Austria Team Preview

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.

When it comes to Nordic skiing, though, the success is a little more spotty. Recently there have been some bright spots. Simon Eder’s 98 top 10 finishes rank 14th all time. And Lisa Theresa Hauser just last year became the winningest Austrian woman in biathlon history. But with Hauser solidly in the peak of her career and Eder nearing the end (I mean he has to be right?!?) what does the future hold for team Austria? More pressingly what can we expect from this year’s top Austrian biathletes. And are there any bright spots on the rise?

Before we move on to that though a few notes on some pretty big changes for the Austrians this season. For the men both Julian and Tobias Eberhard retired after last year. Believe it or not Julian Eberhard actually is tied for Simon Eder for most wins by a Norwegian male biathlete. On the women’s side Christina Reider decided to hang up her rifle as well. Now let’s take a look at this year’s team!

Women

Quota: 5 athletes to start

We’ll start with those that we expect to see most on the World Cup level. Then we’ll look at group of athletes who might primarily be IBU Cup members but we might see in the World Cup as well. We’ll finish up by looking at some younger members of the IBU Cup and Juniors that I’m keeping an eye on. Not all of these biathletes will be stars but just a few names to keep a look out for for the future!

World Cup Regulars

Lisa Theresa Hauser (28)

Over the last two seasons Lisa Hauser has taken a much anticipated and much celebrated leap from being just a very good biathlete to being one of the best in the world. After her first career win in January of 2021 she got two more wins, one later that season and a third win early last year. While last season at times felt like a minor step back in terms of performance she still ended up 3rd in the overall rankings.

So what makes Lisa Hauser so good the best female biathlete in Austrian history? Well for one she’s an excellent shooter and she’s almost always one of the fastest shooters on the World Cup. If she has any shooting flaws it’s that her standing shooting can sometimes get a little loose. Last year though she rebounded and had a total shooting percentage of 88.1%. This put her 35th overall but she was 8th for women who had more than 12 starts on the World Cup level.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2017-201888.589.288.825.9
2018-201990.384.387.326.6
2019-202084.888.386.627.7
2020-202188.181.98528.8
2021-20229086.288.126.6

The final step for her to take the big leap to the top tier of women’s biathlon though was finding her form on the skis. Two seasons ago she made the big leap up to a top 10 skier. And while she had a little step back last year she remained in the top 25. Even she noted that she never quite had the same success last year that she had hoped for.

So what can we expect this season? All signs point to more of the same. At 28 years old she’s in the middle of what should be her peak years as a skier. If she can just be herself, and maybe a little faster than last year she has an excellent chance at both picking up a couple more wins this season and finishing again in the top 5 overall. Especially with the turmoil in the top of the Norwegian women’s team (more on that to come!)

Dunja Zdouc (28)

Dunja Zdouc is a solid if unspectacular biathlete for Austria. She’s had an up and down career over the last 5 seasons finishing ranked anywhere from 99th (17-18 season) to 25th (20-21) season. Over that period her most reliable trait has been her shooting, particularly prone shooting. She’s consistently shooting near 90% prone putting her amongst the best prone shooters on tour. She’s also regularly top 25 in shooting time as well.

Clearly she’s held back by her below average ski speed. Not surprisingly the 2020-2021 season when she had her greatest success, finishing 25th overall, and with 5 of her 7 best finishes, she also had by far her best ski season.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2019-202086788227.9
2020-20219285.588.730.4
2021-20229088.98228

So what can we expect or hope from her this season? Well as long as she can keep up her shooting and shooting speed she is going to be an asset on the relays. Last season she had her best season shooting in terms of overall percentage, just a little bit better than the 2020-2021 season and the 2017-2018 seasons, so it would not be a surprise for her to keep shooting like this. The hope is that she’s able to rebound to her ski from from 2 seasons ago. Her ceiling this season is a finish around 15-25 overall (remember no Russians or Belarusians this year), a reasonable expectation might be ranked 30-40.

Katharina Komatz – 31

First things first, congratulations to Katharina and David Komatz on their wedding this summer! I can promise you at some point I will refer to Katharina Komatz as being in her first season on the World Cup because that’s the kind of mistake I always make. I apologize in advance!

