Michael Rösch: The Interview!

Michael Rösch is a Belgian biathlete who used to be a German biathlete that now trains with the Swiss Team. When he isn’t confused about who he is he does a bit of shooting and skiing. He was born in Pirna on the 4th of May 1983 and his father Eberhard Rösch was also a successful biathlete. Michael has an Olympic gold medal from Turin 2006 when he competed for Germany in the Men’s Relay, and 3 bronze medals from the World Championships also from the Men’s Relay. He has won two World Cup races, the Khanty-Mansiysk Sprint in 2005/06 and the Ruhpolding Pursuitin 2006/07. He has had a difficult couple of years but came back on good form as a Belgian last season! Current holder of the Biathlon23 Best Facial Hair award, he loves his beard and also the exclamation mark!!!!! 😉

Michael is currently crowd funding to help him get to the Olympics and to pay for the season. You can get some really cool things from him if you are able to donate. You can find the page here (in German):
https://www.ibelieveinyou.ch/ibiy/src/#!/projectdetail/12326/fotobomb-fuer-pyeong-chang

Like his Facebook Page: Michael “Ebs” Rösch
Check out his website: http://www.michael-roesch.de/

Why did you become a biathlete? Did your Dad make you do it?! 😉

Of course my Dad was my idol and I started at 6 years old to do biathlon! Early on we saw that there was a talent and we focused on competing in biathlon until I was 16, then I was lucky to finish school and started in the police school of sport and could do my education and training together! At 19 I finished police school and trained 100%!
And of course I liked it as a kid to ski and shoot!!!

Last season was great for you with two 6th place finishes. The first in Pokljuka was emotional, the second in Nove Mesto was impressive going from 30th to 6th! What are your memories from those two races?

Yes two different races with the same result. In Pokljuka I was not so confident after bad results in Östersund so I started without pressure and the key was a good Sprint the day before! 16th and only 1.15min (or so) behind. I knew this range suited me and in Pokljuka I had my first time 0-0-0-0 in 2007 I guess. So everything was perfect that day. Good skiing and good shooting. I actually started to believe I could make the top 10 and in the last loop I was crying in the last kilometers because I thought of Klaus Siebert and my rifle man who had both died just before that 😦 but that pushed me so hard and I was fighting like hell!!!
In Nove Mesto it was more crazy, because in the Sprint I was with the same gap (1.15min or so) 30th. The level was amazingly high but I could make it and I was so proud to beat Rastorgujevs on the last loop! My dad was on the loop and it pushed me to make it!!!!

Why did you decide to compete for Belgium? What is the process of changing nationality? Did it involve eating a lot of chocolates and watching Tintin? 😉

After the cut with the German Federation I decided to change and start for Belgium! For me the first priority was to find a federation where I could get a passport and permission to start in the World Cup! Afterwards it was a disaster to get the passport, I needed to wait almost 2.5 years and the process took such a long time and I couldn’t race. I missed the Olympics in Sochi, I lost my job as a police officer and I lost almost all my sponsors! So the situation was difficult, I had no money but big motivation to show myself to show those who didn’t believe in me and especially those who supported me in this hard time that I could come back!
The process is pretty normal, I sent my files and data to Belgium and then I needed to wait until the process was finished.
OK it took a long time but anyway now I’m happy that I can show my potential on the World Cup!!!!!!
Biathlon is not as important in Belgium as chocolate or beer or fries. 😉

You train with the Swiss team. What have you been doing with them for summer training? What is it like having your old teammate Jörn Wollschläger as your coach? Is he nicer to you than the Swiss guys?! 😉

The Swiss team was one of the major keys in my progress! The team took me with open arms and I felt like I had found my second family there! We push each other to higher limits and we are all good friends! I am 100% with the team (Hotel, Camps, Competition , ski service etc.) so that’s the most important thing for me to know I am safe and can focus 100 percent on sport!!!
Actually it’s funny that Jörn is my coach now because we were teammates and roommates in 2005/06 🙂
I follow his plan 100% and he has helped me a lot!!!!!
Of course his main priority is the Swiss team but we have known each other so long and he supports me like everybody else!!!!
The summer training is mostly long easy trips and hard intervals! I changed my training methods to the Swiss plan and it worked very well!!!!
The camps are mostly in Switzerland so I am often away from home and it’s very expensive there but that’s what I need to do to be successful 😉

At the last Olympics you competed in you won a gold medal in the relay in Turin. 12 years later what are your goals for PyeongChang?

