Fourcade Incomparable In Khanty Sprint

15.03.2013, Khanty Mansiysk / IBU Info JK
Clean Shooting: Another Sprint Win
France’s Martin Fourcade again buried the field in the men’s 10K sprint, with a clean-shooting 24:22.6 victory, 39.6 seconds ahead of second place Lukas Hofer of Italy, who also shot clean. Germany’s Andi Birnbacher also shot clean but finished third, 43.8 seconds back.

Copyright IBU/Rene Miko
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Austria swept the next three places with Christoph Sumann, Dominik Landertinger and Simon Eder, 53.3, 53.8 and 57.3 seconds back, respectively. Sumann shot clean while his teammates each had one penalty.

No Wind

The men faced another clear cold evening for their sprint, with the same basic conditions as the women had on Thursday. The biggest thing tonight was again the lack of wind on the shooting range, which made for some early excellent prone shooting. The first 11 men to reach the shooting range all shot clean.

First Group

However, the competition was decided early, as most of the top men were in the first group of 29 starters. Although many of the men shot clean in prone, standing proved a bit harder. It was quickly obvious that only a few of the clean shooters were fast enough on the tracks to make the podium. First was Birnbacher who again looked strong and focused. He cleaned both stages and took an 8 second lead over Landertinger, who was fast on the tracks but had a single penalty in prone. The next contender was Hofer who was finally found his shooting touch in the stadium where he scored a WCH medal in 2011. The young Italian was clean in both stages and crossed the finish line 4.2 seconds faster than Birnbacher.

Number 23 “Complete Biathlete”

Unfortunately for them, the guy wearing the number 23 Yellow/Red Bib was having another of his amazing days, when he was “a complete biathlete.” Fourcade cleaned prone and left the stadium 17 seconds faster than Hofer. He did the same thing in standing, shooting a bit deliberately as not to pick up a penalty, and was clean. The gap on Hofer was now 29 seconds which turned into 33 seconds by the 8.4K split and grew by another 5 seconds by the finish. By the time number 23 crossed the finish line, the competition was effectively over. Only Sumann made a run at the podium, leaving standing ahead of Birnbacher, but the Austrian veteran lost tome in the final loop and missed the top three.

Good Shape

Fourcade reconfirmed that he is in good form. "My shape is almost incredible. Even though I did not compete in the relay in Sochi, I knew in training yesterday when I did a short test that my shape was still at the top."

Second Podium

Hofer was on the podium for only the second time in his career, the other was here in 2011 when he won a Bronze medal in the WCH mass start. He admitted that he likes it here. "I like the low temperatures; I love this place. I train a lot at minus 20, so it does not bother me... My feeling at the end of the season is always good and especially this year." He admitted that the early season was hard after the death of his father in October. "It was hard mentally in the beginning of the season. After December, I started to get better in both shooting and skiing. Now, it is all working well."

Good Mental Place

Birnbacher said he is in a better mental place than he was at the WCH in Nove Mesto na Morave, where he said "my tank is empty." I am happy to shoot clean today because I had some trouble with my diopter in zeroing...When you get to the podium you have to be in a very good mental place."

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