Last Shots at Glory…This Year

In just a couple of days the racing starts in Nove Mesto, and with that begins the last trimester of the season. There are just 18 total races left this season. Seven men’s races, seven women’s races, and four relay races. That’s it. After that it’s the offseason. Time to let of some steam, do a little traveling, and then take a look back at the season. After that the 2023-2024 training starts. These are the last races to write the book on the 2022-2023 season.

For some it will be the culmination of years of hard work with crystal globes to be given out and season long titles to celebrate. While the men’s overall globe seems pretty well wrapped up, Johannes Thingnes Boe is still fighting for the overall season wins record and to make this the best season by any biathlete ever. The women appear to be locked into a battle all the way to Oslo with Simon and Elvira Oeberg leading the fight.

For others though, this last trimester is the last shot at glory. Maybe, like for Quinton Fillon Maillet, it’s been a disappointing season and a win or two would go a long way towards redemption and giving a boost heading into the offseason. For some athletes, like for Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, thoughts of retirement are starting to creep in, and this might be the last chance to stand on a podium as a professional biathlete. There are also athletes, like Niklas Hartweg, on the other side of the spectrum. These are young athletes coming up or having breakthrough years where a top finish could really spur them to a new level this summer and next year. Then there are athletes like Linn Persson having just awesome years where a win would just be the capstone.

No matter what though these are the last 18 races for the 2022-2023 season. What I wanted to do is take a quick look at the athletes I most want to see cap off the season in style. I’m going to break it down in different categories. I tried to be pretty comprehensive in my list but I still know that I left some people off. The truth of the matter is I want good things for everybody. These were just a handful that I thought a win/podium/top5-10 would really be special for this season.

Looking for Redemption – Just two athletes in this category and while they are wildly different athletes their seasons feel very similar. Both had very strong seasons last year and could definitely use some good feelings before the season ends.

Quinton Fillon Maillet – Could use a Win

QFM of course is coming off a season that vaulted him into Penalty Loop Biathlon Pantheon with an Overall Crystal Globe to go along with five Olympic medals. This has been quite a step back. He has just one podium and came away with two World Champ medals, both in relays. QFM had a bit of a similar season in 2020-2021 when a couple of late wins arguably seemed to propel him forward into the off season. A win late this season could have a similar effect.

Vanessa Voigt – Podium

Vanessa Voigt was just a rookie last year but she was one of the stories of the season. She seemingly got stronger every single week putting together five top 10’s and peaking with a second place in Otepaa. It looked like she was primed to join the battle for the top 5 if not the Overall Crystal Globe. Instead she has had a bit of a struggle this year collecting just three top 10’s and none since week 1 in Kontiolahti. It would be absolute redemption to close the season strong with a podium or two. It would certainly be good feelings for summer training and a boost heading towards a rebound in 2023-2024.

The Cherry on Top – This is a big group of athletes who are all having outstanding seasons in one way or another. None of them *need* anything else to go right for them this year. But it feels like just another top finish could push them over the top and confirm it being a season to remember!

Sturla Holm Laegreid – Win

I started this before we new Laegreid had COVID and was going to miss Nove Mesto if not more. Laegreid is having one of the most phenomenal seasons that 20 years from now probably won’t be remembered. In 18 races he has never been lower than 6th. He has 14 podiums including 5 World Championships medals. In all of that though he has just one win. Another win or two would take this season to another levels. What else does the guy have to do?

Linn Persson – Win

Linn Persson was already a solid biathlete. This season though she’s become one of the best in the world. She has 4 podiums including two solo World Championship medals. She’s currently 7th in the overall and poised to finish even higher. The only thing that would make this season any better is her first career win. It’s time!

Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold – Win

Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold probably feels like she’s already won it all this season. Without a doubt she’s had my favorite journey this year. She started out the year with seemingly a whole new mentality, the Norwegian team leader, and she was constantly near the top. In trimester two she started to show some cracks and instead of the three top 5’s she had in the 1st trimester she had just three top 10’s. Worlds was quite the ride as documented at length here but she capped it off with the Mass Start silver. Closing the season with a win in the 3rd trimester would be quite the way to close the year.

Marketa Davidova – Win

A year ago we were wondering if Marketa Davidova was going to come back. Now she has her highest ranking of her career, currently sitting at 8th. She has two podiums, five top 5’s, and ten top 10’s and just had the most consistent World Champs of her career. The only thing she’s missing this season is a win.

Paulina Batovska Fialkova – Win

This has been a bit of a bounce back season for Batovska Fialkova. In the first two trimesters she has more top 10’s than the last two seasons combined. She continues to fall just a shot short of the podium. What would really solidify this bounce back season would be a win. Or at least a podium.

