Previewing Women’s Overall Race

As we enter trimester #2 of the World Cup season, we come what has traditionally been a turning point in the season. This is when the contenders start to separate from the pack. Almost every year it is the January swing that provides some critical results and cleaves off usually all but 3-4 women still vying for the Overall Crystal Globe. There is just something about the German swing and Antholz (well usually those stops) that has a knack for identifying the best of the year.

Last season Røiseland’s had three wins and a 2nd place in Oberhof and Ruhpolding to pull away from Elvira Öberg. The year before saw Eckhoff win three straight races to dramatically close the gap on Røiseland and set up her run for the title. In 2019-2020 it was the 2nd trimester during which Eckhoff and eventually champion Wierer pulled away the large pack of competitors. If we keep going back we find that nearly every year the winner is usually within the top 3 at the end of trimester #2.

Where do we stand know? Who are the potential competitors? Let’s take a look at everybody who is even possibly within range:

Athlete Current Score
Julia Simon471
Elvira Öberg395 (-76)
Lisa Vittozzi373 (-98)
Denise Herrmann-Wick356 (-115)
Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold349 (-122)
Linn Persson328 (-143)
Lisa Theresa Hauser320 (-151)
Marketa Davidova293 (-180)
Hanna Öberg280 (-191)
Dorothea Wierer276 (-195)

I included everybody up to 200 points behind Julia Simon because I think she’s a particularly volatile #1 overall at this stage. She is showing by far the best shooting of her career. It’s getting better and better ever since Annecy-le Grand Bornand of the 2021-2022 season. However with her history of really bad shooting days, at this stage of the game, it is still very possible that she could open the door and completely off. We really hope she won’t do that but for this exercise we can’t rule this out.

If we were to say that Simon is going to let many women back into this race, then we have to see who is in range of #2 Elvira Öberg. From Elvira to Wierer is just 119 points. With the new scoring system 119 points is still difficult to be made up but it absolutely can be done. So, with that said, let’s look at these 10 women and see what their path is to a the crystal globe. With 10 women to get through we’re going to have to keep it brief which is not my specialty!

10. Dorothea Wierer: 276 (-195)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank14
Median Back from Median-2.4%
Total Shooting Rank30
Hit Rate Percentage87.7%
Shooting Speed Rank6

Believe it or not Dorothea Wierer is actually higher in the standings right now than she was a year ago at this time. I mention this because through the first trimester of the season I don’t think I’ve had a single conversation about Wierer. That’s probably because there has been so much else to talk about. However she actually is having a nice little season. If she weren’t a two time Overall Crystal Globe winner we might be saying she’s having a really solid season. She has been 13th or better every race since the season opening Individual including four top 10s and a 2nd place in the Hochfilzen Pursuit.

So do we think she can win a third Overall Crystal Globe this season? No, not really. She needs to go on a string of really fantastic races. Just top 10’s won’t cut it. She’s going to need to get podiums in bunches. She’s skiing well but she needs to get that shooting percentage up just a touch. Overall her statistics are pretty good right now but if she can get closer to 90% shooting that would be amazing. And with pretty much everybody else on this list she’s also going to need a drop in form from Simon and Elvira. Basically it has to be a perfect storm: better shooting, an unreal run of podiums, while Simon and Elvira stumble. Yeah, you’re right, this is likely not going to happen at this stage of Wierer’s career. However I do believe that a couple of wins and possible a World Championship medal could be possible.

9. Hanna Öberg 280 (-191)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank7
Median Back from Top 10-3.82%
Total Shooting Rank59
Hit Rate Percentage82.3%
Shooting Speed Rank10

I want you to think real quick: Who is having a better season Dorothea Wierer or Hanna Öberg? My gut reaction would have been Hanna Öberg. She started the season off with a win in the Individual in Kontiolahti. Since then she’s had a 6th, a 7th, and 10th as her only other top 10’s. Four of her eight races have had finishes below 15th. We just covered Wierer above. If you skipped her write up, go back and read it real quick. To me anyway Wierer is definitely having the better overall season.

So what’s going on with Hanna Öberg? Coming into the season I thought she was going to be at the top of the standings. I actually thought that she might have a better shot at it than Elvira Öberg. Boy do I feel foolish. But the characteristics were there. She’s a fast skier and seemed to have the opportunity to improve her shooting. Well it hasn’t happened.

