Norway and Russia win Lillehammer relays

The Norwegian women's relay Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR, Fischer ***), Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR), Therese Johaug (NOR, Fischer ***) and Heidi Weng (NOR, Fischer ***) totally played their favorite role in a race where other teams didn't have their top composition. Second place went to the USA ahead of Sweden. At the men's Russia II with Ivan Yakimushkin (RUS, Fischer ***), Evgeniy Belov (RUS), Ilia Poroshkin (RUS) and Sergey Ustiugov (RUS, Fischer ***) succeeded ahead of the pure Fischer squad Russia I.

In heavy snow conditions were very dull conditions, so that the ladies in the downhill even had to push. Maiken Caspersen Falla set the pace from the start, but she could not open a gap and understandably nobody wanted to take the snowplough work from her. Shortly before the first exchange, then some skiers weren't able to follow, so that with Norway I (Falla), Finland (Matintalo), Sweden (Ribom), Japan (Ishida) and Russia I (Durkina) still five teams formed the top group. After switching to the second classical skier, Astrid Uhrholdt Jacobsen led the four-woman group until Kerttu Niskanen (FIN, Fischer ***) finally took over the pace dictation and even escaped in the middle of her second lap. At the halfway point of the race, Finland was six seconds ahead of Norway and Russia, the Swedes had lost the connection. Anne Kyllönen (FIN) was not able to claim the lead as long as Therese Johaug flew past her after a few hundred meters and opened a gap of 48 seconds to Charlotte Kalla (SWE, Fischer **) until the last exchange to Heidi Weng. Rosie Brennan (USA) brought the American squadron back in the race after strong performance as third skier, only nine seconds behind Sweden, while the Finns were still more than 20 seconds behind. Heidi Weng was easily able to manage the Norwegian lead and ski home the victory as everyone expected. On her second lap, Jessie Diggins (USA) fired the turbo, leaving no chance for Swedish final skier Moa Lundgren (SWE). Finland's anchor woman Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) shook off Norway II (L.Weng, Fossesholm, Haga, T.Weng) on the final kilometers and secured fourth place.

=> 4x5km Relay Lillehammer (NOR)

In the men's relay were exceptionally fewer teams at the start than in the ladies race, a total of only nine different nations, which were not optimally occupied in the top nations. The race was first determined by Norway I and Russia I, who set the pace by Golberg (NOR) and Andrey Larkov (RUS, Fischer ***) and escaped along with Björn Sandström (SWE, Fischer ***) in the long climb. After the exchange, the pace was reduced, so that many teams could catch up again. In the long climb before the next exchange, it was Norway I with Hans Christer Holund (NOR, Fischer ***) and Russia II with Evgeniy Belov (RUS) who increased the pace and escaped with Iivo Niskanen (FIN, Fischer *** ) from the rest of the group. But even now, the pace on the first kilometers after the exchange again slowed down significantly, until the Norwegians Sjur Røthe (NOR) and Simen Hegstad Krüger (NOR) and Jens Burman (SWE) took the initiative before the final exchange and opened a small lead which was quickly closed again. At the last lapping six athletes were together, so the decision had to fall again on the long climb: The Russians Andrey Melnichenko (RUS I, Fischer ***) and Sergey Ustiugov (RUS II, Fischer ***) took the lead and increased the pace and Finland and then the Swedes were not able to follow. Then the gap opened also behind the leaders, as Ustiugov noticed after a look over his shoulder and told his team mate with a short call. The Russians were now on their own, and Ustiugov, who had been dissatisfied with his performance so far, stormed past Melnichenko and secured victory for Russia II ahead of the first Russian relay with Andrey Larkov (RUS, Fischer ***), Ilia Semikov (RUS, Fischer **), Denis Spitsov (RUS, Fischer ***) and Melnichenko. A few seconds later, the Norwegian squadrons fought for third place together with Germany. Third place went to Norway I with Pål Golberg, Hans Christer Holund, Sjur Røthe and final runner Finn Hågen Krogh (NOR, Fischer ***) ahead of Norway II with Niklas Dyrhaug (NOR, Fischer ***), Mattis Stenshagen (NOR), Simen Hegstad Kruger and Vebjorn Turtveit (NOR). The German quartet Sebastian Eisenlauer (GER, Fischer ***), Janosch Brugger (GER), Lucas Bögl (GER) and Jonas Dobler (GER, Fischer ***) were very satisfied with their race and fifth place.

=> 4x7,5km Relay Lillehammer (NOR)

* = Fischer skis

** = Fischer skis and bindings

*** = Fischer skis, bindings and boots