Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen’s preparations for Sochi 2014 gathered pace in Oberhof (GER) at the weekend as the three-time Olympic medalist secured wins in the biathlon sprint and the men’s pursuit.
Svendsen, Olympic champion in the 20km individual and 4 x 7.5km relay events, earned his 33rd career victory on Sunday by winning the pursuit in a time of 34:47.7, seeing off compatriot Ole Einar Bjoerndalen by 35.6 seconds. France’s Martin Fourcade finished third, one minute behind.
An identical lineup had taken the sprint honours in difficult, foggy conditions, Svendsen finishing in 26:44.3 seconds to beat Bjoerndalen by 0.4 seconds. Fourcade picked up three penalties and took third place once again.
The Norwegian admitted surprise at his success, saying: "I did not come here thinking that I could win two times, but I raced at Schalke after Christmas and I had a good feeling after that."
There was better fortune for Fourcade the following day, when he won the season’s first mass start event. Silver medalist in this discipline at Vancouver 2010, Fourcade finished 5.2 seconds ahead of Russia’s Alexi Volkov – while Tarjei Boe, another Norwegian, came in 19 seconds behind in third. Svendsen had led the field early on, but eventually had to be contented with 11th position.
Fourcade explained that he had used the disappointments of earlier in the weekend as motivation to break his Oberhof duck. “I was not happy about my last shooting yesterday and found the power inside to win and I am happy,” he said afterwards. “This was the only World Cup venue where I had never won before, so I am quite happy.”
The World Cup now moves to Ruhpolding (GER) – its penultimate event before Sochi 2014.