The last two years have been a bit of a backslide for Komatz after having her best career season in 2019-2020. At age 31 she is still in a range where she can have some excellent seasons, just look at some of the recent highly successful women in Tiril Eckhoff, Marte Røeiseland, and Denise Herrmann all in their early 30s. And you can see for Komatz that she’s been able to maintain high level skiing. Last season was actually her second best end of season ski ranking.

For Komatz her Achilles heel has been quite obvious. Her shooting, standing shooting to be precise, is just not very good. She’s gone from 65% 4 years ago, which itself is not very good, all the way down to 55% last season. And to make matters worse it’s affected her shooting times, now averaging a very slow 35 seconds per trip to the range. Breaking it down further this is almost entirely due to her standing shooting time nearly up to 40 seconds per shooting.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2017-201886.463.67530.9
2018-201987.865.676.731.8
2019-20208857.372.729.3
2020-202179.254.266.731.3
2021-202291.75573.335.5

For Katharina Komatz her success next season is almost entirely dependent on her ability to dramatically improve her standing shooting. If she’s able to do that then she is in for a major bounce back. If you’re a fan of the Austrian team, particularly the relay, watching Komatz’s first few races and noting the standing shooting percent and time will be huge. As a fan of biathlon let’s keep our fingers crossed that she’s got it figured out. Her husband, as we’ll discuss shortly, shot 84% standing last season so maybe he’s got some tip she can use!

Julia Schwaiger (26)

Hauser tags off to Schwaiger at last seasons’ relay in Hochfilzen

26 year old Julia Schwaiger is entering what should be her 5th full season on the World Cup level. On her last season full time on the IBU Cup in 2017-2018 she finished 13th overall powered by ski ranks consistently in the teens to 20s and shooting averaging into the mid 80s. Over her first three seasons in the World Cup she seemed to be building towards that. Her ski ranks were moving up every year to 45th in the 2020-2021 season and overall shooting at 84.6%.

Last year was a step backward though. That does seem to be a bit of problem for the entire Austrian team last year doesn’t it? Well her ski rank slipped 45th to 68th and shooting percentage dropped 1.6%. This was primarily a result of her standing percentage falling off from about 83% to 75%. Her average shooting time also slowed a full 2 seconds.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2018-20199082.38327.8
2019-202086.376.384.629.3
2020-202186.382.981.331.3
2021-202291758333.2

Our hope for Julia Schwaiger is that she gets things back going in the direction we know she can go in. That same IBU Cup season where she ranked 13th in skiing her skiing was on par with the likes of Paulina Fialkova and Marketa Davidova. We know she has the potential so I’m going to bet she takes a big step of improvement in that direction. That might be hopeful thinking but I like to be optimistic. Like Katharina Komatz we should also watch her standing shooting. Her last two seasons on the IBU Cup her standing shooting were 90% and 81%. That in addition to what we saw her first few World Cup seasons show she should bounce back there. Lets aim for a top 30 overall finish for Schwaiger this year!

World Cup Possibilities:

With 5 spots on the World Cup roster and Christina Reider’s retirement that leaves at least one open spot on a regular basis. So who will fill that spot? Well here are some contenders. It’s no sure thing that any of these women will be full time on the World Cup. In fact in all likelihood they will all split some time between the World Cup and the IBU Cup.

Tamara Steiner (25)

At age 25 Steiner has just 2 prior World Cup starts. Over the last three seasons she has been racing full time on the IBU Cup. She has had some decent success there. She’s had overall finishes of 25th, 35th, and 23rd. All things considered those aren’t awful finishes. It doesn’t indicate a future all star but she has potential to be decent.

Over the last 3 years she has seen steady improvement in her skiing. She’s gone from course times finishing consistently in the 60s during her first full IBU Cup season up to consistently finishing in the 30s last year. She’s also had decent if not terrific shooting with some inconsistent outings but an average for the seasons always hanging around 85%. Her shooting time is right around average, 32 seconds, which last year would have ranked about 70th on the World Cup.

