Germany claimed their fourth relay win of the season today after taking the women’s 6×4 kilometer title at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championships in Austrian town Hochfilzen.
The quartet of Vanessa Hinz, Maren Hammerschmidt, Franziska Hildebrand and Laura Dahlmeier triumphed with nine spares in 1 hour 11min 16.6sec.
Ukraine’s Iryna Varvynets, Yuliia Dzhima, Anastasiya Merkushyna and Olena Pidhrushna finished runners-up with four spare rounds, 6.4sec back.
Completing the podium was France’s Anais Chevalier, Celia Aymonier, Justine Braisaz and Marie Dorin Habert with seven spares, 8.1 behind.
Victory for Dahlmeier takes her gold medal tally at the Championships to four having already won the pursuit, mixed relay and individual titles.
The 23-year-old will have the chance to claim a fifth title when she competes in the mass start on Sunday (February 19).
Heavy snowfall and gusting winds greeted the 23 teams today, with conditions considerably different to those on previous days of the Championships.
The first loop saw France, Germany and Italy move out in front, but it was the eventual winners who were pushed into third after two spares for Hinz in standing.
During the standing stage in the second leg, German Hammerschmidt missed three targets before finally cleaning with her spare rounds.
She tagged Hildebrand in second, with her team-mate then going 10-for-10 to put her in control by virtue of a 20sec lead after standing.
Ukrainian Merkushyna matched Hildebrand in standing and left the shooting range 20sec behind, but she pulled back 10.3sec with her strong skiing to tag Pidhrushna just 9.7 back.
The pressure in the final standing stage begun when Dahlmeier needed two spares to close the final five targets.
She remained in the lead, but Czech Republic’s Gabriela Koukalová was just 5.4 back, with Dorin Habert and Italy’s Dorothea Wierer also chasing.
Five teams were within 12sec of each other leaving the shooting range, making the last loop a thrilling battle.
Koukalová left in the silver medal position, but Pidhrushna dug deep to overtake her and cross the finish line in second.
“I was remembering last year on the last loop,” Pidhrushna said.
“Last year, on each loop, I had a similar battle.
“Thanks to my skis I was able to pass girls on the last loop and I realised I had to jump for a medal.”
Czech Republic finished fourth with seven spares, 14sec back.
Fifth went to Italy with six spares, 36.5 behind, while Sweden were sixth with seven spares, 1:20.4 back.
Action in Hochfilzen is due to continue tomorrow with the men’s 4×7.5km relay competition.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.