Lisa Theresa Hauser, on the Rebound

Lisa Theresa Hauser rose from a very good to elite biathlete in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons with her first BMW IBU World Cup victories, an IBU World Championship and third in the 2022 World Cup Total Score.

2021/22, “My best season”

“That was my best season yet. It was really exciting, but it was really hard, with a lot of pressure from outside and myself after winning the medals in Pokljuka…It is easy to get one good result but to do it again and again is even harder, but I did that and was really happy. I told myself, ‘Lisa, you can handle the pressure.’ The Olympic Games were disappointing with the fourth place in the sprint. You never want to go home from the Olympic Games with a fourth place, but I accepted that three girls were better than me that day. Still, I was third in the overall at the end of the season.”

In 2022/23, the Austrian slipped to 10th in the Total Score with two podiums, both wins, but not her best season. On the cusp of the new season, Hauser feels ready for a rebound.

“A tough summer”

She explained her 2022/23 woes, “After that good season, I got coronavirus in April (2022), was positive for a long time and very sick for two weeks. Looking back, I should have taken a longer break but started training in May, not the best decision! That made it a tough summer. Everything was going in the wrong direction, so in July, I cancelled my training camps, went home and tried to recover but was tired, did not feel so good with only some slow endurance training. In October, I felt better and had a good month.”

“One of the best days of my career”

Hopefully over the hump and trying to not overdo it as the season approached, “Then (surprisingly) I won the sprint in Kontiolahti,” shooting clean and leaving eventual Total Score winner Julia Simon, Lisa Vittozzi and Denise Herrmann-Wick in her wake. “I never expected to win a sprint in my career and then suddenly I had two (after 2021 Oestersund sprint). I felt pure joy and happiness. I did not expect it and was very thankful. The victory in Le Grand Bornand (mass start) was one of the best days of my career. On the last loop, I did not turn around to look, because I was so scared that Lisa or Julia would pass me. I just pushed, pushed, pushed!”

“After Oberhof, I was done, out of energy”

Hauser maintained her form through January, but Oberhof was disappointing, until, “We maybe got lucky, getting the Single Mixed Relay Silver medal. This was really important for me and the team. After Oberhof, I was done, out of energy. I could not move on the track and had problems concentrating on the range. In reality, I realized that my body was not ready (with the missed training) to make good results the whole season. Still, I am really happy I reached those results.”

Ten years after, “living my best life”

Hauser’s successful last three seasons are the culmination of a long road, starting when she won IBU Junior WCH Silver and Bronze medals ten years ago in Obertilliach. “So much has happened in the last ten years. It is hard to believe. Right now, I am living my best life. It was nice to be successful as a junior but when you are in the World Cup you know how tough it can be. There have been some difficult years behind but also my best years.”

Three Olympic Winter Games, almost 300 BMW IBU World Cup starts and a dozen podiums transformed a care-free junior. “Today, I am not so cool before races. I am more stressed. I want more than 10 years ago. I do not take it so easy. When you are a junior, you love to compete, travel somewhere where everything is new. It is still exciting, but now I expect more. Biathlon was easier back then.”

“I stepped out of my comfort zone”

A completely different spring and summer from last year fuel Hauser’s optimism as winter approaches. “I had a good summer and was healthy, even though as always, it is hard starting in May. But I was fresh after a good April with holidays and fun with friends who always make me smile. We do not get to meet up very often but when we do, we have fun.”

Seeking a return to top form, she made a bold step. “I was searching for something new and stepped out of my comfort zone, with some new people around, training a lot with the Swiss team. (Swiss Women’s Coach) Sandra Flunger has always been my most important person to talk to about problems or whatever. It was a step I needed. I was motivated, did really good training; it has been really good so far.”

New season; more goals

With a solid summer of training completed, Hauser hopes to claim another career goal with Austria’s ever-improving women’s relay team. “A big goal for me is to have a good women’s relay result. It is a dream to have a relay podium, the only discipline that I am missing a podium. All the girls on our team are working toward this and I am looking forward to the relay races this winter.”

Although optimistic about her health and fitness the Austrian star admits her young fast rivals make getting on the podium harder than ever. “There are a lot of strong girls. It is good for the sport (to have more competitive fields) but makes it more difficult for me. I still have goals and want more podiums.”

Photos: IBU/Nordic Focus, Christian Manzoni, Jerry Kokesh

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