Biathlon World Championship Viewer’s Guide: Who, What, When, Where, How and Why to Watch

Clare EganFebruary 7, 2023
Biathletes racing in Oberhof, Germany in January of 2019. (Photo: NordicFocus)

The 2023 BMW IBU Biathlon World Championships kick off on Wednesday, February 8th in Oberhof, Germany. Let’s start with reasons why to watch:

Why Watch?

Watch because it’s free and easy. This winter, all biathlon World Championship, World Cup, Junior World Championship, and even IBU Cup (World Cup feeder circuit) races and are free to stream live with English commentary on Eurovision’s website.

Watch because on the men’s side, Johannes Thignes Boe’s domination so far this winter has sparked talk of “G.O.A.T.” status. That is saying something, given that the 29-year-old Norwegian has “only” three World Cup Overall titles and 66 individual victories to his name. Boe’s compatriot, the original “King of Biathlon” Ole Einar Bjorndalen, won 95 races, and more recently, French star Martin Fourcade won 85 races and seven consecutive Overall titles. But winning 11 out of 14 individual competitions already this season, Boe is catching up at an extraordinary rate. Outpacing his competitors by ridiculous margins and hitting 90% of his targets on average, there’s no doubt Boe will put on a show to remember in Oberhof.

On the women’s side, watch because—in contrast to the Boe Show—we’ve seen eight different winners from five countries so far this season: none yet from Norway. It’s truly anyone’s game. The depth of competition on the women’s side all but guarantees the kind of high-drama shooting and down-to-the-wire finishes that we all love.

Watch to support Nordic skiers getting paid. World Championships have the biggest viewership draw and consequently the biggest prize money purse of the biathlon season, with each event winner taking home 25,000 Euros. The payout reaches all the way down to 30th place, and women and men are paid equally.

Watch because—for the first time since 2020—spectators will be allowed to attend the season’s highlight event. Oberhof’s Thuringen Arena is expected to draw over 160,000 die-hard biathlon fans from one of the sport’s core regions. Watch because if you can’t be there in person, the live stream is next best!

Biathlon World Cup Women’s Pursuit in Oberhof , Germany in January 2021. (Photo: NordicFocus)
How to Watch?

Stream online, free with English commentary, live or replay at:

When to Watch?

February 8-19. See competition schedule below in Eastern Time. Full season schedule and results available at:

What to Watch?

For those new to biathlon, check out any of the relays, the Pursuit, or the Mass Start. Those races are easiest to follow because they are head-to-head.

To see North Americans in the front of the pack, watch the Single-Mixed Relay. One woman and one man each do two short biathlon races, tagging off in between. The Canadian couple of Emma Lunder and Christian Gow have a World Cup best of fourth in the event and Americans Deedra Irwin and Paul Schommer finished sixth just a few weeks ago. No matter how they do, this speed shooting and sprint skiing frenzy is entirely enjoyable to watch.

Watch for those same four athletes in the 15/20km Individual as well. They each have scored at least one top-10 result in biathlon’s longest event format, known for its brutal one-minute time penalty per miss. If any of them can hit 18 targets or more out of 20, expect to see them on the live stream and—if they’re lucky—on the podium.

Emma Lunder and Christian Gow (CAN) at the IBU World Cup Biathlon in Kontiolahti, Finland in December 2022. (Photo: NordicFocus)
Who to Watch?

International Women:

Julia Simon (FRA): currently leads the World Cup Overall and Mass Start standings. Watch for her to blaze through five targets in 19 seconds and then throw down a heroic last lap for a come-from-behind win. Not to be overlooked: her three teammates who have also landed on the podium this winter.

Elvira Oeberg (SWE): Second in the Overall and first in the U25 and Pursuit standings, it’s easy to forget she’s only 23 years old. Like France, Sweden has also put four women on the podium this winter. Watch for those two nations to battle it out in the Women’s Relay.

Lisa Vittozzi (ITA): Following a season in which she inexplicably alternated between hitting all five or missing all five in any given prone stage, Vittozzi is back to her best form on the range and on skis. She currently leads the 15km Individual standings.

Dorothea Wierer (ITA): Quietly ranked fourth in the Overall behind the above three, she took her first win of the season just a few weeks ago and is a perennial favorite at championships.

Denise Herrmann-Wick (GER): Sprint standings leader and Olympic medalist in both biathlon and cross-country skiing, the 34-year-old is currently ranked fifth in the Overall and is Germany’s best chance for an at-home win.

Marte Olsbu Roiselend (NOR): Last year’s World Cup Overall winner returned to competition in January following an autumn illness and went straight into the flower ceremony with a 4th and 5th. She won five Olympic medals in Beijing last winter and seven at World’s in 2020. Bet on her.