First of all my goal is to start in Korea!!! Not everybody would survive that path which I had to take. So I am proud to have kept my spirit and now my dream will come true with my second Olympics 12 years later with pain and suffering I reach my goal !!!
I don’t know if a medal is realistic but you never know what can happen in sport and especially in Olympic races!!!

You are one of the more experienced biathletes. Do you think the sport has changed much over the years (good or bad) and what changes would you like to see in the future?

I have seen a lot in my career, athletes have come and gone. Some of my generation are still there some are retired. I think sport in general is in a change! I still want to stand for the attributes like fighting, social connection, fairness etc. I would like to see that sport is not only about money and cheating . Sport is the biggest good we have and we should respect this!

Why are you known as “Ebs“?

My Dad’s name is Eberhard and his nickname is EBS so they called my Dad Ebs and I am little Ebs 🙂

Let’s talk beards. You won the Biathlon23 Award for best Facial Hair last season. Will the beard stay for next season? Do you want to retain your title? Is there beard competition with you and Benjamin Weger?

Of course I will keep my beard!!!!!!!!!! If I make a podium I will maybe shave it! (So I hope I only get 4th hahahahahaha).
No it’s nice that people recognise me with my beard and I like that Benjamin has one too so we can talk about beard balm and stuff like girls 😉 I actually found an awesome barber shop nearby in Dresden and I have an appointment to make my beard nice!!!
It’s not a competition it’s a lifestyle!!!!!!!!!

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

Oberhof (best fans), Ruhpolding (first World Cup victory ), Antholz (best atmosphere), Oslo (best location), Tyumen (best of Russia).

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

Sven Fischer (he taught me a lot when we were roommates).

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny, respectful, ambitious

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Switzerland
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 13
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Me 😉
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Me 😉
Best thing about being a biathlete: You ski in tights in the forest in circles and shoot at black targets… and people love it and cheer for it????? That’s cool …

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J.J Hensley: The Interview!

BANG BANG BANG BANG! That’s right I am the crucial 4th shot on U.S author J.J Hensley’s 5 shots blog tour. (It’s usually the 1st or 5th shot that is crucial in biathlon but from now on it’s the 4th!). It may surprise you to hear that biathlon has been used as the basis of a crime fiction novel, but it has! Hensley has wisely decided that biathlon would be a good backdrop for his latest novel Bolt Action Remedy. It is his 4th novel and obviously his best as it has biathlon in it! J.J is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service which is the primary reason for me saying nice things about his book 😉 I got the chance to read it before it is released on the 2nd of October and had a chat with him about it.

http://www.hensley-books.com
Blog – Steel City Intrigue https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
Twitter: @JJHensleyauthor


The Review:
Set in a wintery Pennsylvania, a 43 year-old veteran is tasked with finding the murderer of businessman Peter Lanskard. I know what you are thinking but it’s not Ole Einar Bjoerndalen! Although he could probably solves crime too if he wanted! It’s actually ex-cop Trevor Galloway who has to tackle a crime that has been unsolved for over a year and is as tricky as trying to pick the winner of the Women’s Overall World Cup.

The circumstances of the shooting mean that only someone who can shoot well and ski fast could have done it. Do we know anyone who can do that? Of course! The first person you would suspect is a biathlete! They all have rifles and some of them look pretty murderous when they miss targets on the final standing shoot.

Unluckily for Galloway there is a biathlon camp in the area full of suspects and so just like Martin Fourcade in a Pursuit race the killer is not easy to catch. The owner of the biathlon camp comes under suspicion not only for murder but also for fictitiously coming 4th in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. Ricco Gross will not be pleased about that! Not only did he miss the podium in that race but now a fictional biathlete has stolen his result.

Galloway’s already difficult task is made harder by demons from his former job as a policeman who specialized in narcotics. He comes across a bit like a biathlete in the Individual race. He tries to handle everything all on his own, he occasionally finds himself in the middle of the woods, there is shooting involved and you don’t know what’s going on right up until the end!

In summary if you like biathlon and crime thrillers then this is the book for you. I could say ‘give it shot’, or ‘it hits the target’ but I don’t do biathlon puns!!! 😉 It would be perfect for a flight – say if you are going somewhere far away ….like PyeongChang! 😉

The Interview:
How did you discover biathlon and why do you like it?

While I was an agent with the U.S. Secret Service, I worked protective operations at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was there for a couple of months, so I was exposed to a great number of sports not typically popular in the United States. I loved the combination of endurance and skill demonstrated by biathletes and that always stuck with me. I have so much admiration for what those athletes can do.

Why did you decide to base your book around biathlon?

