We are in Oslo for the first race of the 2016 World Championships! It was the Mixed Relay and it was a fantastic opening race in Holmenkollen!
The first leg was great. The USA led the race after Susan Dunklee’s excellent performance on the range and the tracks. She handed over in first place to Hannah Dreissigacker. Marte Olsbu of Norway, under a lot of pressure from the home fans, had an amazing opening leg leaving the final shoot in first place but handing over to Tiril Eckhoff in second just a small distance behind the USA. The team in third at the first exchange were the Ukraine with Valj Semerenko just ahead of Franziska Preuss in fourth and Anais Bescond in fifth.
The second leg was very close with Eckhoff, Marie Dorin Habert, Franziska Hildebrand, Dreissigacker and Olena Pidhrushna all in the hunt for the lead. Eckhoff was the poorest shot of them all missing 2 in the prone and 2 in the stand. Dorin Habert shot clean in the prone and brought herself up to the front alongside Hildebrand. Unfortunately just after she passed Hildebrand she fell on the downhill going under the bridge which allowed Hildebrand to retake the lead. Coming in to the exchange however Ukraine, France, Germany and Norway were all together.
The men took over in the third leg with Johannes Boe, Arnd Peiffer, Sergey Semenov and Quentin Fillon Maillet racing head to head. This was when I noticed the Norwegian technique of touching the skier at the exchange on the bottom to start the next leg. Interesting! This leg couldn’t seperate the four leading teams even though Fillon Maillet missed 3 in the stand he caught up again on the skis. It was surprising that none of the teams tried to break away from him as letting Martin Fourcade start his leg at the same time as the others would not prove to be a good idea.
The fourth leg as usual was crucial. Tarjei Boe, Simon Schempp and Dmtyro Pidruchnyi stayed with Fourace up to the first shoot where Boe missed 3 targets and looked like leaving Norway without a medal. The race then became between Fourcade and Schempp who both missed one target in the stand and so it came down to a ski race and you knew there would only be one winner. Schempp held on as long as he could but in the end Fourcade was too strong and just about had time to do his signature telemark landing over the bridge. Back in third Pidruchnyi missed 2 in the stand and Boe shot clean and fast to take Norway back into third position.
Special mentions to Belarus who used only 1 spare round, Austria for using 3 spare rounds and the USA who used 5.
It was a great race to start the World Championships. The French Team were excellent and deserved to win although I did feel sorry for the Ukraine who did so well up until the final shoot. I thought the others team would have done more to try and break the French Team before they got to Fourcade but they proved too strong. The Sprints are next on Saturday! I can’t wait!
As for the other teams:
Austria 5th Czech Republic 6th Russia 7th
Italy 8th Belarus 9th USA 10th
Canada 11th Sweden 12th Slovenia 13th
Switzerland 14th Kazakhstan 15th Bulgaria 16th
Slovakia 17th Finland 18th Japan 19th
Poland 20th Estonia 21st Romania 22nd
Lithuania 23rd Korea 24th Latvia 25th
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