The winter sports season is slowly getting underway. After the first Alpine World Cup races around a month ago, the first World Cup competitions took place in numerous other disciplines over the past two weeks. The first ski jumping competitions were held in Nizhny Tagil, in Yanqing the tobogganers tested the Olympic ice canal in 2022, in Innsbruck-Igls the German bobsleigh riders triumphed, and in Ruka in Finland the German combiners used the disqualification of the Norwegian dominator Jarl Magnus Riiber for a triple victory during the Cross-country World Cup opener at the same place where the Norwegian Therese Johaug actually failed to win a race.
The first world cup competitions in biathlon took place last weekend in Östersund, Sweden, according to tradition. Regardless of all German successes in other winter sports, biathlon has been number one in surveys for years as the most popular winter sport in Germany. Only ski jumping is a serious competitor.
The German biathlon team is currently in a transition phase. Some top performers have ended their careers in recent years. The early retirement of seven-time world champion Laura Dahlmeier two and a half years ago weighed particularly heavily. But Simon Schempp and Arnd Peiffer, who contested their last races last season, also left gaps. The remaining figureheads are also getting on in years: Denise Herrmann (32) for women, Benedikt Doll (31) and Erik Lesser (33) for men.
All the more gratifying that several German athletes were able to achieve personal bests at the competitions in Östersund. In the opening competition on Saturday, the 15-kilometer race for women, both Anna Weidel from WSV Kiefersfelden achieved this in ninth place and Vanessa Voigt (WSV Rotterode) in twelfth place. Weidel was one of the few athletes who made no mistakes at the shooting range. The best DSV runner was Denise Herrmann (WSC Erzgebirge Oberwiesenthal) in third place. The Czech Marketa Davidova won ahead of the Austrian Lisa Theresa Hauser.
In the men’s 20-kilometer race that followed, Justus Strelow from SG Stahl Schmiedeberg achieved his best result in the World Cup so far in 13th place. Roman Rees (SV Schauinsland) was one place behind. At the top, the Norwegian team demonstrated its supremacy. Four Norwegians finished in the top six. Sturla Holm Lægreid won ahead of Tarjei Bø and Frenchman Simon Desthieux. The Russian Eduard Latypow made a special contribution, who missed the finish line with a chance of a podium and had to turn back. In the end, it was only enough for seventh place.
In the women’s 7.5 kilometer sprint on Sunday, Anna Weidel confirmed her excellent result from the previous day in 16th place. Once again, the customs officer was flawless when shooting. The best DSV runner this time became one of the veterans with Franziska Preuß (SC Haag) in seventh place. A small compensation for the disappointing 23rd place the previous day. Preuss took the excellent third place in the overall World Cup 2020/21. Denise Herrmann only managed 25th place in the sprint competition. The Swedish Hanna Öberg won ahead of the French Anaïs Chevalier-Bouchet and the Norwegian Marte Olsbu Røiseland.
In the men’s ten-kilometer sprint, Philipp Nawrath from SK Nesselwang posted another personal best for DSV in sixth place. Philipp Horn (SV Eintracht Frankenhain) was 17th, Benedikt Doll (SZ Breitnau) 18th. The Swede Sebastian Samuelsson won ahead of the Norwegians Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen and Johannes Thingnes Bø.
None of the DSV athletes who achieved personal bests in Östersund are younger than 24, which doesn’t mean much in biathlon. The World Cup has its own rating for athletes under 25 years of age. It is rare for younger athletes to achieve top performance. Exceptional experts like Laura Dahlmeier confirm the rule.
The Biathlon World Cup will continue next weekend with further competitions in Östersund.