Khanty-Mansiysk has been hosting Biathlon World Cup Finals for many years, so it is obvious that a lot of talented athletes were having the last races in their careers here.
Every year some athletes are quitting professional sport. Usually this is done right after the Olympic season: the main competitions of four years are drawing a line under performances of athletes not only in biathlon but in other sports as well.
Many biathletes have finished their careers after the Olympic Games in Vancouver. Then, in 2010, Khanty-Mansiysk bid farewell to German dream-team Simone Hauswald, Martina Beck, Kati Wilhelm, French team was said good-bye to Sandrine Bailly and Vincent Defrasne, while team of Norway saw off Halvard Hanevold. In Russian team that was the last season for its leaders Nikolay Kruglov and Olga Medvedtseva.
The end of careers of Magdalena Neuner and Helena Ekholm in season 2011/12 was a sad surprise for everybody. These two young and promising athletes could not be called veterans of sport and it was expected that their best races were still ahead. This sensation made a leave of Olympic silver medalist and world champion Thomas Sykora remain in the shade.
A year ago Khanty-Mansiysk was saying goodbye to Olga Zaitseva. Although the last races of this biathlete were held in season 2013/14, Olga decided to leave professional sport on Ugra land.
It is not known yet, who will leave biathlon this season. So we advice all fans who will come to Khanty-Mansiysk or watch the races of World Cup Final on TV, to keep their handkerchiefs with them.
Thinking about this, it could be supposed that some Norwegian athletes will finish their careers this season. For example, Emil Hegle Svendsen was saying that there is a chance that he will leave biathlon after the end of World Championships in Oslo. It is not known yet, if eleven-time world champion has changed his mind or not.
Of cause, the main question is whether Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will continue his career. The athlete was already saying that he will probably leave sport in Holmenkollen. However, he was also stating this before the Olympics in Sochi, so we are sure that he will be competing forever. So it won’t be a surprise for everybody if Bjoerndalen will compete in the next Olympic Games and win his 9th gold medal.
Most likely, the majority of athletes will traditionally wait for the next Olympic Games that will be held in South Korea in two years. But, unfortunately, in this case their final races will not be in Khanty-Mansiysk.