Favorites Remain the Same in 20K
All of the big names are back, fit and ready to battle for the podium in the Men’s 20K Individual on Thursday evening here in Östersund, Sweden
As in the Women’s 15K, it is hard to discount the proven winners. Going back to last season, Michael Greis of Germany won the 20K here and went on to win the overall season title in that discipline. Right behind him in this opening competition were two Norwegians, Alexander Os, and Emil Hegle Svendsen.
At the World Championships, Ole Einar Bjørndalen took the title with Germany’s Christoph Stephan in second and the unknown Jakov Fak of Croatia in the Bronze medal spot.
Norwegian Men Formidable
The Norwegian Squad looks as formidable as ever with these three men plus Lars Berger, Frode Andresen, and the 1998 Olympic 20K Champion Halvard Hanevold. Berger continues to be a blazing fast skier, while Andresen is fit and in form after winning in Idre last weekend. Hanevold can never be counted out, especially in a competition when shooting is so critical. According to Norwegian Coach Mikael Lofgren, “It is going to be fun.”
Like the strong Norwegians, Greis remains the leader of the young German squad. As the defending Olympic 20K Champion, he surely wants a fast start here. According to Coach Frank Ullrich, Greis “is fit.” Stephan could be in the mix also.
Of this top group, there is also the upstart from last season, Jakov Fak from Croatia. Fak is a talented shooter, who is stronger on the tracks than last season. Fak trains with the Slovenian Team and Coach Uros Velepec commented, “Jakov realizes now that he can be quite good. However, we are trying to hold him back a little bit, and be a little calmer on the shooting range. He still is not quite fast enough to compete at the top in the Sprint, but with his shooting skill, the 20K might be his best chance right now.”
Source: Biathalon World