When the world's best biathletes tackle the 20-kilometre distance with the four shooting stages on Thursday, all eyes in the Südtirol Arena will be on Quentin Fillon Maillet. Not surprising, as the 29-year-old French athlete is not just the impressive overall World Cup leader, the skier from Champagnole also particularly likes the track in Antholz. Last year, he won an individual bronze here, and he also secured silver in the mass start and gold in the relay. Two seasons ago, at the World Championships in Antholz, he also took silver in the mass start and gold in the relay. He also won a second place in the sprint.
Fillon Maillet is the highflyer of the season: Nine times he stood on the podium this year, five of which on the top step. The Frenchman is leading the overall ranking after 13 of 22 results with 581 points ahead of Sebastian Samuelsson (484) from Sweden (he is concentrating on the Olympics and will therefore miss Antholz) and compatriot Emilien Jacquelin (470). The only individual competition of the season so far, at the World Cup opener in Östersund, Sweden, was won by Norway's Sturla Holm Lægreid ahead of Tarjei Bø and Simon Desthieux from France.
Many contenders for the individual victory
The group of closest favourites in the Antholz individual competition also includes others. For example Johannes Thingnes Bø from Norway: The 28-year-old Scandinavian, overall World Cup winner for the past two years, is "only" 10th in the overall ranking, but should never be underestimated. This winter, Bø achieved five podium places, three of them in the relay. Russian Alexandr Loginov, who won the individual title here last year, is also a force to be reckoned with. The fans from South Tyrol, who will only be able to follow the action on their TV this year, will keep their fingers crossed for Lukas Hofer and others. The athlete from Mantana hopes to reach a great result in his home race. Dominik Windisch from Rasun di Sopra, on the other hand, wants to build on his good performance in Ruhpolding. With Thomas Bormolini, Tommaso Giacomel and Didier Bionaz three more Italians will be competing in the Südtirol Arena.
On Friday, the World Cup program in Antholz continues with the women’s individual event (15 km). The starting signal will also be given at 14:15. Biathlon fans can look forward to a double sporting treat this weekend. Saturday is the day of the men’s mass start and the women’s relay. The start time for the men (15 km) was set at 12:50, and for the women (4x6 km) at 15:00. The World Cup week in the Südtirol Arena will conclude on Sunday with the reverse programme. At 12:15 the biathletes will start on the 4x7.5 km loop, while at 15:15 the start signal will be given for the women (12.5 km).