The Championships start off with the mixed relay where each man races 7.5km and each woman races for 6km with each biathlete shooting 10 targets and this is a good opportunity to measure the form of the big names before the individual events get going and checking it out has to be advised. Each athlete gets 3 spare rounds each shoot if they miss targets, if they’ve still missed after those rounds they have to do a penalty loop.
For the relay itself there should be 4 main protagonists: Norway, France, Italy and Germany. Norway will go in as the rightful favourites with Johannes Boe, Eckhoff, Roeiseland and either Tarjei Boe or Christiansen. This will be the fastest skiing team and as long as one of them doesn’t blow up on the range they will be very hard to beat.
France will be the most likely team to benefit from any mistakes from Norway though, they will have Fourcade, Fillon Maillet, Braisaz and Simon or Bescond out and this team should shoot very well though will probably need to hit 2 or 3 targets more than Norway to cover for slower ski speed in order to win.
I like Italy to win the bronze here, they should be very strong on the women’s side with Wierer and Vitozzi and I will be very interested to see if Wierer has her shooting form back at her home range and with a good round here, I’d be confident in her winning medals later on in the Championships. The mens side though is a little weaker though Hofer is finding form again just in time for a home championships, Windisch though will lose time to the 2 big teams at the top and that may stop them from winning gold.
France at 3/1 may be the value betting wise but there are probably better opportunities later in the week for betting.
Women’s 7.5km Sprint:
This is the first individual event of the Championships, it’s also one of the more unpredictable events as you can’t afford to miss any of the 10 targets if you want a chance to win, each skier will ski 3 2.5km loops, shooting at the end of the first 2 loops before the sprint home. A missed shot is a penalty loop of 150m and approximately 25 seconds lost to your rivals, also the biathletes start at 30 second intervals.
I think there are 7 potential winners: Eckhoff, Wierer, Oberg, Makarainen, Herrmann, Roeiseland and Braisaz.
I think Roeiseland might be the winner here. She was skiing back into form at Pokljuka and didn’t exactly empty the tank yesterday while looking the most solid at the range of all of the big names minus Oberg. She’s got the ski speed to win and if shooting 10/10 she’ll be a big danger to all.
I have Herrmann down as my runner up. She’s currently the fastest skier on tour so if she shoots 10, the only other person who’d have a chance is Eckhoff. I’m just not fully confident in her shooting as she shot pretty poorly yesterday and if she misses 2 then she probably will just miss out.
I think Vitozzi at a bigger price might sneak into the medals here, I can’t trust the shooting of most of the bigger names at the moment and she is starting to show signs of a return to form. Eckhoff looks a bit out of form to me since her illness, Oberg looked a bit slow ski wise on the last 2km of her relay leg and Weirer also still looks out of touch right now.
Men’s 10km Sprint:
This is the first men’s individual event of the championships, each skier will take 3 laps of the track with 2 shoots involved. As with the women’s, there will be 30 second staggered starts for the athletes and each missed shot incurs a 150m penalty loop.
I think there are 3 obvious winners: Johannes Boe, Fourcade and Fillon Maillet. Other people that could pick up the pieces if they all miss shots are Doll, Christiansen, Peiffer, Eberhard and Desthieux.
Johannes Boe has to be favourite to pick up gold here, these sprints emphasise fast skiing so much and he is the faster skier and is probably the only person who could miss a shot and still win. He’s also just back from a break so should be fresh here and ready to get off to a big start. If he shoots 10/10 here, then he wins and there’s nothing others can do about it.
But Boe does have potential to have bad days shooting and I think Fillon Maillet could run him close if he shoots perfect which isn’t always a guarantee. But Fillon Maillet was the fastest skier at the last event in Pokljuka so with a 10/10 round, he’s very much in with a shout of winning this and 8/1 is a good price for anyone betting on it.
Fourcade is the third person I expect to go close here, he’s another I’ll be very interested in watching at the mixed relay. In Pokljuka he looked tired in the mass start and this break has come at a perfect time for him, if he bounces back to top form then he will have a big chance here though may lack the ski speed of Boe over this distance and though is the most likely of all the athletes to shoot the perfect 10, he does take a little longer at the range than the other big names.
Having seen the relay, I’m going to bet Fillon Maillet at 7/1, he shot perfect and took 22 seconds out of Boe who was definitely skiing fast. If he shoots 9/10 and Boe doesn’t go perfect then he has every chance I feel. Fourcade looks a bit off sync right now and may be a better bet for the longer distance races. I can see Hofer skiing a good race as well and being in with a shout for the podium.
1. Fillon Maillet
Women’s 10km Pursuit:
The first event of the day is the women’s pursuit. The unique aspect of this event is that the time gaps in the sprint are used to determine when people start the event, so if the sprint winner beat the second placed athlete by 10 seconds, they get a 10 second head start over that athlete in this event. Each athlete shoots 4 times here with each miss leading to a penalty loop, so just because an athlete gets a head start, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll win.
Roeiseland won the sprint and has 30 seconds over the main person she would be worried about in Herrmann. She’s been very sensible and composed in both of her races so far and I think she has enough of a gap here to win this fairly cosily.
