Maija Holopainen: The Interview!

Maija Holopainen is a Finnish biathlete who has recently become a coach. She was born in Liperi on the 22nd of February 1978. She made her World Cup debut in Oestersund in 2002 but now she has become coach of the Finnish Youth National team as well as at a high school in Vuokatti. Here she talks about what it’s like to coach biathlon.

You can follow Maija on Twitter: @MehisMaija

Why did you become a biathlete?

I was a cross country skier and was always better at freestyle because my mum didn’t know how to get my skis to work in classic. I wanted to try biathlon so I didn’t have to race in classic races anymore.

What is your best memory from your biathlon career?

There are a lot of good memories: training camps with the national team and friends, many World cup and IBU cup weeks. But maybe it’s my first two World Cup weeks in December 2002 in Östersund. It’s hard to choose, I have so many good memories with the biathlon family.

When did you become a coach and why did you want to do it?

My first season as a coach was in 2014/15 when I was still training and racing 100%, I only had some junior training camps. But in season 2015/16 I became a full time coach in Vuokatti- Ruka Urheiluakatemia (upper secondary school) and the Finnish biathlon association youth team coach.

I love biathlon and I have done almost nothing but biathlon since 1995, so it was natural for me to change from an athlete to a coach.

Who were your coaches when you were a biathlete? What did you learn from them that you now use as a coach?

I have had many coaches in my long biathlon career. I have learned most from Anatoly Khovantsev, Marko Laaksonen and Toni Roponen.

For example Marko taught me to train like a biathlete, not like a cross country skier or shooter. In Finland we have many good cross country coaches but they forget that we are biathletes.

You are coaching Juniors. Do you enjoy working with the young biathletes?

Yes, I really enjoy working daily with the juniors. It is very inspiring when they learn and progress at something. I think I can and want to help them most in growing as athletes.

How much time do you spend with the biathletes? Do you send them a programme to work through alone or do you see/speak to them every day?

I have some athletes who I help and write personal daily programmes for. I try to be with them as much as possible at training.

We have about 25 biathletes in Vuokatti who we see daily in our training and who we help daily in school time (from mid August to the first weekend in June). They all can get our training programme so we can train together and do some food biathlon training also.

In the Finnish Youth national team there are 10 athletes from our Vuokatti group, so I can see their training also in training camps.

What do you do before, during and after a race as a coach?

It depends whether I am the only coach or if we have two coaches in the races.

If I’m alone, I have to be in the range all the time. Before the race I normally test the skis with the girls and do some wax and grid testing (helping service) and zeroing with athletes, trying to get familiar with the wind. During the race I’m in the range giving some info to athletes or I’m on the skiing loop giving some intermissions or/and wind info from the range.

After the race I go through the race with the athletes, but only if they want to.

Would you like to be a coach on the World Cup one day?

Of course, I think I have similar goals to an athlete, going up step by step.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Antholz, I like the profile and altitude. It is always harder to shoot well at 1600 metres.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

I have many 🙂
Ole-Einar, Liv-Grete and Frode. OEB because he is OEB, he wants to be better and better year after year. Respect.
Liv-Grete and Frode because of the skiing technique. Just so easy and fast.

Does your rifle have a name?
Frode.

Describe yourself in three words.

Worlds smallest biathlon coach. Maybe the craziest also.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation(not your own): Germany, they know how to coach biathlon.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Favourite shooting range: Antholz
Lucky bib number: 8
Funniest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Jon Kristian Svaland,Peter Sendel and of course Andi Stitzl he is my idol! Just watch him in the races!
Nicest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: So many, it’s hard to pick, I have got help from so many coaches when I was an athlete. But maybe Cristian Stebler.
Best thing about being a coach: I can still work full time in a sport that I love. And give something back to our juniors about what I have learned in my long biathlon career.

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Scott Meenagh: The Interview!

Scott Meenagh is one of Great Britain’s newest para biathletes. (OK so he also does cross country but that is not so important!) He was born on the 16th of September 1989 and is from Cumbernauld in Scotland. He comes from a military background and he served in the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment. Whilst serving in Helmand province in Afghanistan he stepped on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and lost both his legs. Scott has competed as a rower and has taken part in the Invictus Games and he will do so again this September in Toronto. His target is to go to the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang next March to take part in the sitting cross country and biathlon races.

You can follow Scott on Twitter: @SMeenagh

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I was lucky enough to be in Sochi for the 2014 Paralympic Games and was completely in awe of the sit skiers! It just looked incredible. Such physicality along with technical ability. Also being an ex soldier the skill of being able to shoot accurately under physical strain is a skill to be proud of!

Last season was your first World Cup and World Championships in para Nordic. How do you assess the season? Was it a massive learning curve? What did you learn about biathlon?

My first season was fast and furious. Every single race was a chance to learn something completely new and work on the short term season goals I had set myself. I only finally entered biathlon races towards the back end of the season and that was a huge learning curve. I think patience is truly a virtue in the biathlon world!

