France Wins Women’s Relay; Upsets Germany
The French Team of Anais Bescond, Anais Chevalier, Celia Aymonier and Justine Braisaz won the women’s relay this morning at foggy, windy, snowy Oberhof, with one penalty and ten spares in 1:12:42.4. The French upset the favorite Germany who finished second, with two spares and thirteen spares, 32.4 seconds back. The French win ended Germany’s unbeaten streak of six that stretched back to last season. Surprising Sweden finished third, with eight spares, 48.2 seconds back.
Fourth place went to Russia, with one penalty and five spares, 1:04.7 back. Ukraine finished fifth, with twelve spares, 1:15.8 back while early leader Italy was sixth, with two penalties and eight spares, 2:06.9 back.
Oberhof Today: Wind, Fog, Snow
It would not be Oberhof without a day like today: freezing mist and light snow coating the pine trees, foggy and wind on the shooting range. The constantly changing wind resulted with only three teams getting through the first leg without a spare round, Belarus, Italy and Russia. From that point, spares and penalties continued to build for almost every team.
Italy and France
Lisa Vittozzi of led out of both shooting bouts in the first leg, but Anais Bescond pulled away to tag in first position with Vittozzi 6 seconds back and Belarusian Nadezhda Skardino in the third spot. The big surprise was the penalty loop by Vanessa Hinz that put her team in 14th, 1:28 back.
Wierer Takes Lead
Dorothea Wierer quickly put Italy back on top with a fast clean prone, while Anais Chevalier picked up a penalty. Wierer shot very fast in standing, but needed to spare rounds, while Chevalier pulled back into second with 5-for-5, while Kaisa Mäkäräinen and Denise Herrmann, both with outstanding standing bouts brought their teams back into contention. At the second exchange, Italy had a 23 second lead over France.
Preuss Brings Germany into Contention
Celia Aymonier brought the French team back to the lead with quick clean prone stage, while Italy’s Nicole Gontier needed a spare. Franziska Preuss continued Germany’s march to the front leaving the prone stage behind Sweden in fourth, but just 26 seconds off the French team’s pace. The standing stage changed everything as Preuss cleaned easily, smiled and left with the home team in the lead, as the crowd roared. France and Sweden were now 12.1 and 14.1 seconds off the German’s pace. Aymonier showed her cross-country background by closing on and passing Preuss by the exchange, but they tagged less than 1 second apart, with Mari Laukkanen tagging in third ahead of Sweden. Preuss commented, “Andi Stitzl told me that Celia was only 15 seconds behind me when I left the shooting range; I know she is in much better cross-country shape than me so I was worried. When she passed me, I just tried to hold on for Maren.”
it was a risky last shooting for Braisaz but mistakes came behind and it will be a win for @FedFranceSki Watch who else will be on the podium in #OBE18 on https://t.co/Z1cUg23KzH pic.twitter.com/r54vqbjEnm— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 7, 2018
Braisaz Seals Victory
Justine Braisaz kept the French team in the lead by four seconds, using one less spare in prone than Maren Hammerschmidt. Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht brought Russia up to third with a 5-for-5; continuing Russia’s excellent shooting of only two spare rounds heading into the final shooting stage of the day. By mid-way through the 2K loop, Braisaz had extended her lead to 15 seconds over the home team. Braisaz made it exciting in standing, using all three spares to clean. However Hammerschmidt also used her three spares, but ended up on the penalty loop. Yurlova-Percht also ended up on the loop, as Brorsson remained calm and moved up to third, behind Germany after the last standing stage. Braisaz skiing comfortably crossed the finish line in the top spot, leaving the home team in second place.
She commented on those final five shots. “I was very nervous; the crowd was very loud. I had a problem getting focused; it was a bit foggy.”
Our Day; After Years and Years
Bescond thought this was going to be the day for the French team. “Yesterday, I thought this would be our day; not just because of my performance but because we have a very strong team.” On beating Germany, Braisaz added, “After years and years, we finally did it; I think maybe it was the Oberhof spirit!”
Denise Herrmann’s reaction to the defeat was simple. “We did our best; the crowd was behind us.”
Anna Magnusson was worried about Mona Brorsson on the last loop. “I was not so sure she could hold on. I said to Linn (Persson), ‘Please let this be our day today.’ It was really nice…We were so emotional.”