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Mäkäräinen and Fourcade ended their wonderful careers – chasing the French party

In addition to the biathlon season, two wonderful biathlon careers ended in Kontiolahti on Saturday, when Kaisa Mäkäräinen and Martin Fourcade competed in the World Cup for the last time. Fourcade crowned his day with a victory in the pursuit, Mäkäräinen struggled in the pursuit to fight for the podium place and was finally fourth. In the women's competition, like in the men's competition, there was a French winner, when Julia Simon got to show off her victory with her country's flag.

Mäkäräinen offered something exciting for the last skiing round, as the gap between Selina Gasparini and Lisa Vittozzi, who were fighting for second and third place, narrowed in the Seinänousu, which suited her perfectly. In the end, third place was 7.3 seconds away, but that didn't matter in the emotional moments.

– Good rise today. Of course, the feelings are on the surface, but each has its own time. Many things have fit into this winter and in previous years. The decision had to be made at some point, and now it came this way, Mäkäräinen told the media.

Even though Mäkäräinen ends his wonderful career as a top athlete, he does not leave competing:

- I'm sure you'll still see me in this stadium sometimes with a number tag on my chest. I'm certainly not going to completely abandon domestic competitive sports. The races always motivate me to go for a run, Mäkäräinen said with a smile.

Mäkäräinen's decision to quit sensitized others as well as himself, and no wonder. The biathlon community was his close and important work community for so long, the thought of those circles without Mäkäräi touched many people's emotions and made them express immense appreciation for Kontiolahti's Star of Athletes.

The day was also emotional for Julia Simon, because for her the victory was the first of her career in the World Cup.

– I don't understand this. I don't know about the last shooting position, I just saw everyone hit. It was amazing. I don't know what to say, Simon told IBU

Fourcade led the French celebration as the country took a triple victory. Quentin Fillon Maillet was second and Emilien Jacquelin third. For Fourcade, the circle closed in style, as he took his first World Cup victory 10 years ago in Kontiolahti.

– I am proud of everything I achieved. Today was a beautiful way to finish, Fourcade told

Tero Seppälä was the only Finn involved in the chase and finished 31st.

- Today the berths were a bit cramped, but there was something good to do standing up. I am satisfied that I succeeded in that. Then a final victory, Seppälä totaled four misses in his competition.

About Fourcade, who ended his career, Seppälä had noticed something that stuck in his mind as a young TV viewer:

– When he decides today is his day and he takes the win, he takes the win. Many times you have seen the last place ventilation, when the boards have fallen. Not many people dare to do that. He supports all of us in the direction of the IBU, an important person, Seppälä praised his colleague who is leaving the World Cup circus.

The overall World Cup competitions, which remained exciting until the end, were also decided in Kontiolahti. Norway's Johannes Thingnes Bö won the men's Cup and Italy's Dorothea Wierer the women's cup.

Photos: Heidi Lehikoinen