The French team shows its strength for the first time in a long time in a relay race with an ever growing lead over Norway and Austria – like so many times before in the Chiemgau-Arena.
The French relay team with Emilien Jacquelin, Martin Fourcade, Simon Desthieux and Quentin Fillon Maillet raced to a sovereign victory under difficult ski conditions with wet snowfall. The French led from start to finish as Jacquelin already tagged off to Martin Fourcade in first position in front of the unexpectedly strong Chinese team, which included Fangming Chen and Johannes Dale, who delivered an impressive final lap despite a slow performance in the shooting range. Martin Fourcade picked up today where he left off in the sprint. Fourcade built the French team’s lead to 1:20 minutes ahead of Norway thanks to two clean shootings. Simon Desthieux said, “It was a bit weird to race all alone at the front of the field,” as he held onto the lead which Quentin Fillon Maillet only needed to maintain. Despite Maillet needing two spare shots in both prone and standing, their lead was never threatened. Maillet could relax skiing the final loop and crossed the final line with the French flag in hand. Maillet heartily thanked his teammates after the race, “they made my job relatively easy.” Those representing France were satisfied to say the least. Martin Fourcade said, “After nearly three years, I think we have earned it to stand on the top of the podium again. We have been performing well the whole season.”
This time, Norway didn’t stand a chance
This race was a bit difficult for the Norwegians from the beginning. Johannes Dale was visibly frustrated by his performance at the shooting range, “I was entirely too restless and fidgeted back and forth.” Fueled by fury, he caught up from behind and kept the lag behind France within limits. Fourcade didn’t stand a chance against Erlend Bjoentegaard. Not only the four re-loads cost him a lot of time against the Frenchman, but he also had a hard time on the track, “one even had to work constantly while going downhill.” Tarjei Boe and Vetle Sjastad Christiansen could get ahead of the rest of the competition, but they couldn’t threaten the Frenchmen.
Felix Austria! Third place
The Austrians celebrated their third place like as a victory. Given how the season has been going for them thus far, the result was particularly sensational with Dominik Landertinger, Simon Eder, Felix Leitner and Julian Eberhard starting together healthy and in top form for the first time.
Simon Eder stated, “We were under a lot of pressure today and had to prove ourselves. We have had a lot of good races in Ruhpolding, and luckily that was the case again today. This gives us hope for the World Championships.” In the final loop Julian Eberhard had to save his skin against Alexander Loginov over whom had successfully taken 8 seconds out of by the finish line saying, “That was another hard fight.”
Too many spares for the German team
The German men weren’t in the fight for the podium today, starting in a different constellation than they did in Hochfilzen and Oberhof. “We wanted to keep our options open and give Roman Rees and Philipp Nawrath a chance before the World Championships,” said Mark Kirchner. The German quartette was able to avoid the penalty loop, but they definitely spent too much time in the shooting range. Eight of the twelve spares were needed in the prone position alone. Roman Rees, as the starter, was already behind the ball in the range, “I was too tense during prone shooting and was relieved to have been able to avoid a penalty loop.” Philipp Nawrath was responsible half of the team‘s spares: “I was so nervous. I should have made a sight adjustment. This certainly wasn’t the plan for this race.” Only Arnd Peiffer delivered an immaculate performance and was able to bring the German team from 8th position to within striking distance of the podium. Benedikt Doll wanted to improve on this position, “but I would have had to have a clean prone shooting bout.” Instead he needed 2 spares and wasn’t able to gain on the Norwegians and Austrians. In the end, they came in fifth. “Too many re-loads,” summarized Mark Kirchner after the race.