Norway Romps to IBU World Championships Mixed Relay Gold
The Norwegian team of Marte Olsbu Røiseland, Tiril Eckhoff, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen pulled away in the last two legs of the mixed relay this afternoon at the IBU World Championships to claim the Gold medal with seven spares in 1:17:41.3. Germany, with nine spares won the Silver medal, 13.1 seconds back. Italy, with 14 spares won the Bronze medal, 1:09.6 back.
Johannes considers the win a confidence builder for his team. “It is my first mixed relay victory in the (IBU World) Championships so of course it is a big day. It is good for the team and good for us we are the four strangest. We have big chances in the individual races so getting this Gold medal only gives us more confidence.”
Russia, with eight spare rounds finished fourth, 1:32.4 back. Sweden, with ten spares finished fifth, 1:35.3 back while Czech Republic, with the day’s best shooting of just three spare rounds finished sixth, 1;51.3 back.
Snowfall; Vittozzi Shines
These 2019 IBU World Championships kicked off with light snow falling and just a light breeze crisscrossing the shooting range, while the temperature was just below freezing. The falling snow immediately slowed the tracks for the 26 teams on the starting line. Lisa Vittozzi got things off with a calm, cool and collected first leg, leading after prone. She then turned in a smooth 5-for-5 in standing to lead the way to the first exchange by 4.2 seconds over Norway’s Røiseland. Røiseland made a huge move after standing, leaving 23.5 seconds back in fourth to almost catch the Young Italian as she tagged Dorothea Wierer. The Norwegian said it was hard work to close the gap. “It was a tough race, Lisa was really strong in shooting…I felt good today on the skis but I used some time in the shooting range…(So) I just tried to go fast so Tiril would not be so far away from Dorothea.”
The home team Sweden tagged in third, but 16 seconds off the pace. France was the big casualty in the first leg, when Anais Chevalier struggled, using three spares, tagging in 15th, 1:18 back.
Herrmann Flies to the Lead
Wierer missed her first two prone shots but recovered to remain in the lead, but left with the dangerous Denise Herrmann and Eckhoff on her shoulder. The German led the trio into the range for standing. The Italian shot fast, missed twice then cleaned with spares with both the Norwegian and German also using spares. Eckhoff was just behind Wierer with Hanna Oeberg who cleaned in five, next. Herrmann was 18 seconds back but her flying skis moved her into the lead, tagging Arnd Peiffer .9 seconds up on Johannes and Lukas Hofer. Oeberg faded in the last loop but tagged Jesper Nelin in fourth.
No Time to Think
Herrmann, a late replacement for Laura Dahlmeier did not have much time to dwell on the competition. “Maybe it is good way to come to the team so late then you cannot think about anything. I had a strong team around me and we had amazing skis today. My main focus is on the shooting and I tried to do the best I could.”
Norway Moves Up
The Norwegian cleaned prone in five easy shots to take the lead, while Peiffer needed one; the Italian matched in two, but fell 18 seconds behind the leaders. The Norwegian star shot fast, missed twice and was gone. Peiffer again used a spare to remain 7 seconds back. Hofer used all of his spares to hold third but 35 seconds back heading to the exchange. He explained, “I tried my best but struggled in standing. I took a high risk, but was happy I closed with the extra rounds.”
Ondřej Moravec and Dmitry Malyshko kept up their teams good shooting to hold fourth and fifth but both were more than a minute back.
Johannes Buries Rivals
Johannes buried his rivals tagging Christiansen with a 15.4 second lead as Benedikt Doll took over for Germany and 56 seconds ahead of the Italian anchor Windisch.
Christiansen cleaned prone in five steady shots; Doll matched and they were gone. Windisch needed two spares but was gone before anyone else shot. Sweden was now up to fourth but 30 seconds behind the Italians.
No nerves at all -- Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen hits all five targets and is on his way to anchor @NSSF_Biathlon to the first Gold Medal! 🥇#2019ostersund— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) March 7, 2019
Watch the Mixed Relay LIVE on https://t.co/bk5aBBso9Q pic.twitter.com/96HIZbqPpb
Christiansen Cleans, Pulls Away to Gold
Christiansen proved to be as good as he was several weeks ago in North America, adding five more closed targets, adding to his gap on the Germans to seal the victory. Yet he was far from calm later saying, “I was really nervous before the race and just tried to block everything out, so honestly I do not remember so much. I just go with the flow.”
Spares and Medals
Doll again needed two spares but left solidly in second. Windisch used all three spares but kept his cool to leave with the Bronze medal in his grasp.
Russia, Czech Republic and Sweden were seconds apart battling for fourth place. By the finish, Russia settled in fourth while Sweden moved up to fifth.