The World Championships got off to a fantastic start in Oestersund! There was (wait for it!)… a Smörgåsbord of talent on show in the Mixed Relay with most of the big guns starting for their country. There was one last minute change when Laura Dahlmeier pulled out after feeling a little unwell and she was replaced by Denise Herrmann.
The first leg was the same as pretty much every other relay this season that had Lisa Vittozzi racing first. She shot the perfect 10 and headed to the exchange in first place. She was followed closely however by Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Linn Persson who had a great leg for the home team. Vanessa Hinz handed over in 6th for Germany.
The second leg was easily the best of the race. Dorothea Wierer and Tiril Eckhoff were out front but were being chased down by Hanna Oberg but especially by Denise Herrmann. At the first prone we all expected Wierer to blast through the 5 targets and Eckoff to miss but it didn’t work out that way.
Wierer missed 2 and then so did Eckhoff but they both used their spares well. Oberg needed 1 spare but Herrmann shot best of all with no misses. Italy, Germany and Norway stuck together on the second loop and in the standing shoot Wierer required 2 spares while Eckhoff and Herrmann both needed 3.
With Herrmann’s ski speed she handed over in the lead with Eckhoff in second and Wierer third. It was then a battle between Johannes Boe, Arnd Peiffer and Lukas Hofer and there was only going to be one winner. Boe and Peiffer both used 2 spares but Hofer needed 5 over the two shoots. Boe grabbed a lead of 15 seconds over Peiffer to hand over to Vetle Christiansen, with Hofer 56 seconds back in third.
It was a brilliant performance by Peiffer considering the meltdown he had in this race at the Olympics that cost Germany the gold medal.
His teammate Benedikt Doll set off after Christiansen hoping to haul back the Norwegian but to no avail. Even though he is the least experienced biathlete on the Norwegian team Christiansen was amazing on his leg. He shot 10/10 and skied calmly the whole way around like he didn’t have a care in the world! It was a fabulous effort from the Norwegians who thoroughly deserved the gold medal.
Doll stayed in second using 2 spares on the standing shoot. Dominik Windisch kept Italy in third although he did need 5 spares including 3 on the final shoot!
Russia were 4th, Sweden 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.
France who have won both Mixed Relays this season on the World Cup finished 8th with 15 spares required in a dismal performance for such a great team. Poland raced really well starting 22nd and finishing 9th only using 4 spares!
Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!