Germany grabs gold in first Cross-Country/Biathlon relay event
Pre-race favourite Germany made light work of the heavy snow as the team of four – two men and two women - stormed to the gold medal in the new Cross-Country/Biathlon Mixed Team Relay 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, Franziska 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 0.5 seconds ahead of Patrick Caldwell (USA), with a time of 1:05:22.5, to secure the silver. The Bronze medal, however, remains a remarkable achievement for the USA.
Speaking after the race, an elated Patrick, who started his anchor leg with the US in second place, described the tension he felt knowing Russia's powerhouse Cross-Country skier Alexander was just behind him.
"I knew he was there, coming right for me, and he overtook me in my first lap, so I just jumped right in behind him and tried to keep up," Patrick said.
"We were going back and forth, but he got me in the end. He was just too strong."