On Thursday, the second third of the World Cup Biathlon begins in Pokljuka with the women’s sprint at 2:20 p.m. Norwegian champion Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, who is returning to competitions after a series of problems, will be in the spotlight.
The thirty-two-year-old biathlon queen missed the start of the season due to poor strength. She suffered a Covid-19 infection in March, and after additional health problems in the fall, she had to go through the preparation process once again.
But many competitors, headed by the French Julia Simon, will surely try to defend what they have already won in the battle for the crystal globe. In any case, it should not be overlooked that the women’s competition is very colourful and that the Swedish Elvira Oeberg, the Italian Lisa Vittozzi, the German Denise Herrmann, the other Norwegian Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, the Swedish Linn Persson, and others will not give her the throne without a fight.
Three-time Olympic champion Roeiseland will be in a special position this time. In Pokljuka, she will be at a race with her husband Sverre Olsbu Roeiseland for the first time this season, but they will not be cheering for each other. Sverre namely started working with the German women’s team this year.
“There is no reason why Germany should not become the strongest country in biathlon again,” is surely something that neither his wife Marte nor the Norwegian crowd likes to hear, but the German media are happy to summarize it. Pokljuka, however, will not be the only criterion for Marte, as it turned out this venue does not suit her particularly.
Her husband’s involvement with the German team was also something that gave the Norwegian biathlete a reason to persist, as the media reported that the competitor, who also won 11 gold medals at the World Championships, two with the relay in Pokljuka 2021, was already thinking about the end of her career.
The strong Swedish team expects new successes. Hanna Öberg will be missing due to health problems, but Stina Nilson, who switched to biathlon from cross-country skiing two seasons ago, will be in Pokljuka. The media will surely compare her achievements with those of home heroine Anamarija Lampič, as well as with the German Denise Herrmann, the third outstanding competitor who came to biathlon from cross-country skiing.
The French team had some difficulties during the holidays, trying to find snow training conditions after a short break. But the form of current leader Julie Simon, who last confirmed her good work in Gelsenkirchen at the exhibition, is superb. There she was celebrating another victory with Fabien Claude.
This year, Austria expects a positive effect of Pokljuka on Lisa Theresa Hauser. She recently won three medals here at the World Championships in Rudno polje. “It’s wonderful to be back here,” said the Tyrolean just before the competition. She adds everyone will be looking to get back into the competitive rhythm after the holidays, and Thursday’s sprint will reveal, who did it best.
There are still many unknowns. In the Czech team, due to an illness, the appearance of only four male and three female competitors is announced. They hope a fourth will join. But most important is the solid form of Marketa Davidova, the 2021 World Champion in the longest 15-kilometres race in 2021.
Slovenia has two powerful weapons among girls. Polona Klemenčič, who this season found contact with the world’s peak, as well as Anamarija Lampič, who constantly emphasizes that this is a learning year, but she has already proved in Hochfilzen that she can reach the podium with good shooting. Živa Klemenčič will also get the opportunity to start.
Lampič had slight health problems at the end of the holidays, and the question is whether this will show during the performance. However, all our competitors will have strong support from the stands, as Zavarovalnica Triglav is enabling more than 2,500 children to watch biathlon races for the ninth time as part of the Children of Triglav campaign.