The 2013 Biathlon World Championships came to an end last week, at the stunningly beautiful Vysocina Arena in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
This first part of the wrap will cover the mixed and men’s events, tomorrow I will conclude with a wrap of the women’s.
The races were run under good conditions, and the snow was hard packed, and fairly icy from all reports. The ‘House Full’ sign was up for each day of the competition, ensuring a lively atmosphere.
This event has traditionally been a bit of a novelty event and is the only time that men and women compete in the same race.
However, in recent years the teams, especially the top teams, have started taking this very seriously. The women race over 6 km and the men 7.5 km, each competitor shooting one prone and one standing detail.
Norway were first across the line followed by France with the hosts, the Czech Republic, in third.
Men’s 10k sprint
The men’s 10k set the tone for the men’s individual races. After 10 km of hard racing the top 10 were separated by less than 40 seconds.
Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway got the gold, some 8.1 seconds ahead of Martin Fourcade of France.
Jakob Fak from Slovenia picked up the Bronze. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (Norway) missed out on his 50th World Championship medal by eight seconds.
He missed one shot during the race which cost him the gold.
Three Australians competed in the sprint:
Alexi Almoukov – 94th
Cameron Morton – 131st
Dyllan Harmer – 133rd
The pursuit was raced over 12.5 km and provided the most exciting finish of the Championships.
Once gain World Cup leaders Fourcade and Svendsen were out to beat each other.
The race is a handicap start based on your finish time for the sprint. The eight seconds Svendsen carried into the race was quickly eroded by Fourcade.
After five laps, in the last 50 metres Fourcade, Svendsen and Anton Shipulin of Russia were neck and neck.
Fourcade tried to break away but did not realise Svendsen was closing in on him, with five metres to go.
He half stumbled at the line, allowing Svendsen to slide past to claim his third gold in three events. Anton Shipulin picked up the bronze just 3.5 seconds later.
Men’s 20k individual
This event was taken out by Fourcade in a masterful display. Tim Burke (USA) and Fredrik Lindström (Sweden) finished second and third.
Svendsen did not start due to a “head cold”.
The three Australians finished in the following places:
Alexi Almoukov – 84th
Dyllan Harmer – 124th
Cameron Morton – 125th
Men’s 4 x 7.5 km relay
The men’s relay was a roller coaster ride, with the lead changing several times, especially after the shooting details.
Nove Mesto presented competitors with some tough conditions on the range, with several big names shooting wide.
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finally notched up his 50th World Championship medal as a part of the gold medal Norwegian Team. Svendsen picked up his fourth gold of the meet in the same team.
Fourcade got his fourth silver with the French team. Germany finally got on the medal board with the bronze.
Men’s 15 km mass start
The mass start races are much anticipated by the crowds. The race is limited to the top 30 competitors and they start, as the name implies, as a mass of ski’s, poles, bodies, yelling and cajoling.
Tariej Bøe of Norway has been very unwell for most of the World Cup season and has struggled for form.
In this final race of the Championships he was able to put that behind him to beat Anton Shipulin of Russia across the line by a mere 3.7 seconds.
Svendsen topped off a most successful campaign by taking bronze.
Fourcade finished in 10th after looking out of sorts throughout the race. Six races in 10 days for a total of more than race 72,500 metres, all at the pointy end, probably explains why.
All in all, Emil Hegle Svendsen dominated the competition. The Australian men can be proud of their results given they are self funded and do not have the dozens of coaches and teams of ski technicians of the big teams.
Tomorrow I will wrap up the women’s events.