Mass Starts Preview: Medal Number Six for Quentin?

The 2022 Olympic Winter Games biathlon competitions wrap up on Friday with the men’s and women’s mass starts. The burning questions that will be answered are: Will Quentin Fillon Maillet add one more medal to his already historic total? Can Marte Olsbu Roeiseland become the first woman to win three individual Olympic titles in a single OWG?

Both have good chances to reach those historic heights in the shadow of the Great Wall of China, but challengers abound.

French stars, Norwegian stars and a German

Benedikt Doll leads the World Cup Mass Start Score after his convincing win at Antholz over JT Boe and Sturla Holm Laegreid, after Fillon Maillet had an off day there with six penalties.

Right now, Fillon Maillet may have the upper hand because he is so good in four stage competitions and still looked good in his relay anchor leg. He definitely has a mental edge with his two individual Gold medals and a burning desire for success. His 88% shooting is a few notches above both JT and Sturla. His teammate Emilien Jacquelin won the Annecy Le Grand Bornand mass start, and could pull off a surprise as his track speed is still among the best.

JT has never won or medaled in an OWG mass start but owns two IBU WCH titles, so would love to take this one. He is the fastest man on two skis right now, so it will be all about shooting and focus. Tarjei Boe looked a bit tired in the relay, so might struggle or surprise again with his gritty toughness. Laegreid has the tools, has not won an individual title and may go after this one.

Then there is Doll who has not won a medal but has been in the mix in every competition; shooting will be his key. And suddenly, Alexander Loginov is back in the mix after an impressive fastest relay leg and fourth fastest shooting time. This group alone will make it exciting, but there 23 other talented men who could be in the medal mix!

Another Marte/Elvira Matchup in the making?

The women’s mass start on Saturday could be shaping up as a rematch between Olsbu Roeiseland and the impetuous 22-year-old Elvira Oeberg who won two Silver medals behind the Norwegian and anchored Sweden’s Gold medal relay team. The Olympic Sprint/Pursuit Gold medalist has the upper hand, especially with her gaudy 93% success rate on the shooting range. Throw in her track prowess here and it looks like she has individual Gold medal number three. However, both she and Elvira only have one mass start under their belt this season. Elvira won that one in France, while her Norwegian foe was sixth with two penalties but a mere 19 seconds back. Head-to-head, this one might be a battle royale if both shoot well.

Complicating this matchup is that pesky Italian Dorothea Wierer who won in Antholz when both the Norwegian and Swede were away training for Beijing. Wierer looked fatigued in the snowy windy pursuit, but strong in the relay. She could play tactics, stay in the leading group and shoot her way onto the podium. Tiril Eckhoff owns two consecutive mass start Bronze medals; her fortuitous pursuit Bronze medal this week may be just the impetus she needs. Eckhoff has the wheels if the shooting eye cooperates.

Throw in the 2021 IBU World Champion Lisa Theresa Hauser, tantalizingly close to the podium so far, could shoot her way into contention as could Linn Persson or maybe even Hanna Oeberg.

Lots of names and plenty of potential scenarios in these last two Beijing 2022 competitions; it is all a matter of who can put it together one more time to set records or have a “dream come true.”

Photos: Christian Manzoni/IBU

Share this article

Header iconSign up for our newsletter