The biathlon professor's viewing tips for the Biathlon World Championships |

The biathlon professor's viewing tips for the Biathlon World Championships

Thu 08 Feb 2024 15:59

The Biathlon World Championships 2024 will be held in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, from 7 to 18 February. We asked our biathlon professor Marko Laaksonen about what we as viewers should focus on to guess who will win in the end.

Collage: portrait of a man in the upper left corner of an image of a biathlete lying down to shoot, heat evaporating from his body.
Oskar Brandt during distance competitions in the World Cup at Östersund Ski Stadium. In the upper left corner, Professor Marko Laaksonen. Photo: Per Danielsson and Pelle Fredriksson.

What is decisive in the sprint discipline compared to distance?

"Sprint usually favours strong skiers, but usually there are relatively many who ski 'just as fast', which normally means that both lying and standing shooting must be completed without penalty rounds to win a medal."

"Another characteristic that is crucial is that to some extent shooting should be carried out a little faster than usual, especially while standing up."

"Finally, it is important to be able to perform fast skiing during the last lap to reach top positions. In distance competition, the "penalty" for a barrier is relatively greater than in sprint and thus a good shooter with reasonably good skiing can surprise and take a medal, unless strong skiers succeed in shooting."

What about pursuit and mass start?

"In both the pursuit and mass starts, the total 'run' part is comparatively shorter. That's why the four shooting moments are usually more important than the skiing. In practice, it can be said that those who end up outside the podium have one more penalty round than those who take the medals."

"It's worth noting that in the mass start, the first lap is usually just a transport stage where you can't decide in your favour. On the other hand, round four is interesting to follow. This is where the final selection of the medalists often takes place, usually they have zero bars and fast shooting." 

How important is skiing and technique?

"When it comes to skiing, especially in sprint and distance races, there can be some specific parts of the course where the fastest skiers usually get a head start over the slower ones."

"The strongest skiers are usually faster on the uphills, which is logical, but they can also gain time on the downhills. In one of the studies, we have seen that the greatest relative time gain occurred on a downhill slope after a very tight curve, which also indicates that it is important to manage more difficult parts of the course technically well to maintain the speed for the upcoming downhill."

So which is more important, the skiing or the shooting?

"Regardless, the time margins between the medalists, or between third and fourth place, are usually small and they can depend on the skiing, the shooting speed or the shooting result."

"Even though skiing in today's biathlon is very important, the medals are still decided on the shooting range. Feel free to add up how many bars all the individual medalists have after four competitions (i.e.: sprint, pursuit, distance and mass start) where they shoot a total of 210 shots!"


The page was updated 2/8/2024