Gold For Russia And Sweden In Mixed Relays
One penalty loop and nine spare rounds did not stop Russian pairing of Evgeniya Pavlova and Dmitry Malyshko from winning the Gold medal in the single mixed relay in 36:30.3. The Russian duo finished 20.6 seconds ahead of Sweden's Silver medal team of Ana Magnusson and Jesper Nelin, with six spare rounds. The Bronze medal went to the French team, Lou Jeanmonnot and Aristide Begue, also with six spare rounds, 29 seconds back.
Norway, Germany and Switzerland followed, in fourth, fifth and sixth places, 49.6, 57.5 and 60.6 seconds back respectively.
The evening competition, the mixed relay was decided at the last standing stage when Sebastian Samuelsson closed all the targets, turning the work of Emma Nilsson, Mona Brorsson and Martin Ponsiluoma into the Gold medal. The German team of Nadine Horchler, Janina Hettich, Lucas Fratzscher and Philipp Horn won the Silver medal, with six spare rounds, 17.7 seconds back. The host team Belarus with Dzinara Alimbekava, Hanna Sola, Roman Yaliotnau and Sergey Bocharnikov also had six spares wining the Bronze medal, 29.8 seconds back.
Russia finished fourth; Norway fifth and Bulgaria sixth, 47.3 seconds, 1:19.8 and 1:30 back respectively.
Single Mixed Relay
Penalty Loop: Additional Motivation
Russia took the lead at the first exchange, although Pavlova needed two spares in prone, while Malyshko went 10-for010 to keep Russia in lead when he tagged his partner at the second exchange. The Swedish shooting was even sharper; halfway through the competition, Magnusson and Nelin were perfect at the shooting range, exchanging in second. Begue and Endre Stroemsheim of Norway. fresh from yesterday’s individual bronze medal, were both very close.
It was expected that things would become more complicated as the competition neared the finish. Pavlova was the first to buckle under using all eight shots in prone, resulting in a penalty loop. That wasn’t hers or team Russia undoing though.
Pavlova was obviously upset. “I was really angry with myself. I pushed myself on the skis to compensate for the lost ground because to my poor shooting.”
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Malyshko Not Surprised By Norwegian Troubles
The single mixed relay is such a fast paced competition that Malyshko didn’t have much time to contemplate Pavlova’s mistake. “Evgeniya recovered a lot of time before the last exchange. I was confident that I was the strongest man today." With Norway in the lead, Stroemsheim, Malyhsko, Begue and Nelin lined up for the final standing stage. The Norwegian unexpectedly lost his composure, closed just two targets and skied three penalty loops. Malyshko safely brought home the victory, won with fast shooting.
The Russian admitted, “I wasn’t surprised with Endre’s problems. The last shooting is usually a game of nerves and he couldn’t keep them today. It feels great winning this Gold.”
Sweden: Relay Specialists
Magnusson and Nelin teamed up for the first time in their careers. They were proud to extend the reputation of the young Swedish team as relay specialists. Magnusson said, “We really are all close to each other and this is important. I am happy I could be fast in the last loop. Competing in the single mixed relay is exciting, winning medals adds to that feeling.”
French Medal: "Fitting Highlight"
The French Bronze medal was a warmly welcomed success.
Jeanmonnot, who failed to reach the podium, in an individual competition at the IBU YJWCH a few weeks ago, commented. “I am still processing my poor individual performances from IBU Youth/Junior World Championships where I only managed to win Gold in relay. This medal is great.”
“I am having the best season of my career so far and this medal is fitting highlight,” said Begue, who is fighting hard to join super competitive French World Cup team.
Mixed Relay: Belarusian Ladies Start In Great Style
Belarus opened in great style with the Pyeongchang Olympic Relay Gold medalist Alimbekava using just one spare round, tagging Sola in first position. Replacing the still not fully recovered from Illness Iryna Kryuko, Sola managed to outdo Alimbekava closing all ten targets, surprisingly handing a 6.4 second lead to Roman Yaliotnau.
The overjoyed Alimbekava said, “My Olympic experience helped me a lot today. It was a great competition in fantastic atmosphere. This is a medal for our nation!”
Preparing For The Final Attack
While the Belarusian women were performing fantastically at the front, Nilsson and Mona Brorsson, Germans Horchler and Hettich quietly prepared for their men to attack.
Nilsson boasted, “I have so much confidence in my teammates that I know we will end up strong as a team. Brorsson, who moved Sweden into medal contention added, "I took quite some time on the shooting range to bring Martin as good position as possible."
While Yaliotnau skied away from at that time second position Sergii Semenov of Ukraine, Ponsiluoma stuck to his advice to let the guy in front of him do the work. He waited to attack Fratzscher, who exchanged in second.
Ponsiluoma knew what was happening. “I was aware I was losing time to Roman but still I attacked only on the last lap. Sebastian planned to attack from the beginning and he did."
Fratzscher was satisfied with his leg. “I really performed well. It was a perfect race for me today and a silver medal is a reward for the team work.” Horchler, after disappointment in the women's 15K individual added, “After finishing fourth yesterday this medal means a world to me."
Samuelsson All In
With Sweden in third at final exchange, trailing Belarus by19.2 seconds, Samuelsson started like a man on a mission. He sped past Horn in the first meters of his first loop, catching the leader Bocharnikov. Samuelsson used one spare in prone, allowing Bocharnikov back in to contention with Horn also running on all cylinders in third. Bocharnikov and Samuelsson entered the shooting range for the last showdown of the day shoulder-to-shoulder.
Bocharnikov admitted, “I was surprised how quickly Sebastian was next to me. I tried to keep up with him and that brought us medal at the end. I performed well, I am very happy, the whole nation is happy. it was a great night.”
Samuelsson cleaned in standing and then sped to another Swedish success at this year’s IBU Open European Championships. “I missed seven times yesterday, so it was time to do better. It was my strategy to attack from the beginning and to apply pressure on the rest of the field. It worked perfectly well.”
Horn matched his Swedish rival in the range, bringing Germany the Silver medal.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni