Marte Olsbu Røiseland Anchors Norway to Women's Relay Victory
Norwegian anchor Marte Olsbu Røiseland quickly closed her five prone targets to take the lead in the women’s 4 X 6 km relay this afternoon and never relinquished it, crossing the finish line in 1:06:10.2 for the victory. The Norwegians used ten spare round sin their win. After a last loop battle with Sweden, Switzerland, with four spare rounds finished in an all-time best second place, 8.5 seconds back while the Swedish team with eight spares was third, 10.2 seconds back.
Olsbu Røiseland was thrilled with her and the team’s effort today. “I was so excited when I was warming up, seeing the other girls. I think they did such a good job. I was quite nervous before the start. It was an amazing race; you have to fight all the way and I am so glad that I crossed the finish line first.”
Germany finished fourth, with a penalty and nine spares, 15.5 seconds back. Russia with nine spares finished fifth, 1:37.7 back while France also with nine spares finished sixth, 2:07.3 back.
Moderate snow that continued throughout the competition and minus 4C temperatures greeted the 21 women’s relay teams as they headed out for the final competition of this opening week of the 2019/20 BMW IBU World Cup season.
Unsurprisingly, Lisa Vittozzi led the pack out of the first prone after and efficiently clean stage. The Italian missed one standing shot but reloaded quickly, hit the target and headed to the exchange, until tagging Nicole Gontier with a 14.6 second lead over Norway and Sweden while Germany trailed by 33.4 seconds in fifth.
Short-Lived Italian Lead
Italy’s lead was short-lived when Gontier went to the penalty loop in prone while young Elvira Oeberg using just one spare round took over the top spot; France’s Justine Braisaz was now 14 seconds back. Oeberg and Braisaz closed their fifth standing target simultaneously, heading to the second exchange with more than 25 seconds up on Norway, Switzerland and Germany.
Sweden in Control
Oeberg tagged Mona Brorsson with a slight lead over France’s Chloe Chevalier. After a prone penalty and a 50 second deficit, Denise Herrmann came back to tag Vanessa Hinz in third, 16.5 seconds behind back, with Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff alongside. Brorsson and Eckhoff matched perfect shots in prone, leaving for the second loop together. Eckhoff struggled in standing while Brorsson cleaned in five as did Aita Gasparin for Switzerland.
Quick-shooting Olsbu Røiseland
Hanna Oeberg took Brorsson’s tag Brorsson 3 seconds ahead of Eckhoff who had roared back to tag Olsbu Røiseland in second. Germany’s Franziska Preuss and Switzerland’s Lena Haecki went out just behind the Norwegian, setting up an anchor leg podium battle. Olsbu Røiseland cleaned prone in five quick shots to take the lead; Haecki followed, with Preuss next, while Oberg needed all three spares, falling back to fourth 23 seconds off the pace.
Haecki’s Last Loop Caps Historic Swiss Second Place
The gap closed when the Norwegian needed two spare rounds while the local hero Oeberg cleaned in five. Still, she and Haecki left 10.9 seconds behind the lady with the patented last loop kick. The battle would be for second place with Olsbu Røiseland in control of the top spot. With 1200 meters left, the Swedish star held a ski-length lead over her Swiss rival. However Haecki made a move to grab a similar lead. No matter how hard Oeberg tried, she could not close the gap. Switzerland had their first-ever women’s relay podium and Sweden finished third.
“Believe in Myself”
Haecki, concerned about the shooting range wind got some advice from Coach Sandra Flunger just before the start. “She told me to believe in myself and the wind was the same.”
Swedish Team Magic
The Swedish team again came through in a relay competition. Brorsson explained the magic. “I think it is this great team feeling that we have. We often perform better as a team…A lot of it comes from our training. We train nearly every day, every session together so we are always fighting for each other."
The BMW IBU World Cup circus now treks south to Hochfilzen, Austria where the competitions start next Friday.
Photos: Petr Slavik