Oberhof: A German Biathlon Mecca

2.Oct.2017 by Hallie Grossman

After wrapping up German Nationals in Arber, we headed to Oberhof for the thing that every winter sports athlete looks forward to: snow! None of us had ever been to Oberhof, so we weren’t sure what to expect. As we neared Oberhof, an Eastern European feel descended upon us. After eating dinner, we clearly decided that we had left “pasta eating Germany” and entered “potato eating Germany.”

Biathlon is popular here. A mini version of the stadium in the tourist info building.

After a rainy day off, where we did some wandering around the town, and eating delicious pastries at a local “backerei,” we were all excited to ski. As the rain poured and the wind whistled around us, we eagerly put on ski clothes, switched from rollerski to snow baskets, scraped our skis and went skiing! The track in the tunnel is a horseshoe shape, with two way traffic. The whole loop took me about eight minutes skiing easy (it probably took the Russians who ripped around the whole time abut five…) but had two short climbs, two longer climbs, and even an icy downhill. ¬†They have a snow making system inside the tunnel, so the snow was clean, plentiful, and awesome.

GRP train in the tunnel.

 

That afternoon, we headed to the range for some (rainy) running combos. It is a 30 point range, as all World Cup venues have, but has massive stadium seating, reminiscent of a football or baseball stadium in the US. It reportedly can hold 11,000 fans.

View of the stadium from a bit of a distance. Definitely doesn’t do the magnitude of it justice.

 

The next afternoon, as the rain continued to fall, we were prepared to spend another session working on our toughness and durability, but were pleasantly surprised when we found out we would be able to shoot in the indoor shooting range. Yup, indoor range. After meandering on a small road above the regular range and ski tunnel for a bit, we got to an 18 point range, with a building next to it, with pavement coming out of either end. We had found the eight point indoor, rollerski ski accessible range. Definitely not something you see every day. It’s perfect for enduring inclement weather.

Dry shooting on a rainy afternoon.

The next day, we were treated to another Oberhof speciality- yet another indoor range! This one was in the ski tunnel! This allowed us to truly practice biathlon in the summer. This range had four points and was situated midway through the tunnel, so it was easily accessible.

Intensity combos all indoors.

We also spent a little bit of time exploring Oberhof’s running/ recreation trail system. I’m always impressed by how many recreational paths many European towns have, as well as how highly trafficked they are.

Oberhof provides a biathlete (or a skier) with all the tools necessary for successful training. Never before have I been to an area with five biathlon ranges (there was a single point somewhere else in town). They even have facilities to accommodate inclement weather, which makes me think the weather often leaves some to be desired (Susan confirmed this).

The biathletes are all now back in the U.S., gearing up for October trials- some training in Craftsbury and others in Lake Placid.