Where do you get the funding and support to be able to compete in para biathlon?

I have been lucky enough to be supported firstly by the Armed Forces Para Snow sports team (AFPST) and Help for Heroes on the journey into the sport as I am an ex serviceman. Recently I have been supported by the Scottish Institute of Sport (SAPA) funding for athletes bidding to make it to PyeongChang 2018.

You are also a rower (which is frowned upon as it is a summer sport!). How much of the skills for rowing cross over into skiing?

Rowing has truly been helpful on my journey into the Winter world. The sport is equally as physical and the hard training regime is similar to that of biathlon.

Being part of the well established GB Rowing team Paralympic programme helped me learn how to train as a full time athlete and pay attention to the little details that become the big things in performance sport, both skills I could bring across to Para Biathlon and Nordic whose programme is very much in its infancy and it’s truly exciting and special to be part of that journey.


What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

I have been well on my way into the new season since the end of April. Lots of base miles on my hand bike and weights training. I have recently returned from our first snow camp of the new season in Oberhof, Germany.

Roller skiing is a massive part of my training. I also run a lot on my carbon fibre running blades.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you most need to improve on in biathlon?

I feel my strength lays in my ability to work hard and really put the extra effort in. I am willing to push myself hard in training and racing. I also feel I am becoming a student of the sport. I want to learn from every experience I have and from the incredible coaches and athletes around the World Cup circuit.

In terms of my areas I aim to improve. Technical ability into fast corners has been a constant work on for me along with the ability to race with my head up and looking for the best lines etc. I feel I want to become a more intelligent skier. Pick the right lines and times to work hard/recover.

Patience is something I aim to work hard on when it comes to range time. Switching off from hard skiing to being composed on the range can prove a real challenge. I’m loving the journey of learning.

What are your goals for this season in para nordic?

This season I want to improve on the areas I fell short on last season and go into the coming World Cup season as a far more rounded skier. Focusing hard on my technical ability along side the power endurance it requires to climb multiple hills with just your arms.

You went to the World Cup round in PyeongChang? What did you think of the shooting range and the tracks there? Do they suit you or did you find them difficult?

I LOVED PyeongChang! What an incredible place! The course is looking superb. Lots of tough climbs on the course which is a challenge I am relishing. The lack of snow especially in the afternoons may prove challenging at Games time but I am confident Korea will put on a special show! The shooting range is really well laid out. A little on the windy side at times but that just keeps things interesting!

You have also competed in the Invictus Games and are going to do so again this season. There is no biathlon in them!!! What are you going to do and what are they like to compete in?

The Invictus Games are fantastic! I am extremely proud to have competed there and medalled in the past. The games were the stepping stone for me into full time sport. This year I will be running and rowing, giving me plenty of challenge to compete in different distances over a short period of time. A nice way to test myself and experience a Games environment with a view to getting things right at the Paralympics! The energy an Invictus Games brings is very unique. The people who compete there inspire me every day. They really define how special sport can be to recovery.

I hear you are a bit of a dare devil. What have you already done and what would you like to do in the future?

Haha! I’m curious to who you’ve heard this from!

Well I guess if I used to jump out of planes for a living I can say I do enjoy a thrill.

I have skydived and bungee jumped since losing my legs which were incredible! Also I love a bit of Alpine skiing (just for fun though!) my heart is truly Nordic! (The correct answer!)

When I get a bit of free time I really enjoy surfing with friends. It’s hard work paddling out but you are rewarded by getting to ride some awesome waves!

You are the second Scottish Scott in biathlon now after Scott Dixon. Do you have any contact with the British Biathlon Union or any of the British biathletes who compete on the IBU?

Sadly not as much as I would like to. Our teams tend to be like passing ships in the night as the Para circuit and able bodied world move on their own schedules during a fast and furious winter season. I am still the new kid on the block and would welcome absolutely any opportunity to learn from the guys who compete on the IBU.

Does your rifle have a name?

I’ve heard a lot of this chat on the biathlon scene. I can say I have not named my rifle. But if you have any suggestions…fire away!! See what I did there!

Describe yourself in three words.

Enthusiastic, Passionate and absolutely determined to achieve what I set my sights on…..so many biathlon puns here!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Vuokatti, Finland
Favourite shooting range: Finsterau,Germany
Favourite event: 15km
Favourite biathlete (IPC or IBU): Collin Cameron from Canada (IPC)
Lucky bib number: 6
Favourite training activity: I really enjoy long roller ski sessions. Often my dog Jura comes out and tries to keep up!
Nicest biathlete on the IPC tour: Trygve Larson from Norway . The smiling assassin. He is a fantastic biathlete and an all round good guy!!
Best thing about being a biathlete: I love seeing so much of the world and all the spectacular venues we train and compete in. I really like the variety of courses too. No two are the same.

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Holly Rees-Lay: The Interview!

Holly Rees-Lay is a young British biathlete who is hoping to make it on to the IBU Cup this season. The 21-year-old from Oxfordshire competed on the Junior World Cup last season and achieved a top result of 60th in the Lenzerheide Individual. She currently combines biathlon with her studies at Edinburgh University. Even though she only started skiing aged 18 she has already been successful at the British World Championships in Ruhpolding. She also competes in rifle shooting.

Follow Holly on Twitter: @HollyyRL
Like her Facebook Page: Holly Rees-Lay- Rifle Shooter/ Biathlete

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I’ve been watching biathlon on TV with my mum from when I was very small and had always wanted to try it, and my family are all keen target rifle shooters (both my parents have shot for England, and my mum has shot for Great Britain). I wasn’t particularly interested in shooting until I was about 11 when mum convinced me that if I was going to be a biathlete I’d have to learn to shoot! (Not that she thought there was any chance I would ever go skiing or take up biathlon, she just wanted to trick me into learning to shoot). From there I improved fairly quickly and shot for the GB junior squad for the first time in Germany when I was 13, and I went on to compete all over the world with my last competition being the World University Games in Gwangju which turned out to be one of my best matches.

When I was 17, a small roller ski club started in a car park 35 minutes away, so I dragged my mum along with me, mostly because I really needed to lose weight and I didn’t want to run! I started doing roller ski races, although it took 2 races before I didn’t come last… and being super competitive I got completely hooked and knew I had to improve to try and win. I was lucky enough to get involved with the Cairngorm biathlon club when I was 18 and meet Mike Dixon, who persuaded me to go to the British Biathlon Championships in 2015. Despite having only had a week on snow beforehand and having never skied with a rifle before the first race I won 2 of the 3 youth races, at which point I decided to give it a more serious go!

How do you assess last season? You raced in the Junior World Cup. What was that like?

Last season was a really steep learning curve for me. Having only ever raced at British Championships I had no idea how I would perform against anyone else, but I was quite worried that I would be coming last in every race. Ultimately my only goal was to learn as much as I could, enjoy it, race my own races and see what happened. I found that my shooting is definitely competitive, even though I had expected myself to shoot a lot better, but my ski speed needs a lot of work, which I guess isn’t surprising seeing as I’m still really new to it. It was an amazing experience to see first hand how fast the top girls from the other countries are, and has definitely given me the motivation to improve and be more competitive in the coming years.

Do you have a favourite race from last season? Which one was it and what was special about it for you?

Probably the Individual in Lenzerheide. I had a bit of a cold and knew I wasn’t skiing particularly fast in training, which wasn’t exactly filling me with confidence prior to my first ever Junior World Cup! But I was feeling OK on the day and I really wanted to race so I did- I was so nervous I missed 3 on the first shoot, but somehow came back to hit all of the last 15 targets and skied the best I ever had at that point. I hadn’t seen the results but my mum rang me almost in tears to say well done and that I’d finished 60th out of 74. It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to anyone else but having had most of my race experience roller skiing around a car park in Oxfordshire it felt like a very big deal to me!

It’s not easy being a biathlete in Great Britain. What are the hardest things about it? What are the good things?

For me as a civilian in Great Britain, I think the hardest part is that there is no Junior squad or British training group for me to join, so I do sometimes feel very isolated training by myself. Last year I also struggled with organising my training- as I had next to no experience I often had to resort to googling how to organise training plans or ask anyone that could help me! Thankfully this year I am now getting a training plan and guidance through the British Nordic ski team, which is one less thing for me to worry about and I’m super grateful for. Lack of funding is also a problem for the team as a whole as well as myself, although I realise that it’s an issue in a lot of sports and I’m fortunate to have parents who are willing to do almost anything to support me when they see that I can’t support myself. There are also good things though- being a small team means that I’ve made some really close friends, and being the “little one” out of the British girls I feel like the older girls have really looked out for me and been a shoulder to cry on when races don’t go well, which has been really nice. Some of the ex GB biathletes have also been incredibly generous and I can’t thank them enough. And with Amanda doing so well it’s awesome to have someone who I can really look up to and aspire to be like.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life?

Edinburgh University have been really supportive in making sure I can catch up on any work I miss, and I was very grateful to them for letting me take my winter exams in August as I was away racing in December. Obviously I have to make some sacrifices within my social life, but I have a great group of friends who are always really supportive even when I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. I’m also very lucky to live with my best friend, who competes on the World Cup for rifle shooting (and has recently been getting some awesome results), so totally gets it if I’m grouchy for no apparent reason and just want to lie in bed watching Made in Chelsea because I’m tired!

Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Freshers week…
(For my non-UK readers Freshers week is the week before you begin classes at University and involves a lot of parties and alcohol!)

What are your goals for next season and further into the future?

Next season will be my first season as a senior so I’m hoping I’ll qualify for the IBU Cup team and then take it from there. I’m aiming to qualify for the World Cup in the next 3 years with my ultimate goal being to compete at the Winter Olympics.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What will you be working on over the summer?

My biggest strength is definitely the accuracy of my shooting, but I need to work on shooting faster and not losing so much time on the range. My biggest weaknesses are my ski speed and my (lack of) downhill technique, but I am now working with British Nordic so I am confident I can make big improvements leading up to next winter.

Do you have any hobbies away from biathlon?

I used to do figure skating when I was younger and I’ve been getting back into that recently which has been really fun! I’m also a big American football fan and support the Cincinnati Bengals (which can be a challenge in itself…) so I try and catch up on their games in the winter!

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I loved racing in Lenzerheide, the area is stunning and I felt the tracks really suited me with long uphills but that weren’t too steep.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Johannes Boe, because he’s always exciting to watch race and you know he’ll give absolutely everything if he thinks he has a chance to win.

Does your rifle have a name?

Yes, it’s called Freddie.

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined, Stubborn, Caffeinated

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Czech Republic
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding, mostly because there never seems to be any wind to worry about!
Nicest biathlete: He’s retired but I’ve got to say Mike Dixon because without him I would never have had the confidence to give biathlon a go.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Getting to train and compete in incredible places I would never otherwise think to visit.

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Spring Things!


(Introducing the new target for 2017/18- ONLY JOKING!)

Shut up! I know it’s Summer but I have been on Spring Break – WOO HOO! NO, not the American college one, the one where I have a biathlon rest to prepare for the new season. As it’s an Olympic and Paralympic season I had an extra month of rest! The fingers needed a scribbling break! 😉

So this is where I catch you up on some of the things that happened in the Spring – the Spring Things! In true Spring style we started with a birth. Martin Fourcade welcomed his second daughter, Ines, at the end of last season. Then Miriam Goessner announced her pregnancy. Of course the Fourcade brothers are very competitive and Simon announced the birth of his first child, a boy called Adam, at the end of May.

At the opposite end of biathlon we had some retirements. Switzerland’s Ivan Joller, Romania’s Eva Tofalvi and Slovakia’s Jana Gerekova all announced the end of their biathlon careers. Gerekova’s was the most unexpected but she said her knees couldn’t take another year. On the bright side though she got married.

Italy’s Lukas Hofer got a nose job. It’s about time I hear you all thinking! How dare you! It was an operation to help with breathing difficulties not for cosmetic purposes! Behave yourselves! 😉

Training got underway at the start of May. The Polish ladies with new coach Tobias Torgersen went to Mallorca to train as did Spain’s Victoria Padial. It was Tenerife for the Ukrainian women and Cyprus for the Swedish team. The Canadian and American teams stayed at home as it’s they only time they get to spend there! The German men went to the Italian Alps. The Italians went to France and France stayed in France! The next time biathletes tell you how hard the sport is don’t believe them. It’s just one long holiday! 😉

Unless of course you decide to train on a bike. First Teja Gregorin had a small fall and scraped her knee which isn’t so bad but then Anais Chevalier got hit by a car and broke her collarbone. Simon Fourcade also had his now annual issue with drivers threatening him. It’s a dangerous business training on the roads!

Speaking of training there are rumours of Ole Einar and Martin Fourcade having a camp together. That won’t be competitive at all! Not content with equalling and beating some of Ole’s records in biathlon Martin is trying to win the family battle with 2 daughters to Ole’s 1! He might get some free samples from Darya’s new clothing range but there is no way he will be allowed in the motor home!

Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen did their first orienteering race. The Norwegian Team stood next to some cars – they seem to do that a lot!

I am sad to report the apparent break up of the biathlon band. We saw nothing of them last season and now that Gabi is married and Lowell has a young daughter it seems Jean-Gui has found himself a new band with Baptiste Jouty on drums!

Oh and Freddie Lindstrom got a cat!

There were many other biathletes doing many other things too but I couldn’t cover everything!

Finally there has been no news about the McLaren Report and if anything will happen to the Russian Biathlon Union or their biathletes. You may remember they handed back the World Cup round in Tyumen and the Youth Junior World Championships but it looks like the Summer World Championships will go ahead in Chaykovskiy, Russia in August.

You will be pleased to know that July sees the return of the infamous biathlon23 interviews. Since I neglected them a bit last season and will do so again in this Olympic season it is only fair that I start with some of the young biathletes. Since nearly everyone is going to retire after PyeongChang it’s good to meet them early! 😉

Hopefully I will be catching up with some para biathletes each month too as it is also the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang in March!

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2016/17!!!

awards
It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their fourth year! As usual they are not your typical awards. In fact they are even more la-la than LA-LA Land! Luckily I double checked all the envelopes as I discovered Gabi Koukalova’s name in the Best Facial Hair category – OOPS!!! 😉 Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Shockingly this award was almost won by a ski technician. Now I love the ski/wax techs but they are forbidden from winning awards! Andrew Chisholm is the culprit proving very popular among his fellow Canadians. This had to be stopped and there was only one way to it. Interview a German! Luckily for me one of them agreed to do it and since it’s biathlon a German can beat anyone! This one also went on to become World Champion in the Sprint in Hochfilzen! (That’s what biathlon23 interviews can do for you!)
Winner: Benedikt Doll

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“biathlon23”: This is happening more often! It’s a worry! 😉
“little bit too much girly habert dorin”: Outrageous behaviour from a girl!!!
“martin fourcade and final lap of relay. did he cheat?” Yes he cheats in every race by being faster on skis and better at shooting than everyone else – Damn him!
“is aiden miller one of the fastest people”: I think it’s still Usain Bolt!
“simon fourcade has child”: I don’t think he can!
“van damme biathlon”: Well Belgium are always looking for biathletes!
“tarjei bø party”: I want to go!
“tarjei bö shirtless”: The party just got better!
“lisa theresa hauser high heels”: Not when she is skiing I hope!

