Norway Takes Mixed Relay Gold
|07.02.2013, Nove Mesto na Morave / IBU Info JK|
|France and Czech Republic Take Silver and Bronze|
|Norway won the Gold medal in the mixed relay tonight in 1:12:04.9, using four spare rounds. Second went to France, 20 seconds back with eight spare rounds. The home team Czech Republic came through for their first medal, 33.3 seconds back with five spare rounds.
Italy surprised with a fourth place finish, 58.4 seconds back, with four spare rounds. Fifth went to Slovenia, 1:07.1 back with six spare rounds. Russia had a penalty and nine spare rounds in sixth place, 1:26.5 back.
After snow and some rain earlier in the week, the 27 teams in the mixed relay had perfect conditions today; very light wind from the left side of the shooting range, temperatures just at freezing and fast tracks.
Tora Berger led off for Norway and immediately took control, skiing extremely aggressively, firing ten shots and dropping ten targets; absolutely perfect. That gave Norway a 12 second lead over Russia and Olga Zaitseva at the exchange, with Krystyna Palka tagging in third position for Poland, 19.9 seconds back. Both Zaitseva and Palka used a single spare round. The second leg saw a bit of a shift in fortunes as Synnøve Solemdal needed two spare rounds in standing, while Olga Vilukhina shot clean and took over the lead. Poland remained in third position at the exchange.
France Takes the Lead
As soon as the men took over, the whole complexion of the competition changed. France’s Alexis Boeuf dropped the five prone targets in rapid succession to take the lead while Russia’s Anton Shipulin needed three spare rounds to clean and he slipped back to fifth position. Tarjei Boe used a single spare and left solidly in second position, followed by Poland. Boe cleaned with five shots in standing and retook the lead. Shipulin matched and left in second while Boeuf used two spare rounds, leaving him back in third, just 6 seconds ahead of the home team’s Jaroslav Soukup in fourth. At the final exchange Boe tagged Emil Hegle Svendsen with a 12 second lead over Shipulin who tagged Dmitry Malyshko. Beouf was 31 second back as he tagged Martin Fourcade. Soukup passed on to Ondrej Moravec, another ten seconds off the pace.
Svendsen Seals the Deal
Svendsen cleaned quickly in prone, giving him a 20 second lead over Fourcade who also cleaned while Malyshko used all three spares and then took a penalty loop. The Russian team fell out of contention, which delighted the packed stadium as Moravec cleaned and moved into the third spot. Svendsen and Fourcade both used a single spare round in standing. Still the Norwegian left with a 13 second lead. Moravec came in with Italy’s Lukas Hofer. Moravec shot clean very fast and left with a 6 second lead over the Italian.
Svendsen was unchallenged, claiming the Gold medal as Fourcade and Moravec followed for the Silver and Bronze medals.
The Norwegian commented on his missed shot in standing, but then hitting it with the spare. "I really felt no pressure; I was not stressed. I had hit the first five shots easily...Still. it is always a big relief when you have the Gold medal in your pocket. This was a spectacular race."
Felt Like Myself
Boe added with a laugh after Svendsen's comment, "He is not telling the truth!" Boe who has missed most of the season due to illness, then added, "It was the first race this season that I felt like myself and had some power on the uphills, which are my strength."
All of the winning team admitted that the atmosphere with a capacity crowd of 27,000 was "amazing."
Hard to Catch
Fourcade commented on chasing Svendsen in the final loop. "I knew it would be really hard to catch him and at first tried, but realized he was too strong and I just tried to keep second place."
Like Winning Gold
For the third place Czech Republic team, it was according to Soukalova, "a big pleasure for us," while for the comebacking Soukop, "is amazing and beautiful." However Moravec summed it up with, "Winning this Bronze medal was just like winning the Gold medal for us."