Updated February 22, 2021 at 2:11 p.m.
- Germany is doing historically poorly at the Biathlon World Cup in 2021.
- The team is hostile to some fans on social media.
- A new era has begun for the German biathlon.
After 14 days, there were just two silver medals to book, originally those responsible had given out four or five medals as a target for the German ski hunters. Instead, there was the worst yield since the 2013 World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, when silver and bronze were the overall yield of the world title bouts.
The women even remained without an individual medal for the first time since the 1997 World Cup.
Erik Lesser in particular experienced a world championship to forget. At the beginning of the World Cup, in the mixed relay, the 32-year-old declared that he had “ruined the day for the other three”. In the world championship sprint it was only enough to rank 66 for the former world pursuit champion. After that he asked himself “why I’m part of the World Cup team,” said Lesser. His conclusion on the single mixed season with Franziska Preuss was hardly less clear: he had “made the pile in the toilet and Franzi then flushed it down”.
Erik Lesser experiences World Cup to forget
The runner-up world title of Arnd Peiffer in the individual competition remained the only medal for the biathlon men.
The silver medal in the relay could only be won thanks to an energy contribution from Preuss.
The successes of past years seem to be a long way off, and the former charisma of biathlon sport in Germany as a figurehead in winter sports is threatening to fade. While the German alpine team is being celebrated for four medals at the World Championships in Cortina d ‘Ampezzo, the German biathletes are receiving some fierce hostility online from some “fans” who have been spoiled for success in recent years. But where does this break-in come from?
Germany lacks exceptional athletes
Names like Magdalena Neuner, Laura Dahlmeier, Simon Schempp and Michael Greis have stood for medals at the respective season highlights in recent years.
The current exceptional athletes are missing from the German team at the moment, but the world leaders in both women and men have become wider and wider over the past few years. For men, at least 20 athletes have the potential for a victory, and for women, at least 15 athletes are among the contenders for victory. This also makes it difficult for the sport’s superstars – such as Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe currently – to win in every race.
Biathlon national trainer Mark Kirchner said on Sunday: “In every race, something didn’t go 100 percent for us, but everything has to work for a podium.” In addition, they achieved three podium places for men this season before the World Cup, so expectations shouldn’t be raised too high.
Kirchner also emphasized: “We are certainly not 100 percent satisfied.” Ex-biathlete Sven Fischer said on “ZDF” that not everything had worked out well in preparation for the World Cup, so that these disappointing results were achieved.
Is there a threat of something similar at the Olympics in 2022?
But the German biathlon team also fell victim to some of its past successes at the 2021 World Cup. Those successes let the expectations of the fans and possibly also one or the other athlete grow into the almost immeasurable.
The poor performance is therefore all the more difficult to digest.
The Norwegians (14 medals), the French (seven medals) and Swedes (six medals) seem far away.
The veterans Lesser and Peiffer also warned in their podcast “Biathlon double room” that the gap to the nations mentioned should not grow any further.
One solution to stop the downward trend could be a breath of fresh air through young talent, since the established German athletes hardly have to fear for their place in the World Cup team. But neither men nor women seem to have top-class young talents in sight who, like Neuner or Dahlmeier, could spark a real hype.
New era in German biathlon
Instead, it is important for the experienced German team to make the most of their opportunities with a view to the Olympics in 2022. But this also means that in the future results like in Pokljuka could become the “new reality” for the German biathlon. Athletes, managers and fans still have to learn to deal with it better.
Or as Kirchner put it with regard to a World Cup conclusion: “It certainly didn’t all work out, but you can’t speak of disappointment.”
A new era has dawned for the German biathlon, as the 2021 World Cup at the latest has shown.
- Biathlon World Cup broadcasts ARD and ZDF
- Dpa message: Only two medals: biathletes with disappointing World Cup results
- SID message: Lesser disappears without a word