“Important to shoot good”
Simon was very happy with her outstanding 10-for-10 shooting after disastrous seven penalties in yesterday’s women’s pursuit. “I am really happy with this performance today. Biathlon is never easy; it was not in the individual races for me. It was really important to shoot good today and have a good race before leaving for home. We did a really good job, all the team. I think it is a record because we needed only two spares, the first time I think; really happy.”
Chloe’s tag: “No problem for me”
Regarding the near-miss when Chloe tagged her at the last exchange, she added, “I know Chloe touched me (pointing to her elbow) just here so it was okay for me. But I saw the screen on the last and I said, ‘why…there is no problem.’ It was more stressful for the staff and the other girls than for me.”
Sweden with eight spare rounds finished second, 45.2 seconds back. Germany, with ten spares finished third, 1:16.9 back.
Italy, with a penalty and six spares finished fourth, 1:30.4 back. Austria, with three spares finished in a season-best and best-ever women’s relay result in fifth place, 1:56.1 back. Norway with three penalties and nine spare rounds finished sixth, 2:35.4 back.
Antholz delivered once again on relay day with mostly clear skies, a wintery -5C, the same moderate swirling shooting range winds as all week and the Südtirol Arena packed with biathlon fans. Nineteen teams lined up for the final test before next month’s IBU World Championships. Austria, Germany and France led the field out of the first prone stage, all cleaning easily in five shots. Jeanmonnot led the field into the standing stage, missing her last shot, but Persson cleaned first with five shots leaving with Italy, Austria and Jeanmonnot 4 seconds back. By the first exchange, Jeanmonnot moved back to the front, tagging Chevalier-Bouchet eight seconds up on Anna Magnusson.
Jeanmonnot’s last loop was fueled by her missed standing shot. “I am most proud of my skiing today, because shooting I missed the last one again. I was disappointed with that. My goal was to make it up on the track. I did my best and felt much better than yesterday, so I just tried to get a lot of time."
Chevalier-Bouchet needed a spare in prone to retain the lead. Magnusson fell further off the pace at 38 seconds back. The French star downed her five standing targets before any other team fired a shot. Both Canada’s Nadia Moser and Dorothea Wierer used spares to clean, trailing by just over 30 seconds out of the stadium.
Anais tagged her sister Chloe 31 seconds before Wierer tagged Auchentaller ahead of Germany’s Janina Hettich Walz. Hanna took over for Sweden in fifth position, 49 seconds back. Chloe easily cleaned her prone stage in five shots, while Hanna moved to third, using a spare round to clean. Chloe was in control coming to the standing stage. Hanna moved to second position, still over 30 seconds back. Five steady shots, five closed targets held the lead. She explained her good shooting, “I was not very good on the track so I had no choice; I had to clean all the targets. It was not easy, but I was quite confident.”
Hanna closed the gap to 27 seconds with five very fast shots. Olsbu Roeiseland went to 10-for-10 bringing her team up to fifth before the last exchange. Hanna continued to close the gap, tagging Elvira just 12.7 seconds behind Julia Simon. German anchor Hannah Kebinger left third, 32.7 seconds back.
After some struggles earlier in the season, Hanna was happy about her aggressive third leg that put her team in a podium position. “I am really happy today. I felt confident on my leg; had just one spare in the prone. I have a really good feeling at the shooting range now. It is a bit different from before Christmas to now; I am much more confident and having much more fun competing.”
With the wind flags flat, Simon cleaned with a steady tempo as did Elvira. The French lead increased to 20 seconds, Tandrevold went 5-for-5, moving Norway into third, even with Germany, 1:08 back. Elvira gained no ground on the tracks before the final standing stage. Simon’s fast 5-for-5 in standing gave France the win. Elvira needed all three spares to hold second. Kebinger put Germany solidly in third, when Tandrevold ended Norway’s podium run with two penalty loops.
Kebinger’s last loop: “Just all out”
Kebinger, running anchor instead of Denise Herrmann-Wick said, “The emotions were totally crazy. I was really nervous before the race. It was my second World Cup relay and to run in the last position is special. I looked forward to it especially with this cool young team. We just wanted to give our best and to fight for every second…In the last shooting, I tried to stay on each shot and hardly heard the crowd…After that it was just all out!”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni