Ruhpolding crowd: “the heart of biathlon”
Christiansen was happy to be back in his familiar slot, after being off the team for the Oberhof competitions. “It was a kind of an unusually long break for Christmas. It was also unusual temperatures at home, -30C. It was a bit difficult to train outside, especially shooting; still feeling cold on my fingers. That maybe affected my prone today but still a very very good feeling to be back. Especially here in Ruhpolding with that crowd; that is the heart of biathlon!”
He admitted anchoring the relay is, “always special, no matter how many times I have done it before, especially here at this stadium, with the Germans not so far behind. After two and a half legs, I thought it would be closer. Half happy and half sad that Tarjei made it that uneven in the end.”
Germany’s Philipp Nawrath anchored Germany to second place, 45 seconds back, after third leg Benedikt Doll’s two standing penalties dropped them to seventh position. Italy finished third, 1:11 back with Tommaso Giacomel’s stunning anchor leg bringing their second consecutive podium appearance. France, Switzerland and Slovenia finished fourth, fifth and sixth.
The men’s relay had another almost windless picture-perfect winter day, but shaky shooting resulted in a topsy-turvy battle. Only four of the 23 teams cleaned the first prone led by the USA’s Campbell Wright. Justus Strelow put Germany in the lead at the first exchange followed by France, USA and Norway 4.3 seconds back.
The USA and Kazakhstan were up front early in leg two, but the battle was between Emilien Jacquelin and Johannes Kuehn who put down the hammer in the last loop, exchanging 1-2 with Tarjei leaving third 3.8 seconds back.
Doll, Fabien Claude and Tarjei separated from the field, cleaning prone in that order. In standing only Tarjei came out unscathed; Doll had two penalties and Claude one. Germany dropped almost a minute back to seventh; Tarjei tagged Christiansen with a 41-second lead.
Christiansen frittered away some of his lead with two prone spares; Fillon Maillet closed to 31 seconds. Nawrath after a very fast first loop moved to third, then up to second, passing Fillon Maillet. Christiansen's one standing spare secured the win. Nawrath cleaned in six shots as did Fillon Maillet, but the German controlled second place. Giacomel blew past the fading Fillon Maillet in the last loop giving Italy third place.
Photos: IBU/Jaroslav Svoboda, Nordic Focus