It is nothing unusual when former biathletes stay somehow connected to this attractive sport. The same goes for two French, Alexis Boeuf and Lois Habert, who found their role at IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka as expert commentators for French sports televisions. Boeuf is engaged with L’Equipe France, while Habert helps with biathlon transmissions on Eurosport France.
Boeuf (pictured above), who has four medals from World Championships (three silver and one bronze) with French relay, finished his professional biathlete career in 2014. It was then, when he started to work as an expert consultant with the L’Equipe chain. “I was really lucky that there was a spot for me right at the time I stopped competing. It was a nice opportunity to work for television explaining the races to the spectators and the fact that I have been an athlete helps me a lot with my new job because it is always easier to explain things you were doing before instead of being totally new in this sport. What I love in my job is explaining things to the spectators. I want to help them understand the specificity of this difficult sport,” he describes his transition to the new job.
At the same time, he got interested in video production as well, so he also started to build his own video production company.
He likes Pokljuka, since it reminds him of his home place Chambery: “I live in Chambery which is a nice town with a lake just like in Bled. There is a ski resort with the same kind of forest and the same altitude. Feels like home in a way.”
However, his biggest memory of Pokljuka is not the nicest one: “During one of the seasons I broke my rifle at the official training just the day before the first race. I did a jump on the last downhill before the stadium, fell back and broke my rifle.”
The 34-year-old enjoys his job and does not get too nervous about the placings of the French biathletes: “I got used to follow this team doing this for 5-6 seasons. I am not nervous during the races, because there are a lot of younger guys on the team that I know a little less. It was different before, when Martin Fourcade was still competing. He is one of my closest friends and when it was him at the stadium I was always a little bit nervous.”
Boeuf admits that the Norwegians are probably the strongest team of this championships, but he believes in the chances of France and is always cheering for them: “I am always happy for my team and I believe that each race, every guy or girl competing for France is able to catch the medal.” And his compatriots proved him right, with Simon Desthieux, Emilien Jacquelin, and Anais Chevalier-Bouchet reaching the podium so far.
Lois Habert, who is married to retired excellent French biathlete Marie Dorin-Habert, also did not want to get too far from the sport he likes. However, he admits that working for television is completely different from being a professional biathlete: “It is a long job and you are always looking for something. Every time I see biathletes taking a bib, I realize I miss this and I would like to be in their place. But I have to enjoy the biathlon like this.”
Habert also competed at Pokljuka in the IBU Cup. The 37-year-old admits the difficulty of the track: “The track has been changed since I competed there. It is more difficult now but it has always been a difficult one with a lot of hills and downhills. With the track like this, it is important to have fast skis.”
Habert believes that this year the conditions are even more difficult, since there are no spectators due to Covid-19 pandemic: “Now, with no people around, the competitors will have to work hard by themselves and never forget to push, since no one will do it for them.” He agrees with Boeuf that Norway is probably the fastest team, but he is also confident about French opportunities at this competition.