Winner:“anton panton biathlon”: It’s Pantov! Anton Pantov! It must be the rhyming here that made me cry laughing so that’s why it wins!

Best Facial Hair:
Talk about famine to feast. Last season there was obviously some sort of offer on shaving items as there was hardly a whisker to be seen but this year the beard is back! It’s not just the biathletes either some of the coaches have beards and even the new IBU TV guy. Well sorry gents but this is a biathlete only award. The French put up a good fight this season with Simon Fourcade and also Antonin Guigonnat trying to become an extra on “Vikings”. The Canadians have Macx Davies trying to defend his title and a hidden gem in the IBU Cup with Matthew Neumann’s wonderful effort. The Germans tried but I’m sorry to say failed with Erik Lesser and Arnd Peiffer attempting the goatie but with little success. Klemen Bauer always has a great beard. Benni Weger was a strong candidate but the winner has a great beard to go with a great personality and also some great form!
Winner:Michael Roesch

Best earrings:
A strong category this season. There are a lot of ladies wearing earrings to compete and so it was a tough decision. Kaisa Makarainen has her snowflakes as does Tiril Eckhoff. There were a lot of ladies choosing long earrings this year. They are brave, I mean imagine if they got caught in your harness – AHH!!! The ones I liked best however were small blue earrings that actually looked like real flowers.
Winner:Nicole Gontier

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This year’s award has to be shared for a magnificent two person effort. Picture the scene. The Men’s Relay in Pokljuka, the first lap, a herd of biathletes hurtling down the hill. Sergey Bocharnikov of Belarus falls and Tuomas Gronman of Finland skis into him and goes flying through the air and lands on his face! Fortunately both were OK but it was a spectacular crash to watch.
Winner: Thomas Gronman and Sergey Bocharnikov

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
Again this has to go to a Boe! This year it’s Johannes but he does have to share it with Gabi! Asked at a press conference in Hochfilzen about Valentine’s Day he put his arm round Gabi and said he had everything he needed for Valentine’s Day. To which she replied that he would have to wait a few days because her husband was there! So funny and very cheeky as usual! (actually Gabi saying that Laura Dahlmeier ‘runs like a horse’ was also in contention!)
See the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLI4rZgjECE
Winner: Johannes Boe and Gabriela Koukalova

Best biathlon video:
There is only one possibility. Filmed in a bathroom at the World Championships (no it’s not that get your mind out of the gutter!) by the American team. Please feel free to ignore most of it except of course the part where Maddie Phaneuf talks about this blog! Fame at last! It’s all about 23! 🙂
(Actually you should watch all the videos they did as it’s a great behind the scenes view with some raw emotions too.)
see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UdHH16RR8c&feature=youtu.be
Winner: US biathlon women’s team

Best rifle design:
It’s been a lean year for rifle design. I mean biathletes have all summer to come up with a idea and then we get a blue,black or red rifle or a wooden stock. Come on people! We have a few saviours thankfully. Erik Lesser has a design that I think is miners. Joanne Reid has a naked lady! (Don’t look kids!). Andrejs Rastorgujevs has his like a zebra in case we do safari biathlon! Anastasiya Kuzmina has gone a bit psychedelic. Jaroslav Soukup has his kids on there (AWW!). Shipulin and Gasparin still have their cool rifles from last season but the winner is a lady who has a cat’s face on her stock. You can just see the eyes staring at you when she shoots. It’s PURR-fect! 😉
Winner: Darya Usanova

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Well it’s not technically ridiculous and not even that bad but as almost everyone has gone boring this season someone has to win. I don’t want to be too harsh, she may be short of money and that’s why she used her grandmother’s flowery wallpaper to cover her rifle including the barrel!
Winner: Veronika Vitkova

Best ski suit:
There has been a noticeable improvement in this years ski suits. I particularly like Estonia, Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic. The Norwegians and Great Britain have done well too. The winner was actually hard to choose for a change but I went with this country because I like the design and the colours and they deserve praise for getting rid of those pixelated trousers from last season!
Winner: Austria

Worst ski suit:
Well there is a clear winner this year but first I must commend some previous winners for improving their suits. Not France of course because theirs still sucks! Lithuania however have made major improvements in colour abandoning the yellow/green horror for a lovely shade of red. China came close to getting this award but avoided it by at least using the colours of their flag. However the winners was an easy choice. They have chosen the colour of the phlegm you cough up when you have a chest infection and matched it with silvery grey. None of these colours are on the country’s flag and hopefully it will never been seen again!
Winner: Romania

