Big Stars at Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival

It could be cloudy on Saturday afternoon when the mass starts at the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival are contested, but cloudy or not, expect some of the biggest stars in biathlon to toe the line, all hoping to taste victory and splash some champagne in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans.

The small nine-competitor fields are filled with Olympic and World Champions, BMW IBU World Cup Total Score winners and some rising stars ready to do battle along the shore of Lake Annecy.

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Defending Champions Return

Defending Champions Marketa Davidova and Quentin Fillon Maillet top the list of entries. Davidova, the Gala Mass Start Gold medalist at last weekend’s IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships looks ready to defend her MFNF title after a 19-for-20 day in Osrblie. The 2021 IBU 15 km Individual World Champion is a fan of the event. “I am looking forward to being there again. It was a lot of fun last year with a lots of spectators. It is good training to shoot a little bit faster than normal and try to do the best. All of the races in the summer are good training. I love that the biathletes and cross-country skiers are there together. Martin has made a quite cool event.”

Fillon Maillet hopes fans “shiver with a victory”

2022 World Cup Total Score Winner Fillon Maillet likewise looks eagerly towards the MFNF as a good test. After his glorious 2021/22 season, the French star struggled last season with fatigue and never really found his groove, recording just two podiums. Now he is reenergized after a restful spring and an aggressive summer with coaches Simon Fourcade and Jean-Pierre Amat. Fourcade commented on Fillon Maillet, “He is pushing the group. He is a real leader and is really motivated.”

Fillon Maillet, known as a master of the four-stage competitions loves the top-flight competition. “I really enjoy running in Annecy. It is one of the rare competitions with such a high level in summer. It is a good time to see if the preparation is going well, even if the results are not indicative of the winter ranking.”

Continuing, he added, The atmosphere and public make this event so beautiful. I really appreciate being able to share the emotions on the shooting range and tracks with the public and I hope to be able to make them shiver with a victory!”

Vittozzi on Fire

Both defending titlists will have their work cut out. Davidova has to get past Italy’s two big stars, Lisa Vittozzi and Dorothea Wierer. Vittozzi has been on fire this summer so far, blowing away the field in Wiesbaden with two clean standing stages and a 45-second win. She dominated last weekend’s Italian Championships taking both the sprint and pursuit, so should be ready to repeat her 2019 MFNF win. Second in last season’s World Cup Total Score, Wierer, last year loves these big shows and will be ready to challenge.

Simon and Braisaz-Bouchet

The two biggest French stars, Julia Simon and Justine Braisaz Bouchet will be on the starting line together for the first time this summer. 2023 World Cup Total Score winner Julia Simon looked sharp when she won the Bessans shooting contest last week. Olympic Mass Start Gold medalist Braisaz-Bouchet has slowly returned after last season’s maternity break, training mostly solo training so far but will join her teammates in training camps next month. Braisaz-Bouchet had a solid start when she won the Blinkfestivalen women’s shooting duel.

Beyond these headliners, the women’s field includes 2021 Mass Start World Champion Lisa Theresa Hauser, 2023 Mixed Relay World Champion Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, Vanessa Voigt and Lena Haecki-Gross.

Sturla Returns

Fillon Maillet will be up against tough competition. 2021 MFNF winner Sturla Holm Laegreid returns; two weeks after blowing away the Wiesbaden field with very fast shooting and track dominance. Like his rivals, Laegreid and teammate Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen will come directly from a training camp in Austria. Christiansen, who won the Oestersund mass start last March won the Blinkfestivalen super sprint for the third consecutive year 3 weeks ago.

Ready to Challenge: Emilien and the Young Talents

Twice Pursuit World Champion Emilien Jacquelin, loves the crowds and the excitement of big events and could easily challenge for the victory. 2017 IBU Sprint World Champion Benedikt Doll, twice on the podium at the MFNF will be back chasing a third top three finish. The men’s field is loaded with young talent topped by Tommaso Giacomel and Sebastian Stalder, second and third in last season’s Blue Bib (under 25) rankings. Giacomel finished second behind Christiansen in the Oestersund mass start and won his first IBU WCH medals, Mixed Relay Silver and Single Mixed Bronze last February. Stalder, who shoots at a sterling 91% clip had seven top ten finishes last season all in four-stage competitions, perfect for the MFNF format. Oberhof Relay Gold medalist Fabien Claude, Michal Krcmar and first-time MFNF entrant Tero Seppala round out the men’s field.


The MFNF festivities open with two concerts and athlete introduction Friday evening, an additional concert on Saturday evening and biathlon running relays on Sunday.

Saturday’s schedule:

15:30 Shooting Competitions, Men and Women

16:05 Women’s 8.5 km Mass Start

16:55 Men’s 10 km Mass Start

Rain or shine, this year’s MFNF competitions will be a great end-of-summer biathlon treat.

Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni

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