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Heidi Kuuttinen is one of the Finnish women in the IBU Cup competitions in Kontiolahti. Photo: E. Kinnunen


The opening of the IBU Cup season in Finland for the first time: "An athlete still has another chance to show", says Tero Seppälä

Kaisa Mäkäräinen's own IBU Cup career began and ended with the sprint victory in Östersund. Finland will be represented by 13 athletes at the opening of the IBU Cup and at the season's only home competitions between November and December.

The Biathlon IBU Cup, which starts at the turn of November and December in Finland and Kontiolahti, is the athlete's springboard to the World Cup.

"From the IBU Cup, I have also moved up to the World Cup. During the World Cup years, I went to individual races to fill the competition calendar or if they fit better into my plans," says Tero Seppälä, who is traveling to Östersund in Sweden for next weekend's World Cup opening.

"Tough races"

There are more teams in the IBU Cup than in the World Cup, which makes the competition between athletes tight. In the early winter games, the competition is made even tougher by the fact that many countries are still qualifying for places in the World Cup.

"The athletes are in good shape when they have had to show in the test competitions whether they could make it to the World Cup. If you have been left out of the World Cup, you still have another chance to show in the IBU Cup. Tough races."

"Eka ja vika IBU Cup race"

Kaisa Mäkäräinen, who won the overall World Cup competition three times, only competed in one IBU Cup competition in the fall of 2011.

"At the time of the Kontiolahti GP, I was sick and could not participate. The IBU Cup started in Östersund a week before the World Cup, and I went there to pick up the pre-winter race," says Mäkäräinen.

The result was a speed race victory.

"It was the first and only IBU Cup competition and served as a good preparatory competition for the World Cup season."

Things to do for the public and free entry

The public has free access to the opening event of the IBU Cup on all race days from Thursday to Sunday.

In addition to encouraging athletes, there are other programs available.

"Themed day for students and schoolchildren is taking place on Thursday. On Saturday and Sunday, local sports clubs, Pohjois Karjalan Osuuskauppa and other operators offer family-friendly things to see and do at their own points. There will be, for example, the cars of the Joensuu Sports Cars, a raffle, as well as Jekku-Jänö activity checks and reaction speed testing at the Pohjois Karjalan Liikunta ry point," says event manager Sami Leinonen from the Kontiolahti Athletes.

The opening of the IBU Cup brings teams from 32 different countries to Finland. There are more teams and individual athletes than in World Cup events. 13 athletes have been named to the Finnish team.

"This is of course great for the home audience," Leinonen says.

This is the first opening event of the IBU Cup season in Finland. The IBU Cup competition has been organized in Kontiolahti once before, in the 2016-17 season.

Info: Opening of the IBU Cup 30.11.-2.12. & Finnish athletes


  • Thu 30.11.: Normal competition, women/men
  • Sat 2.12.: Speed race, women/men
  • Sun 3.12.: Mixed relay (2 x N + 2 x M) and mixed doubles relay (N+M)

The public has free access to the event. Grilled sausage and a warm drink are available in the area on all competition days. On the weekend, the event center has local sports clubs and other parties with their own activity and presentation points.

Athletes of the Finnish team:

The board of the Finnish Biathlon Union has nominated the following athletes for the opening of the IBU Cup in Kontiolahti:


  1. Emilia Irvankoski
  2. Sofia Joronen
  3. Heidi Kuuttinen
  4. Venla Lehtonen
  5. Seela Peuralahti
  6. Daria Virolainen
  7. Frida Achré


  1. Arttu Heikkinen
  2. Ville-Valtteri Karvinen
  3. Jimi Klemettinen
  4. Heikki Laitinen
  5. Jonni Mukkala
  6. Joni Mustonen