“I knew we could do it” Babikov in his first BMW IBU World Cup week of the season was thrilled with his results and today’s win. “It was very exciting. Yesterday was a hard race (6th place); a good race for me. It is so exciting when you come two or three Cups before the Olympic Games and you need to show results. Today, all the girls fell down after the start of the race because of too much wind. All the men were really fast, but after Kristina’s leg, I knew that we could do it and I tried to put all my power in the second leg. I am really happy. win Calming down Reztsova refocused on her anchor leg that keyed the win. “In the first leg, there were more mistakes due to the wind. When I left the range, the coaches told me they were all over. I tried to be calmer in the next shooting stages. When Anton gave me first place for the final leg, I was a little bit nervous, but I tried to do my best and that is what I did.”
Belarus, with one penalty and eleven spares finished fourth, 1:15.2 back. Sweden with two penalties and twelve spares finished fifth, 1:23.6 back. The Belgian duo of Lottie Lie and Florent Claude, with thirteen spares, brought their team to its first-ever flower ceremony in sixth place, 1:24.8 back.
Little changed between the earlier mixed relay and the first single mixed relay of the season that featured 27 teams on the start, with still overcast skies, but a bit more shooting range wind. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen set the pace right from the start. He went 5-for-5 in his first prone stage as did Jesper Nelin, Erik Lesser and Eder with all four teams withing 8 seconds. With the wind flags whipping in the air, the Norwegian shot slowly and was perfect in standing, but Lesser after a spare round tagged Franziska Hildebrand a second before Lien took off for Norway. Slovenia, Austria and Sweden followed all withing 10 seconds.
Lien went 5-for-5 in prone with Vindisar, Blashko and Hauser all needing spares to clean but still leaving within 10 seconds of the Norwegian. Everyone struggled with the wind in standing, but Hildebrand somehow shot clean to tag Lesser in first position followed by Ukraine, Russia, and Slovenia. Christiansen left in sixth, 15 seconds back.
The German needed two spares to clean but still retained a nine second lead over Slovenia with Nelin moving Sweden into third position and Eder just behind in fourth. Despite a fall on the last uphill, Lesser came to standing with a solid lead. However, he used a spare while Babikov was perfect to give Reztsova the lead at the final exchange by two seconds while Blashko taking over for Ukraine in third and Hauser going out fourth.
Hauser moved quickly in front of her Ukrainian rival while the top two remained a few seconds apart. The Russian cleaned with six shots, while Hauser used two spares to move into second 25 seconds back with Blashko in third another tree seconds in arears. Reztsova with a huge lead, needed two spare rounds to clean, sealing the win. Hauser missed three shots but recovered by hitting all three spares and leave safely in second but 42 seconds back. Blashko’s two spares were enough to put Ukraine safely in third place.
Blashko called her road to the podium, “a really hard fight, especially on the shooting range, the last shooting; when I missed it was so windy. I needed to work in these hard conditions in that last shooting. It was also a really hard last lap because I did not know how many seconds (they were) behind me. I am really happy.”
Oberhof range: “You never know what you get”
Eder agreed about how hard the shooting was. “It was really hard out there because you never know what you get on the shooting range in Oberhof, especially today. I think I was lucky, there was always a guy next to me in standing shooting and that was a little bit better.” Regarding being on the podium, the 38-year-old said, “It feels great, especially since yesterday I was so bad and was a little bit nervous that I could keep up on the track but I am really satisfied with the race today.”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni