In the case of rocket rookie Sturla Holm Lægreid (NOR) “wow” has been the word on everyone’s lips since the IBU World Cup opened in November to the last World Cup race in Östersund (SWE) this weekend.
The 24-year-old went straight for the podium in the first round of his first World Cup season, winning the individual competition in Finland on November 28: Wow.
Since then, Holm Lægreid has moved in on that podium, claiming World Cup victories and top-3 finishes nearly every weekend through the season: Wow.
The overall loot for the season was seven individual World Cup victories (including two from the 2021 IBU World Championships), two second-place finishes and one third place. Which was his first at the World Cup level: Wow.
“It’s been an adventure. It’s hard to believe all that’s happened in just a year. I never thought I would make this kind of progress. I think it will take a few months for it to really sink in,” Holm Lægreid said on Sunday after the final World Cup race of the season.
After bagging four gold medals from his first IBU World Championships at the elite level in February being crowned the king of the 2021 IBU World Championships, Holm Lægreid neither lost his head nor his precision or punch. He won the 2021 individual World Cup. He won the 2021 pursuit World Cup. He won the U25 World Cup. And he was 13 points shy of winning the 2021 overall World Cup: Wow.
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Thriller to the bitter end
Coming in to the final round of the IBU World Cup in Östersund, Holm Lægreid was trailing by 25 points in quest for the 2021 Overall World Cup. There were three races left on the schedule.
On Friday, Holm Lægreid was sixth, finishing 32 seconds behind the winner.
In the pursuit on Saturday, it appeared he was looking at third place. But despite the rough conditions, unpredictable high winds, and a couple of missed targets early in the race, Holm Lægreid pulled off a monster race, shot clean on the final stop at the range and pulled in to first place by a landslide. The victory put him in the lead for the overall World Cup by 1 – one – point with one race to go.
In the mass start on Sunday, Holm Lægreid missed four targets while his nemesis (and teammate) missed only two. He ended up in eighth for race, but still claimed second place in the overall 2021 IBU World Cup. Wow.
Who’s the new king of biathlon? If there was any doubt after this season, Sturla Holm Lægreid has certainly claimed that spot. In just one year. Wow.