HELSINKI, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe and Italy's Dorothea Wierer defended the men's and women's biathlon World Cup titles respectively in Kontiolahti, Finland as the season ended prematurely on Saturday due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the coronavirus spread in Europe, the previous stop of the World Cup in Nove Mesto was held behind closed doors. During the tournament in Kontiolahti, also held without an audience, the International Biathlon Union decided to conclude proceedings early for the same reason after the men and women pursuit competitions on Saturday and cancelled the mixed relay scheduled for Sunday.
The men's 12.5km pursuit finished in a breath-taking fashion as France's Martin Fourcade finished in 31 minutes and 25.4 seconds to draw a perfect conclusion to his career.
It was a big day for me as everyone knows. It was a dream for me, a heroic dream, doing biathlon for a bit more than 10 years. I could not dream about finishing another way, the 31-year-old said.
Competing without fans reminded the Frenchman of his early memories in biathlon competitions. When I started biathlon back in the forest in the Pyrenees Mountains in France, there were no fans. It was just that thought of biathlon and skiing. I am proud that I achieved all that I did and proud that I discovered myself along the journey. Today is just a beautiful way to finish it.
Finishing fourth, 8.3 seconds behind Fourcade, Boe failed to make the podium in this stop of the tour, but the points were enough for him to top the World Cup table with 913 overall points, just two points ahead of runner-up Fourcade.
It was too exciting, a big fight, [not only] the final fight with Martin for today's victory but also the World Cup total score, said the Norwegian.
In the women's 10km pursuit, Norway's Tiril Eckhoff missed too many shots in the match to finish 10th. Wierer finished 11th in the meet but was able to retain her overall title with 793 points, Eckhoff finished second with 786 points.