The importance of the first World Cup week

Taking into account the last five seasons, we have analysed the importance of the opening week of the season on the momentum that the Total Score winners built for the rest of the winter.

Unsurprisingly, JT Boe’s four BMW IBU World Cup Total Score wins in the past five seasons had a sound foundation in strong openings to the season. But how did season opening affect the women’s field? And were there any exceptions to the rule?

Grey background column: total amount of points available.

Blue columns: amount of points scored by Total Score winner in the first week, first trimester and overall.

Johannes dominantly opened all his four triumphing seasons

Boe opened the 2018/2019 season in Pokljuka with seventh place in the Individual and the Sprint-Pursuit double. Despite a win in the Individual, Fourcade started to fade in the Sprint (24th place) and didn’t finish the Pursuit: such was the exhaustion he felt after a winning 2017/2018 Olympic season. Johannes left Pokljuka in the yellow bib with 156 points in his pocket. Backed by a record-breaking 16 World Cup wins, Boe scored 1,262 points, and an era of his (largely undisrupted) dominance began.

Fourcade threw everything at Johannes in the 2019/2020 season. The Frenchman won in the Individual in the Season opening in Oestersund, Boe finished 10th but had a win in the Sprint. Fourcade left Oestersund in a yellow bib with 100 points, and Boe was third with 91. But ten wins - and much-needed luck - brought the Norwegian his second Total Score title in Kontiolahti. In a season shortened by a week (C-19 related), Boe won with 913 points (to Fourcade’s 911).

No-spectators season 2020/2021 opened with a double-week in Kontiolahti and a new challenger to JT Boe: Sturla Holm Laegreid won in the Individual and gave Boe a run for his money until the end of the winter. Despite Laegreid’s excellence, Johannes won his third consecutive Total Score title with 1,052 points to Sturla’s 1,039.

Johannes’ winning 2022/2023 season was the best-ever: after a ninth place in the Individual and wins in the Sprint and Pursuit, he finished the season with 1,589 points, and 16 World Cup wins.

Fillon Maillet gradually shifted gears

Quentin Fillon Maillet started the 2021/2022 season in Oestersund modestly: he left Sweden with 116 points in the ninth place, 62 points behind the at-that-time-leader Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen. In an assertive opening Trimester for France, Fillon Maillet trailed Emilien Jacquelin by just two points when the caravan went home for a Christmas break. With JT Boe’s mind focused on the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, Fillon Maillet asserted his dominance from the first competition in 2022 and finished the winter with eight wins and 984 points for a career-first Total Score title.

Grey background column: total amount of points available.

Blue columns: amount of points scored by Total Score winner in the first week, first trimester and overall.

Wierer took the early lead in her two Total Score-winning seasons

Dorothea Wierer won back-to-back Total Score titles in the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons. She opened both with more assertive performance than her challengers and kept her lead at the end of Trimester 1. Wierer won both her titles in a dramatic fashion, fighting to the very last shot of the season. In 2018/2019, she won three times and had additional podium finishes for 904 points, 22 more than Lisa Vittozzi in the second place. In 2019/2020, she scored four wins (including two at her home-bound World championships in Antholz-Anterselva) for 793 points, seven more than the second Tiril Eckhoff.

Eckhoff was simply too good for any lethargy to override her

Still beaten down after a heart-breaking Total Score loss in the last shooting of the final competition of the previous winter, Tiril Eckhoff started the 2020/2021 season in Kontiolahti with two no-points disasters. She hated the dark days and empty stands but - as only she could - turned her fortunes and the whole season on a dime with a Pursuit win. Suddenly aware of how amazingly gifted she is, Eckhoff started to climb from the abyss: she left Kontiolahti as 13th, was third before the Christmas break, and finished the season with 13 wins and 1,152 points, 100 more than the men’s winner JT Boe!

Second after the Opening week, Olsbu Roeiseland and Simon raced to glory

Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Julia Simon, winners of the Total Score titles in the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 seasons, ranked second after the Season openings. They were in the lead at the end of Trimester 1 and won the Total Score title. Olsbu Roeiseland had six wins for a winning score of 957 points, and Simon had three wins and seven additional podiums for a winning score of 1,093 points.

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