The names of those chasing him change, but France’s Martin Fourcade remained on top on Sunday in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup in Östersund, Sweden.
Fourcade took first in 31:22.4, with three penalties in four rounds of shooting (1+0+1+1). It was still good enough to finish 35.1 seconds ahead of second place, which went to Arnd Peiffer of Germany.
Peiffer shot nearly perfectly — he missed one in the second prone stage — which was enough to make up approximately 25 seconds on Fourcade after starting second, approximately 50 seconds back, but not enough to close the gap.
Fourcade’s teammate, Quentin Fillon Maillet moved up one spot to reach the podium in third with two penalties (+55.2).
For the second-straight day, the Canadian men reached the top 10, with Nathan Smith in 10th after starting ninth. He had three penalties (1+1+0+1) and finished 1:15.1 after Fourcade and less than 20 seconds out of third. The podium would have been Smith’s second of the week; he placed second in the single-mixed relay last Sunday with Rosanna Crawford.
“I knew going into the final standing shooting that I was fighting for a podium position,” Smith wrote in an email after the pursuit. “I ended up missing one and leaving the range with guys like [Norway’s] Tarjei Bø and [Germany’s Benedikt] Doll, with [Norway’s Emil Hegle] Svendsen just ahead. Tough company to fight on a last lap! I was a little fatigued from skiing most of the race by myself and just couldn’t hang on.
Canada had two in the top 30 after Macx Davies, coming off 10th on Saturday in his fifth World Cup race, finished 30th (+2:48.8) with three penalties (1+0+1+1). Despite slipping 20 places from starting in 10th, for 22-year-old Davies, 30th stood as the second-best result of his career in his first-ever pursuit.
“Starting in 10th made me realize just how good yesterdays race was!” Davies wrote in an email. “When I got into the lanes and ahead of me is [Norway’s] Johannes Bø and beside him is Svendsen, Then Nathan was beside me. It was all a crazy experience!
“Still very excited with two top 30s in the first [World Cup]!” Davies continued. “And though I believe it more now, I am still a little in the clouds! It has just been an amazing weekend! And now I am looking forward to Hochfilzen next weekend!!! Can’t wait to try again!”
After starting 55th, Canada’s third man, Brendan Green improved to 38th (+3:21.4) with two penalties (0+1+1+0). Green was happy about the more amicable weather on Sunday, which helped him shoot well.
“It felt good to be able lay down on the shooting mat and just shoot without having to try and work through changing wind or getting hit with a gust,” Green wrote in an email. “I am very happy with my shooting today and satisfied with my overall performance. I’m disappointed with my ski performance here in Östersund and was hoping for a lot more, but hopefully that will turn around soon.”
A half a second behind Green was the top American, Tim Burke, who finished 39th (+3:21.4). After starting 45th and cleaning three stages, he was happy with his race, calling it “decent” and “solidly executed.”
He accrued all three of his penalties in the first standing, writing in an email that he was “a little too cautious … and it ended up throwing off my timing. I recognized the mistake and adjusted for the last stage.” He shot clean in the last stage.
“I went into this week’s races with a training focus,” Burke continued. “I ended up getting sick shortly after arriving to Norway so I missed out on a lot of snow time and intensity training. I was definitely off of my normal ski form here, but I feel like these races will help get me back on track for [next week’s World Cup in Hochfilzen].”
The only other American in the pursuit was Sean Doherty, who opened the season with career-best results this week. He slipped 21 spots, from starting in 25th to finish 46th (+3:54.5) with seven penalties (1+2+2+2), but the 20-year-old still has a lot to be happy about.
The IBU World Cup will pick back up again on Friday, Dec. 11, in Hochfilzen, Austria, with men’s and women’s sprints.
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