The winner of back-to-back Total Score titles in the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons, Dorothea Wierer was a biathlon legend before Beijing 2022. She won gold medals in the pursuit and individual at her home-bound Antholz-Anterselva 2022 IBU World Championships when anything less would have been considered a disappointment. Her natural charisma and lively personality made her one of the world’s most marketable winter athletes. Two bronze Olympic medals from the Mixed Relays needed a company of an individual one. And Beijing 2022 was her lost shot at the Olympic glory. She thought her best shot would be in the pursuit of mass start but surely not a sprint, where she never won a medal at the World Championships. History had its own plans for Wierer and far from the fastest skier this season, she won bronze in the sprint!
This Sprint bronze medal caps off your glorious career to perfection. What kind of feelings/satisfaction did it bring?
I am obviously very proud of the medal I conquered in Beijing. It is a fantastic reward for all the hard work from the past few years. This individual medal was the last piece missing in my career.
The material played a v role in Beijing. How close do you work with your waxing team on getting good skis before big races?
Skis’ setup played a fundamental role in China. It was very tricky to deal with such extreme snow conditions. Our team worked hard every day to try and give us the best possible skis and be competitive. I had high-performance materials under my feet on the day of the sprint!
Your season started slow, with breathing problems due to the cold weather in Oestersund. How long did it take you to take your shape back?
It has been a very challenging start of the season for me, and up until the Christmas break, I struggled to find good feelings. It was something I had carried with me since Autumn when I had various problems, among them insomnia. It was a very demanding period for me.
What role did the mass start win in Antholz play in the build-up of your confidence before the Olympics?
The victory in Antholz gave me so much confidence, that’s for sure. Having good results on home soil means double for me: it’s always a great joy when I can show good results in Antholz.
Did the experience with the cold Oestersund weather help you acclimate to the conditions in Beijing?
I do not think so. The cold we experienced in China is something else, almost impossible to bear. I would say it is impossible to get used to such temperatures. The hardest part was to find the right clothes to compete and train in such cold weather.
You lived through extreme pressure of expectations at the IBU World Championships Antholz-Anterselva 2020. You somehow channeled all your energy in two of the most important weeks of your career and delivered big time. What did you take to Beijing from that experience?
There’s no doubt that the two weeks of the IBU World Championships in 2020 taught me a great deal about myself: I learned a lot about how to cope with pressure and expectations. I think I came out of them more confident in my capabilities and more mature. Thus said, major events always carry a great deal of emotion, most of them are positive, but there’s a lot of tension in the air.
Do you feel that this medal - just like with Tarjei - presents a life-time award for all your efforts?
This medal is a fantastic achievement, and it feels like a reward for the hard work, so it definitely gave me a feeling of accomplishment and serenity. However, I believe that before the Games, the fact I was missing an individual medal was a bigger deal for the others than for myself. I was very content with my career even before Beijing.
Photo: IBU/C. Manzoni