France enjoyed a memorable day of competition at the International Biathlon Union World Cup in Ruhpolding in Germany as its women won the 4x6 kilometres relay title for the first time in 25 years.
The French team of Julia Simon, Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz and anchor athlete Anais Chevalier finished with just four spare rounds in 1hr 09min 27.7sec in front of 25,000 fans at the Chiemgau Arena.
Norway finished second, with seven spares, 11.5 seconds back.
The hosts finished third, with nine spares, 23.4 seconds back, extending their Ruhpolding podium streak to six consecutive years.
Sweden were fourth, 1:29 back, with Russia in fifth, 1:46.2 back.
Slovakia’s anchor leg athlete Anastasiya Kuzmina produced a superb performance to bring her team from 16th at the last exchange to sixth place, 1:57.6 back.
The 22 teams involved got underway in perfect conditions of sunshine, blue skies and no wind.
Italy, France and Norway dominated the first leg, with all three teams going 10-for-10.
France’s Simon actually shot a bit faster than Dorothea Wierer in standing but the two athletes left together with Norway four seconds back.
Every reason to celebrate -- Julia Simon, @BescondAnais, Justine Braisaz and Anais Chevalier performed incredibly well at the range to secure @FedFranceSki the win in the #RUH19 women's relay. 🇫🇷— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 19, 2019
Rewatch the competition on https://t.co/bk5aBBso9Q pic.twitter.com/7R8RkovSzR
By the exchange, Wierer tagged Federica Sanfilippo three seconds ahead of Simon, with Norway’s Synnøve Solemdal fading to 14 seconds back.
After using two spare rounds in standing, home athlete Vanessa Hinz tagged Laura Dahlmeier in sixth position, 37 seconds off the pace.
France’s veteran performer, Bescond, handed over a 20 seconds advantage to Braisaz who, despite struggling on the final 2km loop, still gave Chevalier a 14-seconds lead for the final leg.
Meanwhile an inspired leg from Tiril Echhoff had lifted Norway to second place ahead of the hosts as Italy dropped out of the running with two penalties.
The French athlete kept her nerve to maintain the team’s pre-eminence, while behind her Norway’s Marte Roeiseland and Denise Hermann of Germany secured silver and bronze.
Tomorrow will see the World Cup concluding with the men’s and women’s mass start competitions over 15km and 12.5km respectively.