France’s Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz, Martin Fourcade, and Simon Desthieux delivered an impressive performance for Mixed Relay victory. Switzerland surprisingly finished second (+38.7) while Italy took the third place (+52.1). They were followed by Russia, Finland and Norway.
Finland caught a flying start with Mari Eder who tagged first, followed by France and Italy. They kept the lead until the third leg where Terro Seppala came to the standing stage in the lead but had to go to the penalty loop and France’s Fourcade, who shot clean, moved to the top while Switzerland advanced to the second position.
Switzerland’s Jeremy Finello was flying over the loop and he almost closed the gap till the prone stage where he had one spare and France increased the gap (+ 19.0). Italy’s Lukas Hofer skied with high pace, cleaned prone and standing to secure Italy a third place.
After the race Braisaz admitted that today’s victory was not an easy one: “I didn’t have any strategy, because you don’t know what happened at the first leg. I tried to catch Kaisa, who was very strong, very fast on the track. I didn’t manage to do it so I decided to make my own race and I just did my work as I always do.” Her teammate Fourcade added: “I’m pretty surprised with my shooting, although I didn’t do my best on the track, shooting was the key today. At the first competition of the season it is always difficult to find a good speed, so I tried to focus on the shooting.”
Switzerland caused a true sensation since this was the first podium ever for them in a Relay. Elisa Gasparin, today’s happiest birthday girl, was extremely happy with the result: “I think that everyone on the team made a good race. Although we, the girls used some extra bullets at the beginning, boys did a really good job in the finish. I’m happy that good work finally paid off.”
After the race Hofer explained his strategy for Italy’s third place: “I tried to close the gap as soon as I could already in the first loop then I tried to get out clean especially at the prone shooting, because this was the key for today’s race. After that I tried to keep an open race and focused on the track and as well on the last shooting.”