In front of 30,000 roaring fans, the World Championship 4 x 10km men's relay got underway this morning in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Tore Ruud Hofstad. Photo By Trond Harald Sand.
Heading out onto the fourth and final leg, Tore Ruud Hofstad immediately put the hammer down and skied away from Russia's Nikolai Bolchakov, who was trailing by 17.3 seconds at the 4.8km mark. Christian Zorzi of Italy remained in third, about 56 seconds behind Norway, and Axel Teichmann of Germany seemed unable to do anything about the 37-second gap up to bronze-medal position.
6.1km: Norway clear off the front, Russia 28 seconds back, Italy +56, Germany +1:27. Too bad for Germany, it looks like they will finish yet another race without a medal in their own World Championships. The only question is, can Zorzi catch the fading Russian skier and move Italy up into silver medal position?
8.1km: Norway has the gold wrapped up for sure. Bolchakov of Russia still fading at +43.3, with Zorzi still 15 seconds behind him…can he close it? But wait, Teichmann of Germany has suddenly made up 20 SECONDS and is skiing only 11.2 seconds behind Italy! Could he save the day for Germany and overtake Zorzi for the bronze medal? Or will Zorzi and Teichmann both get ahead of Russia and battle for silver?
9.4km: Teichmann has pummeled Zorzi who now trails by 11.2 seconds. But with only 600 meters to go, does Teichmann still have enough energy to close down another 5.7 seconds to second-place Russia? This is going to be close…
FINISH: Tore Ruud Hofstad cruises in with plenty of time to celebrate yet another gold medal for the Norwegian relay team. And it has come down to a sprint finish between Teichmann and Bolchakov; Germany and Russia, with Italy far back in fourth. Bolchakov has no chance as Teichmann powers ahead in the final 200 meters in front of 30,000 ecstatic fans. After starting the final 10km leg over a minute and a half behind Russia, Axel Teichmann fought his way up to the silver medal!