Germany, with five spares, finished fourth, 33.7 seconds back. Norway, with four spares finished fifth, 1:12.9 back. Switzerland with six spares finished sixth, 2:14.2 back.
Cloudy, -4C and again wind that kept the wind flags in constant motion, set the stage for the second women’s relay of the new season. Switzerland followed closely by Sweden led eight teams out of the first prone stage within 11 seconds. Linn Persson cleaned standing, shooting very carefully with the wind gusting from the left to right on the range. That put her 7.2 seconds up on Italy and Germany, further pulling away from the field as she headed to the first exchange. Jeanmonnot in her second-ever World Cup relay helped set up the French win with a fast last loop. “I am happy to be in the relay today; I hope it is not the last time. I was really focused on doing my best after being disappointed in Kontiolahti; I learned that I needed to calm myself and shoot faster.”
Persson tagged Anna Magnusson with a substantial 15-second lead over Italy’s second leg Dorothea Wierer and Chevalier-Bouchet.
The Swedish leadoff called her leg, “Pretty much a perfect race today. I think we did a very good result even if some of us maybe did not our best races. Usually my goal is to shoot good and ski fast (so opening up a gap was the goal). Of course, in the last loop, I wanted to do as many seconds as possible.”
Chevalier-Bouchet and Wierer cleaned prone in five shots while the Swede used two spares, dropping back 14 seconds. Wierer mowed down the five targets rapidly, gone with a 15-second lead while her French rival used two spares; Magnusson cleaned, closing to within 5 seconds of France.
At the second exchange, the Italy’s Samuela Comola held a 12-second lead over Chevalier, taking the tag from her sister 22 seconds over Hanna Oeberg and 31 seconds over Germany’s third leg Venessa Voigt. The Italian and German cleaned prone in five shots, leaving 3 seconds apart; Voigt was 5-for-5 moving into third, 30 seconds back. Hanna struggled with three spares, falling 5 seconds behind the German. With the wind flags flapping hard, everyone used spares in standing. Comola left with just a second over her French rival with Hanna moving to 7 seconds back and Voigt 9.8 seconds back with a 2 km loop to the exchange.
Comola, shooting in the lead admitted to being. “a little bit nervous. I tried to focus just on myself. I am pretty happy with my performance.”
Hanna woke up suddenly, shooting into the lead, stretching the gap to eleven seconds when she tagged Elvira with Simon for France and Germany’s Denise Herrmann-Wick leaving together. On opening the gap, Hanna said, “I got a pretty good starting position on my leg…Linn did a perfect race and Anna did a good job on the second leg so I was in close contact with the leading teams. I was just trying to make my own race. Unfortunately, my shooting was not what I expected today, but skiing was pretty good and I still managed to send Elvira out in the lead.”
Lisa Vittozzi was fourth, 19 seconds from the lead. Simon, extending her prefect prone streak was fast and quicker than Elvira who used a spare, giving France a half step lead. Vittozzi moved to third position ahead of Herrmann-Wick.
Elvira set the pace into the deciding standing stage, with Simon clinging to her shoulder, with Vittozzi and Herrmann-Wick in a similar battle a dozen seconds back. Simon shot brilliantly fast and clean in the deciding standing stage, taking a 16-second lead as Elvira needed a spare round to clean, while Vittozzi, using a spare gained the upper hand on Germany. Simon skied the last loop unchallenged for the victory ahead of Sweden and Italy.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Jasmine Walter