Italy 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!

On the men’s side there is no major history of biathlon success for team Italy. There is Wilifred Palhuber who competed for 20 seasons before retiring in 2007. He had six overall wins and did have two top 5 overall finishes. More recently Lukas Hofer has two career wins and finished as high as 5th overall in 2018-2019. Recently retired Dominick Windisch didn’t have as much World Cup success but did take home bronze from the 2018 Winter Olympics.

So yes, Italy has some recent successes including the highest of highs. However the long term history of a Norway, France, or Germany isn’t quite there. But is Italy in a position to take the next step in building that history? The pressure is on as Italy is hosting the Olympics in 2026 an surely wants to make a good impression. Let’s take a look!

Women:

Quota: 5 athletes to start

World Cup Regulars:

Dorothea Wierer (32)

Dorothea Wierer, now going on three years since her last overall crystal globe, remains the Queen of Italian biathlon…and Instagram. Some people think that her fall from the top is related to her non-biathlon related activities but that’s far beyond the details of this exercise. For now lets focus on Doro’s biathlon acumen.

The last five seasons have been the most successful of any Italian biathlete in history and that is without question. Even if you were to completely remove her two globe winning seasons she would still have 5th place finishes and a 9th as well as 2022 Olympic bronze and three further World Cup race wins. All of that would easily make her the best Italian biathlete of all time.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2017-201890.285.687.926.6
2018-201988.381.584.925.6
2019-202088.279.483.826.6
2020-202190.583.386.926.9
2021-20228782.584.826.6

At her absolute best Wierer is amazing. When she won her two globes she was top 10 in skiing, which when paired with her usual solid shooting and extra fast shooting speed, made her a dominant force. The last two seasons have seen a decline in ski rankings back to the 20s (where she was before her winning seasons) and unfortunately last year a drop in shooting accuracy. She can handle a drop in one of those things but not both.

Going into this year I believe it would be a HUGE mistake to totally write her off. She’s a great athlete at the tail end of her peak. This season though there is still a path to an overall globe for her. If she can get her shooting accuracy back up to the 87% range without sacrificing her shooting speed would be huge. If she can claw back a little ski speed that would be even bigger. It’s not that hard to imagine a world where the Norwegian women don’t have their usual magic stuff, Elvira and Hanna aren’t quite ready for the spotlight, and a door opens for Doro to win a couple of early races and establish herself at the top. Don’t get me wrong its an incredibly narrow path but never count out a great athlete.

Lisa Vittozzi (27)

In 2018-2019 a 23 year old Lisa Vittozzi finished in 2nd place just behind compatriot Dorothea Wierer. At the time anybody would have guessed she had at least a few more top 5 overall finishes by now if not a globe for herself. Well here we sit going on four years later and Vittozzi has only gone in the wrong direction.

Peak Vittozzi was a very good skier, finishing 16th in her 2nd place season, and an excellent shooter, shooting 88% overall that same year. Since then she has slipped a little in skiing but A LOT in shooting. In particular her prone shooting has completely collapsed to a shocking 55% last season, down from a peak of 86% in 2017-2018.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2017-20188688.887.427.9
2018-201983.692.38827.9
2019-202078.881.880.329
2020-202170.585.57829.1
2021-202255.586.57127.2

Honestly what is there to say that hasn’t already been said? It’s been stunning and painful to watch. At times you just wish they wouldn’t put the camera on her anymore, not because we don’t all like and cheer for her but exactly because we do. This summer, and I know I’ve always said I don’t put emphasis on summer biathlon, Vittozzi did start to look more like herself. She had sinus surgery immediately following last season and maybe that is the cure? No predictions here. Vittozzi with a rebound season would be an amazing gift to biathlon though.

Samuela Comola (24)

With the top two spots locked down there are going to usually be three spots open every weekend. There is a HUGE group of young Italian women coming up. Of this giant group I do believe Comola has locked down one of those spots for most of the year. Part of this is that Comola spent all of last season on the World Cup squad and didn’t do anything to embarrass herself.

