Norway and Germany claim Gold medals in mixed relays
The IBU Open European Championships in Duszniki-Zdrój concluded with the mixed relays. Under beautiful sunlight, Germany with Stefanie Scherer and Justus Strelow, with five spare rounds proved to be the best team, claiming the single mixed Gold medal in 35:01.6. In the 4X6km mixed relay competition, Norway with Emilie Aagheim Kalkenberg, Aasne Skrede, Erlend Bjoentegaard and Sivert Guttorm Bakken claimed the long-awaited Gold despite one penalty and seven spares in 1:01:23.7.
Single mixed relay
Caroline Colombo and Emilien Claude of France with one penalty and eight spares finishing with the Silver medal, 21 seconds back. The Russian duo of Larisa Kuklina and Evgeniy Garanichev used six spares in their Bronze medal effort, 26.7 seconds back.
Italy finished fourth, with Ukraine fifth and Norway in sixth.
Germany Wins Gold
With no penalty loops, Germany managed to stay on the top throughout the competition. Hopes were high for the Germans after Scherer took the lead after her second shooting stage. Exchanging in first position, only 4.2 seconds ahead of Russia, it was Strelow’s job to protect the lead. Strelow and all of the closest competitors used a spare round in prone; the German managed to recover the quickest leaving the range still holding the lead. Coming to his first standing stage only 2.6 seconds ahead France’s Emilien Claude, Strelow had to act quickly. While Claude had to use to one spare to save his leg, Strelow cleaned and widened the gap with the French team to 13.5 seconds by the end of his first leg.
Scherer, using three spares total in her final standing stage leg opened the door for to Russia’s Kuklina to send her teammate into the final leg as the leader with Germany 5.9 seconds behind. All the eyes were on the anchors. Strelow and Garanichev both managed to clear the prone. Strelow being faster in the range took a 2-second lead after the seventh shooting round. Garanichev managed to close the gap with Strelow by the final standing stage, but Strelow cleaned while Garanichev used two spares making it clear that the Gold would go to the Germans.
🇩🇪J. Strelow: "I am very happy that I finally managed to hit the important targets, also in the last shooting. In the last standing I just thought that I have to keep calm and do my thing and it was perfect with zero mistakes. I had quite a happy last lap."#OECH21 📸 Stancik/IBU pic.twitter.com/AJerV3JJ8m— IBU Cup Biathlon (@IBU_CUP) January 31, 2021
Silver despite a penalty
While the German and the Russian teams were fighting for the Gold, Caroline Colombo of France earned one penalty in her standing stage dropping the team to fifth position by the final exchange, 2.7 seconds behind USA who handed over to the anchor leg in third. With Emilien Claude’s ski speed and perfect shooting, the team recovered rather quickly taking moving up to third after the last prone. One spare in the final standing pushed Claude back to fourth, less than a second behind Italy and 12.7 seconds behind Garanichev. With an incredible last lap, Claude closed the gap, earning Silver for the French team. Russia, unable to fight back on the final loop, had to settle for the Bronze medal.
Germany with Vanessa Voigt, Marion Deigentesch, Dominic Schmuck and Philipp Nawrath claimed the Silver, with 7 spares 30.7 seconds back. Iryna Petrenko, Vita Semerenko, Bogdan Tsymbal and Artem Pryma secured the Bronze for Ukraine, with one penalty and eight spares , 52.5 seconds back.
Long-awaited Gold medal
The winning team didn’t have the brightest start when Emilie Aagheim Kalkenberg, Norway's leadoff leg, was forced to go on a penalty loop after standing. Exchanging far behind from the leading Swedes, Kalkenberg handed over to Skrede in14th position. Cleaning prone, Skrede reclaimed three places leaving the range in11th position, 38.8 seconds from the leading Germany. Tenth to arrive in standing, Skrede took the advantage of others’ misfortune. With a majority of the teams using two or more spares, Skrede had a chance to climb back to the top. The Norwegian cleaned with one spare pushing the team up to fourth, 10.8 seconds behind Sweden’s Anna Magnusson. Skrede then gave everything on the final loop, closing the gap, and sending Bjoentegaard on his way as the leader, 6.3 seconds ahead Russia. Closing all the targets of his leg with two spares, Bjoentegaard secured a 7.4-second lead when handing over to the anchor leg. Shooting clean with ten shots, Bakken enjoyed a comfortable 31-second lead over Germany heading to the final loop resulting in the Gold medal for the Norwegian team.
Second medal of the day
Third at the first exchange, Deigentesch managed to push her team further up in her first prone taking the lead. Forced to use two spares to clean standing, the German lost the lead to Anna Magnusson of Sweden. Dropping one more position in her final loop, Germany was third to finish the second leg, 6.8 seconds behind Norway. By the end of his leg Schmuck managed to climb up a place sending anchor Nawrath to chase the Norwegian from second position with 7.4 seconds separating them. One spare for Nawrath in prone widened the gap even more. With Bakken far ahead, Nawrath anchored his team to the second step of the podium. With Gold in the single mixed relay, the German team definitely had something to celebrate today.
Ninth after the second exchange, the third leg Tsymbal gave a great performance and finished his leg on course to claim the Bronze. Pryma, using one spare in both rounds, managed to keep third throughout the competition securing the Bronze medal for the Ukrainians.