Erik Lesser: A successful comeback (neue-deutschland.de)

Erik Lesser ran after the World Cup norm for many months last season. On Saturday he made it in the first attempt with third place in the individual.

Photo: AFP / Markku Ulander

Mark Kirchner has been the head coach of the German biathletes for ten years, and the three-time Olympic champion does not know any of his students as well as Erik Lesser. Both come from Thuringia and have been working together at the base in Oberhof for many years. Kirchner was accordingly delighted when Lesser got one of the two free places in the German World Cup team in the internal elimination races last week. The fact that the 32-year-old had to qualify in the first place was due to his poor last season. His regular place as a seeded athlete was then only perdu. But now his coach saw Lesser’s former skills freshly polished.

“Erik is distinguished by the fact that he is there when it comes to the sausage,” emphasized Kirchner before the nine-hour bus ride from the training camp in Muonio to Kontiolahti. The international biathlon elite started the new season there at the weekend – and Lesser immediately celebrated a remarkable comeback in Finland’s forests.

At the start on Saturday he came third in the sensational victory of the 23-year-old Norwegian Sturla Holm Lägreid ahead of his famous compatriot Johannes Thingnes Bö in the individual. “Somehow I did something right in training in the last few weeks, I can be absolutely satisfied,” said Oberhofer – and admitted that this feeling up there on the podium was “a bit of relief”. In the sprint on Sunday, Arnd Peiffer was the best DSV starter in seventh place, while Lesser confirmed his early form with ninth place.

As a burned child last winter, the 2015 world pursuit champion – also in Kontiolahti – gently pressed the brakes. “I have a good feeling, but I also know that next week things can be very different again,” he commented with a view to the second World Cup loop in Kontiolahti, which the men will start on Thursday with the ten kilometer sprint.

In the preseason, Lesser, who had dragged stubborn back problems into the winter, struggled with his form for a long time. For the World Championships in Antholz he was initially only nominated as a substitute runner, but was finally allowed to start at the season highlight in South Tyrol. Even then he was there when it mattered. Lesser and Franziska Preuss promptly won silver in the single mixed relay. In the German men’s quartet, he made sure with a strong performance as a starting runner that the relay colleagues Philipp Horn, Arnd Peiffer and Benedikt Doll were allowed to take home a bronze plaque at the end of the mostly disappointing title fights. This time Lesser started right from the start.

Just like Denise Herrmann with second place in the individual, beaten by the Italian Dorothea Wierer after 15 kilometers and four shooting bouts by only 0.8 seconds. »To win the overall World Cup is my big goal. There are already a few contenders who are really hot. But I’m definitely one of them. If you have the tools, it would be nice to use it in every competition, ”said the ski hunter from WSC Erzgebirge Oberwiesenthal, who lives and trains in Ruhpolding, in an interview with“ nd ”before the start of the season.

The start was also successful, but the second infusion on Sunday then went badly wrong: In the victory of the Swede Hannah Öberg, Herrmann slid to the finish with three shooting errors under “also ran” – and commented after her disappointing 38th place: “I’m not bad felt. But after shot seven I somehow lost control. “

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