At age 25 she probably doesn’t have a ton of potential left to uncover. Translating from IBU Cup to World Cup is never easy, but obviously we should expect a bit of a drop off in rankings. If she can find a way to be in the 60’s for her ski rankings and still shoot 85% that would match almost exactly with Emilie Kalkenburg, also coincidentally 25 years old. Kalkenburg finished exactly 50th overall last season. Let’s hope for that for Steiner this year.

Anna Juppe (23)

At age 22 Anna Juppe did spend last season as a regular member of the Austrian World Cup team. It is possible that she slides right into that open 5th spot. Fresh off of just one full season on the IBU Cup (and no real IBU associated Juniors racing) Juppe had an up and down season. But it did end on a high note.

The upside of having so little racing behind her is that theoretically she should have a ton of room for growth. The downside is we have fewer data points to go off of for predictions. So what do we know?

Juppe’s World Cup season consisted of eleven total solo races. In those races she had a high finish of 41st and four of her last six finishes were in the top 50. Her ski rank was a decent 56th putting her about equal with Jessica Jislova, Karolina Erdal, as well as Selina and Elisa Gasparin. Her shooting let her down with just 74% hit rate for the season and she took on average 39 seconds per trip to the range. It’s easy to see where Juppe can improve. She can make some significant improvements in shooting speed and has plenty of room to grow in accuracy. If she can and does do that it will lead to a massive improvement for her.

What do we expect from her? Personally if I’m choosing between Juppe and Steiner I’m torn. Steiner is a better relay candidate with faster and more accurate shooting. Juppe at just 23 years old has a little more potential. Truthfully I don’t think it matters as I think we see both at times this season. Hopefully they both make big leaps!

Anna Gandler (21)

Anna Gandler is an athlete who holds a lot of interest for me. At just 21 she’s one of the younger Austrian women who has graduated from the Juniors. She’s also had a little bit of success too finishing 27th on the IBU last season.

She had significant improvement over the last three seasons in her ski ranks moving up from 50-60s in course time up to the 20s. Her shooting has remained consistent averaging in the low 80s. However it was on the upswing last year and actually ended the season shooting closer to 85%. Her shooting time remaining around 32-34 seconds the last couple of years.

Looking at Gandler you see the potential. At age 21 you would hope that the skiing continues to improve. She doesn’t need to make massive improvements in her shooting, just working that overall shooting % up to about 87% would be very good. If she can shave 1 second off of her shooting time that would be pretty big as well. I don’t expect to see all of that this season, just in general.

It wouldn’t shock me to see Gandler get a couple of races this season to get her some experience. However I expect the vast majority of her starts this season will remain in the IBU Cup. On that level, with the expected improvements due a 21-22 year old I think she should be aiming for a finish in the top 15. Definitely one to keep an eye on the for the future.

Kristina Oberthaler (24)

At age 24 you might expect Kristina Oberthaler to have several years of IBU Cup experience under her belt, especially when looking at Anna Gandler. However, Austria is taking a more deliberate approach with Oberthaler. She spent four seasons doing primarily Juniors racing and the last two years she’s been on the IBU circuit.

As a Junior she was definitely not an athlete you would pinpoint as a future star. She had a couple of high finishes but for the most part was generally in the 20-40s. Her skiing was similar ranking 20-40 almost every race as a Junior but with a spike at the end with 4 straight races in the top 10. I will be honest I did not go back and compare who she was racing against in those four races.

Over the last two years on the IBU Cup she’s had overall year end rankings of 52 and 31. Her ski ranks started with an average around the 50s but last season she showed marked improvement moving up to the 30s. It’s possible this had something to do with losing a large number of Russian athletes but I’ll give Oberthaler the benefit of the doubt. Her shooting showed a HUGE leap in the IBU Cup though nearing the 90% mark in overall shooting both years. And that was with shooting times that improved to about 31 seconds overall.

So what to make of Kristina Oberthaler? Outside of those four races as a junior she’s never showed true top end speed. However with shooting around 90% you really don’t have to be mega fast. I think Kristina Oberthaler likely will get a few chances on the World Cup, like Juppe and Gandler. You don’t need to be a genius to see that she will dramatically help herself if she can make just a moderate improvement in ski speed while maintaining shooting in the high 80s. Not many people shoot that well. That puts her in the range of a Marte Røeiseland or, closer to home Lisa Hauser, and could make her a late blooming star. Unlikely but hope is free.