Wildcard— Anamarija Lampic (SLO): For cross-country ski fans looking for a dark horse podium contender, the former FIS Sprint Globe winner will make her Biathlon World Championships debut. In her three World Cup outings so far she has placed 5th, 5th and 69th.

Julia Simon (FRA) racing the IBU World Cup Biathlon Relay in Antholz, Italy in January 2023. (Photo: NordicFocus)

North American Women:

Emma Lunder (CAN): Ranked 26th in the Overall standings, Lunder came oh-so-close to landing her first podium when she set new personal bests of 4th and 5th in December. In the two Mass Start races this season she placed 9th and 11th, so let’s hope she can qualify for the premier 30-woman event in Oberhof.

Nadia Moser (CAN): After tragically breaking her leg just before the Olympics last year, Moser fought back and is now having a career-best season, notching three top-30’s including a new personal best of 23rd.

Deedra Irwin (USA): Returning from a breakout season in which she smashed into the top-ten for the first time at the Olympics and qualified for her first Mass start, Irwin may be on track for a similarly well-timed peak. In January her ski times sharpened and she scored her first top-25 of the winter.

Joanne Reid (USA): After finishing 26th in a Sprint in December, Reid struggled with illness in January but don’t count her out. Her top three career results are all from championship events, including 10th and 15th at the 2019 World’s. Chances are good she’ll shine in the women’s and mixed relays.

Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR) racing the IBU World Cup Biathlon Mass Start in Ruhpolding, Germany in January 2023. (Photo: NordicFocus)

International Men:

Team Norway: Five of them (J. Boe, S. Laegreid, V. Christiansen, J. Dale, T. Boe) are ranked in the top eight of the World Cup Overall standings. We’ll see all of them compete in Oberhof thanks to a new rule which extends the normal limit of four athletes per nation to five as long as they are ranked in the top 15. In particular:

Johannes Thignes Boe (NOR): won 11 of 14 individual races this season. Currently leads the Overall standings and all of the event standings. More than once this winter, he has outskied the next-fastest competitor by over forty seconds— in a 10k! Come for the biathlon, stay for the exceptional cross-country skiing.

Sturla Holm Laegreid (NOR): If it weren’t for Boe’s total domination we’d be talking about Laegreid. He’s finished 2nd in the Overall standings for the last two years and has been on the podium in all but three races this season. His worst (!) finish so far this winter is 6th. In contrast to Boe, Laegreid’s superpower is his shooting. The 25-year-old is currently running a 98% hit rate in prone.

Martin Ponsiluoma (SWE): the only non-Norwegian to win a race this winter. In January he was consistently the second-fastest skier behind J. Boe and therefore one of the few people with any chance of beating him. Ponsiluoma’s weakness is shooting accuracy but Oberhof’s windy range could level the playing field to his advantage.

Quentin Fillon Maillet (FRA): Last winter’s World Cup Overall winner, currently ranked 4th, never gives up.

Niklas Hartweg (SUI): At just 22 years old, the U25 leader is having a breakout season which started with a silver medal in the 20km Individual in November. Winner of the 2019-20 Junior Cup, Hartweg is on a near vertical trajectory at the senior level, ascending from 74th in the World Cup Overall standings last year to 12th currently.

Wildcard— Simon Eder (AUT): the 39-year-old proved he’s still in great form when he earned his 99th and 100th career individual top-ten results in January. He recently ended a prone hit streak of over 110 shots which he had started last March.

Paul Schommer (USA) and Adam Runnalls (CAN), (l-r) racing the IBU World Cup Biathlon Pursuit in Annecy-Le Grand Bornand in December 2022. (Photo: NordicFocus)

North American Men:

Sean Doherty (USA): Coming off a banner summer season in which he took 2nd at the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival and 6th at Summer Biathlon World Championships, Doherty landed his best result since the 18-19 season in December with a new Sprint best of 11th.

Christian Gow (CAN): a lighting fast and reliable shooter coming into form with two top-25 results in January.

Adam Runnalls (CAN): 24-year-old having a breakout season with two top-20s so far including a new personal-best of 13th in the Sprint in January.

Paul Schommer (USA): has finished in the points (top-40) in all but two races this season, showing high-level consistency, especially on the range where his 87% hit rate ranks among the best.

Jake Brown (USA): 12th in the Sprint at 2021 World’s proves he can make it happen when it counts. Watch for Jake to put up a sneaky excellent Men’s Relay leg.

Keep following for on-site coverage from Oberhof.

You can find the full US Biathlon World Championships team roster here.

You can find the full Biathlon Canada World Championships team roster here.

Clare Egan

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