Denise Herrmann-Wick couldn't hide her disappointment. For Germany's biathlon relays, the fourth podium place in the fourth race of the winter was very close, but then, exceptionally, the best made a mistake.
Two late mistakes by the Olympic champion in the last shooting ended the small series of ski hunters in Hochfilzen. Final runner Herrmann-Wick finished fourth three days after her sprint victory. The men finished third on Saturday. Almost two months before the home World Championships in Oberhof (February 8th to 19th), the performances gave hope despite small mistakes. In the individual races, however, there were also bitter disappointments.
"Of course it's annoying because we're always looking at the podium. The preparatory work from the girls was extremely good," said Herrmann-Wick. Even victory was still possible before the final shooting in Austria. In the end, however, France prevailed in front of Sweden and Italy in the gripping four-way battle. The German quartet of Anna Weidel, Franziska Preuss, Vanessa Voigt and Herrmann finished 33.7 seconds off the lead with five spares. The experienced Herrmann-Wick needed four of the five extra cartridges. "In the end you have to take a risk and that can go wrong. I hope I can finish it better next time," said the 33-year-old from Saxony.
Nevertheless, the ex-world champion left the Pillerseetal satisfied. With her victory on Thursday in the sprint and fifth place on Saturday in the pursuit, Herrmann-Wick was once again convincing. However, she missed the possible leap to the top of the overall World Cup rankings and is now fourth. "It was my best weekend ever in Hochfilzen, so I draw a positive conclusion," said the nine-time World Cup winner. She already wants to improve further at the upcoming guest appearance in Le Grand-Bornand in France on Thursday: "I'm not quite at the zenith yet."
Strong Men Relay
The same also applies to the men. When the strong Norwegians triumphed, Justus Strelow, Johannes Kühn, Roman Rees and Benedikt Doll behind Sweden were rewarded the day before with a place on the podium. That had already been achieved a week earlier in Finland when, like the women around Herrmann-Wick, they had finished second. The only small flaw: Kühn shot a penalty loop in Tyrol and missed an even better placement in snow flurries. "It wasn't the first and last penalty loop. That happens," said Kühn.
Bayern coach as a spectator
After the race to catch up, there were also congratulations from Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann, who came with his partner for a private visit. First he watched from the stands, then he came to the shooting range in the spectator area and finally to the German team for a group photo. "It's a great honour, even though I'm of course loyal to SC Freiburg," said Doll, who hails from the Black Forest.
After the celebrity visit, Doll and Co. quickly concentrated on biathlon again. "Of course we have Oberhof in mind. The relay can be a competition where we can really fight with the Norwegians if they make mistakes," said men's coach Uroš Velepec, looking towards the World Cup. In fact, the overpowering Scandinavians around the long-term winner Johannes Thingnes Bö managed to end up with a penalty loop. But the lead was already so big that it no longer affected the race.
Series winner Bö
Finally, Bö also won the pursuit. In his fourth win of the season at the fifth attempt, Benedikt Doll finished 18th with four penalties and was still the best German. The negative climax in what was a very weak race from a German point of view was delivered by Philipp Nawrath, who missed a target in the third shooting and had to do five penalties. After a total of seven errors, the Bavarian was only 54th out of 59 starters.