The sprint relay’s saw the end of a cold weekend in Russia. Even though the sun was out, it didn’t cut the frigid temperatures that the athletes had to endure. Jürgen Capol decided to run just the finals and not torture the athletes with heats. It worked out for the best as the women’s field only had 10 teams in total and the men’s had 14.
There were 10 teams who started the race. The Sloevian team of Fabjan and Visnar – in those ridiculously loud suits – led for the majority of the first three legs, but going up the final hill, Russia II’s Khazova kicked it into high gear and open up a decent gap on the other coming into the half-way point of the race. Germany II and Germany I were having very good races as they were in second and third at the exchange.
Visnar showed what a strong skater she is as she was able to close the gap and regain the lead for the next exchange as it was down to only three teams: Slovenia, Russia I, and Germany I. On the big uphill, it was Steffy Bohler’s turn to turn the screw as she opened up a huge gap on the final climb. At the final exchange it was 3.7 seconds to Russia and 8.8 seconds that Slovenia had to find.
All Sachenbacher-Stehle had to due was to ski in control and not fall on the final lap to win the gold medal. Nystad, Fabjan and Switzerland’s Bucher were in a chase pack trying to get onto the podium. Coming into the stadium, Sachenbacher-Stehle eased to the win – the second medal of the weekend for her – as Fabjan overtook Rotcheva in the final stretch to take the silver. Germany II was 7.7 seconds back in fourth place.
1. Germany I (Stefanie Böhler and Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle)
2. Slovenia (Katja Visnar and Vesna Fabjan)
3. Russia I (Irina Khazova and Olga Rotcheva)
The men’s team sprint was tightly packed for the . The pace was set by the Russians and the Italian teams for the majority of the race. At the half way point, Russia held four of the top six spot. At the start of the pinultimate lap, the field was split and the top five teams had a gap on the rest but Germany’s Tim Tscharnke did well to close up the gap before the big uphill to give his teammate; Josef Wenzl, a chance on the final leg.
With one leg left it was Italy I, Russian I, Belarus, Germany, and Italy II with a five second lead over the rest. It was great grunt work by Zorzi on the last half of the pinultimate lap to get clear of any mess that might of happened had a skier fell on the downhill into the stadium. Fortunately, that did not happen.
The final lap, saw Petuhkov go hard from the tag-off, and only Frasnelli of Italy II was able to hang on. It was a finish sprint between the two and just as they entered the divided lanes, Frasnelli had a stumble and lost his rhythym which he could not recover from. Ultimately, this led to the Petuhkov cap off a perfect weekend for the Russian men. The German team finished an impressive third and was able to rob the Italian duo of Zorzi and Renato Pasini of a podium spot.
1. Russia I (Nikolay Morilov and Alexei Petukhov)
2. Italy II (Fabio Pasini and Loris Frasnelli)
3. Germany (Tim Tscharnke and Josef Wenzl)
It is two weeks until the World Cup resumes in Canmore, and then it will be the calm before the storm. It is the best storm that happens only every four years.
Til Next Time.