Russia and Norway Win Final IBU Cup Mixed Relays
Russia with Anna Nikulina and Yury Shopin despite one penalty and five spares won the single mixed relay at IBU Cup 8 in 35:24.4. Later in the day, Norway with Sigrid Bilstad Neraasen, Rikke Andersen, Sindre Pettersen and Henrik L’Abee-Lund used seven spares to finish first in 1:24:20.1.
Single Mixed Relay
Second place went to Norway with five spare rounds, 8.4 seconds back. Sweden matched their place in the last competition by taking the last podium place with seven spares, 26.9 seconds behind.
Germany finished fourth, Switzerland fifth, while Czech Republic was sixth.
On a beautiful and sunny last day of the 2016-17 IBU Cup season, 23 teams lined up for Sunday’s single mixed relay in Otepaa. Russia and Norway, who were battling for the IBU Cup women/men Relay, were in the lead from the start. Just before the first shooting some teams crashed on the downhill, losing precious time and falling out of contention. At the first exchange, due to good shooting, Switzerland was in the lead, followed in few seconds by Norway and Russia. After cleaning both stages, Shopin and Kristoffer Skjelvik arrived to the second exchange together, handing over to the teammates.
Battle for the Win
Nikulina hit all targets at the second prone, but used one spare at the standing, what allowed Thekla Brun-Lie, with also one spare round, to move closer and continue to battle for first place. Sweden was still in third. At the last prone stage Shopin cleaned, while Skjelvik missed twice, falling 21.6 seconds behind the Russian. However, in the final standing stage Shopin collected three missed shots and one penalty. With just one spare, Skjelvik left the range only 3.3 seconds behind the Russian, but could not catch Shopin, who was faster on the track. After a solid performance by both Ingela Andersson and Tobias Arwidson, Sweden claimed the last spot on the podium.
Shopin admitted they were thinking about the first place. “We were hoping for the win and really wanted to finish the season with a victory, as we did last year in Martell. Today the weather is very good, sun is shining and emotions are very good, everything is great. Despite that unfortunate mistake at the last range, when I was leaving from the penalty loop, I knew I would not let the win away because today I felt really good.”
Behind Norway, second place went to France with seven spare rounds, 21.4 seconds behind. Ukraine finished third with the same shooting result, 26.4 seconds back.
Russia missed the second win of the day at the last shooting stage; after a penalty loop they finished only fourth. Austria finished fifth, while Germany was sixth.
Dramatic Last Standing
An exciting last competition of the IBU Cup season with unexpected winner took place this afternoon at the Tehvandi stadium. Russian team was at the leading positions during the whole relay and seemed that nothing can prevent them of taking the second win of the day. When Alexander Povarnitsyn came for the last standing, he had a big lead over the rivals with no used spares druing all seven ranges. Everything has changed at the final standing stage, where the Russian missed four times and left for the penalty loop, while the experienced L’Abee-Lund shot fast and clean, leaving the stadium with a secure lead.
Povarnitsyn was second, followed by France’s Antonin Guigonnat in 3 seconds and Ukraine’s Andrey Dotsenko in 5 more seconds behind. The faith of the win was decided, but the battle for the last two podium spots was still going on the track. Dotsenko closed the gap on the rivals, moving to the third, while Guigonnat overtook Povarnitsyn. They finished in the same order. Still, fourth place did not prevent Russia of taking the IBU Cup Women/Men Relay Score, plus the Women's and Men's Nation Cup Scores. They were awarded the four small Globes after the flower ceremony.
“Now We Are Talking!”
L’Abee-Lund admitted that the win in the last competition gives motivation for the next season, “It is a great feeling and it’s a perfect ending.” He also commented on the final shooting, “When I came to the range, I saw that the Russian had two missed shots. I hit my five targets and did not know he had a penalty loop; I thought I was 2-3 seconds behind. When I saw him going to the penalty and heard that we have 20-25 seconds lead, thought to myself; “Now we’re talking!”