IBU World Championships (Hochfilzen, Austria): Mixed relay
The unshakable Germans. That was the takeaway from the first race of the 2017 International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championships on Thursday in Hochfilzen, Austria, the 2 x 6 + 2 x 7.5-kilometer mixed relay, after second-leg Laura Dahlmeier put the team in a position to win, and teammate Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp held onto first through the finish.
After first-leg Vanessa Hinz put the Germans in sixth, 9.8 seconds behind Italy in first, Dahlmeier skied the fastest second leg to overcome using four spares rounds — two on her prone stage and two in standing. Skiing in third as she started her final lap, Dahlmeier passed Italy’s Dorothea Wierer and France’s Marie Dorin Habert to enter the second exchange in first, 0.8 seconds ahead of Dorin Habert in second and 3.8 seconds ahead of Wierer in third.
From there, Peiffer ran away with the lead, cleaning both stages without any spares and tagging Schempp with a 21.2-second lead over Italy’s Lukas Hofer in second. France’s anchor, Martin Fourcade was tagged third, 46.5 seconds out of first and less than a second ahead of Russia’s Anton Shipulin in fourth.
From there, Schempp cleaned his prone stage and used one standing spare to leave the range for the last time with a 17.9-second cushion to Fourcade in second, while Italy’s Dominik Windisch slipped to fourth after using two spares in standing. On the final lap, Fourcade and Shipulin continued battled for silver while Schempp skied a leisurely pace up front. Even as Fourcade and Shipulin came within view of the German at the finish, Schempp glanced back, unfazed in the finishing stretch and beat them both with 2.2 seconds to spare. Fourcade attacked on a long climb and Shipulin chased him closely in third to the finish, crossing the line 1 second after Fourcade for third place (+3.2).
Germany secured the first gold of 2017 World Championships with a total of seven spares and no penalties in 1:09:06.4 hours. France, with Anais Chevalier, Dorin Habert, Quentin Fillon-Maillet, and Fourcade, was second with eight spares and one penalty (on third-leg Fillon-Maillet’s standing stage). Russia took bronze with Olga Podchufarova, Tatiana Akimova, Alexander Loginov, and Shipulin, with four spares and no penalties.
Canada placed 13th with no penalties and nine spares, with Julia Ransom, Rosanna Crawford, Brendan Green, and Scott Gow. The U.S. (Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan, Lowell Bailey, Sean Doherty) finished 16th (out of 25 teams) with two penalties (Egan and Doherty) and 13 spares.
IBU World Championships continue Friday with the women’s 7.5 k sprint at 8:45 a.m. Eastern time. Watch it live on Eurovisionsports.tv.