft conditions on the course forced a modification of the course for the competition, eliminating a big hill. However the soft snow still made for a hard day of skiing for the 139 men on the start. With a just a light breeze, there was plenty of clean shooting in the early stages. The elder Fourcade was outshooting his younger brother throughout the competition other than in the first stage when both shot clean. From that point, Simon shot clean in the next stage with a single penalty in the second prone stage. Skiing a bit faster and shooting clean through three stages was Peiffer. He looked calm and confident, as the crowd cheered for every shot. Three other men were in the mix, going clean in the first three stages and skiing at similar tempo. They were Birnbacher, Fak and Bauer. The shooting was so good for these five men that they seemed invincible when staring at the targets.
Effort on the Tracks
As the kilometers piled up, the potential for a shot or two going astray increased; everyone was putting out an enormous effort on the tracks. Fourcade came to the finals standing stage first. He cleaned but had already lost one-minute in the previous stage. Bauer was next and he had a penalty. Peiffer added two minutes and was effectively off the podium. Fak and Birnbacher also had single penalties; everyone was having a bit of trouble in the final standing stage. Leaving the shooting range for the final loop, it was Fourcade with a lead over Fak, with Birnbacher 15.3 seconds back followed by Bauer and Soukop less than 10 seconds off the podium.
Fak Burns Up the Last Loop
Fak showed that he had speed to burn as he gained 11.8 seconds on Fourcade in the final 900 meters to grab first place. Fourcade, trying to match his brother was relegated to second.
Soukop’s Hard Last Loop
Birnbacher looked like the Bronze medalist, until Soukup wearing number 28 slipped eight-tenths of a second ahead of the fan favorite in the final loop. Soukop had fashioned a day similar to everyone else, basically while no one was watching him, one penalty and a trip to the podium. He admitted that it was a hard-won medal. “On the last loop, my coaches said I was 10 seconds behind Birnbacher. The 20K is a long way. I knew that I had to try to beat him; that last loop was very hard. I just did the best I could.”
Soukop who surprised the biathlon world earlier this season with a third place in the Östersund pursuit said he worked harder than ever last summer and it has paid off. “I am so happy today.”
Second Medal for Fak
Fak who won Silver in Thursday’s mixed relay now has two medals in these Championships. Two medals were more than he expected, especially after missing over the weekend. “I really hoped to get a medal in the sprint or pursuit, but that did not work out. Today was much better!”
Fak said there was a key to his victory. “It came from good pacing for the whole race. The coaches told me that pacing was very important in these conditions. I paced myself very well from beginning to end; I was very calm at the shooting range.”
Regarding his one penalty, he added, “I was really angry with myself about that. Every time I do four shootings in training, I miss one. Today I wanted to make a perfect race.”
He was very appreciative of the medal today, especially in light of the frostbite last year.
With his third medal in his third major Championship of his senior career, he added, “I guess this shows that I am a bit of a talent!”
Fourcade who finished fourth in the 20K at the 2008 and 2009 IBU World Championships was quite happy to finally have a medal. “This is a big thing for me; I really appreciate this medal. I finished in fourth behind Jakov in 2009, so I am happy that he took me to the Silver medal today!”
Medal Dedicated to Teammates
It is also vindication for the elder Fourcade brother, whose shooting range troubles in the mixed relay contributed to France’s disappointing 11th place. “This medal is for Marie Laure Brunet and Marie Dorin, because they missed the medal in the relay.”
The Fourcade brothers now have three medals between them. Simon added, “This has been amazing for both of us. I am very happy for Martin.”