Host City: Grenoble, France
Venue(s): , Autrans
Date Started: February 15, 1968
Date Finished: February 15, 1968
Format: Penalty loop (200 metres) skied for each missed target, after which another attempt had to be made.
Four days after the 20 km biathlon the new Olympic event, the biathlon relay, was organized. Norway had won this event in both World Relay Championships organized so far, in 1966 and 1967, but the Soviet Union was regarded as the favorites, having a team without weak points in the lineup. The relay was supposed to start in the morning, but it was a very foggy morning in Autrans, and the race had to be postponed until the afternoon.
Aleksandr Tikhonov was clearly the fastest skier on the first leg, and in spite of a penalty lap he brought the Soviet Union into a clear lead, 45 seconds ahead of Sweden. Norway in third place was 1:43 behind and seemingly too far behind to fight for the gold medal. On the second leg, Nikolay Puzanov increased the lead to 1:41 over Sweden, but Norway’s Olav Jordet, in spite of two penalty laps, almost caught Sweden’s Tore Eriksson, and was only two seconds behind at the exchange. On the third leg, the newly crowned Olympic Champion Magnar Solberg ran another great leg. With the fastest split-time of the day he was 1:16 behind Soviet Union’s Viktor Mamatov at the last exchange. On the last leg Vladimir Gundartsev skied a good time, and when Norway’s Jon Istad had to ski two penalty laps, the Soviet Union team won with a comfortable margin of 1:48. Sweden, the only team to avoid penalty laps, secured the bronze medal, 2:36 behind Norway. Poland’s anchor-leg skier Stanisław Szczepaniak passed Finland in the fight for fourth place.