Norway’s Winning Message
Tandrevold in her first appearance after collapsing in Beijing was happy as her team wanted to send out a message with a win. “I stopped with a bang and came back with a really good relay. It was a very good start to the last World Cup stages…We did this (pointing to her Stop the War message) on our headband and said if we stand on lane one it is more visible so it was our goal to stay in front the whole relay and do the best we could, show what we meant about this ongoing war.”
Germany came back from two penalties plus nine spare rounds, finishing fourth, 1:57.1 back. Switzerland, with a penalty and twelve spares also had a season best in fifth place, 3:37.1 back. Austria, with two penalties and eleven spares finished sixth, 2:55.8 back.
World Cup Relay Score Globe to Sweden
Sweden with their second place won the World Cup Relay Score Crystal Globe for the second consecutive year. Hanna Oeberg commented on the win. “I said to the girls yesterday when we had our race meeting that we are behind France but everything is possible and we need to fight for every place and every second. We knew it was possible but it was not the way we wanted to win, but I think we have been a great team this season.”
The French team was disqualified when third leg Justine Braisaz-Bouchet used a spare round from a magazine instead of hand-loading it, which is not allowed according to IBU Rules.
The first post-Olympic competition with seventeen relay teams on the starting line, kicked off under cloudy skies with the temperature just above freezing but with the usual Kontiolahti wind kicking across the shooting range. Eight of the top nine teams cleaned the first prone stage with Susan Dunklee leading the pack out of the stadium with France 1.5 seconds back and Olsbu Roeiseland in ninth, 10 seconds back. Anais Bescond led the field into the standing stage alongside the Norwegian. Olsbu Roeiseland cleaned with one spare, with Austria and Sweden following 6.9 seconds back heading to the first exchange.
Eckhoff left the first exchange with a 12.4-second lead over Anna Magnusson and Chevalier-Bouchet trailing another 5 seconds back. Eckhoff, shooting all alone cleaned prone with five easy shots. Lisa Theresa Hauser and Magnusson did the same, but were 20 and 24 seconds back. The Norwegian was in complete control as she came to standing, needing just a single spare to clean. The Swede shooting slowly, cleaned in five shots, but fell 34 seconds back. Hauser maintained third, after a penalty, but Lena Haecki was on her shoulder as they left the stadium, almost a minute behind Norway.
Eckhoff gave Lien a more than generous 58-second lead over Hanna Oeberg with the Swiss, Italians and Austrian teams in a tight battle, 1:13 back. Lien cleaned prone in five very close shots. Hanna shot fast and missed the last shot twice before cleaning while Federica Sanfilippo went five-for-five to get away second at 54 seconds back with Hanna another three back. Lien needed again a single spare to preserve the lead. This time, Hanna cleaned fast in five shots, closing the gap to 29 seconds, while the Swiss moved into third a step in front of the Italians after Sanfilippo used two spares to clean.
Tandrevold left for the anchor leg with 28 second in the bank over Elvira, followed by Lisa Vittozzi, 1:08 back. Elvira took a few seconds out of the Norwegian lead by the prone stage, but Tandrevold cleaned with five fast shots and was away. Elvira used two spares, falling 45 seconds back, with Vittozzi using one to remain in third but 1:06 back. No one was in sight as Tandrevold again drilled her five shots home, ensuring the victory. Elvira and Vittozzi both used one spare to seal second and third places.
Comola’s First World Cup podium
Italy’s third place was their first relay podium of the season and leadoff leg Samuela Comola’s first-ever World Cup podium. “I feel very, very good. I am so happy. It is my first podium in my first World Cup season, so it is incredible.” Her teammate Sanfilippo added, “If today they would have said we would be on the podium, I would ask for that in writing. We did a really good job and it was really nice to be back on the podium. I tried to attack from the first meter. I knew I felt good on skis, so I tried and finally it was working on skis and shooting. I needed two extra bullets in standing but was happy to close them really fast. It was a good system that worked today.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni