The opening match of 2018/2019 IBU World Cup went to Norway’s Thekla Brun-Lie and Lars Helge Birkeland who were followed by Austria’s duo Lisa Theresa Hauser and Simon Eder (+8,5) and Ukraine’s Anastasiya Merkushyna and Artem Tyshchenko (+ 20,7). France finished fourth, Sweden fifth and Canada sixth.
With the light wind the conditions at Pokljuka were perfect for the race. Ukraine’s Merkushkyna cleaned the shooting and came to the exchange as the first. Her teammate Tyshchenko continued with excellent shooting and they finished the race without a single missed shot. Merkushkyna was super happy after the finish: “I am really satisfied to claim the podium already at the first race. There was a lot of sun and I had a lot of fun, I can say that today was a perfect day. Pokljuka is a very special place for me. I claimed a lot of medals here, so I like this place a lot.”
The shooting was decisive for the France’s Antoine Guigonnat who had some trouble at the first standing stage and had to take a penalty loop, therefore losing the chance for the podium despite a dominant track performance. Norway kept the lead in the third exchange while Austria was following in the second place (+5,2).
These two teams came together to the final standing stage where Norway’s Birkeland shot clean quickly and returned back to the track with 7,2 gap on Austria’s Eder, who pushed hard but couldn’t catch the Norway, who took the first Single Mixed Relay win.
Norway’s Brun-Lie was happy after the race: “It was my first World Cup Relay so I was very nervous before this race and I’m happy that we claimed such a result. It is always very special with the first race and I hope that I will enjoy the upcoming matches as well.” Her teammate Birkeland added: “When my teammate handed me in the first position I felt that the pressure was a bit on me. I came together with the Simon to the last standing, what was quite an interesting challenge, since I know he is pretty fast, but I managed to shot clean and I’m satisfied with the outcome.”
Austria’s Eder commented: “After the last shooting I tried to go as fast as I can, but I saw that Birkeland is in very good shape at the moment. However I pushed hard because you never know what might happen. I was confident to keep the gap and finish the race in the second position.”