Biathlon World Championships in Oberhof – Men's relays (4×7.5 km), 18 February 2023. France's winning relay team, from left, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Fabien Claude, Emilien Jacquelin and Antonino Guigonnat.
Oberhof (Germany) – Biathletes Michal Krčmář, Tomáš Mikyska, Jakub Štvrtecký and Jonáš Mareček finished fourth at the World Championships in the relay, in which they led for a long time. The Czech representatives paid for two penalty laps for finisher Mareček in challenging windy conditions. France won before Norway and Sweden. The Czech quartet lost 25 seconds on the podium. Biathletes Tereza Voborníková, Tereza Vinklárková, Markéta Davidová and Lucie Charvátová finished seventh in the relay at the World Championships in Oberhof.
Photo gallery: Biathlon WC in Oberhof
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Norwegian finisher Johannes Thingnes Bö finished nearly 39 seconds behind Quentin Fillon Maillet and is yet to win a record sixth gold medal at one world championship. He was not helped by the final flawless shooting standing, which he managed in 15.9 seconds. He will have one more attempt on Sunday in the race with a mass start.
The Czechs ran into the final section first, more than ten seconds ahead of France. However, the 22-year-old Mareček did not deal with the wind gusts while shooting lying down and after two penalty rounds he fell to fourth place. He also finished the race in the same position.
“I didn't manage it in that wind. I clicked to the left twice, but it wasn't enough. Then I got a little lost in it. I'm sorry I didn't manage it,” Mareček told Czech Television.
Czech men are still waiting for a medal in the relays at the World Championships. They were also fourth four years ago in Östersund. The last time the Czechs won a valuable metal in team events was three years ago, when they finished third in the mixed relay in Anterselva. “The guys did what we told them to be more aggressive and react to what they see. Jonáš was unlucky, the wind was awful from the left on the last item. The first three shots were in the same place for three hours. The chargers went up. He was strong there wind, just bad luck,” said shooting coach Matthew Emmons.
The start of the event was uncertain as of Friday evening due to strong gusty winds in the forecast. However, the organizers decided to hold the relay on the originally set date.
The most experienced Czech biathlete in the field, Krčmář, entered the race excellently. He charged only once and passed the second with a loss of three seconds to the Frenchman. The opening section did not go well for the Norwegians. Vetle Sjaestad Christiansen lost almost a minute after five repairs.
“I feel great about it. The conditions on the layup were the same as on the shot and there was no gust on the stand. I pushed the threat of the wind out of my mind and didn't deal with it in any way. Even though I didn't feel very strong on the track, I tried to maximum. It's the first quarter. We'll see what happens next,” Krčmář told Czech Television.
In the second section, Mikyska took the lead thanks to flawless shooting lying down. He repaired the stand three times, but left the shooting range before a gust of wind arrived, which the other competitors paid for. The Norwegian Tarjei Bö had to do one penalty round, the German Johannes Kühn to three, the Swiss Jeremy Finello even to four. Mikyska took the lead by 1.4 seconds ahead of France.
“I'm happy. The standing shooting was difficult and towards the end it started to blow. I probably didn't have the wind like those behind us. But I arrived at a fairly high pace. I took a risk and tried to see if it would work or not,” Mikyska declared.
Štvrtecký also drove a successful section. He mastered the item lying down flawlessly and recharged only twice on the dreaded “stand up”. In the last lap, he even got ahead of Jacqueline and after the finish line, he happily cheered the fans.
Mareček, however, did not finish well. Coming into the prone shooting second behind Fillon Maillet, he couldn't handle the gust of wind and after two penalty rounds he fell another two places behind Johannes Thingnes Bö and Sweden's Sebastian Samuelsson. Although Mareček managed the final standing event with only one correction, his opponents did not give him a chance to return to the medal positions.
The victorious French returned to the throne after three years and celebrated the third gold in history in the men's relays. Before the triumph in Anterselva, they also succeeded in Pokljuka in 2001.
The female biathletes paid for three penalty rounds and finished seventh
The Czechs paid for three penalty rounds and 11 penalty shots. Despite Davidová's penalty round, they were fourth before the final section, but after two more penalty rounds, the finishers Charvátová did not stay in the top six.
Assistant coach Jiří Holubec described the first half of the race as flawless. “It was developing well. Makula (Davidová) then went to the penalty round, but she performed perfectly and there was still hope. We stayed in the front. But Lucka blocked it there with that layup. I think she didn't finish it because she had wounds all over downstairs. We lost everything there and there was nothing we could do,” Holubec told Czech Television.
The premier gold at the World Championships is taken from the relays by the Italian women, who, thanks to only two corrections, defeated the home team of Germany by 24.7 seconds. The Swedes finished third. Defending champion Norwegians finished sixth after four penalty rounds. The Czechs lost two minutes and 45 seconds to the victorious Italy. The women's representatives have been waiting for the valuable metal from the World Cup for thirty years, the last time the women's gold relay was successful in 1993.
The Czechs had to do without traditional member Jessica Jislova, who missed the championship due to a muscle injury in the rib area. Voborníková started the race, and the twenty-two-year-old native of Vrchlabí did well in the first section. She only made one mistake in the lay-up and passed just second behind the leader Sweden.
“I'm quite happy. I rode as well as last week. I'm glad that I could pass it so nicely in contact. I was afraid of the lay-up , because I had a bad shot. I didn't know what to expect. I was relieved that it was only for one,” noted Voborníková.
