Franziska Preuss won the silver medal at the World Cup on the Pokljuka with a very strong final print of the German women’s relay. She relegated Ukraine to third place. Gold went to the defending champions from Norway with Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, Tiril Eckhoff, Ida Lien and Marte Olsbu Röiseland.
Medal seemed already gone
The German ski hunters entered the race with Vanessa Hinz, Janina Hettich, Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuss. In this line-up, they won the World Cup in Oberhof and came second in Antholz. So now silver again on the Pokljuka. A possible medal at halftime already seemed out of reach. The gap was just under a minute after two out of four runners.
“I didn’t believe in silver either, but we had top material and somehow my second life came back. So I thought ‘now give it my all again’. That was really cool. That was a really nice feeling“, explained a beaming Preuss in ZDF.
Hettich was also after her first WM– Relay race overjoyed, it was she who initially caused a big deficit: “I’m so happy to have such a cool team around me. Even if I wasn’t 100 percent today, the others were madness.“
Hinz, thanks to a little luck, no mistakes
Closed the field came to the first shooting, Hinz kept his nerve as the German starter, hit all five targets and lined up behind the Italian Lisa Vittozzi in second place. This extended its lead to eleven seconds before the next standing position.
The re she showed a strong series and went back on track well ahead of her pursuers. Hinz took a little more time and was lucky with two shots that the target fell, but it was again error-free. Now it was Hinz who tried to put pressure on in the chasing group, but the strong Vittozzi could not be caught. With a gap of 17.8 seconds, Hinz handed over to Hettich in third place.
“It’s brutally hot. That’s not for me. I noticed that on the circuit after the competition“, explained Hinz, who had initially cooled herself with some snow in the finish area.
Hettich has to leave
In the second group, Tiril Eckhoff, who had already won three gold medals before the relay decision, caught up with the Italian Michela Carrara and was the first to take to the track after a spare. Carrara reloaded three times and dropped back to fifth.
Hettich had to use two additional cartridges and ranked seventh, but could not keep up in terms of running. Until the next shooting, she lost more seconds on Eckhoff. The re she hit all five targets and walked 40 seconds back to Eckhoff on the trail. The podium was just over 20 seconds away at this point.
Herrmann starts with three spare rounds
Denise Herrmann, who had complained of muscular problems after the individual and could not show her usual strength on the trail, was given a one-minute mortgage in sixth place. Behind the leader Ida Lien, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland were dueling for the other medals. Especially the Belarusian Hanna Sola put the pressure on and came within eight seconds of the Norwegian after the shooting.
Herrmann was able to make up some time, but lost ground again after three spare rounds (+1: 16.8 minutes). After the standing shooting, the leading group was thrown through due to various missed shots. Ukraine took the lead ahead of Belarus and Norway. Herrmann also benefited, knocking down all the targets in 25.5 seconds and reducing the gap to less than a minute. On the way to the last change, Norway picked up again, the Ukrainian Darja Blaschko fell back.
Preuss with perfect shooting
So Norway handed over to Belarus and Poland. Franziska Preuß started the journey in fifth place (+43.4 seconds), but initially couldn’t make up any time. After Marte Olsbu Röiseland used up all three spare rounds and Preuss got through perfectly, Germany was suddenly back in the medal race. The podium was only twelve seconds away.
So it all came down to the last shooting. Röiseland and Olena Pidgruschna each had to reload, Preuss remained ice cold and went hunting for gold 11.5 seconds behind. However, she also had to defend herself against the Ukrainian, who first passed and then pulled away. When everything looked like bronze, she mobilized the last of her strength reserves and pushed herself back up to silver in the last 25 meters.