New Season, New Champions?
The best method of predicting what will happen in the new biathlon season is to look into the big crystal globe and read the future. However just in case that doesn't work we asked some former biathletes for their opinions on who will win the World Cup Total Score titles and what they are expecting from this season.
Marie Dorin Habert
Olympic and World Champion Marie Dorin Habert just hung up her skis at the end of last season and knows her fellow biathletes very well.
Unsurprisingly she is tipping her former teammate Martin Fourcade to make it eight World Cup Total Score titles in a row.
"I think that Martin could reach an other Overall because he looks very calm and relaxed this year. I think he is less stressed by everything and now he just has to be himself."
The Women's titlist is a lot more difficult to predict however.
"For the women I don't know. I think that Liza Vittozzi could be very impressive because she has an incredible and fast shooting and she's able to be fast on the track. I hope Kaisa Mäkäräinen could win a gold medal during the World Championships and Selina Gasparin could have a very good result too because she is coming back after pregnancy and I'm more sensitive with that case."
Another thing she knows a lot about are her friends on the French women's team.
"The French girls are good. Anais Bescond of course, she is one of my best friends so I hope she will reach a lot of podiums. She has a strong head and if she believes in herself she could be very good this year. Justine Braisaz as well, she just has to be more regular on the range but her skiing is still perfect. Anais Chevalier could be very regular with her good shooting. I didn't see a lot of the men but I think they have improved a lot and I hope they could beat Martin sometime."
Just like in the previous winters the three time Olympic medalist will be guiding the Austrian audience through the biathlon season. Much like his peers, Sumann also expects familiar names to prevail in the battle for the World Cup Total Score title.
Meet a Star 💥 Christoph Sumann und Ricco Gross in #Hochfilzen beim #Nachwuchscamp. Top Infos aus erster Hand 👍🏼 #austriapowerteamPosted by ÖSV Biathlon on Friday, August 17, 2018
"Like every year, I guess Martin will be the top favourite for the overall world cup, but Johannes will be his hardest enemy! Kaisa, Tiril, and of course Laura are my favourites for the women's overall World Cup!"
But the 42 year old also has high hopes for his compatriots after a strong preparation under the watchful eye of their new coach Ricco Groß.
"The Austrians had a good summer, I guess Simon Eder, Julian Eberhard and Dominik Landertinger will be on top level this year!"
In keeping with everyone else the former Polish biathlete thinks the men's Overall is between the top two but she has also thrown another name into the mix.
"In the men's Overall I am not expecting big changes. Johannes Boe, Fourcade and maybe Simon Schempp."
She is also hoping for a good season from her old teammates in the Polish women's team.
"I am very curious about this season. The girls have a new coach, the very demanding and well experienced Nadia Bielova. Maybe a change of the training system can bring good results for Monika Hojnisz and the other girls. I am also looking at Kamila Żuk and her progress, she can surprise us this season."
Nowakowska is expecting surprises from the young Swedish team as well as a more experienced biathlete too.
"The Swedish may be a team that will surprise, especially Samuelsson and Oeberg. I have a feeling we will see Anais Bescond more often on the podium."
Italy's Karin Oberhofer is hoping for some new names on the podium after all the recent retirements including her own.
"This year it will be very interesting because quite a few top names called it a career and I believe we are bound to see some surprising results, both in the men's and women's field. On the men's side I still believe it is going to be a duel between J.T. Boe and Martin Fourcade, but behind them the French and Norwegian teams are very strong. The Swedish team was the surprise of last season and maybe they can repeat their strong results again."
As a Olympic and IBU World Championships relay Bronze medalist herself she knows what it takes to make a good team and is confident that her compatriots can deliver more success this season.
Former Dutch biathlete Herbert Cool is now a biathlon commentator for Dutch Eurosport and so keeps a very close eye on the sport.
"For the men’s I thought last season was one of the most exciting in years. JT Boe gave Fourcade quite a scare and for sure the Frenchman feels warned. This might become the season Boe becomes the new number one. But for sure Fourcade will not let go easy. I'm hoping for another clash of the titans between them!"
On the women's side he is forecasting more rivals to challenge current champion Kaisa Mäkäräinen.
"For the women I am expecting some of the younger athletes to become more stable. With that stability, combined with the big talent we see among them, it will not only be between Mäkäräinen and Kuzmina anymore. I am paying special attention to Vittozzi and Braisaz, and expect Wierer to be in the mix as well. It's a pity Dahlmeier isn’t at 100%, she will lose some valuable points at the season opening."
He is also hoping to see some new faces on the top step if the podium for the first time.
"Watch out for Johannes Kühn in the sprints. He is a bit like a future Julian Eberhard. If he hits his targets, he is up there with the best. And he is still very young."
"For the women I am expecting a win from one of the Swedish women, you can just feel that it is time. Especially after the Olympics of course!"
Only time will tell if these predictions will come true but we don't have to wait very long to find out. With the opening round in Pokljuka just getting started we can safely predict that no matter who wins it's going to be a really exciting BMW IBU World Cup season.