Norway Rolls to Relay Gold
|09.03.2012, Ruhpolding / IBU Info. Dept. JK|
|Svendsen’s Leg Crucial|
|Norway won the men’s relay today when Emil Hegle Svendsen took the lead for the first time after the final standing stage. The Norwegian men had one penalty and seven spare rounds as they covered the course in 1:17:26.8. Second went to France with ten spare rounds, 29.7 seconds back, while Germany won the Bronze medal, also with ten spare rounds, 53 seconds back.
Italy in Fourth
Italy finished fourth, with ten spare rounds, 1:28.9 back, while Austria, with just three spares was fifth, 1:35.9 back. Russia finished sixth, with one penalty and ten spares, 1:44.1 back.
Norway Slips Back in First Leg
Twenty-nine teams started today on another mostly sunny afternoon after a light dusting of snow overnight. The first leg offered some surprises, mainly in the form of Norway and Sweden, as penalties put Norway in 13th position and Sweden hopelessly in 28th. Seven teams led by Ukraine, France and Russia were separated from the rest of the field. No team seemed able to escape from spare rounds although the conditions on the shooting range were very good. Andi Birnbacher brought Germany into the fray with a strong second leg, moving his team up to second as he prepared to shoot standing. Both he, France’s Simon Fourcade and Russia’s Andrei Makoveev used spare rounds but cleaned. The Russian and French teams had about 10 seconds on Birnbacher as they left the stadium for their final 2.5K loop. Austria was just behind Germany after Christoph Sumann had a brilliant leg to put them back in contention. Yet by the second exchange, it was France and Russia with a 10 second lead over Germany and Switzerland after a strong loop by Benjamin Weger.
France in Control
The next leg saw France and Russia continue to battle with Alexis Boeuf and Evgeniy Garanichev getting a significant lead on Germany. Norway was now up to fourth position with Tarjei Boe on the track. Boe showed his strength on the tracks as he passed Michael Greis with ease before the standing stage. Boeuf cleaned with ease and took the lead; Greis matched and moved into second position but 25 seconds back, followed by Boe, another five seconds back. Garanichev used all three spare rounds but still picked up a penalty, putting his team in fourth and battling with Austria. At the final exchange, France had a twenty plus second lead as he tagged two-time World Champion Martin Fourcade. Boe tagged Emil Hegle Svendsen eight before Arnd Peiffer took over for Germany. Austria was another 23 seconds back, as Russia fell to one minute back.
Svendsen Takes the Lead
In prone, Fourcade needed two spare rounds while Svendsen shot clean. They left the shooting range together with Peiffer 20 seconds back. They battled into the shooting range, but Svendsen shot clean and Fourcade needed three spares to clean, setting up the one-two finish. Peiffer needed two spares but still left comfortably in third. The finish order was set.
Svendsen emphasized that he was extremely focused in today’s relay. “I tried to stay really focused, even though there was lots of tension. I felt good on the shooting range and kept my nerves under control the whole time…I am really happy to catch the Gold for Norway.”
Björndalen who had the penalty in the first leg admitted that it was not his day on the shooting range. “I did not have a good feeling in the shooting range; a lot of movement and no control today.”
Boe said he used a lot of strategy in order to help move his team up. “The first loop tried to go hard; in the second I was a bit slower to get ready for the standing stage. I saved some energy for the attack on the last hill.”
Pressure for Beatrix
The Silver medal French team felt the pressure of being a favorite, especially first leg Jean Guilluame Beatrix. “You cannot imagine the pressure before the start. I just tried to do it as good as I can best as I could on shooting range, but it was very hard because of all of the noise from the crowd. I am glad it was not so bad in the end.”
Disappointed but Happy
Martin Fourcade was both disappointed and happy. “Emil and the Norwegian team were much stronger today. I am a bit disappointed with my shooting, but really happy with the Silver medal.” Boeuf, with his first medal, added, “It is very nice to go home with any medal.”
Medal at Home
Possibly the happiest man in the top three teams was Germany’s Greis, who not been in top form for much of the season and has missed many competitions…“I did not expect to be on the relay…this medal is very special. We can all be happy about winning the Bronze…It is very special to win a medal in your home World Championships.”