Julia Simon gives the French team a podium during the opening race of the season

Julie Simon and Fabien Claude, on the podium of the single mixed relay in Östersund, Sweden, November 25, 2023.

Julia Simon begins the 2023-2024 season as she finished the previous one. Overall winner of the World Cup in 2022-2023, on Saturday November 25, she carried the French single mixed relay team, which placed third during the first biathlon race of the winter, in Östersund (Sweden ). Simon was lined up alongside Fabien Claude.

In this ultra-fast format, during which the two members of each team complete two relays each, for eight shooting sessions in total, Julia Simon had to deal with a less efficient partner, who missed the target nine times and had to spend two times on the penalty ring. But the failures of the Vosges were partly erased by the last page on the slope of Simon, imperial on the skis and who snatched the podium at the cost of a good comeback.

Insufficient, however, to catch up with the Swedes Hanna Oeberg and Sebastian Samuelsson, winners in front of their audience (42 seconds ahead of the Blues). Norway of Juni Arnekleiv and Sturla Laegreid took second place, 29 seconds ahead of the French team.

With this race, Julia Simon returns to the center of the news thanks to her sporting performances, and not for the internal affair opposing him to his compatriot Justine Braisaz-Bouchet. The second accuses the first of bank card fraud, and has filed a complaint against her. Simon is suspected of having used, in 2022, his teammate’s payment methods for online purchases amounting to close to 2,300 euros.

Negotiating fluorine-free shopping

The criminal investigation has not yet delivered any conclusions and the holder of the large crystal globe disputes these allegations and has filed a complaint for identity theft. Faced with this heavy climate within the team, Simon, a double world champion, decided to carry out part of her preparation on her own, away from her usual partners.

For the resumption of the season, the French management chose to limit the risks of controversy by aligning Julia Simon on the single mixed relay and Justine Braisaz-Bouchet, later in the day, on the mixed relay (two women, two men ). For Braisaz-Bouchet, Olympic champion in Beijing in 2022 and originally from Les Saisies (Savoie) – like Julia Simon – it is a return to competition after giving birth to a little girl in February 2023.

For these first events of the 2023-2024 World Cup, biathletes must also deal with new regulations prohibiting the use of fluorine to wax skis. This product, widely used in the past to improve the glide of skis, is no longer authorized for environmental and health reasons. This year, the technicians in charge of waxing are therefore starting from a blank page. Given the excellent performance of Julia Simon for her first race of the year, the French staff seems to have quickly found new benchmarks.

Valentin Moinard

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