Five Burning Questions for Antonin Guigonnat

Antonin Guigonnat could easily be described as a “journeyman” biathlete, working his way through many IBU Cup seasons to the World Cup where he collected a half-dozen individual podiums and 2021 Single Mixed and 2023 Men’s Relay World Championship titles. The 2023/24 first trimester was unkind the 32-year-old: subpar ski speed and missed targets. Returning to the IBU Cup, Guigonnat had two podiums in Ridnaun, then stormed to IBU OECH Sprint Gold plus Mixed Relay Silver and Pursuit Bronze last week.

After the best week of his career and first-ever major title, we asked Antonin five burning questions and another about a fact few people know about him.

Biathlonworld: When you knew you were going to the IBU Cup, did you mentally say, “okay, let’s make the best of this” or was it more complicated?

Antonin Guigonnat: After the bad sprint race in Oberhof (86th, 5 penalties) I would have had to wait an entire week to race again in World Cup. I had the opportunity to go straight to the IBU Cup within a 2:45 hour drive and race there 4 days later. I just needed to race and prove myself better. So, I started IBU Cup races saying, ‘let’s do proper biathlon now.’

BW: Your shooting has taken a big upturn to 90%, what changed after the Oberhof Sprint?

AG: The Oberhof Sprint was just a terrible race. The track was in poor condition, windy range, late start, and obviously lack of confidence in myself. It was worthy to forget this day. Otherwise, my shooting this season is ok (average). No noticeable change occurred. My shape seems to be better so I feel more at ease approaching the shooting range.

BW: How much fun was it to be on the podium with your sister in the Ridnaun Mixed Relay?

AG: It was really fun! Gilonne is 7 years younger than me and we never thought about racing together one day. Being also together in the A team for training camps last summer was already quite a big moment for our family after Gigi’s premiere in World Cup finale last season! I feel really proud that she can follow my footsteps and make it in her own fashion.

BW: In your wildest dreams, did you go to Osrblie thinking you would win Sprint Gold ahead of those talented young Norwegians?

AG: There is no way I could have dreamt of it. Not really because I think they are better than me, but because I really need to focus on the things I have to do before the results become a goal. Every time I went for the result I ended up disappointed. When I manage to focus only on the process, on the present moment, my breathing or my moves, I sometimes have good surprises on the results sheet! That was a big surprise. Honestly, I thought this event would be a big step towards my career ending.

BW: A full set of OECH medals, maybe not the season that you planned, but did those three races give you some needed confidence and focus for the rest of the season?

AG: It went crazy! My IG post for my European Gold medal received the same number of kudos as last year’s post related to World Championships Relay Gold medal! I am happier because of the good feelings I got on the track than because of the medals themselves. Somebody could have been better than me and gotten the medals, but not that feeling that I’m able to do it at World Cup level again! So yes, the confidence is back and I’m really looking forward to the next World Cup stage!

Biathlonworld Bonus: What is something that not many people know about you?

AG: I have also 2 sisters that you will not see doing biathlon on TV! The main thing that could make me stop biathlon today is my environmental awareness.

Guigonnat will not be in Nove Mesto na Morave for the BMW IBU World Championships, unless someone falls ill, but watch for him in the last trimester of the season, refocused and filled with confidence!

Photos: IBU/ Igor Stancik, Harald Deubert, Nordic Focus

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