– It’s always a surprise for the organizers every time we come, “damn, it’s training day”, says Marte Olsbu Røiseland.
When he and the rest of the world’s elite in biathlon took over the biathlon stadium here in Germany’s World Cup city Oberhof on Monday, many were shocked.
The loose and bumpy conditions make this WC stadium like a circuit racing arena for children.
– It’s like competing when we were young. Then they didn’t prepare the pitch very well, so there were just a lot of balls and it was a matter of hitting the right hole with the elbows, recalls Johannes Thingnes Bø.
The organizers had actually opened the track shortly before Monday’s practice, and created conditions that made it difficult for biathletes to prepare for the mixed relay on Wednesday.
The bumps on the struts make it difficult for athletes to adjust the rifle and find the optimal position for shooting prone.
– It’s amazing how there can be so much snow and conditions and then it seems someone forgot to prepare the trails, said Ingrid Tandrevold and added:
– I’m a little excited about how it’s going and whether they trashed the whole last week or did they manage to salvage it.
Tandrevold was among those at Monday’s training who appeared the most dissatisfied, and gave the Norwegian support apparatus a clear message about what he was thinking. But other countries are also upset.
– There’s a bit of gravel in the German engine, explains Sebastian Samuelsson and is supported by team-mate Elvira Öberg:
– Not very impressive conditions yesterday on the track and in the stands.
– Put the wardrobe in place a little
Norway and several other countries raised the issue with the International Biathlon Union (IBU) late Monday.
And IBU gave a clear message to the organizers.
– Preparations in advance were not optimal and did not meet our expectations, explained the technical delegate, Hans Petter Olsen, to NRK.
– We had a few meetings with the organizers and explained how we wanted it, and put the cupboards in place a bit, he continued.
The night into Tuesday was below zero and after persistent efforts from the organisers, conditions got better in Tuesday’s practice.
– Today is very, very good. They have followed all the recommendations. They have done a good and very good job. “Right now, conditions are absolutely perfect,” said Olsen in the sunshine at the Oberhof.
Ensure peak condition
He is now optimistic about the future.
– I firmly believe that there will be absolutely excellent conditions, at least tomorrow. They’re very good and I’m sure they will continue to toe that line – and what the weather conditions are like at Oberhof is something we have no control over, said Olsen.
To please some and disappoint others. For Sturla Holm Lægreid and Martin Ponsiluoma, they want conditions to be as harsh as possible.
– For me, that’s nice to finish, because then I get a slight advantage over the competition, but when it comes to being armored, there are plenty of others who can also go fast, says Lægreid, who has the pitfalls of opinion from the other side of the border:
– I think it’s really fun. I like difficult conditions and that is an advantage for me, said Ponsiluoma.
The Biathlon World Cup opens with a mixed relay at 14:45 on Wednesday on TV 2 and radio channel NRK Sport.
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