Sprint Gold medalist from PyeongChang 2018 deliberates on Marte Olsbu Roeiseland's and Quentin Fillon Maillet's stunning medal-collecting series in Beijing and explains why Tarjei Boe keeps challenging much younger athletes.
As biathlon competitions in Beijing take place at a high altitude, the cold and strong winds play an additional factor when athletes try to manage their energy reserves and deal with the pressure that only Olympic Winter Games bring. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland did seemingly everything right in her preparations and season planning before Beijing 2022. She listened to her feelings and arrived in China with the batteries fully charged. Marte followed her plan, which deviated slightly from one of the rest of the Norwegians, but she has good people around her. I have done some adjustments in the season planning a few times myself. I can tell you that when one thinks the plans through and can explain the decisions, coaches tend to understand that and offer full support. Marte’s biathlon is well-balanced. She is very stable on the shooting range, her skiing fast and on a consistently high level. That reflects that she feels good about herself.
We can observe similar things with Quentin Fillon Maillet. His main advantage is his stability in standing shooting. Other athletes know that Quentin will trigger fast and shoot with very high accuracy in the standing. That gives others the feeling that they barely stand a chance, especially in the pursuit, when things are a bit rushed. I have always considered Quentin as a very fair and genuinely world-class athlete. The same goes for Tarjei Boe, with whom and against whom I competed my whole career. It was great to see him win his first-ever individual Olympic medal in the sprint and then another in the pursuit, in perhaps the most demanding race of the season in cold, snowy, and windy weather, with tracks slow and punishing for the body. After many disappointments and nearly-missed medals, he managed to do so in his fourth Olympic Games. Tarjei is an incredibly ambitious and a very disciplined athlete. He has risen level of his biathlon in the past two seasons because he learned to rest more. That becomes an increasingly important part of training-planing when one goes past thirty.
With relays scheduled for tomorrow, I see Norwegian men and women as the biggest favourites. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Sturla Holm Laegreid haven’t had a successful Olympic Games so far and will be highly motivated to win their first Olympic medal. Sweden men have won no trophies and will also do everything within their powers to get one. France will challenge Norwegians, but ROC, Germany, and Belarus will also have something to say. The material will play a significant role in the relays and the mass start. We need to only look at the German team, which had superb skis in the mixed relay and the individual. In the sprint, they could compete well and had no chances in the pursuit, which made them unhappy. Add winds and swings in the daily form to the relay equation, and we have new excitement awaiting us!