While 87th overall might not seem amazing her trendline was point upward all season long. After the new year her finishes got better almost every race ending with a 26th place in the Pursuit in Oslo. This was all with a bit of under performance when looking back at her Juniors and IBU Cup statistics. For example her entire career up until last year she usually shot between 85-90% and last year that was down to a hair under 83%. Also on the IBU Cup her course time ranks were almost always 20-30s indicating that there is some room for improvement on her 76th overall ski ranking last season. Not that I expect her to be a top 20 World Cup skier but improvement is definitely possible if not expected.

Comola should continue to improve this season. As I said before if she can get her shooting up back towards the 87-88% range that she’s absolutely capable of, an improvement will absolutely come. Even if her course time ranks only improve to the 60s the better shooting can improve. I don’t see her being the next Wierer or Vittozzi even but she can be a solid WC member.

Pushing Upwards

This next group is a remarkably young group of Italian women, the oldest of which are just 25. They are going to be pushing each other, and the women at the top, all season long. And it isn’t just that they are young, they have potential to be good too. None of them have yet shown all world potential but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get there. And as a team, look out. They won a very close Junior Worlds relay last year. I don’t want to say that they have the look of being like Sweden’s current roster but there is just a LOT of really young talent here.

Michela Carrara (25)

Michela Carrara has been stuck in limbo for the last two seasons. She spent last year split almost evenly between IBU and World Cup after two seasons with more World Cup than IBU Cup racing. She just hasn’t shown enough on the World Cup to justify a full time spot on the World Cup.

Her shooting has always been her Achille’s heel. The last three seasons she’s been stuck shooting with a total hit rate in the 70s. While she struggles in both she’s definitely worse in prone than standing. She’s always been a decent skier though and last year on the IBU Cup was top 10 in course time on a regular basis.

It’s easy to see her path to consistent World Cup starts and even consistent World Cup success. Straighten out the rifle. It’s going to take a lot of work but she needs to get her shooting up to the low 80s, maybe around 83% to have decent success. She has never shown the ability to get there so can she? I don’t know. But we can definitely have hope! If she can get to 83% she has a chance to be a top 30-40 overall athlete on the World Cup. She’s going to get an early chance at it so this is the thing to watch more than anything else with her. If she’s shooting in the 80’s its a huge deal.

Linda Zingerele (20)

Just 20 years old and already with an IBU Cup win to her name, Zingerele is yet another one of the young Italian women pushing towards the World Cup squad. She’s just 20 years old though so we don’t have a ton of data to go off of, but here’s what we know about her.

Zingerele did have that win very early in the year. After that she spent most of the season finishing between the 20s and 40s. Her skiing and shooting were fairly middle of the road. Her skiing was fairly consistent again finishing usually in the 20s to 40s in course time nearly every race. After starting the year with several 85% or higher shooting outings her shooting slipped dramatically in the second half of the season.

Zingerele is very very young. It is not hard to see her improving that shooting back to the 85% range she started the year at. If she is able to do that it doesn’t take much improvement in skiing to find a top 20 overall rank on the IBU Cup. We’ll probably see her pop up on the World Cup level a handful of times this season as well. The big thing to watch for her this season though is shooting consistency.

Hanna Auchentaller (21)

I will admit, after spending the time earlier this summer speaking with American biathlon coach Armin Auchentaller, I’m going to be a fan of his daughter. I’m an easy mark, I admit it. But as a dad myself, hearing his pride come through on the interview was really touching.

Trying to be objective though, looking at Auchentaller’s stats you can see her potential. Just looking at her finishes on the Junior level they are just going higher and higher almost every race. Last year she finished her Juniors year and career with finishes of 8th, 7th, and 2nd at Junior Worlds.

She also had some decent racing on the IBU Cup where she spent most of the season. She had a high finish of 5th to go along with three more top 20s. While she has consistently been top 10 on the Juniors level the last two seasons, she not surprisingly was only between the 30s and 50s in course rank on IBU Cup. Her shooting also maintained very well on the IBU Cup with a shooting average right around 85%. She was also able to keep her fast shooting times ranking top 20 in shooting time almost every race.

What do we expect from Hanna Auchentaller? Again, I admit I’m a fan but I have high hopes. Her shooting held together in both accuracy and speed with the jump from Juniors to IBU Cup. The ski speed she showed on Juniors level is a good indicator of future success as well. So this year we want to see her course time ranks improving on the IBU Cup. I will say though that my hopes for her overall though are very high and I’ll leave it at that.

Rebecca Passler (21)

Passler is another Italian woman with an impressive Juniors resume who recently made the transition to full time on the IBU Cup. Over her last three seasons of Juniors competition she was rarely outside of the top 10. She was all around very good with top 15 course times and shooting around 85% or better on a consistent basis. Not only that but she was almost always the fastest shooter out there. This culminated with a Silver in Sprint at Junior Worlds last season.

With the transition to the IBU Cup success hasn’t come right away. She’s had two seasons so far on the IBU Cup. Her first year was more up and down and last year was most consistent. Her career high to date is a 3rd place two seasons ago. Last year though she settled down and had many more finishes in the teens to 30s.

Taking the optimistic view of Passler here is what we see. Her Juniors shooting was a little better than what she is doing now so definitely room to improve to get back to her baseline if not better. Ski ranks have also been going down over the last year on the IBU Cup. On the Juniors she was top 15 on a regular basis and regularly beating some of the women she is losing to now. Hopefully she can get that turned around. Goal this year is top 30 on the IBU Cup.

Beatrice Trabucchi (22)

Thus far Beatrice Trabucchi, the elder Trabucchi, has the most success of any of the young gun Italian women on the IBU Cup. She ended last year ranked 19th overall. Trabucchi really ended the year strong with four top 10s in the last seven races.

In her two years she’s shown very high potential and I’m very optimistic about where she is headed. Her shooting has been getting better and better every single year. Last year her overall shooting percentage was almost 92% putting her in rare air. The most impressive thing that I saw though was that this happened even while her skiing form was getting better throughout the year.

Unlike some of her colleagues Trabucchi’s ski form was on the upswing all year. She started last year with course time ranks in the 50s and ended the season in the 30s. That’s not going to blow anybody away, especially on the IBU Cup level, but the improvement was the big part.

Due to the unbelievable shooting Trabucchi probably has as high a ceiling as any of the young Italians on this team. Just take a look at the women shooting near 90% on the World Cup: Vanessa Voigt, Jessica Jislova, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, Lisa Hauser… You don’t have to be a top 10 skier to be competitive shooting at that level but if your dream is to be top 10 overall you still need to be quick. Trabucchi needs to continue getting those ski ranks up. Even if she’s “only” able to end up top 50 ski ranking on the World Cup she would still end up in Jessica Jislova territory and that’s pretty darn good!

Martina Trabucchi (20)

The younger Trabucchi, just 20 years old, has not quite shown the same high level of her sister, but to be fair, she hasn’t nearly had as much time. She’s had 25 total races across Juniors and IBU Cup. Last season in particular was split almost exactly evenly between the two levels so looking at overall rankings is a little difficult. Her Juniors cup finishes were between 9th and 34th. She had two worse finishes on the IBU Cup but otherwise most finishes were 9th to 42nd. She actually even finished the year with three top 18 finishes which was better than her Juniors finish.

Breaking down her statistics you can see her Juniors skiing was almost all top 20 course ranks while her IBU Cup showed an upward trajectory that ended close to the top 20 level in course rank. Shooting was just about even for both levels with an average hit rate of about 80%. And for both levels she took about 32 seconds per trip to the range.

What do we make of all of this? Well I think the shooting is what it is right now. She definitely can improve. Maybe a lesson with her sister will help? But there isn’t a “hidden” natural shooting level that we would expect her to get back to. We can expect some continued improvement of ski time to get back to her natural baseline level. Overall I believe, just being 20, we are going to see some pretty solid overall improvements.

