Although Norway’s National Team roster was announced weeks ago, there was a question mark: will Marte Olsbu Roeiseland return? On Monday the World Cup Total Score winner and Olympic Queen answered, confirming her return with this Instagram post: “My husband goes to Germany (as Women’s Coach); I guess I have no choice; we rock the World Cup in Oberhof.” With Olsbu Roeiseland in the fold, Norway looks as imposing as ever. Tiril Eckhoff is back as well after her late season resurgence. The A Team support squad includes Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, Ida Lien, IBU Cup Total Score runner-up Ragnhild Femsteinevik and Karolin Knotten who is recovering from a cycling crash this past weekend.
The men’s roster looks much like last season with Johannes Thingnes Boe leading the team, now recharged after holidaying in the Canary Islands. Older brother Tarjei with his first-ever individual Olympic medal in hand and fatherhood coming this year continues his career. Beyond the Boe brothers the men’s team includes World Cup winners Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, Sturla Holm Laegreid, and Sivert Guttorm Bakken and Filip Fjeld Andersen who closed his rookie season with two individual podiums. IBU Cup Men’s Total Score, Sprint and Pursuit Score titlist Erlend Bjoentegaard is missing from the top group as well as the other announced teams.
Like Olsbu Roeiseland, Dorothea Wierer shut down imminent retirement rumors, confirming yesterday that she will return for one more year. “I decided to do one more year. I will see if I can still do some good results. I still feel pretty fit (although she speculated with a laugh after her first run of the season that maybe 42 days without training was too much).” Continuing she added, “At this age (32), you must think year-to-year.”
Wierer’s announcement dovetailed with the Italian team announcement that set up two groups, Elite A team and Milan-Cortina 2026 team. The Elite group includes only Wierer and teammate since their teen-age years 32-year-old Lukas Hofer, 4th place finisher in the Beijing OWG pursuit. The nine-man/nine-woman Milan-Cortina roster is filled with World Cup competitors like Lisa Vittozzi, Michela Carrara, Irene Lardschneider Tommaso Giacomel and Didier Bionaz as well as talents rising from the IBU Cup and junior ranks like Hannah Auchentaller, Linda Zingerle, Patrick Braunhofer, Daniele Cappellari and David Zingerle.
Beyond these two power teams, the USA and Ukraine both revealed their first tier teams. The USA after several major retirements announced a five-person A team that includes past IBU Junior Pursuit World Champion Sean Doherty, Jake Brown, Paul Schommer, Joanne Reid and Deedra Irwin who finished 7th in the Beijing OWG women’s 15 km individual.
The Ukrainian squad for the coming season is planning to prepare with a trimmed down group of six men and six women. 2014 OWG Relay Gold medalists Olena Bilosiuk and Yuliia Dzhima lead the women’s team that includes Anastasiya Merkushyna, Darya Blashko, Iryna Petrenko and Yuliia Zhuravok. 2019 IBU Pursuit World Champion Dmytro Pidruchnyi, currently serving in the Ukrainian Army battling the Russian invasion along with some of his other male and female teammates, heads the men’s roster that includes Anton Dudchenko, Bogdan Tsymbal, Artem Pryma, and Taras Lesiuk. Most likely, Denys Nasyko or Artem Tyshchenko will fill the final spot.
Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni, Petr Slavik