There will be no normal World Cup winter for biathletes in the ongoing corona pandemic. But the Germans around Denise Herrmann and Erik Lesser have got used to it and are hoping for a smooth season.
Johannes Thingnes Bö & Co. start the season in Östersund.
imago images / Bildbyran
Corona and no end. There are still strict hygiene rules, and biathlon fans will not be there again as hoped. Then there will be the Olympics in Beijing in February 2022, where the Germans do not know the routes at all. Nevertheless, the ski hunters are looking forward to the start of the season on Saturday in Östersund, Sweden.
What does the biathlete World Cup winter look like?
After corona-related stations in Sweden, France and Ruhpolding were canceled as well as the Olympic test in Beijing in the previous year due to reduced travel, this season is back to normal with nine World Cup stations, traditionally including Oberhof and Ruhpolding at the beginning of January. The Estonian Otepää is new. The highlight will be the Olympic races in China from February 5th to 19th.
What’s sporty in it for the German athletes?
After the resignation of Olympic champion Arnd Peiffer, it will be difficult for men in particular with podium places or victories. “We have to bake smaller rolls,” said former world champion Erik Lesser. Ex-world champions Denise Herrmann and Franziska Preuß have the best chances of top results in women and travel to Beijing as hopeful women. The days of massive victories are long gone – and will probably not come back anytime soon.
Who are the favorites?
The favorites are again Tiril Eckhoff, the overall World Cup winner of the previous season, and Marte Olsbu Röiseland from Norway. For men, your compatriot Johannes Thingnes Bö goes on the hunt for his fourth large crystal ball in a row. Let’s see if his team-mate Sturla Holm Laegreid will give him another big fight like last time. The French should also be among the frontrunners again. The top will be very close together again this winter.
Are there fans again after the ghost races of the preseason?
At the start of the season on Saturday in Östersund, Sweden, 3,000 spectators per day are expected, and up to 5,000 on the weekend. There are no restrictions for fans such as 2G or 3G in Sweden for outdoor events, nor are there any spectator limits; the arena there holds about 10,000 people. But the second World Cup in Hochfilzen has to take place again without fans because of the lockdown in Austria. In France at the last races of this year, 3G will apply – which in the country also includes the acceptance of antigen tests for spectators. In January at the World Cups in Oberhof and Ruhpolding, 2G applies to fans, and the tickets have to be personalized, which also applies to the 3G regulations currently in force in Antholz, Italy. However, everything can change depending on the development of the pandemic.
What are the rules for biathletes?
The normal hygiene rules such as keeping your distance, washing your hands, etc. continue to apply. As in the previous year, shaking hands is not allowed at the awards ceremony, and press conferences will again only take place separately from the journalists. Masks no longer have to be worn outside, they are mandatory inside. In the case of the deletion results, it goes back to normal mode to two, instead of four as in the first Corona season. “One thing is very clear: The behavior of the teams and athletes is responsible for how well or poorly they get through the season,” said IBU Sports Director Felix Bitterling.
How does the world association proceed in the second Corona winter?
The IBU assumes a vaccination rate of 80 percent, possibly even more. Those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered have a little more freedom than those who have not been vaccinated. The IBU has an online registration platform on which every association must enter information as to whether the athlete is vaccinated or unvaccinated and with which vaccine. The associated documents must be uploaded. If this is not the case, the person at the venue will not come to the stadium. There is also an IBU scanning app for the World Cups, where the respective status is more or less scanned every day. This primarily affects those who need to be tested. If there is no up-to-date PCR test, the person concerned cannot come in. The IBU no longer has its own test laboratory due to the vaccinations that are now possible, but provides PCR test options for the participants in cooperation with the organizers.
Are there any additional expenses for the IBU?
After the ghost races in the previous season, the additional expenses such as compensation payments to the IBU event organizers and for the mobile IBU PCR test laboratory amounted to almost five million euros. In principle, the world association has set its support planning for the organizers until 2026. Due to the improved marketing and television contracts from 2022, the current plan provides for a “decent increase in support payments”. If ghost races threaten again, a subsequent subsidy for the organizers concerned will be decided after the season, said IBU sports director Felix Bitterling.
Where is biathlon running on TV?
The broadcasts can be seen by fans in the main programs of ARD and ZDF. There are also broadcasts as a live stream on the Internet at “sportstudio.de” and “sportschau.de”. Eurosport also uses traditional television and its digital platforms. The resigned Olympic champion Arnd Peiffer is new as an expert at ARD; he represents record world champion Magdalena Neuner and alternates with Kati Wilhelm. Sven Fischer and Laura Dahlmeier work for ZDF.