Her skiing is roughly the same as it has been the last couple of years. Don’t get me wrong, she’s fast. She’s very fast. And to be honest there isn’t a ton of room to improve on that front. To be fair her shooting is improved. She’s bumped from 80% last season to 82.3% this year. That’s definitely up! However, it is nowhere close to where she needs to be to be in contention. At least she’s shooting fast!

Does Hanna have a chance to get back into this race? Well actually yeah. But she has to get lots of podium finishes. Simon, for example, has two wins and three other podium finishes along with a 5th place. That’s 5/8 finishes in the podium and 6/8 top 10s. So for Hanna Öberg to get into contention she basically needs to be able to replicate those numbers. How does she do that? Well she has to do what she hasn’t done in 3-4 years now and shoot as close to 90% as she possibly can. If (HUGE IF!) she can do that she can win races. She would be competing at the level that Elvira and Simon are now. That would put her in the realm of podium of those podium finishes she needs. Possible? Yes. Likely? Not based on what we’ve seen the last couple of years.

8. Marketa Davidova 293 (-180)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank12
Median Back from Top 10-2.57%
Total Shooting Rank20
Hit Rate Percentage89.2%
Shooting Speed Rank14

Just looking at those statistics above you would be convinced that Davidova was one of the top 5 at least this season. She’s been shooting at the best level of her career but her skiing is off just a bit from her normal performance level of the last several years. As a result she’s in the bottom of the top 10 which is about where she has been for the last 2-3 seasons.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad year. Unfortunately it’s just been an inconsistent year. She has four top 10 finishes including two trips to the podium. However, in Annecy she failed to crack the top 10 in any race which significantly hurt her ability to pile on the points and get up into the top 5.

I don’t think we need to go too long here. Davidova is actually performing really well this season. If you take out Annecy, which may have been a bad weekend for any number of reasons, she is performing at a top 5 level. Can she get to the top of the standings? Yeah but she’s in a bit of a hole just like Wierer and Hanna Öberg. That weekend in Annecy really set her back. If she could have found a way into the bottom of the top 10 rather than 16, 24, 14 it would have done wonders for her chances. If she can ski just a touch better and keep shooting like this we already saw what she can get. She just needs to keep doing that without having the drops in performance. Hopefully that’s what happens and if Simon/Elvira come back to the pack a little bit then who knows where we are after Oberhof?

7. Lisa Theresa Hauser: 320 (-151)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank18
Median Back from Top 10-2.21%
Total Shooting Rank24
Hit Rate Percentage88.5%
Shooting Speed Rank7

Now we get to my favorite possibility in this whole list. Yes, I am an unabashed Lisa Hauser fan but on the Annecy-le Grand Bornand recap podcast I think I laid out the case for why she can make a run at a top 3 overall this season pretty well. Let’s start with where she is right now. She’s in 7th place, 151 back of Simon and just 75 back of Elvira. Through three weeks she has two victories, more than anybody else but Simon, and two other top 10’s. That’s where her problem has been. Here are her finishes in the non wins: 9, 12, 9, 22, 22.

Why am I so optimistic? First of all she’s shooting actually a little bit better than she did the last two seasons. In those two seasons, which we would all consider her breakthrough years, she shot 85% and 88.1%. Also, her shooting time rank is up to the top 10 again which is where she normally lives.

It’s her skiing though that has me the most excited. Right now she’s ranked just 18th overall. That would be her 2nd best ski ranking of her career after the 2020-2021 season when she ranked 9th. However here are her course time rankings for each race this season:

If you take out the Annecy Pursuit race (Fischer skis) she in all likelihood is looking at a run of four straight top 15 course time ranks, and with her form maybe even another top 10 in there. There is a decided upward trajectory to those performances even with the 28th place in there. The last time she skied like that was the middle of that 2020-2021 season. She clearly has a form right now that she did not have last year.

