Russia Wins Sochi Men’s Relay
|10.03.2013, Sochi / IBU Info JK|
|Russia finally won a competition in the Laura Biathlon Stadium to the delight of the Russian fans, when they claimed the men’s 4 X7.5K relay today, with one penalty and six spare rounds in 1:09:50.8. Second went to Germany with 10 spare rounds, 38.3 seconds back, followed by the Czech Republic with 13 spare rounds, 42.9 seconds back.
Norway finished fourth, 50.7 seconds back. France and Italy finished fifth and sixth, 59.6 seconds and 1:00. 9 back respectively.
The tracks were modified for today’s relay competitions, eliminating one of the long climbs and step downhills that was the scene of several crashes. Still, the competitors had to deal with soft slow and dirty snow, which again made the going very tough. Luckily, the shooting conditions were good again, with little wind or fog.
Close Battle Early
Most of the field stayed together through the first leg. At the first exchange, Kazakhstan tagged just ahead of Austria and the home team Russia. However, the field was tightly packed with 12 teams within 19 seconds. The second leg shook things up as Sweden’s Johan Bergman used just a single spare round and took the lead at the exchange. Austria with clean shooting Daniel Mesotitsch was in second, closely followed by Ukraine, USA, and Slovakia all within 5.4 seconds. Russia had fallen back after Alexandr Loginov picked up a penalty in prone.
In the third leg, Dmitry Malyshko shot clean and pulled Russia back into the lead at the exchange, 4 seconds ahead of Germany, with France in third, but 34 seconds back. Four more teams were within 10 seconds of the French team as they started the anchor leg. Russia's anchor Evgeny Ustyugov broke away with aggressive skiing and clean shooting, sealing the deal and the victory. The battle was for second as Sweden and Germany left the standing stage with almost simultaneously. However by the finish, the Czech Republic had moved into third place.
With the victory, Russia claimed the seasonal relay title over Norway, 305 points to 302. Ustyugov commented on his leg. "I wanted to hold the good position that I had when I started. My only goal was to shoot clean and hold the lead."
Benedikt Doll anchored for Germany today in his first ever World Cup relay. He admitted to being nervous. "I did a lot of dry firing before the race. Then I was so nervous in prone; my arms were shaking. So five spare rounds were okay; I just pushed the first part of the last loop to tell the others that they would not catch me today!"
Win Next Year
Michal Slesingr said he was quite relaxed today after the pressure at the home World Championships last month. He was quite pleased with their performance, commenting, "We were pretty good in the relay all season. Maybe, we will win here next year!"