The weather conditions were far from perfect also on the fourth and last day E.ON IBU World Cup Biathlon in Pokljuka. The last day was reserved for mass start and men were scheduled first to start the competition. The track was very fast and icy due to the heavy raining yesterday and cold temperatures during the night while the fog rolled down on the venue in mid of the competition.
With clean shooting Andreas Birnbacher won his first race of the year. 31-year old German, winner of the mass start score in the past season, was the only biathlete today not to miss a target. Birnbacher obviously likes to compete in Pokljuka as he reached podium here for the fourth time in his career. “I don’t feel old, I am only 31 years old. When I was young, I was struggling with fatigue. But, now I know that I have to fight to be able to win. After the sprint competition we had a lot of pressure because we did not have good results. I said at that time that sprint was only the first race where we did not perform well. Now we proved that we are in good form and this is a good prediction for the next races in Oberhof. I feel very tired after all these races this season and I am very happy to spend some days with my family”.
Home favourite Jakov Fak was second. 25-year Fak improved his shooting from yesterday with only two penalties. He advanced to the second place with excellent skiing in the last loop. »Yesterday was a new experience for me as I had to start first and all the experienced racers were pursuing me. I could not cope with the pressure. Today I was more relaxed. I felt the same as in Hochfilzen and in sprint on Thursday. Now, the pressure is gone and I can take some time off to be with my family and to recuperate”.
The last shooting decided today's mass start as many of the biathletes were inaccurate. It was Tim Burke of United States who managed to ski past Fourcade of France and finish the race in the third with 34.2 seconds back. »After the operation I had a bad start into the season. I did not know how I will get used to the skis and find good shape. I am very happy to be on the podium again. Third place today is very important also for the American team. We do a lot of training together and some are beating me constantly. This result proves that they can also do well,« commented 30-year old Burke.
Martin Fourcade of France, who finished fourth today, maintains the first place on the overall World Cup total score with 392 points. Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway trails him by 85 points while today's winner Birnbacher is third with 293 points. Jakov Fak of Slovenia remains fifth with 250 points.