A Look Back to Pyeongchang, a Look Forward to Kontiolahti
More than a week has passed since the end of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, yet, for most athletes, it probably feels like “only a week." Now the tour is moving towards the last and decisive stages of the BMW IBU World Cup. However, a lot is still at stake in the fight for the big and small crystal globes; the motivation is still vast to leave a mark on the end of this Olympic season.
When a big event like the Olympic Winter Games comes to the end, it is often hard to keep the same focus for the remaining stages of the World Cup tour, especially when it is left with a successful set of medals. However, bouncing back from disappointment is not easy, even though the motivation may be higher. On the women’s tour, for example, Anastasiya Kuzmina, with three Olympic medals and her third Gold in three consecutive Games, is said to be ready to give everything to try and win the first crystal globe in her career. The Slovak will have to close a tiny margin of 15 points on Kaisa Mäkäräinen, whose Olympics did not match her own expectations and therefore is hungry for revenge starting on the home ground in Kontiolahti.
Dorothea Wierer and Laura Dahlmeier have also a far shot to the big globe. Although the Italian was one of the most consistent in Pyeongchang, she failed to capture an individual medal there, the German was the first week's star, with two Gold and one Bronze medal in the first three competitions. Many eyes will be on Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg, Gold medalist in the individual and the only woman among the top 10 in every South Korean competition. For her, however, in terms of rankings there is nothing to fight for in the remaining three stages.
On the men’s side, the Olympic Winter Gams signaled the unexpected end to the diarchy Fourcade-Boe, with Arnd Peiffer winning the sprint; the two never sharing the same podium in individual competitions. Many stepped up for the occasion, not only Peiffer: Sebastian Samuelsson took the Silver with a terrific performance in the pursuit and proved a tough client for all the big names, while two more German athletes medaled individually.
Will the return to Europe also mark the return of the duel between Martin Fourcade and Johannes Boe or will all the protagonists of the Games challenge the leading duo more frequently? The battle for the big crystal globe is now a matter between them two, with the French star holding a 54 point lead and better results in Pyeongchang. Still, the road to the 7th consecutive overall title is not an easy one.
Just to complete the set, in Finland there will be space for the last mixed events of the season: the Single Mixed Relay, which hopes to be part of the Olympic program in 4 years, and the Mixed Relay, which has already proved to be a great quality entertainment like in Pyeongchang.