Success in sprint followed by disappointing relays, Norwegian biathletes dominated
Two relays were held at the Vysočina Arena on Saturday – the women’s 4×6 km relay race was won by Norwegians, the silver went to the French team, and the bronze to German women. Difficult and windy conditions the race was held in was one of the reasons for poor performance of Czech women at the shooting range. Jessica Jislová, Markéta Davidová, Lucie Charvátová and Eva Kristejn Puskarčíková finished 10th. Norwegian relay team was victorious in the 4×7.5 km men’s race, too, finishing nearly 40 second ahead of the Ukraine team. The bronze went to Swedes. Czech men – Michal Šlesingr, Ondřej Moravec, Jakub Štvrtecký, and Michal Krčmář – had a hopeful start and raced on the second place after five shootings, but eventually plunged to the 12th place.
Norwegian women were excellent again, just like at the World Championships in Anterselva, and this victory is their sixth in a row in this season. Tiril Eckhoff started into the race as the last of them, did not make a mistake at the final standing position shooting, and managed to get rid of all opponents. She finished comfortably, no other racer around. The French were second, the Germans third.
Czech women were miserable at the shooting range: Markéta Davidová was the first who had to run a penalty loop after missing targets when shooting in the standing position. Lucie Charvátová, the next racer in the team, had to run the 150-metre-long loop, too, as she missed both at prone and standing position shooting. In total, Czech women recorded a score of 3+18 (i.e. three penalty loops and 18 reloads), which was one of the worst results among all teams. Eva Puskarčíková came into the finish with the Swiss racer, and the photo finish decided that the Swiss team with three Gasparin sisters took the ninth place.
Inspired by their female teammates, Norwegian men won the men’s relays. They dominated the race, being in the lead from the start to the finish. The silver went to the Ukraine whose national teams performed really well in both men’s and women’s relays in Nové Město na Moravě. Swedish men took the bronze.
Czech men started well into the race, being fourth after Michal Šlesingr’s and Ondřej Moravec’s parts, only 10 second behind the leading team of Norway. „I enjoyed it at the beginning and after the standing position shooting. The last lap was really painful, though. I struggled immensely, but this is a part of the sport and we are used to it. It was great, with the exception of the finish when I really gave everything into keeping up with the rest,“ Michal Šlesingr commented on his last race. Having made no mistake in prone position, Jakub Štvrtecký left the shooting range on the second place, but it was then that the critical moments came. Eight bullets fired meant only two targets hit for Jakub, and he had to take three penalty loops. Michal Krčmář did not have good shooting at the prone position, either, and this meant that the Czech team plunged to the final 12th position. Czechs did not cry over the spilt milk for a long time for it was time for a touching good-bye to Michal Šlesingr. The Czech legend of the sport was “waved goodbye” by the whole Czech team, organizers, referees, volunteers and hundreds of thousands viewers at their TV sets. Thank you, Michal!
The World Cup event in NMNM is coming to a head on Sunday with a mass start races. The women start at 11:45 AM, men two hours later, at 1:45 PM. Both races will be broadcasted live at ČT sport – Česká televize, Eurosport, Eurovision Sports Live. Results: DATACENTER, for any other information, please visit our official website BiathlonNMNM.cz.
Author: Tomáš Hermann, Lada Smržová
Photo: Michal Jilka