The men held their next-ot-last camp in mid-October at Benedikt Doll’s home Notschrei stadium in the Black Forest, while the women convened in Ruhpolding. Both teams are now closing out summer/fall training with camps in Oberhof, getting a bit more roller skiing, shooting at the 2023 IBU WCH venue, while also putting in some kilometers on the artificial snow in the ski tunnel.
Men’s coaches Mark Kirchner and Uros Velepec have few complaints about how the summer played out. Velepec commented, “The team was healthy, Benni missed a few sessions because of his new baby, but with his engine, it is not a problem for the season. We were optimistic (about the team and season ahead) in the spring and we still are. Everything went by the plan; there is nothing to be worried about. We made the training plan together, adding a few new things to mix it up…The whole team is very professional and motivated, so they push themselves. The biggest problem is that sometimes they want to do more, but we monitor that carefully.”
Like the men’s staff, new German Women’s Head Coach Sverre Olsbu Roeiseland has good feelings about his first summer guiding the program. “All the most successful teams like Norway and Germany do a good job (with training), but sometimes it is good to see things in a different way. That helped make Norway be better and I hope that it will also help Germany…My task this summer was to get to know the girls and add my input… After a summer of training, I think we are in a good way…Everyone took some small steps…It will be interesting to see (how) the girls (do) in the winter. I am really looking forward to that.”
The teams first big test came at the IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships in Ruhpolding. According to Velepec, “We were both quite happy with that. Our goal was to get all seven in the Gala Mass Start and we did that. Besides that, Roman Rees and Philipp Horn did really well. Philipp Nawrath and Kuehn both had good races there. This showed the development is going well. Benni is the only one left from the big four, so it was important that these other athletes get some confidence that they can compete against other top athletes.”
Olsbu Roeiseland added, thinking about Denise Herrmann-Wick’s Gala Mass Start Silver medal, plus top tens from Vanessa Voigt, Juliane Fruehwirt, and Anna Weidel. “It was good for us, especially to have some competitions in the summer.”
As the days to the new season pass swiftly, the focus is now on snow. Velepec explained, regarding the men’s squad, “If you do all of the long aerobic work and correct intensity in September and October, then everything is okay and you can easily adapt to the snow, without pushing too hard. At this point we have done 90% of the work (to get ready for the season). We will add some more intensity in Oberhof as well as test skis and ammunition. Then a few days off and we will head to final preparation.”
Olsbu Roeiseland’s women’s team is in a similar place with just over month before the first BMW IBU World Cup in Kontiolahti. “We have done a good job over the summer. Now we want to try to do the same in the competitions as how we trained: to play on the shooting range and attack the target. Also, we want to bring the good work on ski technique to snow. It is a difference between rollerskiing and on snow. So, we will work on transferring that to the snow in November. We will be bringing good quality in the work we do in the next month. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If it says to rest, then you need to rest and not always do what the plan says. It is important to look at the individual (in the final weeks before the season).
This year, the final preparation on-snow camp for the German teams shifts from Muonio in northern Finland, south to Vuokatti. Velepec explained the change. “Logistically, it is easier to get the wax truck there. We want to have it available from the first day and then it is a quick 2-hour drive to Kontiolahti. We will be there for 12 days with several short training blocks and some test races. We have four athletes fixed for the World Cup (Doll, Kuehn, Rees and Nawrath) who were selected in April so they could train all summer with no pressure; two more will be added after Vuokatti.”
The women will be on the same program as the men, according to Olsbu Roeiseland. “We will have our last qualification race for the World Cup in Vuokatti for the last spots for the World Cup. Herrmann-Wick, Franziska Preuss and Voigt, the top three from last season are pre-qualified.”
Thinking about the 2023 IBU World Championships and the strong men’s field, Velepec added, “The running speed of Kuehn, Nawrath and Doll is good enough to be on the podium, with clean shooting or one mistake, any of them could be really high.”
The women's coach feels little pressure about the home WCH at this point. “The pressure will come during the season. For me as a coach, it is Germany and Oberhof will be a big party. I think the girls are ready for it and really looking forward to having these Championships in Germany.”
Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni