WOW! Just when you thought the biathlon races couldn’t get any better! The Women’s Relay was incredible! So much tension with so many ups and downs!
It started with snow! Unusual for the winter, I know! The wind was the big problem however with some horrible gusts hitting the range in different directions!
The first leg was again a good one for Italy. Lisa Vittozzi had another great start just using a single spare in the prone to hand over at the first exchange in the lead. She was followed by Susan Dunklee giving the USA a great start just needing 1 spare in the stand. Paulina Fialkova redeemed herself after a horrible Mixed Relay, when she shot on the wrong target, with just 1 spare required.
The first big casualty was Germany. Franziska Preuss went on the penalty loop after struggling terribly on the standing shoot. That left the door wide open for all the other teams.
Dorothea Wierer was on the second leg for Italy but she also had a nightmare this time in the prone incurring 2 penalty loops. At the second stand mayhem ensued! The wind was awful and caused almost everyone big problems. Kuzmina, Eckhoff, Herrmann and Vita Semerenko all ended up on the penalty loop and many others lost a lot of time shooting slowly. The best shoot however came from Dorothea Wierer! She cleaned the stand and left the range in the lead. A small biathlon miracle!
Kaisa Makarainen, with 2 spares needed, caught Wierer on the tracks and exchanged in the lead for Finland. The third leg was madness too with Poland’s Krystyna Guzik coming out on top. She did a penalty loop on the prone but used 1 spare in the stand to lead after leg three! Behind there were still many nations in the mix like Belarus, Slovakia, Switzerland and France. Germany couldn’t make up any ground with Franziska Hildebrand on the penalty loop as was Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold.
Some fantastic shooting from Nadezhda Skardino (2 spares), Iryna Kryuko (1 spare) and Dzinara Alimbekava (3 spares) had put Darya Domracheva in fourth place starting the last leg. She had Weronika Nowakowska in front of her as well as Anais Bescond and Federica Sanfilippo. Dasha cleaned the prone to take the lead while the others all needed spares.
That meant everything came down to the final shoot. With immense pressure on her Domracheva needed all three of her spares but when the last target went down the gold belonged to Belarus. Bescond came out after her but a stunning performance from Hanna Oberg hitting 10/10 left her in third.
She was able to pass the Frenchwomen to secure sliver for her teammates Linn Persson, Mona Brorsson and Anna Magnusson. The Swedes used 12 spares and the bronze medallists France with Anais Chevalier, Marie Dorin Habert, Justine Braisaz and Bescond used 14.
Norway finished 4th after a good leg from Marte Olsbu, Slovakia were fantastic in 5th and Switzerland also did really well finishing 6th.
It was a crazy race but an amazing spectacle and another great advert for biathlon. The men’s race tomorrow is the final event here in PyeongChang. Let’s hope they produce something similar!
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