It was a successful day for Germany as the biathlon world championships got underway on Thursday. They won the team relay gold, despite a late fightback from France and Russia.
Simon Schempp helped Germany win the team relay gold in the opening event of the biathlon world championships on Thursday.
On the final lap, he held off a challenge by Martin Fourcade of France and Anton Shipulin of Russia, who were 17 seconds behind when leaving the shooting range but trailed the German at the finish by only 2.2 and 3.2 seconds, respectively.
"That was a very cool start to the championships for us," Schempp said.
The German team of Vanessa Hinz, Laura Dahlmeier, Arnd Peiffer and Schempp missed seven targets in total but avoided penalty loops to finish in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 6.41 seconds. Italy followed France and Russia in fourth, 28.7 seconds behind. Olympic champion Norway had to ski two penalty loops and finished 46.2 behind in eighth.
It was Germany's third mixed relay world title but first since 2010, when Schempp was also part of the team.
"It's great to stand on top with the whole team," Dahlmeier said.
Lisa Vittozzi had given Italy an early lead ahead of France, but as soon as Hinz handed over to Dahlmeier, the competition turned in Germany's favor.
Starting in sixth, Dahlmeier had to reload four times but this season's overall World Cup leader was so fast on the track that she still came first at the second exchange.
Germany never looked back from there. While Peiffer shot flawlessly, Quentin Fillon Maillet lost time for France by skiing a penalty loop. That allowed Schempp to start the final 7.5K with a 46-second lead over gold-medal favorites France and Russia. That advantage turned out to be just enough despite Fourcade's and Shipulin's impressive comebacks on the final lap.