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Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway scores at Fort Kent. [P] Herb SwansonPerianne Jones (Nakkertok/NST) [P] Jesse Winter file photoRussia celebrates relay victory... [P] Judy Geer

Svendsen Edges Fourcade in Men’s 12.5km Pursuit for Hat-trick Gold at IBU World Championships – Bailey 13th, Le Guellec 15th

February 10, 2013 ( Nove Mesto, CZE) – In a spell-binding finish to the men’s 12.5km Pursuit Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen edged out Martin Fourcade (FRA) at the line by a boot length in a photo-finish for his third gold as the French star crashed at the finish line in his attempt to out-lunge his Norwegian rival. Russia’s Anton Shipulin grabbed the final podium spot.

It was a solid day for American Lowell Bailey who lead the North Americans in 13th with clean shooting on all four stops on the range while Canada’s JP Le Guellec was also on form delivering a 15th place score with only one miss (0+0+0+1) on the final standing session. The USA’s Tim Burke had a tougher time on the range with four misses (0+1+2+1) as he ended up 32nd on the day.

“I was pretty disappointed with yesterday’s result because I felt good skiing and had decent shooting but still ended up pretty far back on the result list,” confided Bailey to Trax. “So, today I just tried to focus on the present and keep my head in the race no matter what happened. I had a much better ski time and the shooting went well too.  It’s nice when everything falls together like you’ve trained and prepared for!

“My skis were good today and I was able to hang in well. In the shooting  I just tried to stay in my own zone and not try to overreach on the range. I didn’t try to shoot faster than I normally do and it paid off,” he continued. “I had a respectable shooting time and cleaned. A lot of times when you push the pace on the range you end up with a miss or two and even though the shooting time might be faster, you pay for it in the penalty loop.  And, I can finally say, after almost two decades in this sport, that I cleaned a 4-stage World Cup!”

“I’ve been feeling pretty good since the start of the World Championships, but my shooting has been an issue,” said Le Guellec in a team release. “All the ingredients were there today to pull off a good race. I took my time, kept my cool and had fun. It is great that it paid off. I was skiing relaxed and was within a pack, which is always fun and interesting. This is a very demanding course but it is a great feeling to finally pull off a worthy pursuit this season.”

The USA’s Burke was not himself for today’s race. “I simply not feeling very good here in Nove Mesto. It has kind of been a repeat of what has happened to me all year. One day I will feel pretty normal and the next day I will be completely toast. Of course this has been pretty tough for me but I am still hoping that I can rebound for at least one good race,” Burke shared.

Teammates Leif Nordgern finished 43rd with six penalties (2+2+2+0), Scott Gow the only other Canadian in the field finished 50th with five penalties (0+0+1+4), and Russell Currier was 52nd suffering seven penalties (3+1+2+1).

Under overcast skies Svendsen began with an 8s-lead but Fourcade quickly merged to him as the two charged ahead over the chasers. Svendsen shot clean in prone again while Fourcade suffered a penalty dropping back as Jakov Fak (SLO) and Anton Shipulin (RUS) moved into second and third.

The leading Norge skier smelt gold as he cleaned again in the first standing stage, with a strong 17-second advantage over Fak in second and Dmitry Malyshko (RUS), now in third as both also shot clean while Shipulin and Fourcade both had penalties.

In the final standing Svendsen gave up some ground with a miss. “I had good control on the range but there was a little more wind on the last standing and I missed one shot,” said the eventual winner. This falter was almost his undoing as it allowed the race to come down to a nailbiter.

Malyshko cleaned and caught Svendsen who now had a slim 2s-lead, but Fourcade and Shipulin also shot clean on the final standing session were now only 10s back in third and fourth and closing., 10 seconds back. Fak who missed a shot fell to fifth.

It soon became a 4-horse race as Fourcade clearly wanted the victory with Svendsen in fourth seeming to bide his time as a sprint finish seemed imminent. The Frenchman attacked on the final climb and only Svendsen could respond as the two forged ahead with the Norwegian catching Fourcade just before the line. As Fourcade looked to his left to see where Svendsen was he lost his balance and went down right at the finishline allowing the Norwegian to clip him by a boot at the finish.

“It was very close with Fourcade – the last time it was this close was in Fort Kent two years ago. I didn’t expect to there would be four of us battling for the podium. I felt good and it came down to tactics. I wasn’t sure I had won but it felt good after I crossed the line,” said Svendsen in the press conference.

Full Results HERE.

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