The season 2022/23 is also Polona Klemenčič’s season. For the first time in her career, at the age of 25, she gets opportunities in mass start races. Connoisseurs like to call this race the Formula 1 of world biathlon, in which only the top 30 men and women compete.
She is currently 32nd overall in the World Cup standings. In the meantime, she was already 19th, but before the races in France, she was 27th. Rankings around 20th place have become regular, and with a few more hit shots, the national team member from Nemilje pri Besnici could also finish among the top ten.
It is progress of at least one quality class, a new dimension, with which she finally succeeded the generation of excellent Slovenian female competitors Teja Gregorin, Tadeja Brankovič, Andreja Grašič, and others, who formed the broader world elite.
“I think that even in previous years, I trained well, I did everything to be as good as possible. This year is not much different, but there are fewer ups and downs. Otherwise, I always gave my best,” says the athlete from Kranj’s Triglav Club after her new achievements.
However, there must be reasons, since these are the achievements that are now constant. Top 20 rankings were once a wish, now they are a reality. “Obviously, with this year’s training (the team was taken over by Ricco Gross), something really changed. Maybe I’m calmer on the shooting range, and more accurate.”
The competitor confirms that the season is significantly different in terms of achievements. The eighth overall running result in one of the races is a sign that with the help of Fortuna the podium is also reachable; competitors in the rank of Lisa Hauser can be caught on the track.
“These are really great feelings. Now, I know that everything doesn’t depend only on shooting. I know that I can compensate for one missed shot in a race with fast skiing. It’s also great when I see that I can keep up with these strong competitors. I know that a bad day will come eventually, but I also know what I’m capable of. With performances like this, you gain confidence.”
“The difference is obvious. I used to know that I could overtake someone if I had a good day. Now, I always bite the bullet. Even before I always fought to the finish line, but now the approach is different. I’m really happy. I just hope that will continue to do so.”
She also found new motivation in joint training sessions with Anamarija Lampič. “If I’m a little behind her in training, I realize that I’m strong myself. But it’s amazing to watch her. When she’s on the track, everything looks so easy with her. And sometimes, I can’t believe that she’s so fast.”
And the young Slovenian will try to transfer a part of this motivation from races and training to the World Cup race in Rudno polje. “I’m hoping for a new best result this year. I’ll give it my all. A lot will also depend on how I perform on the shooting range.”