My first novel, Resolve, was set against the backdrop of a marathon. Ever since writing that book, I’ve wanted to write another mystery that somehow involved an endurance sport. I weighed doing something with triathlons and cycling, but nothing seemed to work. Then it finally dawned on me. If I was going to write a murder mystery tied to an endurance sport, then use one in which everyone already has a gun! Biathlon was the perfect fit and using it gives me a chance to introduce the sport to many of my readers.

Why did you choose Bolt Action Remedy as the title? Did you consider any others before you settled on that like ‘Death by Biathlon’ or ‘Catch point 22’?!! 😉

Titles come to me in odd ways. I know many authors who struggle with titles even after finishing a manuscript. As soon as I started writing the manuscript, I decided on Bolt Action Remedy. I like strong titles that convey decisiveness and what is more decisive than solving a problem with a rifle?

Tell us a bit about the book. If you are a fan of biathlon why should you read it?

I can pretty much guarantee it will be one of the top-selling biathlon-related mysteries in 2017. And probably 2018. Possibly 2019 too. As far as I can tell, the market I am entering is fairly small.
The main focus of the book is not biathlon, so I think it will be enjoyable to those who know the sport and others who cannot even ski (like me). If you are a die-hard fan of biathlon then I think you will enjoy how the skills demonstrated on the course are integrated into the story. The novel starts with the murder of a prominent businessman and the crime had to have been committed by someone extremely talented in two areas: skiing and shooting. When former narcotics detective Trevor Galloway discovers the crime scene is adjacent to a biathlon training facility, his suspect list gets real long, real fast.

The main character is an ex-cop who likes to run. You are an ex-cop who likes to run. Where on earth did you get the inspiration for Trevor Galloway? Do you put any of yourself into your characters or do you use former colleagues or criminals you have arrested?

I try to put myself in the shoes of most of my characters, but I certainly relate to this protagonist more than with some of my previous creations. I don’t share Galloway’s addiction issues, but we have somewhat similar backgrounds and we both are often perceived as extremely stoic. In fact, the nickname he carries throughout the novel – the Tin Man – comes from my days of training federal investigators. Some students thought I came across so serious and unforgiving during various practical exercises, they called me the Tin Man.
I always work in some bits and pieces from real life when writing a book. Some of the character names I have used over the years Kevin Shand, Mike Hartz, and Tina Lambert, to name a few, are all variations of people I have known throughout my life. I am AWFUL at making up character names, so if we were ever friends or coworkers then there is a decent chance you will end up in a book. It is entirely possible I might kill you, but that is just the way it goes.

Did you do a lot of research about biathlon for the book? Where did you get your information?

In addition to conducting a lot of research online, I corresponded with biathlete Curt Schreiner who competed for the U.S. in the Olympics. He was extremely helpful and helped me with some of the more technical details. The book is still a work of fiction, so there are going to be some areas in which I do not do justice to the sport, but Curt really helped to keep me from totally embarrassing myself.

You were in the secret service and they say Darya Domracheva was allegedly in the KGB. Can you see why a biathlete might do well in that type of job?

It makes sense that many biathletes have backgrounds in law enforcement, military, or the intelligence community. I read somewhere that it was normal for Darya to be given a rank in the KGB because all the biathletes in Belarus were sponsored by the agency. I think in many instances, people who have type-A personalities are drawn to high-level athletics and fields like law enforcement. It is not surprising there is great overlap between biathlon and those other fields in which endurance and marksmanship are so important.

My North American readers will no doubt be able to purchase Bolt Action Remedy in all good book shops but what about the rest of the world? Will it be out in e-book form? Where can they get it?

It is already out there for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and iBooks (iTunes) in paperback and ebook formats. I am also hoping to have it produced as an audiobook by the end of 2017.

Links:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734461
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946502049
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bolt-action-remedy-jj-hensley/1126694509?ean=2940158962875


You must have had a rifle. Did it have a name?

Surprisingly, I never had much use for a rifle. As a police officer, I was issued a Sig Sauer P229 pistol and Remington 870 Shotgun. I carried the same weapons when I was with the Secret Service, with the addition of occasionally carrying a Heckler and Koch MP-5 submachine gun. So, I had to consult with a friend of mine named Sam Lerch to gain some understanding of non-biathlon rifles. But, to get back to your question – I never named any of my weapons. In fact, many would be surprised to know this, but I do not even like guns.

Describe yourself in three words.

Resilient, Self-deprecating, Dad

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlete:
Tim Burke
Favourite biathlon nation: Have to go with U.S.
Favourite biathlon event (sprint,pursuit etc): Individual
Favourite author: Raymond Chandler
Favourite book (not your own!): Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Favourite writing implement(pen, laptop etc): Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Best thing about being an author: Creating something from nothing and watching it all come to life.

