Annecy-le Grand Bornand 2022 Week in Review Pt. 2

In part 1 we did our best to recap the best performances and moments of the weekend. In part 2 we’re going to take a look at some of the big take aways and questions coming out of the weekend. Today we have two big things to look at can Sturla Laegreid and Lisa Hauser make a run at the crystal globe? Usually I try to do three big topics but with the holiday break upon us it gives me more time to expand a few topics on my mind into bigger pieces coming out over the next couple of weeks. Let’s just jump right into it!

1)Sturla Holm Laegreid Cuts JT Boe’s LeadIs he the Favorite?

This weekend was extremely important for anybody hoping for a close race for the men’s Overall Crystal Globe. JT Boe entered the weekend on a hot streak. Since the season opening Individual race Boe had exactly 0 losses. He was skiing fast and almost more importantly he was shooting really really well. The result was he was sweeping up wins at a rate nobody had seen since…JT Boe did it in the 2019-2020 season.

Annecy-le Grand Bornand has always been a favorite location of JT Boe so it was no surprise that he started right off with a win in the Sprint. Once again he was fast and kept his sheet clean. He was the fastest man on the course once again, just as he was every other race this season. He put that together with his 2nd 100% shooting on the season and finished with a 17 second win. After the race the popular conversation was whether or not the globe race was over. He has pushed his lead out to 79 points and with 5 straight wins he was showing no signs of slowing down.

Well we all know what happened next. In the Pursuit race JT Boe looked like an amateur on the skis as the Fischer skis that he and so many other athletes prefer proved to be inadequate to the task of navigating the icy and ungroomed course. That unlucky day may have turned the entire Globe race right on its head. Laegreid took advantage of the skis and pulled off his first win of the season. JT Boe still managed to finish 3rd but with the new more stratified scoring system Laegreid pulled back 30 points on the overall.

The Mass Start on Sunday was a Norwegian team time trial as the entire race was lead by a cohort of Norwegian men. It came down to a shooting competition and a brilliant final lap by Johannes Dale. While Dale took the win, Laegreid’s superior shooting on Boe allowed him to take 2nd while Boe came in 3rd. The end result, another 15 points gained by Laegreid. In all in two days those 45 points gained allowed Laegried to entre the holiday break just 34 points back. It’s a whole new ballgame.

Suddenly the conversation has shifted from whether its a 1 man race to who is the favorite, Boe or Laegreid? Well the easy answer is JT Boe. He’s one of the greats, he has 3 overall crystal globes in his trophy case at home. This season alone we’ve seen him win 5 races in a row and then this weekend when he wasn’t winning he still came in 3rd. Is it possible Laegreid is still the favorite? I’m not saying I agree with it but I’ll make the argument…

First of all Laegreid is no stranger to the crystal globe chase. We all remember the epic competition in 2020-2021 which JT Boe ultimately won on the very last day of competition. Also his current position in the standings is no fluke. While JT Boe was winning all of those races here are Laegreid’s finishes this season: 6, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 1, 2. In fact Laegreid’s average finishing place of 2.5 is actually better that JT Boe’s average finish of 2.9.

When you look at how Laegreid is doing it, it looks exactly like what we would expect from “classic” Laegreid. In 2020-2021 he finished 7th overall in skiing and shot 92.6%, 2nd only to Simon Eder amongst full time World Cup level competitors. This season Laegreid is skiing even a little better, currently in 3rd position and significantly closer to JT Boe. His shooting of 92.3% is right in line with what we’ve already seen him do.

Are those numbers completely impossible for him to keep up? Yes it’s true we haven’t seen him ski that fast before. On the other hand he’s only 25, would it really be that shocking for him to make a little improvement? Certainly not to me.

