Sunday February 21, 2021
Greetings from Pokljuka
Lesser escapes from his horror World Cup
No medal, instead many disappointments, dramas and rough words about his own embarrassments: Erik Lesser is experiencing a catastrophic Biathlon World Cup. The low point is the slump as the start of the season. After that, the 32-year-old just fled.
When Erik Lesser regained his strength, he just wanted to leave. For minutes he had been lying in the target area, completely exhausted. The disappointment seemed to paralyze him further. It was only with the help of the supervisors that he got back on his feet – and disappeared from Pokljuka without a word. The former medal guarantor of the German biathletes experienced a devastating disaster World Cup in Slovenia.
At his personal low on Saturday, Lesser, as a starting runner, involuntarily dragged his team mates into a mess. The medal chances were gone after his inexplicable slump. The Thuringian lost almost 52 seconds on the final lap, runners from Bulgaria, Japan or the Republic of Moldova flew past Lesser. “I don’t have a real explanation,” said DSV doctor Jan Wüstenfeld helplessly.
Lesser got consolation from his teammates. He already “didn’t look good when he came in. It exploded. It is of course bitter that it happened at the climax. I am so sorry for him,” said roommate Arnd Peiffer.
But Lesser was heartbroken. The 32-year-old left the target area with his head hanging, and he was silent on social media as well as in front of the TV cameras. Would he even have had an explanation for this horror World Cup on the Slovenian plateau? The days before he had already taken a hard line against me. At the beginning of the World Cup, he “ruined the day for the other three” in the mixed relay, and seventh place was a “go to the toilet”. After the debacle in the sprint in 66th place, he asked himself “why I’m part of the World Cup team”. The three-time Olympic medalist said clearly, “I’m really ashamed.”
Is that it now?
Even the pause for thought after the missed pursuer did not bring the former pursuit world champion the hoped-for turnaround. On the contrary. In the single-mixed season he “made the pile in the toilet, and Franzi then flushed it down”. Instead of the targeted medal with Franziska Preuss, it was again the disappointing seventh place. Finally, the fiasco in the season. Lesser said after the first races that he knew that he was “really up to it”. He had shown that at the start of the season in Kontiolahti with third place in the individual. In Pokljuka, however, nothing matched.
In the past, Lesser has often proven that he comes back stronger after setbacks. Last winter, too, he experienced a season to forget, only to go home with two relay medals at the World Championships in Antholz. And now?
Lesser had thought of the resignation that his long-time companion Simon Schempp had made, before the season he was “close to the end of his career”, as he revealed to SID. Belief in his comeback qualities kept him going. It remains to be seen whether this belief will also carry him to the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022 and the 2023 home World Cup in Oberhof. He no longer wanted to comment on this in Pokljuka. Erik Lesser just wanted to go home.