Biathlon World Championships start in Slovenia’s Pokljuka

Pokljuka – Competitions at the 2021 Biathlon World Championships will start on the Alpine plateau of Pokljuka on Wednesday in what is the biggest winter sports event in Slovenia so far. Running until 21 February, the event will feature 337 competitors from 38 countries.

The championships opened with a virtual opening ceremony in the nearby lakeside resort of Bled on Tuesday, and the competition is set to open with the 4×7.5km mixed relay event today.

A total of 12 events are scheduled until 21 February and at least one of the medals is expected to get into the hands of the Slovenian biathlon team, according to Janez Ožbolt of the Slovenian Ski Association.

“Our goal in the men’s team is a medal, two top-15 finishes and two top-30 finishes, whereas in the women’s team we aim at one top-25 finish and two top-40 finishes. In at least one relay race we would like to be among the first eight,” he said.

Jakov Fak, who will compete in all individual disciplines, has the best chances of winning a medal in the Slovenian team.

The Croatian-born biathlete, who has won four World Championships medals and an Olympic silver in the past ten years, is healthy and ready for the coming challenge.

“My wish is a medal too and I believe it is attainable, it is the goal in every race,” he said, adding that he was aware of the pressure but intended to remain relaxed and focused.

Norwegians are the largest medal favourites in all disciplines, and they are expected to be challenged mostly by the French. The challengers in the women’s competitions will be coming from multiple national teams.

The events will be held without spectators due to the Covid-19 protocols, which comes as a major financial blow for the organisers, who had expected a total of 130,000 fans in the nine days of competition in normal circumstances.