The light bulbs in the floodlights have all been replaced in Oestersund, the fog machines have been serviced in Oberhof (you didn’t think that was real fog ,did you?) and the Kontiolahti Wall has been made a little bit steeper. All of which can only mean one thing – the biathlon season is about to start!
The schedule is a little different this year with Oestersund, Hochfilzen and Annecy before Christmas. Then comes Oberhof, Ruhpolding and Pokljuka. The World Championships are in Antholz and then we have three more World Cup rounds in Nove Mesto, Kontiolahti and Oslo.
The big question on everyone’s mind on the men’s World Cup is which Martin Fourcade is going to show up in Sweden? Will it be 7 times champion Martin Fourcade or 2018/19 Martin Fourcade? Fingers crossed it’s the former. It’s about time we had a proper head to head clash on the men’s World Cup.
Last season was fantastic for Johannes Boe. He won the big crystal globe with 1262 points which was 408 points ahead of his closest challenger Alexander Loginov and almost double the tally of Fourcade. Fourcade had many issues last year but he still had a great season by “normal biathlete” standards. However he is not a normal biathlete as we know and if he comes back with his old form we could have a battle between himself and Boe the likes of which we haven’t seen since Troy.
Of course there is an “Achillies Heel”! Johannes Boe is set to become a father for the first time in January. Obviously baby Boe has priority so it could mean him missing some races which could impact a close title fight. And there is Trojan Horse of injury and illness that could sneak up unexpectedly!
Won’t there be any other challengers for the title I hear you ask? No, probably not! There are many biathletes who ski as fast as Boe and Fourcade and many who shoot as well as them too. However there are none who can do both on such a consistent basis as our two favourites.
It is shaping up to be a fight between Norway and France not just via Boe and Fourcade but also with the rest of the guys too. Last season Quentin Fillon Maillet was excellent and finished third overall and Simon Desthieux was fourth. Tarjei Boe was sixth and Vetle Christiansen took a big step forward winning his first World Cup race. Antonin Guigonnat had a great season and Erlend Bjoentegaard will be looking to impress. So the relays could get very exciting as well as the individual races.
Who else should we be looking out for to do well this season? Who could taste victory for the first time and who could make the jump up onto the podium?
There is always a lot of attention on Sebastian Samuelsson after his Olympic successes but he is yet to win a race. I think people forget that he is still a biathlon “baby” aged just 22. He got his first World Cup podium last season and it would be great to see him make the jump up to the top step.
Johannes Keuhn had a great start last season getting a second place in the first race. However he faded a bit after the initial glory but it could be his chance this time to take a maiden victory.
Remember Michal Krcmar? He disappeared last season along with the rest of the Czech men’s team. The year before though he excelled so if he can get that old form back a win could be his for the first time. And let’s face it his rifle deserves a victory!
A surprise winner at the World Championships, it would be good to see Dmytro Pidruchnyi bring that confidence and attitude with him on to the World Cup this season and hopefully gets some more wins under his belt.
Johannes Dale is one to watch for possible podiums this season. He did really well debuting on the World Cup last year and has the ski speed to get among the top finishers. It would also be good to see Sean Doherty live up to the potential he showed as a Junior. 10th is his personal best so far but after joining the army this summer maybe a bit if discipline and a good haircut can propel him up the field! Attention!
Tero Seppala didn’t have the best season in 2018/19 but he had good results the year before so hopefully he can also take a step forward. Christian Gow had a fantastic season with two Top 10 finishes and he could be a good bet to grab Canada a podium this time round.
The men’s season for the Overall Title begins with the Sprint race in Oestersund on the 1st of December. The World Cup opens on the 30th of November with the single and mixed relays.
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