Elvira Oeberg, Ready to Battle

After six podiums in the first two trimesters of the 2022/23 BMW IBU World Cup season, Elvira Oeberg remained within striking distance of Julia Simon in the Yellow Bib battle, just 76 points back. Winning the big Crystal Globe remained a possibility. Shortly thereafter, illness irreversibly altered Elvira’s very good season, pushing any chance of winning the World Cup Total Score a year down the line. As winter approaches, Oeberg feels ready to go after the title once again.

Before her season came to a halt, the younger Oeberg sister was on track to eclipse her sister as she had boldly predicted after winning the 2017 IBU Youth WCH individual Bronze medal, “I think I will be better than (2018 Olympic 15 km Individual Gold medalist) Hanna.” Elvira followed that medal with three Youth Gold medals in 2018, promotion to the World Cup team in 2019, her first WC podium in 2020, and three Olympic medals in 2022.

End of Season Disappointment

Elvira admitted the crash landing at what should have the high point of last season was a tough pill to swallow. “It was very, very tough. First I got sick in Ruhpolding but then it went quite alright. I knew I had the World Champs and I could manage missing one race. When I got sick at World Champs, the World Cup (Total Score) was still possible. When we got to Nove Mesto, the body did not work at all; that was really tough. I know what I am capable of. My body is usually my safe place that keeps me calm. When it did not work, that affected my shooting. I did not recognize myself as a biathlete. It was a really tough couple of weeks as well as after the season when I processed it all…I was really disappointed, but I still had a lot of good things (from the season).”

“I had to be a bit jealous”

Beyond the early wins and Yellow Bib battle, the IBU WCH Relay Bronze medal was a small, but important consolation prize. “It definitely was that. It was all I could do. I was on the limit. It was maybe too early to race (after being sick), but I went home with my first World Championships medal. As we say in Swedish, it was a Band-Aid on the wound! It meant a lot to be a small part of the hugely successful Swedish World Championships.”

Some regrets lingered when Hanna won two Gold medals. “I had to be a bit jealous. I knew I had the same capacities. I wanted it to be me, but if not me, I would rather see her win than anyone else. I was having one of the worst weeks of my life and she was the queen of the World Champs! I am still so happy for her, because we are so close and I was a part of her success.”

Long Recovery

Recovery from the season was very slow. “It definitely took longer. I trained very little, less than usual in April. In May, I felt I was not in the shape of my life! I really did not get in any good training from the middle of January until I started again in May. This summer it was a project to stay cool and not overdo it. The good thing is after each period of training, I gradually came back to the level I expected. Last summer I was stressed, trying to be better in every session. This year I trying to do each session as good as possible…I am more relaxed and not so stressed.”

“My body is working like I want”

The 24-year-old feels good about where summer training has taken her. “It was good to see at the Swedish Champs that I am skiing well again. My body is working like I want…My best training day was late this summer. We were running uphill with poles in Oestersund, a day after intervals. For the first time my body felt like I am used to when I am pushing; it was something special I had not felt that since January…I feel confident I am in a really good place.”

Shoot 90%: “I have a chance to win”

Elvira finished the 2022/23 season shooting at a career best 88% clip, well within her goals. “It was a lot better than the season before. My prone shooting improved from 80 to 90. I am really proud because we did not make any big changes. It was probably not the fastest 90% but if I shoot 90%, I have the chance to win a race. That is the goal. The more races I can do with 90% shooting, the more races I can be on the podium.”

Goal: Total Score

Looking forward, Elvira has multiple goals, but, “If I had to choose between a World Championship title and the Total Score, I would choose the Total Score. Of course, Nove Mesto is the season highlight…and I want my top shape there.”

Rating her Rivals

The road to the Total Score and World Championships medals goes through several rivals that she respects.

Lisa Vittozzi, “From what I have seen, she has been really strong this summer and she showed last season that she is back to her level of a few years ago. I definitely think she will be one of the contenders for the big globe.”

Julia Simon, “What she showed last year was really impressive. But you also know that after a season like that, it can be difficult to repeat. It will be interesting to see.”

Dorothea Wierer, “is still going strong. We know her skiing is not what it used to be but her shooting range level and her best days on the tracks are impressive. She will be a contender.”

Justine Braisaz Bouchet, “It would not be the first time that we see someone come back from being a mother and taking another step.”

Still, Elvira feels her biggest rival may be big sister Hanna, “I think we will have a lot of battles this season. I hope we will be able to push each other. I think it can be a fun winter for both of us!”

Regardless of who she competes against in the coming months, Elvira Oeberg is ready for the challenge and expects to come out on top more often than not.

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni, Nordic Focus/ Leo Authamayou

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