Bailly: Biathlon field wide open
Sandrine Bailly, one of France's most successful biathletes, has told Eurosport that the sport is wide open this year.
The 31-year-old retired earlier this year after winning a silver medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in the 4x6km team relay.
Looking at the contenders in the men's field, she sees old favourites being challenged by the up-and-coming biathletes.
"When it comes to the favourites I think that the Norwegians are head of the list," Bailly said.
"Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who did not achieve all he wanted at the Winter Olympics, will be keen to show that he's still the boss - especially as the competition looks tough with young guns such as Martin Fourcade, the Austrian pair of Simon Eder and Dominik Landertinge, promising Norwegians led by Tarjei Boe, and the German Simon Schempp.
"All have had a good season and will have to do it all over again to cement their status.
"And I'm not forgetting (Emil Hegle) Svendsen," the French star added.
Bailly also predicts that amongst the strongest in the women's competition this year will be two Swedes with a point to prove.
"You can count on the two Swedes - Anna Karin Zidek and Helena Eckolm - big losers at the Olympics because they were ultra-favourites and did not bring back a single medal," Bailly said.
"But one of the favourites will of course be the talented Magdalena Neuner, who has not given her opponents much of a chance in the last year.
"I know it has not been easy for her after the Olympics and a full season, but even if she takes a while to get into her stride there's no doubt that once she does she will be very hard to stop."