“I just can’t”
Dream of home World Cup bursts for biathlete Preuss
01/23/2023 4:27 p.m
After eleven years, a biathlon world championship is taking place again in Germany. But Franziska Preuß has to watch, she is already drawing a line under the season. Because “recurring infections and inflammations” weaken them massively.
Denise Herrmann-Wick traveled to the picturesque Dolomites for the final fine-tuning of the World Cup, her teammate Franziska Preuss will not even start preparing for the “Mission Oberhof”: While biathlon Olympic champion Herrmann-Wick was refueling on the Alpe di Siusi, one ended of the greatest German hopefuls prematurely their season. The many health setbacks were ultimately simply too much for Preuss.
The bitter news dampened the euphoria after the dress rehearsal in Antholz on Monday. “In my current state of health, I’m simply not able to do the work that would be necessary to help our team at the World Championships in Oberhof,” said Preuss, who was third overall in the overall World Cup. She spoke of “one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my career so far”.
For Preuss it is the low point of a season to forget. It was used in only 7 of 14 World Cup races. Although they met the norm for the peak of the season (February 8-19), new problems kept preventing them from building up properly. In South Tyrol it was only enough for places 38 and 34. She finally wanted to find out “the causes of the recurring infections and inflammations” and “take a certain amount of time”, announced Preuss. She ruled out a premature end to her career “one hundred percent”.
DSV sports director Felix Bitterling suffered. “It’s just bitter that she’s out again,” he said. The decision was “the only sensible one”. On the way back to old strength, the association will support the 28-year-old “as best as possible”.
The team looks ready for the World Cup
Due to Preuss’ departure, the preparation plans of her teammates initially took a back seat. Just like Olympic champion Herrmann-Wick, who clinched her second win of the season in the pursuit, Vanessa Voigt is also getting in shape on the Alpe di Siusi. The rest of the team tunes in in Ridnaun.
Herrmann-Wick packed her suitcase with her husband Thomas Wick after the “enjoyment” in the chase race. Even without by far the best German, it was enough for the 25.5-year-old quartet with Voigt, Janina Hettich-Walz, Sophia Schneider and Antholz surprise Hannah Kebinger to get the third podium in the fourth relay race.
Less than three hours later, the men followed suit: David Zobel, Johannes Kühn, Benedikt Doll and Roman Rees extended their podium series to four competitions. Two relays on the podium, eight times top ten in the individual races, plus victory in the women’s pursuit. The DSV team looks ready for the first home World Cup since Ruhpolding 2012 even without Preuss, even the first title since 2019 seems possible thanks to Herrmann-Wick.
Behind the candidate for victory, Voigt, Schneider, Hettich-Walz and Kebinger, who was well seeded after the Preuß failure, can also be in the top ten. Only Anna Weidel, who was missing from the squad in Antholz, weakened recently.
In the men’s race, in the shadow of the Norwegian “all-time winner” Johannes Thingnes Bö, Rees has had the most consistent appearances, in Antholz he finished fourth twice. Former world champion Benedikt Doll can also fight for the podium if he misses a little less often.
There is still enough time for the fine-tuning: On February 8th, the mixed relay will be in Oberhof for the first time on the cross-country ski run. Without Franziska Preuss.