Biathlon: the French team in working order 50 days before the Olympic Games



The French biathlon team is a hydra with six heads. Six, like the number of athletes on the podium in individual World Cup heats for three weeks. Not a leader who crushes everything in his path, but a powerful collective who knows how to count on a provided arsenal.

→ PORTRAIT. Clément Jacquelin, this “brother of” who designs rifles for biathlon champions

These Blues once again showed their good momentum on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 December during the sprint events in Grand Bornand (Haute-Savoie), in front of a excited public who had been waiting for two years for the return of the world elite to France. Eight thousand spectators gave voice on Thursday, ten thousand on Friday.

“In second state”

Fresh snow, sun above the peaks, fir forests… In this idyllic setting, Anaïs Bescond, the oldest of the Bleues (34 years old and 3 Olympic medals) opened the ball on Thursday. She took second place in the sprint, 15 seconds behind the Norwegian Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, world number one.

Upon arrival, in ” second state », The Jurassian collapses face against snow. A few minutes later, the gleams in her blue eyes and her cheerful tone give the impression that she has just completed her first race: ” It’s happiness. One more day that I will keep in mind. The atmosphere is indescribable. I had lived very badly last year. So, to find everyone at the edge of the track, that makes me happy. “

Three Frenchmen in the top 10 of the general

The results of the other French women are more mixed, but Julia Simon, 25, struggling since the start of the season, was reassured with a 13e square. La Savoyarde describes a feeling of emulation: “ It’s great to see a team doing so well. There have already been three different girls on the podium. It pushes me, I also want to be there!

Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet and Justine Braisaz-Bouchet only finished at the 25e and 31e places, but already have their heads in pursuit of Saturday, and in the mass start Sunday. ” This situation is delicate, says trainer Frédéric Jean. On the one hand, there is a podium and good performances and, on the other, you have to wipe away tears.

On the men’s side, Quentin Fillon Maillet, 29, and Émilien Jacquelin, 26, were the fastest if we refer to their “ski time” during the sprint race on Friday. Not enough to get on the “box”: with one and two shooting faults respectively, they finished fourth and seventh in the race won by the Norwegian Johannes Boe.

With Simon Desthieux (13e sprint), they reinforce their place in the top 10 of the world general classification, and promise to lead the pursuit, a week after their double in the same event, in Austria.

15 podiums out of 18 events

Since the start of the season at the end of November, the Blues have won a podium 15 times in the 18 men’s and women’s events. One way to respond to those who feared crossing the desert after the departure, in early 2020, of Martin Fourcade, the most successful French athlete in history at the Winter Olympics.

We have a lot of cards to shed to find podiums at the Olympics, rejoices the director of the French biathlon, Stéphane Bouthiaux. But it won’t be time to tackle these things until January. The regulations of the international federation oblige to run almost all races. An athlete therefore prepares a season, and not specifically the Olympics.

When we talk about the Olympic deadline to French biathletes, they therefore answer that the road remains long. ” There are still a lot of events before, explains Anaïs Bescond. They will allow you to finish the preparation, because there are always little things to polish. Me, I would like to titrate more quickly.

On Friday, there were only 50 days left before the start of the biathlon events. The official selection will not be revealed until the end of January. Four men and four women will be able to start the races in the hope of continuing a tradition: to remain the most prolific discipline in French winter sports.

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