Turn and face the strange
There’s gonna have to be a different schedule!
Well I hate to say I told you so but I did warn you back in August that there could be big changes to the biathlon schedule this season and it has happened.
Firstly the Junior Cup has been cancelled almost entirely with just the Youth/Junior World Championships surviving in February 2021. These will be held in Obertilliach.
Next the IBU Cup rounds in December have been cancelled with the season starting in January in Arber. There will only be 5 rounds in the season, 2 in Arber, 2 in Brezno-Orsblie and 1 in Ridnaun, with the Open European Championships going ahead in Duszniki Zdroj in January.
The para-biathlon World Cup has also been moved and will now start in January too. Oestersund was due to host the first round in December but it has been moved to January and will become the second round after Planica in Slovenia. The World Championships are in Lillehammer in February and the final World Cup will be in Beijing on the 2020 Paralympic tracks in March.
The World Cup will now be the only biathlon to take place before Christmas. Oestersund has been cancelled and replaced by Kontiolahti which will host the ‘season opener’ and then World Cup 1. Annecy is cancelled and replaced by Hochfilzen which will now host World Cup 2 and 3.
The World Team Challenge which is held in Gelsenkirchen at the Schalke football stadium will not take place over the Christmas break this season.
In January there will be two visits to Oberhof for World Cups 4 and 5 with no Ruhpolding this season. Antholz will host World Cup 6 as scheduled.
The World Championships in Pokljuka will go ahead in February.
The rest of the calendar will be confirmed in November. We should be going to Beijing for the Olympic test event followed by Nove Mesto and then Holmenkollen.
I imagine that Beijing will have to stay on the calendar as the facilities and tracks have to be tested before 2022 and the athletes need to try the course and range.
However anything could happen with Nove Mesto and Holmenkollen. I suspect like the other decisions they will choose one to host 2 races to reduce travel and as Holmenkollen didn’t go ahead last season it would be the likely choice.
However it does depend if the venues are available to hold two events in a row. Apparently they sometimes use them for other sports – outrageous!
There was a lot of surprise when Oberhof was announced as hosting 2 World Cups as it is becoming known as ‘No-snowberhof’ but as it is the venue for the 2023 World Championships it would be difficult to skip it.
As for spectators at the World Cup it is basically out of the IBU’s hands. It will depend on the national governments rules in each country. Even if crowds are allowed I would imagine it would be at a reduced capacity not a full house.
So December is going to be dismal with only the World Cup to watch. I love the World Cup but it’s just not enough biathlon! However it is 2020 so we should probably just be grateful that there is any biathlon at all!
All of the above is still subject to possible ch-changes!
(I must credit David Bowie for helping with the opening paragraph!)
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