Seb and Hanna…Medals, Hard Work, and the Huge Goal, Östersund 2019 Video
There are always those sports stories about fairy tale endings, but sometimes there are fairy tale beginnings. Take Sebastian Samuelsson and Hanna Oeberg for example; their stories are far from ending, since the World Cup careers of the 21 and 22-year-olds, respectively, have just begun.
Each has just two seasons of BMW IBU World Cup experience, 45 starts for Samuelsson and 41 starts for Oeberg. Yet in that short span, they have made their marks in biathlon. In December 2016, both started their World Cup careers auspiciously in their home stadium at Östersund.
Double IBU Junior World Champion
Oeberg, after two IBU Junior World Championships the previous season finished 8th in the season-opening 15K individual with the fastest range time among the superlatives that day. Her male counterpart competed as a youth the previous season with a best of 5th in the IBU Youth WCH pursuit. Yet when thrown into the World Cup sprint at age 18, he opened his career with a clean-shooting 19th place!
IBU Rookies of the Year
Both stayed on the World Cup circuit all season and when the dust settled, they were both named IBU Rookies of the Year for the 2016-17 season.
Fast forward to the next season, that changed both their lives forever. The young stars trained harder than ever, the Pyeongchang 2018 always in the back of their minds. Yet after their auspicious rookie seasons, they both hit a “sophomore slump” on the BMW IBU World Cup circuit. Neither of them matched their previous year bests. Samuelsson was skiing decently, but missing shots that kept him down in the results. In the Ruhpolding 20K, his 6th place ski time was clouded by three penalties and a 39th place finish. Oeberg was out much of January, with just one relay leg at Ruhpolding.
Silver, then Gold
Yet, by Pyeongchang, both of them showed they were ready to battle for medals from the first competitions. Oeberg had a single penalty in the sprint to finish 7th; she backed that up with 5th in the pursuit. Samuelsson had two sprint penalties to cross in 14th, but a mere 33 seconds outside of Gold. He came back with a track time 12 seconds faster than Martin Fourcade, to claim the Silver medal, behind the French star. In the Games-closing men’s relay, he used a single spare to tag anchor Fredrik Lindstrom in second position. Lindstrom pulled away from the field to bring Sweden it’s first-ever Olympic Relay Gold medal.
Golden Girl’s Perfection
In the women’s 15K individual, Oeberg’s star shined brightly. Wearing bib number 24, she shot clean, took an early lead and never looked back, giving her an Olympic Gold medal in what she called, “a perfect race.” She came back as the relay anchor and again dominated, going 10-for-10 and pulling her team from 8th position at the handoff to the Silver medal.
All of the Olympic glory is now history. Oeberg has her medals “at home in a bag, somewhere in her apartment,” while Samuelsson has his “waiting to be placed somewhere special.” The two are now focused on becoming better biathletes and adding to their medal collections at the 2019 IBU World Championships.
It is highly likely that this fairy tale story has many more chapters yet to be written in the future for Sweden’s young stars.
Here is our in-depth interview with this dynamic duo, Sebastian Samuelsson and Hanna Oeberg.