Antholz is traditionally the final stage before the medal events, so it feels like a final rehearsal where one can try the last things before the medal competitions. BMW IBU World Championships and Olympic Winter Games are no more about getting in form but executing skills. For many teams, Antholz also represents the last chance to qualify for Oberhof 2023. Some might still experiment with the relay teams. Antholz was always where I started to find my form because I needed more time to get in shape. It is generally critical to find self-confidence in Antholz because after this stage, there’s a break of two weeks, and one easily carries these feelings into those recovery days. On the contrary, if you leave Antholz with doubts and uncertainties, it is tough to overcome them without racing.
Because of its beautiful surroundings and world-class accommodation, Antholz is one of the best places in the world for athletes. It usually offers fair conditions and beautiful weather. Fans in Antholz also play an outsized influential role: they have a great time - not just watching the biathlon - which often translates into higher energy on the tracks. Trust me, athletes feel it! I live in Antholz, but I realised it was better for me to stay at the hotel because the emotional investment of being among family and friends is tremendous.
We are midway into the season, but things can change overnight if one falls sick. JT Boe is competing at an extraordinary level: he might shoot poorly once, but it still feels he is (almost) unbeatable. Julia Simon is showing a remarkably consistent high level among women. I still think the margins are smaller in the women's field, which makes for higher unpredictability and great fun. Elvira Oeberg, Lisa Vittozzi, Dorothea Wierer, and many more are competing at an incredibly high standard, and things can change quickly.
I had lived through many unforgettable moments with Lisa and Doro. I hope they can keep pushing each other to higher standards. I could not be happier for Lisa! It is fantastic to see her back in winning ways. I know how hard she worked on a new approach to her shooting with new coaches. I also know that sometimes people read interviews with Doro and hear she is not feeling well, only to see her winning in the next few days. That is vintage Doro! I know her, and I think it’s a way for her to take some pressure away: if she comments on her form, it’s already a good sign.
I will conclude with Tommy Giacomel who made a huge step this year. I am so happy for him because I know the level of his dedication. His potential is vast, and his work ethic is second to none. His main strength, however, used to be also his major weakness: he is a very emotional guy. He can find the power to keep improving his results and ride on a high, but also fall into the trap of negativity when things do not go as planned. This year he found a better balance: he is improving by the day. I think he can become a force, really.