Norway – First Champions of Pokljuka 2021

Norway’s Sturla Holm Laegreid, Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tiril Eckhoff, and Marte Olsbu Roseland delivered an impressive performance for the title of Mixed Relay Champions at IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka. Austria finished second, thanks to good shooting, while Sweden claimed bronze after finishing 0,5 second ahead of Ukraine.

Belarus caught a flying start and surprised everyone with Anton Smolski tagging first, followed by France and Norway. Later, Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe proved his supremacy on the track and despite two spares managed to outrun everyone for 39,2 seconds. Boe was happy with the title: “We won the gold, and at World Championships it’s the gold, silver, and bronze that matters. You saw at the last shooting, we were close to the penalty lap, and then we would lose the podium, it changes so fast. But ending at the top, is the best feeling.”

Tiril Eckhoff kept Norway’s lead, despite Anais Chevalier-Bouchet’s hard efforts to close the gap for France. 30-year-old Norwegian cleared the second shooting, while Frenchwoman missed 4 shots, allowing Ukraine, Austria and Sweden to fight for the medal. Eckhoff admitted that it was hard: “It is always a big pressure to be in this team, and try to do as well as I can. We are always in the first or second place in the World Cup, so we are expected to win, but there is no guarantee and answer to that. Everything can happen, but today we got a big win.”

Marte Olsbu Roseland kept the gap her teammates earned for a confident victory. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Olena Pidhrushina, Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser and Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg staged a true battle for the two remaining spots at the podium. It was Pidhrusihina’s and Hauser’s impeccable prone that put Sweden on the fourth place before the standing shooting. Hauser continued strong and claimed the silver for Austria, while Oeberg dropped all the targets on the last shooting and overtook Pidhrushina in the final sprint.

Austria’s Dunja Zdouc was over the top with the second place: “It’s like a fairytale. I still haven’t realised it well that we have won a medal. I am happy and I am smiling as much as I can. It was not easy, but we have had great material. Also, my today’s shooting was excellent. I am very happy, everything was so smooth today. I am a proud Carinthian Slovene, so Pokljuka feels a bit like home. I like being here.”

After the race Sweden’s Linn Persson admitted that her team is happy with the podium: “It’s really nice to have this bronze medal, and to start the World Championships like this. I had good legs today, and I am happy. I hope that other races will be easier because there will be nicer weather, and it will stop snowing.”

MIXED RELAY

1. Norway 1:20:19.3 (0+11) 
2. Austria        + 27.0 (0+2)
3. Sweden        + 30.6 (0+8)