5 things we learned in Hochfilzen

Hanna Sola scored her first-ever BMW IBU World Cup with one of the most incredible time margins in women’s sprint, JT Boe had the weakest sprint since the Olympic sprint in PyeongChang 2018, just like Sola Johannes Kuehn had a premiere win in the world cup and many other reached new career milestones. Russia is having a much stronger start to the season than last year, and IBU Junior Cup returned after a year of C-19 induced absence in Martell - Val Martello.

Hana Sola’s was one of the best women sprints ever

The craziest thing was that Hanna Sola didn’t feel particularly well on the morning of the women’s sprint in Hochfilzen. She then skied the fastest first lap, second-fastest second lap, and third fastest final lap while clocking the third-fastest shooting time, second-fastest range time, and won 46.8 seconds ahead of Justine Braisaz-Bouchet in the second place. A look back in the last four seasons illustrates that this is (by far) the most extensive winning margin in women’s sprint. In the 2017/2018 season, Anastasiya Kuzmina won Oberhof 35.4 seconds ahead of Kaisa Makarainen, but that is still 11 seconds smaller margin. On the all-time list, 46.8 seconds is the seventh most sumptuous margin. Liv Grete Skjelbreid won in Oslo-Holmenkollen in the 2000/2001 season a minute and 46 seconds ahead of Magdalena Forsberg, a record to this day.

Even superstars like JT Boe are struggling with the consistency

JT Boe, the winner of 26 sprints in the BMW IBU World Cup, had the worst finish in the sprint in Hochfilzen since the Olympic sprint in PyeongChang 2018. Boe missed three times for 30th place; he lost 30 seconds compared to the winner Johannes Kuehn in the last lap, a one-off subpar performance for the fastest biathlete of the prior four years. 30th in Hochfilzen was still one better than his 31st place with four misses in strong Korean winds at the Olympic Winter Games 2018. It is also the weakest start to the season for JT Boe since the 2015/2016 season when he was 10th in the Total Score standings after the first two weeks. JT travels to Annecy as seventh in the Total Score and with a glimmer of hope to better days just around the corner: he looked impressive in his relay leg for the winning Norwegian team.

A week of many career firsts and bests 

Johannes Kuehn started the season in the IBU Cup, got a call from Mark Kirchner to join the world cup squad in the second week of Oestersund, and used that chance well as he finished 12th in the sprint and 14th in the pursuit. He secured his Olympic ticket, traveled to Hochfilzen, and collected his first-ever BMW IBU World Cup win in the sprint of Hochfilzen. Hanna Sola was simply phenomenal in her sprint win, a career first as well. Anton Smolski earned his first podium in the sprint (backed up by sixth in the pursuit). Ida Lien was fourth in the sprint, her first flower finish. Smolski’s teammate Dzmitry Lazouski was ninth in the sprint, his first Top 10 finish in the BMW IBU World Cup. Vasilii Tomshin was 10th in the spirit; first Top 10 for him. 

Russia is much stronger than last year

Russia had suffer the whole Trimester 1 and wait until the win in the mixed relay in the first week Oberhof to earn first podium last season. It has scored three in the first three weeks in the 2021/2022 already: men’s relay was third in Oestersund and Hochfilzen and women’s second in Hochfilzen. After the first week of Hochfilzen last season Alexander Loginov, the highest ranked Russian man, was 19th in the Total Score standings with 125 points and 171 behind the leader JT Boe. Eduard Latypov is leaving Austria for France as sixth with 199 points, 51 behind the current leader Sebastian Samuelsson. Irina Kazakevich was 17th with 111 points as the best Russian woman after first six competitions of the 2020/2021 season. Uliana Nigmatullina is 13th with 135 this season.

Juniors are back!

The IBU Junior Cup returned to the IBU calendar after a COVID-19 related break with a full schedule this season. It opened in Martell-Val Martello. Ninety junior women and 121 junior men started in the individual. Seventeen nations among junior men and 13 among junior women battled for the team glory. Four countries collected a win, and five nations were on the podium. Junior athletes will stay in Martell-Val Martello for another week, with the competitions starting with sprints on 15 December 2021.

Photo: IBU; C. Manzoni, E. Tumashov, H. Deubert

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