Two for Hochfilzen...Arnd and Erik
Laura Dahlmeier and Simon Schempp are not the only German athletes with medal potential at these IBU World Championships, Erik Lesser and Arnd Peiffer are also on the list and might even get a big result in tomorrow's men's sprint.
Erik Lesser's 2016-17 results were largely mixed, until Oberhof rolled around, the 28-year-old got in the groove once again. Fifth in the Oberhof sprint and pursuit kickstarted the new year. Then, he made his big move by nipping the almost unbeatable Martin Fourcade with a finish line lunge for second place in the mass start in a photo-finish. .
His sheer guts and bravado on the last loop paid dividends, giving him his first podium of the season. Lesser is capable of pressuring his opponents with his rapid fire shooting but his attacking mindset can be a double-edged sword. A mere week after his strong results in Oberhof, the German pressed in the Ruhpolding relay and made an unnecessary visit to the penalty loop after the standing stage.
When Lesser is "in the zone" both on the tracks and at the shooting range, he may have a say in the medal fight. He is a man who has an Olympic 20K Individual Silver medal and an IBU World Championship Pursuit Gold medal in his trophy case, so he knows what it takes. Lesser has frequently shown that he is capable of the big performance when it matters most.
Best chances for medals: Pursuit, mass start, individual, relay
Few other athletes are having a season as good as Arnd Peiffer. The 29-year-old has been solid at the shooting range, dropping 88% of the targets. His two podiums, third in the Östersund sprint and second in the Oberhof pursuit plus his six Top Tens this season, add up to his current fourth in the World Cup Total Score. The Oberhof pursuit was particularly impressive; he jumped from15th at the start to the podium on a day when his three penalties looked like good shooting. Only one person kept him from the top spot, a certain Martin Fourcade.
Peiffer is known for his sprint skills: five of his six career wins have been in sprints as have fourteen of his twenty-two career podiums. This season has only reconfirmed that. There's a chance that 2011 IBU WCH Sprint Gold medalist from Clausthal-Zellerfeld in Northern Germany might not get his second sprint medal, but there is always the pursuit. He is one of the most reliable in the standing stage and loves chasing down a leading pack... and he might be extra-motivated if he's getting close to a medal in Hochfilzen.
Peiffer picked up his first medal (Gold) in yesterday's mixed relay, dropping going 10-for-10 with no spares. Even with this good start, he remained cautious regarding the upcoming competitions. Peiffer, admitted there is always room for improvement. “You always have to improve, as if you think that you can relax, you lose it the next time. We are enjoying being on top today.” If he improves more, then more gold will be in his future.
Best chances for medals: Sprint, pursuit, relay