At 26, Simon becomes the first Frenchwoman to lift this trophy since Sandrine Bailly 18 years ago, the fourth overall after Anne Briand (1995) and Emmanuelle Claret (1996).

"I don't have the words at the moment," she says without the slightest apparent sign of effusion. I still have trouble realizing. There was a lot at stake, of course I had a bit of pressure, my legs were a bit nervous today (Saturday), but I really tried to focus on what I had to do."

"I'm someone who has trouble letting go, I think tomorrow's race (the last of the season, a mass start, editor's note) will have to be over to realize that it's good, it's over. Now it's starting to get real with everyone talking to me about it."

Simon was heading into the sprint, the penultimate race of the winter shifted from Friday to Saturday due to the thick fog installed on the hill of Holmenkollen the day before, with a solid lead of 144 points over his last competitor in the race for the big globe, the Italian Dorothea Wierer.

New regularity

As she overtook her, finishing fifth (1 fault, +39.3) when Wierer ranked only 23rd (1 fault, +1:21.3), she is definitely out of reach.

It was the German Denise Herrmann-Wick, on the eve of the end of her career, who won, ahead of two Swedes, Hanna Oeberg (at 3.5) and Anna Magnusson (at 33.1). All three shot 10 out of 10 behind the rifle.

Simon, the promise of French biathlon who had become accustomed to uneven results, has completely changed dimension this winter, driven by a new regularity in prone shooting that he lacked until then.

In terms of results, it's obvious: in one season, the biathlete from Les Saisies has scored three victories and ten individual podiums in total in the World Cup. That is, very closely, as much as since his first steps in the big league in 2017 (4 victories and 11 podiums before the 2022/2023 season).

At the World Championships in Oberhof (Germany) in February, she had already given body to her new status by becoming world champion of the pursuit - there without containing her emotion - and bronze medalist of the mass start, her first two individual international podiums.

And to say that the big globe was not even in his sights in pre-season.

Yellow jersey since December

If she had been promised, "I wouldn't have believed it at all," she smiles. I saw in the fall that my shot was stabilizing, that I was shooting better and better. But I never thought I'd be able to hold this for a full season. I never thought I could do so many top 6s, get on the podium so many times, I would have found it pretentious!"

"My goal, really, was to be more consistent in the World Cup, to stop making podium, 60th, podium, 60th...", she repeated a few days ago. And "that wasn't my goal until the end of January."

Yet since she donned the yellow bib of leader of the general classification in December in Hochfilzen (Austria), from the fifth individual race of the season (out of 20), Simon has not left it.

This big globe, even the shooting coach of the Blues Jean-Paul Giachino had "not thought about it" in pre-season. Marie-Laure Brunet, a former biathlete turned mental trainer who has been accompanying Simon since the spring of 2021, believed in it.

"On her value, what we know about her, her ability to move on the track, and what I perceived from her shot, there is nothing surprising," she told AFP a few weeks ago. Deep down, and I told some people before the first races, I said to myself this winter I think she will play the overall (classification)."

And here is Simon who takes over from the Blues, they lack results this season, despite the second place of Quentin Fillon Maillet behind the inaccessible Johannes Boe in pursuit Saturday - only his second individual podium of the winter.

© 2023 AFP