Samuelsson Brings Sweden Victory in Single Mixed Relay
Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson using just a single spare in the last standing stage outshot Germany’s Erik Lesser who picked up a penalty to claim victory with teammate Hanna Oeberg in the season opening single mixed relay this afternoon in Oestersund. The Swedish duo prevailed with two penalties in 36:42.1. Lesser and teammate Franziska Preuss had just that single penalty and nine spares in second place, 18.1 seconds back. Third went to the Norwegian pair of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, with one penalty and sixteen spares, 40.4 seconds back.
“Impressed by Sebastian”
Oeberg commented on her teammate’s heroics, “I am really impressed by Sebastian. He shot so well and both of his legs were fantastic.” Samuelsson added, “It is so great to win in our home place. This is a great start to the season for us.”
That final standing stage set up the Swedish win: lesser had a comfortable lead, but struggled after hitting the first two shots, battling the wind until he ended up on the penalty loop. The young Swede, calm under pressure shot a bit slower but his single spare was enough to secure the win while Lesser reeled off his final two attempts quickly, ending up on the penalty loop.
Ukraine finished fourth, with three penalties and six spares, 56.9 seconds back. The Estonian team of Regina Oja and Rene Zahkna finished fifth, an all-time Estonian best, with one penalty and eight spares, 1:01.6 back while the USA was sixth, with one penalty and sixteen spares, 1:17 back.
Wind Brings Penalties
The first competition of the 2019/20 season kicked off with minus 5C temperatures, under brilliant blue skies and late afternoon sunshine with an unpredictable wind cutting across the shooting range. that breeze would bloat the total of spare rounds and result in 84 tours of the penalty loop.
Oeberg Jumps Out at Start
Hometown hero Hanna Oeberg led the pack of 26 teams out of the stadium to kick off the new season under brilliant blue skies and late afternoon sunshine. By the first exchange, Ukraine led by the clean shooting Anastasia Merkushyna was in charge. Artem Tyshchenko did nothing but broaden Ukraine’s lead, using just one spare round in his leg, tagging Merkushyna with a comfortable 28.5 second lead over Germany, with Sweden, after Oeberg missed numerous shots in the first prone and the USA tied for third, but over a minute off the leader’s pace.
The Ukrainian march to the podium collapsed when Merkushyna added three spares and three penalties to their total, putting Germany on top when Preuss cleaned her second straight stage despite the winds that whipped across the shooting range. She tagged Lesser for the final time with a 17 second lead over the local favorite Samuelsson. The German veteran shot slowly in prone but cleaned to add a couple of seconds to the gap on the Swedish team.
The final standing stage turned the tables as the sharpshooting Samuelsson cleaned with just a single spare round, while the German shooting fast racked up a penalty loop. The crowd roared as Samuelsson headed out for a victory loop while Lesser slipped away on to the penalty loop, but still preserving second place, with Norway’s Christiansen bringing his team home in third.
Oeberg who had two penalties in her first leg admitted that the second leg was crucial especially the last standing. “I decided this (the first leg) was not what I wanted to do…I was confident and knew I had to hit them all.”
Samuelsson said, “I think everyone knew that with the heavy winds, the competition would not be decided with just two shootings, so I just tried to stay positive. I had two great shootings and was back in the game again. I just stayed quite cool!’
On the last shooting he added, “I saw he missed a shot. then I knew I had to focus on myself and hit all the targets…I do not know if they have wind in Germany or not, but we are quite used to it here in Oestersund!”
Agile Like a Snake
Lesser and Preuss had a bit of a problem in the first exchange but as Lesser was not on the line when his partner approached. However Lesser, after realizing he was up next said with a bit of irony, “I am agile like a snake and got to the start on time; no problem…”