Coaches’ Corner: Approaching the New Olympiad


As the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics quickly fade in the rearview mirror, every team’s attention turns to Milan-Cortina 2026. This spring and summer has been a time to assess, reset and prepare a new long-term plan. Although the objectives are similar, each team and coach approaches each Olympiad differently.

Norway, France and Sweden were the most successful in Beijing, with fourteen, seven and four medals respectively. We caught up with Sweden’s Johannes Lukas: Insights into a Successful Season ( while Siegfried Mazet and Stéphane Bouthiaux spoke at the well-attended IBU Coaches Webinar “Olympic Cycle: Milano-Cortina 2026” earlier in September.

Norway: data collection

Norwegian shooting guru Mazet explained that he had given his opinion on a four-year plan leading up to the OWG, citing the experience of Beijing. “We kept an eye on the OWG for the four years leading up to Beijing, collecting data that would help us plan, knowing that Beijing was a high altitude place with a lot of wind and dry snow. It gave clues about what to work on for four years to prepare. With this in mind, we have set the medium-term objectives that we want to achieve at the World Championships.

Manage emotions

Mazet admitting he deals with elite athletes added: “The main thing is how they compete at the OWG and WCH; those who compete for gold medals or at least podiums. These athletes have the technical skills; their problem misses a shot or two. The main thing we are working on in the long term is the management of emotions. We’ve seen over the years at OWG and WCH that an athlete is 15/15 after the third set, he knows he has to fight and he has to behave (accordingly). It’s not about technical stuff. They have to manage their emotions because it can be an Olympic title or a world championship. This is what I use to do a four-year program, combining it with the physical part. You can’t separate the filming from the physical part. Once we know these goals, we set up a more specific program to achieve what I call medium-term goals.

Consistency and relaxation of French

The French philosophy regarding Beijing and the expectation of Antholz 2026 is very consistent. “We prepared for the Olympic season as a ‘normal’ season with the objective of being good but not in great shape at the start of the season. It’s so that the athletes are at 100% of their abilities at the Games… With this in mind, we have built our training program… We don’t prepare for the altitude, but we acclimatize to it over the long term . (83 days in camps before Beijing, including 33 days in the 1800 meter range and the rest spaced 800-1200 meters apart, a balanced acclimatization.)

Bouthiaux, despite his consistent philosophy, had no problem tweaking the Olympics-focused program a bit this spring. “After these last two very harsh winters with Covid-19 and Beijing, we have decided that the athletes need more time off this year, starting our training camps later than usual, in the middle of June I think everyone was happy with that situation.

Reorganization and optimization

This small change came as part of the necessary post-Olympic evaluation. “It is necessary to take stock after the Games which have just ended, to reorganize and optimize the system. Before Beijing, we changed the coaches of the men’s A team.” Similarly, France changed the coach of the women’s team this year, putting Cyril Burdet in charge of the next Olympiad. “The reasons were to bring a new voice to the team, to evolve our methods while moving some of the other coaches to lower levels to motivate a new generation…Even though we have a new coach, the methods remain close to the same, but the personality of the coach means that he will never be quite the same… It seems important after each Olympiad to do things like this so as not to get carried away with the inevitable drop in results .

The 1994 Olympian and former French men’s coach upheld the conservative French ethos with some very simple advice. “Keep calm in the Olympic year. Do not seek and do extraordinary things. Be confident in the way you train. We tried to do extraordinary things to be better and it never worked.

Sweden “still hungry”

Sweden’s challenge, after winning four medals in Beijing, takes another step to close the gap on Norway and France; maintain momentum and improve in 2026.”

Coach Johannes Lukas said he and his team, after their best season ever, “had our toughest analysis ever… I also asked the athletes at our first camp this season, “are we satisfied, do we want more; is it easy to get more? Maybe it’s because I’m still young, but I’m still hungry and everyone agreed. Thinking about the Nations Cup, “Of course we were second but I want to win…fifth in the men, we want to be in the top three. Our clear objective is to win the total score of the World Cup, men or women. We are a very good nation, but the goal is to be the best nation… Those are big goals, but you need high goals to grow. The total score is a big dream for many athletes, but this season we realized that it was possible even though we did not participate in all the World Cups.

“We have to do things better”

Standing and repeating a successful plan is not an option for the Swedish team. “As for the staff, it’s easy to say ‘four more years, you just have to do more or less the same thing and it will still be good… It’s not the case, there are so many details in filming, recovery and other areas… We can’t just do the same things, but we have to do things better.

The 2026 Plan

Looking towards 2026, “Our plan will be based on altitude (with the Games in Antholz). It’s always a challenge for Sweden, because our athletes don’t live high. We started this year with a new high altitude block (Antholz and Pass Lavazè), doing more tests to get more individual analysis and develop that for next year. Then, after two years, make a cut, see what worked, and make a plan for the last two years. The final two-year plan could mean more camps or more individual high camps; it all depends on what is optimal.

We have divided the two years into two blocks. For example, we ran in the SBWCH; we had never done this before. We had more intensity in August; for a summer peak, then a low intensity altitude block then much more intensity; try new ways. We try not to do everything new, but to make small changes that will help experienced athletes take small steps, that’s what we need.

While each team’s Olympic approach is different, one theme underlies all three: the key to Olympic success is simple, attention to detail.

Photos: IBU/ Christian Manzoni, Nordic Focus, Svensk Skidskytte, Skiskytterlandslaget

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