IBU Cup Relay Wins to Russia and Germany
The winner unknown until the very end, the women’s 4x6 km relay offered a great biathlon show in Brezno-Osrblie. Russia, with Natalia Gerbulova, Ekaterina Noskova, Valeriia Vasnetcova and Anastasiia Egorova, with two penalties and nine spares claimed the win on 1:06:47.5. Germany with Justus Strelow, Lucas Fratzscher, Philipp Horn and Philipp Nawrath won the men's 4 X 7.5 km relay with one penalty and nine spares in 1:16:16.5.
Sweden's Elisabeth Hoegberg, Stina Nilsson, Ingela Andersson and Anna Hedstrom also had two penalties but twelve spares while finishing second 9.4 seconds back. Germany with Anna Weidel, Juliane Fruehwirt, Hanna Kebinger and Marion Deigentesch claimed the last spot of the podium with one penalty and eight spares, 26.5 seconds back.
Norway came in fourth, 1.38.2 back, France fifth 2:26.2 back, Ukraine sixth 2:32.4 back.
Slow start for the winning team
With their closest competitors spare free in the first prone stage, Russia’s Gerbulova was sixth after using one spare, 13.3 seconds behind Sweden's Hoegberg. Correcting the prone mistake, Gerbulova cleaned standing without spares to move to third, 18.1 seconds behind and 6.2 seconds behind the USA. Faster on skis, the Russian managed to pass Phaneuf of USA to move to seccond at the exchange.
No match for Nilsson's speed
With Sweden’s Stina Nilsson setting the pace after the first exchange the gap between the Swedish and the Russian teams extended even more. Nilsson entered prone as the leader, more than 30 seconds ahead Russia’s second leg Noskova. While Nilsson and Noskova both used two spares, Germany’s Juliane Fruehwirt saw her chance. Cleaning the prone in five shots, she pushed Germany to the lead, Sweden second just 3.3 seconds behind, Russia third 15.2 seconds behind.
Unable to keep it up with Nilsson on the track, Fruehwirt lost seconds entering standing in second, 7.5 seconds behind Nilsson. The Swede picked up a penalty loop and Fruehwirt managed to clean with only one spare, the German took the lead. Noskova however managed to clean standing without any spares pushing Nilsson to third. .7 seconds behind the German after the standing stage, Noskova proved to be stronger arriving at the exchange first with a 12.8-second lead over Germany.
Russia's third leg Vasnetcova showed stable shooting in prone cleaning with no spare rounds. Germany’s Kebinger and Sweden’s Andersson both used one spare to clean;, Vasnetcova secured first position, leaving the range with a 32-second lead. although the gap was larger by the standing stage, Vasnetcova's three extra shots allowed Kebinger to catch up. Still keeping the lead after three used spares, Vasnetcova headed towards the exchange with a 8.9-second lead.
Drama in the final shooting
With no change in top 3 after the third leg, the fate of the competition was left to the anchor leg. While Egorova of Russia cleaned prone strengthening the lead, Deigentesch used one spare and Sweden’s Hedstrom two putting them second and third, 20.5 and 44.3 seconds behind. Entering the final standing stage more than 30 seconds ahead her competitors, the competition seemed to be decided, if it had not been for the unexpected wind on the shooting range. The top three teams struggled with closing the targets resulting in one penalty loop for Hedstrom and Deigentesch, two for Egorova. Hedstrom was the first to leave the penalty loop, 4.8 seconds ahead of Egorova. Once again ski speed had the final say. Faster on skis, the Russian passed the Swede with ease claiming the win for the Russian team.
🇷🇺A. Egorova: "There was wind in the last standing shooting and right away three mistakes. It was emotionally hard to regain the confidence after that. Two penalties in the end, but it didn’t stop us from fighting for the win.” #IBUCup— IBU Cup Biathlon (@IBUCUP) February 18, 2021
📸 Stancik/IBU pic.twitter.com/ASoe4Df0IN
As this was the final women’s relay of the IBU Cup season, the Russian team secured the win of the Relay Globe with today’s result.
Russia with Kirill Streltsov, Vasilii Tomshin, Nikita Porshnev and Semen Suchilov, using six spare rounds, finished, 26.6 seconds back. Norway with Aleksander Fjeld Andersen, Erlend Bjoentegaard, Haavard Gutuboe Bogetveit and Endre Stroemsheim, with two penalties and eight spares finished third, 39.3 seconds back.
Ukraine came in fourth 49 seconds back, Austria fifth 3:22.4 back, France sixth 4:12.5 back.
A Norway-dominated beginning
Leaders after the standing stage on the first leg, Norway seemed to be in another league. After A. F. Andersen left his final shooting only 2.6 seconds ahead Germany’s Justus Strelow and 9.4 seconds ahead Russia’s Kirill Streltsov, the door was still open for the closest competitors to catch up with the Norwegian. Clearly better on skis than the rest, A. F. Andersen quickly made it clear that Norway would widen the gap by the exchange and so it was, Erlend Bjoentegaard was tagged with a 11-second lead ahead Russia. With good performances on the range, Bjoentegaard secured the team a 39.8-second lead by the time of his exchange with Bogetveit. Bogetveit closed the prone targets easily, extending the gap to 47.4 seconds.
Change of luck
However, things turned upside down when the Norwegian earned two penalties in standing opening the door for for the Russians and Germans.
With Bogetveit stuck on the penalty loop, Philipp Horn of Germany and Nikita Porshnev of Russia battled for the lead. Although using two spares, Horn was the first to leave the shooting range after his standing stage on the third leg.
🇩🇪P.Horn: "When I saw the Norwegian guy messing a bit up I was thinking that I have to put him under pressure so I was trying to shoot as fast as possible because the wind was okay at that moment. And then in the end I was in first position. It was surprising for me too."#IBUCUP pic.twitter.com/ElY1bodNi4— IBU Cup Biathlon (@IBUCUP) February 18, 2021
Nawrath, 15.6 seconds ahead at the exchange was sent to the road to anchor the team to the win. Using only one spare in total, the anchor fulfilled the assignment. Germany won securing also the Relay Globe.
Stroemsheim pushed the team back to the podium
Exchanging fourth, 41.6 seconds behind Germany and 2.3 seconds behind Ukraine in third and the final exchange, Stroemsheim had some work to do to get his team to the podium. Cleaning prone in five shots the Norwegian got back in the podium battle. Third after prone, second just before the standing, Stroemsheim had to shoot clean in order to claim second place. Disappointment for the Norwegian, happiness for the Russian: Stroemsheim used two spares while Russia’s Suchilov cleaned standing to secure second place.
Photos: Igor Stancik / IBU