Getting to Know Vanessa Voigt

Vanessa Voigt was the unquestioned female breakout star of the 2020/21 IBU Cup season, claiming a hat trick in Osrblie with consecutive sprint, pursuit, and single individual wins that propelled her to the IBU Cup Total Score title as well as the IBU Cup Pursuit and Individual Scores.

Voigt’s IBU Cup success earned her a promotion to the German 1A team, where she now trains with Denise Herrmann and Co; learning what it takes to get regular starts on the BMW IBU World Cup circuit.

Cross-country fun; move to biathlon

Voigt’s road to the 1A team and the three Crystal Globes was no fast track, but a rather bumpy ride after starting cross-country skiing at age 10. “When I started as a cross-country skier, it was all about having fun, being outdoors with friends. It was not about competition, but over time my interest grew and I went to the sports school in Oberhof. I saw the biathletes on the shooting range and thought it looked cool and fun. Cross-country training had become very boring. So. I said, ‘let’s change.’ Thinking about her beginnings, she laughed, remembering her first biathlon. “It was a little bit frustrating. I had ten mistakes in an individual. But at the finish, I was very happy because my running time was really good, only two minutes back.”

Health Issues Claim Two Seasons

That early frustration turned into success in the 2016/17 season when Voigt picked up several podiums in the IBU Junior Cup before closing her season with a silver relay medal at the IBU YJWCH in Osrblie. Yet the success was short-lived; her career hit a stumbling block. The next two seasons, health issues forced her basically from competing in international biathlon. “My shape was not so good. Looking back now, I know that the problem was basically hormonal; my body did not work so well. I went to several doctors and got no answers, but then I found some different medications and now I am doing well. Many times, female athletes have problems and there are not so many doctors who can help.”

After a couple of years of just a few low-level competitions, the 2020/21 short, intense IBU Cup season was a challenge for the 23-year-old. “Those 3-week competitions were very hard for me, especially the first one with two in Arber and then the IBU Open European Championships. I had some competition the previous two years but the people did not see me in the results because I was so bad.”

Osrblie Hat Trick

The second three-week block of competitions changed everything for Voigt, starting in Osrblie, the place where she won her only IBU YJWCH medal way back in 2017. The first weekend, she won the sprint/pursuit double, missing just one of her thirty shots. The next Wednesday, another clean shooting day secured the Osrblie hat trick with a win in the single individual, just 6.9 seconds ahead of teammate Hanna Kebinger. “That was very special for me because every race was a new day, especially the individual. You have to stay cool and do your thing. Winning that many in a row is important to show that it was not luck!...I was not in my best shape those weeks physically, but in my mind, I was so strong that it was easy for me. And I had this mindset that this place (Osrblie) was good for me.”

Those three weeks took Voigt to the top of the IBU Cup Total Score standings and secured IBU Cup Sprint and Individual Scores.

“Shooting is a little bit talent”

A big part of Voigt’s success lies in her ability on the shooting range. In her last eight IBU Cup competitions of the season, she fired 110 shots, missing just eight times for a 93% average. “Shooting is a little bit talent, but you can work on it every day. The good shooting this year may have been the result of a break of eight weeks without shooting. Sometimes after a break without shooting you come back with a new focus. I think that was the key this year.”

Teammates/role models: Maren and Denise

Her sterling IBU cup season earned a couple of BMW IBU Cup starts at the end of the season and a guaranteed start in Oestersund next December. Yet most important was that promotion to the 1A training group and the more intense training environment. “It is really cool to be in the team. I am happy to be there because they show all the time why they are at the top level and how to train.” She has two role models in the group. “On the shooting range, it is Maren (Hammerschmidt) and running it is Denise (Herrmann). But everybody on the team has their strengths.”

Building Hours

Voigt’s focus this summer is multi-fold with building hours, ski speed and technique on her plate. “All of that, but building hours is important but not like the others (on the team). My focus is not to do that too fast. I have to go step-by-step. My ski technique is very important so I work on it every day. On the shooting range, I have to work with my speed; that is very important for me.”

BMW IBU World Cup Goal

The new training environment will hopefully take Voigt’s career to another level. “My first goal in the training season is to stay healthy. I hope that competing in the first World Cup will not be my only one for the season; I would like to be in the team for many World Cups, so my main goal for the season is that I will be fixed in the World Cup team all season. I have shown in the three BMW IBU World Cup races last season that with every competition I get better and better (64th NMNM sprint, 57th Oestersund sprint, 25th Oestersund pursuit). Every race is a new experience and you learn a lot.”

Final thoughts from Vanessa

First thing I did at the end of the season: “Eat Nutella!”

Best way to spend a rest day: “In bed with Netflix.”

Favorite food indulgence after a hard training session: “Spaghetti.”

Roller skiing, running or cycling: “Road cycling.”

If you were not a biathlete, what would you be doing now: “I do not know.”

My biathlon role model: “Johannes Thingnes Boe.”

The most used app on my phone: “Instagram.”

Evenings are for films, friends, reading, or: “food.”

Complete this sentence, Vanessa Voigt is: “Hopefully, someday the new Olympic Champion in biathlon!”

Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni, Harald Deubert, Igor Stancik, Vanessa Voigt

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