The German biathlon mixed relay also passed the podium at the last race of the World Cup in Pokljuka. The 4×7.5 kilometer relay only came in fifth on Sunday (January 08, 2023).
Victory went to France with Fabien Claude, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Anais Chevalier Bouchet and Julia Simon (one penalty, seven spares, 1:19:48.9 hours) ahead of Italy (0/7, +24.6 seconds) and Sweden (1/5, +47.2 seconds).
The German quartet consisting of Roman Rees, Benedikt Doll, Sophia Schneider and Denise Herrmann-Wick finished fifth after two penalties and a total of eleven spare rounds, 1:09.9 minutes behind France.
Starting runner Rees passes third
Things were going well for the German quartet up to half-time: Roman Rees, starting runner, made a solid race. Two spare rounds in prone temporarily threw the 29-year-old back to 15th place. With only one spare in standing and, above all, the second-best time in his running group, the Black Forester worked his way back up the field. When switching to Benedikt Doll, the German squadron was in third place.
“It was such a weird and hectic race, everyone felt they had to cut you off”, Rees said after his assignment on ZDF. But he was satisfied with his performance: “I felt good, the skis went well. And I just gave it my all – and it worked.”
Freshening wind – Doll avoids penalty loop
The second group of men had to deal with freshening wind. Benedikt Doll managed to avoid the penalty loop, but had to reload four times. Doll also showed the second-best time of his lap and handed over in third place within striking distance and only 5.5 seconds behind the leading Italian Tommaso Giacomel.
After the race, Doll struggled with his shooting: “I also missed a lot with four spares. You don’t know what the wind will do. I turned. But I have no idea. I was very confused“, said the 32-year-old on ZDF. However, he was able to gain something good from his running performance: “It made me want to go out on the track. I felt really good. I’ll take that with me as a positive.”
Benedikt Doll in the mixed relay
Penalties for France, Norway and Sweden
Unlike Doll and Giacomel, some top nations had to go into the penalty loop on the second loop. France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet was caught on the first shooting, while Johannes Dale of Norway and Martin Ponsiluoma of Sweden had to shoot an extra 150 meters in standing.
Fillom Maillet in second (+ 5.0 seconds) and Dale (+ 39.9 seconds) and Ponsiluoma (+ 45.6 seconds) in fifth and sixth remained in the race with podium chances.
Schneider: Two penalties and fifth place
The German season then got it in the third round: Sophia Schneider experienced a prelude to forgetting in the first World Cup mixed race of her career. The 25-year-old had two penalties while lying down and fell back to seventh place.
She was then able to show all her skills in the standing stage and shot clean. When they switched to the German anchor Denise Herrmann-Wick, the German relay was in fifth place – 1:31 minutes behind leader Anais Chvalier-Bouchet and around 45 seconds behind third place.
“Desperate and Restless”
“Of course I feel sorry for the others. You never want to be the one who shoots the penalties in a relay.”said Schneider disappointed after the competition on ZDF and explained about her prone position: “Unfortunately, I didn’t shoot at the shooting range. I was then also desperate and restless. I didn’t know where I was shooting.”
Herrmann-Wick picked up speed from the start and gained a few seconds. However, her flawless prone position didn’t bring much improvement because the competition also remained flawless. The picture is the same for the standing stage: the top nations didn’t show any weakness. Herrmann-Wick went back onto the track in fifth place after one spare.
Herrmann-Wick: “Balls around like the first person”
There she fought a battle for fourth place with the Swiss Lena Häcki-Groß. The Swiss was able to win this duel, Herrmann-Wick was narrowly beaten in fifth place and was angry after the race: “It’s getting so icy on the track again, the tracks are getting hard. I don’t have a chance with my shins, I wobble around the curves and I feel like the first person on skis. I tried to do everything But it’s extremely difficult from the point of view of the ski. I couldn’t make a step there. The ski slides away in every direction, so it’s difficult to stabilize it.”said the former cross-country skier on ZDF.
With the overall second-best time on her lap, Herrmann-Wick was able to impress overall. The German was even around 17 seconds faster than the very strong Swede Elvira Öberg, who also remained flawless on Sunday and thus managed the feat of finishing all three races on the Pokljuka without shooting errors.