An exciting Sprint Relay in very varied terrain ended with a clear win for Switzerland, with Sweden and Norway second and third respectively. The decisive point in the race was in the middle of the final leg.
Sweden 1 led throughout the race until the tricky middle part of the final leg with many walls, small entrances and steps, where careful route choice and a clear head were essential for success. Here, Elena Roos for Switzerland 1 had the cleanest run through as well as the shorter forking, whilst Karolin Ohlsson for Sweden 1 made several mistakes and lost more than a minute. Sara Hagstrom for Sweden 2, who had set out in 5th place, ran quite cleanly through this section along with the young Norwegian Andrine Benjaminsen, and it was Hagstrom who proved the stronger of these two through the final controls.
Victorious Swiss team at Flower Ceremony
Tove Alexandersson gave Sweden 1 the best possible start, finishing just ahead of Simona Aebersold for Switzerland 1 and Victoria Haestad Bjornstad for Norway 1. At this point, Sweden 2 was in 8th place. The three leading teams continued in front for the next two legs, and at the start of the final leg Karolin Ohlsson set out 5 seconds ahead of Roos and 8 ahead of Benjaminsen. Other Swedish, Swiss and Norwegian teams were also still in contention, Sweden 2 (Martin Regborn) coming into the changeover 14 seconds down. He had picked up 20 seconds on the third leg. Sweden 1 ended in 8th place in the race, 1.12 down on the winning time.
Fourth nation to finish was Finland, followed by Czech Republic, Poland, China and Great Britain. Shuangyan Hao ran a very fast final leg for China, bringing her team from 19th up to 12th place in the race; she will be one to watch out for in the individual Sprint on Tuesday.
This was a Sprint Relay that had everything; very varied terrain, from intricate building complexes through parkland and gardens to a bit of sloping forest with some awkward vegetation. And an arena with plenty of life and atmosphere. Switzerland enjoyed their first full Relay win of the season, but it is Sweden that tops the final World Cup table, followed by Switzerland, Finland, Norway and the Czech Republic.
The final race in China is the individual Sprint on Tuesday.
Leading results, Sprint Relay
- SUI1 (Simona Aebersold, Matthias Kyburz, Joey Hadorn, Elena Roos) 55:14
- SWE2 (Alva Olsson, Max Peter Bejmer, Martin Regborn, Sara Hagstrom) + 0.37
- NOR1 (Victoria Haestad Bjornstad, Gaute Hallan Steiwer, Kasper Fosser, Andrine Benjaminsen) + 0.45
- SWE3, 5. FIN1, 6. SUI3, 7. SUI2, 8. SWE1, 9. CZE, 10. NOR2, 11. POL, 12. CHN