Sophia Schneider and Philipp Nawrath make their World Cup debut. In the single mixed, however, there is no surprise. Former biathlete Arnd Peiffer is amazed at the team's line-up. National coach Mark Kirchner has to explain himself afterwards.
Sophia Schneider and Philipp Nawrath hugged each other briefly at the finish, but there wasn't really much reason to be happy after sixth place in the single-mixed relay with the German biathlon duo. At the home World Championships in Oberhof, national coach Mark Kirchner had to explain why Denise Herrmann-Wick and Benedikt Doll, the two best German skiers, were missing in the fight for the medals.
"You also have to ask the athletes - and if athletes are not 100 percent ready, then it makes no sense to put them up," said Kirchner. After gold and silver, Herrmann-Wick wanted a break to be fit for the relay and mass start at the weekend. The Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Bö showed that there is another way. The superstar continued his record hunt with the fifth title in the fifth race at the Rennsteig, his partner Marte Olsbu Röiseland replaced Magdalena Neuner as record world champion with her 13th title.
"It's not entirely satisfactory, but it's not bad either," Kirchner said of his duo's performance and explained why he set up Schneider and Nawrath: "We wanted to be fit with the two of them. Then you have to take it a bit at the shooting range , there is a bit of luck involved." Although both "did it well over long distances", they made too many mistakes. Schneider also had to acknowledge that. "In order to get a medal up there, everything has to be just right. We did our best, it's still sixth place," said the Bavarian, who finished seventh in the sprint, fifth in the pursuit and 13th at the Rennsteig with strong performances .
The individual ninth Nawrath was not completely dissatisfied with the result. "Of course it was clear that it would be difficult to get to the front. A great sixth place. We couldn't estimate beforehand where we would come out," said the Allgäu, who didn't make the association's internal norm and only made it through good results at the European Championships had secured the sixth World Cup ticket.
In the single-mixed relay, which has only been part of the World Cup program since 2019 and is not Olympic, Franziska Preuß and Erik Lesser won silver in Antholz in 2020, the only German medal so far. Without top guys Herrmann-Wick and Doll it was hard to repeat that. There was also some criticism for the squad. "A somewhat unexpected line-up, you rely on running strength, you're not necessarily known for fast shooting," said ARD expert Arnd Peiffer before the start.
Herrmann-Wick was rested after her four appearances so far with a view to the weekend with relays and mass start. "The clear signal came from her, rather not," said sporting director Felix Bitterling. Schneider, meanwhile, was happy with her effort and started with a fast, clean prone stage. She came into the first standing in a lead quartet but then used all three spares to avoid the penalty loop. In fifth place, she made the transition to Nawrath, 21.6 seconds back.
And the man from the Allgäu also started with a great rhythm, making up ground. On the ski ends of Bö he came within medal range but started with two penalties but then managed to avoid the extra meters. "Running behind Bö on the second lap was sporty," said Nawrath. He had to pay for that with three spares: "There was a small sticking point in our race." And then something happened that wasn't supposed to happen: Schneider conceded a penalty loop in the second prone stage. The race was over from a German point of view. "I didn't know exactly where I was shooting. The wind was a little different than when shooting, it wasn't a good shot," said Schneider.