Karin Oberhofer Retires with Grace and Satisfaction
With the new training season about to start, another biathlon veteran, Italy’s Karin Oberhofer hung up her skis and rifle this weekend. She said in a Facebook post, showing grace and satisfaction with life and her career, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart...Today my son turns 10 months old and this very day, after many years dedicated to biathlon, I decided to end my professional career… The “inner peace” that my little Paul gives me is impossible to describe, but it has been with me since the day he was born and I want to enjoy it every day with him.”
Dedication: Biathlon and Young Son
Like most biathlon professionals, Oberhofer was dedicated to the sport for many years, putting heart and soul into the sport. Yet when her son Paul was born last July, she found a new passion, motherhood. A couple of months ago, she commented on juggling sport and motherhood. “Biathlon is a nice part of life, but the family is more important, the children. I have seen in the last eight months that time goes so fast. He was a baby and now he is almost a big man. It is most important that I do not lose time with him; I try to give the baby the best and also give my best to sports. It is not so easy; it is a lot of work but I like it.”
This past season, with Paul always at her side, she came back for one more round of biathlon action, some IBU Cups and the IBU OECH at home in Ridnaun where the Südtiroler finished fifth in the sprint, while Paul was well taken care of by a family team of her mother, aunts and cousins. She closed what was to be her final season and career with 4th in the sprint and 5th in the pursuit at the Martell IBU Cup.
Big Years 2013-15
The 33-year-old Oberhofer had a sterling career as part of the up-and-coming Italian team. She was a big part of the breakthroughs on the women’s team, from 2013-2015 At the 2013 IBU WCH in Nove Mesto na Morave, she anchored the Italian women to their first-ever WCH medal, a shiny Bronze. The next year at the Sochi OWG, she was battling for medals; a clean-shooting sprint found her in fourth place, 6.2 seconds from the Bronze medal. This past fall, that 4th became Bronze after the IOC disqualification of Olga Vilukhina. With typical style, Oberhofer commented on the possibility of receiving the medal, “It would be a big surprise for me if it took place in public. But that’s not so important. The most beautiful thing for me would be to get the medal at all. But what I do know is that I would belatedly celebrate this medal with my family and friends in a small ceremony.”
Sochi Mixed Relay
Her Sochi sprint competition was just the warm-up for another bit of Italian biathlon history, a Mixed Relay Bronze medal with Dorothea Wierer, Lukas Hofer and Dominik Windisch. Since that time, Italy has been a force in that competition, this year wining the seasonal title and small Crystal Globe. In an interview this weekend, she called Sochi “and unforgettable and beautiful event.”
Yet the next season remains her personal highlight. The Sochi Bronze medalist started the season with a personal best 2nd in the Hochfilzen sprint, shooting clean to finish just 10 seconds behind Kaisa Mäkäräinen. Then a few months later in Mäkäräinen’s home stadium at Kontiolahti, Oberhofer won the first-ever individual WCH medal for the Italian women, Bronze in the mass start. This was just two days after she ran the second leg on the Bronze medal women’s relay team.
WCH Silver and Bronze Medals
Reflecting on her career, that IBU WCH Mass Start medal stands out. “I will never forget that day when I reached third place in Kontiolahti; it was so important historically for Italy.” Continuing, she added, “I have had so many great moments and results that will always remain in my heart.”
Now, the multi-medalist’s heart and mind is fully focused on her young son. The always happy mom admitted that she will miss biathlon and the athlete’s life. “I think the life of a top athlete has many advantages and disadvantages; I will miss it. But I have a new challenge with my son Paul and I like that challenge as well!”
The IBU and Biathlon Family wish Karin much success and satisfaction in raising her son and all of her future endeavors!