One mission completed, one left for Simon

Julia Simon has spent the last two seasons working detailed on her shooting technique. With the women’s field more competitive than ever, she is the leading athlete of the season. Simon scored her first-ever individual Gold medal at the biathlon’s flagship events in the Pursuit at the BMW IBU World Championships Oberhof 2023. She is aiming to become only the fourth French Total Score winner among women.

How are you managing your energies and expectations, fighting for the Total Score and medals at the BMW IBU World Championships Oberhof 2023?

At the start of the season, my goal was to be consistent and for the consistency to reflect in my results. The first races went very well, bringing me confidence and serenity. I arrived at the world championships confident, focusing on each race as a new challenge. An individual Gold medal at the BMW IBU World Championships - my first-ever - means a dream come true. It is crazy.

You have said that it took you approximately two years to internalise the teachings of Jean-Paul Giachino. What was the fundamental change/adjustment you applied to your shooting technique?

I needed a lot of time to figure out my prone shot. I had to learn to be patient and calm behind my rifle. Blocking the target well before the bullet goes off is the most consequential detail I had to learn and apply.

It is your seventh season in the BMW IBU World Cup. How do you see your progress in these seven winters?

I had steady progress. Sometimes I did some good races, but I struggled to stay at a consistently high level. My winters were often roller coasters. This year my shooting is better, and the results mirror that.

What did you need to learn to become this good?

I gained experience. I am managing to chain competitions better. My shooting and physical shape are also more consistent: all this helps me to be better than last year.

French are people who love sports and celebrate their heroes but are also quick to show disappointment. A great nation expects splendid results. Can you tell us about coping with and using the expectations to your advantage?

I practice biathlon with a passion. I do biathlon for me, for my pleasure. The French are sometimes hard, and there is a lot of criticism, but I remain focused on my career and dreams. I like this challenge.

Three French women have won the Total Score title so far, with Sandrine Bailly being the last in 2004/2005. Have you talked to any of them to see how they coped with the opportunity?

I haven't had the opportunity to chat with them. I try to keep it simple. I stay away from projecting the future. I concentrate on each race, one day at a time, one race at a time.

Who was the most significant influence in your career?

When I was young, I liked watching Raphaël Poirée. I wanted to do like him, and his style had become my example.

We know that you like working with wood in the summer. Is this something that gives you peace of mind and helps you collect thoughts?

Working with wood allows me to think about something other than biathlon. I can switch off my competitive mind and have a balance with my sporting life.

Photo: IBU/C. Manzoni, B. Reichert

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