"Laegreid is squeezing the best out of Johannes"

As the BMW IBU World Cup resumes in Pokljuka, Arnd Peiffer explains why Julia Simon and JT Boe wear yellow. He thinks that Laegreid is a new Fourcade for JT, but why?

He points to what Sweden's brightest stars need to do to shine in 2023 and why he is so impressed with Anamarija Lampič. Oh, and Arnd is very content with team Germany's performance as the BMW IBU World Championships Oberhof 2023 edge ever closer.

Julia Simon and JT Boe will wear the yellow jersey as the BMW IBU World Cup resumes in Pokljuka because they showed remarkable consistency on the shooting range in Trimester 1.  Johannes built most of his five wins on high accuracy in the prone, backed by high ski speed. In my eyes, Laegreid's consistent pressure is making Johannes perform with the excellence we saw from him only when Martin Fourcade was breathing down his neck. Sturla is shooting fast, and his range times are consistently among the fastest. Despite strong skiing performance JT Boe couldn't have afforded a mistake in the Sprint in Annecy, or Sturla would have won. I expect their day-in-day-out battle to continue in Pokljuka.

Julia Simon only had one penalty in prone in Trimester 1. Such an improvement is immense. In my career, I also had phases in which I was significantly better after a break. That was often the case for me after the Christmas break. Being in a well-performing shape and feeling the flow again is a great joy. That's almost more fun than being consistently good. Sometimes it's just the little things that have a significant effect. And that is especially true for shooting.

As Trimester 1 edged closer to the end, the dominance of the Norwegian men's team grew by the day. In my opinion, that comes down to their exceptionally potent B team. No one can be sure of their position, and even top athletes like Tarjei Boe or Johannes Dale need to fight hard to stay on the World Cup team. They also have nature-given advantages. There were good opportunities to train in Norway last winter. During the C-19 period, Norwegians were able to ski well into June. Cross-country skiing is also a national sport in Norway, and its athletes have a very sound skiing technique. Plus, there are hundreds of kids competing in biathlon in Norway.

The balance sheet of the German team in the first trimester is very positive. Denise Herrmann-Wick won in the Sprint in Hochfilzen, and the team collected numerous podiums. Many young athletes have improved a lot. Anna Weidel, Sophia Schneider, David Zobel, and Justus Strelow showed great races. Benni Doll's form has picked up in Annecy. I'm very optimistic about German athletes' chances at the IBU World Championships in Oberhof.

As expected, Elvira Oeberg showed fine skiing form. The biggest problem for the Oeberg sisters is the shooting range, not the skiing part. They seemed distressed and in a hurry too often in Trimester 1. If they improve their shooting over the Christmas break, Elvira and Hanna can win on any given day in January. The same goes for Sebastian Samuelsson. Sebastian had an exceptional opening to the World Cup last season. Not so much this winter, but I expect him to bounce back strongly in 2023.

With Pokljuka on, let me finish my thoughts with Anamarija Lampič. She showed in Hochfilzen what a phenomenal skier she is. It's incredible that despite the switch, she's still so strong in the tracks. It is usually challenging for cross-country skiers to keep in shape because it takes a long time to learn how to shoot. I hope she can stabilise her shooting even more. Then things can get exciting in January and at the World Championships in Oberhof. On a good day, she can win a race.

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