The final day’s racing in America was relay day! Really? Yes, relay! (try not to groan too much!)
It was the first time in the World Cup that the men raced the first legs and the women the second which is awesome! It made for great relays too so it’s a change that should stay with alternate starts M-W and W-M.
The single mixed relay was first. There were some strong teams in this one and it was the strongest who won. Lukas Hofer and Dorothea Wierer took gold for Italy with some great shooting with only 6 spares needed.
The first leg was tight with no one breaking away for the men. The second leg saw Wierer take the lead ahead of Julia Simon and Regina Oja.
The men’s leg was close once again with Lukas Hofer, Simon Eder and Rene Zakhna all together. Hofer needed a spare while the other two shot clean but at the exchange it was Eder ahead by a few seconds from Italy and Estonia.
The final leg came down to Wierer and Hauser who are both excellent shots. Hauser cleaned all 10 and Wierer needed a spare but her superior ski speed and super fast standing shoot meant she could give Italy the victory. Austria were second using just 2 spares (amazing!) and France were third despite a penalty loop from Antonin Guigonnat.
Germany were 4th, Norway 5th and Ukraine 6th.
The mixed relay was a battle between Norway, France and Germany the whole way. The men started first and Germany took an early lead with Erik Lesser shooting clean along with Quentin Fillon Maillet. Vetle Christiansen needed 2 spares for Norway. Luckily he had Johannes Boe on the second leg who made up all the time and shot clean to turn the race in Norway’s favour.
Simon Desthieux used 2 spares to keep France in touch and Bendikt Doll needed 3. Boe handed a good lead over to Tiril Eckhoff who managed to lose it all at her first shoot using all three spares letting a clean shooting Celia Aymonier catch her. The stand was even worse for Eckhoff who went on the penalty loop. Aymonier used 2 spares but Franziska Hildebrand shot clean to make up time for Germany.
The final leg saw Anais Chevalier shoot perfectly and ski home for a French victory. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland did all she could to catch up but after skiing too hard she also had a penalty loop to complete. Vanessa Hinz who was a late replacement held her nerve using only 2 spares to take second for Germany leaving Norway in third.
Switzerland were 4th, Sweden 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.
That concludes the North American World Cups. The next competition is the European Championships in Minsk which start on the 20th of February and then there is the small matter of the World Championships in Oestersund on the 7th of March!!!
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