Eleanora Fauner (25)

At 25 years old, Fauner along with Carrara is the elder stateswoman of the Italian IBU Cup crew. It is wild to think of a 25 year old as “older” but with so many women in their early 20s in this same bunch how can you not?

She’s been on the IBU Cup for the last three seasons and has shown some decent if not overwhelming performances. She generally finishes in the 30-50 range. Her shooting is right around the 80% range and that’s held steady for about the last three seasons without change. Overall though her ski times have been improving slowly but surely. Three years ago her average course time was 45th and last year it was up to 30th. Clearly 30th in skiing with shooting around 80% isn’t going to win many races. But I love that she’s showing steady progression. Maybe her shooting can join in the party and start getting better too? 25 certainly isn’t old so hope exists!

Juniors…To Date

Sara Scattalo (19)

You want a name to tuck away for awhile here it is. Sara Scattalo, just 19 which is young even by the young standards of this Italian team, was #1 overall for the Juniors last season. She started out the year with two wins and never looked back collecting two more podiums and six top 10’s in eight races.

So how did she do so well? To start with she is very very very fast. She had a top 10 course time in every single race and almost always top 5. This meant that she could have an average total shooting percentage of just 80% and compete to win every race. Now to be fair to her shooting, she had just two sub 70 shooting days but they were very bad at 60% and 40%. Otherwise she was consistently 80-90%.

What is Sara Scattalo’s outlook? Honestly as high as it gets. She’s just 19 years so there is a lot of chance things could go wrong. But she’s already shown incredible speed and her shooting really isn’t that bad. Scattalo has top 10 on the World Cup potential in a few years. Just tuck this name away for a few years from now.

Ilaria Scattalo (18)

Ilaria Scattalo, being an entire year younger than her sister, finished 20th overall on the Juniors level. She hasn’t (yet) shown the speed of her sister though. But that’s not to say that she’s slow. She still had five top 10 course time rankings out of 11 total races last year. However she is already a better shooter. She had three 100% shooting days last year as well as two more races in the 90s. She ended up shooting about 84% overall and was absolutely moving on the upswing. Look, she’s just 18 but we know what her family can do. She appears to be built the same way. I’m hopeful she and her sister can really push each other to the top of Italian biathlon.

Fabiana Carpella (18)

Last but not least on our list of young Italian women, Fabiana Carpella the 24th overall Junior from last season. She had 10 total races last year on the Junior level. If you take out her one bad finish every other race she was top 30. That included two top 10s, two 11th place finishes and a 13th. Just like her compatriots the Scattalo sisters she is very fast. She ran in the teens every single race but one last year. Her one downside right now is her shooting. She had just as many races sub 75 as she did above 80 resulting in a season average of 76% and that’s with an average shooting time of 38 seconds. She’s already solid, but let’s see her continue to improve this next season!

Men

Quota: 6 Athletes to start

World Cup Regulars

Lukas Hofer (33)

Hofer is absolutely the leader of the Italian men. He has been a solid competitor on the World Cup level for a little over a decade now. In that time period he’s had five top 10 seasons in the overall rankings including an 8th overall just two seasons ago. Last year he may have been able to do just as well but an off season shoulder injury bothered him throughout the year and required off season surgery.

Throughout the years Hofer has been known as fast skier and an improving shooter. That’s maintained throughout the last five seasons as you can see above. Even in the latter stages of his peak he has continued to be a top overall skier. Last season he had a drop but that can possibly be attributed to his shoulder injury. He was able to maintain his high shooting though.

Prone %Standing %Total %Shooting Time
2017-201888.285.186.730.6
2018-201989.57984.329.1
2019-202081.373.177.231.1
2020-202186.377.181.733
2021-202285.685.185.432.6

This offseason has been a bit different for Hofer. He spent most of the summer doing training camps with the Swedish men’s team. That doesn’t mean he has been ignoring his Italian teammates but he’s almost been pulling double duty between the two groups. We can hope that this will help bring out his high ski potential. However hopefully it doesn’t wear him out too much.

