Biathlon 2019-2020 season preview and schedule

Your essential guide to biathlon this season, where Martin Fourcade and Johannes Thinges Boe are set for an epic showdown.

Biathlon, the sport that combines lung-busting cross-country skiing with precision rifle shooting, is back for 2019-20.

The endurance athletes are looking at more than 60 races this season - with all events being hosted in European cities.

Some highlights include the biathlon Christmas races in Germany, hosted in Oberhof and Ruhpolding in January, while the Biathlon World Championships will take place in Antholz, Italy.

Who will wear the leader's yellow bib?

Biathlon legend Martin Fourcade will be desperate to return to his former glory, after a season hampered by poor form.

In the Frenchman's absence, Norway's Johannes Thinges Boe, stepped up to become biathlon's new star, and will be equally intent on defending his titles.

Last season’s women’s overall winner Dorothea Wierer is the strong favourite again.

Here, Olympic Channel takes in the main talking points this season, including a full schedule of biathlon races.

Record-setting Johannes Thingnes Boe:

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

Biathlon Season Schedule

1-4 December - Ostersund, Sweden

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 15 km Individual, 4x6 km Relay

Men: 10 km Sprint, 20 km Individual, 4x7.5 km Relay

Mixed: 1x6 km + 1x7.5 km Single Mixed Relay, 4x6 km Mixed Relay

13-14 December - Hochfilzen, Austria

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 10 km Pursuit, 4x6 km Relay

Men: 10 km Sprint, 12.5 km Pursuit, 4x7.5 km Relay

19-22 December - Le Grand-Bornand, France

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 10 km Pursuit, 12.5 km Mass Start

Men: 10 km Sprint, 12.5 km Pursuit, 15 km Mass Start

10-12 January - Oberhog, Germany

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 12.5 km Mass Start, 4x6 km Relay

Men: 10 km Sprint, 15 km Mass Start, 4x7.5 km Relay

16-19 January - Ruhpolding, Germany

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 10 km Pursuit, 4x6 km Relay

Men: 10 km Sprint, 12.5 km Pursuit, 4x7.5 km Relay

23-26 January - Pokljuka, Slovenia

Women: 15 km Individual, 12.5 km Mass Start

Men: 20 km Individual, 15 km Mass Start

Mixed: 1x6 km + 1x7.5 km Single Mixed Relay, 2x7.5 km + 2x6 km Mixed Relay

13-23 February - Antholz-Anterselva, Italy - 2020 Biathlon World Championships

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 10 km Pursuit, 15 km Individual, 12.5 km Mass Start, 4x6 km Relay

Men: 10 km Sprint, 12.5 km Pursuit, 20 km Individual, 15 km Mass Start, 4x7.5 km Relay

Mixed: 2x6 km + 2x7.5 km Mixed Relay, 1x6 km + 1x7.5 km Single Mixed Relay

6-8 March - Nove Mesto, Czech Republic

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 12.5 km Mass Start, 4x6 km Relay

Men: 10 km Sprint, 15 km Mass Start, 4x7.5 km Relay

12-14 March - Kontiolahti, Finland

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 12.5 km Mass Start

Men: 10 km Sprint, 12.5 km Pursuit

Mixed: 1x6 km + 1x7.5 km Single Mixed Relay, 2x6 km + 2x7.5 km Mixed Relay

20-22 March - Oslo Holmenkollen, Norway

Women: 7.5 km Sprint, 10 km Pursuit, 12.5 km Mass Start

Men: 10 km Sprint, 12.5 km Pursuit, 15 km Mass Start

The Ultimate Biathlon Duel: Martin Fourcade v Johannes Thinges Boe

Sit back, tune in, and get ready for what could be a biathlon rivalry of epic proportion.

Fourcade dominated the sport until 2018-19, when the Frenchman's form suddenly dipped.

However, the world of elite sport waits for no athlete and in Fourcade's absence, Boe emphatically stepped up to become biathlon's new star.

The Norwegian left would-be rivals in his icy wake, thundering to the Sprint, Pursuit, Individual and Mass Start World Cup titles, as well as picking up the Overall World Cup crown.

He also won an impressive four golds at the World Championships in Ostersund - not a bad season at all.

However, a rejuvenated Fourcade wants his titles back in 2019-20.

If he is able to recapture his previous form, sit back and get the popcorn ready as this showdown of the old guard versus the new talent in town will be one for the ages.

Can anyone catch Dorothea Wierer?

The 29-year-old won her first World Championship medal back in 2013, but it wasn't until 2018 that the Italian became a household name in biathlon.

The double Olympic bronze medallist claimed the overall World Cup last year, attributing her change in fortunes to her good health.

Wierer became the first of her nation to win the title, and with the World Championships on home snow in Antholz this year, she is extra determined to put on a good show.

"This is the most important event after the Olympics and I am preparing for it," Wierer told SkiActu.

"It will of course not be easy because there will be a lot of pressure, but we will try to take advantage of it and shine as much as possible."

While the women's World Cup is sure to be more competitive than the men's, expect Sweden's Hanna Oberg and Tiril Eckhoff of Norway to be right in the medals.

Team preview

Scandinavian ski giants Norway are the heavy favourites to retain both the men’s and women’s team titles.

Spearheaded by Boe and his brother Tarjei, the men's team are almost unstoppable. Given Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen’s emergence, coupled with Lars Helge Birkeland's sharp shooting, their grip on the crystal globe looks set to tighten.

There could be a potential upset in France, who boast the talents of Fourcade, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Antonin Guigonnat and Simon Desthieux.

There will be a real point to prove over the women’s team event, given two squads could claim to be the favourites.

Norway won the Women’s Nations Cup, but Germany have dominated the World Cup, IBU and Winter Olympics podiums for the last decade.

Talented Norwegian trio Marte Olsbu Røiseland, Eckhoff and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold were at the helm of their team's resurgence, and will form the spine of their team again in 2019-20.

The German ladies are marked out by their consistency, but even under the guidance of team leader Denise Herrmann, they will dearly miss retired double Olympic champion Laura Dahlmeier.

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