Fredrik Lindström Anchors Sweden to First-ever Olympic Relay Gold Medal
Sweden’s Anchor Fredrik Lindström won a standing stage duel with Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen to pull away and bring Sweden its first-ever Olympic Relay Gold medal in 1:15:16.5. Sweden’s penalty-free shooting by Lindström, Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin and Sebastian Samuelsson put their team 55.5 seconds ahead of Silver medalists Norway, with one penalty and twelve spares. Germany, with three penalties and ten spares won the Bronze medal, 2:07.1 back.
Third Olympic Relay Medal, First Gold
This was Sweden's first Olympic Relay Gold medal but they had previously won Bronze Relay medals in the big-bore days at Innsbruck in 1976 and in small-bore competition at Albertville in 1992. Lindström was almost speechless, winning a Gold medal in his third OWG. “It’s a dream come true the moment I crossed the finish line; my 3rdOlympics and to be on top with these guys it feels great… I can’t really find any other words!”
Nelin admitted their great team spirit helped win the Gold medal. “We have such good team spirit; Coach Wolfgang Pichler told us yesterday, ‘The team with the best spirit will win tomorrow.’ Now we are on the top."
Austria, with two penalties and eleven spare captured fourth place, 2:52.5 back. France, with three penalties and twelve spares finished fifth, 3:25.6 back. The USA finished in an Olympic Relay best sixth place, with two penalties and fourteen spares, 3:50.2 back.
Lesser Leads First Leg; Penalties and Spares Abound for Field
Compared to the conditions for yesterday’s women’s relay, the men got a huge break with no snow, but a light fog, and a fairly mild minus 3C at the start. The wind was noticeably lighter at times but still caused havoc, with every team except Sweden on the penalty loop. The men used 203 spare rounds, even more than the women yesterday.
The first leg saw Erik Lesser put on his typical fast shooting with just a single spare in standing that put him in the lead. That left Norway with two spares and 10-for-10 Slovakia’s Matej Kazar as the closest chasers. France completely fell out of contention when Simon Desthieux fell with two penalties in the standing stage and never recovered, falling further back as the competition progressed.
German Penalties: Czech Team Leads
Lesser tagged Doll with an 18.4 second lead over the field, a tightly packed group of Slovakia, Ukraine, Norway, Sweden and Belarus. In the prone stage, the German was 5-for-5 and gone before Tarjei in second ever fired a shot. Virtually everyone else, save Sergei Semenov and Austria’s Simon Eder, 35 seconds back, needed a spare or more. The wind had picked up by the time the field reached the standing stage. Doll fell apart with two penalties while Michal Slesingr cleaned to grab the lead over now 10-for-10 Eder. 6.8 seconds back with Sweden now in third. Tarjei and Doll were 32 and 35 seconds back as they headed to the second exchange.
Johannes and Samuelsson
The Czech veteran Jaroslav Soukup left the stadium with a 16-second lead over Sweden’s Samuelsson and Austria’s Julian Eberhard, who were side-by-side. Germany’s Arnd Peiffer and Norway with Johannes remained 31 and 37.2 seconds back. Johannes immediately went after the lead pulling back 25 seconds by the first split to get up with Sweden and Austria, as they approached prone. Soukup needed a spare allowing Johannes without a miss to leave just a couple of seconds back in second. Eberhard, Samuelsson and Peiffer were another seven seconds back, more than 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Johannes powered into the lead on the next loop. Once again the wind flags were bouncing for standing, but Johannes cleaned in six, while Samuelsson did not use a spare to leave just a step behind. Peiffer moved into third position, 12.1 seconds back as Peiffer closed all five targets quickly. The rest of the field fell to more than 1:12 back as the spare rounds and penalties piled up.
Lindström Wins Standing Battle; Seals Gold Medal
Johannes and Samuelsson were stride-for-stride around their last loop, just a meter apart. Johannes tagged Svendsen just ahead of Sweden’s anchor Fredrik Lindström. Peiffer handed over to Schempp, 13.7 seconds back. These three teams would decide the medals, unless there was a huge meltdown. Lindström shot faster and cleaned but Svendsen matched, with the Swedish team now a second ahead. Schempp needed all three spares to clean, falling to 1:02 back, with Landertinger and Austria now 1:41 back. The two continued to duel over the next 2.5K, with Lindström setting the pace.
The two shot simultaneously in a stiff breeze; both missed the first shot, but Lindström dropped the next five and was gone, headed for the Gold medal. Svendsen had a penalty, but left in the Silver spot. Schempp also spent an eternity at the range, still picking up a penalty, but saving the Bronze medal. However Landertinger spent too much time and three spares to take advantage.
Lindström, the "Lucky One"
Lindström commented on his duel with Svendsen. “It was a good battle. We wished each other luck before the start of the leg. It was a good fight as it was all equal until the final standing, but I think I am the lucky one today. I am so proud I managed the situation and brought Sweden the Gold.”
The podium was set. The 28-year-old Lindström skied a comfortable last loop, grabbed a miniature Swedish flag, crossing the finish line with a double fist pump and big smile. His teammates greeted him with a huge embrace just after he crossed the finish line.
Norwegian Silver: Svendsen’s Eighth OWG Medal
Norway's Silver medal was their first men's relay since winning at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. "I think it is awesome. The medal was more important for the anchor Svendsen, who with medal number eight (including four Gold medals) now is the third most medaled biathlete in the Olympic Winter Games. “It feels very good to know I am third in all time medalist… what else can I say? Thank you!”
Seventh Relay Medal; Hard Week for Peiffer
Germany's Bronze was their seventh Olympic Men's Relay medal, the most by any nation in the Olympic Winter Games. Third leg Arnd Peiffer admitted it had been a hard week for him, but was pleased with his effort today that led to the medal. “It was not easy after the mixed relay. I did a very bad job there as I had all the chances for the medal, but I ruined them in the standing shooting. My team was disappointed and so was I, but in biathlon this happens sometimes and you need to keep pushing on and I am very happy I did better today and by doing two cleaning shooting I helped Germany on this medal.”