Olympics – Cross-country skiing-Germans shock favourites to grab relay medal

FAN Editor
Cross-Country Skiing - Women's 4 x 5km Relay
2022 Beijing Olympics – Cross-Country Skiing – Women’s 4 x 5km Relay – National Cross-Country Centre, Zhangjiakou, China – February 12, 2022. Silver medallists Katherine Sauerbrey of Germany, Katharina Hennig of Germany and Victoria Carl of Germany celebrate on the podium. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

February 12, 2022

By Philip O’Connor

ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – Germany’s cross-country relay team made the most of their underdog status at the Beijing Olympics as they emerged early out of the pack from a strong field to collect an unexpected silver medal on Saturday.

Their presence in the vanguard, alongside the powerful skiers of the Russian Olympic Committee who eventually took the gold, seemed like a fleeting moment in a race that would end up being dominated by the Scandinavian nations.

Instead, they held on for the rest of the contest to grab the silver medal.

“We are so happy and excited. This is a special day for us and we are so thankful that all the hard work pays off now, for the whole team and all of cross-country Germany,” an elated Katharina Hennig said.

“So we are very, very happy. We had a good plan and our plan worked. And we did our best, and so it was an exciting and amazing day.”

With three-time Olympic champion Therese Johaug drafted in to the Norway team, Finland looking strong and Sweden asking how it could get the best out of its racers, there was barely a mention of the German team of Katherine Sauerbrey, Hennig, Victoria Carl and Sofie Krehl.

Germany’s four hidden gems were happy to be underestimated, comfortably hanging at the front with the Russians, and it was their final skier Krehl who held a surprise lead coming into the last lap.

“For me was it was new that I start in front of the Russian. And I also wanted to start a little bit defensive, and I thought maybe (Veronika) Stepanova (would) come earlier and catch me,” Krehl recalled.

“But (instead) it was in the second lap, then I tried to relax a little bit behind, but she was too good.”

By that stage it was too late for the rest of the field to catch up, and they delivered one of the most jaw-dropping results of the Olympics so far on a huge day for the sport in Germany.

“It’s really important, because it’s good for the whole team, and I think also for the coaches and waxing team. They will be all happy that we can celebrate something good,” Krehl said.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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