Lukas Hofer still has top 10 overall potential. The key though is that he’s going to need to get back to top 15 level ski ranks. This is absolutely attainable for him. He also has to maintain his shooting and there is no reason to indicate that he is going to start dropping off now. He’s never exactly been a fast shooter so no change there is really going to hurt him at all. I’ll tell you I’m optimistic. Hopefully he’s able to get back to fighting for top 10 overall. Almost more important I’m hoping he passes on lessons to the younger Italian men.

Tommaso Giacommel (22)

Speaking of the young Italian men, tops of those is Tommaso Giacommel. Just 22 years old he already has 46 total World Cup races under his belt, most over the last two seasons. He’s starting to see some success as well, including a career high of 7th achieved last season. He had 8 of his top 9 finishes last year with most of those coming in the second half of the season. Overall this points to a young athlete on the rise!

Giacommel’s successes thus far have come from his performance on the skis more so than his performances on the range. He’s become an above average skier, ranking just into the 40s in each of the last two seasons. He’s also a pretty fast shooter. Last season he was a quick 27.4 seconds per trip to the range. This comes after a blazing 25.4 average shooting time in 2020-2021. His accuracy though could use some improvement. The last two seasons his total hit rate was just 75%.

It’s easy to see where Giacommel needs to improve if he wants to go from being a good biathlete to very good. Last season he finished 36th overall. If his goal is to someday challenge for Italy’s first men’s overall crystal globe he’ll need to improve all around. Continued improvement to his ski ranks would be helpful for that goal. First though let’s look for him to get that shooting percentage up. Any hopes he has to even be a top 15 biathlete hinge on him getting that shooting up by at least 10 points. Sebastian Samuelsson can survive 84% overall shooting percentage with his speed. Expecting that skiing out of Giacommel might be just a too much.

Dider Bionaz (22)

If you had asked me a couple of years ago I would have been more excited about Bionaz than Giacommel. As a Junior he was just a touch slower than Giacommel but consistently better on the range. When they first debuted on the World Cup a couple of seasons ago this played to Bionaz’s advantage. Last year though Giacommel surpassed Bionaz. So with 48 career races under his belt, what can we make if Bionaz’s career thus far?

First, his skiing hasn’t quite been as good as might have hoped yet. At the end of his Juniors career and his brief stint on the IBU Cup he was consistently top 10 in course rank. That hasn’t played out yet on the IBU Cup as he struggles to break out of the 30s to 50s range with his course ranks. Like Giacommel he is just 22 years old though so plenty of time for improvements Meanwhile though, his shooting has averaged around 80%. This is actually down a touch from the Juniors and IBU Cup racing that he did.

Here’s what I keep coming back to with Bionaz and Giacommel, they are 22. They both have top level ski talent. The key for them is now twofold: living up to the ski talent that they have and slowly but surely improving their shooting. We would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t say that expectations for them are to take over for Lukas Hofer as the next leader for the men of Italian biathlon. Expectations for them are high, and they are still young. Let’s give them another couple of years before passing judgement. The key though is we need to see continued across the board development. Giacommel needs a little more improvement with the shooting and Bionaz a little more with the skiing. Let’s hope we see it!

Pushing for the World Cup

This next group is a little harder to figure out. With 6 spots to fill on the World Cup roster every week several of these men will have opportunities. It’s going to be up to them to grab the opportunity and keep it. There are so many 22-23 year old Italian men I think I started typing the same thing over and over again. I apologize if you read the same paragraph 13 times. I did my best! Ultimately I think what we’re going to see is each of them get a few starts on the World Cup and whoever makes the most of it will keep it.

Daniele Cappellari (25)

Three years ago Cappellari actually had a chance at the World Cup roster. He didn’t quite do enough to justify keeping it ahead of Bionaz and Giacommel. So back to the IBU Cup it was for him. From the middle of the 2020-2021 season through mid last season he had some of the best racing of his career. During that 17 race stretch his lowest finish was 28th and he had six top 10s. Granted it was on the IBU Cup but it was very good racing. He ended the year finishing 12th overall on the IBU Cup.

