Five Burning Questions for…Tilda Johansson

Coming into this season, the highlight reel for Tilda Johansson’s biathlon career was pretty small: a clean-shooting 4th place in the Arber IBU Junior Cup Sprint in March of 2020 and running the leadoff leg on Sweden’s second-place IBU Cup Women’s Relay team almost a year late ironically in Arber. After missing all of 2021/22 season, she trained this past summer and fall exclusively with Sweden’s A team. In that environment, Johansson’s latent talent blossomed into a career season: Sprint/Pursuit Silver IBU OECH medals plus a Mixed Relay Bronze, 20th place in her third-ever World Cup start. Now, after a tough draining battle with Covid-19, Tilda Johansson recovered to become 2023 IBU Cup Total Score winner and will start this week in the home BMW IBU Oestersund World Cup.

A couple of hours after claiming the IBU Cup big Crystal Globe 23-year-old Johansson answered five questions and revealed a sport she once excelled in.

Biathlonworld: Before the season, what were your goals; did you have any thoughts about winning the IBU Cup Total Score?

Tilda Johansson: Actually, just to compete; compete as much as possible. After the first race (2nd Idre Fjall IBU Cup Sprint), I saw that I could have higher goals. Then I put all my focus on the IBU Open European Championships as my big goal. I am really happy that I took three medals there.

I had no thoughts at all about the Total Score before the IBU OECH. I skipped the Osrblie IBU Cup. I just was not thinking about the Total. It was just a bonus for me to have this opportunity to win this, a big bonus!

BW: Your shooting was much better this season what was the key to that improved shooting?

TJ: Of course, I trained hard with a lot of focus this summer. But I also think I am quite calm, believe in myself, and know that I will always stand on the starting line and do my best. I am never nervous. I know that I cannot do more than my best. Of course, I trained all summer with the A team, learning and watching them. They were a big influence.

BW: What was going through your mind in the last loop of the Canmore pursuit, not knowing if you had done enough to win the Total Score with only eight points separating you and Gilonne Guigonnat?

TJ: I heard from my coach when I left the last shooting that I could not slow down. I had to keep going because we did not know how the French girls were doing. I just tried to reach the finish line as fast as possible and not let any other girl pass me. When I reached the finish line, I did not know anything. It took a while for me to understand what happened and to believe when people told me ‘you won the Total.’ I did not really believe it until I heard the speaker…and then I fell apart.

BW: What did you learn about yourself this season?

TJ: I am stronger than I thought. The last week has been really tough mentally. When I came to Canmore, I did not know if I could go, after Covid, if I could race at all. The first Friday, I skipped official training because I felt so weak. Then I thought I should give it a try. I did and now I won the Total Score. It was like, “don’t stop believing, keep pushing the whole way to the last meters of the last race. You cannot think it is over before it is. (Swedish Head Coach) Johannes Lukas told me that many times.

BW: How excited are you about getting a World Cup start at home in Oestersund?

TJ: It is going to be really fun, because it is in Sweden. Competing in the World Cup on my home track will be awesome. I am really looking forward to it. I know when I get home the A team will be there and I want to be there with them.

BW: Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people know about you?

TJ: When I was younger, I competed in rhythmic gymnastics and I have a medal from the Swedish Championships. That is quite cool!

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Harald Deubert

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