Norway Takes Mixed Relay Title
|01.03.2012, Ruhpolding / IBU Info JK|
|Slovenia Second after Jury Decision|
|Norway, with Tora Berger, Synnøve Solemdal, Ole Einar Björndalen, and Emil Hegle Svendsen won the mixed relay title in 1:12:29.3, with no penalties and 10 spare rounds after a decision of the jury. Second went to Slovenia, with seven spare rounds, 20.2 seconds back and Germany in third, 32.8 seconds back.
Fourth went to Sweden with nine spare rounds, one minute back. Russia was fifth, with five spare rounds, 1:27.7 back, while Belarus finished sixth, with seven spare rounds, 1:52.9 back.
This final result was different from what was seen on live television, as Slovenia crossed the finish line first followed by Norway. The results changed after a jury decision; the result of a target malfunction when Björndalen fired his first shot and the target did not record the hit. IBU TD Max Cobb explained after the competition. “One of the International Referees, as well as the Norwegian coaches saw that the target did not function properly. He informed me as head of the Jury. We checked the target after the competition and it was clearly a hit target. We then checked with the SIWIDATA timing system and the Hora target people to find out exactly how long Björndalen needed to run the unneeded penalty loop and the time for the extra spare round. That came to 28.4 seconds. That time was presented to the jury and they agreed to it, resulting in the time adjustments and Norway moving to first ahead of Slovenia.”
Cobb added, “This is a very rare happening; only once previously earlier this year in Nove Mesto. We checked all of the targets this morning and everything worked perfectly. Before the next competitions, we will check all of the equipment and systems thoroughly to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Fast Start for Norway
It was a perfect day for the opening competition; bright cloudless skies, no wind and temperatures reaching near plus 10 Celsius. The 27 teams left the stadium to the roar of the 30,000 fans. Norway with Tora Berger immediately took charge, with clean shooting on both stages and powerful skiing. Although the soft snow was quite deep in places, it seemed to not affect Berger who powered to a 24 second lead over the French team at the exchange, with Slovakia in third. Germany was back in sixth position as Magdalena Neuner took over for the second leg. Like Berger, Neuner powered her way easily around the tracks. A couple of spare rounds did nothing to slow her down. Norway’s Synnøve Solemdal, was solid to keep her team in contention as France took over the lead at the second exchange after fast shooting from Marie Laure Brunet. Neuner tagged in second, 7.1 seconds back while Norway held third another 10 seconds back. As the men took over, things changed. Germany and Norway with Andi Birnbacher and Ole Einar Björndalen did their jobs with clean prone stages as Simon Fourcade struggled and fell out of contention. In standing, Birnbacher cleaned, but Björndalen had a penalty and dropped to third. At the time, he had no idea that the target had malfunctioned. “I only saw the black target and did the penalty loop. I had no idea what had happened. Still, it was a strange day, when your team crosses the finish line in second but still wins.”
Slovenia slipped into second at that point on Klemen Bauer’s strong skiing and precise clean shooting. Yet the second and third teams were 1:04 and 1:09 back as they headed to the final exchange.
At the final exchange, Germany was a comfortable 56.7 seconds in the lead as Arnd Peiffer took over. Surprising Slovenia was second, with Norway 1:10.8 back in third and Russia just a tick behind them and Sweden was now in fifth, after a strong leg by Bjorn Ferry. Peiffer missed his first prone shot but then hit cleaned using a spare. Jakov Fak for Slovenia did the same as did Emil Hegle Svendsen. Heading out, Germany’s lead was now down to 39 seconds over Slovenia and 50.1 seconds over Norway.
Svendsen Moves Up
In the final standing stage, Peiffer had a penalty, while Fak shot clean and took a 7.6 second lead as they headed out for the last 2.5K loop. Svendsen needed two spare rounds and left in third, 15 seconds back. By this point, Svendsen was aware of the problem and a possible time credit. “I felt good today and wanted to get as close to Slovenia as possible, since I was aware that we might get a 30 second time credit. It was good to have a goal at that point.”
Svendsen moved into second, passing Peiffer in the final 700 meters while Fak cruised home in first position, unaware of the problems on the shooting range.
Berger who led off for Norway today commented on her strong leg. “It was really a great day for me today. I hope that I am at the top of my form.”
Second leg Solemdal was the “rookie” on the Norwegian today, despite almost two seasons of World Cup experience. She said, “I think a lot of people were relieved today when I did okay with no big mistakes.”
Dreams Come True
The Slovenians were still pleased even their medal was Silver not Gold. Andreja Mali commented, “This was my first World Championships medal; dreams do come true.”
Teja Gregorin who won a Silver medal in the 15K at Pyeongchang in 2009 said this one was “different since it was with the team.” Bauer, known as a fast skier who sometimes can pick up several penalties in an individual competition quipped, “It has been a long time since I left the shooting range without any penalties!”
Anchor Fak never expected a medal so he was thrilled. “We were ranked 19th so I never expected a medal. After all of my problems with last year, this is probably the best day in my sports career.”
Same for Everyone
Neuner had almost as good a day on the tracks as Berger, despite the soft conditions. She commented, “The officials did a good job on the tracks today. It was deep in places, but the same for everyone.”
Peiffer who was passed by Svendsen said, “I was not concerned about Emil at that point; I was still thinking about my shooting.”
Next Competitions on Saturday and Sunday
Friday is a training day with the sprints scheduled for Saturday followed by pursuits on Sunday.