Johannes Thingnes Boe anchors Norway to IBU WCH Mixed Relay Gold
Norwegian anchor Johannes Thingnes Boe started his leg with a .3 second lead over Italy and stretched it to 15.6 seconds by the finish to give Norway the IBU World Championships Mixed relay Gold medal in 1:02:27.7. The Gold medal team of Marte Olsbu Røiseland, Tiril Eckhoff, and bothers Tarjei and Johannes Thingnes Boe used seven spare rounds. The Silver medal went to the Italian home team with six spares, 15.6 seconds back. Czech Republic won the Bronze medal, using just two spare rounds, 30.8 seconds back.
Last Standing Stage: Nerve-wracking Experience
Johannes admitted that the last standing was a nerve-wracking experience. “I could feel the whole stadium was silent. I knew I was there with an Italian guy, so I could feel that I was nervous. Both of us had problems with it, but my speed was faster and I was quite efficient with the extra bullets. Then I got the gap and it was just go with all I had. “
“We are in shape”
On the importance of starting the Championships with the Gold medal, he added, “Of course it is important. It does not say much about other results because if we did not win, we still think we could do a good champs. It is the best start, of course: a great team effort with the girls and men. We are in shape.”
Germany, with one penalty and ten spares finished fourth, 49.2 seconds back. Ukraine, with one penalty and seven spares finished fifth, 56.1 seconds back. Russia with eight spares finished sixth, 59.4 seconds back.
Beautiful Afternoon; Norway and Italy
Twenty-seven teams in the mixed relay kicked off these Championships on beautiful afternoon in the Südtirol Arena. Clear blue skies framed the surrounding mountain peaks with the temperature at 1C and very light winds on the shooting range. Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser was the first women out after a five-shot clean first prone stage.
France was immediately put in a hole when the usually reliable Julia Simon picked up a prone penalty, falling 37 seconds back. Lisa Vittozzi swung things back in the direction of Italy with a fast clean standing stage to move into the lead, heading to the first exchange. Yet Olsbu Røiseland despite a spare round quickly jumped ahead of the home team. The Norwegian tagged Eckhoff just 4 seconds before her rival sent Dorothea Wierer on her way.
Wierer shot fast in prone, used a single spare and got away in the lead, with Austria’s Katharina Innerhofer just behind while Eckhoff with two spares was 10 seconds back. The tables turned in standing as the Norwegian reclaimed the top spot with five perfect shots giving her a 6 second advantage over Wierer who again needed a spare round.
Eckhoff flew around the next 2 km stretching her lead to a dozen seconds when she tagged Tarjei. Czech Republic’s Marketa Davidova tagged Ondrej Moravec in second, .4 seconds ahead of Lukas Hofer. Denise Herrmann, with a penalty kept Germany in the mix with her strong skiing, but 7th, 41 seconds back.
Tarjei and Hofer
Tarjei carefully closed all five prone targets before Hofer or Moravec fired a shot. Both matched the Norwegian to hold their positions, 10 seconds back. Arnd Peiffer also cleaned to move the Germans up to fifth. The Norwegian needed two spares while Hofer used five shots to grab the lead, with Moravec and Tarjei just behind. Switzerland, Germany and Ukraine were locked in a tight battle 40 seconds back. Tarjei immediately jumped ahead of Hofer as they headed to the final exchange, but the Italian stayed on his heels. Johannes and Dominik Windisch left almost simultaneously with the Czech Republic now 5 seconds back, while Switzerland and Ukraine were up to 33 seconds back in fourth and fifth, 7 seconds ahead of Germany in 6th.
The top two went shot-for-shot in prone with Johannes just a bit faster than Windisch, while Krcmar matched to stay in third but 16 seconds back. Pidruchnyi cleaned to move into sole possession of the fourth spot, 12 seconds ahead of Benedikt Doll. Windisch moved in front on the tracks by a half second. Tarjei and Windisch both missed two shots. However Johannes closed his last target faster, leaving with a 9.3 second lead over Windisch, while Krcmar with 1 spare solidified the Bronze medal, 22 seconds back.
The podium was set with the favorite Norwegians claiming Gold and the home team getting Silver. All three teams had plenty of time to celebrate, waving to the crowd with Krcmar especially jubilant, hitting his chest and punching the air as he crossed the line.
Krcmar admitted it was a tough fight to hold third place. “It was a difficult position for me because it was the first time that I was shooting for the podium in the relay. I focused on the shooting because a 2 km loop is very short for the men. I was absolutely stressed on the standing shooting but I concentrated on my last shot and knew in the last loop we could do it.”
Wierer commented on the pressure of competing at home, while opening the Championships with a medal-winning performance. “It was busy days here, with a lot of interviews and other stuff. It is not so easy to make races at home because there is a lot of pressure. I think it was really nice to open with the mixed relay with the team together and even better when we made the medal.”
Photos: Christian Manzoni, Petr Slavik