Foggy, Foggy Oberhof Relay Win for Sweden
The Swedish team of Martin Ponsiluoma, Jesper Nelin, Sebastian Samuelsson and Fredrik Lindström won the battle with extremely heavy fog on the shooting range to capture the Oberhof men’s relay, with one penalty and nine spare rounds, in 1:14:18.4. Second went to Italy, with two penalties and eleven spares, 45.1 seconds back. Norway took third place with here penalties and three spares, 1:27.9 back.
Fourth place went to Russia, with three penalties and sixteen spares, 2:29.9 back, while France was fifth, with six penalties and sixteen spares, 2:46.8 back. Germany finished sixth, with ten penalties and ten spares, 3:22.9 back.
More of the Same
The same foggy, breezy and wet conditions persisted for the men’s relay; shooting conditions remained less than optimal and deteriorated with the ever-changing wind and the extremely low light conditions. Virtually every team struggled on the shooting range, except for Russia’s leadoff leg Alexey Volkov, using just a single spare in standing. That was enough to give the Olympic Champions the lead heading to the first exchange. By the tag, Belgium’s Mikki Rösch was in front, just .6 seconds ahead of the Russian team. Just as in the women’s relay, the German men were off the pace in 10th position after a penalty by Roman Rees.
And Then…The Fog Took Over
The fog closed in as the men came to the second prone stage. Florent Claude managed to clean prone very slowly with a single spare round, with almost every other team struggling mightily. Henrik L’Abee Lund left prone in second after two penalties, while Luka Hofer left in third. At this point, nine of the 25 teams had at least four penalties. Despite the tough conditions, Claude dropped his five targets with six shots, while Hofer matched and left in second. At the exchange, Belgium was in first, with Hofer and Italy 15 seconds back, followed by Sweden and Norway, 20 and 27 seconds back.
Jesper Nelin commented on the conditions. “In prone, I could not see anything; it was like looking at a wall…I had no idea where I was aiming. So it was really difficult but I hit and that was good. Maybe these conditions suit me!”
Windisch 10-for-10, in the Lead
Visibility improved slightly for the third leg. Dominik Windisch went 5-for-5 and Sebastian Samuelsson with one spare round got away with a minute lead over the field. Windisch was not intimidated by the visibility, cleaning standing in five shots, while the Swede picked up a penalty but still remained in second position. At the final tag, the Italian lead was more than one minute over Sweden and Norway another 40 plus seconds in arrears. Belgium, Russia and Switzerland were in a tight group at just over 2:20 back.
Windisch admitted, “I really did not see the targets close; I had to look at the big screen to control. It was really funny. I decided that from now on, I will shoot with closed eyes; it might be better.”
Lindström: One Spare in Standing and the Win
As the anchor leg started, all of the 25 teams in the competition had at least one penalty. Thierry Chenal cleaned prone with a steady tempo; Fredrik Lindström matched and the gap was down to 31 seconds. Tarjei needed two spares to clean the prone stage and hold third. The veteran Lindström calmly dropped the last five targets with single spare while Chenal picked up a penalty, falling to second. Tarjei left in third with a 1:02 lead over fourth place Russia; the podium was set.
Lindström was matter-of-fact about his excellent shooting. “I was calm, not so nervous and had luck on my side.”
Samuelsson admitted this win was special. “It is a dream when you are a kid to compete in a World Cup; to have a win is really amazing!” Lindström added, “What a race by the whole team; (with the women on the podium too),it could not be better.”