Best range decoration:
Oestersund got us started with range decoration this season by throwing some shells (the wrong size by the way) on to a pile of snow! Creativity at it’s best! PyeongChang got in on the action with a rabbit watching the shooting (FYI rabbits don’t like rifles!). The clear winner however is the digger and the penguin. Not that much to do with biathlon to be fair but good work nonetheless.
Winner:Ruhpolding

Best TV turn:
You may have noticed at the start of Sprint and Individual races the biathletes pop up with a TV turn at the left bottom corner of your screen. Most of them either cross their arms or put their arms on their hips. Luckily we have 2 creative rebels to entertain us. Vladimir Semakov of Ukraine does the 2 thumbs up and the winner who is 100% biathlon at all times makes a gun with his fingers for shooting!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Best Biathlete23:
Difficult this season without a win for bib23. We have had 3 podiums. Susan Dunklee was third and Anton Shipulin and Justine Braisaz were both second. How do you choose between them? You don’t! I have gone left field for this one. A biathlete who contacts the blog to say they are in bib23 in the first race of the season and then goes on to achieve their personal best wearing it deserves the title! It doesn’t matter if it’s World Cup, IBU Cup or the Junior World Cup. In this case 14th in the Junior Men’s Individual in Lenzerheide!
Winner: Tom Lahaye-Goffart

Biggest Improver:
One person in particular has had an amazing season. This season she has progressed from an athlete who would move between the IBU and World Cup to a regular on the World Cup. She got her first ever World Cup podium in Nove Mesto where she came second in the Sprint. She won her first ever race in the Pursuit a day later. She was also on the podium in Antholz coming second in the Individual and again in PyeongChang when she was 3rd in the Sprint. She won a bronze medal in the Sprint at the World Championships. Last season she was 39th in the Total Score and this season she was 7th. You can see the clear improvement!
Winner: Anais Chevalier

Best Team Performance:
There can only be one winner in this category. Winning every Women’s Relay of the season and the World Championships is a remarkable achievement. I mean it helps to have Laura Dahlmeier on the anchor leg but they can even win without her as was proved in PyeongChang.
Winner: German Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This one comes from the World Championships. Dominik Landertinger’s final lap in the Men’s Relay was a strong contender but there could only be one winner for me. Winning the Individual race for the USA was an outstanding achievement. A perfect shooting performance and a excellent ski meant he deserved all the accolades he got. However this award is actually for the whole Championships. He was also 4th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the Mass Start. After being overtaken in these races and losing positions his win in the Individual showed some amazing mental fortitude as well as his obvious talent.
Winner: Lowell Bailey

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
So it has to come down to Martin Fourcade vs. Laura Dahlmeier. That’s a race I would love to see! Martin now has 6 Overall Titles in a row and won an amazing 14 races this season. Dahlmeier won the Overall Title for the first time and won 5 gold and 1 silver medal at the World Championships. She also won 10 races this season and was a fantasic anchor in the Women’s Relay team. Basically I think it comes down to the more competitive nature of the women’s field as to why I chose this winner and that the first World Title is often the hardest.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

IPC biathlete of the Year:
I think this is the hardest award of all to choose with 3 categories of men and women there are a lot of possibilities. This year I have chosen someone who dramatically claimed his first ever biathlon World Title at the final World Cup round in Japan in the final race. He also won two gold medals at his home World Championships in Finsterau in the sitting category. Also he likes biathlon better than cross-country which is very important!
Winner: Martin Fleig

Junior Biathlete of the Year:

A very tough category especially as there is now a Junior World Cup as well as World Championships. I chose this guy because of his consistency over the season as well as his obvious talent in skiing and shooting. He won the Overall Title on the Junior World Cup and silver at the European Junior Championships in the Individual. He also won silver in the Sprint at the World Championships and helped his team to Relay gold.
Winner: Kirill Streltsov

Youth Biathlete of the Year:
This was a duel between two biathletes again. Irene Lardschneider and Claude 3 or Emilien as he is also known. They have both competed on the Junior World Cup. They both won 2 gold medals at the Youth World Championships in the Sprint and Pursuit. One of them also won a bronze medal with their team in the Relay so for that and the fact that they have a great surname here is the winner.
Winner: Irene Lardschneider

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Biathlete23: Season Review 2016/17!

, IBU World Cup 1 ostersund single mix relay
Picture courtesy of photographer extraordinaire Ross Burton.

For anyone unfamiliar with Biathlete23 this blog follows the results of whichever biathlete happens to be in bib23 for each race. It treats them like one athlete and adds up the score to see how this biathlete would have performed over the year.

In the first year the total for the men and the women was 802 and in the second year the total was 948. Excellent a bit of progress! The third year was not as successful with a points total of 760.

