Finals' expert corner: Arnd Peiffer

Arnd Peiffer opened and closes the 2022/2023 season with Expert’s corners comments on the BMW IBU World Cup dynamics in the absence of the JT Boe, the secret of the strength of the Norwegian Men’s relay, reasons behind Julia Simon’s victorious season and good vibes in the German teams from World cup to the Junior cup level.

With the C-19-related absence of JT Boe (and his in-form brother Tarjei), the dynamics changed dramatically in Oestersund. After finishing third in the Individual and clinching the Individual Cup Score title, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen admitted that he was aiming for the BMW IBU World Cup Total Score title in 2022/2023 before Johannes set the bar so high that he had to readjust his goals. Christiansen stepped into the void, kept his composure in the Individual, and did what Johannes usually does in the Mass start - took the lead from the first meters and never looked back.

Christiansen also anchored the winning Norwegian relay, featuring the winner of the IBU Cup Total Score Endre Stroemsheim, Vebjoern Soerum, who also spent most weeks this season in the IBU Cup, and Johannes Dale, who was training with Stroemsheim and Soerum in the B team during last summer. Norwegians are used to fighting for their spot every day - in the training sessions, World cup, IBU Cup, or Norwegian Cup - and learn how to handle it almost spontaneously.

Julia Simon is edging closer to her maiden BMW IBU World Cup Total Score title. She recovered remarkably well from C-19 after the BMW IBU World Championships Oberhof 2023 and was already competitive in Nove Mesto na Morave and back to her podium-collecting form in Oestersund. Simon has matured as a biathlete. Her shooting accuracy and speed are consistently high, matching her skiing prowess. We could see how annoyed she was missing the 20th shot in the Mass start: that is a sign of great self-confidence. Her fighting spirit is incredible, and with Elvira Oeberg’s energy levels still relatively low, the odds for Simon’s triumph in Oslo look very good.

Last week was also successful for the German team. Benedikt Doll’s win in the Individual was a significant milestone for him and the whole team as he shared the Flower ceremony with Philipp Nawrath and Roman Rees. The team’s vibe seems upbeat throughout the structure: from the World cup to the Junior teams. Germany won the most Gold medals at the IBU Youth & Junior World Championships in Schuchinsk, Kazakhstan. Selina Grotian was the high-flyer in the Championships with four Gold medals. Selina is in a very advanced stage of development for her age (still a youth athlete), and her skiing is remarkable. She will test the World cup atmosphere in Oslo but don’t expect wonders. History teaches us that Germany (and other nations) had many Junior World Champions who never made an impact in the World cup. Selina has quality people around her and should develop at her own pace.

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