After an intense highlight like the Olympic Winter Games, which happens only every four years, it is not easy to return to the world cup. But for me, it was always a very satisfying and comforting feeling to get back to a usual world cup rhythm, as I one gets back to the day-to-day routine without oversized expectations and can focus solely on sport.
Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Quentin Fillon Maillet come back to the world cup after winning five Olympic medals in Beijing 2022. Two of those were individual golds. They are full of self-confidence and, of course, in the commanding lead in the Total Score as their performance was unmatched in Trimesters 1 and 2. As the multiple medalists, they returned home as heroes and big stars, and they were in great media and public demand. They hardly had enough much-needed time to rest, shortly reflect on their achievements, and prepare mentally and physically for the final three weeks of the season. Despite all the noise around Marte and Quentin, their focus and determination to lift the Crystal globe at the end of the season will stay unchanged.
Quentin will feel even better about his chances after the three-time Total Score winner JT Boe decided to finish his season before the last three weeks. Johannes had an outside chance to fight for the Total Score win before Kontiolahti. But with his body and mind exhausted after intense and very rewarding fights in Beijing, he opted for an earlier than expected break from biathlon competitions.
That brings us to the athletes that failed to reach their Olympic goals in Beijing 2022 and travel to Kontiolahti full of pent-up ambitions and energy. I would name Sebastian Samuelsson as the first among those athletes. He looked so strong in the world cup, but his form dipped just before Beijing. Many German athletes will also want to win some podiums to finish the season on a high note. Benedikt Doll and Roman Rees showed strong performances at the Olympics, and they will fancy their chances for good results, perhaps podiums.
German women’s performance in Beijing 2022 was - at least from what we have seen in the season before the Olympics - better than expected, Denise Herrmann’s gold from the individual and relay’s bronze show for that. Men have competed better in the BMW IBU World Cup but came short in the fight for the medals on a few occasions in China. Johannes Kuehn’s and Benedikt Doll’s wins in the world cup, as well as robust relay performances, were a good promise for the Olympics, but they didn’t transform that into a medal. A medal in the relay would have made Beijing 2022 moderately successful for German men, but they didn't take it in the unpredictable winds in the last shooting. In general, I would say that Germany’s performance in Beijing didn’t fully meet the potential and expectations.