The 2021 IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships kick off tomorrow at the Vysočina Arena in Nove Mesto na Moravě, with the home team Czech Republic hoping to finish once again atop the medal standings as they did in 2018.
The 2021 SB WCH marks a return for the summer’s big event after Covid-19 cancelled the 2020 edition. Twenty-five nations, with over 250 competitors, including athletes from far-away Mexico and Mongolia, will vie for the medals in the four days of competition starting tomorrow with the junior men’s and women’s super sprints.
Although the Czech Republic will have its top athletes, including Michal Krcmar, Lucie Charvátová and Marketa Davidova on the starting line, they will get serious challenges from previous medalists most notably those coming from Poland and Ukraine.
Spectators for Home Team
The home team with six entrants in each category (junior men/ women, senior men/women) will have plenty of support in their medal quest. Up to 7,000 spectators will be allowed into the Vysočina Arena under Czech Republic government covid-19 protocols that include being vaccinated, having recently recovered or producing a recent negative test. This will be the first biathlon event welcoming spectators since before the pandemic.
Krcmar, Charvátová and Davidova
Krcmar will lead the Czech Republic medal charge on the men’s side. The 2018 Olympic Sprint Silver medalist won three medals at the last IBU SB WCH in Nove Mesto with Gold in the sprint and Silver in the pursuit and the now not-contested mixed relay. Krcmar hitting a career-best 86% of his targets last winter claimed the pursuit Silver medal at the IBU OECH in Duszniki Zdrój. His teammate Vitezslav Hornig returns to the IBU SBWCH as the defending junior Super Sprint Silver medalist from 2019 with hopes of stepping one notch higher on the podium.
The Czech women’s team will feature a one-two punch with 2019 IBU SB WCH Sprint Gold medalist Lucie Charvátová and 2021 IBU World Championships 15 km winner Marketa Davidova. Charvátová is a speed dynamo on rollerskis who can outrun any shooting penalties. Davidova, equally fast on the tracks continued to improve her shooting last season which led to her IBU World Championship and a career-best 11th place in the World Cup Total Score.
Vysočina Arena Success for Hojnisz-Starega and Bilosiuk
Beyond the Czech Republic stars, there will be a host of BMW IBU World Cup regulars as well as a couple of women who have excelled in IBU SB WCH in the past. Poland’s Monika Hojnisz-Starega owns nine IBU SB WCH medals including Junior Sprint Gold at this venue in 2011. She also won IBU WCH Mass Start Bronze in the Vysočina Arena in 2013, so it is rather obvious that the Polish veteran has the potential to do well this week. Just a notch behind Hojnisz-Starega is Ukraine’s Olympic Gold medalist Olena (Pidhrushna) Bilosiuk with eight IBU SBWCH medals including Sprint Gold in 2016. Like the rival from Poland, Bilosiuk has a great track record at this Czech venue. The now 34-year-old shot clean for her first-ever victory, taking the IBU World Championship Women’s Sprint title in 2013.
Other medal chasers in the women’s senior division include Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova, who won three IBU SB WCH medals at Chaykovskiy in 2017 and her sister Ivona. Finland will bring their World Cup squad with their top woman Mari Eder who was part of the Gold medal mixed relay team at Otepaa in 2016.
Top Juniors Repinc and Shevchenko
Several of the top athletes from the past couple of seasons will be battling for junior titles. 18-year-old Lena Repinc of Slovenia with two Gold and two Silver medals at this year’s IBU Youth WCH leads the way for Slovenia. 2020 IBU Junior Sprint/Pursuit Gold medalist Anastasia Shevchenko who also had an outstanding IBU Cup season last year, taking the IBU Cup Sprint Score title heads the always strong RBU squad.
Schedule & Where To Watch
No doubt that, as always, there will be some heated battles for the medals in every competition over the next four days. The schedule follows (All times CET):
Thursday, August 26
13:05 Junior Women Super Sprint Qualifying
14:35 Junior Women Super Sprint final
15:50 Junior Men Super Sprint Qualifying
17:25 Junior Men Super Sprint Final
Friday, August 27
13:05 Women Super Sprint Qualifying
14:35 Women Super Sprint final
15:50 Men Super Sprint Qualifying
17:25 Men Super Sprint Final
Saturday, August 28
10:15 Junior Women Sprint
12:00 Junior Men Sprint
15:45 Women Sprint
17:45 Men Sprint
Sunday, August 29
11:15 Junior Women Pursuit
13:15 Junior Men Pursuit
15:30 Women Pursuit
17:15 Men Pursuit
All competitions will be live-streamed on www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/
Pictures: Christian Manzoni/IBU