2018 Olympics (PyeongChang, South Korea): Biathlon Mixed Relay
A few shooting errors by pursuit bronze medalist Anais Bescond were not enough to derail France, as the team of Marie Dorin Habert, Bescond, Simon Desthieux, and Martin Fourcade took gold in the mixed relay. Skiing the first leg, Dorin Habert shot clean and tagged off just seven seconds behind the leading team from Italy. Bescond then used four spare rounds over the course of her relay leg, dropping the team to fourth (+48.9) at the halfway point. But both Desthieux and Fourcade shot 10/10, capitalized on the errors of others, and ended up with a clear 20.9 second margin for gold at the finish.
Norway came back from a rough start to earn silver despite a whopping eleven spare rounds and a penalty loop. Marte Olsbu had three spare rounds to tag off in ninth, 32.8 seconds back, and then Tiril Eckhoff used two spare rounds in prone and then took a penalty loop in standing. But Johannes Thingnes Bø used just one spare round and skied the team from tenth to fourth, in contact with the medal pack, on his relay leg, and then Emil Hegle Svendsen used one spare round in each shooting stage to climb into a clear second; he skied alone on the final loop before crossing the line for silver.
There was controversy about bronze, however. Germany had led much of the race thanks to a solid leg by Vanessa Hinz to start and then a brilliant leg by Laura Dahlmeier; Erik Lesser also excelled, and at the third exchange the team had used just two spare rounds and had a 32.6-second lead on the field. But sprint gold medalist Arnd Peiffer couldn’t keep it together and first used a spare round in prone, then took a painful penalty loop in standing.
He exited the loop just as Italy’s Dominik Windisch went past. Lisa Vitozzi had put Italy in the lead after one leg thanks to perfect shooting, and despite three spare rounds Dorothea Wierer had tagged off in second at the halfway point. Lukas Hofer had maintained that position and Windisch was really only in fourth because of three of his own spare rounds.
Windisch and Peiffer battled all the way around the final 2.5 k, with Windisch leading the final downhill; the pair were nearly even coming into the stadium, but Windisch sprinted for the finishing lanes and in doing so angled from one far side of the trail to the farthest finishing lane, just barely getting there ahead of Peiffer and debatably choosing a lane before the lane markings began. Peiffer, who had skied a straight course all the way from the downhill into the finish, was forced to then switch lanes and couldn’t regain the momentum to keep up with the Italian, who crossed the line in third place.
The Germans protested, but the race jury ultimately decided to keep the Italians in third place, awarding them bronze, and the Germans finished fourth.
“The jury has decide to keep the bronze medal for Italy; Peiffer did not have to alter his speed, therefore no reason to disqualify Windisch,” the IBU stated in a tweet. (The response to that tweet has nearly unanimously condemned it as the wrong decision.)
The IBU 2016 Competition Rules give only a vague definition of obstruction, stating, “It is strictly forbidden to impede other competitors in any way at any time during the competition.”
The Canadian team of Rosanna Crawford, Julia Ransom, Brendan Green, and Christian Gow finished 12th, +2:36.7, with nine spare rounds.
The U.S. team of Susan Dunklee, Joanne Reid, Tim Burke, and Lowell Bailey finished 15th, +3:31.1, with three penalty loops and nine spare rounds.
2018 Olympics (PyeongChang, South Korea): Nordic Combined Large Hill/10 k
Germany pulled off a podium sweep in the second nordic combined combined competition of the Olympics, with Johannes Rydzek, Fabian Riessle, and Eric Frenzel earning gold, silver (+0.4 seconds), and bronze (+0.8 seconds), respectively. They had been ranked fifth, sixth, and fourth after the jumping round on the big hill, but edged Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber off the podium. Riiber had the second-best jump of the day and ended up just 2.8 seconds out of a gold medal. Japan’s Akito Watabe topped the jumping scores and finished fifth, +12.5 seconds.
For the U.S., Bryan Fletcher led the way again and just like in the normal hill competition, finished 17th. This time he was ranked 23rd after the jump and made up six places to cross the line +1:42.9. Ben Berend, Ben Loomis, and Jasper Good finished 39th (+4:28.2), 40th (+4:38.8), and 43rd (+5:50.2).