The Next Generation Arrives: Three Men to Watch

As the 2023/24 BMW IBU World Cup season wound down, three rising stars: Tommaso Giacomel, Johan-Olav Botn, and Campbell Wright stepped out of the shadows into the spotlight.

Under 25 Title to Tommy

Giacomel missed taking the Under 25 (Blue Bib) title by 16 points in 2023, but this past season, he dominated the category, scoring points in every competition except one. Although he struggles at times on the range, the Italian can outrun many of those miscues and battle for the top 10. Despite still chasing that coveted first World Cup victory, Giacomel added two second places in the Ruhpolding and Canmore sprints to his resume. The 24-year-old has earned a reputation as a great relay competitor, teaming up with Lisa Vittozzi for the IBU World Championships Single Mixed Relay Silver medal to go with their 2023 Bronze medal, also anchoring the men’s and mixed relays to World Cup podiums.

Four North American Flower Ceremonies

At Soldier Hollow and Canmore, Giacomel made his biggest leap in the future stars game, with Flower Ceremonies in four of the five individual competitions. Additionally, he seized the lead with a super second leg in the Soldier Hollow Men’s Relay setting up Italy’s season-best second place finish.

Tarjei’s Praise

The Canmore Sprint earned the young Italian high praise from Tarjei Boe, who finished 1.5 seconds behind the Italian. “He’s a strong guy, a sprinter, with fast legs and high speed. When his is able to ski that fast in the altitude and uphill, he has a big engine. He’s the guy coming up in the next years!” Sprint Globe winner Tarjei’s endorsement confirms Tommy Giacomel spot atop the 2024/25 watch list.

Botn Impresses all Season

Johan-Olav Botn spent 90% of the season in the IBU Cup, with just seven BMW IBU World Cup starts. Yet, he made the most of his limited starts with two clean-shooting sprints. Wearing Bib 98 in a field of 100 in his third World Cup start, Botn skied through very slow conditions onto his first-ever World Cup podium in the Soldier Hollow Sprint. In the following week’s Canmore Sprint, Botn missed the podium by a mere 9.1 seconds, in fifth place. The next day, he finished 7th in the pursuit, 1.4 seconds behind Giacomel.

Five Early-season IBU Cup Wins

The 24-year-old displayed his talent in the IBU Cup, winning five of the season’s first six individual competitions, finishing second in the other two, also running the third leg in the winning Kontiolahti Mixed Relay. That opened the door for him to take Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen spot in Oberhof where Botn recorded the fastest course times in both the sprint and pursuit. After victories in the Ridnaun Sprint and Mixed Relay, the Lillehammer resident won a Gold and two Silver medals at the IBU OECH. Although he missed three IBU Cup competition weeks, Botn won the IBU Cup Sprint Score while finishing second in the IBU Cup Total Score.

Even with his impressive World Cup debut and innate talent, Botn will train with Norway’s IBU Cup squad again this season but will surely be ready for his next World Cup call-up when it comes.

Big Steps for Campbell Wright

New Zealand native and dual US citizen Campbell Wright had a momentous 2023/24 season. Wright trained with the US Biathlon Team the previous season, but last October officially changed from New Zealand to the USA. “I made the decision to swap nations to the US because it gives me the best chance to reach my goals.”

That decision proved to be the “Wright” move. Last season the 2023 IBU Junior Sprint World Champion recorded career-best results, 11th, 8th and 6th in successive weeks at the IBU WCH, Oslo Holmenkollen and Soldier Hollow, also running a solid third leg on the USA’s IBU WCH best-ever fifth place relay team. Earlier in the season, he shot clean in the Ruhpolding Men's Relay, leading the field into the first handoff.

An early season break from the World Cup and a several-week training camp set up Wright’s strong finish. He qualified for two of the season’s last three mass starts and shot well in North America, going 19-for-20 in three four-stage competitions as the season wound down. When the dust settled, the 21-year-old’s shooting was up to a personal-best 85% from previous seasons of 81 and 79%.

Big Goals

Wright’s strong finish to the season proved that setting big goals is the pathway to achieving them. After his stunning Ruhpolding Relay leg and an equally excellent at-the-time 12th place personal best the sprint, he admitted, “My goals these next two months is to try hold the form I have now. I know that’s a big ask, but why not set a big goal?”

At season’s end, the obvious answer was, “Mission accomplished!” The next step for Campbell Wright is clearly the podium and senior level medals.

Stay tuned…bigger and better things to come in the 2024/25 BMW IBU World Cup season from the next generation: Tommy, Johan-Olav, and Campbell. Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni, Vianney Thibaut

Share this article

Header iconSign up for our newsletter