Johannes Anchors Norway to Ruhpolding Relay Victory
Johannes Thingnes Boe anchored his Norwegian team of Lars Helge Birkeland, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Tarjei Boe to victory in this afternoon’s men’s 4X 7.5K relay in Ruhpolding. The Norwegians used eight spare rounds, finishing in 1:09:54.2 for their fifth consecutive Ruhpolding relay title. Johannes flew past Benedikt Doll with 800 meters to go, pushing Germany to second place with six spares, 13.5 seconds back. France, with nine spares finished third, 26.2 seconds back.
Johannes “Afraid to Miss”
Despite being the number one man in biathlon currently, Johannes felt some pressure on the shooting range and wondered where to make his final move. “Today, I was afraid to miss when I came into the shooting range…sometimes you cannot explain your feelings, you just try to do your best. I was so happy when I closed the last target. (In the last loop), I felt quite strong…did not know where to attack but tried on that hill and it worked.”
Although Johannes was a bit unsure of himself, his teammates trust him implicitly according to Birkeland. “We have confidence in our team when we have this superstar Johannes on the last leg.”
Austria finished fourth, 26.8 seconds back, while Russia was fifth, 1:04.8 back with Sweden in sixth, 1:36.3 back.
Just over 24 hours after their rescheduled sprint, 27 men’s relay teams lined up for the third relay of the season. The sun from yesterday was just in and out; cloudy skies dominated, holding the afternoon high to exactly freezing while the shooting range wind flags were motionless.
The first leg was pretty evenly matched; only two teams, Belgium with Mikki Rösch, in the final World Cup competition of his career and Germany with Roman Rees went 10-for-10; virtually everyone else needing spare rounds. At the first exchange, six teams came in shoulder-to-shoulder, and left within one second. Ukraine, France, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic and Germany left in that order.
France and Norway
Martin Fourcade quickly took the lead as the pack left the stadium, but by the prone stage, Christiansen took lane 1, shot clean and left in front, followed by Evgeniy Garanichev. The top six were spread out over 24 seconds. By the standing stage, Fourcade was back to second. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen needed a spare round while the French star shot a calm 5-for-5. A second apart, Norway and France left a dozen seconds ahead of the pack.
Spare Rounds for Tarjei
Christiansen gave Norway a 5.7 second lead at the second exchange, tagging Tarjei, with Quentin Fillon Maillet next and Sweden in the number three spot, 24 seconds off the pace, leading a group of six teams. Tarjei shot clean and fast, while Fillon Maillet needed spares. The order changed, with five others jumping into the podium battle, grouped at 30 seconds back. The biggest move came by Dominik Landertinger who brought his team from 9th position to 5th. Tarjei blew his huge lead with two spares, opening the door for Peiffer, Ponsiluoma and the Austrian veteran, leaving within 14.9 seconds.
The senior Boe Brother explained mental struggle today. “Relay is tough; you want to have the gap, but when you have the gap, you are by yourself and you get lost and that is what happened. The last lap with Arnd and Landi; I looked like a junior athlete!”
Johannes and Benedikt
The pack closed the gap on Tarjei; he tagged Johannes .6 seconds ahead of Austrian anchor Julian Eberhard and the home team’s Benedikt Doll. The trio stayed together over the 2.5K loop. Johannes won the prone battle with five shots, while Doll needed a spare, leaving 3 seconds back. Johannes then put on the afterburners, opening up a 10+ second lead over Doll. They shot together in standing; Johannes opened the door with three spares to the German’s one.
Once again, @NSSF_Biathlon get to celebrate in Ruhpolding after @7ohannesbo managed to avoid the penalty loop in the last standing. #RUH19— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 18, 2019
You can rewatch the entire competition on https://t.co/bk5aBBaMLg pic.twitter.com/SGpgWTZAt2
15 Second Burst to Victory
They left together for the final loop with Eberhard and Desthieux farther back battling for the last podium spot. On the steepest uphill, Johannes attacked with a 15 second burst, speeding away to the victory, leaving Doll to ski home in second place.
Simon Desthieux outsprinted the Austrian in the last 50 meters for third place.
Arnd Peiffer admitted the day was fun, even in second place. “It was a cool race; it was good for the spectators, It was fun…I had Landi so it was cool to close the gap and have three teams together at the last exchange.”
Desthieux who needed two spares in standing admitted the crowd affected him. “My standing was not easy because when Benni finished there was a lot of noise in the stadium, a strange moment.”