Birnbacher Takes Mass Start
|16.12.2012, Pokljuka / IBU Info JK|
|33.6 Second Lead|
|Germany's clean-shooting Andi Birnbacher won the first mass start competition of the season in 35:39.4. Second went to Slovenia's Jakov Fak, with two penalties, 33.6 seconds back and Tim Burke of the USA in third, also with two penalties, 34.2 seconds back.
Fourth went to Emil Hegle Svendsen with two penalties, 40.9 seconds back. Martin Fourcade was fifth, with two penalties, 41.4 seconds back, followed by Sweden's Bjorn Ferry, also with two penalties, 41.9 seconds back.
Conditions improved greatly from Saturday to Sunday, with no rain and mild temperatures. The thirty men stayed together for the first loop. In the first prone stage, nineteen men shot clean and left within 20 seconds, with Ustyugov in the lead. the Russian star maintained his lead through the second prone with now only nine men clean, including Birnbacher. Fourcade had a single penalty but moved through the pack as they approached the first standing stage.
Fog rolled over the shooting range, just as the men came into the stadium, not an impairment, but enough to bother their view of the targets. Birnbacher cleaned as did Fourcade. As they left the shooting range, Birnbacher had a 20 second advantage over Fourcade, Ustyugov and Fak.
Birnbacher proved to again be the master of the mass start as he cleaned the final five targets with ease and left with a clear lead, Fak had a penalty as did Fourcade with Ustyugov taking two penalty loops. Burke and Svendsen shot clean, putting them into the mix. By 13.6K, Birnbacher was clearly the winner with burke and Fak about 34 seconds behind. Fourcade and Svendsen trailed by another 6 seconds. Fak Pulled away from Burke and the podium was set.
Tired on Last lap
Birnbacher admitted that winning was harder than it looked. "It was not so easy out there today, but my shooting definitely helped...On the last lap, I was very happy that those other guys were not very close, because I was quite tired."
Time at Home
Like everyone else who has competed for the last three weeks and been away from home for a long time, Birnbacher is looking forward to a rest. "I will be happy to spend some time with my family and have some rest, then prepare for the January World Cups."
Fak said he was relaxed today after yesterday's pursuit disappointment. "That was the first time that I had number one and started in front of all of the big guys. The pressure took over and I was probably the worst shooter out there. After that, a big stone was off my back and I was relaxed today...Now I will spend some time with my family and recharge my batteries."
Burke was back on the podium for the first time in two years. "I felt the best today that I have all season...It took almost all of last year to come back from my compartment surgery and regain my confidence that I was as fast as before...I am very happy to back up here."