The Norwegians finished second, 33.8 seconds back. The Austrian team of Lisa Theresa Hauser and Felix Leitner finished third, 45.4 seconds back.
Ten teams were on the start for the 2022 World Team Challenge, returning to the sold-out Veltins Arena for the first time since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic two-plus years ago. The star-studded field included two German teams led by Denise Herrmann-Wick and Benedikt Doll, Dorothea Wierer and Marketa Davidova as well as those on the podium.
The mass start kicked off the big show with the women heading out first. Hauser tagged in the early at the first exchange after a clean-shooting prone stage while local favorite Herrmann-Wick picked up three penalties. The first round for the men saw Christiansen shoot fast and clean, taking a big lead, after Leitner ended up on the penalty loop. Tandrevold kept the Norwegian duo on top with her own perfect standing stage, pulling away to a 15+ second lead as Christiansen took off. Simon matched to keep her and teammate Fabien Claude in the mix. Christiansen went to 10-for-10 and was gone before anyone behind him ever fired a standing shot. At the half-way point, the Norwegians led by 18.4 seconds over the Czech Team of Davidova and Krcmar.
In the women’s second prone stage, Tandrevold shot fast but missed a shot and Davidova two. Simon cleaned, moving into second 14.6 seconds behind Norway. Christiansen cleaned his prone stage, stretching the lead to 32 seconds while Claude missed a shot but remained in second position. Tandrevold missed another shot in standing, but the lead remained unchanged, with a 24-second gap on Simon who also ended up with a miss as the men took over for the last two laps.
The Czech Republic was still in the mix, just three seconds behind France with the last standing stage to go. Christiansen missed one shot like his teammate but headed into the last loop with a comfortable lead. Claude also toured the loop once, while Krcmar cleaned, moving into second. The Norwegian cruised home with the victory in 33:46.7, followed by France’s Claude in second, 25.4 seconds back and by Czech Republic’s Krcmar in desperation sprint, in third, 25.9 seconds back.
The field was set for the pursuit, with Norway, after a runaway in the mass start, taking off with a 17-second lead over France and Czech Republic (mass start margins halved for pursuit) almost side-by-side. This time it is for all the marbles with the first team across the line declared the World Team Challenge winner.
Tandrevold led into the prone stage but missed twice while Simon cleaned, and took the lead. Claude extended the French lead with his own clean stage, with Christiansen following. Simon brilliantly blew through the first standing stage with ease. Claude matched his teammate again, cementing the lead at the mid-point; Christiansen does the same, putting Norway second. 8.1 seconds back.
Simon continued the French dominance with her five prone targets going white, stretching the lead as Tandrevold goes to the loop. Claude cleaned his final prone stage but Christiansen missed once again, missing the opportunity to move up. The two German teams continued their march to a potential podium spot as Doll and Nawrath both cleaned their final prone stages, moving into third and fourth.
The last two standing stages decided the winner. Simon was again perfect as was Tandrevold; they remain 1-2 with the German squads fighting for podium. Nerves showed up in the last standing stage; both Claude and Christiansen ran two penalty loops. Doll and Nawrath both ended up on the loop, their podium hopes disappeared, as Leitner moved to third.
With no change after the penalties, Claude skied the French team to victory over Norway with Austria third.
Photos: IBU/Kevin Voigt