Relay Sweep: Norwegian Flag-waving Men’s Relay Victory
Johannes Thingnes Boe carrying a Norwegian flag for almost 400 meters, smiled and waved to the crowd anchoring the Norwegian men to the Gold medal in 1:12:03.7. Johannes and teammates Lars Helge Birkeland, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Tarjei Boe used just six spare rounds in the win that gave Norway a relay sweep at these IBU World Championships. Germany, with eight spares won the Silver medal, 38.1 seconds back. Russia, with seven spare rounds won the Bronze medal, 1:04.1 back.
Christiansen was simply amazed with this win and his success. “Last year I was not on the team and now I stand here with two Gold medals; it is an amazing experience for me.”
Everything to Lose
Tarjei admitted his brother probably felt the pressure in the standing stage, but felt he handled it as well as possible. “It is strange; of course in this sport you want as big a gap as possible but when you have this gap. Even when you are there personally it feels worse the bigger the gap the worse it is because you have everything to lose. That is what he felt but he was really secure on the extra shots. Luckily we had a gap…luckily he cleaned it and we won… it was unbelievable!"
Czech Republic, with six spares finished fourth, 1:20.7 back. The biggest surprise came from Slovenia who finished fifth, with just five spares, 1:22.4 back. France was sixth, with three penalties and eleven spares, 1:37.2 back.
16,000 Fans: Good First-stage Shooting
Moderate snow continued and the stadium remained packed with more than 16,000 Swedish fans as darkness set in for the early evening men’s relay. Ten of the top eleven teams cleaned the first prone, all staying within 10 seconds. Only Canada’s Christian Gow and Switzerland’s Jeremy Finello got away without a spare round in standing. Thirteen teams left the stadium within 16 seconds.
France and Norway
At the first exchange, Russia led the pack, with Italy and France alongside. The top ten were all within 10 seconds, with Christiansen taking the tag in the tenth spot. Italy’s Giuseppe Montello needed a spare in prone, leading Christiansen by half a stride with the fast-shooting Simon Eder on their heels. Quentin Fillon Maillet came in to lane one, quickly aced standing as did his Norwegian and Austrian rivals; the gap to fourth place Sweden climbed to 21 seconds. He and Christiansen quickly gapped Eder who was passed by Jesper Nelin.
Lead to Tarjei
The double IBU WCH Bronze medalist tagged Desthieux just a second before Tarjei went out for Norway. Nelin had Sweden solidly in third, 18 seconds back, handing off to Ponsiluoma while Arnd Peiffer took up the German banner 39 seconds back in sixth position. The Norwegian veteran went 5-for-5, taking the lead; Desthieux needed to spares to hold the second spot. Peiffer also went 5-for-5, jumping up to fourth, still 38 seconds back. Tarjei added to his lead pushing out to 14 seconds by the standing stage, but lost time with two spare rounds. Desthieux ended up with a penalty, but still left with a 5 second lead over his German and Swedish rivals.
Tarjei tagged his brother with a 43.5 second gap; Fourcade and Doll took over simultaneously in their medal quest with the home team 20 seconds back in fourth. Johannes immediately pushed the pace, stretching his lead to a minute before he cleaned prone. He was 200 meters out of the stadium as Fourcade and Doll set up; Doll used a spare, as Fourcade closed all five targets slowly; they left together. Surprising Slovenian RoK Trsan moved Slovenia to fourth as Sebastian Samuelsson struggled and fell out of contention.
Three Spares; Loginov Moves to Third
Johannes made it slightly interesting by missing three shots before cleaning. Doll left comfortably in second as Fourcade went for two penalty loops, losing any medal chance and opening the door for Germany to move to Silver and for Loginov to move into third.
Doll explained what happened in that crucial standing stage that propelled his team to the Silver medal. “I thought the Bronze medal was a little bit safe. Of course if I shot a penalty loop it would not be safe anymore. I went into the shooting range really confident and safe. So I really need to give a little bit of pressure to Martin and make a fast shooting. I think that is the reason why he got a little bit nervous. I saw he missed three targets; that was a crazy moment because I never expected him to have three mistakes in the first five shots!
It's the relay sweep for @NSSF_Biathlon -- they have won Mixed, Single Mixed, Men's and Women's here in #2019Ostersund! 🇳🇴🥇— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) March 16, 2019
Watch the celebrations live on https://t.co/bk5aBBso9Q pic.twitter.com/LJlgxikWfx
Flag-Waving Win Number Four
The Norwegian came home with relay win number four, completing an Östersund Relay sweep for the red and blue. With such an overwhelming lead, Johannes slowed down several times to wave at fans and then took the flag 400 meters from the stadium. With poles in one hand, the smiling winner celebrated all the way to the finish. 39 second later, Doll pulled a small flag from his race suit, holding it high in second place, with Loginov following in third.