It was double relay day in Pokljuka on Saturday and it was double gold day for Norway! It’s not really a surprise as they were the favourites for both races but you still have to perform out on the tracks and in the range.
The women were first to race and it was another masterclass in relay first legs from Lisa Vittozzi. She was perfect on the range and put Italy into a 16 second lead at the first exchange. If every race was a relay she would be winning them all!
Second to hand over was Ingrid Tandrevold who used just one spare in her standing shoot and skied really well to make up time on the Italian. Germany were in third thanks to perfect shooting from Vanessa Hinz.
Michela Carrara took the second leg for Italy and she was chased down pretty quickly by Tiril Eckhoff. Despite 3 spares she put Norway into the lead. It was Belarus who would exchange in second after 10/10 for Dzinara Alimbekava and Ukraine were into third with Yuliia Dzhima.
The third leg saw Ida Lien take over for Norway and it was a very impressive run from her. She had some trouble on the standing shoot needing two spares and exiting behind Darya Blashko but she caught and passed her on the tracks to put Norway in pole position once again.
Blashko looked very tired and couldn’t hold onto second place. She was passed by Belarus and Poland who went into third. Meanwhile Denise Herrmann was making up ground on the tracks to put Germany back in contention after a slow second leg by Jannina Hettich.
It was Marte Olsbu Roeiseland on the anchor leg for Norway and just like in the mixed relay she had a few issues on the range. This time it was the prone that caused her trouble and just like the mixed relay she had three targets to hit with 3 spare rounds and she did it! Again! She has unbelieveable focus to hold her nerve under such pressure. She needed just 1 spare in the stand and would go onto secure gold for Norway, their third win in a row in the women’s relay at World Championships.
The race for second and third was very dramatic. Franziska Preuss was perfect on the range and this caught her right up to Olena Pidrushna who had been in second. It was the Ukrainian who led on almost the whole lap right until the last second. Preuss nipped ahead of her right on the line to snatch the silver medal! Ukraine had to settle for bronze.
Belarus were 4th, Sweden 5th and Poland finished in an excellent 6th.
Norway led the men’s race at every exchange and took the gold medal by 33 seconds. It wasn’t as easy for them as that sounds but they were never seriously challenged except maybe by themselves.
Birthday boy Sturla Laegreid got them off to a great start using a spare on each shoot which put Norway into a 22 second lead. It was Belarus who were in second at this point after a good leg by Mikita Labastau. France were third after single mixed relay champion Antonin Guigonnat just avoided the penalty loop using all three spares in his standing shoot.
Tarjei Boe took over the second leg and after a faultless prone he had to do a “Roieseland” and use all his spares on the standing to swerve a penalty loop. Lukas Hofer had to do the same but was brilliant on his skis to put Italy into second place. Ukraine were now in third with Dmytro Pidhruchnyi. One man who didn’t avoid the penalty loop was Quentin Fillon Maillet which dented France’s chances.
Johannes Boe was now on track after being switched from the anchor leg. It was a good move after he used just 1 spare in the prone to hand over a 45 second lead. Tommaso Giacomel had a brilliant prone and was in fact catching Boe but pushed too hard on his second lap, made a mess of the standing and was on the penalty loop. That left Artem Pryma in second and moving up the ranks were the RBU who went into third.
Vetle Christiansen was on the last leg for Norway in case a sprint finish was required but it obviously was not today! He cleaned the prone but just to make it a bit more entertaining needed 2 spares in the standing. It would be a cruise to the line for him to give Norway gold.
The race for the other medals was really hotting up behind. Eduard Latypov put the RBU into second after cleaning the prone. However behind him Sebastian Samuelsson, Emilien Jacquelin and Dominik Windisch all did them same and were hunting him down.
At the final standing shoot it was Samuelsson who showed his class knocking down all 5 targets in 19 seconds! Latypov need 1 spare and was only a few seconds ahead of the Swede leaving the range. Samuelsson closed him down very quickly despite dropping his glasses and was passed him in a flash. Silver was Sweden’s and Latypov hung on for bronze although he looked very tired doing so.
France were 4th, Ukraine 5th and Italy 6th.
Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!