The French team launched its 2024 Biathlon Worlds perfectly by winning in the mixed relay on Wednesday in Nove Mesto (Czech Republic).
This is the third time that France has won the world title in mixed relay, after 2009 and 2016. Last year, during the World Championships in Oberhof, the French took bronze behind the Norwegians and the Italians.
France, which fielded a unique team with Éric Perrot, preferred to Émilien Jacquelin, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet and Julia Simon, beat Norway of the Boe brothers, quadruple defending champion, by 45 seconds and by 1mn07 Sweden.
Simon, world pursuit champion in Oberhof, notably managed a perfect last relay. "It's incredible. I really enjoyed the track. There is a beautiful communion,” reacted Fillon Maillet after the race at the Chaîne L’Equipe microphone. “It’s horrible, I locked myself in the cabin after Quentin passed by. I didn't look at Justine. I didn’t watch what happened next, I didn’t dare,” said a relieved Perrot, when asked about his team’s latest shots.
First to set off in the rain and soft snow, the young Perrot, 22, made two errors on his prone shot. Left 20 seconds behind the lead, occupied by Germany, he made up part of his delay on skis.
Author of a flawless standing shot, he took the lead during the second pass on skis and launched Fillon Maillet perfectly in front of the German Philipp Nawrath and the Norwegian star Johannes Boe. Germany took the lead again with a 13-second lead after the prone shot, during which Fillon Maillet had to draw once. The Frenchman, on the other hand, was the most solid during the standing shot with only one error when Nawrath and Boe drew three times.
Justine Braisaz-Bouchet made up the 8 seconds behind Franziska Preuss's Germany. But the Frenchwoman, hampered by the wind during her prone shot, was forced into a penalty round. The Frenchwoman managed her standing shot better with a single pick as Preuss cracked, leaving the lead to Norwegian Karoline Offigstad Knotten. Braisaz-Bouchet took back the lead before handing over to Julia Simon with a six-second lead over Switzerland and eight over Norway.
Imperial with a 5/5 in the prone shot, Simon left with 24 seconds ahead of the Norwegian Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, who had to use a pick ball. Simon did it again with another flawless performance in the standing shot before giving France a dream debut in Nove Mesto with this first title.