Beyond the Big Four: Team Rosters Wrap-up

Looking beyond the Big Four teams, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Czech Republic announced teams with their biggest stars ready to kick off the new training season.

Final French Line-up

Beyond the names speculated last week, two additional women and a man were officially named to the French A team. Emilien Claude, after finally getting a victory in Canmore IBU Cup at the end of the season is back on the men’s squad along with his brother Fabien. Second in the IBU Cup Total Score Gilonne Guigonnat will also join the top women’s group for the first time this summer. IBU Sprint Score winner Paula Botet, on the podium four times in Canmore and is also back in the A team for the second season.

Big Italian Teams

As the countdown to Milan Cortina 2026 ticks away, the Italians continue building for success with 22 athletes on the Elite Team and the Milan-Cortina 2026 team.

The obvious no-brainers on the Elite team are second and third in the Women’s World Cup Total Score Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi. Tommaso Giacomel, after his first-ever World Cup podium in Oestersund and just nipped by Niklas Hartweg the under 25 Blue Bib competition was the only man named to the Elite Team.

Milan-Cortina 2026 Teams

Ten men and nine women comprise the Milan-Cortina 2026 team, with a mixture of veterans and young talent. Although not announced whether he has recovered from a spate of injuries, Lukas Hofer is on the men’s squad. He is joined by experienced World Cup competitors Didier Bionaz, Patrick Braunhofer and Elia Zeni as well as Daniele Cappellari, Daniele Fauner, Leonesio Iacopo, Cedric Christille and David Zingerle.

Beyond Wierer and Vittozzi, the women’s team is filled with young talent including their IBU WCH Relay Gold medalist teammates Hannah Auchentaller and Samuela Comola. Both had breakthrough years with Auchentaller grabbing an IBU Cup win at Pokljuka and 89% shooter Comola finishing 4th in the IBU WCH 15 km individual. Rebecca Passler, on the relay team for much of the season comes to the team after two top 20s last season. Junior stars Sara Scattolo, the 2021 IBU Junior Cup Sprint Score winner and sisters Beatrice and Martina Trabucchi complete the roster.

Switzerland led by Hartweg and Stalder

The Swiss team now had just two athletes designated as “National Team:” under 25 Blue Bib winner Niklas Hartweg and third in that category Sebastian Stalder. Hartweg, easily earned his spot after two second place World Cup results, while Stalder was not far behind with 5th and 7th places in the season. Both are among biathlon’s best on the range with at 90% and 91%, respectively. The Swiss “A-team” consists of Jeremy Finello, Lena Haecki-Gross, Aita Gasparin and Amy Baserga.

Eder, Hauser and Komatz top Austrian Squad

The Austrians went for a three-person National team led by the ageless Simon Eder and Lisa Theresa Hauser with David Komatz stepping up after a career-best season. “A-team” designations went to Felix Leitner, the up-and coming Anna Gandler, Katherina Oberthaler, Tamara Steiner and top shot Dunja Zdouc. Newlywed Katherina (Innerhofer) Komatz’s career is on pause with a baby on the way.

Czech “Biathlete of the Year” Marketa Davidova

Davidova this month crowned Czech Republic’s top biathlete for the fifth consecutive year at their annual gala headlines their team. The Czech squad is preparing for a home IBU World Championships next winter, with their just-completed first camp in Norway as Davidova’s cycled through France. Tereza Vobornikova and Jessica Jislova join Davidova on the “A-team” with veteran Lucie Charvátová dropping to “B-team” status. The Czech ladies added Martin Bajicak, former coach of the Fialkova sisters to assist long-time Head Coach Egil Gjelland, while Jiri Holubec moved to the B team.

32-year-old Michal Krcmar after a career-best Total Score13th place leads the five-man “A team” along with Adam Vaclavik. Youngsters Jakub Stvrtecky, Jonas Marecek and Tomas Mikyska, 14th in the IBU WCH 20 km individual and mass start round out the squad.

Seppala Absent from Finnish A Team

The Finnish Federation named eight athletes to their National A Team, three women and five men. The biggest takeaway is the absence of ninth-in-the-WCH-mass-start Tero Seppala on the roster. In order to be on the team, athletes have to commit to train with the group 100% of the time according to Coach Erik Bartlett Kulstad. Seppala spent most of last year training with his personal coach Anatoli Khovantsev in Kontiolahti and will do the same this year, in agreement with the coach and federation. That leaves the Finns with team anchored by veteran Olli Hiidensalo and Jaakko Ranta. 19-year-old Arttu Heikkinen, 2023 IBU Junior WCH Pursuit Bronze medalist and 22-year-old Otto Invenius, who closed last season with a clean-shooting 12th in the Oslo Sprint add significant talent to the team.

After the retirement of Mari Eder and Nastassia Kinnunen, Suvi Minkkinen, with three top 15s last season is the top returnee among the women, along with Erika Jänkä and Venla Lehtonen. Finland’s training season gets underway on May 29 with their first camp in Vuokatti.

The teams are set; the warm-weather theme is simple: biathletes are made in the summer!

Photos: IBU/Igor Stancik, Harald Deubert, Otto Invenius, Tomasso Giacomel, Jaroslav Svoboda

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