After a surprisingly positive season, the German biathletes head to the World Championships with high hopes. The highlight of the winter begins this Wednesday (5:20 p.m./ARD and Eurosport) with the mixed relay race in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. The most important questions before the start of the Biathlon World Cup.

What makes Nove Mesto so special?

The atmosphere. In front of a total of more than 200,000 spectators, the first World Cup held in Nove Mesto eleven years ago was an emotional experience. At the Vysocina Arena, with the steep steps behind the shooting range, the noise can be deafening, making shooting a special test, also for the nerves. Additionally, most races take place in the early afternoon in the dark; Biathletes almost never compete under the spotlight. The races will take place from Wednesday to February 18 in Western Moravia.

What memories do Germans have of Nove Mesto?

It is not the best. At the 2013 World Cup, DSV's ski chasers did not win a gold medal for the first time since 1986 in Oslo. Only Andrea Henkel, then 35 years old, won silver in the individual category, while the men's relay team won bronze. It was the first World Cup after the resignation of Magdalena Neuner. However, the Germans' last World Cup victory to date took place in Nove Mesto in March 2021.

Who will win the most medals?

For men it could be a Norwegian festival. The team of five-time world champion from Oberhof, Johannes Thingnes Bö, has achieved six triple successes and many more podiums so far this winter. Six Norwegians lead the general classification of the World Cup. In addition, after a rule change before the preseason, the Scandinavians have up to six starting places per individual race and also won all the relay competitions of the current season. Women are more balanced: World Cup overall leader Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold is out Norwaythe Italian Lisa Vittozzi and the two French women Justine Braisaz-Bouchet and Julia Simon are the top favorites.

What are the German possibilities?

Benedikt Doll, two-time sprint season winner, had serious problems on the shooting range during the World Cup dress rehearsal in Antholz. During the preparation he had a bit of a cold, but if he regains his former strength, he will have the same chances of competing for the medal as Philipp Nawrath. He had already worn the yellow jersey of the World Cup leader at the start. Ideally, Johannes Kühn could also participate. In the relay, the men reached the podium in all the World Cup races, a medal is just as possible as for the women. Franziska Preuß and Vanessa Voigt have a chance to win individual metal there. The first victory at the World Championships in mixed singles by Voigt and Justus Strelow also gives confidence. However, so far things have not gone well in the mixed relay this season.

What is the current weather situation?

Challenging. Currently the temperatures are clearly above zero degrees, it rains from time to time and there are storms. “We constantly follow the weather forecasts and hope to improve in the second week of the World Cup,” competition director Vlastimil Jakes told dpa. On Monday training had to be canceled due to a storm and the facilities were closed. However, the competitions are not in danger: enough artificial snow has already been prepared. “We still have 50,000 cubic meters of snow in the tank. We're not worried about a lack of snow, but during inclement weather, like above-zero temperatures and rain, the quality of the snow won't be as good as when it's below-zero,” Jakes said.

Where can you watch the Biathlon World Cup?

In the World Cup, twelve world titles are at stake during nine days of competition. ARD, ZDF and Eurosport broadcast all competitions live on TV and free streaming. As always, ARD and ZDF share the broadcast. The ARD The second part of the World Cup begins. the ZDF.

Who dominated the World Cup last year?

Oberhof became Böberhof. Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Bö was the first male biathlete to win seven medals at a World Championship: five titles, one silver and one bronze. That was the case with women. Swedish Hanna Öberg (2x gold, 1x silver, 1x bronze) was the most successful. The best nation was Norway (5x gold, 5x silver, 3x bronze). Germany (1x gold, 2x silver) took fourth place in the medal table. Denise Herrmann-Wick, now retired, won the only title in the sprint.

Who are the record holders at the world championships?

Ole Einar Björndalen is the one who has won the most medals so far in the World Cup. The Norwegian won 20 gold medals, 14 silver and eleven bronze. He is hot on the heels of his compatriot Johannes Thingnes Bö (30 years old), who has won 17 titles so far. The best ski hunter is the Norwegian Marte Olsbu Röiseland with 13 gold medals and four bronze medals. The most successful German ski chasers are Frank Luck (11x gold, 5x silver, 4x bronze) and Uschi Disl (8x gold, 8x silver, 3x bronze).