After two weeks in Oestersund, Sweden, and four fantastic competitions, Lisa Theresa Hauser wears yellow traveling to her home venue in Hochfilzen. It is remarkable progress for an athlete that has waited six seasons to score her first podium, last season in the first sprint of Oberhof, Germany, and then just kept getting better. She collected her first BMW IBU World Cup win and her first-ever gold medal at the IBU World Championships by the end of the 20202/2021 season.
Hauser started in the BMW IBU World Cup in the 2013/2014 season as a promising athlete who won three medals at the IBU Junior World Championships. She finished that season as 69th in the Total Score standings. Her progress next five seasons was steady. Hauser relied on her consistent shooting, but there were no breakthroughs from an athlete that possessed the potential for bigger things.
Searching for ski speed
In the 2013/2014 season, her best result was 24th place in the individual in Ruhpolding. In the 2014/2015 season, she was 18th in the mass start in Oberhof, and she finished 24th in the Total Score. In the 2015/2016 season, Hauser was eighth in the individual of Oestersund and mass start in Pokljuka and finished 15th in the Total Score. She equaled that a season later, but with an important distinction: she earned herself first flower ceremony with sixth place in the individual in Oestersund and then five more with two fifth places (sprint in Oestersund and pursuit in Oslo-Holmenkollen) and three sixth places (pursuits in Oestersund, Pokljuka, and Kontiolahti).
She was out of form in the Olympic 2017/2018 season when 12th place in the pursuit from the season-opening weeks in Oestersund remained her best result. She finished 41st in the individual and 62nd in the individual at the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang 2018, a bitter disappointment.
Hauser opened the 2018/2019 season with ninth place in the individual in Pokljuka and equaled that in the sprint of Antholz-Anterselva, where she also finished sixth in the pursuit. She hit encouraging form just in time for the IBU World Championships in Oestersund. Hauser was seventh in the individual and closed all targets in the sprint for the sixth place before the pursuit, only to find out that she . . . .cross-fired.
She finished the season on a high note with fifth place in the mass start in Oslo - Holmenkollen and 17th place in the Total Score. Hauser had another solid but not exciting season in 2012/2020 with a highlight in the pursuit at the IBU World Championships 2020 Antholz - Anterselva, where she was eighth in the pursuit. She ended 18th in the Total Score in 2019/2002.
Things changed for Hauser in summer 2020 when she got fresh input from some of the new faces in her coaching team. Hauser worked extremely hard in the off-season, and one could see at the beginning of 2020/2021 that she got new and much improved speed in her skis. She just needed to connect it to the more accurate shooting. And that took some more time.
“It is just amazing. I am a bit speechless; my legs are still shaking. I never thought my first podium would be in the sprint. I thought I had better chances in the pursuit or mass start. I planed for the podium this season. We had some changes in the coaching team in the summer, and I got a lot of new input, and it is working,” said Hauser after third place in the first sprint of Oberhof. “To happen here, where I had a few crashes and broke my riffle, it is even crazier. Because I never know whether Oberhof loves me or not.”
To be sure that her strange and energetic relationship with Oberhof never changes, she fell in the mass start and broke her riffle when she was firmly in the position for another podium. She finished 12th, got her riffle fixed, shook off the fall after a few days, and headed for Antholz-Anterselva.
Hauser collected her first-ever BMW IBU World Cup win 13 days later in the individual in Antholz - Anterselva. She was, again, overwhelmed with the emotions: “I can’t comprehend what has been happening for the last three weeks. It is my fourth podium and first win with a perfect race today. At this attitude, breathing can be tricky; I managed that well. My form is excellent. We are going to the camp in Obertilliach before Pokljuka. I want my first IBU World Championships medal now, that is for sure.”
Lisa Theresa Hauser, a world champion
Hauser entered the IBU World Championships 2021 in Pokljuka in a haze. She knew she had everything going for her but to transform those feelings into winning a gold medal is a different ball game. The Austrian opened Pokljuka 2020 with a bronze medal in the mixed relay. She won a silver in the pursuit, and she was brilliant in a spotless 20/20 mass start win.
“I had three chances in the individual this season to go 20/20 and always missed one shot in the last standing. Approaching the shooting range before the last shooting, I said to myself, 'OK Lisa, calm down, and stay focused on the targets'. I had a small gap to the pack of chasers, and it worked. It is crazy to sit here as the world champion. It is a historic moment for Austrian women in biathlon,” said Hauser.
Her form dropped after the amazing weeks in Oberhof, Antholz-Anterselva, and Pokljuka, and Hauser finished sixth in the Total Score. But the feeling of success now had a firm grip on this mild-mannered and strong-willed athlete.
“I thought about last season nearly every training day this summer. It was extra motivating,” said Hauser in the summer interview for the biathlonworld.
This extra motivation showed in Oestersund: she was second in the individual, somehow disappointing 22nd in the first sprint with two misses, only to clear the following 30 targets and win the second sprint and finish fourth in the pursuit. It was the first time that she started in a Yellow bib. She will keep it at least until the first competition in Hochfilzen.
“I don't know. It is too early to think about winning the Total Score. Being in yellow is great, but the season is long and I don't want to make any projections here. I need to look at each competition and do my best,” commented Hauser before the IBU charter took athletes to Austria.
Photo: IBU/C. Manzoni