What about JT Boe? Well right now he’s skiing the fastest of anybody in the field. But how does this season compare to his last crystal globe season? In 2020-2021 he was 5.48% faster than the average male biathlete. This season he’s 5.47% faster than the average biathlete. He’s been incredibly fast this season but it’s absolutely reasonable to expect him to keep it up. His shooting on the other hand has taken a massive leap forward. This year he’s at 88.5% overall compared to 85.2% in his last season as overall #1. In fact he’s only shot better than this twice: 2019-2020 when he shot 92.1% and was basically a perfect biathlete and 2016-2017 when he shot 89.4%. So is it reasonable to expect him to keep up this same shooting? Now that actually is a question mark.

After all of that where do we stand? In JT Boe’s favor: He’s done it before and knows how to do it again. He has already been sweeping up wins and if not for bad skis may very well have gained another win this weekend in the Pursuit. He’s been hitting the shots when it counts this season. Also Laegreid hasn’t always come through in clutch moments. In Laegreid’s favor: He’s shooting shooting very well but no better than we have seen him do in the past and certainly a level he can sustain. He is skiing better than ever, but he was always underrated for his ski talents and this could just be a natural progression as he reaches his peak. Lastly JT Boe is shooting at a level that we might not expect him to maintain which would open the door for Laegreid.

So where do we end up? I think Boe is likely still the favorite but I think that’s an awfully compelling argument for Laegreid. With the current scoring system 34 points is basically nothing. We have a tie ballgame with 13 races to go. Game on.

2) Look out for Lisa Theresa Hauser

I posed the last topic as Laegreid possibly being the favorite. While I would love to do that with Lisa Hauser I can’t honestly in good faith make that argument. I will however argue why we should expect to see her make a run as the season goes on. Let’s start with a little review of where we are. She is currently sitting in 7th place with 320 points putting her 151 points back of Julia Simon for 1st and 75 points back of Elvira in 2nd place. Unlike Laegreid that’s sort of deficit takes more than 1 great weekend to make up. However it isn’t completely insurmountable so she is definitely in the race going forward.

Lisa Hauser has had a bit of an underrate start to the season. As we enter the holiday break she has two wins in eight races. Those two wins already match the most wins in a single season in her career with 13 races still go to. It is a safe bet that she’s going to make a run at least one more win this season. Those two wins also match Julia Simon for the most wins on the season. The only difference between the two so far has been consistency. Simon has been in the top 10 every race but twice with her worst finish being 16th. Hauser meanwhile has just four top 10 finishes with three finishes lower than 16th. However there are key signs that Hauser is primed for a surge.

Lisa Theresa Hauser’s breakthrough came during the 2020-2021 season where she finished 6th overall. In that season she actually had her worst shooting of her career. She finished the year at 85% after spending almost every prior season above 87%. What propelled her forward was her ski speed. She did some amazing work and finished the season ranked 10th overall in skiing. That was BY FAR her best season. Prior to that her best season finish was 44th.

Ski RankShooting %Overall Rank

Last year was even better. Hauser got her shooting back to normal finishing the year at 88.1% overall right back at her career averages. Her skiing though took a bit of a step backward. Rather than being a top 10-15 skier she ended up ranked 22nd overall. However that combination resulted in an even better overall finish as she ended the year ranked 3rd in the overall rankings.

This season is starting to look even better than either of those years. Right now she is shooting 88.5% which is even slightly better than last season. Currently her ski rank is 18th but I think that undersells where she really is. Her skiing has been on a steady improvement all season long.

The trendline shows a clear upward trajectory. She has 3 top 11 finishes in the last 4 races. When you consider she races on Fischer skis you have to imagine that the 28th place in the ALGB Pursuit would have been even better.

It is not unreasonable to expect that this improved ski speed will continue meaning that she is more than likely going to end the year very close to or inside the top 10 in overall skiing. Combine that with her currently improved shooting at 88.5% and you’re looking at statistically the best season of Lisa Hauser’s career.

What would it take for Hauser to win the Globe? Well first of all she would need to continue this current racing. I think that is a reasonable expectation. We’ve seen both of these out of her before. The shooting is about what we would expect from her and the skiing is no better than it was just two seasons ago. The only difference is she is finally doing it at the same time.

