In the deafening noise that engulfed his phenomenal two weeks in Oberhof 2023, JT said one sentence that said more about him than all the medals: “I have a beautiful wife and a healthy son. That is a success. Seven medals or not, I am ok. I will always be ok.”
After returning home from Oberhof 2023, Johannes posted four things on his Instagram account:
1 His wife Hedda is pregnant, and Johannes is beaming with pride;
2 Johannes went skiing under the blue sky, and he is simply enjoying the life;
3 He had a quiet Saturday with his family where they ate outside, Gustav skied behind Johannes, and father and son played a keepie-uppie;
4 He spent time on his treadmill 'The Beast', looking as sharp as ever.
Johannes arrives in Nove Mesto unbeaten in the Sprint in 2022/2023, with 219 points advantage in the Total Score standings over the almost equally brilliant Sturla Holm Laegreid and with five wins to his name in the Czech Republic from previous seasons.
With seven competitions to go, there are just 76 points dividing the Total Score leader among women Julia Simon and her closest challenger Elvira Oeberg. They had very different World championships: Simon won her first-ever individual Gold medal at the main event while Oeberg fell sick after the Sprint and got out of bed just to help Sweden’s women's relay win a Bronze. Nove Mesto is a mystery for both of them: Elvira's highest finish was seventh in the Sprint in 2020/2021; Julia was 17th in the Mass start in 2018/2019 and never came close to even finishing in the Top 10.
Marketa Davidova finished third in the Sprint in Nove Mesto in 2019/2020, her best result in the Czech Republic so far. She is currently 8th in the Total Score standings, which speaks of her consistency this winter. Oberhof 2023 was not a success for Marketa, but Trimester 3 brings new opportunities. After a Sprint (second) - Pursuit (third) podium double in Hochfilzen, the time seems ripe for Marketa to go for her first win this season.
The 2021/2022 heroes Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Quentin Fillon Maillet are not the dominant figures in 2022/2023, but they share fond memories of Nove Mesto. Olsbu Roeiseland scored her first-ever World cup win and her first-ever Sprint-Pursuit double in the 2018/2019 season. Fillon Maillet’s career-first Sprint-Pursuit double came in the 2020/2021 season.
Photo: IBU/C. Manzoni, archive