Oeberg Top Favourite for Total Score According to Data
Hanna Oeberg won 37 points per competition last season or 0,8 more than winner Dorothea Wierer and 1,8 more than runner-up Lisa Vittozzi. Still, Oeberg missed five competitions due to illness and her coaches' decisions and needs to prove she can stay healthy for about sixteen weeks in a row to truly go for biathlon’s most coveted trophy.
She conquered the field in the mass start in Oslo-Holmenkollen and won her first ever ‘regular’ BMW IBU World Cup competition. Then Hanna Oeberg of Sweden, Olympic and IBU World Champion in the 15km Individual, said two things that didn’t get much traction in the frenzy surrounding the highly intense fight for Italy’s first ever Total Score title featuring teammates, very good friends and fierce competitors Doro Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi.
“My lowest level of performance is pretty high now. There were not many competitions where I was not satisfied,” remarked Oeberg.
She also noted, “I have been really consistent this seasons and this is something I am the most proud of.”
Oeberg’s well structured observations of her own season told the story behind the Wierer - Vittozzi one, where not only the Swedish champion but also Marte Olsbu - Roeiseland, Denise Herrmann, Paulina Fialkova and somewhere on the horizon, Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold started to realise that they might also have a shot at the Total Score title someday if they were only a bit more consistent. Analysis based on data provided by siwidata showed that Oeberg won 37 points per competition: more than any other woman last season. The only things that prevented Oeberg from aiming for the Total Score title last season were illness in Pokljuka - where she missed the sprint and pursuit competitions - and Wolfgang Pichler’s decision that the Swedish team would not travel to the World Cup stops in Canmore and Soldier Hollow. Instead, they stayed at home, trained and started polishing their form at the IBU Open European Championships in Belarus in order to fully focus on the IBU World Championships in Oestersund.
It was all about Doro e Lisa... or so it seemed
Wierer and Vittozzi dominated last season from the beginning, their fast shooting always a delight to watch, their different and captivating personalities adding to a high drama. Wierer was healthy in the preseason and she was consequently brilliant in the first trimester, winning 47,6 points per competition. Vittozzi, still not completely sure of the depth of her talent, was always close to the best in the first trimester - winning 34.5 points per competition - but never really the best. Going into Christmas break Wierer decided to pursue a short cycle of intense training while Vittozzi wondered whether the day that she can step on top of the podium would ever come. Vittozzi then exploded in Oberhof, winning in sprint and pursuit and spreading her form through the second trimester, winning 46 points per competition compared to a visibly tired Wierer’s 35,8 and rising Olsbu - Roeiseland’s 38,7.
Oestersund changed the dynamics . . . again. Flying high on the wings of her win in the pursuit in Soldier Hollow and knowing that Oestersund fits her skiing better than any other course does, Herrmann found the shooting form of her life (to date), becoming World Champion in the pursuit. With her excellent shape and moods travelling with her to Oslo, Herrmann was suddenly winning 45,1 points per competition in the last trimester, a very high level of consistency bettered only by Oeberg by a mere and meagre 0,1 point. That was in stark contrast to Herrmann winning 7 (yes, seven) points per competition in the first trimester and 23,2 points per competition in the second trimester. While Olsbu - Roeiseland stayed relatively consistent, winning 34,7 points per competition in the last trimester but failing to reach the podiums, the strain on Wierer and Vittozzi started to show in a dramatic drop in their form: Wierer won only 27,2 points per competition in the last trimester and Vittozzi 28,4.
Lessons learned from last season
In the end, the battle for the Total Score was decided by the fact that in Oslo, where they both arrived with exactly the same number of points (852), Wierer stayed her usual exuberant self off the course and a fighter on the course while Vittozzi lost her coolness, caving in to the pressure without facing it: Vittozzi, who shot with great authority and precision for most of the season (88%; 85% in prone and 91% standing), missed 5 shots in the sprint. She then fell apart for the rest of the week.
Vittozzi was aware of her mistake(s) in Oslo, openly admitting in her interview for IBU TV’s series "Women on the rise" that she failed to take time for herself: “I have learnt from mistakes and I am working very hard to improve. I would like to become as consistent as Martin Fourcade and I want to win as many Total Score titles in the futures as possible,” said Vittozzi.
Speaking in Oslo, Oeberg said that winning the Total Score was not yet in her full focus . We have learnt from Oeberg that she usually gets what she puts her mind to. Herrmann worked for most of the summer to make her shooting technique more consistent; if she starts the season close to the form with which she finished the last one, she can start dreaming big.
Winning Mass Start gold in Oestersund and the Total Score title made Wierer a woman in demand in Italy and she had to balance commercial opportunities with training, which will (most probably) show at the beginning of the season. Wierer will have her sights set on her home town IBU World Championships in Antholz - Anterselva. Although . . . one never knows with Wierer for she knows how to dig really deep even when there is seemingly no energy left in her.