BMW IBU Biathlon World Championships 2016 - Women's Relay, 4x6km Team Race
Norwegian Women Golden in Relay
Silver for France, Bronze for Germany
The Norwegian team of Synnøve Solemdal, Fanny Horn Birkeland, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu won the women's relay Gold medal, with six spare rounds in 1:07:10. France won the Silver medal, with eight spares, 5.3 seconds back. The Bronze medal went to Germany, with four spare rounds 28.6 seconds back.
Poland finished fourth, with seven spares, 1:08.7 back. Ukraine finished fifth after with a penalty and five spare rounds, 1:27.7 back. Czech Republic finished sixth, with three penalties and six spare rounds, 1:49.3 back.
Surprise Early Leader: Japan
Twenty three teams lined up at the start on a sunny, clear afternoon in Holmenkollen, with no wind at the shooting range and the temperature a little above freezing.
Many women in the first leg took advantage of the clear, windless weather to shoot clean. France's Justine Braisaz, however, used 3 spares in prone and 2 spares in standing, pushing her team back to 21st position. Germany's Franziska Preuss led out of prone, but two spares in standing saw her fall back to 10th.
The big surprise came from Japan when Fuyuko Tachizaki shot clean to leave the stadium in first. Finland's Kaisa Mäkäräinen also went 10-for-10, putting Finland in the lead at the first exchange, followed by Kazakhstan.
Germany Leads; France Back in Contention
In the second leg, Anais Bescond shot clean, bringing France back into contention. Germany's Franziska Hildebrand matched, taking the lead after standing. Birkeland used one spare both in prone and standing, but wan in 10th after standing.
Third Leg Excellence by Eckhoff
Birkeland tagged Eckhoff in eighth at the second exchange. The Sprint World Champion duplicated last Saturday's performance with powerful skiing and perfect on the shooting range. She left standing pushed ever faster by the roaring Norwegian fans trying to build an even bigger lead.
France's Anais Chevalier, after just single spare round in standing was chasing Eckhoff. Germany's Maren Hammerschmidt matched Chevalier in prone, but used two spares in standing, yet remained solidly in the number three spot.
Four Spares But the Victory
Eckhoff gave Olsbu a 20 second lead, but Pursuit World Champion Laura Dahlmeier and 15K Champion Marie Dorin Habert were in hot pursuit. When Olsbu skied into the stadium for prone, her lead was 30 seconds. The crowd jumped to their feet with each of the two missed shots, but relaxed after the spare rounds hit their mark.
The last standing stage was a like slow motion version of the prone stage, with Olsbu again needing two spare rounds to clean but still left with 9 second lead. The stadium was full of nervous fans while she toured the final 2K loop, but she held on for the win.
She commented on the last loop, "I just went as fast as I could. I was happy to cross the finish line in first, as we have worked a lot towards this."
Dorin Habert commented on the last loop, "I tried and I gave everything to catch her. I am happy for her and for us too."
Second Gold for Eckhoff
Eckhoff commented on her second Gold medal, "We worked well as a team, and had a good strategy. We have worked so hard, we finally managed to be on the podium, moreover, we won the world Championship title!"