Italy Holds Off Norway for Mixed Relay Win
Italy’s Dominik Windisch held off a hard-charging Johannes Thingnes Boe on the anchor leg of this afternoon’s mixed relay to bring his Italian squad of Lisa Vittozzi, Dorothea Wierer and Lukas Hofer to the top of the podium. The Italians with the best shooting of the day, nine spares claimed the win in 1:05:56.1. Norway finished second, with fifteen spares, 4.1 seconds back. Sweden picked up their second podium of the day in third, with eleven spare rounds, 59.9 seconds back.
Windisch: “So Afraid of Johannes”
Windisch, sporting a big smile commented on the victory. “Now I feel incredible, but during the race, I was so afraid of Johannes because I heard he was shooting really good and fast; skiing he is the best. I tried to push but he came closer. I am happy the last loop was just two kilometers!”
Russia, with one penalty and thirteen spare rounds finished fourth, 1:44.6 back. Fifth place went to Austria, with one penalty and ten spares, 1:53.6 back. Switzerland with one penalty and fifteen spares was sixth, 1:55.5 back.
The lights were on at full power as the 25 mixed relay teams headed out of the stadium for their season-opening competition. Although afternoon darkness had set in, the wind was still as prevalent as in the earlier single mixed relay, foreshadowing many missed shots, spare rounds and penalties.
Vittozzi and Wierer Shine
Lisa Vittozzi, after using two spares in prone jumped to the top of the field with a quick clean standing stage to put Italy in the lead at the first exchange. Dorothea Wierer left with a 14 second bulge on Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen with Sweden another 14 seconds back. The 2019 World Cup Total Score winner even with one spare round was gone before the Finnish rival had fired two shots, stretching the Italian lead to 23.8 seconds. Wierer blew away the standing targets with ease and was gone this time before anyone else was on their point, further stretching her lead to almost 40 seconds at the exchange.
Vittozzi said, “It was important for us to start our season in a good way; a great day for us. For me it was important to start well. I am very satisfied.”
Hofer and Schempp
Now it was old rivals Lukas Hofer leading Germany’s Simon Schempp with Sweden’s Jesper Nelin at 50+ seconds back. Hofer cleaned prone with one spare; Schempp needed two while Nelin went 5-for-5, to move into the second spot by a few seconds. Hofer even with one quick spare obliterated the standing targets just as Wierer had while everyone else struggles to turn black to white. After his good shooting, he commented on the day, “It was quite a good race for me. I am not in my best shape yet, but there is time.”
Tarjei: “Go Maximum”
Dominik Windisch left the stadium with a one minute lead over Sweden, but lurking at 1:07 back was none other than the Norwegians with Tarjei’s strong leg putting brother Johannes in the striking position. The Norwegian admitted he had only one option when he took the tag. “When come from behind, you go like hell; you go maximum. When I was seventh or eighth, I knew I had to go with everything I had. I knew it was still possible to catch the podium. Hanna started with a penalty loop in the single mix and they won, so everything can happen.”
Windisch Holds on for Victory
Windisch cleaned prone with two spares; the Norwegian star closed but used three spares which still left him 49 seconds back. Things got closer in standing closing in on his rival: the Italian again using two spares but left with the lead. Last year’s World Cup Total Score winner then mowed down the five targets; the chase was on. Despite pushing extremely hard on the last loop, 12 seconds was a bridge too far; Windisch claimed the win for Italy, with Norway second and Sweden in third.