The Norwegian team consisting of; Sturla Holm Laegreid, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, Tarjei Boe and Johannes Thingnes Boe, won the first relay of the season unchallenged.
Before the start of the race our model saw the Norwegians as firm favourites, with about a 71 percent chance of winning and a 96 percent chance of finishing on the podium. Norway led at all the exchanges as well as at the finish.
The team most likely to challenge the Norwegians according to our model, France, quickly dropped out of contention as Emilien Jacquelin only hit his first two shots at the standing shooting. He missed all of his last six shots and had to ski 3 penalty loops. At the first exchange France was all the way down in 19th place more than a minute behind the leaders.
France moved up to finish in eighth place almost two minutes behind Norway.
Sweden continued their splendid start to the season, finishing in second place. Their team consisted of; Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin, Martin Ponsiluoma and Sebastian Samulesson, moved through the field after a somewhat slow start. At the first exchange they were in 13th place, at the second they were 10th, at the last changeover they were third and at the finish they were in second. They finished the race some 40 seconds behind the winners and some ten second ahead of Germany in third.
Our model gave the Swedes a 28 percent chance of a top three finish and they were our fourth most likely winners.
Germany were our third favourites, with a 59 percent chance of finishing on the podium, before the race started and they finished in third place, some 15-20 seconds ahead of Russia in fourth. Germany was in contention for most of the race. They were in third, just behind the leaders at the first exchange, after a fast last lap of skiing by in-form Erik Lesser. At the second changeover they were second, just 3-4 seconds behind Norway. The last exchange had them in second place, some 20 seconds both behind Norway and in front of Sweden. Germany entered the range for the eighth and final shooting together with Sweden, but Benedikt Doll needed three spare rounds while Sebastian Samuelsson managed with only one and this put the Swedes out of their reach.
The press conference with the top three teams are available below.
Russia was fourth some 15 seconds behind the Germans. Italy did a solid race in fifth. Austria was sixth just ahead of the team with the best shooting performance of the race, the Czechs. Switzerland in ninth and Ukraine in tenth took the last top ten places. Belarus was disappointing in eleventh.
Bulgaria, Poland, Kazakstan and Latvia was lapped and did not finish the race.
Benjamin Weger impressed on the second leg for the Swiss team, producing the fastest split of all the athletes on the second leg.
As usual the IBU has made available some highlights of the race on youtube.