The Sochi Network

Sochi Form Guide and Predictions: Biathlon

Three more World Cup seasons came to an end last weekend as athletes focus on
next month's Winter Olympics.

We begin our sport-by-sport guide on who is in form and who to look out for Sochi in Biathlon.

Competition Schedule (all times GMT) / Infostrada Predicted Medallists

08 February - 14:30 - Men's 10km sprint
1. Martin Fourcade (France), 2. Emil Hegle Svendsen (Norway), 3. Arnd Peiffer (Germany)
09 February - 14:30 - Women's 7.5km sprint
1. Tora Berger (Norway), 2. Darya Domracheva (Belarus), 3. Olena Pidhrushna (Ukraine)
10 February - 15:00 - Men's 12.5km pursuit
1. Martin Fourcade (France), 2. Emil Hegle Svendsen (Norway), 3. Anton Shipulin (Russia)
11 February - 15:00 - Women's 10km pursuit
1. Tora Berger (Norway), 2. Darya Domracheva (Belarus), 3. Kaisa Makarainen (Finland)
13 February - 14:00 - Men's 20km individual
1. Martin Fourcade (France), 2. Jakov Fak (Slovenia), 3. Andreas Birnbacher (Germany)
14 February - 14:00 - Women's 15km individual
1. Tora Berger (Norway), 2. Darya Domracheva (Belarus),
16 February - 15:00 - Men's 15km mass start
1. Martin Fourcade (France), 2. Tarej Boe (Norway), 3. Emil Hegle Svendsen (Norway)
17 February - 15:00 - Women's 12.5km mass start
1. Tora Berger (Norway), 2. Darya Domracheva (Belarus), 3. Kaisa Makarainen (Finland)
19 February - 14:30 - Mixed 4 x 6km/7.5km relay
1. Norway, 2. France, 3. Czech Republic
21 February - 14:30 - Women's 4 x 6km relay
1. Germany, 2. Norway, 3. Ukraine
22 February - 14:30 - Men's 4 x 7.5km relay
1. Norway, 2. Russia, 3. Germany

Form Guide

Men - Emil Hegle Svendsen, who won two gold medals and one silver at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and has 10 World Championship titles, and Martin Fourcade, also a winner of five individual World golds, have four World Cup wins apiece and are the big favourites. German Simon Schempp won both races at the last meeting in Antholz.

Women - Nine different winners in 13 races suggest things are wide open after the retirement of Vancouver golden girl Magdalena Neuner. Norway's Tora Berger leads the World Cup and has the strongest pedigree with individual gold in Vancouver and two golds in each of the last two World Championships. Czech Gabriela Soukalova has three wins this season while Darya Domracheva of Belarus has a brace and golds at the last two Worlds.

Relays - Norway are stacked with talent on the men's side and are defending Olympic and world champions (they've won the last four). That should hold them in good stead for the inaugural mixed relay where they've won the last three Worlds. Women's relay is wide open.

Outsiders

Men - Norway's Tarjei Boe won the 2011 World Cup and has two World Championship golds while his younger brother Johannes has won two World Cup races this season. Don't rule out Slovenia's Jakov Fak who won sprint bronze in Vancouver, has three World Championship medals and returned to form with a fourth and second in Ruhpolding earlier this month.

Women - Selina Gasparin, Andrea Henkel, Ann Kristin Flatland, Synnøve Solemdal, Valj Semerenko and Anaïs Bescond have all sat on top of the podium at the World Cup this season. Olena Pidhrushna's only career victory came in the World Championship sprint last year.

Relay - Martin Fourcade on an anchor leg will give France hope in the men's and mixed. They've also won silver and bronze in the women's relay at the last five Worlds.

History Says

Men - Biathlon always produces shocks and a Frenchman with just one World Cup win to his name has won gold at the last two Games. Alexis Bouef fits that bill.

Women - German women have claimed at least five medals at the last three Games. Can the new breed of Franziska Hildebrand, Franziska Preuss and Laura Dahlmeier support veteran Henkel? None of the trio have finished higher than fourth in a World Cup race.

Relay - Russia are always more than the sum of their parts and have medaled in seven of the last eight Olympics including gold in the last two women's relays.

Predicted Flops

Men - Ole Einar Bjørndalen turns 40 before Sochi and is the most decorated biathlete in history with 93 World Cup wins, five Olympic golds and 19 World titles. However he has won just one race since 2011.

Women - Soukalova failed to make the top 10 in any of the four World Championship races last year.

Relay - German biathlon is in transition after the retirements of Neuner, Wilhelm and Greis since Vancouver. The new breed are not at the same level.

British Hopes

Men - Teessider Lee Jackson will hope to finish in the top 50; he managed 55th in the sprint four years ago.

Women - Amanda Lightfoot has a highest finish of 34th at the World Championship. A place in the top 30 of the individual to make the mass start field would be outstanding.

Relay - No teams

Don't Forget

Athletes start in the pursuit on the basis of their results in the sprint, making double medallists a regularity.