So, if you combine the 2nd best ski form of her career (and we’ll see how the next trimester goes but she could be close to the best) with the best shooting since she made her breakthrough you’ve got yourself a pretty good biathlete. In 2020-2021 she had the skiing but the shooting was off by her standards. She finished 5th overall. Last year the shooting returned but her ski form took a step backwards. She finished 3rd. Now she’s got the shooting and the skiing has taken at least a half step forward. That sounds like a possible top 3 regardless of what anybody else does. Now if Simon has a couple of bad weekends and Elvira a bad weekend then Hauser could be right in the mix.

6. Linn Persson 328 (-143)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank15
Median Back from Top 10-2.39%
Total Shooting Rank10
Hit Rate Percentage90.0%
Shooting Speed Rank17

What a year for Linn Persson right? Most would agree she’s having one of the most fun seasons of anybody on the world cup. For most of Persson’s career the focus has been the Öberg sisters and how they would lead the Swedish women, or on Stina Nilsson transferring over from cross country to biathlon. Persson though, to her immense credit, just kept plugging away and getting better. I will repost this graph of her career ranks.

Now in her age 28 season she’s having reaching her peak years and is showing that she deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Öberg sisters as one of the leaders of the team. Can she turn that into a crystal globe winning season? Look at the argument I just made for Hauser about ski speed and shooting combination. Persson is right now skiing better and shooting better than Hauser. In eight races this year she has finished no lower than 17th and she has two podiums and two top 10s. Her 2nd place finish came on a day when Anna Magnusson decided to have the race of her career or else Persson might have had the first win of her career as well.

I will be honest I like Hauser’s chances more than Persson’s because Persson appears to have one really good weekend on the skis buoying her chances. However you can’t argue with where she is overall in the ski rankings. Her path though is Hauser’s path. Collect her maiden win, and likely needing 1-2 more after that. And basically every race she needs to be collecting top 10 points. It’s certainly not impossible though.

5. Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold: 349 (-122)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank6
Median Back from Top 10-3.88%
Total Shooting Rank10
Hit Rate Percentage90.0%
Shooting Speed Rank41

I mentioned on the Annecy-le Grand Bornand podcast that Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold is having my favorite season of anybody on the World Cup and I stand by the statement. She became the Norwegian #1 when Eckhoff and Røiseland weren’t ready to start the season. With all of the pressure to be a true #1 for Norway and compete for the crystal globe she put herself in position to do it. Seemingly not feeling the pressure she’s having a true career season.

Her skiing is at her career best. Her shooting is at a career best. And though she isn’t shooting that fast, its a full 2 seconds per shooting better than her career best. She has four top 10’s including two 2nd place finishes and is factoring in more races than ever before. There is something that can’t be measured in numbers but you see it in Pursuit and Mass Start races where she gets into the lead packs or groups of women including the top tier of women’s biathlon, and she believes she belongs. She’s got a tenacity in her that I love.

Can she win the Overall Crystal Globe? Absolutely. She’s one of just two women on this list in the top 10 in both shooting and skiing. The other is Julia Simon. With 13 races left that counts towards the overall there is no reason to believe that Tandrevold can’t replicate what Simon is doing right now. First of all she’s just 46 back of Elvira for 2nd and 122 back of Simon in 1st. 122 points sounds like a lot but with the new scoring system it isn’t impossible. To win the Overall Globe you have to win races. If Tandrevold wins a couple of races and Simon is any lower than 2nd she’s picking at least half of the points right there.

4. Denise Herrmann-Wick: 356 (-115)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank4
Median Back from Top 10-4.07%
Total Shooting Rank46
Hit Rate Percentage85.4%
Shooting Speed Rank47

Denise Herrmann-Wick is once again racing towards a top 5 overall finish. She’s got a lot of competition pushing her from the back so staying here might be a bit more of a challenge. While we think of her as a speed specialist she’s been a better shooter than we give her credit for. At 85.4% she’s ranked 46th overall but she doesn’t need to be perfect with her speed.

The important thing for Herrmann-Wick this year is that she’s been capitalizing on her opportunities unlike the women directly behind her. She has one win, but these are her other finishes: 3, 5, 6, 6, 7, 16, and 21. Compared to the women who in lower down on this list that’s a lot more top 10 finishes. You can’t even say that she’s riding her speed to top finishes in the Sprint because those top 10s are in the Individual and Pursuit as well.

