Biathlon hits the mark
Norway men and women dominate world championships
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
The Norwegian biathletes have been dominant in this season’s World Cup. The Norwegian men’s team has the top three and four of the top five athletes in the overall Cup standings (Johannes Thingnes Bø, Sturla Holm Lægreid, Johannes Dale, Tarjei Bø), while in the women’s overall table, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu Røiseland are placed first and third, respectively. Norway was predicted to continue their dominance in the 2021 at the World Championship in Pokljuka, Slovenia, Feb. 10–21. Two athletes made that prediction come true.
Johannes Thingnes Bø is usually the favorite to win every time he participates in a race, but this year another Norwegian stole the show. Lægreid, in his first ever championship, won both the men’s 20-km individual start (49:27.6, 0 misses) and the 15-km mass start (36:27.2, 1 miss), in addition to gold medals in the men’s 4×7.5-km relay (with Tarjei and Johannes Thingnes Bø, Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen, total 1:12:27.4, 8 misses) and the 4×7.5-km mixed relay (Lægreid, Johannes Thingnes Bø, Eckhoff, Røiseland, combined 1:20.19.3, 11 misses). Lægreid from Bærum, Akershus, has made his international breakthrough this season.
Dale won a silver medal in the 15-km mass start (+10.2, 2 misses) and a bronze medal in the 20-km individual start (+40.9, 1 miss), while Johannes Thingnes Bø won the bronze medal in the 12.5-km pursuit (31:30.2, +8.1, 2 misses).
The Norwegian biathlon women had a near perfect championship in Slovenia. Eckhoff increased her World Championship gold medal tally to 10 after winning the gold medal in the 7.5-km sprint (21:18.7, 0 misses) and the following 10-km pursuit (30:38.1, 2 misses). She also won the bronze medal in the 12.5-km mass start (36:28.7, 3 misses, +23.0 behind Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser 0 misses). Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold was second, (+21.7, 1 miss, 1.3 over Eckhoff), Røiseland fourth (+23.6, 1 miss, 0.6 behind Eckhoff). The team followed up with a gold in the women’s 4×6.5-km relay (Tandrevold, Eckhoff, Ida Lien, Røiseland, combined 1:10:39.0, 11 misses), Eckhoff brought home six medals, more than any other athlete in the championship, male or female, and more than two countries combined.
Tandrevold won the bronze medal in the 15-km individual start (+1:04.0, 1 miss).
The Norwegian team won seven gold medals, three silver medals and four bronze medals in total, more than any other country—by a big margin.
Despite that haul, some might argue that certain athletes did not quite live up to what was expected of them. Johannes Thingnes Bø and Røiseland have been the best Norwegian biathletes in the last couple of years, but they both failed to win an individual gold medal.
This article originally appeared in the March 12, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.