Windy, Cold Canmore Relay Victory for Norwegian Men
The Norwegian team of Lars Helge Birkeland, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, Erlend Bjoentegaard and Johannes Thingnes Boe used just seven spare rounds to seal victory in the men’s relay this afternoon at the BMW IBU World Cup in Canmore. Their time of 1:16:36.6 was 1:10.4 ahead of second place France, with eight spare rounds. Russian finished third, with nine spares, 1:48.4 back.
Canmore Men's Relay
Germany finished fourth, 2:248.6 back, while Austria finished fifth, 3:22.2 back and Czech Republic finished sixth, 3:23.5 back.
Overnight the weather took another turn in the direction of colder once again. At the start, it was -18C, with a stiff breeze coming down from the surrounding mountains shrouded in clouds and light snowfall. The wind coming off the mountains created plenty of problems on the shooting range; constantly shifting from right to left. Only one team came through the first unscathed: Romania’s George Buta managed to shoot clean. Everyone else had two or more spare rounds. At the first exchange, France’s Antonin Guigonnat had a 3.6 second lead over Norway’s Lars Helge Birkeland. Ukraine tagged third but 25 seconds back. Italy and Switzerland both fell out of contention with two nd five penalties, respectively, putting them in 16th and 22nd.
France and Norway
France and Norway continued to lead in the second leg, with Emilien Jacquelin and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen locked in a head-to-head battle, matching shots and skiing side-by-side. The French team added a single spare round in standing while the Norwegian used an extra in each stage. Russia continued to move up after a first leg that saw them fall 28 seconds back. After leaving together from the standing stage, Christiansen had an outstanding last loop, leaving the French squad 22.9 seconds back at the second exchange. Russia held third 1:16.6 back.
Bjøntegaard and Simon Fourcade
Bjøntegaard and Simon Fourcade locked horns for the third leg. The Norwegian shot quickly but used spares while the French Veteran cleaned prone slowly, dropping the gap to 8.5 seconds. That prone stage saw Austria move up beside the Russians, but still 1:22 back. In standing, the Norwegian needed two spares while Fourcade used one, getting away with a slight lead. The Norwegian admitted that his thick gloves slowed him down in reloading those extra rounds. While Fourcade commented, “I was trying to close the targets; that was most important.”
*10-for-10 and Victory *
Johannes took off on the anchor leg 8.7 seconds ahead of Quentin Fillon Maillet, with Alexander Povarnitsyn leaving with Russia in third, but 1:15 back flowed by Julian Eberhard for Austria 1:38 back. Johannes cleaned prone with ease, while Fillon Maillet used a spare after struggling to lead it, dropping him to 50.6 seconds back, just 20 seconds ahead of the Russian. Johannes was perfect in standing sealing the victory, while the French anchor needed two spares to hold second. Russia held third; the podium was set.
Christiansen admitted, “Emilien and I had a pretty good battle out there for the first two loops.” Jacquelin added, “I never expected him to have last loop like that!”
Retirement for Brendan Green
Canadian veteran Brendan Green closed his career by anchoring the Canadian team to 10th place. Green competed in three Olympic winter Games and won a Bronze Relay medal at the 2016 IBU World Championships. He was greeted by teammates and his fiancé Rosanna Crawford after crossing the finish line. Green admitted the day was hard. “I had trouble keeping from crying in the last loop, with so many coaches, family and friends cheering me on.”