© Thibaut / Nordic Focus
"Work hard, feel good"
Dazzling: something which is very bright, sudden and striking in its brilliance.
This adjective is an apt description for the entrance made by the Norwegian Sturla Holm Laegreid onto the world stage of biathlon. With no one seeing it coming, he dazzled in the 2020-2021 season with his record performances, but also and above all thanks to his skill behind the rifle. Since then, he's made a name for himself in men's biathlon and the smile he never really seems to lose makes him one of the most endearing biathletes on the circuit.
2020-2021 season: the spark
December 2020. Martin Fourcade had just retired, leaving biathlon in the hands of his favorite enemy, the Norwegian Johannes Boe. We all wondered who might stand up to him: the Frenchmen Fillon Maillet and Jacquelin? The Swede Samuelsson? His big brother, Tarjei? In the end, it was another "Norge", someone unknown to fans of biathlon and with a name hardly anyone could pronounce correctly: Sturla Holm Laegreid!
In this season behind closed doors, he was THE surprise animating all the discussions and all the predictions, making each race more exciting than the last. He totaled 15 podiums and 6 victories, won the individual and pursuit small crystal globes, became the first male biathlete to win four world titles (mass start, individual, relay and mixed relay), and even had the luxury of keeping Johannes Boe on his toes until the very last race of the season, finishing second overall in the World Cup general standings, 13 points behind his leader. Totally crazy!
© Thibaut / Nordic Focus
An elite marksman
A major ingredient behind his outstanding performance: unbelievable shot-making! With a success percentage of 95% in prone and 88% standing, he's the best shot on the circuit (a title he shares with Austrian veteran Simon Eder). On the shooting range, he impresses with his cool head and ability to remain unaffected by pressure. Even Martin Fourcade, another Julbo biathlete and king of the discipline, has expressed his admiration for him and praised his maturity.
Could it be thanks to the 22,000 bullets he fired while recovering from glandular fever in 2019? Or the hundreds of hours spent watching videos to analyze Martin Fourcade's shooting position? Or the meditation he actively practices (maybe we should try it out given that Hanna Öberg, another Julbo biathlete, is also a fan)? Or the guitar he happily strums when he's not competing? Or his nerves of steel? It's probably a combination of all of these...
But we shouldn't define him solely by his shooting ability. You don't finish second in the World Cup in consecutive years just because of your performance on the shooting range. It definitely helps of course... but it's not everything!
Sturla Holm Laegreid, who until 2020 combined elite sport with studies in renewable energy engineering, is nothing if not meticulous, constantly searching for marginal gains to give him that extra edge: whether it's his diet, the butt of his rifle, his skiing technique or anything else. A quest for excellence which, he hopes and we support, will one day lead him to the holy grail, the Crystal Globe.