World’s top biathletes gather on Pokljuka

Biathletes compete on the Pokljuka plateau.
Pokljuka hosts top biathletes this weekend for the World Cup events. Photo: STA

Pokljuka, a thickly-wooded plateau in the north-west of Slovenia, is hosting the world’s best biathletes on the World Cup circuit from 5 to 8 January. Close to 270 competitors from 31 countries are expected to take part.

The last time the Pokljuka hosted an international biathlon event was nearly two years ago during the 2021 World Championships.

This time around, Covid will not put a damper on the events. There will be spectators to cheer competitors on, many accompanying events at the location and Winter Fairytale events, including concerts and Christmas stalls in the nearby lakeside resort of Bled, which have been extended to coincide with the biathlon events.

The World Cup events will include sprint, pursuit, mixed pairs and mixed relay events for women and men.

The favourite in the men’s category is Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe, who could soon become the best competitor of all times and smash the records in the number of wins and medals.

Among women biathletes there is no such clear favourite at the moment since recent World Cup events have seen different winners, but the roster of competitors to watch out for will get an exciting addition as Pokljuka will see Marte Olsbu Roeiseland’s comeback.

The Norwegian had to sit out the first part of the season due to health problems and this will be her first outing this season.

The Slovenian team has high expectations. One of its trump cards is the former cross-country skier Anamarija Lampič, who finished fifth in her first biathlon race in early December. There is no doubt about her ability to outpace many rivals, but there is still room for improvement in her shooting.

Biathlon fans have been urged to use public transport to get to the venue to avoid parking problems and help preserve the local environment, which is part of the Triglav National Park.