Holy s**t! How are you supposed to summarise the Men’s Relay in Hochfilzen?! I went with absolute madness!
Here goes; it didn’t snow but it was very windy and it caused chaos in the range, 8 teams were lapped including the hosts Austria, of the 18 teams that finished the Czech Republic were last, Belgium were leading after the first leg and there were about 103 penalty loops!!!
The Norwegians emerged from the chaos in the best position with Bjoerndalen shooting well to keep the at the front after the first leg. Michael Roesch of Belgium was amazing and passed Ole Einar to hand over in the lead. Belgium that were team 26 were now up to 1st.
Florent Claude continued Belgium’s good start but Henrik L’Abee Lund put Norway into a lead they would not give up. Germany were pretty consisted and came home second with no penalties. Third went to France who did 2 penalty loops with Jean Guillaume Beatrix on the first loop but great legs from Emilien Jacquelin and Quentin Fillon Maillet brought them back to the podium.
Sweden were great in 4th despite Peppe Femling being mowed down by Beatrix on the first leg! Italy were fourth and their best performer was Thierry Chenal on his World Cup debut weekend showing Windisch and Hofer how to shoot. Ukraine were 6th.
There were also some issues in the range with some very slow reactions by the range officials. Maksim Varabei and Matvey Eliseev both needed assistance and didn’t get it very quickly.
In the end the Belgian team finished 16th with Tom Lahaye Goffart and Thierry Langer doing 3 penaltyy loops each but both are inexperienced at this level and actually performed really well in tough conditions especially when finding themselves at the sharp end of a World Cup race.
The women still had windy conditions to contend with but their shooting was better and the wind maybe not quite as strong. The Germans led after the first leg with a solid performance from Vanessa Hinz. Franziska Hildebrand made it more interesting needing 4 spares and letting the others back into the race.
The Swiss were up at the front along with the Ukraine, Sweden, Belarus and Russia but Marie Dorin Habert went on the penalty loop twice in the first lap to put France well behind and Hilde Fenne did 3 to put Norway out of contention.
Coming into the final lap it was Germany with Maren Hammerschmidt and Switzerland with Lena Haecki along with Ukraine’s Valj Semerenko who looked like the podium finishers. Laura Dahlmeier on the last lap was steady and brought her team home in first for their sixth relay win in a row.
The Swiss dropped back with Irene Cadurisch doing 2 penalty loops. Olena Pidhrushna took Ukraine to second place and unbelievably the French got third doing exactly what the men did coming back from 2 penalty loops on the first lap to get on the podium!
Russia were 4th, Switzerland were 5th which is still a great result for them and the Czech Republic were 6th.
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