A spell of nice weather in Antholz, Italy broke Sunday with a cold wind blowing across the team relay competition to conclude an extremely busy month of IBU World Cup action.
As competitors overcame the packed schedule, the thin air of the South Tyrol mountains wasn’t done with them yet, as a steady breeze made shooting a toss-up. The 7.5-kilometer course was composed of three laps of skiing and two rounds of shooting for each of the four competitors.
Norway took the men’s relay victory, with only five spare rounds used by the four men in 16 rounds of shooting. Germany was close behind, in second (+16.4), with seven spares used. France, who was missing their ringer, Martin Fourcade, took third (+42.0) also with five spares used.
Both the United States and Canada made the top-10, with the U.S. in eighth (+3:28.9) after three misses in prone and 17 in standing. Canada finished in ninth (+3:36.1) with one miss in prone and 15 in standing.
Germany took the lead early on, with Erik Lesser shooting clean and taking first, barely holding France’s Simon Fourcade to second place after also shooting clean. Norway’s Ole Einar Björndalen missed one shot in standing to bring Norway in in third.
On the second leg France briefly pulled into the lead as Quentin Fillon Maillet out-skied and out-shot Germany’s Daniel Boehm. The lead did not last, as Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø had a remarkable third leg, cleaning and bringing Norway from third to first place. Germany’s Arnd Peiffer was hot on his heels, only a half-second behind after only missing one in standing. France’s Simon Destheiux struggled on the range and course during his second and third laps, and moved France back to third place.
Meanwhile, Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen took the tag just moments ahead of Germany’s Simon Schempp, and opened his lead with perfect shooting, allowing Norway to take the win. France finished nearly half-a-minute back, battling with Austria’s Simon Eder, who took fourth (+49.8) with seven spare rounds used by the team. Russia took fifth (+58.5), with six spare rounds used.
For the Americans, Lowell Bailey started and stayed ahead of Canada’s Christian Gow. However, Gow used only one spare in each shooting stage compared to Bailey’s three, putting Canada in ninth and the US in tenth. On the second leg, American Sean Doherty moved the U.S. into eighth, while a long time spent shooting by Brendan Green moved Canada to tenth. Tim Burke kept the U.S. in eighth in spite of struggling with shooting in the second round, using all of his spares in standing and prone. Canada’s Scott Gow moved Canada back to ninth on the third leg. Leif Nordgren skied the final leg for the U.S., with Nathan Smith finishing for Canada. On the first lap Smith pulled ahead of Nordgren, but Nordgren was able to pass Smith back to take eight place, eight seconds ahead of Canada.
The teams will get a break until World Cup resumes in Nove Mesto on February 6th.