Now as the new season rapidly approaches, he is eagerly anticipating the new BMW IBU World Cup season and weekly battles against his friendly foes. One week into a team camp in Oberhof, after a hard training day, he chatted while getting a massage to prepare him for the next round of “eat, sleep, train, repeat.”
Biathlonworld: You took some extra time this past spring to rest and be with family; how needed was that?
Johannes Thingnes Boe: The last years have been filled with a lot of good racing and good biathlon; a lot of hard competitions and trying to be the best I could to win the Total Score every year. I made many choices to go to training camps and race all the World Cups. My mind was all biathlon for four years in a row with never a day off. Even with taking some days off not practicing, you think about it all the time. It is not easy to take a break from this sport. But I thought it was the right time to do it. I had enough time until May to be fully recovered. I am really happy I did it.
It was like recharging for the next four years and great for my mind. A lot of things happened (Covid-19 and its restrictions, first child born, WCH, OWG) over the last couple of years that took a lot of energy, so it was time to recharge.
BW: Did you feel completely refreshed when May rolled around?
JT: That was the longest break I ever had. I looked at the calendar when I stopped and it was February. That was super weird! I did some skiing during March. I had never skied just to ski. It was always skiing to be better. That was a new picture of the sport as well as watching the others in Holmenkollen. It was fantastic. Seeing it from the outside, I understood why I like it so much. So, I was eager to get back training and now we are headed to a new season very quickly. With each day I stress a little bit more, but also the happiness and positive mindset to compete again is also increasing. It is all about positive and negative things!
BW: What was your biggest focus this summer, rebuilding and refocusing or…?
JT: The main focus this year was to get my shooting together. It is all I have been thinking about. I know my body and strengths on the course and even though I am not in my best shape, I am still one of the fastest out there. Now it is more important to work on the shooting. I have put in some good work and it looks good already now. Hopefully that will make me a good biathlete again, not just the fastest skier but to manage everything.
BW: New rifle or old rifle?
JT: It is the rifle I used from December 20 to Antholz 21. I had it for a short period, did not like it. After the Olympics I had a long break and the first day of shooting in May, I just lied down, closed my eyes and felt something was wrong. Then I picked up that rifle from before, I suddenly understood why I made the changes; why I made that rifle because it was so good. I have been shooting quite well with it. It is a happy ending to that story, being away from the sport put the problems farther away. This break was good for many things.
BW: What was the biggest battle over the last couple of seasons: mental or physical things, Covid restrictions or…?
JT: The biggest thing was when Fourcade quit. It changed the game a lot. I needed to motivate myself almost. There was no big star “big bad guy;” it is only nice guys now (with a laugh). It was challenging the year after, fighting for the Globe with Sturla. It was hard mentally because he was so good at shooting and skiing fast as well. Plus, I was in a bad period with my shooting from that season on. That has been the main struggle; it used up a lot of energy. It (shooting) is so important in our sport, but now I am quite secure with my rifle. I made very few adjustments this year, less than in the past two years. I have been training with it for a long period and that should make me more stable. My biggest wish is to be a better shooter.
BW: Are you ready to battle for the World Cup Total Score again?
JT: YES! That is the goal; it is the main goal. In our sport, I have always looked that as the ultimate prize. You are the best over the whole year. It is easy to compare with the Olympic Gold medal, because it is so famous over the whole world. Everyone wants to win. Anyone can win one race but not everyone can win the Overall Score. That is why there are so few people who have won it.
BW: You have some tough competitors for this big prize: Sturla, Vetle, Sebbe and of course Quentin. Is that a bit like having Martin back but it is five or six guys?
JT: Laughing…No, it will never be the same. I will now be thirty years old next year. I am waiting for the next young guy to challenge. These guys are not so young anymore so they should start to deliver.
What I really like now is that we are fighting hard but having fun as well. We know the races are so tight; sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Even though you lose a duel, both of you know that can change the next day. People are happy with each other. Very positive guys. I like my rivals. They are good people. There are no sore losers; everyone wins and loses with the same attitude. It is important to not dig a deep hole. There is always a next race.
BW: Right now, is your shape at 70,80, 90 or 100%?
JT: Good question…I am never at 100% unless it is Hochfilzen. I may be at 70% now. I fell in the trap of losing the season opener in Norway last year because of sickness. So, I went into the wrong pattern for the start of the season. The key to have a good season is to be healthy and ready for the first World Cup. Then you can manage the whole season.
BW: Thoughts on Oberhof and the IBU WCH there?
JT: You need to have a good average shape; your body needs to work well, to help you. You need help from your legs and body to keep your speed on the tracks and have a plus charge on your battery. The most important thing is to have a good body coming into the Championships. We know the conditions can change with wind, rain, fog and you should be prepared for races to be moved or delayed. Have an open mind and try to enjoy it. That is one of my strengths; I do not care where we race or the conditions, I just try to do my best. That is all you can do.
Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni, Johannes Thingnes Boe