Now the question of how does she win the Overall Crystal Globe? Well she has to get a couple of more victories this season but she’s already proven that she can do that. She’s consistently in the mix for Sprint and Pursuit victories. Then she has to limit her misses on the range and keep herself in the top 10 and let her legs do the rest. She’s shooting the best of her career right now. Considering for most of the last 5 years she been more of an 80% shooter rather than the 85% she is at right now is a shooting regression coming? Probably but I sure hope now especially with Worlds in Oberhof. However if her shooting drops anywhere below where it is now I would say her chances of the Overall are basically 0%.

3. Lisa Vittozzi: 373 (-98)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank8
Median Back from Top 10-3.71%
Total Shooting Rank21
Hit Rate Percentage89.2%
Shooting Speed Rank16

What a story this is right? Over the last two seasons Vittozzi became one of the hardest biathletes to watch. She went from being 2nd overall in 2019-2020 and nearly winning the Crystal Globe to becoming nearly unrecognizable. She almost certainly had a mental block about prone shooting and as a result was almost completely out of the competitions before a race was even half over. In the off season she had sinus surgery and had a great summer of training. She was showing signs of turning the corner.

Then the season started and she went 3rd, 2nd, and 4th and was wearing the Yellow Jersey. What an amazing turn around. If there is anybody that the entire biathlon community would rally behind and cheer for it has to be Vittozzi right? Since that amazing start she’s had an additional three top 10’s including a 2nd place in the Annecy Pursuit race that was such a mess. No she wasn’t on Fischer skis.

Rather than discussing why Vittozzi can win the World Cup I’m going to point out the obvious point of concern: Can she keep up this shooting? Her skiing hasn’t been a problem. She’s always been fast and when she doesn’t have to spend 1-3 laps on the penalty loop she has even more energy to give to the rest of the course. But the shooting is right now the highest of her career by a full 2%. Her prone shooting is nearly 30% higher than it was a year ago. I hope that this is sustainable because I absolutely want to see her succeed. My big fear is if it gets in her head at all and she starts to slip backward a little bit. Let’s all think positive thoughts and that she can keep up this amazing comeback story!

2. Elvira Öberg: 395 (-76)

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank2
Median Back from Top 10-5.53%
Total Shooting Rank25
Hit Rate Percentage88.5%
Shooting Speed Rank35

Let’s just cut to the chase. Can Elvira Öberg win the Overall Crystal Globe? Of course! You would have to be a lunatic to say anything else. She’s performing better than she did a year ago and it really isn’t that close. Right now she is 5.5% faster than the average biathlete compared to about 5% last season. Her shooting percentages last year were 82.6/87.9/85.3 and this season she’s up to 92.3/84.6/88.5. Her shooting time hasn’t changed at all.

Let’s say last year I had told you Elvira would be faster AND shooting over 88%. You would have immediately answered that she was going to win the Overall Crystal Globe. Somehow it feels like she’s having a bit of a step back vs. last year. Maybe its because the newness has worn off and she’s not the bright shiny object right now? Maybe it’s because we expected total domination and instead we have “just” one win, five total top 5’s and one finish outside the top 10.

Elvira Öberg doesn’t need to change a thing in order to win the Crystal Globe. She just has to keep going out there and putting herself in position to win. Top ski speed outside of Lampic (and she’s on another planet we we can’t really count Lampic can we?), shooting over 88% is usually a recipe for a Globe. If she keeps doing that for the rest of the year she will absolutely get a few more wins. She can make up ground in a real hurry. We just saw Laegreid cut a similar deficit in half and that was with JT Bø finishing in the top 5 every race.

1.Julia Simon 471

StatisticCurrent Rank
Overall Ski Rank3
Median Back from Top 10-4.08%
Total Shooting Rank9
Hit Rate Percentage90.8%
Shooting Speed Rank9

It seems like for years (although she’s only 26 so it hasn’t been that long) we’ve all been saying the same thing “If Julia Simon could just shoot consistently she could really be a competitor.” For the last several seasons we would her have bursts of good shooting. She would come in, especially in Mass Starts and Pursuits and Relays, and go head to head with the best in the world. But then would have have stretches of absolutely abysmal shooting and we would be back to wondering “what if?”

