Weekend Preview; Magdalena Forsberg Video Interview
|08.03.2012, Ruhpolding / IBU Info. Dept. JK|
|Home Stretch in Ruhpolding|
|As these IBU World Championships wind down in step with the final days of Magdalena Neuner’s career, this is the 10th anniversary of the retirement of another famous Magdalena…Forsberg.
Twelve World Championships Medals
Forsberg is a legend in the sport. Counting down the days to Neuner’s exit, it is good time to reflect on Sweden’s Forsberg. She left the sport on her own terms with a sterling record; World Cup Total Score winner five years in a row, 12 World Championships medals, including six Gold, and two Olympic Bronze medals. And by the way, 87 podium appearances, including 42 victories…not bad for a woman who started biathlon at age 27! Since her retirement, Forsberg has become a well-known, extremely charming television presenter and commentator and a mother.
Fittingly, she has a connection to Ruhpolding, other than being here in the Chiemgau Arena this week with the Östersund delegation. Forsberg was coached by none other than Russian Women’s Coach and Ruhpolding native Wolfgang Pichler.
Biathlonworld.com TV caught up with Magdalena Forsberg in Östersund earlier in the season. She reflects on her career in the video below, “Magdalena Forsberg: A Biathlon Legend.”
With seven competitions completed, seven World titles decided and just two relays and two mass starts to go, the 2012 IBU World Championships are in the home stretch.
So far, virtually every competition has provided a surprise or two; think Slovenia’s mixed relay, Bergman’s two medals, Jaroslav Soukop, Olga Vilukhina or France’s continued successes. It has been a roller coaster of emotions for both the fans and athletes. The next two days of relays and mass starts will surely add more memories and surprising moments.
Winners will be hard to pick in the relays, despite Russia and France at the top of the men’s and women’s relay standings at this point. On paper, Russia looks strong, with their mostly young group of Shipulin, Makoveev and Ustyugov. Yet the Russian men only have one medal at this point and generally mixed results. The true strength of this young group will be determined in the relay. The French will surely be chasing Gold, after the performances of the amazing Fourcade brothers, with two Gold and Silver medal between them. Germany is next in the rankings, and could be in the battle with the addition of Michael Greis to the Birnbacher/Peiffer duo. After that, watch for Sweden with Bergman, Ferry and Lindström.
The sharp-shooting French team is in control of the women’s relay competition with three podiums so far this year. The second and fourth places in the 15K illustrate the talent of the two Maries to lead their team. Both Norway and Russia could end up in the top spot. Norway has the speed; Russia the depth and shooting skill. Belarus it there if any of this group fail to perform. No one is assured of a medal in the women’s relay; it will be a battle to the finish.
Master of the Mass Start
As with all of the men’s competitions all season, the mass start on Sunday is a wide open affair. Andi Birnbacher looks like the master of the mass start right now with two wins and a second place. Yet he is vulnerable if the competition comes down to a sprint with the likes of Emil Hegle Svendsen, Martin Fourcade or possibly Jakov Fak. Strategy and almost perfect shooting will make one of the thirty men the 2012 World Champion. This will be too close to call.
Other than yesterday’s individual competition, the two women that stand above the rest all season have been Magdalena Neuner and Darya Domracheva. They are 170 and 128 points ahead of third place Tora Berger in the World Cup Total Score. Both can be an enigma at times on the shooting range, but their talent on the tracks is unmatched. Sunday’s closing competition should be spectacular; Neuner going for a final Gold medal against Domracheva and her “never give up” mentality. Berger now seems to be in form and will be dangerous. The surprise factor could come from Brunet or Helena Ekholm, both of whom seldom miss on the shooting range.
Looking at what is ahead, these Championships will not end with a whimper, but huge unceasing roars of the crowd as the best biathletes fight for season-fulfilling medals. Three more exciting days in the Chiemgau Arena are on the horizon.