Pokljuka (Slovenia) (AFP)
One year before the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the French biathlon team is leaving the Pokljuka Worlds on a rather satisfactory record despite major deficiencies among the ladies and the clear domination of Norway, carried by its new nugget Sturla Holm Laegreid.
Without Fourcade, the Blues hold their rank
For its first World Championships without Martin Fourcade, France confirmed its place as a great nation of biathlon behind Norway.
With seven medals including two in gold (Emilien Jacquelin in pursuit, Julia Simon-Antonin Guigonnat in single mixed relay), the Blues do not have to be ashamed of their fortnight.
Last year, they had done little better at Anterselva with 8 podiums, including two solo for Fourcade (gold in the Individual and bronze in the sprint).
If the French have no longer an official leader since the retirement of the five-time Olympic champion and the failure of Quentin Fillon-Maillet, unable to assume a role of boss, they can always count on their formidable density to keep their rank.
"Overall, they are very, very good Worlds," said Vincent Vittoz, coach of the Blues. We have four medal-winning boys out of 5. They each had their moment of glory, we also had places of honor, we sees that we are not far away. "
For women, the picture is more contrasted.
The zero point of last year in Anterselva is erased but the two individual charms of Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet (the silver of the sprint and the bronze of the pursuit) hide the overall shortcomings of the group.
"There are clearings in the fog and Anaïs has masked the weaknesses of the team", according to Stéphane Bouthiaux, the boss of the French biathlon.
Before starting an Olympic season, it becomes urgent to resolve the big issues with the rifle, which have become recurrent this winter.
With only two clears since the start of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the finding is clear.
The lack of stability, with four shooting coaches in four years, is undoubtedly one of the reasons for the collective failure of the France team in this crucial exercise.
Lucky Luke Jacquelin strikes again
Emilien Jacquelin's performance in the pursuit will remain as one of the great moments of the competition.
Thanks to supersonic standing shots, the native of Grenoble (25) disgusted the competition, including world No. 1 Johannes Boe, to retain his title, imitating his model Martin Fourcade, the only Frenchman to have achieved this feat in the past. (2011-2012, 2016-2017).
The Isérois, a fan of direct confrontation events, had made this race his main objective and he was exact at the rendezvous with that panache and taste for risk that characterize him.
It now has to acquire more consistency and regularity to also be able to shine throughout the season and one day run for the big crystal globe.
"To reproduce these exploits, he will have to expand his game. Otherwise he will be an athlete of blows throughout his career," said Martin Fourcade, interviewed by AFP.
The seven-time World Cup winner has put his finger where it hurts since Jacquelin quickly fell back into his ways by exploding during the mass start, buckled in last position after a total collapse on his 2nd prone shot (5 errors) .
Seven titles in 12 races: Norway once again reigned supreme at the Worlds to fly over the medal ranking for the 3rd consecutive edition.
The Scandinavians were able to count on a great Tiril Eckhoff, who left with four coronations (mixed relay, sprint, pursuit, relay) and is heading inexorably towards winning his first big crystal globe.
Among men, if Johannes Boe finally remained empty-handed in solo, Sturla Holm Laegreid has made a date for the future.
At 24, the revelation of the season has once again shown his immense shooting skills by winning the Individual and the mass start for his baptism of fire at the World Championships.
He promises to be the future crack of the circuit.
"He's a very mature athlete for his age," says Martin Fourcade. "I find a lot of similarities between him and me in his attitude when it comes to shooting. He is really not stereotypical. When shooting, he is at a level. which could allow him to dominate for a few years. He already has this maturity that I had at over 30 years old with ten years of World Cup experience. "
© 2021 AFP