Twenty-four-year-old Vinklárková paid for a weaker run and had to charge the last target twice lying down. But she was flawless in the “stand-up” and returned to the game after the collapses of her opponents. Sweden's Anna Magnusson had to do two penalty rounds, Norway's Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold even three. The Czechs were sixth in the middle of the race with a loss of one minute and four seconds behind the leading Italians.
“It was a great experience. I especially enjoyed the fans, it was a real cauldron. I was behind the best, but I did, what I could do. It's a shame just the one recharge,” said Vinklárková.
The eighth woman of the World Cup, Davidová, took the relay to fourth place. After the “stand-up” she went around the penalty lap, but thanks to the mistakes of her opponents and the second fastest run, she still held out hope for the podium. Before the final section, the Czechs lost six seconds to the third Swedes.
“From the running point of view, it was probably better, but I left one penalty lap there, which I can't afford. I regret that,” regretted Davidová. “I don't think it would be windy in the standing position. I don't know if I stood stupidly, but I probably didn't manage it. There were a lot of mistakes. It's already the umpteenth race, so I'm running out of strength,” she added.
Charvátová's finish did not work out. After shooting prone, she had to do two penalty rounds and dropped to eighth place. After a close finish with Switzerland's Lena Häckiová-Grossová, she finished the race seventh. The Czechs lost one minute and 50 seconds on the podium.
The World Championship will culminate on Sunday with mass starts for men and women.
Mareček regretted the uncontrollable shooting lying down, Štvrtecký jokingly threatened to beat him< /h4>
After the broken finish of the men's relay, Mareček regretted his bad reaction to the wind. In an interview with Radiožurnál, however, he believed that the Czechs would have more chances in the future. The 22-year-old raced into the final part of the team race first, but after lying shooting mistakes and two penalty rounds, he finished fourth. Michal Krčmář was sorry for the loss of the precious metal, but he supported his colleague. Jakub Štvrtecký pointed out with a smile that he would beat Marečka in peace.
“It was very challenging for me. Especially on the shooting range. I couldn't do it and it turned out that way,” said Mareček. “Matt (Emmons – shooting coach) then showed me. I clicked a little against the wind,” recounted the twenty-two-year-old representative.
Marecek came to the penultimate stage of the race just second behind the Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet. He was almost half a minute ahead of the third Johannes Thingnes Bö from Norway. However, the junior world champion hit only three targets out of eight rounds and after two penalty circuits he was ranked fourth behind Sweden's Sebastian Samuelsson. By the end of the race, he didn't get a chance to return to the medal positions.
“I think I didn't really have a gust. Rather, I couldn't estimate the strength of the wind and I couldn't manage the clicks. It's hard to evaluate it like this after the race,” said Mareček.
The Czechs lost their chance for the first ever medal in the men's relay at the World Championships. They were last in fourth place four years ago in Östersund. “I said it's a great result. To be fourth in the world in the relay is the absolute maximum that our team can do right now. That one of us was blown, it's going to happen. That's what it was all about today, it just revolved between sections,” said Krčmář, who started the relay. “It's a shame, and when you see that you're going for a medal, the emotions are high. But there are such world-class extras on the last leg that we have to be satisfied,” he added.
Marečka was also supported by Tomáš Mikyska, who held relay in the lead after the second section. “I told Johnny to mainly enjoy it. Today it was a lot about luck, who will blow on the range,” Mikyska recounted.
Only Štvrtecký was picking on his disappointed colleague, who just created a ten-second lead over Mareček after the third stage. “I wanted to push it to Johny so that he at least had a good first round. Unfortunately, he didn't take it and gave it two. I'll probably beat him in my room, but there's nothing we can do about it,” Štvrtecký said with a smile. “We were the first, but the opponents were not far away. The three who were also there are strong fighters,” he added.
Despite the fourth place, the Czechs believed that it was not their last chance for joint success. “We are working on it,” Krčmář assured. Mareček just nodded. “I also think we have somewhere to move in the future,” he added.
Results of the Biathlon World Championships – Relays
Men (4×7.5 km): 1. France (Guigonnat, Fab. Claude, Jacquelin, Fillon Maillet) 1:21:48.8 (1 penalty lap+9 charging), 2. Norway (Christiansen, T. Bö, Laegreid, J. T. Bö) -38.8 ( 2+14), 3. Sweden (Femling, Ponsiluoma, Nelin, Samuelsson) -1:39.9 (1+13), 4. CR (Krčmář, Mikyska, Štvrtecký, Mareček) -2:04.2 (2+10), 5. Germany -3:51.8 (5+8), 6. Switzerland -4:08.1 (6+8).
Women (4×6 km): 1. Italy (Comola, Wierer, Auchentaller, Vittozzi) 1:14:39.7 (0 penalty laps+2 charging), 2. Germany (Voigt, Kebinger, Schneider, Herrmann-Wick) -24.7 (0+6) , 3. Sweden (Perssonová, Magnussonová, E. Öbergová, H. Öbergová) -55.7 (2+11), 4. France -1:31.6 (1+12), 5. Austria -2:08, 0 (0+12), 6. Norway -2:20.9 (4+13), 7. CR (Voborníková, Vinklárková, Davidová, Charvátová) -2:45.1 (3+11).