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Praise for BOLT ACTION REMEDY:

” It’s a good read, but is it as good as say a blog all about biathlon? I don’t think so!” – Anon

“J.J. Hensley is a crime writer who deserves readers’ attention and trust, because beyond his ever-stronger prose, he brings his ex-badge carrier’s street smart eyes to this hard world we live in. Hensley goes beyond clichés to the heart of his fiction and his characters, and delivers stories worth your time. Put him on your READ list.” —James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor and recipient of the Raymond Chandler medal and the Grand Prix du Roman Noir.

“In Trevor Galloway, J.J. Hensley has given us a deliciously flawed hero whose unique gift makes him a phenomenal investigator, but also leaves him teetering on the razor thin edge of genius and insanity. In Bolt Action Remedy, the reader follows Galloway on a chilling journey into the snowy world of biathlon as well as into the shadowy vortex of his wounded mind where neither he nor the reader knows at what point reality ends and hallucination begins. Hensley weaves a captivating tale while providing an authentic voice and a dash of ironic humor.” —Annette Dashofy, USA Today bestselling author of the Zoe Chambers Mysteries.

“Fast-paced and funny, Bolt Action Remedy is an action-packed thriller that will keep readers guessing from the first to the final page.” —Rebecca Drake, author of Only Ever You.

“Bolt Action Remedy is the real thing: fast, dangerous, and with a unique setting used in interesting ways. Oh, and another thing: It’s entertaining as hell.” —Andrew Pyper, International Thriller Writers Award-winning author of The Damned and The Demonologist.

“Bolt Action Remedy marks the welcome return of J.J. Hensley’s trademark blend of breathless action, haunting atmosphere and sly wit.” —Gwen Florio, award-winning author of Montana and Disgraced.

“Strap yourselves in. This author guides you to the conclusion through twists, turns, and drops that will leave you so engrossed, you lose track of time.” —Lucie Fleury Dunn, Movies in my Mind Book Reviews.

 

Keiichi Sato: The Interview!

Keiichi Sato is a Japanese para biathlete. He is also a cross-country skier and triathlete! He is a busy man but found time to do an interview for Biathlon23! He was born in Nagoya on the 14th of July 1979. Keiichi has a congenital impairment to his left hand due to hypoplasia which means he has doesn’t have the usual number of cells in that area. This means he competes in the standing category in biathlon. He has already competed in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Paralympics as well as at the Rio Summer Paralympic in 2016. This season he is hoping to win a medal closer to home in the PyeongChang Paralympics!

Follow him on Twitter: @KUROKANOUJI
Check out his website: satokeiichi.com

Why did you become a biathlete?

I was a cross-country skier at the beginning, but in Para-nordic both biathlon and cross-country ski competitions are held at the same time. I was interested when I saw the biathlon competition. I tried biathlon and fortunately it seems that the sense of shooting was good. That’s why I became a biathlete. And competitions in which different movements of static and dynamic are combined, combined with shooting and skiing is very rare in Japan. I also wanted that challenge.

How do you assess last season? Were you happy with your performances?

I am satisfied with the results of last season. However I was disappointed that sometimes my shooting was not as good as I had hoped. I also made some mistakes in ski choice. So I missed the Top 3 .However my body was always in good shape last season.

Did you enjoy competing at home in Sapporo last season? Did your family and friends come to watch you?

Of course. A lot of Japanese people came to cheer for me. My friends and family, local people from Sapporo and from various other places. The rules in Japan surrounding firearms like rifles are very strict so I am very grateful for the first biathlon competition.

The Japanese nordic team is doing very well at the moment. Do you get help from your country in term of funding and support like coaching/physios/wax techs etc? How does it work?

Depending on the achievement level of the athlete, the support content will change. In my case, there is Nagahama the coach for skiing, Takisawa the coach for Biathlon and two other coaches. However I live in a place away from the coaches. It is difficult to work with triathlon training at the same time, but I keep in touch with them while training well.

A trainer will work with the whole Japanese team, but it is mostly in the winter ski season.

Therefore, in the summer, care of the body is done by myself which means visiting hospital to get the physical care from the orthopedic physiotherapist. The Japanese team wax men are very good. They will accompany us to the World Cup, World Championships and important training camps.

Financing depends on each athlete. In my case, I receive financial assistance from Japan, the sponsors of the Japanese team and most of my activity expenses are paid by my sponsors.

What have you been doing for summer training? What would you like to improve in your biathlon?

Triathlon, bicycle hill climbing, bicycle road racing, climbing Mount Fuji etc. This year I did a ski training camp in Australia’s Falls Creek for the first time in summer. I also participated in the Kangaroo Hoppet there.

