Tens of thousands of spectators are expected in Oberhof at the Biathlon World Cup. On Wednesday there should already be the first medal for Germany.
On the day before the start of the World Cup, the helpers shoveled the masses of snow from the stands in the sunshine, while the training shots were fired at the panes in the still deserted biathlon arena.
Olympic champion Denise Herrmann-Wick is already enthusiastic: “Home World Cup – it will be a huge thing for all of Germany”said the best ski hunter in the country.
Before the start on Wednesday (2.45 p.m. / live ticker with videos at sportschau.de) with the MIxed relay, the expectations of the hosts are huge. “We did everything to get into the World Cup well”said Herrmann-Wick.
No medal requirement
Of course, the ex-world champion knows that German successes are needed for this. A medal would be the perfect start to nine days of competition with twelve decisions.
But the hosts don’t want to count precious metals at the first World Cup in their own country for eleven years. “We didn’t set a medal requirement”, said national coach Mark Kirchner, who remains true to his line in his home country. Because the World Cup is not that special. “The ten kilometers are still ten kilometers long at the end. We are well advised not to hang up our backpacks ourselves.”
“Can trigger a small biathlon boom”
Because others are already doing it – and are hoping for festivals similar to those in 2012 in Ruhpolding or 2004 in Oberhof. The previous world title fights in Germany attracted a total of more than 200,000 fans, now it should be over 150,000. Up to 27,500 every day, plus millions in front of the TV sets.
The entire sports facility was extensively modernized for 40 million euros. “If there are 20,000 to 25,000 people who are primarily cheering us on, that can really push us.”said sports director Felix Bitterling: “If we’re good at that, we can trigger a small biathlon boom. That’s our goal. We’ll fight for it and give everything.”
But the competition is enormous. The times of German serial victories like those of Magdalena Neuner or Laura Dahlmeier are long gone. Among the women there is a wide world class, in which the 34-year-old Saxon Herrmann-Wick is one of the favorites in every race.
For the men, Johannes Thingnes Bö is the gold favorite at every start and should become the big star on the Rennsteig. Overall, it is the Norwegians who have to be beaten for the German hopeful Benedikt Doll and Co.
“People are just waiting for my failure and they will say it’s the greatest when it happens”, said the Norwegian Bö, who won eleven of the 14 races of the season. As the first male ski hunter, he could win seven World Championship medals in seven races in Oberhof, with women, Marte Olsbu Röiseland already succeeded in 2020 in Antholz.
Don’t worry about the snow
The routes in the Thuringian Forest are ready for the highlight of the season. While there was hardly any snow after the turn of the year and the temperatures were far too high, the Arena am Rennsteig is covered in deep snow and the cross-country trails are groomed. And even if it should get warmer in the second week of the World Cup, as predicted, there are still no problems. The depots are filled with almost 40,000 cubic meters of artificial snow.