Next she would need some help from Simon. Simon currently being 151 points ahead is a significant cushion. If Simon continues her current average finish of 5.8 Hauser would need to average 3rd place every race for 11 straight races to make up the difference. That’s basically the entire season. She regardless of how well Hauser does she’s going to likely need some help from Simon. However is that really too much to ask for? Simon is currently shooting by far the best of her career. Simon is currently shooting 90.8% and her previous best full season was last year at 81.5%. Would anybody be surprised to see the shooting and subsequently the finishes start to slip?

After that she’s just 75 points back of Elvira. We just saw how quickly Laegreid cut a 79 point lead in half. 75 points with the current scoring structure is absolutely possible. That’s a gap she can make up even if Elvira continues her current racing.

What are we looking at then? Lisa Theresa Hauser is currently in the best form of her career. She in all likelihood is poised to have the best season, at least statistically, of her career. Hauser already has two wins on the season and she’s set to chase down a few more. There is a very good chance that she could have the best year of her career. Whether it ends up in the crystal globe or not is almost out of her hands. I’m ready for it though. This should be fun!

Personal Great Finshes:

Anna Magnusson: 1st place in the Sprint was not only the first win of her career but it was the first podium of her career. I have more on Magnusson coming shortly but her prior career best was 7th which she had done twice, most recently in the 2022 Olympic Sprint. She then matched her 7th place in the Mass Start this week. Heck of a weekend!

Linn Persson: 2nd place in the Sprint set a new career best as well! Her previous best was 3rd place that she had most recently done all the way back in the Sprint in Kontiolahti! What a season for Persson!

Sophie Chaveau: 4th place in the Sprint was the best finish of a career weekend. In just four prior races her career bet was 19th. In front of home fans on home snow she proceeded to go 4th, 8th, and 5th. What a weekend!

Fabien Claude: 4th place in the Pursuit and the Mass Start. This wasn’t necessarily a single great race from Claude that lands him on this list, but it was that he did it twice. After this weekend he has eight total top 5 finishes. This was the first time in his career though that he’s had two in the same weekend!

Sebastian Stalder: 8th place in the Mass Start and 14th place in the Pursuit. These are now the best finishes of his career to date. The 24 year old is on the best run of his career with five straight top 25 finishes in the last five races.

Ragnhild Femsteinevik: 9th place in the Mass Start for the woman with the Santa hat headband. She turned in a career year with two of her top three career finishes. She had a 16th in the Pursuit was just one off of her previous career best, a 15th place finish in the last Sprint race of last season.

Tommaso Giacommel: 9th place in the Pursuit and 13th in the Mass Start those are his 3rd and 4th best finishes of his career. He’s quite young but as of today 5 of his 8 best finishes are already in the first three weekends of this season.

Tuomas Harjula: 10th place in the Mass Start takes over as the new career best race for the 24 year old Finn. Before the year Harjula was so far off my radar screen that I didn’t even do a preseason write up for him. However he’s putting together a career season right now with now three top 20’s in his last 4 races.

Sean Doherty: 11th place in the Sprint. His previously career high was 10th so he very nearly broke his own personal best! Considering he has 138 races to his name that’s not bad at all. He was absolutely flying in that sprint race. It was the 3rd best course time rank of his career!

Milena Todorova: 12th place in the Sprint was good for her 2nd best finish of her career. Her only prior best was 8th place in the 2020-2021 Sprint in Ostersund. I love seeing finishes like this from nations like Bulgaria. Hopefully she has a few more of these in her this season! Todorova is just 24 years old, really might be someone to keep an eye on.

Florent Claude: 12th place in the Pursuit. It was the 4th best finish of his career and a new best on the season. So far he’s had finishes of 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, and 19th. Prior to this year the most top 20’s he had in a single season was 4. He now has 5 this season already. The 31 year old Belgian is having a career year!

Aita Gasparin: 12th place in the Pursuit was her best finish in three seasons. It was the also the 4th best finish of her career behind an 8th, and two 10th place finishes in 2019-2020.

Amy Baserga: 20th place in the Pursuit was the best finish in her young career. The 22 year old has just 18 total races in her career and this was the best race yet for her. Her previous best was 28th.

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