Juniors:

This last group of athletes have primarily spent their entire careers to date on the Junior levels. Some of them have done some IBU Cup racing but we’re mostly looking at their Juniors stats here.

Lea Rothschopf (20)

Rothschopf probably has the most racing experience of any of the women on this list. She’s been a consistent racer for the last 5 years. She’s also had a fair amount of success in that time. Last year she ended the season 4th overall in the IBU Junior Cup Standings! Now she was boosted by racing in 11 total races last year but that’s still a very good showing.

Over the last two seasons she’s really come into her own. During that time she has never had a finish lower than 14th in course time and was top 10 the entire year last year. Unfortunately her shooting has held her back. She’s been very inconsistent with an average shooting % for the season around 75%. However there is no real consistency shooting near 90% one day and 60% the next. Fortunately for Rothschopf though her shooting times have dramatically improved from in the 40+ second range to the mid 30s.

Rothschopf likely makes the leap to the IBU Cup this season but we still likely see her at Junior Worlds. The ski speed is there. She definitely needs to put the time in at the range. For her she doesn’t need to be as good as Oberthaler to be competitive. Shooting in the mid 80s would be amazing. Now to see if she can get there. If she can Rothschopf is a name to remember for the next few years.

Anna Andexer (19)

At just 19 years old we don’t have a lot of data to go off of with Anna Andexer. However, in those nine total races there are some pretty good signs. She has never finished worse than 22nd. Last year at Youth Worlds at Soldier Hollow she was 7th in the Individual and finished 10th in both Sprint and Pursuit. She’s always been top 10 in course time and her shooting times are usually ranked 20-30s. Her shooting percentage averages around 75%. Likely Rothschopf if she can get those numbers up she has a very bright future. Again we’re basing this off of just nine total races so don’t go crazy with this.

Lisa Osl (22)

At 22 years old Lisa Osl has significantly more Juniors races than Andexer. Unfortunately she hasn’t quite had the success (yet) that Andexer has had. In her junior level racing she has ranked from the 30-50s in ski rank, she’s shot in the mid 70s, but she does have excellent shooting times, ranking in the teens. None of that shouts future superstar but as I’ve said before, hope is free.

In the 2020-2021 season Osl did make several IBU Cup starts. The finishes were mostly unspectacular. Almost all finishes were between 50-80 with similar course time ranks. The one bright spot was she shot nearly 85%. If she can shoot more like that regularly then she can start to build a career.

Lena Pinter (17)

She’s just 17 years old and has only had three total races, all of which were at Youth Worlds last year. She actually raced decently well going 36th, 17th, and 25th. I mention her here primarily due to her youth. In those three races her ski ranks were in the 30s and she shot mid/low 80s. If that’s a true baseline for her then she has some potential. But once again, just three races.

Selina Heigl (18)

Just like Pinter we have three races worth of data, all of which were the Youth Worlds. She finished 28th, 21st, and 21st in those three races. She actually was even faster than Pinter with course time ranks in the 20s. Her shooting though, expectedly with those finishes, was a little worse in the 70s. Like Pinter, this is just three races of data. Again though like Pinter she has potential. Let’s see what she can grow in to.

Men

Quota: 5 athletes to start on World Cup

World Cup Regulars:

Simmon Eder (39)

The great news is that Simon Eder is Austria’s most successful biathlete of all time and that he’s still racing. The bad news is that Simon Eder, at age 39, is the best male Austrian biathlete active. This speaks to both the enduring perseverance and success of Simon Eder and also the real lack of development of the men in the generation behind him. Right now Austria has just 2 men competing between the ages of 26 and 38. That’s a major hole. And those are traditionally the peak years of a biathlete’s career. This creates both a huge need and a huge opening for Austrian men on the rise. For now though lets focus on Eder.

Since starting his World Cup career in the 2006/2007 season (let that sink in for a minute) Eder’s worst overall season ranking was 34th and his best has been 5th which he has done twice. Amazingly even at this late stage of his career he hasn’t seen a dramatic deterioration of his performance. His overall rankings the last 5 seasons have still been 18th, 8th, 24th, and 15th the last two seasons. How on Earth is he keeping this up?