This season there was great improvement with a total score of 921 points! The men scored most points with 482. This would put biathlete23 in 19th place in the Men’s Total score sandwiched between Evgeniy Garanichev on 495 and Maxim Tsvetkov on 469. The women scored 439 points which amazingly enough would put biathlete23 19th on the Women’s Total Score too between Nadezha Skardino on 440 and Vanessa Hinz on 436.

There were 3 podiums this season from Anton Shipulin, Justine Braisaz and Susan Dunklee. Biathlete23 achieved 13 Top 10 finishes on the World Cup and 1 Top 10 finish at the World Championships. According to Biathlon Addict on Twitter “it’s statistically usual for #23 this season to claim around the 5th or 6th place!!” It’s great when others do the stats for you and that they too believe in 23!

All in all it was a season much like that of Emil Hegle Svendsen. No wins, some podiums and not a great World Championships but importantly all done with great hair!

Biathlete23’s season started in Oestersund with a Swedish lady. Unfortunately Linn Persson finished 65th in the Individual and outside the points but her photo (kindly taken by Ross Burton) is now used as the picture for this page! In the Men’s race Ondrej Moravec came home in 17th. Darya Yurkevich was 59th in the Sprint for the women but Julian Eberhard was 5th for the men. In the Pursuits Iryna Varvynets was 52nd and Jean-Guillaume Beatrix was 11th. This meant the ladies had 0 points leaving Sweden but the men had 94! Well done chaps!

Pokljuka was next up and Brendan Green was in bib23 for the Sprint. He finished 52nd but in the Women’s Sprint Justine Braisaz was 2nd! The first podium of the season! Allez Justine! There were no points from the Pursuits with Scott Gow 48th and Federica Sanfilippo 52nd. That meant a total of 54 points from Slovenia.

Nove Mesto was a great round for biathlete23 with everyone scoring points. In the Sprint Michael Roesch was 11th and Susan Dunklee was 3rd! Another podium woo-hoo! Artem Pryma was 27th in the Pursuit and Marte Olsbu was 18th. In the Mass Start Jean-Guillaune Beatrix was 13th and Vanessa Hinz was 4th! Pilsner all round for a reward! 😉 The men left with 53 points but the women with 114.

After Christmas it was time to head to Germany with the first stop in Oberhof. It was another good round with Martin Fourcade finishing 8th in the Sprint (great time to miss the podium Martin, thanks!) and Anais Chevalier was 4th. In the Pursuit Vitaliy Kilchytskyy was 48th but Jana Gerekova was 26th. In the Mass Starts Benjamin Weger was 10th and Maren Hammerschmidt was 20th. That meant 65 points from the men and 79 from the women.

Ruhpolding wasn’t the best round. Dmytro Pidruchnyi started well in the Sprint finishing 7th but then Lena Haecki was 74th. In the Pursuit Anton Babikov didn’t start the race but Anastasiya Merkushyna showed great dedication to bib23 by finishing 23rd! That gave a total of 36 points from the men and 18 from the women.

The last round before the World Championships was in Antholz where Joanne Reid was 60th in the Individual and Martin Otcenas was 84th -no points! However in the Mass Starts Anna Magnusson was 7th and Lars Birkeland was 11th. So that meant 30 points for the men and 36 for the women.

The World Championships started well for biathlon23, were a bit rubbish in the middle and picked up at the end. Alas there was no gold medal this year. 😦

Anastasiya Merkushyna was back in 23 for the Sprint and she was 10th. Anton Pantov was 68th in the Men’s Sprint. In the Pursuits Lisa Hauser was 26th and Remus Faur was 42nd. The Americans in the Individuals were Maddie Phaneuf who was 87th and Sean Doherty who was 58th. The Mass Starts were better with Nadezhda Skardino in 16th and Dominik Windisch in 24th. Biathlete23 left Hochfilzen with 17 points for the men and 71 for the women.

Then we went to PyeongChang for the Olympic test event and World Cup 7. Julia Ransom was 41st in the Sprint and Vegard Gjermundshaug was 40th. In the Pursuits Lisa Vittozzi was 43rd but then Anton Shipulin came from 23rd to 2nd to grab some valuable points. That meant 55 points for the men and 0 for the women.

Kontiolahti was the venue for round 8 replacing Tyumen. In the Men’s Sprint the legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen brought home the points in 8th! For the women Eva Puskarcivkova was 63rd. Getting a Russian in the Men’s Pursuit is always good and this time it was Evgeniy Garanichev’s turn to make up lots of places. He finished 12th but fellow Russian Ekaterina Shimulova was outside the points in 42nd. The men got 64 (check) points and the women 0.

At the final round in Holmenkollen home favourite Tiril Eckhoff was in bib23 in the Sprint and she finished 12th. For the men Maxim Tsvetkov didn’t start the Sprint race. The Pursuits went well with Anna Magnusson in 21st and Andrejs Rastorgujevs 10th. In the Mass Starts Anna Magnusson was again in bib23 and finished 23rd! She has been in bib23 three times this season and always scored points! Well done Anna Mag! Michal Slesingr was 6th making it 69 points for the men and 67 for the women.

