The German biathletes have special memories of the last home world championship. In 2012 in Ruhpolding, in the Chiemgauer Arena, it was the Magdalena Neuner Festival and at the same time the farewell of an exceptional German athlete from the big stage. With gold in the sprint and gold in the relay, Neuner was crowned record world champion (twelve gold medals).
Eleven years later, the German biathlon lacks such exceptional phenomena. The hopes for a podium finish are still high before the World Championships in Oberhof, which begin on Wednesday – and Denise Herrmann-Wick in particular would be capable of a medal. At least since the gold triumph in the individual at the Olympic Games a year ago, the 34-year-old should be known for being in top form at major events.
In order for the dream of a gold medal to come true in front of a home crowd, it’s all about Herrmann-Wick trusting himself and fulfilling his duties on the shooting range, said the women’s discipline coach, Sverre Olsbu Röiseland. The 2019 pursuit world champion has consistently performed consistently at the shooting range this winter, her hit rate is 85 percent and Herrmann-Wick is hard to beat on the cross-country ski run. Only the Swede Elvira Öberg was faster.
In the World Cup, the German celebrated a victory in the sprint and in the pursuit. If Herrmann-Wick clears all the discs at the World Cup, then she could ensure that Oberhof experiences the next home festival.
In addition to Herrmann-Wick’s title ambitions, the young women’s season is also ready for the big stage. The team around Vanessa Voigt, Anna Weidel, Janina Hettich-Walz and Hannah Kebinger recently excelled with a second place – and that without Herrmann-Wick. “We have to go aggressively into the home World Championships, not be afraid of the races, learn from defeats and experiences,” said Röiseland. It is important to use the spectators and the home World Cup as an advantage. For the sports director of biathlon, Felix Bitterling, the home World Cup is not a curse, but a blessing.
For the men, victory only leads to Johannes Thinges Bö
However, the international competition has something to object to local festivals, the circle of favorites is larger than it has been for a long time. “There could be a different world champion in every race,” said Röiseland. The current leader in the overall World Cup, Julia Simon, is definitely one of the shortlist for a medal.
In 2019, the French became world champion in the single mixed relay with Antonin Guigonnat. Now it should finally work out in Oberhof with the individual world championship title: “I can’t lose my yellow jersey at the World Championships. I just have to carry on as before. Not anymore, because with the pressure you have, you always want more,” said Simon.
In every race there could be a different world champion.
Sverre Olsbu Roiselanddiscipline coach in the German women’s team
This season’s “Mister Unbeatable” for men is once again Johannes Thingnes Bö. In terms of running, the Norwegian is currently on his own planet. The Norwegian will also be on the hunt for gold medals in all disciplines at this World Championships – he already has 12 of them. The record holder here is also a Norwegian, Ole Einar Björndalen, with 20 World Championship titles.
Even a penalty loop shouldn’t stop Bö from collecting gold medals due to his strong running form. And should the 29-year-old get into trouble, Brother Tarjei and colleagues from his own camp are on hand: Sturla Holm Laegreid, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Johannes Dale.
The Norwegians have also dominated with the relay so far this season. They were at the top of all four competitions. But the German men can also hope for a medal in this discipline. They never missed the podium in any season: there were two third places and two second places.
“If you look at the Olympic Games last year, the German team was always close: fourth place (relay), sixth place (Benedikt Doll, individual), seventh place (Roman Rees, individual). They are at a top level and have the ability, but luck was not on their side. A miss here, a miss there, maybe not the best material in the first two races… So they couldn’t get any medals,” said men’s assistant coach Uroš Velepec.
However, the team knows that if everyone does a perfect race, they can get on the podium in every race. Individual podium places are also realistic. David Zobel, Roman Rees and Benedikt Doll have already proven in the World Cup that they are to be reckoned with. “The following applies to the World Cup: 7 starts, 7 chances,” says Velepec. The next two weeks will show whether the chances can be converted into medals.
Brayden White, a veteran sports writer at Global Happening, brings his wealth of knowledge and expertise to the sports section. With over a decade of experience, he is committed to delivering high-quality coverage of the latest games and events.