Biathlon: Ex-biathlete Kati Wilhelm on big farewells and the season


Status: 20.03.2023 2:58 p.m

Kati Wilhelm speaks at the end of the season about farewells to top-class sport, big footsteps, young talent and concerns about young talent.

sports show: Kati Wilhelm, after more than a decade as a competitive athlete and then more than a decade as a biathlon TV expert, this was the first season you weren’t that close. What relationship do you still have to biathlon?

Katie Wilhelm: It was also such a beautiful winter. I had more time to exercise with the kids and enjoy family life. I also do voluntary work in the club and in the Thuringian Ski Association, so I’m still very close to sport, but now more rooted in the young generation. And with a little more distance, you can follow the races a little calmer than before.

sports show: You still have connections to the German Ski Association through your husband (Andreas Emslander, DSV chief ski technician, editor’s note). Are you still in contact with athletes yourself?

Wilhelm: Less, of course I also notice that because I’m just out longer. There is now hardly anyone who ran in my time. But I’m still in contact with former colleagues. And at the home World Championships in Oberhof, we took the opportunity to meet each other. For us it’s like a kind of class reunion.

sports show: The World Championships took place on your doorstep and was a big highlight: Do you sometimes still feel like going to the start yourself?

Wilhelm: That is of course very far away. But of course, when you get the mood, I think back to my time – that was really cool. But it was also incredibly intense and exhausting. It’s a thing of the past now and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. And I really appreciate that because I know how hard you have to work to be up there one day. But I put a stop to it.

sports show: After this season, Denise Herrmann-Wick also puts the hook behind her career. What was it like for you to quit back then?

Wilhelm: It is special to end such a long and successful career. She announced it relatively late. But I think it’s very nice that she’s celebrating her farewell here in Oslo, her special spot on earth, and that she can enjoy it. Of course, she will have prepared herself mentally and morally for this. That’s important too. I did my last shooting with a clean sheet, so I thought I can stop now.

Denise Herrmann-Wick can’t hold back her tears after the mass start in Oslo. The Olympic and world champion says goodbye emotionally to active sport.

sports show: Denise Herrmann-Wick has made a great contribution to German biathlon, especially in recent years. What void does she leave?

Wilhelm: Whenever someone big stops, the question arises how big the gap is. But we see that with Hanna Kebinger, Sophia Schneider or Vanessa Voigt, young athletes are coming who are really close. It would certainly have been nice for them if they could have developed further in Denise’s shadow. But they have already benefited from this this year and are ready to be held accountable. You still have the status of a youngster, so one or two mistakes can still happen. But I think they’re also keen to get into Denise’s position.

sports show: The young athletes Selina Grotian and Lisa Spark are only at the beginning of the World Cup. How do you see the future of German biathlon?

Wilhelm: I’m missing the width. With Selina there is one who has already caused quite a stir this year and is following in big footsteps. She has already been compared to Magdalena (Neuner, editor’s note) or Laura (Dahlmeier, editor’s note), but she has already found the right answer. She does her thing and wants to convince with performance. An athlete who knows what she wants.

Immense expectations weigh on Selina Grotian’s shoulders. The young biathlete recently won four gold medals at the Junior World Championships. She makes her World Cup debut in Oslo.

sports show: What adjustment screws would have to be turned with the youngsters for this to change?

Wilhelm: Difficult to present a recipe now. Then it would be very easy and you would have done it a long time ago. You need a big base at the bottom. The children have to enjoy the sport for a long time and not be showered with medals right away. Satisfaction may come too soon. You should always stay hungry in competitive sports and keep working hard on yourself. You have to keep the fire burning. I have a guess as to whether these are the reasons why not enough young athletes feel like torturing themselves.

sports show: In addition to Herrmann-Wick, influential athletes such as Marte Olsbü Roiseland, Tiril Eckhoff and Anais Chevalier-Bouchet ended their careers. Do you think biathlon is running out of personalities?

Wilhelm: No, this is now another phase in which these three or four names have staged themselves for many years, dominated the sport of biathlon and left their mark. But after that someone will come again and inspire us. Maybe the next one is already in the starting blocks and so far only the focus has not been on it. But can soon take the chance if there is space from next season.

sports show: What is your conclusion of the season? What grade would you give the German biathletes?

Wilhelm: At the World Cup, they sometimes underperformed. Especially with the men, more would certainly have been possible. I would give a good two. We also made them worse than they actually were beforehand. And above all, the many new faces have performed well. But we should still stay hungry for the one.

The interview was conducted by Uri Zahavi

The former biathlete Kati Wilhelm speaks in an interview with Sportschau about the end of Denise Herrmann-Wick’s career and to what extent the youngsters are prepared for it.

It is Denise Herrmann-Wick’s last biathlon race. The recap of the women’s mass start from Oslo.

The biathlon season ends with a winner who has been unstoppable this season. Johannes Thingnes Bö also wins the mass start in Oslo.