Focus on safety, sustainability and equal route lengths
When the biathlon World Cup season opens (once again) in Östersund, Sweden, participants and spectators alike will have to get used to a few rule changes, although they won't be so serious that you'll notice them at first glance. At second glance, however, they are, because one competition distance is changing. Previously, men and women ran different distances in the mixed relay, but now there will always be a distance of six kilometers for all genders. The men's course will therefore be one and a half kilometers shorter. This will be the case for the first time in Östersund.
The IBU has once again tightened the safety rules for shooting and made it clear that the barrel of the rifle must never be pointed at people, even in the event of faults with the weapon. Looking down the barrel of your own rifle is therefore also strictly forbidden with immediate effect.
Waxing with fluorine is also prohibited. The world federation is now in a position to monitor the ban on fluorine waxing; this is to take place before and after the competition. If athletes are caught preparing their skis with fluorine, they are not allowed to start or are subsequently removed from the race.
This winter, the winners of the second-class IBU Cup of the previous season will also receive personal starting rights for the first two World Cup stages. Previously, this right only applied to the World Cup opener. This year, this applies to Sweden's Tilda Johansson and Norway's Endre Stroemsheim, who won the overall standings in the lower tier of the World Cup in the last edition.
However, the premiere of this rule will remain a one-off. From winter 2024/25, the personal starting right for the IBU Cup champion will no longer apply. Instead, the national federation may nominate one more male and one more female starter. In principle, a maximum of six starters per nation will once again be allowed to compete in the 2023/24 World Cup, with only Sweden's women and Norway's men allowed to field seven athletes on the first two World Cup weekends.