I could see Vittozzi getting silver here, I can just see her running her own race instead of frantically chasing down Roeiseland and she’s in good shooting form so she is likely to make time on other athletes while they’re on penalty loops. She starts 6th at 35 seconds back so she’s no forlorn hope.
I think Herrmann should medal here if she cleans up her shooting enough and maybe the longer format will help her ski a bit less frantically than she has done in her other 2 races. But if she does go too hard and make mistakes on the range, I could see Hanna Oberg sneaking a medal, she’s the most likely of the bigger names to go 20/20 and that will be enough to make her competitive here without quite catching Roeiseland.
Other names that can go well are Wierer, both Fialkovas, Bescond and Preuss.
Men’s 12.5km Pursuit:
This has the exact same format explained above in the women’s pursuit. Shooting and endurance are key in this event.
It looks like people are finally starting to realise that Fillon Maillet has the best skiing form right now, but Loginov bounced back into form quite dramatically to steal the gold away, I feel he got the better track conditions on the day and he won’t have that advantage now so he has to shoot 20 to win.
I think Johannes Boe has a big chance here, I feel he pushed too hard yesterday and was punished for that, but here he can sit in with his brother to make up the time to Fourcade and Fillon Maillet and I feel Fillon Maillet does have a careless miss in him which may turn the tables in his favour.
Fillon Maillet is the other favourite to win this, he is the fastest skier out there right now and has shot pretty well so far, if he goes 19/20 today then he will be extremely hard to beat.
The bronze will most likely go to Loginov or Fourcade since I can see one of them going 20/20. Fourcade has to make sure he doesn’t over race this. If he goes like he did in the sprint yesterday he’d have a big chance here and maybe a calmer first lap would help as well. Tarjei Boe would probably medal if he shot 20 but I’m not sure he’ll do that based on form this season.
1: J Boe
2: Fillon Maillet
Women’s Individual 15km
This is the main endurance event the women will face in these championships, each athlete shoots 20 targets and the twist here is that each missed target is a penalty minute added onto the finish time of the athlete instead of a 25 second loop.
This one could be really exciting, there’s no real standout here over this distance with only Wierer and Oberg of the bigger names in good shooting form.
I think Wierer is favourite to win gold here, she will be high on confidence having won the pursuit and skied really solidly on that day, she’s also decided to go later which could be tactically smart as later starters in recent events have had better track conditions to work with.
I feel with the whole German team building in confidence though that Herrmann might go very close here despite the occasional shooting mishap this week so far, she’s comfortably the fastest skier so hopefully she can race more cleverly today and make sure she keeps plenty in the tank to shoot well. Going 10/10 on the first 2 shoots though is a must here but I’ll make her my second most likely winner. Also she won the last individual event which boosts confidence.
Oberg would be my 3rd most likely winner, this is the sort of event that is made for her and her very strong shooting. She’s only had 1 real shooting mishap these championships and crowd nosie was a big factor in that one and with her starting 3, she should get a calmer run at things.
Other names worth a mention are Davidova, Preuss, Eckhoff and Makkareinen
Men’s individual 20km
This is the same format as the women’s event, shooting 20/20 is basically a must to win here.
Likely protagonists here are Fourcade, Boe, Doll, Fillon Maillet, Eberhard, Christiansen, Peiffer and Tarjei Boe.
Yesterday was a tough day for shooting so I’m just going to pick the most reliable shooter in the field here in Fourcade. Another thing is the draw has been kind to him, if he runs his own patient race and focuses on getting 20 then he may do enough here. Fillon-Maillet and Boe may race each other too hard and be punished at the range for it.
I’m still going to pick Boe as my runner up, his ski speed edge is really amplified here and if he shoots 18 then he can get a medal.
Usually a surprise name pops up in these races so I’m going to pick Simon Eder for 3rd, he shot 20 in the pursuit and if his shooting form is back then he can make his presence felt here.
Single Mixed Relay
This event consists of 1 male and female athlete from each country. Each athlete shoots 20 targets each, the women ski 3km, then handover to the men who ski 3km, the women ski their next 3km then the final handover is to the men who ski 4.5km with an extra 1.5km after shoot 8 to the line. Each athlete gets 3 spare rounds each shoot if they miss targets, if they’ve still missed after those rounds they have to do a penalty loop.
Norway are the obvious favourites here with the team of Johannes Boe and Roeiseland and they will be extremely tough to beat since their combined ski speed is so strong, misses are less costly here as well which also plays into their hands but they still can’t afford to miss too many.
Outside of Norway there are quite a few teams that will be fancying a medal here, Italy, France, Sweden and Austria have put out strong lineups and the Czech Republic, Estonia and Russia look like dark horses worth keeping an eye on for sneaking a medal.
I think Italy have the best chance of silver, Hofer was very strong in the relay at the start of the week and I expect him to bounce back to that sort of form again after a couple of disappointing individual performances. Wierer has the best form of all of the women right now so she should be very strong here and they will give Norway plenty to think about.
