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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Things are not necessarily popping up daisies in Deutschland, especially for fans of cross-country skiers.
After the women’s team of Stefanie Böhler and Denise Herrmann finished fourth in the 1.3-kilometer classic team sprint, 1.15 seconds off the podium behind Norway, Finland, and Sweden, respectively, the men’s team lost out on a sure-bet medal in the last few hundred meters before the finish.
Tim Tscharnke had anchored Germany in impressive form, attacking on the final steep climb before a curving descent down toward the grandstand. The 24-year-old, who teamed up with Axel Teichmann to win silver in the 2010 Olympic freestyle team sprint, was in the hunt for gold — this time with teammate Hannes Dotzler. At the very least, with three men up front after gapping the field, it appeared he’d get bronze.
Tscharnke led into the downhill and teetered initially in the soft snow in one of the most fatiguing races of the Olympics. Going wide around the bend, he started to cut back in as Finland’s Sami Jauhojärvi took the inside lane and came out in front of him. Jauhojärvi’s skis slid over Tscharnke’s, and the German fell to the ground, nearly taking out Russia’s Nikita Kriukov with him.
“[He] was in the wrong lines — he was in the lines for lapping,” Tscharnke said of Jauhojärvi. “I wanted to go to the finish and he crossed my way. I thought Finland take the wrong way with lapping, it wasn’t lapping and I wanted to go to the finish lines, and it was crossing my way. Sh*t.”
Kriukov stepped to another lane and stayed on his feet, skiing behind Jauhojärvi for silver. Finland, with Iivo Niskanen, won its first Olympic gold since 1998 and the two teammates immediately reveled in the glory, dancing backward across the finish, grabbing a Finnish flag and soaking up the moment. Tscharnke took a while to recover and ended up seventh out of nine teams, 42.13 seconds behind Finland.
In the moments that followed, the Germans launched a protest against Finland, claiming Jauhojärvi obstructed Tscharnke. Before the flower ceremony could commence, the jury decided whether the move warranted a disqualification, and ultimately rejected the Germans’ case.
German press officer Stefan Schwarzbach said the appeal was rejected, but they had 48 hours to appeal — if they choose to do so.
“The question is, if it is really, really senseful,” he said. “We don’t understand. We haven’t decided yet [if we’re going to appeal] … The opportunities are really, really small because what would happen? Maybe the Finnish team will be disqualified, but there was no case we can remember that the team which was kicked off got a medal after.”
If their appeal was accepted, the most likely result would be that Norway — the fourth-place men’s team — would get bumped up to bronze.
“[Whether that will] help us, that’s the question,” Tscharnke said. “When I’m from Norway or from Finland or from France, they would be disqualified, but we are from Germany and it’s the same when you are from Russia: nothing will happen.”
“It’s sad,” German team organizer Bjørn Weisheit said. “It was the second chance for us today.”
As for the mood of the team, he said, “It’s sad and pissed off.”
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.