What might happen in 2021
Knowing that biathlon brings us new drama every day, extrapolating some data from a hugely entertaining Trimester 1 and using a bit (or more than a bit) of imagination, we are predicting five things that might or might not happen in Trimesters 2 and 3.
- Laegreid will keep winning three competitions per Trimester
Sturla Holm Laegreid took the biathlon world by storm by winning three of nine competitions, wearing the Blue Bib and trailing only the great JT Boe by 55 points in the BMW IBU World Cup Total Score Standings. Now, if Laegreid continues shooting with 94% accuracy and keeps the pattern of winning three times per Trimester, he will have nine wins to his name at the end of the season. We know that he will drop his four worst results and that two of those were (most probably) 23rd and 19th place in the two Kontiolahti sprints; we also know that he won 37.5 points per competition in the five competitions he didn’t win in Trimester 1. If he continues to perform in this rhythm, we will get some interesting math that JT might not like: nine wins would bring 540 World Cup points; Sturla would collect a further 487.5 from the other 13 competitions that would count, and he would have 1,027 points to his name at the end of the season.
- Lisa Theresa Hauser will get her first career podium
The biathlon world has always known that Lisa Theresa Hauser of Austria is a very good shooter, but her skiing wasn’t on a really high level. Hauser trained the whole summer with her team, improving her ski technique and speed a great deal. Out of nine competitions, she was among the ten fastest on the tracks three times; she was the fourth fastest in the Hochfilzen mass start. Even more importantly, her stamina and speed kept getting better and she just needs one sprint with 10/10 or one 20/20 competition with 18 to 19 hits to finally get what she deserves: the first individual podium in her career.
- JT Boe will fine-tune his shooting and will put the foot down
Men’s competitions brought a wave of new challengers to two-time BMW IBU World Cup Total Score winner JT Boe and all three are four years younger than still only 27 years old JT and are fighting for the Blue Bib. In Hochfilzen JT told us that he knows exactly what he needs to work on in the Christmas break and that he will come back as JT we are accustomed to: winning almost at will. Sturla Holm Laegreid, Sebastian Samuelsson and Johannes Dale will love that challenge but will see JT’s back much more frequently than in Trimester one. Expect JT to win six to eight times and never finish lower than fourth.
- Elvira Oeberg might want more than the Blue bib
Elvira Oeberg is still a junior biathlete, but her talent is of such magnitude that she is already challenging the elite, including her sister Hanna, on any given competition day. She already has two podiums to her name from Trimester 1 and is ranked fourth in the Total Score standings with a realistic outside shot at winning it all by the end of the season. As much as Dzinara Alimbekava and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold will want her Blue Bib, Elvira will want to mix it up with a fight for the Women's World Cup Total Score title with Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, her sister Hanna and Tiril Eckhoff. It is unlikely, but it is possible.
- Team Russia will find a way to the podium
Team Russia has yet to be on the podium in the 2020/2021 season, but that will change in Trimester 2, most probably as soon as Oberhof; the Russians traditionally tend to hit proper form at the beginning of January. While changing their fortunes, they might want to know that last season, after nine individual competitions, Alexander Loginov was fifth in the Men's World Cup Total Score standings and Matvey Eliseev was 11th; this season they are 15th and 22nd respectively. Svetlana Mironova was 14th at this stage last season and is only 33rd this season, while Irina Kazekevich is 26th, the highest-ranked Russian woman this season. Russia’s best hope for the podium seems to be in the men’s relay, and only if two of the leading teams: Norway, Sweden, France, and Germany have a very bad day, which is always a possibility.
Photo: IBU/Christian Manzoni