Sweden Dominates, Wins Kontiolahti Women’s Relay
Hanna Oeberg continued her winning ways anchoring the Swedish women’s relay team of Johana Skottheim, Mona Brorsson and Elvira Oeberg to victory this afternoon at the BMW IBU World Cup in Kontiolahti. The Swedish foursome, with eight spare rounds finished in 1:12:44.5. France finished second, with nine spares, 9.6 seconds back. Germany finished third, with twelve spares, 43.9 seconds back.
Long-awaited Relay Victory
The victory was Sweden’s first relay win since Helena Ekholm anchored the yellow and blue at Oberhof in January 2011. The significance of the time between wins was not lost on Hanna. “It is really good. We have had this strong team for many years now and have been contenders for the relay victory many times but there was someone who was a bit better than us. To win today means a lot to our team. It proves once again how strong we are this year. I was really impressed by my teammates today. They gave the perfect situation on the last leg; I just had to go with and I made it!”
The women’s relay win completed a Saturday sweep for Sweden, following Sebastian Samuelsson’s first-ever BMW IBU World Cup victory in the men’s pursuit.
Russia with a strong anchor leg, finished fourth, with two penalties and eleven spare rounds, 2:31.3 back. Ukraine finished fifth with the same shooting as Russia, but 2:39.9 back. Italy finished sixth, with fourteen spares, 2:46.4 back.
Twenty-one Teams; Battling Wind
Twenty-one teams started the first relay of the new season this afternoon, with one change in the conditions from the earlier men’s pursuit, brisk wind was cutting across the range, making shooting a very challenging at times. Nine teams cleaned the first prone stage with Susan Dunklee of the USA leading the pack. After the first standing stage, not a team was perfect anymore, with Sweden and Belarus battling for the lead. At the first exchange, Belarus tagged first a second ahead of Sweden and Italy.
Chevalier-Bouchet in Front
Irene Lardschneider took control for Italy in the second prone stage with a first five shots, while Brorsson shot conservatively but needed a spare and left second, with France and Ukraine just behind. Although everyone needed spare rounds in standing, Anais Chevalier-Bouchet used just one to take a eight-second lead over Sweden with Ukraine now 24 seconds back after needing three spares to clean.
Elvira Moves Sweden in Front
Chevalier-Bouchet tagged her younger sister Chloe with a 9 second gap on Sweden’s Elvira Oeberg while Germany with Maren Hammerschmidt taking over was up to third position but 36 seconds back. Chloe cleaned slowly while Oeberg used a spare round but still closed the gap to 4 seconds after a strong loop up to the standing stage. Vita Semerenko also closed all five easily to get a solid grip on third position over Italy. By the standing stage, the two teams in front were together. After battling the wind and two spare rounds, Oeberg won the duel and was away heading for the last exchange with an almost 10 second lead. Dorothea Wierer added two more spare rounds but still left the stadium in third position while Semerenko went to the penalty loop and Hammerschmidt also used two spares.
Hanna Calmly Clinches Win
In another sister act, Elvira tagged double-sprint winner Hanna who left with a 111 second lead over Justine Braisaz-Bouchet, while Federica Sanfilippo had a similar gap over Germany’s Denise Herrmann. These four teams were now over one minute ahead of fifth-position Ukraine. As usual, Herrmann put the hammer down jumping to third before her prone stage. With the wind easing, Oeberg speedily flattened the five targets and was gone, leaving her French rival, also perfect but 17 seconds back. Herrmann matched but remained 29.1 seconds from second place. Oeberg used one spare in standing but calmly reloaded, closed the last target to secure a 20 second lead while Braisaz-Bouchet used three but still was solidly in second. Herrmann adding two more bullets left for the last loop with third place securely in her hands.
The Swedish star was steady in the last loop with the victory secure, saving energy for tomorrow’s pursuit. She crossed the line with a big smile and hands held high with her teammates greeting her with socially-distanced fist taps and cheers. The long relay drought for Sweden’s women was over.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni