Welcome back to the (seemingly) eternal struggle between Norway and France to see who will win the men’s big crystal globe this season. Can you remember the last time someone from another country won it? Me neither but apparently it was Michael Greis in the 2006/07 season. However since 1992 only Greis, Mikael Lofgren, Sven Fischer (x2) and Vladimir Drachev have been able to wrestle the Overall title from the hands of the French and Norwegians.
Mostly it was shared out between Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Raphael Poiree and then of course Martin Fourcade and Johannes Thingnes Boe. This season doesn’t look like it will be any different.
Norway remain favourites to win again this season with Johannes. He has won the last two Overall Titles and last season he even had two weeks off and still won! If he stays illness and injury free he will almost certainly make it three in a row.
Picking up the French baton from Fourcade is Quentin Fillon Maillet. QFM finished third in the overall last time round. He has a lot of experience and is a consistent podium finisher. However if he is going to beat Boe he will have to start winning a lot more races and of course start beating Johannes regularly.
Emilien Jacquelin also has a chance of defeating Boe. He showed last season what he is capable of but needs to show a lot more consistency if he wants to get near the Norwegian superstar. He is the youngest of our challengers but what he lacks in experience he makes up for with his tactical ability in the races.
Simon Desthieux was 6th last season and is yet to win a World Cup race. He is a great biathlete but an outsider for the overall. He could make the top 3 in the total score this year though if he can get his maiden victory and build up his confidence.
Don’t worry though Johannes doesn’t have to fight the French alone. He has his big brother to back him up. Last season was the first time in a while that we saw the old Tarjei Boe back. After many seasons ruined by illness he was on great form and was 4th in the Total Score. Although he lacks the ski speed and impressive results of his brother he can still help him by finishing ahead of the French biathletes. We could even see a Boe 1-2 in the Overall.
The Norwegians also have Johannes Dale and Vetle Christiansen to even up the score. Dale will surely take his first podium this season and with his excellent shooting Christiansen should add to his one World Cup win so far.
The only other biathletes in the Top 10 last season were Alexander Loginov (7th) and Bendikt Doll (8th). Although capable of winning races it’s unlikely that either will seriously compete for the title.
This must be the season that we see Sebastian Samuelsson win his first race on the World Cup. He hasn’t been able to recapture the form he had in PyeongChang in 2018 but maybe it will come back this season. Michal Krcmar is also waiting for his first taste of the top step of the podium and Fabien Claude will hope to better his career best result of third.
Other names to keep an eye on are Norway’s Sturla Holm Laegreid who turned up on the World Cup at the end of last season and immediately scored a top 10 finish. Nikita Porshnev also got some impressive results with 11th his personal best last year. China’s Fangming Cheng got a top finish of 16th and will be gunning for the top 10 too with plenty of encouragement from coach OEB.
It won’t be the same this season with the venue changes and lack of fans but it should still be exciting out on the tracks. All the evidence points to another big globe for Johannes but don’t forget this is 2020 – literally anything could happen!
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