Michal Krcmar – Podium

Michal Krcmar with four top 10’s this season is the most he has had since the 2017-2018 season. It seems like every weekend he’s been in the battle for a top 10 or even a top 5. The only way to cap off this year is with his third career podium.

Emma Lunder – Podium

Lunder is in the middle of hands down her best career season. She’s got the most top 10’s in a season in her career and her first two career top 5’s. She already capped it off with the two best World Championship finishes of her career. What would cement this season as her career year? A podium!

Lena Haecki-Gross – Top 5

Haecki-Gross has had a very solid season. Her best season of her career was 2018-2019 and the only thing keeping her from there is two top 5’s. She’s had two 9th place finishes in Antholz and Oberhof seemingly gaining a little momentum lately. A couple of top 5’s isn’t totally out of the picture for her!

Veteran Biathletes Nearing the End – These athletes are all getting near the end of the road. They’ve all mentioned thinking about retirement and for each of them this could be last seasons of their distinguished careers. So what’s the best way for them to finish up?

Benedikt Doll – Win
Tarjei Boe – Win
Marte Olsbu Roeiseland – Win

Of these three it seems like Roeiseland is the least likely to come back next season. She was questionable before this year, missed the first trimester, and was quite emotional at the end of the Mass Start in Oberhof. Each of them have shown the ability to get to the top of the podium. If this really is the end then it would be really gratifying to see them all get there at least one last time. I would be so happy to see it for any of them!

Simon Eder – Top 5
Mari Eder – Top 5

I didn’t actually mean to do this, but both the Eders are also nearing the end. Well we know Mari Eder is as she admitted she wasn’t sure she was going to start the season as late as October. Simon Eder…? Well he might just keep on rolling indefinitely. Regardless both of them have shown at their top levels that they can reach the top 5. Mari Eder has done it already once this season. Simon Eder had an 8th and 9th in Antholz. Wouldn’t it be great to see them get at least one more top 5? Can you imagine the looks on their faces if Simon Eder finished like 5th in the season ending Mass Start?

Young Guns Shooting for the Top – This season we have have had a number of hot young athletes make a splash. Wouldn’t it great to see them each cement their breakthroughs with a tremendous finish? I would love to see it.

Niklas Hartweg – Win

For Hartweg there is only one last rung to climb, the first top one. He started out the year with that amazing 2nd place finish in Konthiolahti. Since then he’s established himself as the next top Swiss man with three more top 10s and two 11th place finishes. He may be the best Swiss male ever (that’s a high bar that Bennie Weger set but it is possible!). A win would be huge for Hartweg individually and it would also be the first for any Swiss male ever. C’mon Nik!

Sophia Comola – Podium
Tommaso Giacomel – Podium
Sophia Schneider – Podium
Hanna Kebinger – Podium

Two young Italians and two young Germans, each having absolute breakthroughs. For Giacomel he’s already been around for four seasons now, Comola in her 2nd season, and Schneider and Kebinger each in their first seasons on the World Cup. Regardless they are all in similar positions. They have all had high top finishes but none of them have reached the podium yet. Giacomel has been all over the top 10, reaching as high as 5th. Comola had her massive 4th place at the Individual in Oberhof and 10th in the Mass Start. Schneider and Kebinger getting as high as 5th and 8th respectively. It’s time for them to reach the podium, and I have to say I would be so excited for all of them!

Jakub Stvrtecky – Top 5
Tereza Vobornikova – Top 5

These two young Czech athletes have shown the ability to compete with the best. Their World Champs performances were solid including Vobornikova’s 7th place Pursuit Stvrtecky had an 8th place earlier in the season. What would be better than to announce themselves with a top 5 to end the year?

Anna Gandler – Top 10
Tomas Mikyska – Top 10
Alex Cisar – Top 10

These three have been getting close. It feels like the top 10 isn’t that far off. Anna Gandler got to 11th in Annecy and fell 1 shot shy of the top 10 in the Individual in Oberhof. Mikyska first showed what he could do with some solid relay performances. Then he had two finishes of 14th at Worlds so he’s right on the doorstep. And Cisar has been steadily climbing all season. He reached a new peak of 17th in the Worlds Mass Start. Would love to see them reach the top 10 in one of these last races.

Long Shots – These last three are all shots in the dark. I think they’ve been having pretty good years so far. I don’t know that they are really going to get there, but I really hope they do. The Gasparins have both been in the top 10 before but not for a few seasons. These would both be career bests for Florent Claude and Olli Hiidensalo. I think almost everybody else on this list is realistic. I don’t know if these athletes are going to achieve this but I sure as heck hope they do. It would be the ultimate reward for really solid seasons.

Florent Claude – Top 5
Aita and Elisa Gasparin – Top 10
Olli Hiidensalo – Top 10

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