Norway Tops Russia in Ruhpolding Relay
The Norwegian quartet of Ole Einar Björndalen , Vetle Sjastad Christiansen, Henrik L’Abee-lund and Emil Hegle Svendsen won the Ruhpolding men’s relay, with five spare rounds in 1:13:40. this was Norway's third consecutive Ruhpolding relay victory.Russia finished second with two spares, 5.1 seconds back. the home team, Germany grabbed the last spot on the podium, despite one penalty and nine spares 17.9 seconds back.
fourth place went to Ukraine, with five spares, 28 seconds back, followed by Czech Republic, with one penalty and nine spares, 32.6 seconds back and Sweden in sixth place, with eight spares, 1:09.9 back.
Germany: Back in Contention
The men’s relay opened BMW World Cup 5 in Ruhpolding in a beautiful, wintery setting. As men lined up on the starting line, snow was falling with just a light wind at the shooting range.
The day started well for Erik Lesser, with a clean prone stage, but a standing penalty changed the mood of the crowd as the German team fell back to 15th place. Benedikt Doll brought Germany back into contention. tagging third place Arnd Peiffer in fifth. Doll commented, “I just wanted to do my own race. This is what my coach told me, because it’s important not to start too hard and get your legs shaking at end. This happened to me in the standing a bit.”
Norway’s Björndalen led off for Norway. He tagged teammate Chirstiansen in third, using one spare in standing. “It was really satisfied with my first leg. We always have good result in Ruhpolding, and we hope to continue through the rest of the week.”
Excellent Shooting for Russia
Meanwhile, Russia had an almost perfect day on the shooting range, using only two spares. Anton Shipulin used the first spare, but got his team into the lead; Matvey Eliseev shot clean to maintain the lead going into the anchor leg. He said he started his day right today. “I woke up in the right mood today: I was ready to start. My ski speed was not perfect, but I felt confident on the shooting range.”
Babikov vs Svendsen
Eliseev tagged Babikov with a 40-second lead, wtih Simon Schmepp and Svendsen in second and third trying to close a 30-second gap in the Russian team. In the final standing stage, Babikov missed the last shot, while Svendsen cleaned. Schempp needed a spare to clean and went out just behind Svendsen. Svendsen skied aggressively to close the 14.8-seocnd gap. As they crested the final hill, Svendsen was on the young Russian's heels. As they approached the finish stretch, Svendsen blew by the tiring Babikov for the win. Schempp followed in third place.
Svendsen commented on the battle with Babikov, “When I went into the last loop, I thought mostly about Simon Schempp, I wanted to keep him back. I saw that I was closer and closer to Babikov.”
He added on traditionally good results for Norway with Ruhpolding, “I am very happy to continue the streak of good results. This is the third time Norwegian team is winning men’s relay in Ruhpolding!”