Whistler – German pin-up Magdalena Neuner will be chasing her third Olympic medal in Thursday’s 15km individual event as the Germany team look to underline their status as biathlon queens.
Neuner’s gold medal in Tuesday’s 10km pursuit was the Germany team’s 15th in Olympic Winter Games history and their 40th overall.
Germany has won at least one medal in the individual event every year since biathlon was added to the women’s Olympic program in 1992 and are expected to be amongst the medallists in the women’s 15km individual event.
Neuner, the defending World Cup 15km champion, will start as favourite alongside Sweden’s Helena Jonsson and Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek who are first and second in the overall World Cup rankings.
There is plenty of experience amongst the rest of the Germans with Andrea Henkel, the gold medallist in 2002, looking to repeat her success from Salt Lake City.
And Kati Wilhem, a master sargeant in the German army, is the defending World champion in the event and looking for her fourth Olympic gold medal.
But they could all be beaten by Simone Hauswald, who has good memories of the course here having won the 15km event at the test event held at Whistler Olympic Park in March 2009.
Tora Berger of Norway will be one to watch as well as she is one of the most consistent competitors.
Only one non-European biathlete – Canada’s Myriam Bedard in 1994 at Lillehammer – has won a biathlon medal and that does not look like changing in Whistler.
The athletes start at 30 second intervals and between loops of a cross-country circuit, each racer will stop four times to take five shots at a target 50 meters away, twice each in the prone and standing positions.
In the individual event, the penalty for a miss is one additional minute which is added to the biathletes time and the winner has the fastest overall time.