Final Preparations: Team Switzerland

Like many other nations, there were changes for the Swiss men and women’s teams after the 2022 Olympic Winter Games including retirements and coaching changes. However, going into the 2022/23 BMW IBU World Cup season, both squads are coming off a good summer, focused on success and new goals with a mixture of veterans and youth leading the way.

Krug Takes Over Men’s Team

The men’s team had the biggest change with the veteran Remo Krug taking over as Head Coach from Andi Wolff, who returned to his previous coaching position in Germany. Krug admitted, “After six months of intensive work with my new team, I know it was the right decision. It was a challenge getting to know the Swiss-Ski people and in the Switzerland’s biathlon. But it has been a positive experience, with good cooperation from both my colleagues and the highly motivated athletes. It is great fun to work with them.”

Exciting Times

Fifth-year Women’s Head Coach Sandra Flunger is equally enthusiastic. “This is my fifth season and I really enjoy working here. I think this year has been my best so far. Our coaching team is working closely together. We have a good mood, ambitious goals within the team, and a future filled with big events including the 2025 IBU World Championships. It is an exciting time for us.”

Retirements: Selina Gasparin and Benjamin Weger

Both teams dealt with big retirements: 2014 Olympic Bronze Selina Gasparin and men’s long-time team leader Benjamin Weger. Krug said, “Weger leaves a big gap, but it is a chance for the athletes coming up to close this gap and follow in his footsteps.” Gasparin, on the team for 15 years also is missed according to Flunger, “Still, all is okay. Now we have a good mix of younger veterans: Aita, Elisa, Lena Haecki-Gross and younger athletes Amy Baserga and Lea Meier.”

Summer Satisfaction

Both coaches are satisfied with summer training and especially their results at the IBU SBWCH. Flunger confided that, “We started a little slowly after a tough Olympic season. May was a little hard; we did good training but not too much. After that it has gotten better every week. I am quite happy at this point.” Krug, working with a new-for-him group of athletes instituted his own shooting program. “We initially focused on stabilizing the technical elements: breathing, position, aiming and trigger squeeze. From that point, we added intensity while maintaining stable shooting; also, we focused on high training volumes in order to get through the long season at a high level.”

Important IBU SBWCH medals

Niklas Hartweg and Haecki-Gross won Bronze medals in Ruhpolding, a testament to solid summer training. Yet Krug cautioned, “Hartweg’s sprint medal plus 9th in the mass start, Sebastian Stalder’s mass start 4th place were positive surprises, showing we are on the right track. Still, we won't overestimate these results, knowing there that we still have a lot of hard work to be able to run steadily in the top 20.”

The women’s coach called Haecki-Gross’ medal, “quite important. We went to there to try our shooting in competitive situations and build self-confidence in both shooting and running.”

Camping in Ramsau

Both squads completed a penultimate training camp last week at Ramsau. Flunger said the “conditions were perfect; maybe the best conditions on the glacier in recent years, although we did just two sessions on Dachstein…The shooting range at Ramsau is not an easy place to shoot, because of the final meters up to the shooting range. We chose it just for that reason to do some intensity training and were very satisfied how it went.”

Davos and Trials

With the dry-land camps completed, the focus now shifts to on-snow training, intensity and trials to determine WC and IBU Cup starts. The men and women continue to follow similar programs as Kontiolahti approaches. Krug explained, “At the end of October and beginning of November we continue preparing in Davos (on-snow) and Lenzerheide (intervals/intensity). On November 12th and 13th two sprint competitions are planned as selection races. In the third week of November, we will have a camp in Obertilliach for the WC team.”

Aita, Elisa and Lena

The men have yet to announce their WC roster, pending the mid-November trials competitions. However, the women have just two open spots. “We are lucky to have five starting positions this year. Our A team women Aita, Elisa and Lena are pre-qualified and the last two positions will be decided in the November sprint races.”

Goals: Nations Cup and Relays

With the season about to start, both coaches shared their goals. Krug’s goals for the men’s program are focused on improvement, based on his training philosophy. “Our long-term goal is to establish ourselves among the top 10 in the Nations Cup. We want to be offensive and self-confident in the competitions. That will give us the chance for a surprise in the individual disciplines. At the same time, our best podium chances are in the mixed relays.”

The women are hoping to recapture their 2019/20 relay form, when they finished second in the World Cup Relay Score, fueled by three podiums. “We want to get back to where we were three years ago with relay podiums. The relays of the last two seasons were not so satisfying. For a small country like us, mixed relays are big goals. Of course, athletes have individual goals; we just want to have good results to show we are progressing…”


Optimism prevails in Swiss Biathlon, with Flunger concluding, “A lot is possible, with a perfect race anyone could jump into the top ten.”

Photos: IBU Christian Manzoni

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