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2017-201890.886.588.624.4
2018-201994.989.29226.6
2019-202092.582.587.526.7
2020-202196.79093.325.9
2021-202293.585.589.525.8

Well to begin with Eder was never going to be confused with JT Bø. Because of this he’s had very little decline in that regard, ranking persistently in the 30s and 40s until a bit of a drop off last year. Meanwhile his shooting hasn’t dropped off at all, even ranking in the top 5 in overall hit rate three of the last five seasons! He also continues to be one of the fastest shooters on the World Cup, continuing to take less than 26 seconds per trip to the range.

So what do we expect from Eder going forward? Well, why not more of the same? If he continues to shoot that accurately and that quickly he can handle being a middle of the pack shooter and still have decent success. Another top 20 overall season for Simon Eder? Why not?!?!

David Komatz (30)

One of the two Austrian men who is currently in their prime years is the recently married David Komatz. As a young man on the IBU Cup in the 2013-2014 season he managed a 7th place finish. Unfortunately he’s never quite turned that into consistent World Cup level success with his best overall finish coming two seasons ago when he was 31st.

Komatz’s best attribute has been his shooting which has been consistently very good. He managed overall hit rates in the 90’s two seasons in a row, but dropped off to just 85% last year. Ski ranks and shooting time ranks though are less spectacular as you can plainly see in the plot above.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2019-202091.491.491.432.1
2020-202192.488.890.632.7
2021-202286.284.685.433.2

So what do we expect from David Komatz now? Well at age 30 he’s likely fully baked so to speak. The best of Komatz is likely going to be if he can his shooting back into the absolutely spectacular range around 90%. That plus a ski rank back into the 60-70s would put him in the 25-35 overall rank range.

Felix Leitner (25)

Leitner, at age 25 however does still have some potential for growth. He’s finished in the top 30 each of the last four seasons and there are still some very obvious areas where small improvements can lead to a big overall jump up.

Leitner has showed much better past ski performance than Komatz and even Eder. Three seasons ago he ranked in the 20s for ski rank overall. That has slid backwards the last two seasons. His shooting though has been progressively improving year over year the last two seasons up to a total hit rate of 85% last year. His shooting time also made a massive jump from 31.9 seconds up to 28.7 seconds last year.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2017-201878.665.772.132.1
2018-201994.58082.332.6
2019-202084.78082.331.6
2020-202188.981.18531.9
2021-202288.682.185.428.7

Leitner has publicly talked about his desire to make another big jump this season. He even talked about biathlon training being fun this summer. To me that’s a sign to be optimistic. My hope for Leitner is that he can keep the improvements he made in shooting. He continues to shoot around 85% overall (maybe 1-2% better?) with a shooting time around 28-29 seconds. Then he gets his ski ranks back into the 20’s. If he has been having as much fun training this summer as he says maybe even into the 15-20 range. That might be a stretch. However if he does that he’s look at a borderline top 10 overall ranking. Those numbers line up pretty well with what Tero Seppala did last year (ski rank 18th, shooting 83% and shooting time 28.4%). Last year Seppala was 13th overall. Fingers crossed!

World Cup Possibilities:

From here we get into the names of men you likely haven’t heard too much of. These are the guys though that really have my interest.

Patrick Jakob (25)

First up is Patrick Jakob. Believe it or not he’s been a regular on the World Cup for the last several seasons. If you didn’t know that I don’t blame you. Likely the only time you saw him was if you were watching deep into an Individual or a Sprint race or picked him out during a relay. His overall rankings the last three seasons were just 96th, 102, and 99th. Those are, if you don’t want to look it up, close to if not dead last.

Jakob is definitely on the slower end of the spectrum. His ski ranks the last three years are definitely not great being 139, 140, and 143. If you’re going to be that slow you need to be phenomenal on the range to have hope of competing. Here Jakob has shown some definitive improvements with overall hit ranks up from 76% to 84% over the last three seasons. He’s also one of the slower shooters on the World Cup.

So why do we have hope? Well on the IBU Cup he was much faster relative to the field. In the 2019-2020 season, which he actually spent far more on the IBU Cup than the World Cup, he regularly finished with ski ranks between 20 and 40. That’s a far cry from where his World Cup ranks have been. Also his shooting on the IBU Cup was much more consistently in the lower 80s indicating 84% if not too far off where he should be.

