Russia rallies to win men's biathlon World Cup relay in Sochi
Germany overcomes penalty in women's race
Dmitry Malyshko and Evgeny Ustyugov anchored the Russia team to a comeback win in the men's 4 x 7.5-kilometre relay at a biathlon World Cup meet Sunday in Sochi, Russia, while Germany won the women's 4x6-kilometre race on the Sochi Olympics course.
Russia overcame one penalty loop and six missed targets to win in one hour, nine minutes, 50.8 seconds, 38.3 seconds ahead of second place Germany. The Czech Republic was 42.9 seconds behind the winner for third and its first podium this season.
World champion Norway, which was leading the discipline standings coming into the race, missed eight times and ran two penalty loops to finish fourth, 7.8 seconds behind the Czechs.
Anton Shipulin was third after the first leg of the race. But Alexander Loginov, who was making his debut for Russia, missed four times and completed a penalty loop to drop his team to tenth place, 38.2 seconds behind leader Sweden after the second leg. Malyshko shot cleanly and had good speed to put Russia in the lead, 4.7 seconds ahead of Germany after the third exchange.
"My task was to catch up with the leaders," Malyshko said. "And that freed me from extra pressure and responsibility, and added to stability at the shooting range."
Ustyugov did not miss a target and extended the lead.
It was Russia's first top podium finish in three days of competition at a test event for the next year's Sochi Olympics.
"I hope we will be able to repeat this success next year at the Olympic Games," Ustyugov said.
With the victory, Russia edged ahead of Norway by three points to win the relay title after six races this season. Defending champion France, which was without World Cup overall winner Martin Fourcade, finished behind Norway in the race and settled for third in the final standings.
The German team of Andrea Henkel, Evi Sachenbacher-Stehel, Miriam Gossner and Laura Dahlmeier needed seven extra rounds to hit targets and overcame a penalty loop to win in one hour, nine minutes, 27.1 seconds. Ukraine was second, 11.9 seconds behind, while Norway came in third, 21.2 seconds behind the winner — enough to claim the overall relay title.
Henkel won the opening leg for Germany, but Sachenbacher-Stehel missed twice and skied slowly to put her team 46.7 seconds behind leaders Czech Republic. Despite missing three times and running a penalty loop, Gossner narrowed the gap at the last exchange, with Germany trailing Ukraine by 8.4 seconds.
Dahlmeier overtook Mariya Panfilova of Ukraine after the last shooting range to secure Germany's second top podium finish in the discipline this season.
"It was hard. I thought Tora [Berger of Norway] might come from behind and catch me," Dahlmeier said. "I knew I had to give my best and run as fast as I could. It was fantastic. I always dreamed of doing this someday."
Ukraine, world silver medallist in the discipline, finished second overall, followed by Germany.
The season-ending World Cup meet is scheduled for March 14-17 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.