Jay Mines Gold on Snowy Afternoon
|14.02.2010, Whistler / Jerry Kokesh|
|Medalists Miss Snowstorm|
|Vincent Jay of France, with clean shooting, took advantage of an early start today to capture the Gold medal in the Men’s 10K Sprint in 24:07.8, at Whistler Olympic Park. Jay, the sixth starter was among the few competitors who escaped a heavy rain/snow shower that slowed the tracks considerably and changed the complexion of the competition. |
Heavy Wet Snow
The top six finishers all started in the first five minutes, only encountering the heavy storm for a short period. They were virtually unscathed by the wet heavy snow shrouded the Whistler Olympic Park venue. According to US Coach Per Nilsson, once the wet heavy snow started, “No one else (outside of the top 10-15 starters) had much of a chance as the waxing conditions were completely different. The competition became a lottery that was won by the early starters.”
The 21-year Jay won the pre-Olympic 20K Individual competition here last March; that is his only other victory and the only other podium result of his career. His previous best World Cup level Sprint finish was a 17th place also last March in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia. He felt he benefitted from the weather today. “I was very lucky today in terms of the weather. In the beginning of the race, there was no snow. The shooting was all me and was not affected by the weather. I have to say that I had very good skis today; I thank all of our technicians.”
Coming into the competition, Jay said he expected to be in the top 10. Yet, he admitted, “I was actually quite stressed coming into the race today; my stomach was tied in knots. After the second lap, though, I calmed down and was okay. . . Marie (Dorin) showed our team yesterday that anything is possible.”
One Medal in Each Competition
The Silver medal today went to Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway who had a single penalty, while finishing 12.2 seconds behind Jay. Svendsen was subdued but no crestfallen with his Silver medal. “Our team goal when we came here was to win one medal in each individual competition and in the Relay, so there is no disappointment on my part. I realized as I came to the finish, that this might be a medal winning performance, because of the snow; I just wanted to get to the finish. I knew it was going to be hopeless for those behind me. I feel my shape is not as good as it could be. I was sick for a week after the Ruhpolding World Cup and that affected my training.”
Jakov Fak of Croatia won the Bronze medal, matching jay on the shooting range, but finishing 14 seconds back. Like the French athlete, Fak’s medal-winning performance was the second of his career. Last February, the then unknown Fak won a Bronze medal in the 20K individual at the IBU World Championships in Pyeongchang, Korea. Fak’s shooting coach Tomas Kos was smiling on the shooting range today as he called his young protégé “a big-game player.”
First Nordic Medal
Fak’s medal was the first Nordic Olympic medal for his country. He commented on its importance. “Biathlon is not very well known in my country, I hope that my medal last year and now this Olympic medal will change that.”
Fourth went to Klemen Bauer of Slovenia, with one penalty, 17.4 seconds back. He was followed by Andriy Deryzemlya of the Ukraine, with two penalties, 40.7 seconds back.
Leguellec Did Everything
In some ways equal to the medalist’s performance was that of sixth place Jean Philippe Leguellec of Canada. Leguellec shot clean, while finishing 49.8 seconds back. Canadian Head Coach Geret Coyne was smiling as he talked about JP’s day. “There is
No question that I am pleased with his performance today. He did everything he could to get a good result. It is extremely satisfying to see him be back up there, after he struggled during most of the World Cup season.”
Leguellec was just as excited as his coach, commenting, “I feel awesome, it was an awesome race. I stayed focused on my technique and on my skiing and I had fast skis too so the skiing part went well. On shooting, I came in prone, shot clean, shot fast. I really fed of the crowd that was cheering after every target. That’s something I always hear in Ruhpolding when the people are cheering for the Germans but to have it here for me is actually really exciting and it was awesome. Being the only Canadian is frustrating and I think we should have been four here for sure, but I am happy to pull off a good race for my teammates.”
Rounding out the top eight were Pavol Hurajt of Slovakia, with one penalty, 1:07.2 back and Bjorn Ferry of Sweden, with two penalties, 1:13.9 back.
Not only the top eight finishers benefitted from the weather conditions; Jeremy Teela of the USA finished 9th, with two penalties, 1:13.9 back, giving him the best-ever US Olympic Biathlon result.
At the same time, many of the pre-competition favorites either had an off day on the shooting range or were defeated by the weather gods. Among those farther back in the results were Ole Einar Björndalen of Norway in 17th place, with four penalties, 1:41.1 back, Torino Gold medalist Michael Greis of Germany, 21st, with three penalties, 1”48.2 back and 2009 Mass Start World Champion Dominik Landertinger of Austria, 34th, with four penalties, 2;15.9 back.