Oeberg started the season with a win in the Individual and huge expectations on her shoulders. Most experts considered her sister Elvira and Hanna to be the two athletes to battle it out for the Total Score win, perhaps the most coveted achievement in biathlon. It took a toll on both of them, but even more so on Hanna, who found herself home at Christmas sick, with her form in tantrums. The uninvited off-time also brought precious moments of quiet and a time and space for her to reflect on her life as a biathlete. She wasn’t happy. She was pushing things, rushing things. The flow just wasn’t there. But every athlete, even the champions of Oeberg’s magnitude, goes through rough patches. As Laura Dahlmeier, one of our Oberhof 2023 experts, pointed out: when you untie yourself from a knot like that, you feel new brightness, new happiness, and invite great things into your life - and career - again.
Unable to compete in Pokljuka, Hanna’s form started to pick up in Ruhpolding. Silver in the Sprint in Oberhof 2023 - just a fraction of the time behind Germany’s hero Denise Herrmann-Wick - opened a world of possibilities for her. It was her first 10/10 in the Sprint since November 2021. She was fast. She loved the biathlon again. And it showed in her two golden performances.
After silver in the Sprint, Oeberg knew she got the shape - and the momentum - for Oberhof 2023 to get even better for her. Despite an early miss - and 33rd position in the first prone - she worked hard and cleverly for the rest of the Individual competition and clinched her third Gold in this most traditional of biathlon’s disciplines at the major events.
“I really cannot believe it. Before the competition today, I felt like it would be a really hard day and that I would probably suffer a lot. I did not know that I would feel really fast in my legs. I kept my focus after the first miss in the first prone, but I still felt pretty confident. I did a really good job on the range after that. It is special to be able to do this on the day five years since the first Gold in Pyeongchang!”
But why does she tend to find her finest moments in the Individual?
“The Individual competition in Championships is something special for me. It is a race that suits me with a long distance in the skiing and that you have to do all the work on your own to keep the focus on the shooting range throughout that long competition.”
Inspired by Martin Ponsiluoma’s and Sebastian Samuelsson’s Gold-Silver double from the men’s Mass start, Oeberg fought hard to neutralise her two misses in the prone. With impeccable standing shooting she entered the final lap as a leader, with Total Score leader Julia Simon and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold firing on all cylinders behind her. In perhaps the toughest 2.5 kilometres of her biathlon life, Oeberg used all her reserves to clinch a second Gold in Oberhof.
“It is like a dream. I am just enjoying this so, so much. I thought it would be hard after two penalties in the first two prone. But my standing shooting has been working so well and I was so inspired by the boys earlier. It is unbelievable! Last loop, I was just going and going, taking in all the information the coaches and other staff were shouting at me,” said Oeberg, who now has 11 BMW IBU World Championships medals to her name.
“I figured out I was missing in my competing and doing biathlon for maybe one and a half, two years. Having good feelings back means as much or more than the medals here. That I enjoyed these Championships and make it to the last day means the world to me,” said Oeberg on the final day. It summed up her brilliant performance in Oberhof 2023 perfectly.