An exhausted Sivert Guttorm Bakken got off his sick bed to win a popular final day gold medal for Norway in the biathlon mixed relay at Birkebeineren Biathlon Stadium on Sunday.
Despite his good form in the previous events at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games – he had already won a silver in the men’s 7.5km sprint and a gold in the 10km pursuit – Bakken said that during the race he was not sure he would make it to the end.
“It was so good to cross the line and realise I actually did it,” said the 17-year-old. “Because out on the track I felt really [awful], it was terrible. I’ve been sick a couple of days now, I thought I was completely fresh again, but, as I realised on the track, I was not. I had an OK first lap and after the shooting I felt that it was not my day. I understood that I had to shoot well and I did. Now I’m really satisfied.”
In the final biathlon event at the Games, featuring 18 teams composed of two women and two men from the same country skiing on a 6km track and a 7.5km track respectively, Norway finished the race in one hour 18 minutes 35.6 seconds, only 7.6 seconds ahead of a fast-closing German team.
“It was an extremely good event, all three of them [teammates Marit Oeygard, Marthe Krakstad Johansen and Fredrik Qvist Bucher-Johannessen] had a really good race and I had the extra time that I needed to get the gold,” said Bakken, who went into the last leg with a lead of 21 seconds.
Danilo Riethmueller, who was the last to ski for Germany after Juliane Fruehwirt, Franziska Pfnuer and Simon Gross, was a proud man at the end of the competition. “The weather was great, the race was great, I was great. It was an amazing feeling crossing the line [in second position],” he said.
Fruehwirt, who had already won a gold medal in the women’s 6km sprint, was excited by her team’s victory and said: “It’s a little bit more emotional, because you fear and you hope with the others when they are at the shooting range. It was so amazing. I was so nervous to be in the start position, and that’s why I missed five shots. But I was able to close up to the first competitor in every lap, so I’m satisfied.”
Italy’s Samuela Comola, Irene Lardschneider and Cedric Christille ran to hug teammate Patrick Braunhofer at the finish line when he secured Italy’s first medal in biathlon at Lillehammer 2016. “We were hoping for a medal since the start,” Braunhofer said. “When it becomes reality, it is impossible to describe. The first thing I thought arriving at the finish line was that everyone in the team had done a perfect job. Today we really had the perfect race.”
Lardschneider said: “The bronze medal is a huge emotion, because we didn’t expect it. I was fairly ‘boiled’ in my last lap, but I’m happy I shot well and I played my own part in this fantastic race.”
Written by YIS / IOC Emma Lupano
Emma Lupano is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. Milan-based Emma has worked at the last five Olympic Games and also covered the Innsbruck 2012 and Nanjing 2014 YOGs. A China specialist, she has worked as a freelance journalist from Beijing for four years.