Who to watch at the 2019 Biathlon World Championships

Meet the athlete who is about to dethrone Martin Fourcade, and some other big names competing in Östersund

There's a lot at stake when IBU World Championships Biathlon takes place from 7 to 17 March.

Not only will the athletes be competing for world championship glory, but the results will also count towards the 2018-19 Biathlon World Cup season, which could see the titles decided in Ostersund, Sweden.

With 12 events set to take place - five men's, five women's and two mixed-team relays - there are plenty of athletes to keep an eye on. Here's the Olympic Channel pick of who to watch at the worlds.

Johannes Thingnes Boe

The Norwegian is on a roll.

Boe is enjoying his strongest season to-date, racking up 12 World Cup victories from 18 individual races this campaign.

The 25-year-old already has three world championship titles to his name from previous meets and will be looking to build on his 2017 efforts where he collected three silver medals from the four singles events.

The PyeongChang 2018 individual gold medallist currently leads the World Cup standings by 291 points and has the potential of securing his maiden Overall title with a strong performance in Ostersund.

If he does so, he'll end Martin Fourcade's run of seven-consecutive Overall titles - which brings us to the next athlete on our list.

Record-setting Johannes Thingnes Boe:

Record-setting Johannes Thingnes Boe: "I want to be like Martin Fourcade"

Martin Fourcade

The most successful French Winter Olympian of all time has been the dominant force in the sport for almost a decade.

Fourcade has won the last seven Overall World Cup titles, and has amassed eleven world championship titles to go with his five Olympic gold medals.

  • LISTEN: Olympic Channel Podcast [Ep17] with Martin Fourcade

    LISTEN: Olympic Channel Podcast [Ep17] with Martin Fourcade

But Fourcade is currently struggling to find his form.

Although he won the season opening 20 km Individual event in Pokljuka, he has only managed a Pursuit win in Hochfilzen and one other podium finish since.

Lying sixth in the World Cup standings, it is inevitable that he will relinquish his Overall title, which will most likely go to Boe.

But it would be foolish to write off the 30-year-old. The World Champs have always brought out the best in Fourcade. In 2016 Fourcade claimed four titles from six events.

The Frenchman also skipped the last two rounds of the World Cup in North America to focus on his preparation for this meet.

So watch out to see if Fourcade can return to his winning ways, especially in the Pursuit, where he's won the title four times before including at the last world championships in Hochfilzen, Austria.

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Depuis l’ouverture de la coupe il y a bientôt 2 mois je compose avec des sensations physiques éloignées de mes “standards” et de ce que ma bonne préparation laissait espérer. Je ne me reconnais pas sur la piste et je sais que vous ne me reconnaissez pas non plus. Ce soir je suis pourtant N•2 mondial mais dois cette performance à ma qualité de tir et à ma combativité dans cette période difficile. Je suis fier de cela, fier d’avoir réussi course après course à mettre la fatigue de côté pour aller chercher ces résultats. Cela rend la décision que j’ai prise encore plus difficile car j’aurais aimé me battre jusqu’au bout, viscéralement attaché et respectueux du classement général de la coupe du monde. Je ne participerais donc pas aux deux étapes nord-américaines de la coupe du monde afin d’essayer d’être au départ des championnats du monde avec des sensations retrouvées et la possibilité de peser sur la course. Je souhaite m’excuser auprès du public canadien et Américain de ne pas pouvoir partager cette fête avec eux. Bonne chance aux copains de l’équipe. Merci pour votre soutien inconditionnel et toutes les marques d’affection que vous me témoignez. On se voit à Östersund 💙!

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Alexander Loginov

The Russian is the second best of the field this season as he continues to shake off his issues from the past.

It's been two years since the 27-year-old returned to the sport following a two-year doping ban.

This season, Loginov picked up a first World Cup win in the 10km Sprint in Oberhof, and has finished on the podium five other times.

He'll be determined to add to his sole World Championship medal, a Mixed Relay bronze from 2017.

Lisa Vittozzi

The 24-year-old is one of two Italian women who have dominated the current World Cup season.

Vittozzi arrives in Sweden with a narrow lead in the overall standings, from her teammate Dorothea Wierer.

In only her fifth season, Vittozzi has managed three wins this campaign and three more podium finishes.

While there's not much separating the two women, Vittozzi has been the more accurate of the two, shooting an average of 91% this season compared to Wierer's 87%, to give her a slight edge over her compatriot.

The two-time 2014 Junior World Champion picked up her sole world championship medal thus far, a relay bronze, in 2015 and will be relish the opportunity to win a maiden title in Ostersund.

Dorothea Wierer

Being the more experienced of the two Italians, Wierer has also had to wait longer for the success that she's currently enjoying.

The 28-year-old has two wins this season - including one at home - and four other podium finishes.

She also led the standings for the majority of this season, only marginally losing the overall lead at the last race going into the World Championships.

Wierer has finished on the podium at the worlds before but knows that this season is probably her best opportunity to pick up a maiden title.

She'll also be aware that a strong showing at in Sweden would help move her closer to clinching the coveted Overall World Cup crown.

Anastasiya Kuzmina

The Slovak became the first female biathlete to defend an individual Olympic title when she claimed Sprint Gold at Sochi 2014.

At PyeongChang 2018 she claimed her third Olympic title with victory in the Mass Start, one of three medals won by Kuzmina in Korea.

After finishing as runner-up in the World Cup last year to Finland's Kaisa Makarainen, she must have been hoping to go one better this season. However her efforts have been hampered by a shaky start, that sees her in fourth overall going into the worlds.

The 32-year-old has still managed two wins and another podium finish so far. A successful outing in Ostersund could bring her into play for the Overall crown as well.

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Dnes sme ukoncili zaverecnu pripravu na MS #Östersund2019 v #Osrblie. Dakujem vsetkym, ktori sa postarali o zabezpecenie kvalitnych podmienok pocas treningoveho sustredenia. Upravene trate, pripravena strelnica, dobre ubytovanie priamo na stadione, chutne jedlo a kvalitny spanok...Co sme si viac mohli priat? #RadostTrenovatDoma #StarostlivostNaJednotku #HotelZerrenpach #narodnebiatlonovecentrumosrblie #dakujeme —————————— Вот и подошёл к концу сбор в Osrblie. Через пару дней выдвигаемся на север в Скандинавию. Надеюсь, что подготовка в домашних условиях принесёт свои плоды, и мы сможем достойно выступить на ЧМ в #östersund2019.

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Laura Dahlmeier

The German was one of the stars of PyeongChang 2018, becoming the first Olympian to win the Sprint-Pursuit double.

However since the highs of the Winter Games, the 25-year-old has endured arguably the lowest point in her career, sidelined by a weakened immune system. As a result Dahlmeier missed the opening two rounds of the World Cup this season.

Since her return, the seven-time world champion has been gradually getting stronger. She has finished on the podium three times in the last four races, which includes two race wins.

While it might be an impossible task for her to repeat the 2017 worlds domination, where she won a remarkable five gold medals and a silver, Dahlmeier will be out to prove that she is back to her best in Sweden.

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