Biathlon World Cup winner Julia Simon experienced a restless summer. Will the Frenchwoman still triumph this winter? An Italian and a Norwegian could be dangerous.
Julia Simon: In top shape despite proceedings?
For the biathlon women Julia Simon the hunted in the new season. The 27-year-old won the yellow jersey in the fourth race last season – and didn’t give it up until the end of the season. The pursuit world champion from Oberhof impressed as the third fastest runner in the World Cup and showed the best values of her career with an 89 percent hit rate at the shooting range. At the French championships in October she won the pursuit race, and at the last French test before the World Cup she won the sprint in November. But Simon didn’t have a particularly quiet summer overall.
Julia Simon on the track in Oslo
There is a case against Simon for credit card fraud – she is said to have stolen a four-figure amount from a teammate’s card. Simon herself claimed that she was a victim herself. Nevertheless, the 2022 Olympic silver medalist decided to train without the team over the summer – making assessing her performance a little difficult. Nevertheless, she promises: “I will go on the offensive in the new season”as she told the French “Nordic Magazine”.
Lisa Vittozzi: Blackout overcome?
Already presented himself in top form Lisa Vittozzi. The Italian, who already wore the yellow jersey in races two to four in the previous season, impressed at the “season start” in Sjusjoen, Norway in mid-November when she won the sprint and came a strong third in the mass start despite obvious material problems. Vittozzi spoke openly about mental problems in an interview last summer. She reported panic attacks and a “two year long total blackout”as she told the Italian portal “The Owl Post”.
Lisa Vittozzi from Italy
She seems to have finally overcome the problems. Last season she was able to improve her running skills and improve her hit rate at the shooting range from 74 percent in the 2021/22 season to 89 percent in the winter of 2022/23. In the summer and most recently in Sjusjoen, Vittozzi remained consistently fast and accurate. Unlike compatriot Dorothea Wierer, who was absent from Sjusjoen due to an infection.
Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold: A real number one?
After the resignation of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Tirill Eckhoff, Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold is now number one in the Norwegian women’s team. The 27-year-old impressed in Sjusjoen as the best runner in the sprint and mass start as well as second and fourth places. “I was a bit skeptical. It felt like the season was coming a little early this year. But this was exactly what I needed”said Tandrevold after the Sjusjoen opener on Norwegian TV NRK. The material could be an advantage in the World Cup for Tandrevold as well as for the other Norwegians. After the ban on fluorine wax, the Norwegian team has apparently found the best wax mixture. “That’s unfair. For me it’s an advantage for us. We saw that today”said Tandrevold with a view to the competition in the NRK.
Ingrid Landmark Tandrevolt from Norway in the Nove Mesto mixed relay
Elvira Öberg: Is the battery full again?
In the fight for the big crystal ball this year we also want to Elvira Öberg have a say. The 24-year-old Swede was the fastest in the last two World Cup preparation races in Idre Fjäll, won the sprint in mid-November and came second in the shortened 12.5-kilometer individual. It appears the three-time Olympic medalist is ready to fight for the yellow jersey. Before the start of the World Cup this weekend in Östersund, the younger sister of individual Olympic champion and world champion Hanna Oeberg says confidently: “If I had to choose between a World Championship title and the overall World Cup victory, I would choose the Big Crystal Ball”Öberg explained on biathlonworld.com.
Last season, the strong third-place finisher in the World Cup relay was close to the top of the World Cup for a long time. But an illness at the end of the season dashed all World Cup hopes. Over the summer she slowly fought her way up, and since September she has been able to say with relief: “My body obeys me again.” With a 90 percent hit rate (last winter it was 88 percent) she now wants to attack at the front.
Franziska Preuß: Through the season without an infection?
And who from the German team can be at the forefront? Perhaps Franziska Preuss – if she stays healthy. The woman from Ruhpolding has had a long period of suffering and has repeatedly experienced setbacks due to infections. Just like in the 2016/2017 season or last winter, when she was only able to complete seven of 21 races.
The 29-year-old can run right to the front. In the 2020/21 season she came third overall in the World Cup and in the winter of 2014/15 she won the small mass start crystal ball. “I have absolutely no doubt that Franzi still has a lot of world class in her, as long as her health allows it. She is currently on the right track.”said German biathlon sports director Felix Bitterling to the German Press Agency. At the German championships in the fall, she won all three titles.
Who could surprise?
If the biathlon men’s new cross-country skiing coach, Jens Filbrich, has his way, you should Hanna Kebinger have on the list. The Thuringian looked after the 25-year-old in the IBU Cup for a long time and knows about the Bavarian’s strengths. Last season, Kebinger already got a taste of the World Cup podium as fourth in the mass start in Oslo. In the World Cup relay in Oberhof she ran to silver with the German team. “I’ve worked with ‘Fibs’ a lot. I’m happy that he sees so much in one person.”said Kebinger in the Sportschau winter sports podcast.
Sportschau winter sports podcast, October 25th, 2023 12:00 p.m
You could also have it on your radar Justine Braisaz Bouchet. The Frenchwoman took a break last year after the birth of her daughter. Now the 2018 mass start Olympic champion is returning to the World Cup. So far, the 27-year-old has celebrated five World Cup victories. But, says competitor Elvira Oeberg dryly, referring to the successful biathlon moms Darija Domratschewa, Marie Dorin Habert and Anastasia Kuzmina: “It wouldn’t be the first time someone has come back from maternity leave and is better than ever.”