France Takes Cold Mixed Relay
|10.02.2012, Kontiolahti / IBU Info JK|
|Delayed Start on Frigid Day|
|France continued their tradition of fielding strong relay teams as they took the mixed relay today at the E.ON IBU World Cup Biathlon in Kontiolahti. The French squad, using just five spare rounds finished in 1:26:24, one second ahead of the hard-charging Ukrainian team that used four spare rounds. Third went to Slovakia, with eight spare rounds, 43.6 seconds back.|
Russia, with three spare rounds finished 1:06.9 back in fourth. Fifth went to Germany, with two penalties, 2:43 back, while the USA finished sixth, with twelve spare rounds, 3:28.1 back.
Delay Due to Temperature
After a 30 minute delay from the original start time, 18 of the 19 teams entered started the mixed relay. The official temperature read a just legal minus 19.5 Celsius under bright sunny skies. The teams stayed close in the first loop, with Ukraine shooting clean in the first prone as well as the standing stage. By the first exchange, Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen, after a clean fast standing stage moved into the lead, followed by France with Ukraine 16 seconds back. As the second leg progressed, Ukraine continued their clean shooting, but Slovakia’s Anastasiya Kuzmina pulled her team into first position, with Ukraine 7 seconds back. Miriam Gössner kept Germany in contention, using just two spare rounds, and handing off 20.7 seconds back. France, 27.1 seconds back as the men took over, was over 40 seconds ahead of fifth position Russia.
Slovakia and Ukraine
In the first prone stage for the men, the positions remained unchanged. Slovakia’s Matej Kazar shot clean and took a 13-second lead over Ukraine after Andriy Deryzemlya needed two spare rounds to clean. France and Germany were now within 20 seconds of the lead, but Russia stayed over a minute back as Andrei Makoveev needed two spare rounds so clean. By the final exchange, it seemed like three-team competition, with Slovakia holding 15.4 and 16.2 second leads over France and Ukraine. With Russia unable to gain any ground on the lead group while Germany remained caught in between the leaders and Russia. France’s Vincent Jay shot a clean, fast prone round to take the lead from Slovakia, while Ukraine remained in third. Germany’s Erik Lesser was using his spare rounds, when one jammed in the chamber. He lost more than 40 seconds in the process allowing Russia’s Anton Shipulin with a very fast prone stage to leave on the German’s heels.
Jay Wins Battle at Finish Line
Olympic Sprint Champion Jay dropped the five standing targets easily to head out on the final 2.5K loop holding a 12.6 second lead over Ukraine, with Slovakia over 30 seconds ahead of fourth place Russia. That set up the finish order. In the finish straight, Ukraine made a bid for the victory with a big sprint, but Jay held on for the win. The French anchor was confident he would win the sprint. “Half way through the last loop, I saw Serguei and was a little concerned. But in the last 50 meters I knew I would win. Today was a French day!”
Third leg Jean Guilluame Beatrix talked about the conditions. “Everything was important today, clothes, skis and the mind. The conditions were very hard with very slow snow, so you had to keep your mind clear and maintain concentration.”
The Ukrainian team had their first podium result of the World Cup season. Serguei Sednev commented, “Everything went smoothly for us today.”
Slovakia was a surprising third, but the team was confident all afternoon. Kuzmina said, “After the first leg, I saw that our team was not so far from first. I knew that if I shot well, we would have a good chance.”
After her strong leg, third leg Kazar was inspired, “It was a big motivation for me to do well when I saw Kuzmina had put our team in the lead, so I tried to keep that position.”
With the weather getting a bit warmer, the athletes will not face conditions like this tomorrow in the sprints or in Sunday’s pursuits.