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Short Biathlon review and preview

Some three months after the end of the 2020-21 biathlon season and with almost half a year to go before the start of the 2021-22 season it is a good moment to look back at last season as well as to look ahead to the season to come.

Coming in to the consensus agreement was that we were in for a fierce fight about the women’s overall World Cup, while Johannes Thingnes Boe was likely to dominate on the men’s side after the retirement of one of the best biathletes of all time, Martin Fourcade. 

Instead, Tiril Eckhoff would dominate the women’s competitions and move on to win the overall cup by almost 200 points, even after a poor start. While Sturla Holm Laegreid would shock the biathlon world and keep the men’s overall competitive right up until the final shooting session of the season. If Laegreid had managed to hit five of five he would have had a decent chance to win the overall, but it would have resulted in a fierce fight on the last lap with the eventual winner Johannes Thingnes Boe. 

The safety measures employed by the IBU mostly succeeded in keeping the Covid-19 virus at bay and enabled the fans to savour more or less a full season of biathlon, even without any fans in the stands. 

One of the takeaways from last season, for me personally, is that I stumbled across a great biathlon blog, called biathlonanalytics. It provides top-notch opinions about the sport as well as some infographics which in my opinion is an awesome way to communicate information. 

Looking forward to the 2021-22 season there is a lot of good stuff on the horizon. With vaccine deliveries slowly but surely picking up speed worldwide, even if the delivery seems very unevenly distributed with the richer countries grabbing by far the greatest part of what is on offer and making most other countries wait, the 2022 Beijing Olympics seems very likely to go ahead. 

As in any season where the Olympics is on, it will be the natural highlight of the biathlon season. The test competitions which were scheduled as part of the 2020-21 World Cup season had to be called off and there have been no major test competitions held at the venue which will host the Biathlon races of the 24th Winter Olympiad. Because of this biathlon fans have far less information about the tracks than we usually would have had. However, the competitions will be held at a high altitude, around 1700 meters, and the likelihood of windy conditions is high. 

If Tiril Eckhoff will be able to keep shooting as well as she did last season, she is the natural front runner and will have a great chance of defending her victory in the overall. 

No matter how close the race was on the men’s side last year, Johannes Thingnes Boe is the natural favourite. He has shown throughout many years that this is his natural performance level, while Sturla Holm Laegreid has only performed at this level for one single year. The French team also have several candidates for the overall in Quentin Fillon Maillet and Emilien Jacquelin. 

Sportindepth has made some brilliant season simulations of the IBU Biathlon World Cup, we think this is the most informed guesswork available regarding which athletes are likely to be competitive next season.

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