Germany grabs Gold in Cross-Country/Biathlon Mixed Team Relay
SEEFELD, Jan 21 - Pre-race favourite Germany made light work of the heavy snow as it stormed to the Gold medal in the first Olympic-level Cross-Country/Biathlon Mixed Team Relay event on Saturday.
Russia claimed the Silver medal and the USA took Bronze, in what was a surprise podium placing.
Biathlete Franziska Preuss (GER) completed an impressive first leg, missing only one shot in the standing round and skiing well, to put the Germans into a comfortable lead that they would not surrender.
Her team eventually crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 23.4 seconds, to take a well-deserved Gold medal.
Speaking after the first leg, PREUSS admitted she was more than happy with race conditions.
"I like it very much when it's snowing during a race," she said. "The conditions today suit me."
The win gave PREUSS her third Gold medal of the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, having grabbed top spot in the Women's 6 km Sprint, and the Biathlon Mixed Relay. It is a feat the German admits she cannot yet begin to comprehend.
"I can't really believe it at the moment," she said. "I'm hoping that next week I'll realise that I've won three Gold medals here."
The battle for the Silver medal proved far more dramatic, with the USA at one point looking as if it could upstage the Russians, who have a stronger tradition across these disciplines.
In the end, Alexander Selyaninov (RUS) was able to power across the line just 0.5s ahead of Patrick Caldwell (USA) Russia in fifth place overall, thanks to the fastest Ladies' Cross-Country leg of the day, in an impressive time of 9:57.9. Ivan GALUSHKIN (RUS) then produced an excellent leg to put Russia in third.
It all came down to SELYANINOV, who was blunt about his performance. "I did what I had to do," he said.
Norway, with a strong tradition across these disciplines, finished in a surprising ninth place. The Norwegians were in second place after the second leg but third runner Kristian Andre AALERUD shot poorly and they could not recover in the last leg.