The Women’s World Cup Sprint Score looks like this:
1. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland
2. Elvira Oeberg
3. Dzinara Alimbekava
4. Hanna Sola
5. Hanna Oeberg
Olsbu Roeiseland is the favorite; her 15 km Individual Bronze medal did nothing but reconfirm her consistency. After that competition, she was already thinking about the sprint; regarding “my last shot in the last shooting… not so happy about that… I was thinking about it too much. That is something I want to change for the sprint.” Enough said, it is hers for the taking.
Herrmann looked like the Denise of old on the tracks and the targets went down. Her overpowering ski speed can overcome a missed shot or even two. Elvira has all the tools, especially huge power on the tracks, shot clean at Ruhpolding, burying the also clean-shooting Olsbu Roeiseland. Alimbekava, shooting at an 89% rate has four 4th place sprint finishes this season; she is hungry for a podium spot. Sola has been solid in sprints, but seems out of sorts on the range now.
Keep in mind 15 km Individual Silver medalist Anais Chevalier-Bouchet, fastest on the range in the 15 km, and seems to be very calm and focused. Young sharpshooter Vanessa Voigt could be in the mix after a confidence-building 15 km. Then there is the dark horse, Tiril Eckhoff, the fastest woman on the tracks in the 15 km; if she regains any semblance of her shooting touch, Eckhoff can bank on a medal.
The Men’s World Cup Sprint Score looks like this:
1. Sebastian Samuelsson
2. Quentin Fillon Maillet
3. Emilien Jacquelin
4. Alexander Loginov
5. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen
(6. Johannes Thingnes Boe)
After the 20 km, three of this elite group look ready for the sprint. Fillon Maillet has been the most consistent all season, won the last sprint in Ruhpolding. is shooting lights out, and is extremely confident.
Loginov won in Oberhof, was third fastest on the tracks in the 20 km, is shooting 94% in prone but struggles with standing. JT Boe, won the Annecy Le Grand Bornand sprint and seems to be back at his “normal” level: aggressive and fast on the tracks and shooting well. Jacquelin remains an enigma after seven penalties in the 20 km.
Throw in 2017 IBU World Champion Benedikt Doll, who is skiing very well and will be competitive if he hits at least nine targets; Eduard Latypov, a solid sprinter whose Covid-19 break may have been a blessing in disguise and 20 km Silver medalist Anton Smolski who is shooting well, with two sprint podiums this season.
This is just a sampling of names but when they sprint for the medals look for Fillon Maillet and JT Boe to be dueling.
Looking beyond the sprints, if Fillon Maillet and/or Olsbu Roeiseland have winning or at least decent sprints, they will surely be the favorites in the pursuit; both have four pursuit wins this season.
The competitions up to this point have been filled with surprises, disappointments and favourites prevailing. The weather, tough tracks and the always-present wind have played a part each day. Expect more excitement on Friday and Saturday.
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni