France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet outskied the rivals for 36:21.5 Pokljuka mass start win with one missed shot. Germany’s Benedikt Doll had to fight hard against Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø in the last metres of the competition to claim the second place, 10.0 seconds back, therefore the Norwegian ended third, 10.3 seconds back.
Frenchmen Fillon Maillet, Martin Fourcade and Simon Desthieux started the race strong, cleaning the shooting, while Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Bø missed one shot and slipped down to 17th position. Fourcade and Fillon Maillet kept their focus on and the lead until the third shooting, when they missed one shot each, allowing incredibly fast Norwegians J. T. Bø and Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen to take over the lead.
Fillon Maillet and Fourcade pushed hard, arriving at the last standing about 10 seconds back. Both Norwegians left one target standing, therefore the French duo took over the lead, with Doll leaving the shooting range just after them (missing only one shot in the race).
In the final loop, Fillon Maillet delivered superb skiing performance gaining a comfortable gap for another win at Pokljuka. “I had no big strategy. Some athletes missed some bullets, and at the last shooting, you never know what will happen. After the last standing, I knew there was a little gap between Martin and me. I pushed hard to stay in the first place, he commented after the exciting competition.
J. T. Bø was also fast on the track, consequently catching Doll, despite missing one shot more than him. In the finish the 29-year-old German proved to be a tough opponent, claiming the second place for 0.3 seconds. He was a bit surprised with the achieved result: “I really did not expect today’s podium. My skies were not so good at the first part, but very good at the second. In the first, I wanted to stay close to Martin. In the second one, I risked it a bit more and it worked. I was a little surprised to beat Johannes. I was waiting for him flying past me. In the end, I am very happy.”
“I think I used too much power in the first part of the race. Of the first prone I was trying to make up for my mistake. I think French knew that I missed and they pushed hard. In the end, I did not have so much energy left. I had a good week, but I was in better shape before Christmas. This was a good warning that I cannot fall asleep. I will go home and prepare even better now”, Bø shared his plans after the race.
Christiansen and Fourcade were close to the podium, still, they finished fourth and fifth, 10.6 and 10.8 seconds back, respectively. Third Norwegian, Erlend Bjøntegaard completed the top-six, finishing 21.4 seconds back.