IBU World Cup (Ruhpolding, Germany): 4 x 7.5 k men’s relay
Norway earned a come-from-behind victory in the first relay of 2017, with Emil Hegle Svendsen anchoring the team and shooting past Russia’s Anton Babikov in the final kilometer. Norway won by 5.1 seconds.
Norway had been in just fifth position halfway through the race. But Henrik L’Abee-Lund brought the team to second and then Svendsen used perfect shooting to take the team to the top. Along with Ole Einar Bjørndalen and Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen, the team had five spare rounds on the day.
Russia had dominated through the middle of the race, with Alexey Volkov leading off in sixth place and then Anton Shipulin and Matvey Eliseev each tagging off in first place after using a remarkable single spare round between the three of them. Babikov used a one spare round and left standing with a 14.8-second lead over Svendsen, but could not hold the Norwegian off.
The German team of Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll, Arnd Peiffer, and Simon Schempp finished third for the home crowd, +23.5. The team had nine spare rounds and one penalty loop.
In the end it was a battle between the two North American teams for 11th place. The Canadian squad of Christian Gow, Scott Gow, Macx Davies, and Brendan Green beat out the American team of Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Leif Nordgren, and Sean Doherty by 0.2 seconds to finish +2:04.4. The Canadians had seven spare rounds; the Americans, seven spares plus a penalty loop.
“It was a decent result for the team today, but we were definitely hoping for more,” Green said, according to a Biathlon Canada press release. “As a whole, we were consistent and steady with some definite strong points, but to get the result we all want will require a really solid day of shooting and skiing for each of us.
“Personally it’s been a bit of a tough season so far for me and I’m hoping things will turn around soon,” he added. “Historically my speed and performances start to pick up after Christmas so I’m looking forward to a couple of more good weekends of racing before the World Championships where we all hope to have our best results.”