Will Johannes Thingnes Bö run safely to new records and his fifth overall World Cup victory in the season that begins this weekend? Who could pose a threat to Bö? We checked the favorites – there is also a German there.
The hunted high flyer: Johannes Thingnes Bö
This summer didn’t go according to plan for the biathlon dominator of the past few years – Johannes Thingnes Bö experienced one mishap after another. The 30-year-old fell while rollerskiing and hit a wall, got an eye infection, injured his back when he fell on a trampoline – and was bitten by a snake. Because of the snakebite, Bö even had to go to the emergency room and later joked: “Let’s hope the snake gives me the same magical superpowers as Spiderman the spider bite.”
A look at the last results before the World Cup that begins this weekend reveals: At least the snakebite and all the other mishaps didn’t make the Norwegian any weaker. In what was traditionally the last test before the World Cup in Sjusjoen in mid-November, Bö won the sprint and mass start in a dominant manner. The Sjusjoen races not only showed Bö in strong form. A look at the material from the Norwegians, Germans, Italians and Czechs present in Sjusjoen also revealed: The Norwegians seem to have the best wax recipe for the ban on fluorine waxes that has been in effect since this year.
Johannes Thingnes Bö: New records in sight
In addition, Bö seems to have worked more on his shooting and, above all, his shooting speed in the summer – as some videos on Instagram suggest. Bö will be the hunted again this season. And could move further up the all-time World Cup best list: Bö is currently third in terms of World Cup podium places (133) behind Ole Einar Björndalen (199) and Martin Fourcade (151). If Bö continues in the new season from last winter, where he was on the podium 21 times in 22 individual or relay starts, at least Fourcade’s second place will be in danger. At the World Championships in February in Nove Mesto, the 17-time world champion Bö could already overtake his compatriot Björndalen (20).
Norge challengers: Tarjei Bö and Sturla Holm Laegreid
The greatest danger to the squall record hunt comes from your own team. The best impression left at the dress rehearsal for the World Cup in Östersund, which begins this week, was in Sjusjoen Brother Tarjei Bö and Sturla Holm Laegreid. The 35-year-old Tarjei currently seems to be on the same level as Johannes Thingnes Bö. Laegreid, already the best shooter in the World Cup for the past two seasons, has worked on his shooting again this summer. When standing, he wants to increase his 85 percent hit rate from last year to over 90 percent next winter and shoot even faster. “Sturla has worked very hard to reach a super level”confirmed Norway’s coach Siegfried Mazet Laegreid on biathlonworld.com.
Benedikt Doll – Better than fourth place?
Biathlete Benedikt Doll came in fourth place.
Who from the international starting field can get involved at the front? Can a German pose a threat to the Norwegians? In the sprint Sjusjoen mixed Benedict Doll at least at the front. In seventh place, he was the only non-Norwegian in the top 10. Doll is going into the new season with a new running coach, a new weapon and the support of a new sports scientist at home base – which will probably be the last, as he revealed in the Sportschau podcast . Doll is already one of the top runners in the World Cup. In the new season he wants to be one of the top athletes at the shooting range. From 83 percent hit rate last season, it should go up to 90 percent in the new season,
Sportschau winter sports podcast, October 25th, 2023 12:00 p.m
Sebastian Samuelsson “wants to be the best”
Parallel to the open Norwegian elimination races in Sjusjoen, the Swedes tested their form in Idre Fjäll. Sebastian Samuelsson made a big exclamation point. The 26-year-old is already at a top level as a runner. The four-time World Cup medalist from Oberhof won the 10-kilometer sprint in Idre, and in the shortened 15-kilometer individual he came second despite five shooting errors and also had the best running time here. “I want to be the best,” was the confident statement from the Swede, who was repeatedly slowed down by infections last season. “In the new season I want to challenge Johannes Thingnes Bö. I want to give the Norwegians a better fight than last year.” To achieve this, he mainly worked on shooting.
Sebastian Samuelsson in the World Cup singles in Oberhof
Emilien Jacquelin mentally fit again?
And who from France can break Norwegian dominance? Perhaps Emilia Jacquelin? The extroverted 28-year-old, who is an outstanding runner, had to end last season prematurely. But he survived the summer without any injuries. “I’m changing and trying to become the best version of myself”, Jacquelin explained to the French “Nordic Magazine” in October. The four-time World Cup gold medalist admitted: “There are still some mental details missing so that I have the courage not to be afraid”said Jacquelin and added: “I’m on the right track.”
Emilien Jacquelin at the World Championships in Oberhof
At the internal French World Cup dress rehearsal in Bessans in mid-November, Jacquelin came third in the sprint. He told the French “Ski Chrono”: “I’m not at 100 percent mentally and physically yet”but added: “All signs are green. The form curve is going up. I had one of the best races in recent times.”
Also had to struggle with problems Quentin Fillon Maillet, the overall World Cup winner in 2022. The 31-year-old, who shone as runner-up in the last World Cup after a mixed 2022/2023 season, had to go to hospital in June. Fillon Maillet complained of tiredness and exhaustion – and reacted to a medication with allergic shock. Offenbach, the two-time Olympic champion from 2022 had to deal with Long Covid after a corona illness. Fillon Maillet’s values have only returned to normal since mid-September. At the test race in France, he came fourth behind Jacquelin and, with a view to the start of the World Cup in Östersund, told the French sports newspaper “L’Equipe”: “Now it feels like I’m in normal preparation.”
Quentin Fillon Maillet in Oberhof
Who could surprise?
From the seemingly inexhaustible team of Norwegians Vebjörn Sörum already came into the spotlight at the Blink Festival in the summer and even more so in Sjusjoen. The 25-year-old finished third twice on snow in Sjusjoen. In terms of running, he was even on an equal footing with dominator Johannes Thingnes Bö in the sprint. The three-time junior world champion has only made four World Cup starts, but he managed to get another World Cup ticket for Östersund – and could surprise here. From the Swedish team hopes Anton Ivarsson for a surprise. In Idre Fjäll, the 22-year-old won the 15-kilometer individual ahead of Samuelsson. In terms of running, Ivarsson was on an equal footing with relay Olympic champion Jesper Nelin in the race.