Shipulin's Strong Anchor Leg Brings Relay Gold to Russia

Shipulin's Strong Anchor Leg Brings Relay Gold to Russia

Anton Shipulin’s brilliant anchor leg, with strong skiing and equally good shooting brought Russia with teammates Alexey Volkov, Maxim Tsvetkov and Anton Babikov the Gold medal in the men’s relay this afternoon. Russia used just three spares in their 1:14:15 win. France with Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Simon Desthieux and Martin Fourcade won the Silver medal, with four spares, 20.8 seconds back. Austria with Daniel Mesotitsch, Julian Eberhard, Simon Eder and Dominik Landertinger repeated their historic performance in the 2005 World Championships in Hochfilzen winning the Bronze medal, despite ten spare rounds. An inspired performance by anchor Dominik Landertinger finishing to the roar of the crowd, crossed  the finish line 20.1 seconds back.

Germany, with eight spares finished fourth, 29.6 seconds back, while Italy was fifth, with five spare rounds, 1:30.8 back. Ukraine with 10 spare rounds finished sixth, 1:41.3 back.

Yesterday’s snowfall ended the string of sunny days in Hochfilzen. That sunless trend continued for the start of men’s relay under cloudy skies, plus 3C temperature, very wet soft snow and a very light breeze on the range.

Strong Start for France
The first leg was the typical shake-out, with a lot of clean prone shooting, followed by almost every team using spare rounds to clean. Only Erik Lesser and Beatrix went 10-for-10; these two pulled away from the pack as they headed to the first handoff. At the exchange, Lesser tagged first, 5.5 seconds ahead of Beatrix, followed by eight more teams in the next 25 seconds, with Norway in 10th, 30.7 seconds back.

As the teams approached the first prone of the second leg, the skies started to clear, with bright sunshine on the range. The no-spares shooting ended with Benedikt Doll and Fillon Maillet both using spares; this put seven teams single file in eight seconds. Doll faltered with three spares, as the Fillon Maillet cleaned quickly to take the lead. At the exchange, France led by just .4 seconds over the Italians who had put their top two men in the first two legs. Ukraine and Russia were eight seconds off the lead with Germany and Norway, 32 and 48 seconds back, well off the lead group.

Russia Takes Control; Shipulin and Fourcade

In the third leg, France’s lead vanished as Babikov went 10-for-10; but was shadowed by Eder. Babikov and Eder tagged Shipulin and Landertinger almost simultaneously, while Desthieux tagged Fourcade 12 seconds back, with Simon Schempp just on Fourcade’s shoulder as they left the stadium.

Landertinger Pulls Away for Bronze

Shipulin cleaned prone fast to take the lead as did Fourcade who went out 8.9 seconds back. Landertinger and Schempp both used spares. Shipulin continued to pull away and came to the standing stage with a 12 second lead. He used a spare while Fourcade rapid-fired and left 4.2 seconds back. Landertinger and Schempp left together, 20 seconds back, fighting for the Bronze medal. Shipulin increased his lead to 8.9 seconds with 1100 meters to go, while Landertinger and Schempp continued to battle. Shipulin was exhausted but won comfortably. Landertinger found something special in the last kilometer and buried Schempp to take the Bronze medal for the home team!

Gold Like Bronze

For Austria, their Bronze almost felt like Gold. Simon Eder emphasized the medal was a result of team effort. “We really hoped for one medal at these WCH. All team worked for it: our staff, our wax team… We can have a party tonight!”

Landertinger shared his experience on the last loop, “It was very difficult, as Simon is a very good anchor. When I left the range and I saw him 4 – 5 meters behind, I knew it would be a tough battle. The last hundred meters were the toughest for me and it was the nicest feeling when I realized the medal was secured.”

Shipulin's Strong Anchor Leg Brings Relay Gold to Russia

Shipulin cleaned fast to take the lead as did Fourcade who went out 8.9 seconds back. Landertinger and Schempp both used spares. Shipulin continued to pull away and came to the standing stage with a 12 second lead. He used a spare while Fourcade rapid-fired and left 4.2 seconds back. Landertinger and Schempp left together, 20 seconds back, fighting for the Bronze medal. Shipulin increased his lead to 8.9 seconds with 1100 meters to go, while Landertinger and Schempp continued to battle. Shipulin was exhausted but won comfortably. Landertinger found something special in the last kilometer and buried Schempp to take the Bronze medal for the home team!

Relief and Happiness for Russia

Shipulin thanked the team for the effort today. "I want to thank my team, my country and everyone for their support today. Everyone did a great job to help us win this Gold medal."

Silver for France

Fillon Maillet was satisfied with his performance, “I gave my best today, my toughest challenge is my shooting. I did a good job for the relay.”

Fourcade said he had no chance to catch Shipulin, “No, I think it was too complicated today. I am not at my best shape, and Anton was strong on the tracks.”

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