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Julia Simon wins the Biathlon World Cup


Cyril Burdet, the coach of the French women’s biathlon team, warned: “The whole challenge of the weekend is to stay on the same course despite all the pressure around. » And what was only a matter of time, as her lead over her adversaries continued to grow race after race, is now done: at 26, Julia Simon will win her first crystal globe at the end of the season which ends this Sunday in Oslo. By completing 5e of the pursuit of Oslo-Holmenkollen and ahead of her direct opponents, Saturday March 18, the Frenchwoman is guaranteed to finish winner of the general classification of the World Cup, even before the last race of the year, Sunday.

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“I find it difficult to realize, explained Julia Simon at the end of her race on The Team Channel. It’s the culmination of four-five years of work, it’s a dream. There were ups and downs, I didn’t feel capable of that, but I learned to listen to myself and my body. » The sprint race of the day was won by the German Denis Hermann-Wick, the French Chloé Chevalier ranking 4th thanks to a 10/10 in shooting.

If 2022 had been the year of his compatriot Quentin Fillon Maillet, who adorned himself with crystal after winning five medals at the Beijing Winter Olympics, 2023 will be that of Julia Simon. From the third race on the calendar, the Frenchwoman set the tone by winning the pursuit of Kontiolahti (Finland), with a 20/20 in shooting. Then on December 8, only a week after the start of the season, she took the yellow leader’s bib thanks to her third place in the sprint in Hochfilzen (Austria). “It falls on me a bit, it was not my main objective”, she conceded a few days later on RMC Sportstaking this situation as a simple ” experience “ for future years. The shirt has since left his shoulders.

Read also: Biathlon: once again winner, the Frenchwoman Julia Simon consolidates her status as leader of the World Cup

“I am very happy for her and that the big globe is coming home, rejoices Sandrine Bailly, the last Frenchwoman to have won it, in 2005. What impressed me the most was his consistency. » Of the twenty-one individual World Cup races of the season, Julia Simon has only finished thrice out of the top 10. Imperial on skis and decisive behind the rifle, the Savoyarde has also climbed ten times on the podium, for three victories (two in pursuit and one in mass start). In addition to the big crystal globe, which rewards his victory in the general classification, Simon also got his hands on the small pursuit globe and is at the top of the mass start classification, with only one race to come. “Throughout the year, the key word has been to run full races each time, explains Cyril Burdet. That’s how you get that end result. »

93% success in prone shooting

A consecration which is also – and above all – the fruit of her progress in prone shooting: with 93% of targets cleared this winter, the Frenchwoman has a higher success rate of 9 points and 21 points compared to 2022 and 2021.

Called in February 2020 to once again take on the role of shooting coach for the French women’s team, Jean-Paul Giachino remembers: “I told her it was two years of work and she replied that she was not two years old. So I said, “Goodbye, I can’t help you if you’re not willing to be patient.” »

In the spring of 2020, the biathlete from Les Saisies (Savoie) therefore began to relearn the fundamentals of prone shooting, more technical than standing shooting, which she already mastered. ” There are three stages, details the coach. Breathing, which is called target entry, aiming, which consists of blocking the target, and letting go, which corresponds to finger pressure on the trigger. »

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By following a precise instruction manual, Julia Simon won her first individual world title at the World Championships in Oberhof (Germany) in February. Only 10ᵉ from the sprint with more than a minute from the head of the race, the Frenchwoman made a crazy comeback, well helped by her efficiency behind the rifle (19/20), to win gold in the pursuit (the runners start with the delays recorded in relation to the winner at the finish of the sprint race). “It’s a great achievement, I really took a step forward in managing my emotions, she had reacted to the microphone of La Chaîne L’Equipe. It was a childhood dream. »

“From the age of 3, I wanted to be a champion”

Born in Albertville, host city of the 1992 Winter Olympics, Julia Simon grew up in the Olympic resort of Les Saisies, where her father was a tracker. Enough to feed her dreams of becoming a high-level athlete from an early age. “I think I’ve always wanted to. From the age of 3, I wanted to be a champion »confided, on the site of the French Olympic team in 2022the one who also has a CAP in carpentry and works with wood whenever she has free time.

If Julia Simon describes herself as a person ” pretty shy “the staff of the Bleues rents him, an athlete “extremely motivated”, “easy to train” And “lucid about its performance”. “She is really mature in her career and she draws the essence of all her past experiences, good or bad”summarizes Cyril Burdet.

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Like Quentin Fillon Maillet last year, the Savoyard suddenly went from shadow to light, she who finished in twelfth place in the general classification of the World Cup in 2022. Like him before, she had to look at her compatriots to shine while biding their time.

Jean-Paul Giachino also recounts this anecdote: “ Last year she was next to me when Justine [Braisaz-Bouchet] won the coveted Oslo mass start [la dernière épreuve de la saison, le 20 mars 2022] and won the small specialty globe. She told me, “She made my dreams come true.” I just replied: “Patience. It will happen”. » Barely a year later, the reward is indeed there for Julia Simon.