If Jakob can start to find his ski form again and continue shooting in the low to mid 80s then he has hope for a tremendous improvement in overall ranking. Lets hope that’s what happens!

Harald Lemerer (30)

Harald Lemerer is one of the other Austrian man who is in his career peak. His career has been similar to what we’ve seen thus far from Patrick Jakob. While his ski ranks have been a little better than Jakobs ranking between 60-90. Certainly not going to win any sprints that way. His shooting though has just not been very good shooting 76% overall the last two seasons with a leap up to 80% last year. Also consistently one of the slowest shooters on the World Cup.

At age 30 it would be stunning to have a dramatic improvement in ski times. However it’s not unreasonable to expect that he might get a little sharper with his shooting. Regardless at this stage of his career Lemerer is in all likelihood going to continue to be just about the same biathlete we’ve seen the last several years with maybe some minor improvements here and there. If we’re being total honest this is the biggest opening in the top 5 for one of the younger Austrian men.

Magnus Oberhauser (24)

With two years of IBU Cup action under his belt Magnus Oberhauser is dreaming of breaking into the World Cup level on a regular basis. I am not sure if it’s a sure thing for him. His finishes have been inconsistent on the IBU and unfortunately generally trending downward. With an average finish last year around 50th it didn’t appear like Oberhauser was preparing to make a major leap.

He has fairly middle of the road statistics. His ski ranks are usually around the 40s and his shooting generally in the mid to low 70% range. Nothing there screams at me that he’s about to make the leap because that’s about where he was on the Juniors level. It is absolutely possible that he’s going to be a late bloomer but as of right now there are no obvious signs of a break out. I would anticipate Oberhauser spending another year on the IBU Cup.

Dominik Unterweger (23)

A year younger than Oberhauser, Dominik Unterweger’s career does seem to be on an upward trajectory. He spent his first full season on the IBU Cup last year and showed improvement throughout the season. His ski ranks made a fairly large jump as the season went on from the 50s up to the 30s. This was actually faster relative to the field than he was doing as a junior. He improved even more with his shooting. As a junior he was shooting in the mid 80s but last year he was consistently shooting around 90%. The biggest jump he made though was in his shooting times. He went from a shooting time rank in the 30s all the way to the top 5 in the last five races. This was pretty clearly a plan for improvement. He ended the year ranked 39th overall.

Unlike Jakob Unterweger looks like he may be a little bit of a late bloomer. As I said his ski ranks at the end of last season were actually better than they were as a junior. His shooting percentages went up and stayed up, and that held even as he shot faster. So was it a mirage or was it a sign of things to come? Well I’m going to choose to be optimistic. If Unterweger can continue the path he started last year he could be looking at many top 20 finishes this year in the IBU Cup. This may also lead to him seeing some time on the World Cup. Here’s your first name to watch for the Austrian men.

Lucas Pitzer (23)

Lucas Pitzer enters this year the same age as Unterweger, but he has an additional year of IBU Cup experience under his belt. Unfortunately for him those extra data points aren’t all good. His first season on the IBU Cup showed limited success. His finishes were almost all in the 40-70 range resulting in an overall rank of 101.

Last year he started to show so improvements. His ski ranks went from regular course time ranks in the 60s to the 30s. His shooting time ranks were a little faster but still around 31 seconds. Unfortunately though his shooting went from 79% to 75%. Overall though he had a solid season ending the year ranked 51st overall.

Do we expect improvement from Pitzer? It’s hard to tell. His ranks right now are in line with where they were on the Juniors level. It could be that he’s leveled out about where he should be. However being only 23 years old I would like to think we can see some further improvements. Also with shooting only in the mid to upper 70s he can definitely improve there. I’m going to be hopeful that he can move to top 35 overall on the IBU Cup this year.

Thomas Postl (23)

Another 23 year old Austrian on the IBU Cup Postl has a fairly similar profile to Pitzer with just a little bit less success. His ski ranks show almost the exact same improvement as Pitzer year over year, placing within a couple of places on the year end ski rankings both seasons. His shooting percentages though have been steady in the mid 70s. Both years he finished around 75% total shooting percentage. Meanwhile his shooting times have also been right around 31 seconds.

