Sebastian Samuelsson had a win and a second place in the second week of Oestersund and will give JT Boe a run for his money in the fight for the Total Score title this season. Lisa Theresa Hauser and very consistent Vetle Sjaastad are traveling to Hochfilzen in yellow, France is the team in-form on all fronts. Elvira Oeberg’s speed progress was stunning and Linda Zingerle made her mark in the IBU Cup.
Sebastian Samuelsson is ready for the biggest things
After the 2019/2020 season, he realised that he needed to switch gears, work harder and with greater precision than before, and fine-tune his nutrition if he is ever to fulfil his dream of challenging the great JT Boe and win the Total Score. Sebastian Samuelsson made huge strides forward last season with his first-ever win in the BMW IBU World Cup (the pursuit of Kontiolahti), silver medal in Pokljuka 2020 (in the pursuit) and three more second-place finishes (all in the sprint), and a final sixth place in the Total Score standings. After a blunder in the individuals (six misses), he won back-to-back sprints in Oestersund. Samuelsson opened the pursuit in the yellow bib for the first time in his career, finished second, and collected another podium. The most important thing: he is the fastest man on the skis.
There are 21 Total Score contenders
Lisa Theresa Hauser and Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen (for the first time in his career) are in the yellow before the biathlon caravan travels to Hochfilzen in Austrian Alps. There are only 53 points between Hauser and 10th Hana Sola with Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Dzinara Alimbekava, Oeberg sisters, Anais Chevalier-Bouchet, Marketa Davidova, Franziska Preuss and Denise Herrmann in-between them. Christiansen has 178 points and Sturla Holm Laegreid (as 11th; he did not start in the pursuit) 102. Between them are Sebastian Samuelsson, the Boe brothers, Eduard Latypov, the French trio of Emilien Jacquelin, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Fabien Claude, and Sivert Guttorm Bakken. One big questions lingers over the men's field. When will JT turn on to show his trademark speed or Have others caught up with him or even overtook him?
France is strong across all fronts
France won in the women's relay and completed two excellent weeks in Oestersund with nine podiums. French women collected four (first place in the relay, Anais Chevalier-Bouchet was second in the first sprint and third in the pursuit, Anais Bescond second in the pursuit) and that French men won five (Simon Desthieux was third in the first sprint, Emilien Jacquelin was second in the second sprint and third in the pursuit, as was the relay and Quentin Fillon Maillet was third in the second sprint). Norway also scored nine podiums: men won seven. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland is the only Norwegian woman in form. Sweden won six podium finishes; three were individual efforts from Sebastian Samuelsson.
Elvira Oeberg is the rocket on the skis
Elvira Oeberg was the fastest woman in three out of four individual competitions in Oestersund. Even more impressive, Elvira was the fastest in the racks in 9 out of 16 laps in the individual, two sprints, and the pursuit competitions. At this stage last season, she clocked two fastest laps in the first four competitions in Kontiolahti. Elvira is almost two penalty loops faster over the 7.5 km distance than a season ago. This means she is almost unbeatable in the sprint if she shoots 10/10 or 9/10. The big question is whether she can carry the speed from her home venue to Hochfilzen, Annecy Le Grand Bornand, and beyond. She will also strive to elevate her shooting accuracy as it was only 78% in Oestersund, whereas it was 85% at the same stage of the season in Kontiolahti in 2020/2021.
Linda Zingerle made her mark in Sjusjoen
Linda Zingerle of Italy, who competed as a youth athlete in the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships in Obertilliach, won in the super sprint and made a mark in the IBU Cup. Linda is, of course, the daughter of Andreas Zingerle, four times world champion and bronze medalist at the Olympic Winter Games Calgary 1988 (in relay).Anton Babikov won in the sprint and mass start 60 and was 14th in the super sprint in Sjusjoen. He was the most successful man in the second week of this season’s IBU Cup, but Lucas Fratzscher remained atop the Total Score standings. The German has been the most consistent this season. He never ended worse than the seventh. Anastasia Shevchenko was third in the super sprint, first in the sprint, and second in the mass start 60. She took the lead in the Total Score with 34 points lead over Karoline Erdal in the second place.
Photo: IBU/C. Manzoni, E. Tumashov