Two for Hochfilzen...Laura and Simon
Up next in our series of quick looks at the medal contenders at the IBU World Championships starting on February 9; this German duo will be vying for titles: Simon Schempp and Laura Dahlmeier.
This just might be the year for the modest young lady currently wearing the Yellow Bib, Laura Dahlmeier. Last year, she won her first individual IBU World Championship title, going home with five medals in year when she missed Östersund, was sub-par in Canmore and missed Presque Isle. This season, she is way ahead of the curve even though she skipped the Oberhof sprint/pursuit. Dahlmeier has been impeccable all season, with nine podiums, including four wins and nothing worse than a single seventh place in the Nove Mesto pursuit. She is not the perfect shooter, but has two clean shooting days, both in sprints. What she does have is understated power on her skis; nothing flashy but she gets the job done. Her fitness level is probably the best in her career, after a summer without illness or injury. Her other strength is between her ears: a mental toughness that probably comes from her true love, climbing mountains. Dahlmeier said before the season that “winning five medals is special” and would be hard to repeat. The chances of her doing that well and better are high. Her record this season shows is filled with podiums. She has been at her best in the sprints and the 15K individual, as well as anchoring Germany to three World Cup relay wins. Dahlmeier could easily leave Hochfilzen with five medals again, mostly Gold. Best chances for medals, everything she starts: sprint, pursuit, individual, mass start and relay.
Simon Schempp is the man the German team depends on; to be consistently on the podium and anchor the men’s relay team to victory. The good thing is that he goes to Hochfilzen with the confidence of a thrilling relay win in Antholz. No doubt in anyone’s mind after nipping Emil Hegle Svendsen at the finish line that Germany could win the WCH relay. Although he is in third place in the World Cup Total Score and won the Oberhof mass start; this has not been Schempp’s best season. He started slowly with 46th, 21st and 9th places in Östersund. The great shooting of the previous season seemed to still be on holiday. The first individual podium came with second in the Nove Mesto mass start, the same weekend the shooting came back. Since then, the Oberhof win has been his only individual podium, but Schempp has been very competitive in every competition. He had solid shooting in Antholz. Things are looking up! Schempp has never won an individual WCH medal, but if the shooting goes well, a couple could be in the cards. Best chances for medals: sprint, mass start and relay.