For full results and points see the Biathlete23 page.
Biathlete23 will return! 🙂

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World Cup 2016/17: Women’s Review!

As is becoming more and more common the women’s World Cup was again more exciting and more closely fought than the men’s. The eventual winner was Laura Dahlmeier. She won a total of 10 races and has been the outstanding biathlete on the Women’s World Cup.

She didn’t have it all her own way though. In the Total Score Dahlmeier finished with 1211 points. Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova with 1089 points and Kaisa Makarainen was third with 971 points.

Laura won the small crystal globe in the Pursuit and the Individual but despite leading in the Sprint and Mass Start standings she lost them both to Koukalova at the final World Cup round. Gabi won the Sprint Title by 5 points and the Mass Start Title by 9 so you can see how close the competitions were.

Rookie of the year went to Sweden’s Hanna Öberg who was 47th in the Total Score with 128 points and had three Top 10 finishes.

It was not an easy task for Dahlmeier to win the big crystal globe and that started back at the end of November in Oestersund. The Individual was the first race and was won by Dahlmeier with Anais Bescond in second and a surprise in third with Darya Yurkevich getting her first ever podium. The Sprint was next and this time Marie Dorin Habert took first place from Kaisa Makarainen in second and Gabriela Koukalova in third. The Pursuit race went to Koukalova with Dahlmeier in second and Dorothea Wierer in third. With all the big guns looking in good form it was an exciting start to the season.

We then headed to Pokljuka where this time Dahlmeier won the Sprint from Justine Braisaz in second and Marte Olsbu in third. Dahlmeier made it a double in the Pursuit followed by Kaisa Makarainen and Eva Puskarcikova who took her first ever podium finish in third.

Next came Nove Mesto and we had a brand new winner of the Sprint with Tatiana Akimova winning her first race. Anais Chevalier came second to get her first podium finish and Susan Dunklee was third. In the Pursuit Chevalier moved up a place to win the first race of her career. Wierer was second and Akimova third. Two new winners that weekend was great for the Women’s World Cup. The Mass Start belonged to Koukalova in front of her home crowd with Dahlmeier second and Wierer third.

After the Christmas break it was on to Oberhof and Koukalova took another victory this time in the Sprint with Makarainen second and Dorin Habert third. Dahlmeier chose to miss the first two races here and the Pursuit went to Dorin Habert with Koukalova second and Makarainen third. Koukalova won the Mass Start with Dahlmeier returning to race coming second and Eva Puskarcikova coming third for the second time this season.

We remained in Germany but moved to Ruhpolding for round 5. Makarainen took her first win of the season in the Sprint from Koukalova in second and Dahlmeier in third. Kaisa made it a double by winning the Pursuit with Koukalova second again and Dorin Habert in third.

The last World Cup before the World Championships was in Antholz where Dahlmeier won the Individual with Chevalier in second and Alexia Runggaldier taking her first ever podium finish in front of her home crowd. The Mass Start saw Nadine Horchler win her first ever race on the World Cup coming from 30th to 1st. Dahlmeier finished second and Koukalova third.

The World Championships were dominated by Dahlmeier. The first race was the Sprint and it was the only race she didn’t win! Gabriela Koukalova took this one winning her first gold medal at a World Championships. Dahlmeier got the silver with Anais Chevalier taking bronze. In the Pursuit it was gold for Dahlmeier and Darya Domracheva surprised everyone by winning the silver coming from 27th to 2nd. The bronze went to Koukalova. The Individual was Dahlmeier’s too this time with silver going to Koukalova and bronze to Alexia Runggaldier. The Mass Start was Laura’s 3rd individual gold medal, Susan Dunklee got the silver and Kaisa Makarainen the bronze. Dahlmeier also won 2 more gold in the relays and so from six races she won 5 gold medals and 1 silver. Amazing!

She was to continue her great form at the Olympic test event in PyeongChang winning the Sprint and the Pursuit. Tiril Eckhoff got her first podium of the season coming second in the Sprint with Anais Chevalier in third. Makarainen was second in the Pursuit with Anais Bescond in third.

Kontiolahti was next for World Cup 8. This time it was Eckhoff who won the Sprint finishing ahead of Dahlmeier to win her first race of the season. Dahlmeier did enough however to win her first ever Overall Title and the big crystal globe. Darya Domracheva was third. The Pursuit was won by Dahlmeier with Marie Dorin Habert in second and Lisa Vittozzi getting her first podium on the World Cup in third.

The final round was held in Holmenkollen, Oslo. We had a new winner in the Sprint race with Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever World Cup race. Second place went to Justine Braisaz and teammate Anais Bescond was third. Laukkanen did the double winning the Pursuit too with Koukalova in second and Braisaz third. The final race of the season was the Mass Start which home favourite Tiril Eckhoff won. Koukalova took second to secure the Mass Start Title and Kaisa Makarainen was third.

Strangely with such a competitive women’s field all the Women’s Relays were won by one team and that was Germany. The Mixed Relays went to Norway and France on the World Cup and Germany at the World Championships.

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