After having made substantial improvements to our model the last few months we have finally launched our first version of 2021-22 World Cup season.
The model had Sturla Holm Lagreid as one of the main challengers for the first men’s race of last season. We were not surprised when he won even as some of the mainstream press wrote about a sensation and called Lagreid a “nobody”.
Another example is the women’s World Championship mass start. Our model saw Lisa Therese Hauser as the main race favourite and she won the race.
Even as we are more than pleased with how our model performed last year, we are confident that the changes we have made will improve the performance a fair bit.
Looking at our first predictions for the upcoming season we are both surprised and unsurprised depending on which event we are looking at. We are not surprised by the predictions for the men’s overall.
Johannes Thingnes Boe is as expected a firm favourite to win the men’s world cup again. If he wins the 2021-22 edition of the biathlon world cup it will be his fourth in a row. Our model gives him about a 54 percent chances.
Sturla Holm Lagreid is the main challenger with some 19-20 percent chance to win the overall. He is followed by the French tandem of Quentin Fillon Maillet and Emilien Jacquelin, who have chances of approximately ten and seven percent.
Tarjei Boe, who won the overall world cup at the end of the 2010-11 season and who has an Olympic gold and several biathlon World Championship gold medals is the fifth favourite ahead of fellow Norwegian, Johannes Dale.
The Swede Sebastian Samulesson is seen as the seventh likeliest winner with slightly more than a one percent chance.
All the other athletes have less than a one percent chance of winning the overall world cup. The list of the ten most likely winners are made up by five Norwegians, three French and two Swedish athletes.
The most likely Russian winner is Alexander Loginov in eleventh. The top German on the men’s side, Bendeikt Doll, sits in twelfth. He is followed by Italy’s Lukas Hofer.
The predictions on the women’s side are more surprising to us. We had expected to see last season’s winner, Tirill Eckhoff predicted to win again, however our model indicates that last year’s runner up, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland is the most likely winner. Furthermore the race on the women’s side is much closer than on the men’s side. The model sees five athletes who all have in excess of a ten percent chance.
Austria’s Lisa Therese Hauser is seen to have a ten-eleven percent chance of winning the overall. Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg also has a ten-eleven percent chance and personally I feel that our model can easily be underestimating her chances.
The best ranked German, Franziska Preuss is the third most likely winner with about a 15 percent chance. Ahead of her our model predicts last year’s winner, Tirill Eckhoff with some 19 percent chance and narrowly ahead of her as the most likely winner is, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland with about a 20 percent change.
Personally I would have Tirill Eckhoff as the favorite she won by a large margin even after a poor start last year. She won 13 world cup race last year and it is hard for me as a biathlon buff to accept that she is not the most likely winner. As this is the case I obviously took a close look underneath the bonnet of the model and identified what seems to be the main reason why the model does not find Eckhoff the most likely winner.
During the 2020-21 season Eckhoff hit some 84-85 percent of her standing targets. This was well in excess of what she had done in the past. Her second best season is the 2019-20 season where she hit some 77-78 percent standing. Her average hit rate for standing shooting throughout her career is around 74 percent. Basically the model believe that Eckhoff will not be able to sustain her accuracy shooting standing during the 2021-22 season.
To me Eckhoff looked like an improved shooter last year and I think it likely that the tutelage of Patrick Oberegger has enabled her to perform this well.
I am surprised by the predictions, but even so I do not want to pick a fight with the model as I saw how well it performed last year.