After the next medal party in the Oberhof cauldron, Denise Herrmann-Wick was just happy about her potential successors. "I'm a proud mom and I'm overjoyed that it worked. That's the most important medal for the team. That's just a medal for all of biathlon Germany," said Herrmann-Wick after relay silver at the home World Championships in Oberhof.
With the three World Cup debutants Vanessa Voigt, Hanna Kebinger and Sophia Schneider - all 25 years old - the 34-year-old only had to admit defeat to the Italians in the pouring rain on Saturday in front of 23,500 enthusiastic fans. The fact that the Saxon, who is jokingly called "Mama" by her younger colleagues because of her age, lost out in the final showdown against Lisa Vittozzi in the fight for gold, didn't matter in the end. "It's a bit of a tear, but we celebrate silver like a gold medal," said women's coach Kristian Mehringer.
Relay frustration among men
The emotional state of Justus Strelow, Johannes Kühn, Roman Rees and Benedikt Doll was completely different: Five penalty loops - three by Kühn and two by final runner Doll - in a wind lottery at the shooting range meant only fifth place for the quartet. In the end, in a wild race with many thrilling twists and turns, the gap to the winner, France, was 3:51.8 minutes.
While the women celebrated their third medal at the Rennsteig - Herrmann-Wick had previously won sprint gold and pursuit silver - the men are still waiting for their first before the final mass starts on Sunday.
Storm warning for Thuringia
For a long time it was unclear whether the two races would take place at all due to a storm warning with announced strong gusts and wind speeds of up to 85 kilometers per hour. Only in the morning was it decided to start.
When it came to chasing the title, Herrmann-Wick lost out in a direct duel against Vittozzi, who made the perfect surprise for her team. But that didn't dampen the German joy. "I expected her to shoot quickly and noticed that she pulled through properly. With two penalties and a longer shooting time, I trembled a bit inside, but I was able to step on the gas on the final lap and enjoy it too," said Herrmann-Wick . Third place went to Sweden.
Strong World Cup newcomers
The three World Cup newcomers had previously impressed. Voigt had previously struggled with disappointments on the routes in her home town of Oberhof. But she got her best performance as a team. "It's all the more fun in a team. I got up with a smile and knew that it was our day. Of course it's great that it was rewarded with silver, which we've worked hard to achieve throughout the season," said Voigt .
Kebinger, who started in the German Cup at the beginning of the season and only got the Oberhof ticket with half the World Cup standard due to the cancellation of Franziska Preuss due to illness, was also strong. While Norway and Sweden had three and two penalties respectively in standing, she cleared it all quickly.
"I just tried not to get distracted like in the singles, but to stay with me," said Kebinger. Schneider needed one prone and two extra cartridges standing - and while her opponents made a mistake, she went into the track 16 seconds behind Italy. The Bavarian sent off Herrmann-Wick just 5.6 seconds behind Vittozzi to the deafening cheers of the fans.
Herrmann-Wick and Vittozzi came at the same time for the first stage, which the Italian completed a little faster and gained a few seconds. Also at the showdown she was a bit faster and more ripped off than Herrmann-Wick.
Men's relay only in fifth place
The men, on the other hand, were frustrated by the difficult conditions. "I was half a minute late at the shooting range. The conditions were manageable for the first shot, but then it was catastrophic," said Kühn. There was so much wind during his standing shooting "that you couldn't shoot at all. I didn't even try," said the 31-year-old: "I'm so sorry, but I couldn't do more." Only silver went to the Olympic champion from Norway, who had been undefeated for more than a year.
It wasn't 100 percent fair, Doll said: "But it was the right decision to let the race take place. You have to think about the spectators a bit. And it would have been a tragedy if nothing had happened today. Running out for the World Cup medal at the World Cup in Östersund wouldn't have been fun either," said Doll.
After the medalless disappointments at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and at the 2021 World Championships in Pokljuka, the quartet went empty-handed at the third major event in a row. Previously, the German men had been on the podium in all four competitions this winter.