Hello and welcome to the 10th annual Biathlon23 awards. The alternative awards for biathlon which represent the important things in the sport like the ski suits and rifle design. They are among the most prestigious and most sought after awards. Who wants a crystal globe when you can win one of these!
The awards are of course subject to a rigorous system 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 (most popular):
We had a mixture of returning biathletes for interviews this season like Clare Egan, Mark Arendz, Emma Lunder and Johanna Taliherm and some new faces like Blagoy Todev and Johanna Puff and of course we must always feature a Finnish coach or the coach of Finland this time Erik Kulstad. The most popular interview however was from the very small team of one biathlete on the IBU Cup. He did sneak into the World Championships too as Great Britain’s sole representative!
Winner: Marcus Bolin Webb
We all know who the good shooters are on the World Cup. Simon Eder, Sebastian Stalder, Sturla Laegreid and Niklas Hartweg for the men and Dunja Zdouc, Vannessa Voight and Karoline Knotten for the women. However according to the IBU the two biathletes with the best shooting statistics are Ella Halvarsson and Nikita Romanov with a 93% hit rate each. So how do you choose between them? The simple answer is you don’t and go for the person with a 100% hit rate. At World Championships she hit 50/50 and at World Cup finals she did the same. Admittedly she doesn’t have as many races to compete in but she does compete in them using just arm power. Imagine how hard it is to ski with only your upper body and then use your arms not only to shoot but to lift yourself back off the mat and never miss!
Winner: Kendall Gretsch
There is only one choice for this season’s fair play award. At the Open European Championships in Lenzerheide this biathlete thought that she had hit all her targets in the Individual race on her standing shoot but it turns out she had missed two as she was cross firing onto another target. No one else realised either and she was declared the winner of the race. That was until her coach came forward to confirm the missed targets that cost her a two minute penalty and instead of claiming the gold she was 11th instead. It was a perfect example of fair play and both the biathlete and coach deserve a lot of respect. The organising committee in Lenzerheide gave them an award for fair play and I am too.
Winner: Michaela Carrara and Edoardo Mezzaro.
There are two contenders for this award. The first relates to the previous award when most of biathlon Twitter proclaimed Carrara as the winner of the race. They declared the winner before the jury had met and made the results official so they all had to backtrack and explain the error. Speaking of bad communication the winner of this award did exactly that. At the World Championships after most teams had announced their four athletes to compete in the sprint races it turned out they could field more in some cases thanks to a rule change. I don’t know if it got missed by the teams when all the new points rules were announced or it just wasn’t explained properly but it was a right kerfuffle!
Winner: The IBU
Best social media:
The IBU has a strong social media game and that Biathlon23 blog isn’t bad either!😉 One however stands out. We all know and love him as a really funny guy. His photoshop wizardry was on point this season too transforming his teammates into superheroes. It even spilled over into real life with his Incredible Hulk gloves. I can neither confirm or deny that this award was won for a video of half naked Norwegian biathletes in a sauna in Kontiolathi!
Winner: Vetle Christiansen
I think nearly all of the Finnish team had a fall at World Championships and there were many others throughout the year. The best came in the men’s Pursuit in Oberhof where this biathlete fell face first into the snow and then skidded right off the edge of the track and continued down the snow bank. He had to be helped back up on to the tracks but no damage was done to him or his equipment. Ironically this is the one time it would have been acceptable not know his whereabouts but it seems he knew exactly where he was! 😉
Winner: Andrejs Rastorgujevs
Best rifle design:
BORING! That is the best way to describe most of the rifle designs this season. We had to search hard for new contenders to rival previous winners like Marketa Davidova and Michal Krcmar. Ambroise Meunier has a Jackson Pollock inspired paint job. Either that or all his paint tins fell of a shelf onto his rifle but I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was intentional! The other contenders are both ex-cross country skiers who are showing the biathletes how it’s done. Anamarija Lampic in her first season has a leopard print design but not any old leopard no, it’s a snow leopard for winter! See she has thought about it! 😆 The winner is an example to all. She started the season with a Christmas design with Santa on his sleigh with his reindeer and also some snowflakes. After Christmas she changed it to just the snowflakes. Changing design mid season is proper dedication to rifle design. Shame on everyone else – SHAME! And thank goodness for our well deserved winner!
Winner: Stina Nilsson
Best ski suit:
There were quite a few good ski suits this season. The Czechs and the Slovaks both looked pretty snazzy. The Norwegian suit was a grower. It didn’t impress me at the start but I did come to like it. Bulgaria upped their ski suit game too from the horrors of previous seasons. The winner though is a cool design depicting something very famous from the country, a beautiful white fern design on the lower leg and arm and it’s unique as there is only one of them!
Winners: New Zealand.
Worst ski suit:
Well what can I say we all know who has won this but special mention has to go to Austria, Switzerland, Poland and Canada for basically having the same suit so you could hardly tell who was who! Surely there should be some vetting process preseason to make sure this doesn’t happen as it’s a nightmare for the spectators. France’s ski suit was also a bit weird as from one side you think they are Italy in blue and the other side Norway in red. Our winner is of course that total debacle of red, white and green splashed across the crotch looking like a horrible accident at dinner! How this country can still claim to be fashionable I don’t know. This is the second season in a row they have won this after their abominable ski jacket from the Olympics last year!!!