For the bronze I’m between the French and the Czech Republic. Jacquelin is in great form right now but Bescond has looked a little off colour in these championships which may hurt them in the hunt for gold, but I think if Bescond shoots well today then they will definitely be in the mix so I’m going to go for the French. The Czechs deserve a strong mention though to further boost a strong games and if Davidova shoots perfect today, they could be right up there.
Women’s 4x6km relay
This event consists of 4 athletes from each country skiing 6km legs, they’ll each have 2 rounds of shooting with 3 spare rounds at each shoot if they miss any shots. If they miss all of the spare rounds, then it will be a penalty loop for each missed target.
The protagonists will most likely be Norway, France, Sweden, Italy, Germany and maybe Switzerland.
I have this down as between Norway, Germany and Sweden. I don’t trust the French to shoot consistently and the other teams don’t have enough strength in depth to compete with the superior ski speed of the bigger names.
I’m going to pick Germany for gold here, their women’s team is starting to show some very strong form with Herrmann being competitive in all of her races and Hinz pulling off a surprise silver medal, Preuss was solid as well in the single mixed relay on Thursday and they just seem the most consistent country right now.
Norway are my pick for silver, I have some concerns about their shooting with Eckhoff and Tandrevold both having patchy shooting form over these championships and that may just cost them the gold medal. Their ski speed though on the last 3 legs will be a huge asset and they are the fastest skiing team so if their shooting were to improve they’d most likely win.
Sweden are my pick for bronze, they may just lack the speed of the 2 bigger nations but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were in the firing line going into the final leg. Shooting is absolutely vital for this team as they lack the track speed of the Germans and Norwegians. If they were to miss less than 5 shots though they’d be right in it.
Switzerland look the most likely of the outsiders to spring an upset and get a medal.
Men’s 4×7.5km relay
This follows the same format as the women’s relay.
The main protagonists will be Norway and France, with Germany the only other team that would obviously threaten.
This looks a straight shootout between Norway and France for the gold.
I’m going to go with France for the gold, the way this relay is set up really favours them as Jacquelin and Christiansen will be fairly level after the first leg which means Fourcade gets it against Dale on leg 2 in a situation where he can control things from the front and build a lead. If they get 30 seconds here then Norway will have a very tough time pulling it back since Desthieux and Fillon Maillet should be able to not lose too much track time to the Boe brothers.
Norway are my prediction for silver, they should comfortably beat the other teams but may find the French too good. The thing they’ll be holding on to is that the French have really struggled in the first leg of relays lately and have blown their chance a few times after leg one.
Germany currently look booked in for 3rd, the shooting on the men’s team has been a bit off this week with Doll and Peiffer struggling to get into a good rhythm. In a race where they probably need to shoot 4 or 5 more targets than the 2 top teams this isn’t a great sign for their chances of winning, but they should still be able to beat the other nations even with a few missed targets.
Austria and Ukraine may be outside podium chances if things fall right for them.
Women’s 12.5km Mass start
The top 30 in the World Cup standings will all start together here in a 12.5km endurance race. They will shoot 4 times and each missed shot leads to a 150m penalty loop.
The likely favourites will be Oberg, Wierer, Eckhoff, Roieseland, Makarainen and Vitozzi.
Based on the events of the week Wierer and Roieseland look the 2 most likely winners here, they were very strong in the relay yesterday and shot well which boosts confidence.
I’m going with Wierer for gold, she’s been utterly dominant in these championships and if she has the lead after 2 shoots, she can just control the race and go on to win comfortably as I don’t believe her shooting will let her down.
Roeiseland is the main threat to Wierer here, she’s taken the approach in the range of ensuring the targets go down and using her top 5 ski speed to her advantage outside of the range, she’ll need to shoot at least 18 again here but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her do that and have a big chance of taking another win.
I’d say my choice for the bronze is between Eckhoff and Herrmann. I’m going to go Eckhoff as even though her shooting was awful yesterday, the race situation she was given meant she had to completely gamble and go all out with her skiing to catch over a minute on the leaders, this race should see her set a much less frantic pace and give her a chance to shoot better. I did like her ski times, she was back to near enough her best and I think people are underestimating her chances here. Herrmann has to get a mention due to being the fastest skier but hasn’t fully put it together at the range all championships.
Men’s 15km Mass Start
This follows the same format as the women’s race with the top 30 in the World Cup standings lining up in this event.
The likely favourites will be Boe, Fourcade and Fillon Maillet.
There were a lot of tired athletes in the relay yesterday so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some shock results here.
Someone who did somehow still look in very good shape was Johannes Boe, he looks the best chance to win here having seen some of the French not ski up to top form yesterday and even if he misses 1 or 2 he still has every chance of winning here as I can see there being some mistakes on the range by a lot of people today.
I think Loginov would be my number 2 pick, he shot very well yesterday and skied a solid anchor leg, also since Russia were basically out of the race when it got round to him he won’t have had to go all out unlike other big names so may be a bit fresher than some for today. Another good shooting day and it’s hard to see him not getting a medal.
Fillon Maillet is my third choice, I have some concerns over his standing shoot which has let him down lately but his ski speed was fairly strong yesterday and he looked less tired than others did during his leg.
3: Fillon Maillet