Biathlon World Championships: Boe and Laegreid in a League of Their Own

Clare EganFebruary 13, 2023
Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR) started Sunday’s Pursuit with a 15-second advantage but stretched it to 1:11 by the end of the race to claim his third straight gold medal at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof, Gemany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

This winter, two Norwegian men have set a new standard of excellence in biathlon. In Sunday’s Pursuit at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof, Germany, twenty-nine-year-old Johannes Thignes Boe and 25-year-old Sturla Holm Laegreid put on a masterclass. They both shot 20/20—something many biathletes never manage to do in a whole career—to claim their now familiar places on the gold and silver steps of the podium.

Having won the Sprint, Boe started first in the Pursuit with a 15-second lead over the Sprint silver medalist, his older brother, Tarjei Boe. Laegreid started third, 40 seconds back. Ten of the top twelve athletes shot clean in the first stage, and eight of them—including the three leaders—stayed clean through the second stage as well, so at the half way point, the front of the race held steady with Laegreid chasing the Boe brothers.

On the third shooting, Tarjei Boe missed two and was overtaken by Laegreid who stayed clear. By the last shooting, J. Boe had over a minute gap. He shot clean to complete the perfect 20/20, taking a moment to celebrate on the range before setting out to enjoy a casual 2.5km last loop on the fan-lined course.

Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR) celebrates after hitting 20/20 to win the Pursuit at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus)

When Laegreid arrived on lane 2 for his last shooting, he had a 36-second gap, which is encouraging but not comfortable. Were he to miss two or more and one of the chasers hit all five, he would be overtaken. But, like J. Boe, Laegreid nailed all five targets, securing the silver medal. In the end, J.Boe finished 1:11 ahead of Laegreid, who the finished line 43 seconds ahead of the third place.

These gaps are extraordinary in a competition which is often determined by seconds. J. Boe is in a league of his own, but so is Laegreid. To see these two athletes towering so high above the rest of the field is truly astounding.

Sturla Holm Laegreid (NOR) stands alone on the range in front of a full stadium of spectators as he hits his last five targets in the IBU World Championships Pursuit in Oberhof, Germany.

While the front of the race was amazing to watch because gaps were so big, the rest of the race was amazing because it was so tight. In the fight for the bronze medal, three athletes—bib number 11 Sebastian Samuelsson, bib 2 Tarjei Boe, and bib 6, Vetle Christriansen—arrived on the shooting range together for the final stage.

Sebastian Samuelsson (SWE), Johannes Kuehn (GER), Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen (NOR), (l-r) on the shooting range at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof, Germany. (Photo: NordicFocus).

Unlike the unshakeable race leaders, one by one, each of the athletes missed twice. The three left the range together and the race for the bronze medal started with two rounds of the penalty loop. As chasers arrived on the range, none were able to capitalize on the moment with clean shooting. With one kilometer to go, Samuelsson and T. Boe had gapped Christiansen. The race for the bronze came down to the final meters, with Sebastian Samuelsson finally winning his first medal of the season.

Sebastian Samuelsson (SWE) outsprinted Tarjei Boe (NOR) for the bronze medal in the Pursuit at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof (GER). (Photo: NordicFocus).

Paul Schommer (USA) was the sole North American competitor in the Pursuit. He started in 31st, but dropped to 52nd with eight misses. Schommer is among the best shooters on the World Cup circuit so this performance was very much an anomaly. His next race will be Tuesday’s 20km Individual.

Paul Schommer (USA) racing in the Pursuit at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof (GER). (Photo: NordicFocus).

Biathlon World Championships Men’s Pursuit RESULTS.


Tuesday at 8:30AM Eastern Time: Men’s 20km Pursuit
Wednesday at 8:30AM Eastern Time: Women’s 15km Pursuit

Watch live here.

Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR) greets Sturla Holm Laegreid (NOR) in the finish of the IBU World Championships Pursuit in Oberhof (GER). (Photo: NordicFocus).

Clare Egan

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