It’s a huge year for all the Russian biathletes but Olga Zaitseva probably has a little bit more pressure on her shoulders than the others. She is by far the most experienced biathlete in the team and she was the top female Russian in the Total Score last year coming 11th overall. Therefore the team will be looking to her to deliver medals in Sochi.
Olga Alekseyevna Zaitseva was born on May 16th, 1978 in Moscow. She began her career in 1994 and has won 2 Olympic gold medals, both in the relay, and a silver in the Mass Start in Vancouver. In the World Championships she has 3 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals.
However a pretty dismal display in last year’s World Championship by the Russian team (with the exception of Shipulin) doesn’t bode very well for their chances in Sochi. Surely next season is all about peaking for Sochi and I would have though the World Championships would be the perfect practice for getting that right. In the end it meant the sacking of yet another coach, the third in 3 years for the Russian Biathlon Union.
So what does this mean for Olga? Well she has the hopes of a nation on her shoulders and she showed quite good form in Sochi back in March when she was second in the Individual event. A first place in Oberhof in the Pursuit and a third place in the Mass Start in Ruhpolding means she is capable of beating the other women on any given day. The biggest hurdle will be producing the performance when it counts – at her home Olympics.
At the moment it looks as if Russia’s best chance for gold will come in the relay events but if Olga can produce her top form next February she will also have a chance of an individual medal possibly in the 15km Individual or the Mass Start. Whatever my assessment of her chances I’m sure that Olga definitely has gold in her Zaits!
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