It’s officially fall now. The first cold fronts are starting to bring the cool mornings and crisp nights. The leaves are starting to change colors. Summer biathlon is behind us and training photos/videos are starting to show signs of snow. All this means that we’re rolling closer and closer to the start of the season. So it’s time for me to get rolling on some biathlon previews!
Here’s the goal for before the season starts:
- Team by team overviews
- Quick look at the schedule. We’ll update this as the season goes along to look at some favorites on a week by week basis.
- Our first power rankings of the year.
- Team rankings by strength and also be interest
- If I have time then a few more thing as well…
One brief note before we get started. This season I am not going to mention Russia and Belarus much if at all. At some points that is going to be unavoidable and sometimes they will just come up. However, for simplicity sake I’m just going to leave them out. The IBU made the decision that they won’t be involved and there is nothing we can do about that. It’s an immensely complex issue. I empathize with the athletes not being able to compete based on decisions that were made by people that honestly they can’t do much to elect. However, there is a real point to be made that with a sport that has its roots in military discipline and where many of the participants, especially Russian athletes, are actively involved in the military, it is a reasonable decision to exclude their participation in a war that is only growing in intensity. And one final decision that I will readily admit to, it saves me time to not do previews for them and these do take a significant amount of time. Long story short the IBU decided they shouldn’t be involved so I’m going to act like they don’t exist for right now. If that offends you I am sorry but it just seemed like the most reasonable decision to make.
1.Team by Team Previews
These will be pretty much exactly what you think. I’ll be taking a look at who will be the athletes you see the most of throughout the year. I’m going to try to share their recent histories, their trajectory as an athlete, and what we might expect from them this season. I’ll also try to point out a few younger athletes to keep an eye on for each squad. These might be athletes we see on the World Cup level making their debuts or just a few young men and women that are on their way up…names to remember for future versions of this.
Just a note while I did my best I did not review every athlete that competed for these nations on every level. I did review most everybody on the World Cup level and a strong selection from IBU Cup and Juniors level. However there are an enormous number of athletes that compete every year in IBU events from the Juniors through World Cup. I just don’t have the time or energy to do every single athlete. I did my best though!
Austria is a nation steeped in winter sports tradition. When you think of winter sports and the Winter Olympics its hard not to see Austrians. Almost every winter Austrian fans are assured of having one of the winningest winter sports rosters. The overwhelming majority of this success, though, comes in alpine skiing. Of course this make sense considering Austria is home to some of the most famous ski slopes in the Alps. Fittingly the Österreichischer skiverband is by far and away the all time leader in alpine skiing medals, 128 to 75 over neighbor Switzerland. Continue reading Austrian Team Preview
Oh, Canada! I will be honest I have a special affinity for Canada. Not just because my podcast partner calls Canada home, or even that my family may be moving there in the relatively near future, but because they are consistently some of the nicest and coolest people I’ve met. Far more quick to give a compliment, and terrible at receiving them, the Canucks are world renown for the simple fact of just being good people. Who couldn’t love that? Continue Reading Canada Team Preview
Eons ago when I started this project, the team I most had in mind was the Czech Republic. Throughout last season I found myself more and more becoming a fan of this group, especially the women’s team. The combination of Marketa Davidova, the rise of Jessica Jislova, and the seeming abundance of young talent coming up made them so easy to root for. Then over the summer we got the chance to speak with head coach Egil Gjelland and it was such a terrific opportunity. So, at about the mid point of this exercise its time to jump in and explore the Czech Republic Biathlon team for the 2022-2023 season. Continue Reading Czech Republic Team Preview
When I think Finland I think snow, and reindeer, and Kontiolahti. I wish I was kidding but biathlon has so invaded by head that Kontiolahti is one of the top three things I think of when I think of the country of Finland. I’m sure its an amazing country. My parents loved their time in Helsinki. And I know Chad Salmela is a huge fan so that’s all I need to know. But for me, the nation is completely intertwined with biathlon.
Continue Reading Finland Team Preview
If I close my eyes and picture a biathlon race, inevitably one of the first things that comes to mind is the range at Oberhof or Ruhpolding. The German fans erupting with cheers as the shots find their targets. I could probably make an argument for why every regular venue on the IBU World Cup circuit is the best (except maybe Hochfilzen but that’s another story). The German fans and love of biathlon though is palpable even from 6 time zones away. It’s no wonder that they make for such a great setting for the racing and get to host two weekends on a regular basis! Continue Reading Germany Team Preview
Italy isn’t exactly known as one of the powers of biathlon, but they have had some really great recent success, especially on the women’s side. The 2018-2019 season came down a 1-2 finish between Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vitozzi. With their ages it seemed like the crystal globe might come down to a battle between those two for the next several years. While Wierer won a 2nd globe in 2020 Vitozzi has since fallen off rather dramatically. Regardless though, there are a lot of nations that would love to have two recent overall globes! Continue Reading Italy Team Preview
When you think traditional biathlon powers it is highly highly unlikely that your mind will turn to Slovenia. And you wouldn’t be wrong! Slovenia is having a bit of a moment in the sports world. In the NBA Luka Doncic looks to be a future MVP winner and will be a force for years to come. In the world of cycling Tadej Pogacar, still just 24, already has two Tour de France Yellow Jerseys hanging on his wall. And that doesn’t even take in to consideration Primoz Roglic who pushed Pogacar every step of the way in those two wins! Nearing the end of his career is Anze Kopitar, five-time NHL All Star and two time Stanley Cup Champion with the Los Angeles Kings. Continue reading Slovenian Team Preview
Sweden feels like a nation that should have a long and glorious history in biathlon. And indeed Magdalena Foresburg’s 42 total wins over just an 8 year period we’re truly phenomenal. Bjoren Ferry was no small factor in biathlon for period of time earlier this century as well, finishing inside the top 10 of the overall standings on five different occasions. Recently though, so often they end up looking up as Norway, their neighbors and friendly rivals to the west dominate the podiums and medals. The winds might be beginning to change though. Continue Reading Sweden Season Preview.
The Alpine nation of Switzerland, not surprisingly, has a very strong winter sports tradition. Looking at the Winter Olympics they have a collected a total of 167 medals, enough for 8th most all time. Breaking that down further, 101 of those have come in what we could call skiing disciplines including alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, biathlon, etc. Of all 101 skiing Olympic medals just two of those are from biathlon. All of that tells the story of a winter sports nation that is hungry for success in a sport where it has been difficult to find.
Continue Reading Switzerland Team Preview
As we start the 2022-2023 biathlon season and the next 4 year Olympics cycle we find a US Biathlon team that is in a definite moment of change. Gone are mainstays of the last several seasons Clare Egan, Susan Dunklee, and Leif Nordgren. Egan and Dunklee especially had some of the most impressive results of any US biathlete not just in recent history but ever. Combine that with the 2018 retirements of Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke and that’s all of the recent US biathlon World Championship medalists (not to mention all recent podium finishers in any race) have retired and. The good news is almost all are still intricately involved in the biathlon community. Continue Reading United States Team Preview
2. Schedule Preview
November 29 – December 4th in Kontiolahti
December 8 – December 11 in Hochfilzen
December 15 – 18 in Annecy le Grand Bornand
January 5 – January 8 in Pokljuka
January 11 – January 15 in Ruhpolding
January 19 – January in Antholz
February 8 – February 19 World Championships in Oberhof
March 2 – March 5 in Nove Mesto
March 9 – March 12 in Ostersund
March 16 – March 19 in Oslo