Biathlon – the most fascinating sport at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Biathlon is a fascinating sport that is among the most popular at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The sport consists of the ski discipline cross-country skiing and precision shooting with a rifle. The combination of many different skills of biathletes – endurance, speed, strategy, precision and concentration – includes dramas such as changing leads between athletes and 10-15 biathletes as potential medal winners. Biathlon is on the Olympic program with a total of 11 disciplines: 5 for each gender (sprint, individual, pursuit, mass and relay) and one mix relay with two biathletes of each gender. All disciplines are characterized by the biathletes running several laps over a certain distance – typically between 7.5 and 20 km – and several times along the way the biathletes fire 5 shots at 50 meters, either in a lying or standing position. The diameter of the disc is 45 millimeters for horizontal shots and 115 millimeters for vertical shots.

Norway, France, Russia and Sweden are among the strongest nations

Germany was the most winning nation in biathlon at the 2018 Winter Olympics with a total of 7 medals (3 gold, one silver and 3 bronze medals), but the two world-class athletes – Laura Dahlmeier and Arnd Peiffer – have now suspended their careers, which has minimized Germany’s medal potentials marked. It will instead be Norway or France who win the most medals in biathlon at the upcoming Winter Olympics. But Russia, which has especially good male biathletes, and Sweden, which has especially good female biathletes, can also seriously interfere in the battle for the Olympic medals.

Norway – Marte Olsbu Røiseland as the biggest medal favorite

In recent seasons, Norway has been by far the world’s best nation at the World Championships and World Cups, both for women and men. But this season, world-class athletes such as Tarjei Bø, Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen, Sturla Holm Lægreid and not least Johannes Thingnes Bø, who have won the World Cup the last 3 seasons, have not follow up to the results of recent seasons. Before the 2022 Winter Olympics, it has “only” been 3 Norwegian WC-victories out of 15 possible in the males competions. One of the reasons for the modest number of victories may be a purposeful and strategic training planning with the 2022 Winter Olympics as the season’s highest priority competition. Among the female Norwegian biathletes, 31-year-old Marte Olsbu Røiseland has shown impressive form at the 6 World Cups that have been held so far. Olsbu Røiseland, who comes from Arendal in the southern part of Norway, has in the last three seasons marked herself as one of the world’s best female biathletes, not least at the World Championships 2020, where she became the first biathlete ever to win 7 WC medals – 5 gold and 2 bronze – out of 7 possible. This season, Olsbu Røiseland has won 6 individual WC races and she is the big favorite to win the season’s overall World Cup. I think the sympathetic Norwegian will be one of the most winning athletes at the upcoming Winter Olympics.

France – the legacy of Martin Fourcarde

In recent seasons, it has been very difficult for the French biathletes to lift the legacy of the legend Martin Fourcarde, who won the overall World Cup 7 seasons in a row (2011/2012 – 2017/2018). But this season, France has impressed big at the World Cups, both among the men and the women. In men races, Quentin Fillon Mailet and Emilie Jacquelin in particular have shown good results. And with Simon Desthieux and Fabien Claude as teammates, France is among the favorites in the men’s 4 x 7.5 km relay. Also the French women – especially Julia Simon, Anais Bescond and Anais Chevalier-Bouchet – have achieved surprisingly good results this season. It will be very exciting to follow whether the French biathletes have “peaked their form” too soon and “used all the gunpowder” before the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Russia – in the shadow of the doping scandal in Sochi 

After the doping scandal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, a heavy shadow rests over the Russian biathletes, where both the Russian relay team for women and men were subsequently deprived of their Olympic medals due to doping. Among the doped convicts were i.a. Alexander Loginov, who already as a junior won lots of World Cup medals – using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Loginov was excluded from international competitions for 2 years and in the 2016-2017 season he was again back on the medal podium. The 30-year-old Russian is still a controversial athlete among his competitors from the other nations and several question his sporting metier, which includes i.a. 6 World Championship medals and 6 individual WC victories – most recently a few weeks ago in Oberhof. In addition to Loginov, Russia also has many world-class biathletes: Eduard Latypov, Maxim Tsvetkov, 22-year-old Daniil Serokhostov and 23-year-old Said Karimulla Khalili. A quartet that can seriously challenge Norway and France at the Kuyangshu Biathlon Center, where the men’s relay of 4 x 7.5 km will take place on Tuesday 15 February.

Sweden – Öberg sisters and “Seppe”

Sweden is also a winter sports nation with proud traditions and lots of World Championship and Olympic medals in biathlon. The Swedish biathletes won i.a. two gold and two silver medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Especially the Olympic gold medals for the Swedish men in the relay won one of the Olympics’ biggest surprise – a triumph that has become very difficult to repeat in Beijing, where the biggest medal chances must be awarded to the two sisters: Hanna and Elvira Öberg, who live in Sweden winter sports mecca Östersund. The 26-year-old Hanna Öberg, who won individual Olympic gold in 2018 and to date has won 7 World Cup medals and 7 individual WC victories, has naturally been a role model for her little sister – 22-year-old Elvira – who is already one of the world’s very best biathlete. This season, there have been 3 individual WC victories and a preliminary ranking as No. 2 in the overall World Cup – surpassed only by sovereign Marte Olsbu Røiseland from Norway. In addition to the Öberg sisters, it will also be exciting to follow the 24-year-old Sebastian “Seppe” Samuelsen, who has also achieved good WC results that season. Samuelsen, together with Benedikt Doll from Germany and Anton Smolski from Belarus, are the most obvious to challenge the biathletes from Norway, France, and Russia. Among the women, it will be Dzinara Alimbekava and Hanna Sola from Belarus, Lise Theresa Hauser from Austria, and the Italian veteran Dorothea Wierer, who have the greatest chances against the strong biathletes from Norway, Sweden, and France. Thus, lots of equal and intense competitions are planned when the mix relay is held as the Olympics’ first biathlon discipline on Saturday 5 February 2022 in the mountains outside Beijing.

You can find relevant information about biathlon at the 2022 Winter Olympics on these websites: