Tiril Eckhoff wins pursuit world title to add to sprint, Émilien Jacquelin retains men's crown

Norwegian Eckhoff holds off strong challenge from Anais Chevalier-Bouchet; France's Jacquelin hits all 20 shooting targets to successfully defend his pursuit world title in Pokljuka

By ZK Goh
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Norway's Tiril Eckhoff saw off a strong challenge from Anais Chevalier-Bouchet to add the women's 10 km pursuit to her sprint title on Sunday (14 February) at the Biathlon World Championships in Pokljuka, Slovenia.

Starting with a 12-second advantage over her French rival, Eckhoff and Chevalier-Bouchet (who left the start gates in first and second) traded the lead over the first four laps as each missed shots on the range – Eckhoff in the first and third visits, Chevalier-Bouchet on the second and fourth.

However, the Frenchwoman's miss on the last visit to the shooting range all but handed the title to the Norwegian, who crossed the line with a jump in the air in 30 minutes 38.1 seconds.

Indeed, that penalty lap allowed Austria's Lisa Theresa Hauser, who started ninth, to overtake Chevalier-Bouchet for silver as the Frenchwoman tired.

Chevalier-Bouchet held off Italy's Dorothea Wierer to come home for bronze, with the Italian – who started 20th – perfect on the range.

"I'm very, very satisfied. I think I did a really good pursuit," Eckhoff said after the race.

"I was a little bit bad on my first shooting but I'm very happy with my last standing shoot, it was very good."

Earlier, France's Émilien Jacquelin hit all 20 of his 20 shooting targets in the men's 12.5 km pursuit race to successfully defend his world title.

In sunny conditions, the Frenchman, who was third in the sprint race, made up a 12.9-second deficit on the first starter and was impeccable on the range to clinch his third career world gold medal in a time of 31 minutes 22.1 seconds.

He is the fourth man to defend a pursuit world title.

Sweden's Sebastian Samuelsson, who started eighth, also made the most of a perfect shooting performance to fight back to finish second, out-sprinting Johannes Thingnes Boe for silver, finishing 7.3 seconds behind Jacquelin.

Boe, starting fifth, suffered two misses and was forced to ski an additional 300m, but managed to claw his way back to finish in the medals.

The sprint winner Martin Ponsiluoma went out hard from the start and perhaps went too early, missing a total of six of his 20 targets and finishing 13th, over two minutes down.

"It feels so great, it's really difficult," Jacquelin said after the race, explaining that he had lost some motivation after winning the world title in 2020.

"All the last year of training, I was really depressed - it was too hard for me to continue. I thought I was not the kind of guy who wanted more. I was happy with my title. Inside me, it was hard to feel the passion. Who I was, it was a really hard question to answer.

"I knew after the sprint I was already focussed on the pursuit. I told myself, keep calm and just try to think about work. I am able to do a great race like this… for me it is hard to be at this level every time because sometimes my head doesn't allow me to have this kind of race, but I'm really happy and proud. I'm prouder than last year, for sure."