Having started his job as commentator at the Biathlon World Championships 2004, he is handing over the microphone after the BMW IBU Biathlon World Championships 2023 in Oberhof: nearly two decades, Marco Rühl lent his voice to the biathlon races in the Rennsteigtown – and inspired fans. As speaker in the stadium, the man from Hessia who is now living in Switzerland commented the races. As second eye for the fans, he reports about the ongoings during the races and interviews athletes afterwards.
He was thrown into the deep end at the title matches in 2004, because also his predecessor Heinz Stieler chose them as finish and educated him. As enthusiastic biathlon fan and with a wide variety of language skills – Marco Rühl speaks amongst others English, French, Italian and Norwegian – he was exactly the right one for the job. A lucky discovery which other biathlon locations like Nove Mesto and Ridnaun value.
His most moving moment in Oberhof was the men’s relay at the World Championships 2004. “The head coach back then, Frank Ullrich, put Frank Luck on the starting position. There was total silence when he came to the stadium filled with thousands of spectators. The explosion of cheers by the audience is still making me goose bumps”, he says. He also still remembers well the tearful cancellation of the Olympic Games by Miriam Neureuther (back then Gössner) in 2014 after her cycling accident: “I did not comment that moment, but as speaker I am often very close to when something is happening in or outside the stadium.”
In the past years there were also the one or other mishap. Marco Rühl can think of microphone failures, comments in another language or overlooking an athlete with a high bib until they cross the finish line as the first one. “But that didn't spoil my mood. That just happens”, he stresses.
While in 2004 he was still standing on a provisional gallery made of wooden planks in the middle of the audience, he can now call a modern and weatherproofed cabin call his commentator home. The technology as well improved significantly: today he is getting all the data that he needs for commenting in real time. That way, Rühl always has everything in sight.
For his last race at the microphone, the women’s mass start, he had not set himself anything special compared to the races of the past 20 years. “I always want to do my job as good as possible and give the audience a good feeling”, says the man who is handing over the microphone to his successor Niclas Fuchs from Brotterode. It is no final goodbye to Oberhof though: Rühl could imagine to be there after the World Championships as referee or help in other areas. Then he could enjoy getting the races commented as well.