During that stretch he did one thing really really well: shooting. His average shooting during that stretch was nearly 93%. That’s total shooting. With ski ranks only in the 20-50s per race he needed to shoot well and goodness did he ever! He’s always been a tremendous shooter but that was absolutely the best shooting of his career.

If Cappellari wants to get back to the World Cup and hold it he’s going to need to shoot like that. His skiing so far in his career just isn’t good enough. Even if he continues to improve the next handful of years he will never be mistaken for JT Boe or Samuelsson. He can however be Simon Eder. And Eder had plenty of success. It’s time for Cappellari to go to it.

Patrick Braunhofer (24)

While Cappellari finished 12th on the IBU Cup, Patrick Braunhofer finished 13th. To be honest you would be excused from not being able to tell them apart as they performed almost exactly the same. Braunhofer though did better in the 2nd half of the season, never finishing worse than 33rd after the new year. He finished with 3 straight top 17 finishes, some of his best of the year.

Braunhofer too relies on exceptional shooting to make up for middle of the road skiing. He ended the season shooting about 87%. In the end of season ski rankings he finished ranked 91st to Cappellari’s 87th. As I said these guys were nearly identical!

So my lookout for them is nearly identical as well. Improve the skiing and keep the shooting accuracy. If they can do that we may be seeing a lot of them on the World Cup. But they HAVE to improve the skiing. An absolutely necessity.

Cedric Christille (23)

Cedric Christille is a 23 year old athlete with mostly Juniors racing to go off of up until now. As a Juniors biathlete Christille was fairly middle of the road. Plenty of finishes between 30th and 50th but not many high finishes. Over the last three seasons just three top 25 finishes on the Juniors level. A year on the IBU Cup didn’t show any significantly different results. However he did finish on a high note with two straight 26th place finishes.

There really isn’t a lot to say. His shooting is average ending his last two seasons as a Junior at 80% and his races on the IBU Cup at 76%. His skiing actually looked a little bit better at the end of the IBU Cup season as he was finishing top 30-40s. Total shooting times generally in the mid to low 30s.

He’s just 23 but we should expect to see a full season from Christille on the IBU Cup. He’s got a lot of competition on this Italian team. If he’s going to be a consistent World Cup team member for Italy he’s going to need improvements everywhere.

Iacopo Leonesio (22)

I swear every other man on the Italian team is 22 years old. And there are still more to come! Leonesia does have a couple of IBU Cup starts but we’re going to mostly focus on his Juniors level racing because that’s where he has done the vast majority of his racing including almost all of last year. It paid off for him too. He ended up 4th overall on the Juniors level!

Iacopo Leonisio is following along the pathway more similar to Braunhofer and Cappellari rather than Giacomel or Bionaz. His shooting has been very good with just three career races with a shooting percentage lower than 80%. His overall shooting comes out to about 90%. Not just last season but for his entire Juniors career. That’s starting to become a solid sample size. This was even while his shooting time improved by several seconds.

His skiing is another story. He started out, not surprisingly, well back in the pack. However he was getting better and better over his first few seasons. By the beginning of last year his ski times were reaching the top 15. Last season, for no apparent reason, his skiing form collapsed. He had some of his worst skiing relative to the field in several seasons.

For Leonesio his prospects rest almost entirely on his ability to be able to regain his ski form. If he can get his ski form back to where it was to start last year he won’t spend much time on the IBU Cup. He’ll jump up to the World Cup quickly because with that 90% shooting he’s going to be a threat. If he can’t get that ski form back, well he’s still young and he’s got time. I’m pretty hopeful for him though.

David Zingerele (22)

Yet another 22 year old prospect for the Italians, David Zingerele, is just one more reason why Italy should believe in a very bright future. Last year was his first full time season on the IBU Cup. It was…up and down to say the least. He had 5 top 21 finishes. He also had 5 finishes below 59th. It seems like all year he was either competing for a top finish or struggling to make top 60. There was very little in between. Interestingly enough this is the completely opposite of his brief Juniors career. One in which he had 9 of his 10 races finish from 4th to 31st.

