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Error Festival – Germans too weak in the stormy relay race

It should finally be the first medal for the German men at the Biathlon World Championships.

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Error Festival – Germans too weak in the stormy relay race

It should finally be the first medal for the German men at the Biathlon World Championships. Not gold, but silver behind the highly favored Norwegians was possible, as the season finally showed. And it would fit in so well: Back then, at the home World Cup in 2004 at the same place, the German squad consisting of Frank Luck, Rico Groß, Sven Fischer and Michael Greis was in outstanding form. With just two shooting errors, they relegated Norway and France to second and third place.

But the Germans could only dream of such a shooting performance this Saturday. This also had to do with the wind, which had almost led to a race cancellation and now threw the fourth shooting into chaos. The athletes' bodices and hair were blowing at the shooting range, the errors could hardly be counted, and the penalty loop was bustling with activity. The fact that the others cheered in the end and that France surprisingly won ahead of Norway and Sweden has less to do with that than with the overall performance of the Germans.

"They were just never close to the podium," said ARD expert Erik Lesser soberly. Neither running nor at the shooting range were the performances sufficient. And the gusts caught almost everyone. Fifth place with a huge gap of 3:51.8 minutes was the sobering result. It started out so well:

Justus Strelow starts perfectly with zero penalties in prone and is the first to leave the range. And the Norwegians? Starter Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen has big problems both prone and standing, just avoids the penalty loop on the second shooting, but loses a lot of time. However, this also applies to Strelow on the last lap, who has to fight and in fourth place, a good 27 seconds behind France, hands over to Johannes Kühn, the Norwegian Christiansen with just under a minute.

In the fourth shooting, most of the athletes then catch an extremely windy phase. Including bold. "It got so windy that I couldn't shoot at first," he says later. It's a rare festival of mistakes that the world's best biathletes are showing.

One after the other has to go into the penalty loop, including Norway's Tarjei Bö. Kühn has to circle three times, but he is not alone. A mess shooting. France and the Czech Republic were lucky earlier, coming to the shooting range when the conditions were difficult but still okay. After that, the gusts whirled a lot of things upside down. The German squadron is now two minutes behind.

Romas Rees is the third relay runner, 2:12 behind the leaders. From now on, the conditions at the shooting range are still sometimes difficult, but manageable again. Rees cleaned twice, caught up and went into the final loop in fifth. In front, the Czech Jakub Stvrtecky shows a strong performance and gives the last runner Jonas Marecek a 10.9 second lead over France. Sweden and Norway almost 50 seconds behind.

The Czechs fall back a bit and are out of the fight for gold. In the end, Quentin Fillon Maillet secured victory for the French with a strong performance ahead of Norway - teammate Émilien Jacquelin happily fell to his knees at the finish. Johannes Thingnes Bø, the dominating biathlete of the time, couldn't go for gold even with an amazing final shooting performance (zero misses on five shots in 15.9 seconds). But: From twelfth place after the first change, the top favorites have worked their way up to second place.

Benedikt Doll, on the other hand, who tried everything to attack third place despite a large deficit, can't get any closer after the first shooting from fifth place. And then the last shooting. He stands alone at the shooting range - and ends up having to go into the penalty loop twice. He later says: “I tried again to get third place, it would have been possible, but they hardly made any mistakes up front. At the last shooting, there was a wind right in the middle.” But he doesn't want to accept that as an excuse: “The conditions were very unfavorable today, but the teams that won the medals adapted best to it.”

It should be noted that the Germans weren't among the best on the shooting range or in the run that day. Not enough to intervene in the fight for the medals.

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