Sturla Holm Laegreid takes seventh Norway’s gold in Pokljuka

Norway’s Sturla Holm Laegreid finished the men’s 15 km mass start at the IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka in 36:27.2 for his fourth gold medal in Pokljuka. His compatriot Johannes Dale had to fight hard against France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet in the last metres of the competition to claim second place, 10.2 seconds back, therefore the French ended third, 12.8 seconds back. Both of them had to hit the penalty loop twice.

Laegreid cleared the first prone, just as 14 other biathletes. He was closely followed by equally precise Italy’s Lukas Hofer and Slovenia’s Jakov Fak. Another Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Boe put himself in the trouble with two misses, already at the first stop.

24-year-old Norwegian and Fak went 5-for-5 also in the second prone. They kept the score also in standing, just as Austria’s veteran Simon Eder. All three of them missed once in their last stop at the range, but it was Laegreid who was the fastest and did not have any trouble to secure his fourth gold at Pokljuka.

He was all smiles after the race: “It was just an incredible race. I had a plan today not to use too much energy in the first loops and to be really focused in the shooting. I did according to my plan and saved some power for the last loop. I am extremely satisfied. I am trying to not think about it being World Championships, I am just trying to imagine it being just normal training and I normally shoot well in training and that was what I did. Mass start is really fun. In the mass starts earlier this season I went fast in the first loops, and used up all my energy. Today I was calmer, I saved the energy and I had some powerful last loops.”

Fillon Maillet took advantage of his powerful skiing to catch Fak and Eder. Later, Dale joined him and even managed to overtake him in the final sprint.

“It was a very similar situation with Ingrid and Marte and me and Quentin. I felt quite fresh today, and I wanted just to explode in the last uphill. Everything went as planned. I am super satisfied to get the silver medal today. The last loops have always been my strength, I think it’s something inside me that makes me do so good because it’s not only the training. The last lap is something I really enjoy doing, and I am really confident in the last lap. It was very fun to be able to show that today in the fight for the medals. I was super happy to manage to take the silver,” Dale commented after the race.

Fillon Maillet was satisfied with his only medal at the championships: “I finished sixth in the sprint, fourth in the pursuit, fourth in the individual, fourth in the relay and finally on the podium in the mass start. I am happy to finish with a good result. I’m quite happy with my championships, not with the results, but with the shape on the skis, there were some good things with the standing shooting, but there were some mistakes in the prone. That’s why I missed races for the gold, for the medals. I am a bit sad about the championships, but happy with the medal today. I never give up in the race.”

Eder and home hero Fak were close to the podium, still, they finished fourth and fifth, 23.1 and 30.0 seconds back, respectively. Third Norwegian, Tarjei Boe completed the top-six, finishing 33.3 seconds back.

MEN, 15 KM MASS START

1. Sturla Holm LaegreidNOR36:27.2 (1)
2. Johannes DaleNOR   +10.2 (2)
3. Quentin Fillon MailletFRA   +12.8 (2)