BIATHLON Preview: Better weather in Salt Lake City for this week’s World Cup

Norway's Johannes Thingnes Boe

It was so cold last weekend in Canmore (CAN), that the final races of the World Cup program were cancelled. There should be no such problem this week as the IBU World Cup returns to another Olympic Winter Games site at Soldier Hollow, outside of Salt Lake City, Utah (USA).

The site of the 2002 Winter Games, the forecast calls for temps in the 20s and 30s (F), which will be almost summer-like after the Polar Vortex hit the biathletes hard in Canada. The schedule:

14 February: Women’s 7.5 km Sprint
15 February: Men’s 10 km Sprint
16 February: Women’s 10 km Pursuit and Men’s 12.5 km Pursuit
17 February: Single Mixed Relay and Mixed Relay

That will bring the focus back to the seasonal races, with Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe headed for his first seasonal World Cup title:

Men (after 16 of 25 races):
1. 896 Johannes Thinges Boe (NOR) ~ 12 wins in 16 races this season!
2. 596 Alexander Loginov (RUS)
3. 554 Martin Fourcade (FRA)
4. 537 Simon Eder (AUT)
5. 534 Simon Desthieux (FRA)

Boe has been a streak-winner this season. France’s Fourcade won the first race of the year, then Boe won three straight. Fourcade won again, then Boe won three more. Loginov won and Boe run off five straight victories before Quentin Fillon Maillet (FRA) won in Antholz-Anterselva (ITA).

Now Boe has the Short Individual Race win in Canmore; is he set for another streak?

The women’s division is much closer:

Women (after 16 of 25 races):
1. 651 Dorothea Wierer (ITA)
2. 646 Lisa Vittozzi (ITA)
3. 540 Anastasiya Kuzmina (SVK)
4. 537 Marte Olsbu Roiseland (NOR)
5. 526 Paulina Fialkova (SVK)

Vittozzi has been the find of the season. A two-time World Junior Champion in 2014, she moved from 27th to sixth in last season’s World Cup standings and is now challenging teammate Wierer for the seasonal title. She had four individual World Cup medals coming into this season, and has won four in this season alone, including two wins.

The trend toward shorter races with more spectator viewing opportunities has hit biathlon too. Last week’s Short Individual race: 15 km instead of 20 km for men, and 12.5 km for women instead of 15 km. The loops were shorter while the shooting stages were the same. Said Boe, “ “I really liked it; I think it is a better race; more tight and fun to watch for the spectators…I think this is the last year for the 20K.”

Look for results from Solider Hollow here.