Kaisa Mkrinen, Finlands IBU Overall World Cup champion, with her crystal globe at the IBUs Trophie Night. (Photo: IBU/Evegeny Tumashov)
When the IBU World Cup kicks off in stersund, Sweden, on November 30, the womens biathlon field will look considerably different than it has for the past few years. While several veterans have retired, rising younger stars are also taking the season off for a variety of reasons from pregnancies to injuries. Heres a summary of whats going on with last years top competitors:
This Oslo podium from last season wont be seen again: Tora Berger (l) retired. But Darya Domracheva is back with a new coach, and U.S. athlete Susan Dunklee saw her first podium last season. Photo: NordicFocus/UBSA.
Last years overall World Cup champion Kaisa Makarainen of Finland is gearing up for a home World Championships in Kontiolahti. When the U.S. womens team visited her for a training camp there this summer, she did an interview with FasterSkier, where she said that the most important thing to be able to excel this winter would be to stay healthy, something she has struggled with in the past.
Gabriela Soukalova celebrates with the Czech flag as she wins the 10 k pursuit in Ruhpolding, Germany, in January.
Gabriela Soukalova was the biggest breakout star of the last two years, and in 2014 was youngest member of the World Cup top five. The Czech spent last year training with the mens team, and after winning mass start silver in Sochi seems poised to go head to head with Makarainen and Domracheva for the World Cup title this season.
Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia winning the 7.5 k sprint at the Olympics in February.
Anastasiya Kuzmina became the first woman to defend an Olympic gold medal when she won the sprint in Sochi. She also finished off the year strong with pursuit and mass start victories at the culminating Oslo World Cup. Kuzmina trains notoriously seriously, and shell be back. Last year she traveled to Canmore, Alberta, for Frozen Thunder, and is rumored to be returning for a fall training camp again this season.
Andrea Henkel, Veronika Vitkova and Valj Semerenko (r) in the World Cup pursuit last season in Oberhof, Germany.
The biathlon world will also feel the absence of German veteran Andrea Henkel, who retired at the end of last season after over a decade at the top of the sport.
The rest is here:
Biathlon World Cup Preview: Ladies Landscape Changes