Revelation of the 2020-2021 biathlon season, where he finished second in the general classification behind his compatriot, the untouchable Johannes Boe, Sturla Lægreid had never before played a World Cup round in front of an audience because of the pandemic of Covid-19.
For his grand premiere in front of spectators, the young Norwegian (24) heard applause and bells ringing in his honor behind the finish line. Thanks to a 20/20 on the shooting range, he won hands down the individual (20 kilometers, two shots from prone position, two shots from standing) of the first round of the season, Saturday 27 November in Ostersund, in Sweden. This is the eighth victory of his career.
A French could have climbed on the second step of the podium, behind the Scandinavian. But, within a second, Simon Desthieux took third place, behind another Norwegian, Tarjei Boe, Johannes’s brother. “I don’t think I’ve ever attacked a season with a podium in the first race. It happened to me to get one for the second, but never for the first. This year I really set myself the goal of attacking well from the start. That it can snap from the first race “, explained the French, at the end of the race.
This podium is enough for the happiness of the France team. Because, apart from Simon Desthieux, the other Blues have rather missed their race. To the point that, during this first World Cup event, there was not really a Norway-France match as a number of biathlon specialists announced in recent days.
Having started in the first group, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Emilien Jacquelin made too many mistakes against the targets – with 17 successful shots out of 20 and 14/20 respectively – to join in the fight at the top of the standings. “It’s frustrating to be a bit in the back of last year, that is to say missing shots at the start of the race. To be honest, at the end of the warm-up, during the fifteen minutes that I changed into warm, my hands were shaking ”, admitted Quentin Fillon Maillet, eighth in the race with the seventh ski time, at the microphone of La Chaîne L’Equipe.
French women vague behind the rifle
Earlier in the day, among the women, there was not even the beginning of a possible participation of the Blue in the final fight. Expected like the leaders of the tricolor clan in view of the great Olympic goal (from February 4 to 20, 2022, in Beijing), Julia Simon and Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet have disappointed.
The two biathletes mortgaged their chances of success from the first lying shot – with three penalty minutes (one for each missed shot) for Julia Simon and two for Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet. French premiere, Anaïs Bescond finishes at the 28e square. “I didn’t feel very well physically, I need races. It’s frustrating. It’s hard to start with an individual, it’s long ”said Julia Simon, 72e of the race, at the microphone of La Chaîne L’Equipe.
To the credit of the French men and women, this first meeting of the season was not very successful for a certain number of favorites either. Especially among the Norwegians, winners of the general classification last season: neither Johannes Boe (5e), in men, nor Tiril Eckhoff (only 30e), among women, do not finish on the podium.
While many renowned biathletes are at fault, this was not the case with Czech Markéta Davidova. The reigning world champion in the specialty won this 15 kilometers with a full card on the shooting range.
No podium for Norway in the women’s category, as it was the Austrian Lisa Theresa Hauser and the German Denise Herrmann who finished second and third, more than a minute behind the Czech winner. At home, Sweden’s Elvira Öberg has to settle for the best ski time.