Well she figured out to shoot and in a bit way. Starting about a year ago she has been putting together the best shooting of her career. Prior to this year her best single year of shooting was 81.5%. However since the start of the Annecy-le Grand Bornand weekend in 2021 she is shooting 86.1%. This season alone it is 90.8%. To me that isn’t just by chance, she figured something out. And in doing so Julia Simon has reached that potential that we hoped she might. Through three weeks and eight of 21 races on the World Cup Julia Simon wears the Yellow Jersey by a solid 76 points over Elvira Öberg.

How does she keep this thing? Well she has to do exactly what she has done. She might be able to sustain a small slip in shooting but not too much as the other top women are going to come after her hard this trimester. We aren’t talking as much about the leap she made in ski speed. Last year she was ranked 15th overall and this season she is 3rd. That’s been as big of a difference maker as the shooting has been. It’s allowed her to take some of those high finishes and make them even higher, which with this new scoring system has paid off in big ways. It has allowed her to put pressure on other women particularly during Pursuits, where she has grabbed her two wins on the season.

Can Julia Simon win the Crystal Globe feels like a silly question. Of course she can! She’s winning right now! Replicate the results and she will have a grand new trophy in the case at home. If she has a small slip in shooting her 3rd ranked ski speed is enough to overcome that. However she absolutely cannot go back to her old shooting from seasons prior and she can’t withstand too much of a slip in ski form. There are just too many really strong women coming up from behind.

Predictions:

Well we’ve done it. We’ve determined at least a vague pathway to the Crystal Globe for 10 athletes. I didn’t get into as much detail as I would have liked but it’s just a lot of athletes to get to and not enough time! So who do we think is going to win? First, you have to understand that there is no formula for this. This is just how I think about things for right now. Also we are talking about 10 people so these numbers are going to look a little lower than maybe we might think they should be.

AthleteChange at Winning Crystal Globe
Julia Simon29%
Elvira Öberg24%
Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold12%
Lisa Theresa Hauser12%
Denise Herrmann-Wick8%
Marketa Davidova4%
Lisa Vittozzi4%
Linn Persson3%
Hanna Öberg1%
Dorothea Wierer1%

It took a very long time to come up with numbers that relatively made sense to me AND added up to 100. I think that Simon and Elvira are clearly the favorites. Simon because she’s built the lead and is performing the best clearly. Elvira because she has the history and is actually performing at higher level than we think she is. I actually might be underestimating Elvira’s chances vs. Simon. I think betting markets might actually put them closer to even to each other. However, I think that Simon’s shooting is for real. Maybe not this great but I think she has a good chance to continue at her current level. I just can’t be sure because we’ve never seen it for this long!

Beyond them I like Tandrevold and Hauser the most. Tandrevold has really been performing at higher level than her point total indicates. I think that we’ll see Tandrevold come away with a few more high finishes and maybe a couple of wins in trimesters 2 and 3. As I mentioned before she’s the only other athlete besides Simon in the top 10 in both skiing and shooting. For Hauser her argument is a little based on history. She is skiing better than she did last season when she finished 3rd overall and she is shooting better than she did either of the last two years which also included a 6th overall. Skiing and shooting better usually indicates an athlete will at the least match their prior performance. I truly believe Hauser has another top 3 finish in her this season.

Beyond that it’s going to be a struggle. Denise Herrmann-Wick is high in the rankings right now but I’m not sure that she can keep this level of shooting up. She could absolutely prove me wrong though. Why do I believe in Simon more than her? Maybe just because I’ve done much more studying on Simon than Herrmann-Wick. Davidova I believe will finish higher than 8th but making a run for the top feels impossible.

Lastly as for Vittozzi I will absolutely keep my keep fingers crossed and expectation low. For Persson I think that she will ultimately finish right around 4th-5th in the standings. Very good but not quite there. And ultimately I think Hanna Öberg and Dorothea Wiere are just a bit too far away. Whew! We did it. Now let’s see how the rest of this plays out!

2 thoughts on “Previewing Women’s Overall Race

  1. Hi Loop,

    GREAT info on the women’s overall race. Interesting flip on Doro and LV from the last couple years. Will Big T and Roiseland be back on the circuit for the second trimester? If so, that could make it tough for athletes like ILT and the Herminnator to move up in the standings bc the Norwegians might grab some high places.

    Thanks, Sassy

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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