The next Winter World Championship
Straight after the Nordic Ski World Cup now the ski guys with guns are starting their championship! The Biathlon World Championships in Östersund are starting now with the first race and our German team fights for gold, silver and bronze. After last year's Olympic season with the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, in which no World Championships traditionally take place, the new title winners will now be sought until March 17.
A total of twelve competitions will take place. In addition to five competitions each for men and women, precious metal will also be awarded in the Single-Mixed and the Mixed Relay. The Single-Mixed Relay will be part of the World Cup programme for the first time.
In contrast to the World Cup Single-Mixed and Mixed Relay do not take place on the same day. The Mixed Relay tody will be the starting signal for the World Championships. The combination of the two single relay teams brings women and men together. First two female athletes per nation and then two male athletes will go on the track. The women run 6 km, the men 7.5 km. Each starter is shot once lying and once standing.
For the German team the first medal beckons directly. Because the German quartet will start as defending champions and send a strong team into the race with Vanessa Hinz, Denise Herrmann, Arnd Peiffer and Benedikt Doll.
Laura Dahlmeier is out because of a cold. This was announced by the German Ski Association (DSV) a few hours before the race on Thursday afternoon. The DSV justified Dahlmeier's decision to give up the race as a precautionary measure for the sprint on Friday and the pursuit on Sunday.
DSV with top medal chances
At the 2017 World Championship in Hochfilzen (Austria), the DSV was already the most successful nation with seven gold and one silver medal. The German ski hunters naturally want to defend this top position.
Above all, the results of the winter so far have made those in charge come up confident. "We can appear self-confident in Östersund," said sports director Björn Weisheit. However, it will be difficult to repeat Hochfilzen. "We all know that the successes of that time were extraordinary," continued Weisheit.
After the cancellation of mass start world champion Simon Schempp, Benedikt Doll is the only German men's champion at the start. He is also really hot and is looking forward to the WRC. "I already want to attack the podium places and actually feel quite good. I'm really looking forward to the WRC," said Doll.
Boe is the big favourite
But for that the 28-year-old has to pass some top stars. There is no way past high-flyer Johannes Thingnes Bö. The Norwegian has already celebrated twelve individual victories in the World Cup. He is by far the fastest runner in the field and, if he hits everything, can't be beaten.
Even if he misses, he can still attack the podium, as he did at the last World Cups before the World Championships. Martin Fourcade, who had dominated the scene for many years, was not able to continue his heyday this winter.
Dahlmeier as German hope bearer
Among the women, Dahlmeier is regarded as the great hope of the German Ski Federation. The double Olympic champion pursues certain goals. "One has seen that I can certainly fight for victory or a podium. But that won't be a success."
But it's missing for the mixed relay. The retirement is the next setback for Dahlmeier: "Due to a weakened immune system, the seven-time World Champion only started the season shortly before Christmas.
In addition to Dahlmeier, the focus is on the Italians Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi. Wierer is the absolute speed shooter in the field, her risky insoles also explain the fluctuating placings.
Vittozzi is the discovery of the season and thanks to her incredible consistency deserves the leader in the overall World Cup. She has always been able to shoot, but in the meantime she has also matured as a runner.
Otherwise there are several women with good chances: Marte Olsbu Roiseland (Norway), Kaisa Mäkäräinen (Finland), Anais Chevalier (France) or Anastasiya Kuzmina (Slovakia).