Oestersund 2016: The Relays.

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Finally! You wait ages for a biathlon race and two come along at once! That’s right biathlon is back and the season got under way in Oestersund, Sweden. The Mixed Relay started us off and that was followed a little later by the Single Mixed Relay just to ease everyone in gently.

What I thought might be an appetizer followed by a main course actually turned out to be a main course followed by the cheeseboard instead of the dessert platter. What I am trying to say is that the Mixed Relay was better than the Single Mixed Relay (unless you prefer French cheese!).

The Mixed Relay got off to a good start with the women fighting for the lead. In the end it was the USA’s Susan Dunklee who made the hand over in first place but with less than 7 seconds covering the Top 5 teams. The second leg saw Dorothea Wierer hit the front and she handed over a lead of around 5 seconds from Birkeland and Dahlmeier.

Lukas Hofer maintained Italy’s lead up until his standing shoot which was heartbreaking. Having cleared the first 4 targets he thought the 5th was down and almost had his rifle back on his back when he saw taht it wasn’t! He then had to reset his position and preceded to miss all three spares and go on the penalty loop. Taking advantage was the evergreen Bjoerndalen who gave Norway a 17 second cushion over Doll of Germany.

Johannes Boe wouldn’t give up that lead with some fast shooting and skiing. Second place went to Germany with a bearded Arnd Peiffer. (Do you think he is after some kind of award!) In third place came Italy after a great leg by Dominik Windisch who beat Anton Shipulin in a sprint to the line to save teammate Hofer from a bad evening! France were 5th, Sweden 6th, Czech Republic 7th, USA 8th, Switzerland 9th and Ukraine 10th.

Next up came the Single Mixed Relay. France put in their top team of Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin-Habert and they really dominated the race. They were never out of the top three teams in any leg. They won by 16 seconds and it could have been more with a few more hits from Dorin Habert. In second place was a strong Austrian team of Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder who both shot really quickly and well just using 2 spares between them.

Third went to Germany with Preuss and Lesser. The race for the minor places was actually better with Sweden eventually taking 4th, Kazakhkstan taking 5th, Switzerland came from 18th place to 6th, Canada were 7th, Russia 8th, Ukraine 9th and Belarus 10th. If you are wondering what happened to Norway, Ingrid Tandrevold fell on the first of her loops and they never recovered and came home 11th.

So that concludes the first days racing of World Cup 1 in Oestersund. The next race is on Wednesday and it’s the Women’s Individual followed by the Men’s race on Thursday!

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