So what do we expect from Postl? Well we could hope for something similar to Pitzer. Once again his ranks right now are maybe just a little bit lower than they were in Juniors but fairly similar overall. So we can hope that he can get that skiing to continue to improve and that his shooting could get a little better as well. If I was going to bet on one having a better season than the other I would aim for Pitzer over Postl.

Nikolous Litenger (29)

Litenger is the last of the Austrian men in the peak years of their career. At age 29 it is hard to expect much improvement from Litenger so what we’ve seen from him is likely what we can expect going forward. What we’ve seen is…okay. Which is why he’s remained on the IBU Cup for the majority of his career.

On the IBU Cup he’s about a mid range skier consistently finishing with course time ranks about the 50s. Shooting usually averages out to about 80% every season. Shooting time is on the slower coming to about 34 seconds every year. He hasn’t shown dramatic improvements one way or the other the last few seasons. Lets expect more of the same from him.

Juniors

This last group of athletes have primarily spent their entire careers to date on the Junior levels. Some of them have done some IBU Cup racing but we’re mostly looking at their Juniors stats here.

Andreas Hechenberger (22)

Andreas Hechenberger is the Junior Austrian who has shown the most potential thus far. Part of that is that he’s 22 so he’s had more races and more data points. However he has shown some pretty good attributes. Primarily he’s proven to be a very good skier. He has shown to be a top 20 skier at his best with several fast races last season. Unfortunately he’s failed to turn that into high finishes with just one top 10.

He’s been held back a little by shooting ending up usually around the 80% mark. His shooting times have been fairly average ending up around 32 seconds the last few seasons. So those are his areas that he needs to aim to improve in. He’s going to be graduating to the IBU Cup this year. He’ll need to keep growing in ski speed so he’s got potential there. It’s now resting primarily on the rifle to see where he can end up.

Fabian Muellauer (19)

Fabian Muellauer is just 19 years old but Austrian biathlon fans should remember his name. He hasn’t shown superstar level potential but there are some good signs here. He has just eight career Juniors races but all but one of those he finished top 30. Last season at Youth Worlds he went 8th in Sprint and 14th in Pursuit.

Muellauer’s primary characteristic right now is his skiing. He’s been top 25 in each of his last six races. Now it’s time for his shooting to catch up. His shooting averages about 76% but last year he shot in the 80’s with a total hit rate of 86%. He’s got a fairly average shooting time rank already as well. He’s just 19 years old so I’m not going to put a lot of pressure on him. Right now though I want to see some shooting improvement. If we see that I’m going to start getting excited.

Lukas Haslinger (19)

Haslinger, like Muellauer, has shown some very good potential as well. Four of his last six races he’s finished in the top 15. This includes going 8th in Sprint and 14th in Pursuit at last year’s Junior Worlds at Soldier Hollow. Also like Muellauer he’s flashed good ski speed finishing top 20 most of the last two seasons. His shooting percentages are also just a tad worse than Muellauer though shooting just 78% vs. Muellauer’s 86% last year.

Again this isn’t super star potential but Austria isn’t a country with super star expectations like Norway or France or Germany. Haslinger and Muellauer could be very good biathletes and make Austrians proud. Let’s hope we see continued growth.

Maximilian Prosser (20)

With Prosser we have a young man who isn’t quite as fast as Haslinger or Muellauer and has significantly more room to grow as a shooter. Fortunately though he has just one year of racing so lots of opportunity to grow. Last year at Junior Worlds he finished 24th in the Individual followed by 42nd and 43rd in Sprint and Pursuit. This season we want to see significant improvements on the range from Prosser. He finished just 70% overall. Shooting 10% higher would be a huge marker for him.

Andreas Domes (19)

It’s hard to say much about Domes as he has only three career races to go by. What we can see from those three races, all at Youth Worlds last year, is he’s a very fast shooter. Top 20 shooting times every race. He shot about 74% and had ski ranks averaging in the 30s. We’ll see what he can show us this season!

And that’s it for Team Austria. One down…many more to go. Thanks for sticking with me!

One thought on “Austria Team Preview

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: