Team Crystal Globes Domination: German Women, Norwegian Men (Part 2)
The German women and Norwegian men led the parade of team Crystal Globe winners when the season ended, with only Italy as the outsider taking their first title, the Mixed Relay Globe.
This second of three parts about the Crystal Globe winners covers the team titles. Part 3 coming on Friday will be devoted to the three ladies who claimed Crystal this season: Kaisa Mäkäräinen, Anastasiya Kuzmina and Nadezhda Skardino.
Nations and Relay Cups to Germany and Norway
There was little surprise when the dust settled in Tyumen that the German women and Norwegian men were the strongest teams over the whole season. These two teams have been at or near the top of the heap for a long time.
Norway on Top
Norway, led by Johannes Thingnes Boe, his brother Tarjei, Emil Hegle Svendsen and a deep line-up of interchangeable parts like Erlend Bjoentegaard, Henrik L’Abee Lund and Lars Helge Birkeland proved again to be the best of the best in both categories, with 6458 Nations Cup points and 228 Relay Cup points. France led by the almost unstoppable Martin Fourcade, was well behind in the Nations Cup at 6129 points while surprising Sweden was the Relay runner-up at 184 points.
Oslo Win Clinches Relay Globe
For Norway, it was a return to the top in the Nations Cup after a heart-breaking 32-point loss to Germany in the 2016-17 season; the Norwegians had won the Globe in the three previous seasons. The Relay Globe was also a return for a team that had struggled in recent years, even with a star-studded team. They were on the “top of the world” after their IBU WCH relay title at Holmenkollen in 2016, but completely missed the podium the next year at Hochfilzen, with Russia taking the WCH title and the Globe. However this season, the Norwegians left nothing to chance, winning three of the four men’s relays, with just an Oberhof third place tarnishing their record.
Good Feeling to Win
After claiming the relay title and small Crystal Globe again on home turf in Oslo, Johannes commented, “We had a strong performance with our relays this year. After a couple years of bad relays, we are now feeling the strongest again. That is always a good feeling to win the team globe.”
German Women Dominate…Again
The German women’s team has been the dominant force in the sport, literally for years. Their Nations Cup Globe this year was their 10th win in the past 13 seasons! Likewise, their relay win was the 4th in the past five years.
Star and Deep Roster
As usual, Germany once again won the Nations Cup with a star, Laura Dahlmeier leading the way and a more than capable back-up crew that included Denis Herrmann, Franziska Hildebrand, Franziska Preuss, Vanessa Hinz and Maren Hammerschmidt all adding big points over the course of the season. Although France finished second in both the Nations Cup and Relay Cup, the French squad could never match the Germans on a weekly basis.
France Stops Win Streak
However, the French team did give the once unstoppable Germans a scare in the relay competition. The Germans came to the 2017-18 season looking like super heroes in the relay, undefeated in 2016-17 and sporting the same team plus the much better Herrmann. They managed to win in Hochfilzen before being toppled on home turf in Oberhof by the French foursome. The French team also managed to close out Marie Dorin Habert’s illustrious career with a second win over Germany in the season’s final relay at Oslo.
Anais Bescond commented on her Oslo anchor leg and its importance. “Winning a relay is always something special, but today the level was up there, because it was the last relay with Marie…”
Four Podiums and…Crystal
Still, despite the French wins, Germany never missed the podium, with two wins and two runners-ups and once again went home with the small Crystal Globe.
Crystal Newcomers: Italy
The mid-sized Italian team finally found their place battling the big deep teams like Germany, Norway and France and coming out on top with a small Crystal Globe, in the mixed relay. They have been in the mix and getting better ever since their breakthrough Olympic Mixed Relay Bronze medal back in 2014. This year, the team of Lisa Vittozzi, Dorothea Wierer, Lukas Hofer and Dominik Windisch were unquestionably the team to beat. They just missed the win, by 5.3 seconds to Norway in the season-opener at Östersund. Then they grabbed another Olympic Bronze medal which was followed by the long-awaited victory in Kontiolahti. That Kontiolahti win clinched their first-ever piece of team Crystal.