Saving the Celebration
Christiansen enjoyed the pressure of the anchor leg in a tight competition, but today it was so close that he could not give the fans his usual celebration move. “It was my favorite position to go out as anchor leg, being a bit stressed by the guys some seconds behind and not one minute. It put the pressure on myself to do a bit better, Of course after Nove Mesto, I would like to do a little celebration, not the same. I had something else in mind. Fabien (Claude) was a bit too close, so I will save it for later.”
France with a penalty and eight spares finished second, 28.5 seconds back. Germany coming back after falling to 12th after a second-leg penalty finished third, carried by Benedikt Doll’s stunning anchor leg, 42.3 seconds back with a penalty and ten spares.
Sweden, with ten spare rounds, finished fourth, 1:02 back. Ukraine, in fifth place used just four spare rounds, 1:18.4 back. Austria, with ten spares finished sixth, 1:35.8 back.
The season’s final men’s relay had favorable conditions like the women earlier, with good shooting beginning with the first prone stage. Ten of the top eleven teams went spare-free in prone with all of the contenders in that closely-contested group. The perfect shooters dwindled down to three in standing, with Michal Krcmar, Daniele Cappellari and Roman Rees all perfect in first, third and fifth, respectively and Norway’s Stroemsheim in second after one spare round.
Stroemsheim, the IBU Cup Total Score winner enjoyed his first-ever World cup relay. “It was so fun. I tried to save some energy on the first two loops; one spare shot in each shooting, but I tried to shoot fast and be effective. I pushed a bit on the last loop.”
Krcmar led at the first exchange with Norway and Germany less than a half-second back. Switzerland’s Niklas Hartweg left first out of prone after a 5-for-5 performance, with Canada and Norway next. Hartweg and Soerum downed their five standing targets with ease, leaving their rivals over 20 second behind. Kuehn picked up a penalty, dropping Germany to 12th position, 1:02 back.
Soerum “get some seconds”
Soerum, fresh from the Canmore IBU Cup blew Hartweg away in the 2.5 km loop, “I had a good standing shooting and in the last loop, I just gave it all to get some seconds for Johannes, then Johannes and Vetle did a great job to lock in the win.”
With a 13 second lead, Dale used two spares to clean prone. Switzerland’s Serafin Wiestner used one, going out ahead of the Norwegian. Eric Perrot moved to third with 5-for-5 shooting. The trio approached standing together. Perrot and Martin Ponsiluoma, up ninth at the exchange had five perfect shots, moving into the top two spots; Dale fell back to third.
Perrot knew he was in trouble losing ground once he left the stadium, “(I had) no strategy, as always, no thinking. Just try to give my best from the very beginning. I was struggling in the last loop. I just tried to give everything in the first two loops. That was great; I was happy to come back in the race... but it was tough at the end.”
At the last exchange, Christiansen and Peppe Femling left together with the Swiss and France 13 and 14 seconds back. Christiansen blasted to an 8-second gap immediately, and used an extra shot to clean prone; Fabien Claude cleaned in five shots, moving to second with Femling dropping to third, eight seconds back but 44 seconds before Germany in fourth.
Sporting a confident smile on his face, Christiansen, fast and clean in standing, saluted the packed tribune and left for a victory loop. Claude after a penalty loop remained comfortably in second. Femling after three spares had Doll on his tail. Doll quickly dropped the Swede pulling away with a dominating last loop to take third place.
The young Norwegians were thrilled to win today, Watching Christiansen hit his last shot, according to Stroemsheim was, “amazing; now we are going to win. A whole new team; three guys from the B team who have been together all year and now can celebrate this win together. Amazing!”
As for the Germans, Roman Rees admitted their third place was bittersweet, “The podium is special because were on top, then back in tenth position, steadily working back to the podium and finalized it on the very last lap, so it feels like a pretty good third place. But we really wanted to fight for the first spot. We came from behind; that was not the plan. Nice to be on the podium anyway.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Per Danielsson