World Champs Oberhof 2023: Mass Starts!

Wow what a final day at World Championships! It’s going to take a while to recover from that, isn’t it! Oberhof has thrown everything at us in the last two weeks – sun, fog, wind and today rain.

It was a soggy day for the mass starts but it didn’t rain on the parade! The men raced first with Johannes Thingnes Boe leading them out searching for his 6th gold medal.

At the first prone it was defending champion Sturla Laegreid who hit the front with 5/5. Boe missed one and went to the penalty loop. Martin Ponsiluoma moved into second place followed by Fabien Claude, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Sebastian Samuelsson who all shot clean.

In typical Boe fashion he caught up with the leaders by the second prone helped by Laegreid and Ponsiluoma easing up as neither wanted to ski in the wind at the front. Both men missed one and so did Boe but Claude was clean and into first position with Samuelsson right behind him and Emilien Jacquelin was third.

Again Boe put the hammer down to make up ground on the track and at the first standing stage he hit all five to retake the lead. Samuelsson remained clean in second and Laegreid was back to third with Ponsiluoma just behind him.

So it would come down to the final shoot. Boe arrived first and started his usual fast shooting. He hit the first four but there was a slight hesitation before shot 5 and he missed it! Laegreid also missed one but with Ponsiluoma hitting all five the pressure was on Samuelsson to do the same if he wanted a chance at gold. His mental strength was amazing as he took his time on the range ignoring what all the others were doing, kept to his own process and got all five to go 20/20.

He was just 1.2 seconds behind teammate Ponsiluoma and 6.8 ahead of Boe who had completed his penalty. Samuelsson decided to strike early passing Ponsiluoma and trying to pull a gap. With no penalty loops he was the one with most energy left and he used it well to ski to the gold medal. It’s pretty crazy if you remember he was in tears last week after the mixed relay and now he is World champion!

Ponsiluoma hung on for second and the silver medal giving the Swedish men their first 1-2 at World Championships since 1958! Boe came home third for bronze which means he matches the record of seven medals from seven races set by Marte Olsbu Roeiseland in Antholz in 2020. In fact with 5 gold,1 silver and 1 bronze he is slightly ahead of her 5 gold and 2 bronze. Outstanding!

Laegreid was 4th, Andrejs Rastorgujevs 5th and Quentin Fillon Maillet 6th. Sebastian Stalder was the only other man to hit all 20 in 7th.

The women had better wind conditions which probably explains why 20 of them hit all five in the first prone! It was Linn Persson who did it quickest to take the lead followed by Dorothea Wierer and Anais Chevalier-Bouchet but everyone was pretty close together.

Chevalier-Bouchet was at the front of the group for the second prone but again Linn Persson came out ahead thanks to her shooting speed. The Frenchwoman was second with Lisa Hauser moving up to third. We still had seven women with the perfect shoot but Hanna Oberg and Julia Simon had both missed 2 in the prone.

The top three were together on the range for the first standing stage. Chevalier-Bouchet remained clean but Persson and Hauser went to the penalty loop. This meant Julia Simon and Hanna Oberg moved up the order into second and third after cleaning their standing targets. Ingrid Tandrevold was in fourth after hitting 14/15 to this point.

Simon pushed hard on the course to pass her teammate and take lane one for the final shoot. Both missed a target. Alongside them Hanna Oberg was doing a brilliant Johannes Boe impression shooting fast and clean to take over the lead of the race. Tandrevold was more careful but hit all five too and was now second with the two Frenchwoman coming off the penalty loop behind her.

It was great battle for the gold with Tandrevold trying to chase down Oberg. The Swede was just too strong though and crossed the line first to take gold. Tandrevold came in about 5 seconds behind to take a fantastic silver and an exhausted Julia Simon crawled over the line to claim bronze.

It was a brilliant race from Oberg who never led until the final shoot but she saved her best for last and made a bit of history along with Sebastian Samuelsson becoming the first Swedes to win gold on the same day at World Championships.

It was amazing to see Tandrevold take silver especially after her heartbreak at the Olympics.

Chevalier-Bouchet was 4th, Marketa Davidova 5th and Karoline Knotten 6th. Samuela Comola was the only woman to hit 20/20 in 10th.

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