Hanna Oeberg turned 25 about a month ago. She has long been one of the most promising biathletes of her generation. As an Olympic Champion, World Champion and winner of a small world cup globe, as well as several world cup races, she has already been firmly established in the elite ranks for years.
However, coming into this season she had never won a sprint at the top level and in an interview conducted by a reporter from the Finnish broadcaster YLE in the Swedish language for SVT, Oeberg made clear that a priority for this season had been to ski fast enough to be in a position to win sprints as well.
It must have felt good for her to accomplish a season objective at the very first possibility.
The interview was conducted after she had finished, but while the race was still ongoing. Part of it can be found below:
Hanna Oeberg was our biathlon model’s fifth likeliest winner with about an eight percent chance of winning and a 22 percent chance of making the podium.
Not only did Hanna win, she won with the fastest skiing time, a few tenths faster than her little sister Elvira.
In the video above it is visible that Elvira is still on the penalty loop while Hanna leaves the range for the second time. Elvira is some four to five second behind her big sister on the tracks, but catches up and pulls Hanna across the finish line. This was a most impressive skiing performance by Elvira. To get the second best skiing time at the age of 21, bodes well for her future in the sport.
The race highlights from the IBU are underneath:
Marthe Olsbu Roeiseland who had a superb World Championships in Antholz last winter, has indicated that she might focus more on the world cup this year. After a bad start in the ladies 15km, she hit back with a second place finish in this sprint. Olsbu Roeiseland was the model’s main favourite for this race and it gave her about a 31 percent chance of making a top three finish.
In our season simulation she is the second favourite to win the large globe, with Hanna Oeberg in third place. Dorothea Wierer remains the favourite even if she only finished this sprint in 22nd place.
In the broadcast it was possible to follow Olsbu Roeiseland’s prone shooting, while watching her targets. It is visible that she hit the edge of the target with her third shot. Below is a slow-motion video of her shooting.
Karoline Offigstad Knotten took third place. This was rather surprising, but our model actually gave her almost a five percent chance of finishing on the podium.
Like all the top four ladies, Knotten hit all her targets and finished 7.1 seconds ahead of Johanna Skottheim in fourth.
Skottheim has had a very good start to her season and currently sits in second place in the overall world cup, just five point behind the leader Hanna Oeberg. The winner of the last two editions Dorothea Wierer is in third. Belarus’s Dzinara Alimbekava is a surprise in fourth in the overall. She will be wearing the blue jersey for the best under-25 athlete in the sprint on Thursday.
The Swedish team had another very strong race, just as had been the case in the 15 km the day before. In addition to Hanna Oeberg’s victory and Johanna Skottheim’s fourth place, Mona Brorsson finished fifth, Anna Magnusson 16th, Linn Persson 19th and Elvira Oeberg 24th.
It seems likely that the Swedes have had very good glide under their skis these first few races, as both the men and women have been skiing faster than expected. The next few races should give some answers, as it is entirely plausible that the Swedes have increased their skiing prowess during the season break.
Tuuli Tomingas looked good in the Swedish national opening in Idre some weeks ago. This was a good race by her, hitting all the targets and finishing in seventh place.
At first glance this was another disappointing race by Lisa Vittozzi who only finished in 25th after hitting all her targets. However, the main driver behind her substandard performance was her slow shooting time. She produced the 98th best total shooting time of the day and gave away more than 25 seconds to the winner Hanna Oeberg on the range.
Considering that she was ill with Covid-19 and her poor shooting performance in the 15 km, this race can actually be seen as a small step in the right direction.
Maren Hammerschmidt skied substantially faster than the day before and finished in ninth after flawless shooting. She was less than ten seconds away from a top five finish.
Below is a video of the press conference with the top three ladies.