5 things we learned in 2019/2020 season
At the end of the 2019/2020 season, Martin Fourcade and Kaisa Makarainen, two of the greats of the biathlon, said goodbye to their sporting careers. Dorothea Wierer and JT Boe won their second consecutive World Cup overall title and Emilien Jacquelin consolidated his status as the breakthrough athlete of the year. Norway prevailed in the relays, biathlon showed a considerable depth beyond the greatest names and consistency as always brought the most glory.
- The last JT Boe vs Martin Fourcade ever
After Martin Fourcade’s retirement announcement we now know that we have witnessed the last season of one of the grandest rivalries in biathlon’s history. The great Frenchman and his five years younger challenger JT Boe pushed each other to the ever new heights, their styles and personalities different, their quest to be the best biathlete they could possibly be perpetual. Fourcade called their fight for the BMW IBU World Cup Total Score title (his seventh consecutive) in the Olympic season 2017/2018 the most beautiful of his career. This season he used JT’s two weeks of paternal absence in the Trimester 2 to the max and won all four competitions and while Boe won five in the Trimester 1, they fought point for point at the IBU World Championships and to the end of the season before the Norwegian claimed his second Total Score title in a row with just two points difference. Out of 21 competitions this season they have won 17 between themselves (JT 10, Fourcade 7); they won 126 times between themselves (Fourcade 79, JT 47) in the BMW IBU World Cup.
- Wierer’s consistency won her second Total Score
With at least five contenders before the start of the season, the battle for women’s BMW IBU World Cup Total Score title proved to be highly dramatic again. Dorothea Wierer started the season in great style but once Tiril Eckhoff hit 20/20 in Hochfilzen for the first time in her career, she got a momentum which lasted through Annecy- Le Grand Bornand, partly Oberhof and Ruhpolding and abruptly stopped in Antholz, exactly when Wierer’s form peaked again. Eckhoff won seven competitions to Wierer’s four in the course of the season, but her swings in form were too extreme to finish the season in yellow bib. Seven points more on Wierer’s account showed her relentless fight for every point and less oscillations.
- Jacquelin emerged as the new superstar in making
Just like his idol and in his biathlon teacher Martin Fourcade Emilien Jacquelin used last summer to think the things through and reposition himself within powerful French team. He no longer wanted to be just a nice kid, he wanted to be a nice kid who dares to challenge everybody, including Fourcade, other teammates and JT Boe. His talent and self - confidence blossomed to the full in the pursuit at the IBU World Championships in Antholz - Anterselva where he outsmarted JT in the last meters and won gold. “I now know I belong on the podium every single competition if I do things right. Which is not always easy,” said Jacquelin, also the winner of the small globe in the pursuit, at the end of the season. With Fourcade gone, him and Quentin Fillon - Maillet will chase JT Boe next season and beyond.
- Norway had the best relays (again)
When it comes to relays this season, Norway was the best, across the board. The women completed the undefeated sweep in NMNM without their golden anchor Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, home in Norway with illness. They added a new interchangeable part to secure the win, 22-year-old Ida Lien. Like their female counterparts, the Norwegian men, where Tarjei Boe always played a crucial role, ended relay season with a resounding win. They won 4 of the 6 relays this season but the last one had special importance; they had to beat the new world champions France to seal the Men’s World Cup Relay Score Crystal Globe. When we throw in Norway’s mixed and single mixed relay success this season, one thing is clear: Norway was the best in relays.
- Two (three) nations dominated, but there is depth to world’s biathlon
While Norway and France dominated the BMW IBU World Cup in men’s field winning 19 out of 21 individual competitions and all relays among them and both had 4 athletes in Top 10 in the Total Score standings, there were women from five nations who finished in Top 10 at the end of the season. Germany finished third in the men's nations cup score and second in the women's nations cup score. Overall men from 27 nations and women from 26 nations won world cup points. At the IBU World Championships in Antholz 10 nations one medals. Estonia got their first ever podium in the single mixed relay, Swiss women relay scored first ever (and then more) podium and both Canada relays surprised few times during the season. US team won a medal in Antholz to showcase again that their athletes know how to strike at the biggest event of the season while young team China made big progress with relentless work ethic.