Emilien Jacquelin’s masterclass for his second pursuit World Champion title

France’s Emilien Jacquelin delivered a truly epic performance for his second IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka medal. Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson claimed the silver (+7.3), outskiing Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe (+8.1) in the final sprint.

The Sprint winner Ponsiluoma started the race strong but took himself out with two prone penalties. On the other hand, Jacquelin – the defending pursuit champion from Anterselva, Desthieux and three Norwegians – Boe, Johannes Dale, and Sturla Holm Laegreid dropped all the targets.

Jacquelin and Boe increased the gap on the field, with Desthieux and Laegreid being about 10 seconds back before the second prone, where Boe missed once and put himself to a big disadvantage, since the rest of the leading quartet shot clean once more. The same went for Sebastian Samuelsson who moved up to third position.

The 25-year-old French cleared standing very fast, increasing his gap, since Laegreid earned himself one penalty loop. Desthieux and Samuelson followed him almost half a minute back. Jacquelin mastered the last shooting as well and calmly cruised over to his second pursuit World Champion title. After the race, he was very emotional: “For two days, after sprint, I was just thinking about the pursuit. I was thinking about it when I ate when I slept. My head wanted only one thing – the title. I was really nervous on zeroing. Normally I shoot only four or five magazines, but today I shot more than twelve. There was too much focus and nervousness, but after the race started I was just myself. Sometimes when you want to win you have to accept to lose. It was like this for me. I knew I want the title, but I knew it will be hard will all the strong guys behind. Today I wanted this more than anyone else. When I shot best two times, I didn’t think about shooting fast or taking a risk, it was natural. I do this kind of shooting every time at training, but sometimes it’s too hard at a race, because you are thinking too hard about the pressure and results. Today I didn’t care, I wanted to be myself.”

Meanwhile, Boe’s powerful skiing closed the gap he earned with two penalties. It was him and Samuelsson who clashed for the silver, since Desthieux missed on shot at the last standing shooting. The 23-year-old Swede proved to be stronger in the last meters of the race and finished second. “I am very satisfied with my race, it was a perfect biathlon race. I hit all the targets and felt good on the skis. I had a good finish. This race had everything for me. I am very happy I managed to be this good when it mattered the most. I thought before the key for me would be the prone shooting. If I would shot clean in the prone, I knew I would be fighting for the medal. I am very happy I succeeded,” Samuelsson commented on his performance.

Boe admitted Jacquelin and Samuelsson were stronger: “I am satisfied. It always depends, how the race is. But today the performances of Sebastian and Emilien were perfect biathlon, with fast skiing and 20/20 shooting. If I am not at that level I should be happy with a bronze.”

Jacquelin’s teammates Quentin Fillon Maillet (+32.5) and Desthieux (+41.9) finished fourth and second, while Laegreid (+57.9) completed the top six. Slovenian heroes Miha Dovžan and Jakov Fak finished 23th and 35th, respectively.

MEN, PURSUIT

1. Emilien Jacquelin  FRA31:22.1 (0)
2. Sebastian Samuelsson SWE    + 7.3 (0)
3. Johannes Thingnes BoeNOR    + 8.1 (2)