There are two contenders both from the Ruhpolding Individual. Vetle Christiansen was second hitting 19 and only beaten by JTB like everyone else this season. The winner however won the Ruhpolding Individual with 20/20. It was her first win in 4 years putting the icing on the cake of her comeback season and it also contributed to her winning the Individual crystal globe which was the cherry on top! All thanks to bib23 of course! 😉
Winner: Lisa Vittozzi
There was a lot of new talent on the World Cup this season like Lou Jeanmonnot and Sophie Chauveau. However it’s their first full year so they don’t have anything to compare to. Anna Magnusson had a great season getting her first win and went from 33rd to 14th in the total score. Sebastian Stalder went from 40th to 17th in his second season and teammate Niklas Hartweg went from 74th to 11th but his first season on the World Cup wasn’t a full one. The winner went from 99th to 28th in the total score helped by two top 10 finishes and a new personal best of 8th.
Winner: Polona Klemencic
Best team performance:
There were a lot of good team perfomances this season. The Czech Youth men’s relay team had a stunning race in Kazakhstan at the World Championships using just 3 spares in atrocious conditions to win gold. The Norwegian men’s Relay team were strong again but then the French were great to beat them at Worlds. The Swedish women’s team were tough to beat again as were the French team who won the overall title. The winners had a stellar competition at Worlds. They won the women’s relay, they were second in the mixed relay and third in the single mixed relay and 7th in the men’s relay.
Winner: The Italian Relay teams.
Performance of the season:
There were many great performances this season. Basically every race Johannes Thingnes Boe did! Lisa Vittozzi’s Individual win. Denise Herrmann’s sprint gold at home in Oberhof. Anna Magnussson’s debut win. Niklas Hartweg for both his podiums, the list goes on. The winner had to comeback from bitter disappointment to triumph at World Championships. After being distraught after a problem with his rifle cost his team a medal in the mixed relay he turned it around to come third in the sprint and pursuit and then win gold in the mass start hitting 20/20 to beat Johannes Thingnes Boe and his speedy teammate Martin Ponsilouma. It is a fantastic lesson in self belief for any young athlete.
Winner: Sebastian Samuelsson
Biathlete of the year:
Well you might expect this to go to Johannes Thingnes Boe for his exceptional season. He won 19 races, all the sprints and seven out of eight pursuits as well as 7 medals at World Championships four of them gold. But in the words of Shania Twain “that don’t impress me much!” I mean it does but it isn’t a shock. We know how good he is and we expected a great comeback this season but it was better than anyone thought. The winner of this award however has made herself into a brilliant biathlete. We knew on any given day she could win races but they were maybe three or four days maximum a season. This season her shooting has clicked and propelled her to the top of women’s biathlon with a consistency she has never had before. That is the fruit of many years of hard work and indeed a lot of failure. Now it is success. With the Overall Title and World Championship pursuit gold there was only one winner of this award.
Winner: Julia Simon
Para-biathlete of the year:
Again there were many impressive biathletes in the para races this season. Mark Arendz, Kendall Gretsch, Linn Kazmaier and the Ukrainians Taras Rad, Bohdana Konashuk, Oleksandr Kazik and Anatolii Kovalevskyi all enjoyed success on the World Cup and at World Championships. There is one biathlete who I have to give this award to though. It’s really tough to be successful in biathlon when you are from a small nation and even harder when most of your funding gets cut. It didn’t stop this man however from getting to the World Championships and after 8 long years finally winning the silver medal in the sitting individual. It was his first ever 20/20, his first ever biathlon medal, Scotland’s first ever biathlon medal and Great Britain’s first ever biathlon medal! There may or may not have been tears!
Winner: Scott Meenagh
Junior biathlete of the year:
There are a lot of good Juniors around at the moment. Campbell Wright earned New Zealand their first ever biathlon World Title in the sprint. Nicolo Betemps won the Junior overall title. Anna Andexer won the women’s Junior overall. The winner is so good that she doesn’t even compete on the Junior Cup she races the IBU Cup where she finished 6th and made her World Cup debut in Holmenkollen finishing 44th in the sprint. She won 4 gold medals at the Junior World Championships and technically at 19 she is still a youth but she is competing with the juniors and the seniors.
Winner: Selina Grotian
Youth biathlete of the year:
It’s always hard to chose the Youth biathlete as you have to base it mainly on the World Championships. There were some fabulous performances this season. For Germany Julia Kink winning two golds and Julia Tannheimer three. The winner comes from the men’s side this year with a medal in every race. He won gold in the mixed relay and the pursuit, silver in the individual and bronze in the relay and the sprint all in his first major Championships.
Winner: Sivert Gerhardsen
Best decade long biathlon blog:
It’s been 10 years that this blog has been running bringing you news, views, interviews, race reports, previews, reviews and awards. And it has championed the cause of everyone’s favourite bib – number 23! I hate to think of the amount of hours spent watching and writing about biathlon using up a lot of free time! It wouldn’t be possible without the support of everyone who has read the nonsense over the years. Some of you have been there right from the start (I question your sanity!) and many others have joined along the way. Thank you everyone for reading! You are the bullets in my magazine and the wax on my skis! It’s been a lot of work but I have loved it! And let’s face it no one else is going to award me anything so I am giving myself an award!
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