The last day in Pokljuka was for the mass starts and they were worth waiting for! The men got us underway and it was a tight race all the way through.
At the first shoot all the favourites hit 5/5 except Johannes Boe! It didn’t stop him though as he had almost caught the leaders before the second prone.
Again all the top runners went clear including Boe with Quentin Fillon Maillet, Martin Fourcade, Vetle Christiansen and Johannes Dale all up front. Missing 1 and dropping back a little were Benedikt Doll, Tarjei Boe and Erlend Bjoentegaard.
At the third shoot it was Quentin Fillon Maillet and Martin Fourcade who both missed a shot which left Boe and Christiansen out front themselves.
However their lead was not too big and the Frenchmen were catching before the final shoot. The two Norwegians missed this time and the two Frenchmen cleaned but Fillon Maillet was faster and left the range with a clear lead. Behind him Benedikt Doll hit 5/5 and was in second but chased hard by Boe, Christiansen and Fourcade.
It was a fantastic final lap with Doll pushing hard all the way. It was cat and mouse behind him with the other three but it would come down to a four way sprint for the podium spots.
In the end Doll held them all off to finish second. Third went to Johannes Boe and Vetle Christiansen nipped in ahead of Fourcade to snatch 5th. There was only 0.8 of a second between the four guys!
It was Fillon Maillet’s second mass start victory after he won the same race in round six last season although it was in Antholz. He thoroughly deserves his first win of the season.
There were two men who shot the perfect 20/20 and they were Simon Eder in 8th and Matvey Eliseev in 11th.
The women raced later and with Tiril Eckhoff already tucked up in bed back in Norway after she got sick the race was wide open.
Denise Herrmann started fast but it didn’t pay off after she missed 1 on the first prone. That left Hanna Oeberg and Justine Braisaz at the head of an 11 stong group of clean shooters.
At the second prone Oeberg hit all 5 again as did Marte Roeiseland and they opened a small gap over Lisa Vittozzi and Kaisa Makarainen.
Oeberg and Roeiseland skied together and shot together and also missed together! Makarainen missed two but Lisa Vittozzi hit all five to take the lead.
The final shoot was decisive with Oeberg shooting fast and accurately to leave the range ahead of Vittozzi who hit all 5 again to make it 20/20. Behind them Anais Bescond emerged out of the chasers hitting 20/20 to move into third.
That was the way it would finish with Oeberg skiing so well that she couldn’t be caught. It was her first win this season and Vittozzi’s first podium of the season. Bescond made it three races in a row on the podium here in Pokljuka.
Monika Hojnisz-Starega was 4th hitting 19/20, Justine Braisaz missed 3 in 5th as did Marte Roeiseland in 6th.
Now we have a short break before the first race of the World Champinships begins in Antholz on the 13th of February but don’t forget the Youth/Junior World Champs is on now and the IBU Cup continues too.
Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!