Norway Dominates Hochfilzen Men’s Relay

Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, despite a standing stage penalty and heavy snowfall throughout the competition, anchored the Norwegian team of Sturla Holm Laegreid, Filip Fjeld Andersen and Johannes Thingnes Boe to a dominating 1:18.02.6 victory in this afternoon’s Hochfilzen Men’s 4 X 7.5 km relay. The Norwegians, with a penalty and seven spare rounds only momentarily out of the lead, broke away from the other 19 teams when third leg JT shot clean and skied to an almost unsurmountable lead. Sweden, with eight spares finished second, 20 seconds back. Germany fueled by anchor Benedikt Doll’s sterling leg finished third, 28.6 seconds back with a penalty and five spare rounds.

Christiansen’s “bad rhythm”

Christiansen honestly said his standing stage was far from where it needed to be. “For me this was just the worse because the longer it is, the more time you have to f..k it up! I tried to think positively my whole leg. I maintained the gap and it became greater and greater. I felt pretty good into the standing shooting, hadn’t gone too fast but I started off with a bad rhythm, still hitting the two first. It was a bad rhythm for the whole series. I am not quite in the mood to handle those situations yet but it will come.”

France, with nine spare rounds, finished fourth, 51.5 seconds back. Finland, also with nine spares, while the home team of Austria, with the day’s best shooting of just four spare rounds finished sixth, 2:28.6 back.

Header iconBMW IBU World Cup 2 Hochfilzen Men's Relay

Snowy Relay

By the time the men started, the temperature was dropping with heavy snow falling, and stiff breeze on the range, making this men’s relay a challenge. Laegreid set the pace for the first loop into the first prone stage of the day, cleaned in five shots and was gone, with five teams following within 11 seconds. Laegreid’s 15-second lead into standing vanished, needing all three spares to clean. Justus Strelow brought Germany up to second, with nine tightly bunched teams following. He commented, “I had some troubles with my pole and lost some time and power. I had to suffer some then but was good on the shooting range and kept the damage low.”

Andersen, “first time out alone, but managed it well”

Laegreid pulled away to tag Andersen ten seconds ahead of Martin Ponsiluoma with Simon Eder on his shoulder. France and Germany lagged at 19 and 25 seconds back, respectively. Andersen and Eder cleaned prone in five shots, leaving together with Fabien Claude doing likewise, moving France to third. Andersen used a spare round in standing, while Italy’s Tomaso Giacomel cleaned in five shots to grab a small lead at the second exchange, with Peppe Femling next; JT just seconds back and Jacquelin aggressively hunting for the top three from fourth position.

Andersen admitted, “It was really hard out there, but with all the fans out there, it was really cool. It was my first experience in a relay with this amount of fans. It was the first time for me to go out in front alone, but I think I managed it well.”

JT, “Could not have done anything better”

JT was fully in control before his prone stage which he cleaned with ease. Jacquelin, shooting very carefully matched to head out second, 13 seconds back. The Norwegian’s lead ballooned to 37 seconds over Jacquelin and Nelin after five more perfect shots in standing.

JT was happy with his dominating leg. “I think today was the perfect race: attack from the start, get a gap, clean shooting in the final lap. I could not have done anything better. We have a great team, very strong performance yet again, nothing much more to do. We fight for each other and try to make the difference, If we have 3 of 4 stages really good then we have a chance to do a miss and still win like today."

The sprint winner from yesterday put the hammer down and pulled away, tagging Christiansen with a huge 1:06 lead over Quentin Fillon Maillet and Sebastian Samuelsson who. Prone was no problem for the leader, stretching his lead to 1:14 over Samuelsson. Fillon Maillet needed spare rounds allowing Doll to move into third position, 9 seconds up on Fillon Maillet.

Christiansen’s Penalty Excitement

Christiansen made it exciting using all three spares in standing and doing a penalty loop. However, he was gone before Samuelsson fired a shot. The Swede cleaned in five shots, securing second place while Doll needed a spare to stay ahead of France’s Fillon Maillet, setting the podium.

Ponsiluoma called Sweden’s second place, “a really amazing experience. We were really motivated to make a good race today. Last week was terrible (10th place), so we wanted to make it good today. My skiing was really good today and some spare shots too much but I am satisfied it was a good race, tagging Peppe (Femling) with almost the lead.” To which Femling added, “a really good team performance.”

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Jasmine Walter

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