Slovenian biathletes to shoot for medals in Pokljuka

Ljubljana – The Biathlon World Championships 2021 starts next week in Slovenia’s Pokljuka in what will be the biggest winter sports event in the country so far. Slovenian biathletes have their eyes set on the medals, Janez Ožbolt of the Slovenian Ski Association said ahead of the tournament.

“Our goal in the men’s team is a medal, two rankings up to 15th place, two up to 30th, whereas in the women’s team we aim at one ranking up to 25th place and two up to 40th at least. In at least one relay race we would like to be among the first eight.

“We know that a medal is quite a high target, but if we don’t set it, we won’t achieve it,” Ožbolt told today’s press conference.

Four male biathletes from Slovenia will participate in the world championships and three of their female peers.

Jakov Fak has the best chance of winning a medal in the Slovenian team, which has been beset with coronavirus infections. The situation is improving though – the men’s team mostly recovered from Covid-19 last year, whereas most of female biathletes got infected in January and had to miss out on key training ahead of the Pokljuka event.

The Croatian-born Fak, who has won four World Championships medals and a silver Olympics medal as a Slovenian competitor 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.

The 33-year-old recently finished third in the World Cup mass start event in Italy’s Anterselva in what was the first podium finish for him in three years. The feat provided a fresh impetus for the coming world championships, he said today.

This season he has been a relatively reliable shooter, but will have to up his game when it comes to his skiing performance, he added.

The Pokljuka Biathlon World Championships, the second after 2001 to be held in Slovenia, will take place between 9 and 21 February. Over nine days competitors will vie for medals in twelve races.