Lisa Vittozzi Anchors Italians to Women’s Relay Gold

Italian Lisa Vittozzi’s stunning 10-for-10 shooting on a very windy afternoon secured the women’s 4 X 6 km relay Gold medal for her and teammates Samuela Comola, Dorothea Wierer and Hannah Auchentaller at the BMW IBU World Championships in Oberhof. The Italian team used only two spare rounds, the best shooting performance of any team this season in their 1:14:39.7 win. Denise Herrmann-Wick anchored the home team Germany, with six spare rounds to the Silver medal, 24.7 seconds back. Sweden, with two penalties and eleven spare rounds matched the men’s earlier Bronze medal with their own medal, 55.7 seconds back.

First Women’s Relay Gold, “Really Amazing”

Vittozzi called Italy’s first-ever IBU WCH Gold medal, “Really amazing. Today was a really tough race, but we knew we could do a great race. We are really happy.”

Standing strategy

She explained her strategy in the brilliantly fast last standing stage, battling Herrmann-Wick for the Gold medal. “I know that my standing shooting is really good. I wanted to push to the limit to put her in a bad position. I knew she was faster (on the tracks) than me so I had to try it like I did.”

Four medals for Vittozzi

Vittozzi, now has four medals, the most of any woman this year later added, “We were not the top team (before the competition) but today yes. The last loop was incredible for me. The last standing shooting was amazing. I realized on the Birxsteig that we won. This World Championship was really perfect for me, even if I was ill last weekend.”

France, with one penalty and twelve spares, finished fourth, 1:31.6 back. Austria with twelve spare rounds had their best-ever finish in the women’s relay at the IBU WCH, in fifth place, 2:08 back. Norway, with four penalties and thirteen spares finished sixth, 2:20.9 back.

Header iconBMW IBU World Championships Oberhof Women's 4 X 6 km Relay

Sweden, then Italy Leads

Little changed for the late afternoon women’s relay with light drizzle persisting and the gusty shooting range winds complicating hitting the targets. Despite the heavy winds, seven of the top ten teams got away spare-free in the opening leg with Italy, France, Germany and Norway in that group. Persson after struggling through two spares in prone blew away the five standing targets with Comola and Vanessa Voigt doing the same, 6.6 and 8.7 seconds back.

The field tightened into the first exchange, as Linn Persson tagged Anna Magnusson, followed in quick succession by five teams including Italy. Anais Chevalier-Bouchet and Wierer cleaned prone in five shots, leaving 1-2, with Magnusson and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold after single extra shots just steps behind. Wierer was the most successful in battling the winds in standing, using on spare while all her rivals, save Hanna Kebinger who ended up on the penalty loop. Chevalier-Bouchet left 26 seconds back with the German next and Magnusson after two penalties in a group 1:05 back.

21-Second Lead

Wierer tagged Auchentaller 21 seconds ahead of Chloe Chevalier, with Germany and Sweden, 42 and 53 seconds back, respectively. The Italian cleaned in five careful shots, taking 31 and 34 second leads over Germany and France. Auchentaller cleaned standing in six shots, holding the lead with Germany’s Sophia Schneider 16 seconds back. Elvira Oeberg moved Sweden into third despite two spare rounds.

Hannah’s Antholz Experience helped

The 21-year-old Italian thinks her earlier relay experience helped significantly today. “I got really lucky that I had similar experience in Antholz with the relay when I was really nervous at the standing shooting. I learned a lot from that situation and I tried to just focus on myself and not the things around me. It worked out even though it was not always easy, especially hearing all the spectators. Think I did my job good and happy that I could give Lisa the exchange in first position.”

Vittozzi took off from the last exchange with a 5.6-second gap on Herrmann-Wick; Hanna Oeberg was third, but 38 seconds back. With the wind blowing in her face, Vittozzi shot fast and clean; the German shot carefully, doing the same, with the gap remaining at 5 seconds. Hanna added two spares but held onto third with Julia Simon 10 seconds further back. Herrmann-Wick was in front of the Italian when they reached the last, deciding standing stage. Vittozzi shot brilliantly fast heading out with a 31-second lead, securing the Gold medal. She celebrated all down the home stretch, pointing skyward in victory as she crossed the finish line, with Italy’s first-ever IBU Women’s Relay World Championship.

"Goal for the year"

Herrmann-Wick, using a spare round left in second, with the also 5-for-5 Hanna in the Bronze medal position. The German veteran was highly impressed with her younger teammates who helped the team reach one of its goals. “It is really cool to see the younger girls growing higher and higher from last year. They are offensive and attack the competition; really impressive to see this motivation. It’s cool to get a medal for the whole team, not just the girls sitting here, but for the whole team. It (the medal) was a goal for the whole year and big motivation.”

Swedish Record

The Individual Gold medalist from earlier in the week thought she might move higher after her sister put them in the podium mix. Although it did not happen, she secured Sweden’s eighth medal, their highest-ever total at the IBU WCH. “I think I had a pretty inspirational starting position. I knew it was still possible to go for a better position. I am really happy that Elvira managed to get some seconds, so I had a gap. I am very happy about my leg, especially the standing shooting. This is a record Championships for Sweden, so I am just enjoying.”

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Bjorn Reichert

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