IBU season starts in Östersund, Sweden

The 2017/2018 IBU World Cup season opened at the Swedish National Biathlon Arena in Östersund. Challenging tracks, changeable winds and cold conditions set the scene for the first competition. Stamina, skill and fitness would be key to success, and tested after the long summer break.

Long uphills and sweeping turns on the descents typify the Swedish Arena. A flat approach to the shooting range allows the shooters to catch their breath and record good scores, but fatigue can lead to missed shots and penalties on the longer races.

The Relay teams were first to tackle the tracks. The Austrian team claimed the first Gold of the season in the Single Mixed Relay, followed by Germany and Kazakhstan. Norway, Italy and Germany took the honours in the Mixed Relay.

The temperature dropped to minus 11c for the Women’s Individual event. Skardino (BEL), Solemdal (NOR) and Dzhyma (UKR) braved the cold and shot clean in the windless conditions to take their places on the podium.

Johannes Boe from Team Norway hit all 20 targets to win the Men’s Individual event. Maillet and Fourcade from the ELEY sponsored French Team followed with Silver and Bronze, after a tense battle which went down to the final standing series. The medals began a rich vein of French form that would continue throughout the competition.

Germany’s Herrmann completed the 7.5km Women’s Sprint course in under 20 minutes to take Gold and her first ever World Cup victory. An on-form Braisaz finished in second for France and Dzhyma won her second Bronze for Ukraine.

The Men’s Sprint saw one of the closest battles of the meet: both Tarjei Boe and Martin Fourcade missed a shot in the standing and had to complete a penalty loop. Boe began the final 3.3km loop with a seven second lead, which fourcade reduced to less than a second with 400m to go. Boe held him off until the finish and collapsed over the line with just 0.7 seconds between them. Germany’s Lesser followed 3.7 seconds later to secure his Bronze medal.

The Men’s and Women’s Pursuit matches closed out the competition on the final day. Ex-cross country star Hermann added to her Sprint Gold with another flying performance. Braisaz claimed a second Silver for France, and Olsbu from Norway won Bronze.

Martin Fourcade made his third podium of the competition in Men’s Pursuit, this time climbing to the top step. Jakob Fak from Slovenia won Silver using ELEY tenex biathlon, reclaiming his World Championship winning form from 2015, and France’s Maillet rounded out an all-ELEY podium.

The IBU World Cup now travels to Hochfilzen in Austria, launching straight into the Sprints on Friday 8th December. Good luck!