After her hat-trick (sprint, pursuit, mass-start) on the Lenzerheide stage (Switzerland) in December 2023, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet continues her golden harvest. The biathlete from Saisies (Savoie), leader of the World Cup, won during the sprint of the fourth stage of the World Cup, in Oberhof (Germany), Friday January 5. The Frenchwoman thus signs a fourth individual victory in a row and consolidates her first place in the general classification, with 76 points ahead of the Norwegian Ingrid Tandrevold.

Despite two faults in the prone shot, the Savoyard defeated her opponents with the best ski time on the track. Exiting 24 seconds behind Franziska Preuss after a flawless standing shot, the Frenchwoman who started with bib 20 completed an exceptionally fast final lap to win with a four-second lead over her German rival.

“It’s not a perfect race, but it’s a good result. I was really in good shape on the skis today, declared the 2022 Olympic mass-start champion on the L’Equipe channel after the race. The Christmas break allowed me to find freshness and sensations that I hadn’t had since the start of the season. I’m happy, because I also managed to get away from the issue of the yellow bib for the World Cup. »

Five French women in the top 10

Frenchwoman Sophie Chauveau finished third. Despite an error in the prone shot (9/10), the resident of the Grand-Bornand club (Haute-Savoie) climbed onto a World Cup podium for the first time. Note, for her first race at the highest international level, the very good performance of the neophyte Jeanne Richard, who finished eighth, with a flawless performance behind the rifle. Lou Jeanmonnot and Julia Simon finished 9th and 10th respectively.

With five French women in the top ten, the French women’s team achieved a magnificent group shot. However, the ski conditions at Oberhof were not optimal this year. At an altitude of 800 meters, the biathletes skied on a strip of artificial snow filled with wood chips and earth, all in thick fog.

Wednesday January 3, Martin Fourcade, five-time Olympic champion in the discipline, criticized on X (formerly Twitter) the choice of the International Biathlon Federation (IBU) to keep the German stage in its calendar: “How many years of pouring artificial snow (produced in a giant refrigerator) on soggy ground does the IBU need to meet its environmental commitments? Perhaps it is time to choose a place that corresponds to our times. »

With this new victory, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet shows a new face and establishes herself as the biathlete to beat this season. Back after a sabbatical year to give birth to her daughter, the Savoyard displays new regularity on the shooting range, having often paid the price in the past for inaccuracies behind her rifle.

“Pregnancy, being so far away from competition for several months, and parenthood, it affirmed certain traits of my personality. It brings a lot of things, a lot of detachment from the competition. My choices are more assertive,” explained the 27-year-old biathlete, in Intégrale Sport on RMC, after her victory in Lenzerheide, on December 17, 2023.

With this new victory, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet becomes a serious contender to succeed Anne Briand (1995), Emmanuelle Claret (1996), Sandrine Bailly (2005) and Julia Simon (2023), who all won the big globe of crystal. The biathlete will be back on Saturday at 2:40 p.m. for the pursuit. She will start in the lead with four seconds ahead of the German Franziska Preuss.