5 Burning Questions: Anastasiya Kuzmina

In March 2019, Anastasiya Kuzmina bid farewell to professional biathlon after more than 13 years in the World Cup circuit. With 5 Olympic medals (3 gold, 2 silver), 4 World Championships medals, and 30 World Cup podiums, she decided to dedicate most of her time to her family and work on passing on her experience to young Slovakian athletes. Four and a half years later, at the end of 2023, she announced her comeback on home soil for the Open European Championships in Osrblie and perhaps even beyond.

Following a successful comeback with almost endless possibilities for the future, we asked the three-time Olympic Champion five burning questions and one more about her predictions for the upcoming WCH.

Biathlonworld: When did the thought of making a comeback in competitive biathlon initially cross your mind?

Anastasiya Kuzmina: The idea arose during our Kuzmin team's summer preparation for the Summer Biathlon World Championships in Osrblie. Representatives from the Slovak Biathlon Federation approached me, noting my ongoing training, and suggested, "Since you're still in good shape, why not give it another try?" Due to time constraints, we couldn't prepare for the World Championships, so we decided to aim for the European Championships at home.

BW: What was the motivation behind your comeback?

AK: Primarily, it was to boost Slovak biathlon, bring back fan interest, and contribute to our team's success. I didn't anticipate that it would turn out to be a huge personal challenge and a significant experiment for me too.

BW: Can you describe how the preparation for the OECH went?

AK: After 4.5 years of lighter training, I suddenly switched to 2-3 daily workouts in six-day phases. The initial plan was to train at home, but in November, we had to go abroad due to a lack of snow in Osrblie. Our 16-year-old son, a cross-country skier, joined us, which was great because we became sparring partners for each other.

My daily routine involved morning warm-ups, including dry shooting; then, I went through a first phase of a hard and long sessions while the kids were at school. After lunch, the second phase came in, with a shorter and more intense session. Evenings were dedicated to recovery and stretching. These days brought significant changes for me, both physically and in terms of family dynamics.

BW: What was the experience of racing in front of your home fans again, and did your family and friends come to watch you?

AK: My daughter and mother-in-law attended, as well as my stepson from Ukraine, who joined us during the war. My husband and son are in South Korea for the Youth Olympics, so we stay connected through phone calls and messages. Racing in front of the home crowd evoked strong emotions. I aimed to please and not disappoint them, and these thoughts influenced my shooting. The connection with the fans, their chants—it's a responsibility. I aimed to absorb their energy without disrupting my shooting pace, recalling how I used to handle it.

BW: Can you share your future plans with us?

AK: I aspire to support our girls and the Slovak national team, instilling a competitive spirit without fear of facing the best. My main goal is to help in the relays through the generational change of theteam, giving our talented junior girls more time to focus on their category competitions. To ensure it's not just occasional racing in relays, I plan to participate in sprints as a warm-up.

Biathlonworld Bonus: Who do you predict will excel at the upcoming World Championship in Nové Město na Moravě?

AK: It's a fascinating question. Young talents might surprise, but the well-known names (including one mom 😊) are performing exceptionally well this season. Overall, the French girls are in excellent shape. Biathlon's beauty lies in the unpredictable nature of shooting and the art of timing peak form for the top event of the year; therefore, I'd rather not make specific predictions.

Do you feel confident to predict and want to win a VIP biathlon weekend? Check out our Predictor Challenge for WCH in NMNM.

Photos: IBU / Stancik, Manzoni

Share this article

Header iconSign up for our newsletter