Who to Watch at the World Cup: 2021/22 Edition

Who to Watch at the World Cup: 2021/22 Edition

Both the biathlon and Nordic World Cup openers are scheduled for this weekend.

The cross-country skiers open their World Cup season with a 3-day mini tour in Ruka in northern Finland from Friday to Sunday, while the biathletes compete in Östersund (SWE) starting on Saturday.

Here’s your cheat sheet on who to watch this season, leading up to the 2022 Winter Games in February.

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Hailey Swirbul (USA) cruising into third place in the 10km skate race at the FIS World Cup in Davos (SUI) on Dec 13, 2020. Photo: Nordic Focus

Helene Marie Fossesholm (20) is headed into her second full season at the World Cup level as a part of the Norwegian elite women’s team (A-Team). The turbo racer is now formally a senior, but already bagged her first World Cup podiums and World Champion title last season, as a part of the Norwegian relay team that won the gold medal at the 2021 World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER) in March. Note: Fossesholm will miss the World Cup opener in Ruka (FIN) on November 26-28.

Mathilde Myhrvold (23) had a stellar season last year, and was awarded with moving up from the Norwegian development team to the elite women’s team (A-Team) this year.

Harald Østberg Amundsen (23) hardly needs an introduction after earning an individual medal at his first World Championships at the elite level in March: Østberg Amundsen finished third in the 15-kilometer skate race at the 2021 World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER), despite a brutal fall toward the end of the race.

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Harald Østberg Amundsen (NOR) wins the bronze medal in the 15km skate race at the 2021 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf (GER). Photo: Nordic Focus

Sophie Laukli (21) certainly put herself in the mix after finishing 7th and 15th in the 10-kilometer skate and 10-kilometer classic events at the Norwegian season opener races in Beitostølen last weekend. Add to that her solid results from the 2020-21 season that earned her a spot on the US team to the first World Cup period, Laukli is a name you’ll soon be familiar with.

Hailey Swirbul (23) is part of Madshus Generation Next: Young, hungry and seriously fast. Last season, she posted her first World Cup podium season, in the 10-kilometer skate event in Davos (SUI). Now, the 23-year-old who lives and trains in Anchorage, Alaska, is part of the United States’ A-team and chasing a ticket to Beijing in February.

Krista Pärmäkoski (31) kicked off the 2021-22 season by winning the three races she entered. Now entering her 13th World Cup season, she’s excited for the World Cup to get underway on home turf in Ruka (FIN) starting this Friday. So far, she’s collected no less than four Olympic and seven World Championship medals, but is still chasing that individual gold medal.

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Krista Pärmäkoski is aiming high for the 2021-22 season.

Sturla Holm Lægreid (24), the national team rookie who became the undisputed king of biathlon last season enters the upcoming season with huge expectations. Nuff said.

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Sivert Bakken (23) stepped into the season with a splash, winning the sprint race and placing 9th at the Norwegian national season opener in Sjusjøen on November 13 to 14. He was rewarded with a spot on the Norwegian national team to the World Cup opener in Östersund (SWE) this weekend.

Benedikt Doll (31) is the veteran in the German biathlon team. Now entering his 10th World Cup season, Doll knows the drill. He heads into the season with five World Championship medals, two Olympic medals and 34 World Cup podiums in the bank, still hungry for more after nearly two decades of racing.

Vanessa Hinz (29) is also no newbie on the World Cup circuit. She enters her 8th World Cup season with seven World Championship medals and 26 World Cup podiums on her resume, eager to add to the loot.

Roman Rees (28) is entering his sixth World Cup season and is one of four German guys headed to the biathlon World Cup opener in Östersund (SWE) this weekend.

Anaïs Bescond (34) has been a stayer on the French national team for more than a decade, and has three Olympic medals, eight World Championship medals and numerous World Cup podiums to prove it. She’s steady as a rock on the range and lightning fast on the course, and there is no reason to believe this season will be any different.

And now, off to the races!

Sturla Holm Laegreid (NOR) added another IBU World Cup podium finish to his resume with 2nd place in the 20km individual competition in Antholz (ITA) on January 22. Photo: Nordic Focus