Zingerele is a solid all around biathlete without a single aspect that stands out. On the Junior level he could be a top 15 skier. So far in two seasons on the IBU Cup he’s mostly been finishing with ranks between 30-50s. His shooting has been very consistent around 85% which is absolutely solid. His shooting times last year were solid at about 30 seconds.

Zingerele isn’t like many of the other 22 year old Italians he’s competing with for a World Cup slot. He doesn’t have a singular calling card like ski speed or shooting. Maybe that plays in his favor? Maybe it shows that he has potential to get better all around as a biathlete. Well he’s already earned a selection to the World Cup roster for the first weekend so we’ll be cheering for him!

Michele Molinari (22)

With a 2020-2021 season spent primarily on the IBU Cup, Molinari made his first steps up from the Junior level. Up until last year he had never had the success on the Junior level that his other compatriots had experienced. But last year was a bit of a success for him on both levels.

On the Junior level he had all 5 finishes in the top 25, three top 10s, and a 2nd. Those were all career bests. On the IBU Cup, it would be normal to expect him to struggle just a touch. And at first he did. But he finished with 5 of 7 races top 30 including a 9th and 10th place. That’s much better than would have been expected!

Looking into his stats a little bit the answer to how he did it is fairly obvious. Right off the top you can see an immediate improvement in shooting. How long will it last? Was it permanent? That’s impossible to know. Regardless last year he shot 85% on the IBU Cup and 82% on the Juniors. And that 82% supported by two 100% days. His skiing we’ll have to see. On the Juniors he had a slow and steady improvement over his career leading to consistent top 20 ski days. On the IBU Cup his course times were wildly inconsistent. If anything they were mostly in the 60-80 range but he had course time ranks as high as 20th.

Okay so what can we expect? I think that his shooting may have been real. I think we’ll continue see that get a little bit better. We’ll really have to see how his skiing does. He’s fortunate. There is a large group of guys he gets to train against every single day all in his cohort. I’ve written about so many 22 year old Italians recently I’ve gone cross eyed. I’ll just say this blanket statement. I like all of them!

Juniors:

These boys are just a bit below the group ahead. It would actually be shocking if we were to see any of them get World Cup starts this season. There are just so many in the group ahead I think they will be a log jam. That doesn’t mean these guys aren’t good. There is just a limit to how many can start every week!

Nicolo’ Betemp (19)

I mentioned earlier up Iacopo Leonesio finishing 4th overall for the Juniors last year, well Nicolo’ Betemp was 8th overall. Great things for the Italian Juniors! Last year, just his second overall of racing, saw just one finish outside the top 25. His ski ranks were similar with only one finish with a course time outside the top 28. Meanwhile he had incredibly consistent shooting almost always within 5% of 80%. And already at age 19 with a shooting time of just under 32 seconds.

What do we expect of Btemp going foward? I just wrote about seemingly a million 22 year old Italian men and Betemp is the one I’m the most excited for. He’s had more successes at an earlier age than any of them did. He’s still probably a few years away from seeing his first World Cup level racing. He has potential though and I’ll be monitoring him all year.

Elia Zeni (21)

Zeni, while being 21, has only just over 1 year of racing under his belt. Over that time he has shown some successes and some lows. He actually started out with a string of 6 straight top 30 finishes. After that though he’s only broken 30th just one time. He only has 13 total races in his career so it’s hard to make any leaps. In general his skiing is top 20 to 30 level with shooting time that is rather slow and near 80%. Lets see what he can do this year on his last year of Juniors racing.

Christoph Pircher (19)

Pircher has just one season of racing to look at but it was a fairly good one. He finished 31st or better ever race after his first race. This included a season and career best of 8th place. He has shown potential to be a very fast skier. In the first season of racing his worst course rank was 36th. Shooting was decent hovering around the 80% mark. But his shooting time is already pretty good for his age at just 31 seconds which put him top 20 almost every race. I’m optimistic. Once again, like Betemp, I’ll be checking on him every Juniors race because I think we’ll be seeing his name in a few years.

One thought on “Italy Team Preview

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