Norwegian-French festival also for the season finale?

After the successes at the Biathlon World Championships, it's now all about the overall World Cups

Nove Mesto is history. A success story from the point of view of France's women and Norway's men. Because at the highlight of the season, the World Championships in Moravia, the Équipe tricolore cleaned up in the women's race. This came as a bit of a surprise because, with the exception of the individual race, in which Italy's Lisa Vittozzi won, all the titles involving women went to France. Julia Simon, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet, plus the relay and both mixed competitions, the Marseillaise always rang out at the award ceremony. This is astonishing because the competition from Norway, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland had no chance overall. Admittedly, the equipment played a decisive role in the difficult external conditions. But that alone cannot have been the reason, as the men's results prove. The Norwegians dominated here. Once again. Apart from the relay, which was won by Sweden, the high-flyers of the last winter were also unrivaled in the Czech Republic. Sturla Holm Lagreid at the start in the sprint and then Johannes Thingnes Boe collected the titles. It was enough for Boe to win his 20th gold medal at the World Championships, breaking the record of his compatriot Ole Einar Björdalen. The competition from Sweden, Germany and France could not keep up. Especially in the first week, this was probably also due to the fact that the Norwegians' technicians simply delivered more suitable skis for the inhospitable conditions in Nove Mesto than the experts from the other competitors.

The season is now entering the home straight. After the classic event at Holmenkollen in Norway's capital Oslo, the World Cup caravan sets off to celebrate the end of the World Cup winter in America. The final World Cup weekends will take place in Salt Lake City and Canmore, Canada, both places with biathlon history, having hosted the Olympic competitions in 2002 and 2010 respectively. These final competitions are called the final trimester because a World Cup winter is traditionally divided into three sections. It begins with the competitions up to Christmas, followed by the classics from Oberhof to Antholz and the World Championships and then the grand finale. It's all about the World Cup globes - and there are plenty of them. In addition to the overall World Cup, biathletes on the American continent also compete for the coveted crystal globe in several sub-disciplines, the size of which is one size smaller than the large crystal globe for overall success. Excitement is guaranteed - in the women's event, this is documented by the top placings alone. Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold leads the overall standings, but experienced a world championship that did not go according to her wishes. Which raises the question: Can the Norwegian flip the switch and perform successfully again or will the competition catch her? Tandrevold gave an impressive answer by winning the individual event in Oslo. She also leads the sprint rankings, while Julia Simon is currently ahead in the pursuit and mass start. The battle for the bullet in the individual start has already been decided after Oslo, Lisa Vittozzi grabbed the piece.

In the men's race, the situation is a little clearer. Johannes Dale-Skjevdal is leading in the mass start. Otherwise, Johannes Thingnes Boe is once again in the lead in all other statistics, which is almost logical, but still far from certain. At least in the sprint, Benedikt Doll, a competitor from Germany, is still sniffing at the exhaust pipe, in the other competitions it would have to be like the devil if no Norwegian collects a crystal, in the pursuit and mass start the Scandinavians can be found in places one to five, in the overall World Cup half a dozen Nordic men have subscribed to the first places. And Boe has already won the individual World Cup since Oslo.

That leaves a look at the weather: it wasn't as lousy as at the World Championships at Holmenkollen, but the conditions there were also complicated due to the heat, and the women's individual race even had to be postponed due to the fog. In the USA and Canada, a new component will be added: The snow conditions. Soldier Hollow was already a special place in 2002. Snow that falls in the Rocky Mountains often originates in the Pacific and therefore often has a different consistency than the white splendor we are familiar with in European latitudes. And predicting the weather in Utah and Alberta is not so easy at the moment; the most likely scenario is that winter will return, at least in Canada. That would be a conciliatory farewell, at least in terms of the conditions, to a World Cup winter that would also end as a winter, but which posed major challenges for everyone involved in between.


Fotos: K.voigt Fotografie


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