Experts' corner: Anais Bescond

As a member of the gold-winning French Mixed Relay at the BMW IBU World Championships Oslo-Holmenkollen 2016, Anais Bescond knows that early success can change the course of the championship for the team. France was the most decorated team, and Oslo turned out to be one of France's most successful main events ever. She expects more podiums for French women and sees Anamarija Lampič as a contender for the medals in Nove Mesto.

It was a super emotional day for me for more than one reason. Firstly, I loved being back in this nice stadium because of the atmosphere. I also enjoyed the battle in the Mixed Relay; despite a seemingly convincing French win, we didn’t know until the end who would prevail. The crowd was amazing. Such a great atmosphere can either lift an athlete or crush an athlete!

I was a member of the last French Mixed Relay that won a gold medal at the BMW IBU World Championships in 2016 in Oslo-Holmenkollen. I can tell you that success at the beginning of championships can change a team’s dynamics dramatically. The early gold medal shows that the team had good final preparations, that the shape was good, and that the waxers got the snow conditions right. In Oslo 2016, France was the most decorated nation with 11 medals, six of those gold. Mixed Relay Gold helped my roommate Marie (Dorin-Habert) grow very confident and win in the Individual (I won a silver medal in that race) and Mass Start. For Quentin (Fillon Maillet), it was the start of a great career. Martin (Fourcade), of course, was simply the best and won three individual gold and one silver medal. Eric’s (Perrot) performance reminds me a lot of Quentin's performance from 2016: he was very confident and set the team up perfectly.

Snow conditions in Nove Mesto are wet. There is no way around it. But as an athlete, you need to accept the conditions and go full power. You mentally start with the penalty loop if you wish for other conditions. Wet snow does give light types of skiers an advantage, but wax probably plays a crucial role. I was impressed with Justine Braisaz-Bouchet’s skiing; she fought back after the penalty loop with ease. Anamarija Lampič did a great leg with no penalty loops. She is developing fast and might surprise us in Nove Mesto! It was good to see the Swedish men perform well.

To my favorites for the Sprint and Pursuit: I see French women on the podium, even two in the same competition. And Lampič, she keeps crossing my mind. As for the men, I think French men are in much better shape compared to the first week of the season. And Norwegians, who else? Not just the Boe brothers. I saw Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Johannes Dale-Skjevdal skiing yesterday, and they looked impressive.

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