New Biathlon Season Kicks Off with IBU Cup in Snowy Sjusjoen
The new 2019/2020 biathlon season will kick off tomorrow in the Norwegian ski village of Sjusjoen for 36 different nations with 133 men and 112 women registered for the first IBU Cup.
Most of the athletes admit that they cannot wait for the start of the competitions and the chance to battle for the first wins after hours of hard summer training. The winner of the IBU Cup Individual Score Yuliia Zhuravok of Ukraine is also excited to finally start the season: “It is always so nice to be back on track with many familiar faces around, to see friends from different countries and to feel the real winter again. I have already missed the competitions and it’s really interesting to see how the summer preparation went, would it pay off with good results or not. I am also curious to compare myself with other athletes and I guess that everyone is looking forward to start a new season!”
The competition program in Sjusjoen starts tomorrow with sprints, followed by another round of second sprints on Saturday; these competitions will give athletes the last chance to jump into the national teams or gain needed World Cup qualification points. While others will only try to qualify for the WC opener in Oestersund, Anton Babikov and Victoria Slivko of Russia have already received their personal start quotas as last season's IBU Total Cup Score winners. The weekend will wrap up with the pursuits on Sunday. Among the main contenders for the first podiums will be Germany’s Roman Rees and Maren Hammerschmidt, Andrejs Rastorgujevs of Latvia, Norway’s Synnoeve Solemdal and Fredrik Gjesbakk, Alexander Povarnitsyn and Anastasia Porshneva of Russia, Ukraine’s Olena Pidhrushna and Sergii Semenov, Anna Magnusson and Elisabeth Hoegberg of Sweden.
After a week break, the competitions will continue in Ridnaun, Italy with super sprints, sprints and last season’s premiere, mass start 60. The new format, which was tested at the final IBU Cup in Martell in March, received a positive feedback and was quite successful. The only change, compared to the last year, will be the competition entry, which now, instead of 10, will consist the top 15 athletes in the current IBU Cup Total Score and the remaining 45 competitors will be filled in, in rank order from the points they have acquired at the current IBU Cup event.
New IBU Cup Scores
This season will see two mass starts 60, which also mean that athletes will battle for the for the small discipline globe the IBU Cup Mass Start which was added to the scoring system along with the IBU Cup Super Sprint Score. Also important: all competitions in Ridnaun will be live streamed. More details on that will follow in the week leading up to IBU Cup 2.
From the Italian venue, teams will head to another traditional mid-December stadium in Obertilliach, Austria, where three competitions are scheduled: another introduction from the previous season, short individuals, sprints and mixed relays. With the final competitions scheduled on 21 December, athletes will have enough time to go back home for Christmas and spend holidays with their families, fulfilling the batteries after the first trimester.
New Start Times
It is important to note that regular IBU Cup start times were slightly changed. By the request of the teams and their technicians, first competitions will now begin later, with most of them starting at 10:30 or 11:00 CET.
Photos: Jan Rune Bakkelund