Otepaeae preview: Can Elvira Oeberg close the gap to Olsbu Roeiseland?

Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Quentin Fillon Maillet used their skills wisely in Kontiolahti to extend their lead in the BMW IBU World Cup Total Score standings before the Estonian world cup premiere in Otepaeae. Marte relied on her skiing as her shooting accuracy dropped from the season's average of 91% to 83% in Finland. Quentin shot with above 93% accuracy or 4% above his season's average of 88% before Kontiolahti and managed to offset his slight decline in skiing speed. But then that is what great champions do.  

Olsbu Roeiseland finished eighth in the sprint and fourth in the pursuit in Kontiolahti and won nine world cup points more than Elvira Oeberg, who collected seventh and ninth place in Finland. Olsbu Roeiseland has 728 points to Oeberg’s 631 before the sprint and mass start in Otepaeae; that is a difference of 97 points. In the 15 competitions they participated in this season, Olsbu Roeiseland won more than 48 points per competition, which translates into third place on average. Oeberg won 42 points per competition for fourth to fifth place on average. Oeberg needs to start winning races in Estonia to close a gap to Olsbu Roeiseland before the finals in Oslo-Holmenkollen. But Marte has a destiny in her own hands: even if Elvira was to win the remaining five competitions and all available 300 points, Marte needs to finish fifth on average to retain the lead and collect her first Total Score trophy. 

As for the Cup score battles: after two (out of four) competitions, Dorothea Wierer leads in the mass start with 103 points. With Kristina Reztsova (second), Dzinara Alimbekava (fourth), and Uliana Nigmatullina (sixth) all banned from the competitions, Julia Simon (third) with 85 points and Anais Chevalier-Bouchet (fifth) with 75 points are the closest challengers. That can all change Otepaeae, and we will most probably see the final decision in Oslo-Holmenkollen. As for the sprint, Olsbu Roeiseland is firmly in control of things.

Fillon Maillet singled out sleeping a lot as to his trump card in maintaining his focus sharp and body energy high. Laura Dahlmeier pointed out in her Expert’s opinion after the Beijing 2022 Games that Marte and Quentin will return tired to the world cup but that they would know how to compensate for any weakness. Fillon Maillet proved Dahlmeier right as he (smartly) let Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Sebastian Samuelsson sprint away in the anchors’ fight for the relay win and closed all ten targets in the sprint while others overpowered on the skis. Quentin then used 18 seconds lead from the sprint to calmly shoot 15/15 in the first three pursuit stages - while all his main competitors managed their energy reserves rather carelessly. He skied only 42nd fastest time for another win, seventh in the world cup this season. Fillon Maillet has a 144 lead over Emilien Jacquelin before Otepaeae and needs to finish ninth on average in the remaining five competitions to win in the Total Score (assuming Jacquelin will win five times, for which odds look somewhat low).

Header iconPreview Otepaeae - Cup score leaders

Quentin is the leader in the Sprint Cup score with 288 points compared to Samuelsson’s 269 and Jacquelin’s 263. Benedikt Doll leads in the Mass start Cup score with 96 points, Fillon Maillet has 88, Tarjei Boe 76 and Sivert Guttorm Bakken 74. With 120 points still available until the end of the season, the fight is still on.

About Otepaeae

The Tehvandi Sports Centre in the Estonian Otepaeae will host its first-ever BMW IBU World Cup this season. Otepaeae has previously hosted the IBU YJWCH, IBU Open European Championships, IBU Cups, and the IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships. This venue has a long history of Cross-country World Cups and has been remodelled, expanded, and improved over the years into a modern biathlon facility. Its 1300 seat tribune faces the always windy shooting range, with rolling tracks that cut through the forest.

Photo: IBU/C. Manzoni

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