Strong performance by the German cross-country skiers in Gällivare: After the women, the men’s relay also made a completely surprising appearance on the podium – for the first time since 2011.
The DSV quartet around Friedrich Moch, Janosch Brugger, Albert Kuchler and Anian Sossau came third in the 4 x 7.5 kilometers on Sunday (December 3rd, 2023). The gap to the victorious Norwegians with Pal Golberg, Martin Löwstrom Nyenget, Simen Hegstad Krüger and Jan Thomas Jenssen was 38.1 seconds at the finish. Second place went to Sweden (+17.4 seconds).
First podium since 2011
For the DSV team it was the first podium since third place in February 2011 in Rybinsk, Russia. Moch, Brugger and Kuchler had already sensationally won bronze at the World Championships in Planica in March this year with the now retired Jonas Dobler. Now the first podium place has also happened this World Cup winter.
Moch in particular, who was missing at the start of the season due to illness, showed a very strong performance and got his team on track as the third runner. Sossau, who is only 23 years old, also impressed as the final runner and safely took home the podium place. A few hours earlier, the German cross-country skiers had already finished in second place.
Brugger and Kuchler keep the DSV relay close to the podium
Starting runner Brugger was initially able to keep up with the high pace of the Norwegians and Swedes at the front in the wet and cold minus 19 degrees in the first few kilometers using the classic technique. After 3.5 kilometers he even took over the interim leadership role. On the second lap, Norway’s Golberg increased the pace and opened up the first small gap. When he switched to Kuchler, Brugger was only three seconds behind the leading Norwegians in the still compact field.
Kuchler also kept in touch with the top in the classic style. Although there were occasional increases in speed at the front, the 25-year-old was able to keep up. Because the top runners held back from attacking, Kuchler took the initiative after 12.5 kilometers and pushed himself to the front. But the competition countered: In the last kilometers before entering the stadium, Norway and Sweden got serious and opened up a bigger gap for the first time. Until the changeover, Kuchler fell back to sixth place, 13 seconds behind.
Strong performance from Moch – Sossau remains stable
Moch began the pursuit in free style, but initially also lost time to the front, where Norway’s Krüger and Sweden’s Leo Johansson were now setting an enormous pace. While Moch’s gap grew to 20 seconds, Canada somewhat surprisingly remained in third place at this point. On the second lap, Krüger further extended his lead, but Moch remained in sight of the podium in a compact chasing group. And in fact, after 20 kilometers he had taken third place and, thanks to a strong final sprint, was within four seconds of the top positions by the time the changeover took place.
Final runner Sossau also stayed close to the now leading Swedes and Norwegians in the first few kilometers and also gained a ten-second cushion on fourth place. By the 25 kilometer mark the lead had increased to 25 seconds. Although Sossau had to give up the first two places shortly afterwards, he confidently held on to third place. Because the pursuers were no longer able to provide decisive impetus on the last lap, the result remained excellent from a German perspective. Jenssen won the day for Norway in the last few meters.