“Amazing to watch Ingrid”
Christiansen was a bit sad that he did not run the last leg, but thrilled with the win and his teammate’s performance in that leg. “I am really happy. It was a bit different to go out first and to skip this last loop. I felt pretty good today so I wish I went the last loop, but it was amazing to watch Ingrid on the last standing. I felt good and tried to give her as many seconds as possible. I thought it was more than enough with her performance today; amazing job!”
“A little scream of happiness”
Tandrevold was surprised by both her big lead and her last five perfect shots. “We had amazing skis, so I felt like I was skiing at a normal place. The coaches told me I had more seconds to the French team, so I was a bit surprised but happy also. At the last standing, I was also a bit surprised (with the fast clean stage) so I think I had a little scream of happiness. I ma just glad there was no one there to disturb!”
The French team of Antonin Guigonnat and Lou Jeanmonnot, with six spares finished second, 41 seconds back. The Swiss team of Niklas Hartweg and Amy Baserga, with eight spares finished third, 49.6 seconds back.
Switzerland’s third place was their first-ever single mixed relay podium as well as Baserga’s first-ever World Cup podium. She called it “absolutely amazing, It is our first medal together. We have been doing biathlon together since we were very young, maybe eight years old, so it is very nice to be on the podium with Niklas.”
Finland with eight spares finished fourth, 1:33.3 back. Austria, with ten spares finished fifth, 1:45.9 back. The USA with two penalties and nine spares finished sixth, 2:01.4 back.
Clouds replaced the previous day’s sunny skies for the first mixed relays of the season, with the temperature dropping just below freezing for the first time during any of this week’s competitions. Christiansen took the lead immediately and cleaned his first prone stage, leading the next five spare-free teams out of the stadium.
He had a simple plan. “I pushed right from the start, pushing very hard right out of the block and trying to take seconds wherever we could…It was almost a perfect race for us.”
With the wind blowing quite hard today, everyone struggled in standing. Hartweg was the first to down his five targets, with Christiansen and Guigonnat following into the first exchange 6.5 and 7.7 seconds later.
After the exchange, Tandrevold quickly skied into the lead, shot clean in prone and was gone. She then used a single spare to clean standing, holding the lead, while Jeanmonnot cleaned in five shots to put France second. With the men taking over at the second exchange, it was Norway with an 8-second lead over France followed by Switzerland in third, but 18.1 seconds back.
Christiansen again pushed the pace, stretching his lead to over 15 seconds by prone. Five perfect shots and he was gone before Guigonnat fired once. He then matched Christiansen, retaining second, with Hartweg in third, both 20 seconds behind the Norwegian. One spare in standing for both Christiansen and Guigonnat, while Hartweg needed three, tagged their partners in that order.
Christiansen took a new direction from previous competitions in his approach to the standing stages. “The solution today was quite good because it was a bit windy. I was afraid to fall in this same trap so many times this winter: stand there, trying to hit like I want to hit this target so much. I ended up just letting it go, especially in these wind conditions. It is more important that it will be a bit messy in the sights; just go for it. I am pretty satisfied, especially with the spare shots when I just went for it.”
The Norwegian lead was a significant 13.8 seconds over France with the Swiss another 13 seconds back at the last exchange.
Tandrevold cleaned prone very fast, extending the lead to 30 seconds over the also clean Jeanmonnot and 39.4 seconds in front of Switzerland’s Baserga. Five more perfect standing shots sealed the win, giving Tandrevold a 48-second lead. The young French star retained second but with Baserga in third, setting the podium.
A big smile and a little hop signified Tandrevold's delight as she skied into Christiansen who added to the celebration with several big bear hugs of his teammate.
After crossing the line, Tandrevold admitted that having a big lead added to her nerves. “Vetle gave me a good start. I was a bit nervous, because it is not every day that we are in the single mixed relay…You might think it is better to have a little advantage but sometimes it just feels worse because then you have everything to lose. So I just tried to be fast in the shooting and do my own race.” Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Svoboda