Norway Runs Away to Otepaeae Mixed Relay Win

Norwegian leadoff leg Sivert Guttorm Bakken set the tone, taking the lead and staying there for the whole competition until Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold jumped across the finish line to victory in the Otepaeae mixed relay in 1:19:39.3. Bakken, Tandrevold and teammate Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Tiril Eckhoff used just seven spare rounds in their unopposed victory. Sweden, with eight spares finished second, 22.5 seconds back. France with six spares finished third, 43.6 seconds back.

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Tandrevold’s nerves and fast skis

Tandrevold was nervous on the anchor leg with Norway the favorites to win the competition. “It was a very tough race today. I was very nervous because I knew on the last leg there was Elvira, Denise and Justine, all very good skiers and I knew our team expected to win; especially to beat Sweden for the Women’s Nations Cup. I felt a lot of pressure.”

As for those skis that carried her to victory, “I think we had the most incredible skis in the course today. I saw in the three first legs that we had incredible skis so I just trusted in my skis and me on top of them had some power left!”

Germany, with six spares finished fourth, 1:53.7 back while Czech Republic, with eight spares finished fifth, 2:34.6 back and Slovakia, with ten spares finished sixth, 3:30.7 back.

Sunshine, Huge Crowds

The last day in Otepaeae was just more of the same as yesterday, with huge enthusiastic crowds, +5C, sunshine but more wind to complicate shooting for the twenty mixed relay teams, using the 4 X 7.5 km format today, with the men first and the women running the final two legs. Only three teams were spare-free in the first prone, with Slovakia leaving just ahead of Simon Desthieux, but Desthieux and Bakken quickly went in front before the standing stage. The Norwegian needed two spares to clean and take the lead with the top eight teams all within eight seconds.

Norway out front

The young Norwegian, the day after his first podium opened up a gap on the chase group of Desthieux, Jesper Nelin, and David Komatz, tagging Christiansen 18n seconds ahead of Fillon Maillet and Martin Ponsiluoma. The chasers cut the gap almost in half by the prone stage. Five perfect shots and Norway’s lead was back to 15.6 seconds over Fillon Maillet with Felix Leitner and Ponsiluoma back at 25 and 28 seconds off the lead. Christiansen needed a single spare to clean while Fillon Maillet and Ponsiluoma went 5-for-5, closing the gap to 9.7 and 18.5 seconds with 2.5 km to the exchange.

Christiansen felt as nervous on his leg as Tandrevold did on hers. “I felt more nervous today doing the second leg because You do not know how the results will be and you have to push, push, push until the finish line. I am not sued to that in the men’s relay, but we knew we had a very strong team with Tiril and Ingrid and I trusted in them.”

Eckhoff in control

The Norwegian showed his strength pulling away from the World Cup Total Score winner, sending Eckhoff on her way 20 seconds before Chloe Chevalier and Linn Persson. Eckhoff was perfect in prone as was Persson; still Norway’s lead grew to 25 seconds with Chevalier at 50 seconds back after two spares. The Swede continued to fall back before the standing stage; Eckhoff cleaned with her second spare round as Persson closed her first standing target, but with a fast five shots closed the gap back down to 21 seconds, with Chevalier at 36 seconds back. Still, Eckhoff, skiing alone remained in total control.

Tandrevold Cruises to Victory

Tandrevold had a comfortable lead of 31 seconds as she headed out on the anchor leg with Elvira and Braisaz-Bouchet chasing. Five solid shots and Tandrevold was gone; Braisaz-Bouchet also cleaned in five while Elvira needed two spares; the duo left together at 50 seconds back in a fight for second place. With Tandrevold in a world of her own, the French and Swedish rivals skied together for the next loop, with Braisaz-Bouchet setting the pace. Tandrevold hit her first four shots before using a spare to clean, leaving no doubt about a Norwegian victory. Elvira and Braisaz-Bouchet went shot-for-shot with Elvira shooting a bit faster and cleaning in five shots taking a 10-second lead over her foe. Regarding her shooting today, Elvira said, “I felt it was a bad first shot in prone but I tried to keep the speed up…My standing shooting is just so great. I haven’t missed a shot in Otepaeae and I am really happy about that.”

Nothing changed in the last loop as Tandrevold cruised the victory, jumping across the finish line after waving to the enthusiastic crowd that cheered her to the win. Sweden and France followed, completing the podium.

Amazing Relay

French leadoff leg Desthieux expressed the feelings of probably every competitor in today’s competition It was good to start this amazing relay today. It was a great day, sun and great atmosphere; the Estonian people are very fantastic…It was a pleasure to compete today.”

Photos: IBU/Hendrik Osula

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