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    Brutally competitive mixed relay should open the medal shower


    Biathlon World Cup starts without Doll
    Brutally competitive mixed relay should open the medal shower

    In Nove Mesto the German biathletes are aiming for some World Cup medals. Eleven years ago there was almost nothing to get there. But the course of the season gives hope. The weather could become a problem. Veteran Benedikt Doll won't be there at the start, but he has a big dream.

    In his dream, things were going promising for Benedikt Doll in the sprint race at the upcoming Biathlon World Championships. “I was extremely motivated and it was a good competition,” said the 2017 world champion. His nightly dream didn't make it to the award ceremony, but in the best case scenario, the 33-year-old veteran will fulfill his wish of his second at what is probably his last World Championship Individual medal – maybe even gold again.

    But he won't be there at the start of the World Cup because he had a slight cold shortly before preparation. Instead, today (5.20 p.m./ARD and Eurosport) Justus Strelow, Philipp Nawrath, Vanessa Voigt and Franziska Preuß won the hoped-for first medal in the mixed relay. “If you win a medal in the mixed relay, which is brutally competitive, that would be an ideal start. If not, then it can still be a successful World Cup,” said sports director Felix Bitterling on Tuesday in the Vysocina Arena.

    The weather and especially the wind could become problematic, but there is no threat of cancellation. “Nothing is in danger at the moment. The snow depot is full,” said Daniel Böhm, sports director of the IBU world association. Communications director Christian Winkler added: “It's certainly not easy. But the organizers are doing an excellent job. However, it is important for everyone involved to be flexible in their processes, as is common practice in an outdoor sport.”

    “We want to win medals”

    “I really want to experience that again. To be at an award ceremony again and maybe the German anthem will be playing. I'm keen to give everything in the races to fight for that,” said Doll. If he overcomes his shooting problems in recent races, something could be possible for the two-time season winner.

    Based on the season so far, the Germans are among the medal candidates. A total of four victories and nine further podium places in the individual races, plus six podiums in the relays and the first German World Cup success in the single mixed by Voigt and Strelow give justified hope.

    According to Bitterling, there is no specific medal goal. “Of course we want to win medals, anything else would be strange if you look at the season so far. We'll take everyone who comes with us. If we get off to a good start, the podiums will come,” said Bitterling.

    Experts also count on the DSV team

    “It is possible for the German team to win a medal in every race,” said two-time Olympic champion Laura Dahlmeier. Although everything has to be right at the crucial moment, a plus is that the Germans don't have to rely on other people's weaknesses, as they often did in the past. “They have shown that they can do it on their own.”

    Preuß is definitely one of the medal contenders. “Getting an individual medal is my motivation,” said the 29-year-old, who had narrowly missed a win in her three previous podium finishes. Voigt also has a chance of winning an individual medal.

    And Nawrath and Johannes Kühn could ideally also get involved. “I feel like I’m in great shape,” said Nawrath. In the relay, the men were on the podium in all World Cup races, a medal is just as possible as for the women. You have already been on the relay podium in third place twice this season. Things haven't gone well in the mixed relay so far.

    The world of biathlon is looking to Norway

    The men have to beat the Norwegians. The team led by five-time Oberhof world champion Johannes Thingnes Bø has achieved six triple successes and many more podiums so far this winter. “But it's not like the last few years, where they were able to make a few more mistakes. They have to shoot just as well to be ahead,” said Doll.

    The DSV ski hunters don't have the best memories of the World Cup location Nove Mesto. At the 2013 World Cup there was no gold medal for the first time since 1986. Only Andrea Henkel, then 35, won silver in the individual, while the men's relay team won bronze.

    However, in March 2021, the men celebrated their last World Cup relay victory there to date. “It was a sensational success and a brilliant experience,” said Nawrath, who would love to experience this feeling again with his teammates.

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