Host City: Torino, Italy
Venue(s): Ski Jumping Stadium, Pragelato Plan
Date Started: February 18, 2006
Date Finished: February 18, 2006
The race was expected to be contested among Germany, Norway, and Russia, with Germany and Norway slightly favored. Norway had won the 2005 World Championships, while Germany won in 2003. Russia had been third in 2003 and second in 2005. Italy was also thought to have a shot at a medal, skiing on their home snow, after placing third at the Worlds in 2001 and 2005. But the opening leg was a shocker as the lead was taken by Japan, with Finland second, and Norway third, while Italy and Russia were back in seventh and ninth place, respectively. On the second leg, Japan dropped back to 10th place, and the leaders moved up, with Finland, Norway, Germany, and Italy in the first four places, in that order. Russia was still only eighth. Russia’s third leg was skied by Yuliya Chepalova, who posted the fastest leg of the event to move her team up to fourth, with the top five places at the anchor exchange as follows: Germany, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Italy. The final leg was a surprise. Norway had Marit Bjørgen as their anchor, the dominant woman cross-country skier of the past five years, but she struggled and Norway fell out of the medals, finishing fifth. For Russia, Yevgeniya Medvedeva, bronze medalist in the pursuit in Torino, skiied the second fastest leg of the event and pulled Russia ahead to the gold medal. Germany placed second, while Italy’s Sabina Valbusa moved her team onto the podium.