Biathlon World Championships in Pokljuka comes to a close with two mass start events

Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser new biathlete world champion

Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser won a 12.5-kilometre mass start event for women at the Biathlon World Championships in Slovenia’s Pokljuka on Sunday for what is the first world champion title of her career.

Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold was 21.7 seconds behind the new world champion to place second, ahead of her fellow compatriot Tiril Eckhoff, who finished 23 seconds behind the winner.

The last women’s race at this year’s championships brought a surprise after the very first shooting as the favourites had to do the penalty loop.

This, combined with her sharp shooting, enabled Hauser, the only one not to miss a single of the 20 targets, to win her first world champion title.

“I hit all the targets for the first time, which I did at a world championship. Incredible! Now I’m at the very top of the mass start race. I’m lost for words,” said the Austrian, who has bagged as many as three medals.

A fierce battle for bronze was meanwhile on between the defending champion Marte Olsbu Roeiseland of Norway and the hero of this year’s championships, Eckhoff. It was her half a second advantage during the finish sprint that left Roeiseland empty handed.

Eckhoff has thus emerged as the most successful competitor in Pokljuka, having banned four gold medals, a silver and a bronze.

No Slovenian biathlete competed at the mass start event.

Norway’s Laegreid wins another gold

Norway’s Sturla Holm Laegreid won a 15-kilometre mass start event for men as the Biathlon World Championships in Slovenia’s Pokljuka wrapped up on Sunday. Silver went to his fellow compatriot Johannes Dale, who finished 10.2 seconds behind, with France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet third, 12.8 second behind the winner.

Defending champion Johannes Thingnes Boe from Norway missed five shots to place eighth, while Slovenia’s best-placed was Jakov Fak in fifth spot (30 seconds behind).

Norway’s team has emerged as the most successful one at the championships, bagging as many as 14 medals, double the figure of France as the second most successful team.

Laegreid, a fresher in this season’s World Cup series, won four golds, Boe also won four medals, while Tiril Eckhoff in women’s competition won Pokljuka’s record six.

Slovenia’s team has failed to deliver in terms of medals, having aspired for one in the men’s team, possibly by Fak, who was however close to it.

He started today’s race excellently, did the first two shootings flawlessly and was in the lead half way through the shooting.

While he was second only behind Laegreid after the last two shootings, he lost momentum in the run towards the finish line.

“Everything was great until the second half of the final loop, when all systems failed. I’d rather see the championships crowned with a medal. I wanted it, suffered for it, but four were better then me and that’s it,” Fak said after the race.

But the 12-day biathlon championships, the second held in Slovenia after 2001, was important for Slovenia’s as the Pokljuka biathlon centre had been overhauled, which will enable it to continue hosting World Cup races.

Until 2026, the Alpine plateau of Pokljuka will host World Cup events every other year, as well as the youth world championships.

The event’s secretary general, Tim Farčnik, said the organisation of the biggest winter sports event in Slovenia so far “is a good basis for further development of biathlon in the country”.

He regrets that due to the pandemic, all the 12 races had to be held without spectators after a lot of effort was made last year to promote Pokljuka abroad.

Nevertheless, the 150 million viewers watching the races around the workld over the past two weeks is the best promotion, he told the STA.

Pokljuka also did very well in terms of Covid-19 safety protocols with bubbles for the organisers, athletes and reporters.