Expectation and Anticipation for Wierer, Vittozzi, Hofer & co.
Following the most successful winter in the history of Italian biathlon, the team around Dorothea Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi, Lukas Hofer and Dominik Windisch is working hard towards the home event of Antholz 2020. Despite the growing pressure and attention from media, the Italians are finding the necessary balance to reach the new season in the best possible shape. The goal is clear: equal, or even improve, on the success of the previous winter.
“I had really big problems with motivation at the beginning of the training season,” Dorothea Wierer admitted on a cold rainy day in Martell, where the Italian Summer Biathlon Championships took place in an almost wintry scenery.
“I was never at home, always going around for different commitments, so that I only slept in my bed for 5 days, because I was sick! At the beginning of May I told myself I couldn’t go on. Then I had the first training camps with the others and this helped me greatly, because with them I finally felt ok. It still is not easy to balance trainings with all the other things, but I am doing my best to be ready for winter.”
Andrea Zattoni, who coaches the Elite team since the past season, was also very surprised by the strength showed by the first ever World Cup Total Score winner from Italy: “Doro was really strong during these months, because she could find time for both things: she found the time for the deserved celebrations and commitments, but also to train hard. She is now very tired, also for this reason, but in a few days she can finally go on a short vacation before we finalize the work ahead of an important and difficult season.”
Team means strength
Lukas Hofer ended his weekend covered in some early snow, but with two gold medals and plenty positives. Despite some tired legs, he felt the work they have been putting during the summer is paying off. Most notably, he thinks they are dealing with the additional pressure very well, because they are doing it together.
“In the team nothing really changed after the last winter and I think this is the most important thing, because it helps up giving this sense of normality, even if we have so much more attention on us after what Doro and Lisa did last winter and with the World Championships at home. Especially for Doro: I don’t know how she could deal with it, because after the season she never stayed on the same place for two days and I could see her energy level fading. But once she joined us for the trainings it was good again: it is important to have her and I can see the whole team improving, not just us, but also the youngsters who are coming from behind and this is the most important thing.”
Zattoni is also satisfied with the work done so far and the attitude showed by his athletes: _“For both, Lisa and Doro, the attitude must be that nothing happened last season; it is a new one and we are starting from zero again. In the past weeks we have done some high intensity trainings and I am really satisfied with the level they are all showing. Lisa especially looked extremely strong, particularly during our camp in Forni Avoltri.” _
Antholz 2020: a big, no-big deal
“I think it will be very special in Antholz,” Wierer explained: “Of course there will be pressure, because you want to do well at home, but I think the most important thing is to get there healthy and motivated, focused on the main goal and not on all the little distractions around it, then we can enjoy it.”
For her, however, it was important to take her first ever pursuit success at home last winter. Now she knows how to win at home, even though she is still trying to process that moment.
“Winning that pursuit was cool… really cool”, she said before starting laughing. “In the World Cup it is even more stressful because it’s just 3 days and everyone wants something from you. Antholz always comes as the third week of competitions, therefore you are also very tired, so it was special to take that win. When I was at the finish line, I struggled to realize that I did it… I mean, I still struggle to do it!”
Lisa Vittozzi wasn’t just on the same podium that day in Antholz, but also closed runner up in the fight for the World Cup Total Score. The 24 year old is also sharing the idea of not giving too much emphasis on the home event: “Obviously, having the World Championships in Italy is a great motivation, but for me it’s more important to be consistent throughout the season and not just aim for a peak form in Antholz. At the same time, I don’t want to start thinking too much about the overall, like I did at the end of last season: I started to expect too much from myself and I ended up being too nervous, not being the usual calm I am, and this reflected on my shooting.”
A good summer
After snow forced the cancellation of the women’s pursuit in Martell, Vittozzi is now going to the German Summer Biathlon Championships strong after three consecutive wins: in Wiesbaden and Annecy she took the mass starts, then got crowned Sprint champion at the Italian nationals.
“My summer has been really good; I’ve been working really hard to improve the areas where I showed some weaknesses last winter. I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes I did at the end of the season, so that was my main focus during the summer.”
Wierer felt that her form is a little late, due to her troubled spring. Nonetheless she managed to find some good results in last month’s test events and was inspired by the atmosphere of the exhibitions she attended.
“I think it would be really cool to have such event in Italy, but it is difficult to find someone who is very much into biathlon who can organize it. Maybe one day I will organize it, we will see!”
Knowing how much she loves taking on projects outside the sport, maybe we will indeed see her asking Martin Fourcade about how to put on a great show like he did in Annecy this summer.