After a winter far from the standards to which they were accustomed, the Blues and their coaches have reached “breaking point”and Vincent Vittoz and Patrick Favre announced on Friday that they would be leaving at the end of the season.

“Today, it is clear that we are no longer in tune with our athletes. We feel that they are not able to hear some of our speeches, ”explained Vittoz to the handful of French journalists present in Oslo, for the last stage of the Biathlon World Cup. “We were ready to continue, clearly. But today, there is a break in this discourse, ”added the ex-founder, visibly moved.

Vittoz and Favre had taken the reins of the men’s group five years ago, after the 2018 Olympics, and chose to leave for a new Olympiad after the 2022 Olympics, the most successful in the history of French biathlon, in particular thanks to the five medals amassed by Quentin Fillon Maillet (two in gold and three in silver).

“We feel that there is no longer this confidence”

But, at the end of a very bland post-Olympic season – unlike that of Les Bleues, in the wake of Julia Simon -, “QFM”, Emilien Jacquelin and the others are no longer on the same wavelength than their coaches. “We had a lot of ideas (to bounce back) but they don’t fit (with theirs). Training is based a lot on confidence, today we feel that this confidence is lacking, resumed Favre. Forcing things is not a good thing. »

Throughout the winter, the results were not there. So much so that the Blues risk ending the season on Sunday without the slightest individual victory, which has not happened for 26 years (1996/97).

Already, for the first time in 14 years, just before the great Martin Fourcade era, they did not reach any individual podium at the Worlds in Oberhof (Germany) in February. They were nevertheless crowned world champions in the relay ahead of Johannes Boe’s Norway.

“Quentin got the wrong reading”

“We will have to think together about what we must develop as a team, staff as athletes, so as not to repeat a season like that”, estimated Jacquelin then. Fillon Maillet, he repeated throughout the winter his desire for “novelty”. So that, ultimately, this divorce is not so much a surprise.

To explain the sad winter of his troops, Vittoz advances him “a negative spiral” and “above all, the bankruptcy of our two leaders”. “Quentin (Fillon Maillet), he never wanted to hear the warning messages (saying that) it wouldn’t be a year like the others. He wanted to show everyone who told him it was going to be a tougher year that it wouldn’t hurt him, because he’s a machine. He made a little mistake in reading, he develops. We tried to warn him. Our fault may be that we did not have enough of an impact. »

As for Jacquelin, who ended his season early after Oberhof, he is “an athlete who has been depressed for a year and a half, whom we have accompanied, we have done more than what was possible, we have put all our energy, maybe too much at times, maybe we tried too hard to try to bring him back on the right track, explains Vittoz. Maybe we weren’t the right answers either, but we kept it going as much as we could. »

The Blues have only scored five individual World Cup podiums since the start of the season: only one for QFM, three for Jacquelin, and one for young Eric Perrot.

By admin