10 MOMENTS – World Cup in NMNM 2021
Two rounds of the biathlon World Cup 2020/21 in Nové Město na Moravě brought hundreds, perhaps even thousands of stories. Selecting ten of them, we are bringing you stories that are merry, touching, interesting, surprising and sad.
8th round of the World Cup 2021
Stands remained empty for second time in a row
Stands remained empty, as the coronavirus pandemic influenced World Cup in Vysočina Aréna for second time in a row. All accredited participants in the World Cup had to provide a negative PCR test before their arrival at Nové Město, and then they were tested in the area every three days. The Vysočina Arena was divided into three separate zones/bubbles: the red zone was reserved to athletes, teams, and organizing committee, the blue to jury, and the yellow to the media. People in various bubbles could not meet.
The debut and a double victory for Sweden
The debut and a double victory
Women’s relay race 4×6 km was the initial race of the 8th round of the World Cup in NMNM, and it was won by Swedish team consisting of Mona Brorsson, Hana Oeberg, Linn Persson and Elvira Oeberg. In a tight finish, Elvira Oeberg got ahead of Yelena Kruchinkina of Belarus. The first place also meant that the Swedes won general classification in the relays World Cup. The race was a bust for Czech ladies, and having to run five penalty loops, they finished 18th only.
German victory: 50 months of waiting
German biathletes have not had a good season this year, yet Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll, Arnd Peiffer and Philipp Nawrath had the best relays race of this winter, winning in start-finish style ahead of Russia and Norway that was exceptionally bad in shooting (3+9)! Philipp Nawrath won and returned to Austria to race in the IBU Cup finals. Germans had won for the victory to come for more than four years, 50 months to be exact, as they had won in Anterselva in January 2017 for the last time. Czech team got solid 10th place.
Fourth of three musketeers
Martin Fourcade had dominated in the French national team for a long time. He was followed by Quentin Fillon Maillet and his victories, and then time came for the fearless Emilien Jacquelin to celebrate his achievements… Only Simon Desthieux waited for his own individual victory. Nine seasons he had waited! He achieved on March 6, 2021, in Nové Město na Moravě. The French musketeer finished first ahead of Sebastian Samuelsson of Sweden, and Arnd Peiffer of Germany.
A small Czech revolution
Tiril Eckhoff of Norway did not win in NMNM 2021 for the first, nor the last time. But a small revolution took place in the Czech team, as for the very first time, Lucie Charvátová beat the world champion 2021 in the endurance race – Markéta Davidová. In pursuit race, Lucie finished 15th and Markéta 17th, and they both failed in the last shooting (3 misses). Lucie beat Markéta several days later again, in sprint (9th round of the World Cup), where Czech biathletes took 10th and 11th place.
9th round of the World Cup 2021
Three sisters / three brothers / two aces
The fact that three sisters – Selina, Elisa and Aita Gasparin – are in the World Cup, is nothing new and shocking. But three brothers is something new. They started into the initial discipline of the 9th World Cup round, sprint, and their name is Claude. The oldest, Florent (finished 62nd), has a jersey in Belgian colours. The middle one, Fabien (22nd), and the youngest, Emilien (junior category) represent their native France. It is rather rare to have three siblings in the elite category. Having two is quite a norm, even in top positions: after all, Tarjei Boe took the gold in the pursuit race in the 8th round, and his brother Johannes took the silver. Two aces of the world class, that is what they are.
Exchange of generations in the Czech team
Stars like Veronika Vítková, Gabriela Soukalová, Jaroslav Soukup or Michal Šlesingr have retired already. This year, it was Ondřej Moravec’s turn to retire… and so two new faces appeared on the start of the men’s sprint on Thursday, March 11: Mikuláš Karlík and Vítězslav Hornig. Both of them had taken a bronze in the relays race at the Junior World Championships in Obertilliach, where Karlík also finished second in sprints. Both qualified for the pursuit race in NMNM, and Karlík got GC points by finishing 34th, but he improved in the pursuit race and finished 26th in the end! In both cases, the victory was taken by a man we have already mentioned: Quentin Fillon Maillet.
Unrivalled, unbeatable, indestructible, the best!
Tiril Eckhoff is something like a win machine. Sharp-shooting, fast-running and impossible to catch. She won all four individual races in Vysočina Arena, and mixed relays race to top it. She got small globes for winning in sprint and pursuit race disciplines, too. And by far is this not all: she is sure to win the great globe for finishing first in the World Cup general classification, achieving 12 victories from 23 races!
An American surprise
Single mixed relay race, i.e. the youngest of biathlon disciplines, had been first introduced into the World Cup programme in NMNM 2015. Romanovová and Volkov of Russia had won then. This year, “singles” were on the programme in Vysočina Arena again, and the Swedes (Persson and Samuelsson) beat Norwegians (Tandrevold and Laegreid). Sensationally, the bronze went to American duo: Susan Dunklee and Sean Doherty, who finished ahead of Austrians, Nowegians, or the French world champions. Their Czech service person, Petr Garabík, was overjoyed!
Ondřej Moravec and his farewell
Czech team, Czech biathlon and Czech fans said their goodbyes to Ondřej Moravec (36) who ended his sports career in which he won 6 medals from World Championships (including the gold in mixed relays race), 3 Olympic medals, and numerous podiums in the World Cup in individual races or relays races. “It is the right time for me to finish, and that’s why I regret nothing. My career was up and down… just like a human life is. You do not always have your head in skies, happy and successful. But those 20 years were just great. Thanks to everyone who accompanied me during that time.”
Author: Tomáš Hermann
Photo: Michal Jilka