World Championships 2016: Preview!

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It’s World Championships time! It’s Oslo! It’s Holmenkollen! It’s the end of the King’s reign! That’s right it’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen’s final World Championships before he retires from biathlon. Although he did say that about the Olympics in Sochi so we can’t really trust him! Let’s believe him for now anyway. Will he go out on a high or will his grand exit be ruined by the princes of biathlon who are fighting to take his crown?

Well he has been planning for this event all season and he also did that in Sochi and we all know what happened there. So the chances are good that he will win a medal of some sort but he faces some very tough competition from people who really don’t care if they ruin the party and some of them are even his teammates!!!

We will return to Ole later but let’s go through the races as they are scheduled. First up is the Mixed Relay on Thursday the 3rd of March at 15.30 CET. The races so far this season have been won by Norway in Oestersund and Germany in Canmore. There are a lot of strong teams however so this race could be won by anyone. France have a good chance as do Italy, the Czech Republic and Russia. It will be interesting to see who races and whether or not the teams will use their strongest four biathletes in the first race. The defending champions are the Czech Republic.

After a day off come the Sprint races on Saturday the 5th of March. The Men start at 11.30 CET and the Women go at 14.30 CET. This season’s Men’s Sprint winners so far have been Martin Fourcade, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Simon Schempp. The Women’s races were won by Gabriela Soukalova, Franziska Hildebrand, Marie Dorin Habert, Olga Pudchufarova and Olena Pidhrushna. Obviously the Women’s race is a lot more open but in the Men’s it is very likely one of the three above will win it. The defending champions are Johannes Thingnes Boe and Marie Dorin Habert.

Both Pursuit races are on Sunday the 6th at 13.30 CET for the Men and 15.45 CET for the Women. The Men’s Pursuit races from the World Cup were won by Martin Fourcade, Simon Schempp, Anton Shipulin and Simon Eder. The women’s winners were Kaisa Makarainen, Laura Dahlmeier, Ekaterina Yurlova and Gabriela Soukalova. The defending champions are Erik Lesser and Marie Dorin Habert.

The Individual races are on Wednesday the 9th at 15.30 CET for the Women and the Men’s race is on Thursday the 10th also at 15.30 CET. The World Cup winners are Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Martin Fourcade and Dorothea Wierer. The defending champions are Ekaterina Yurlova and Martin Fourcade.

The Women’s Relay is on Friday the 11th at 15.30 CET and the Men’s is on Saturday the 12th at 15.30 CET. Winners so far for the Women were Italy, Ukraine, France and the Czech Republic.All the Men’s relays were won by either Russia or Norway. The defending champions are Germany for both the men and women.

The final races are the Mass Starts which both take place on Sunday the 13th at 13.00 CET for the Women and 16.00 CET for the Men. Winners on the World Cup so far have been Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Martin Fourcade, Erik Lesser, Dominik Windisch, Kaisa Makarainen, Laura Dahlmeier, Gabriela Soukalova and Dorothea Wierer. The defending champions are Jakov Fak and Valj Semerenko.

So that’s all the information you need but who will win the medals? Well if I knew that I would be rich but I can have a guess at least! In the Men’s race the favourite for all of them has to be Martin Fourcade but he only won one individual medal at the last World Championships. The Norwegians have a good chance of stopping him as do Schempp and Shipulin. On the Women’s side I think the medals will be shared between Soukalova, Wierer, Dorin Habert, Makarainen and Dahlmeier.

There are always a few surprises though and big event specialist Erik Lesser can’t be overlooked and neither can sharp shooter Simon Eder. Watch out too for Valj Semerenko and Olga Pochufarova to do well. To be honest with you it’s biathlon so anything could happen and anyone could win that’s why it’s such a great sport!

And the big question – will Bjoerndalen win a medal?! Of course he will! He always pulls it off doesn’t he? Although it will probably be as part of the Men’s Relay team that he does it, you can never discount him for an individual medal. I for one hope he does it.He definitely deserves to go out on a high. It will be really strange when he is not on the start lists anymore – he will be greatly missed.

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