Saying Good-bye: 2024 Retirements

Every season, a few biathletes end their careers, moving on from the professional athlete’s life to a new lifestyle of education, careers, family life, and stress-free summer holidays. The class of 2024 was small but notable.

Benedikt Doll

Germany’s Benedikt Doll, the affable food lover and gourmet chef/biathlete ironically ended his career at the same venue Canmore, where 15 years and two weeks prior, he won the first of three consecutive IBU Junior World Championships Relay Gold medals. That medal kicked off a successful junior, IBU Cup and later World Cup career. Victories, IBU OECH Gold medals, and two IBU Cup discipline globes were part of Doll’s apprenticeship.

On the World Cup team from the end of the 2013/14 season, the Hinterzarten resident claimed his first World Cup individual podium in 2015. A fixture on the German men’s relay team, Doll closed his career with 35 relay and mixed relay podiums. Beyond his IBU WCH 20 km Individual Bronze medal this year, the 2017 IBU World Championships Sprint was arguably the pinnacle of Doll’s outstanding career. In a dream scenario, Doll shot clean, outskiing JT Boe and Martin Fourcade, winning the Gold medal. He backed up that Sprint World Championship with Pursuit and Relay Bronze medals at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Doll ended his farewell season with two sprint wins plus the WCH Bronze 20 km Individual Bronze medal. The 20 km medal was just his second podium in that discipline. Doll was always known for his unorthodox but surprisingly fast ski technique, not his shooting. Summing up after his 2023 Oestersund 20 km win, “It (the win) is really special because normally I am not such a good shooter. I always aim to shoot 20-out-of-20 but today I could reach it.”

Benedikt Doll’s retirement following Arnd Peiffer, Simon Schempp and Erik Lesser marks the end of a victory and medal-filled era for the German team, with a new generation ready to make their mark.

Mona Brorsson

Sweden’s Mona Brorsson retired after a 16-year career that started inauspiciously, 4:30 back in the 2017 Geilo IBU Cup Junior Sprint. By the time she hung up her rifle, Brorsson’s name was prefaced with “Olympic Gold and Silver medalist.”

Brorsson spent several seasons on the IBU Cup circuit with decent results but zero podiums, earning her first World Cup starts in the 2013/14 season. Brorsson’s trajectory changed when she won the 2014 IBU OECH Pursuit Gold medal, solidifying her spot on the Swedish World Cup team. When Coach Wolfgang Pichler revamped the team the next season, he retained Brorsson, one of the few veterans in a youth-oriented squad. When the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games ended, she returned home with an Olympic Relay Silver medal. Despite only two career individual podiums, the Oestersund resident was an important part of the successful Swedish women’s relay team, with sixteen podiums including three wins. At the Beijing OWG, Brorsson’s clean-shooting second leg helped secure the Olympic Women’s Relay Gold medal.

Although she won IBU OECH Gold medals in 2019, that individual World Cup podium remained elusive until January 2022, when she finished third in the Antholz 15 km Individual. This season, at age 33, Brorsson upped her career-best, finishing second in the Ruhpolding Sprint…and of course, shooting clean.

Mona Brorsson’s strength was always on the shooting range in her 256 World Cup starts. Wolfgang Pichler in an interview last year summed up her rise from 4:30 back in a sprint to Olympic Champion. “Mona is a great example of overcoming the odds. Few people thought she would be successful in the World Cup, but I felt she had talent and kept her in our group. She was serious, worked very hard and you see what she achieved.”

Peppe Femling

Brorsson’s teammate Peppe Femling retired this month and likewise owns the title of Olympic Champion.

Femling never made it onto an individual World Cup or IBU Cup podium yet was a steady leadoff leg for Sweden’s men’s relay team for most of the past seven years. Femling excelled at the leadoff leg, shooting and skiing well enough to stay close to the leaders at the exchange. His leadoffs set up the 2018 Olympic Men’s Relay Gold medal as well as Silver and Bronze medals in the 2021 and 2023 IBU World Championships.

Secondary to his medals was Femling’s return from a devastating injury. Six months after his Olympic Gold medal, Femling, to avoid being hit by a car warming up for a rollerski race, fell into a ditch driving a ski pole completely through his calf muscle. A hospital operation that day removed the pole; eight days later, he was back training, and competed in the World Cup for six more seasons. Ironically, winning the only individual medal of his career at the 2022 IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships…on rollerskis!

Raido Raenkel

Estonia’s Raido Raenkel had a fairly short biathlon career, but a long one in Nordic sports. Before biathlon, Raenkel spent ten years in the Cross-country World Cup, competing in four World Championships and two Olympic Winter Games. Raenkel’s biathlon debut came at the 2019 Sjusjoen IBU Cup. The next week he was promoted to Estonia’s World Cup team, spending most of five seasons on the top circuit, competing in four IBU World Championships and the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games. For much of his career, the speedy Raenkel ran the anchor leg on the Estonia’s relay team.

Jules Burnotte

Although Canada’s Jules Burnotte ended his career at Le Grand Bornand in December 2022, he was recognized as part of this year’s retirement class. Burnotte’s fairly short international career began with an IBU YWCH Silver Relay medal in 2014. After not competing internationally for a couple of seasons, he moved into the IBU Cup for parts of two seasons before moving to the World Cup.

Burnotte’s career highlight came at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games when he qualified for the only mass start of his career, finishing 18th. Since leaving biathlon, the 27-year-old Sherbrooke, Quebec native has continued his education, preparing for a teaching career.

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Archive

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