IBU Cup Season Starts in Cold Idre
Hours of hard training and awaiting come to an end, as the first IBU Cup kicks off tomorrow in the small Swedish city of Idre, marking the beginning of a new 2018-19 season. The traditional Scandinavian venue greeted teams with perfect winter conditions, low temperatures and a bright sun. Some athletes, who have been training under this beautiful weather in the recent days, are very excited and looking forward to the first competitions.
Nevertheless, great weather conditions, which prevailed in recent days and during today’s official training can change with snow and wind gusts during the competitions. IBU Cup Race Director Kristjan Oja admits that the weather can be tricky, but also notes that the Organizing Committee did everything to provide the best conditions for all athletes, “Two weeks ago there was almost nothing, and the OC did a great work in preparing a course and a stadium, which are now basically covered with an artificial snow and prepared very well.”
32 nations with 109 men and 96 women are registered for the first IBU Cup; regular IBU Cup competitors along with the newcomers and familiar World Cup names will compete for the first season’s medals. Some athletes will also battle for the last places in the national squads, while others just need to get the necessary qualification points to be able to compete at the WC level.
Austria’s Daniel Mesotitsch, Florent Claude of Belgium, Nadine Horchler of Germany, France’s Simon Fourcade and Chloe Chevalier, Fredrik Gjesbakk and Karoline Offigstad Knotten of Norway, Russia’s Anton Babikov and Victoria Slivko will be the main contenders for the podium spots.
Fourcade, who is undoubtedly among the favorites, commented on his appearance at the first IBU Cup.“The last two seasons were complicated for me. I am expecting to be a little bit better, so that is why I am here, at the IBU Cup, to prove that I can be strong. My goal is to compete at a high level, move to the World Cup and also receive a qualification for the World Championships in Östersund.” With a wide smile, he added, “I feel a little bit old now here but it is time for me to be challenging.”
In addition to the experienced names, there are also some juniors who were the strongest in their category last season. The French team will be strengthened by the last year’s IBU Junior Cup total score winners Martin Perrillat Bottonet and Lou Jeanmonnot Laurent, while Elvira Oeberg of Sweden, Russia’s Igor Malinovskii and Vasilii Tomshin will also try to show their best at the senior level.
On the Other Side
The former Swedish biathlete, World Cup total score winner and world champion Helena Ekholm, who now works in the Idre Organizing Committee, is very excited about her new job. “The preparation has started some months ago; it is really exciting to do this kind of work and to be involved in the IBU Cup. When you are an athlete, you see everything just from one side, but now I really like to be on the other side, to see how everything works; it’s fun.” She also added, “It’s been so many years since I stopped my career. To be honest, I do not feel that I want to be back on the track but I do really like the biathlon circuit and it’s great to be involved in that work.”
The first weekend of the season opens with sprints tomorrow, followed by second sprints on Saturday and pursuits on Sunday. All times in CET.
29 November, Thursday
10:00 Sprint Men
13:00 Sprint Women
1 December, Saturday
10:00 Sprint Men
13:00 Sprint Women
2 December, Sunday
10:00 Pursuit Men
12:30 Pursuit Women
Do not forget to follow our Twitter accounts, which will offer full coverage of the competitions plus some extra interesting content:
@biathlonworld (Official account for IBU)
@IBU_WC (Latest news & updates from IBU World Cup)
@IBU_CUP (Latest news & updates from IBU Cup)
@IBU_JUNIOR (Latest news & updates from IBU Junior Cup)