Norway Kicks Off the 2011 World Championships with Mixed Relay Victory

The Norwegian Mixed Relay team of Tora Berger, Ann Kristin Flatland, Ole Einar Björndalen and Tarjei Boe won the first gold medals of the 2011 World Championships after a thrilling battle with Germany.

Magdalena Neuner had given the Germans the lead during the second leg, which was maintained by Arnd Peiffer in the third leg, who was being chased by a fast Björndalen. However, a few extra rounds used by Michael Greis in the anchor leg allowed a speedy Boe to take the lead and resulted in a comfortable final victory lap for the Norwegian.

Norway won in a time of 1:14:22.5 with seven extra rounds and no penalties. Germany was 22.9 seconds back, with eight extra rounds and no penalties. Third place went to France thanks to a blistering final leg by Martin Fourcade, 1:16.2 back with eight extra rounds and no penalties.

The U.S. team of Sara Studebaker, Laura Spector, Jay Hakkinen and Leif Nordgren ended up 13th, 5:11.1 back with fourteen extra rounds and no penalties.

This competition demonstrated the depth required to win a relay competition at the World Cup level. After the first shooting stage, few would have predicted that Romania and Switzerland would be in the lead, and Russia would be near the back of the pack. However, as the competition unfolded the top teams began to assert themselves, and in the end Russia climbed its way up to sixth while Romania was lapped.

Here are the results of the competition and the IBU article.

The Sprint competitions are tomorrow, with the Men starting at 04:00 Eastern, 01:00 Pacific and the Women starting at 08:00 Eastern, 05:00 Pacific. Here are the start lists for the Men and the Women.

In the Men’s large men’s field of 125 athletes Tim Burke is bib 3, Brendan Green is bib 37, Lowell Bailey is bib 52, JP Le Guellec is bib 65, Scott Perras is bib 87, Jay Hakkinen is bib 96, Leif Nordgren is bib 108 and Nathan Smith is bib 123.

The Women’s field has 103 athletes competing. Zina Kocher is bib 39, Laura Spector is bib 40, Haley Johnson is bib 71 and Annalies Cook is bib 99.

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