In biathlon I would like to improve the accuracy of my shooting and to shoot faster and spend less time in the range. Regulation of the rifle is severe in Japan so it is difficult to do combination training so I have to do a lot of dry firing.

What are the main challenges for you competing in biathlon with the use of only one arm?

The main challenges are to place the rifle in a stable position on the spring. To check the positioning when entering the shooting range. Supporting the rifle with one arm, but making a position that can maintain a stable balance. When it’s windy it’s difficult to time the shooting correctly with one arm.

Are you excited about the up coming Paralympic Games?

I am really looking forward to it. If I can participate in Pyeongchang, it will be the third winter Paralympic Games for me‼

What are your goals for racing in PyeongChang?

First, to do my best in the PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games. I want to be in the Top 3 for the 7.5k Sprint and the Individual 15km.

You also compete in para triathlon. Does that help with your biathlon?

It is very effective training. Especially the numerical value of oxygen maximum intake tends to be good. I can do three kinds of training at the same time – swimming,cycling and running. It is so much fun! I will not get bored!

You do cross-country (1 event), biathlon (2 events) and triathlon (3 events)! Are you looking for a sport where you can do 4?!! 😉 Where do you get the motivation from to do all these sports?

No! If I do another sport it would be cycling because the bike part is my strong point in triathlon!
Determination to achieve goals that I set out for myself is my motivation.
My motivation has lifted me through new experiences which made me feel like I had progressed.

Does your rifle have a name?

His name is WASABI.

Describe yourself in three words.

Versatile, stylish, I love a challenge!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite biathlete (IPC or IBU): Ole Einar Bjørndalen
Favourite track: ASAHIDAKE,Asahikawa,Hokkaido Japan
Favourite shooting range: NISHIOKA,Sapporo,Hokkaido,Japan
Lucky bib number: I don’t know…
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Maybe me(sometimes so many misses, sometimes I hit all the targets! hahaha..:)
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Gregoriy Vovchinskiy from Ukraine.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Wonderful journeys, mysterious food of the world, meeting beautiful women and good experiences.

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Emma Lunder: The Interview!

Emma Lunder is a Canadian biathlete from North Vancouver. She was born on the 2nd of September 1991 and she made her World Cup debut in 2014. She has competed for Canada in two Junior World Championships and made her first appearance at the Senior World Championships last season in Hochfilzen. In Season 2014/15 she got a second place finish on the IBU Cup in the Sprint at her home race in Canmore and last season she achieved her personal best of 21st in Antholz on the World Cup.

Follow her on Twitter: @EmmaLunder
Take a look at her blog: http://emmalunder.blogspot.co.uk/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I followed my brother into biathlon through Sea Cadets, and once I graduated high-school I decided to give it a serious shot and see how far I could get. A huge part for biathlon for me now is the teammates I get to train with everyday, and the amazing biathlon community I’m so lucky to be a part of.

You got your best result so far last season in the Antholz Individual. What are your memories from that race and how did you feel at the end?

My result in Antholz was really special because it came as a total surprise, and it reignited my confidence and love for this sport. I was beyond happy to hit all but one target in the Individual, and at the end I felt so overwhelmed with support from our team, coaches and wax crew who knew what a big deal placing 21st was for me.

Last season was pretty big for you with a good run on the World Cup post Christmas and going to the World Championships. How do you assess the season overall?

I was quite happy with last season. I struggled a lot on the shooting range with prone, but I was really persistent with trying to fix my mistakes, and by the end of the season my shooting was on an upward trajectory. With a personal best, and my first time at World Championships last winter, it’s been really motivating for my training so far this season.

Like you said your shooting improved last season. Is that something you were specifically working on and if so what were you doing to make it better?

My standing shooting has been pretty solid for me, but it was nice last year to see even an improvement in that. I was making some really basic technical errors in my prone, so once my coaches and I figured out what I was doing, we started taking steps to get those few things under control.

You won “Testival” for the second year in a row. Can you explain what that is and why you are so good at it?

Testival is basically a week of test events that the national team does every year in the summer and fall. There are 3 uphill tests (running, double pole and skate) and then 2 shooting tests. I really love going uphills, so I usually do quite well in the fitness tests. The shooting tests are where I usually lose points, but with some more attention to a few technical shooting cues I was able to have way more consistent shooting tests this year. It helps that I got to wear the “Queen” bib to motivate me all through the testing, and I really didn’t want to let anyone else have it!

What else have you been doing for summer training?

This year our team lost all of its funding, so instead of the 3 training camps we usually do, we’ve been staying in Canmore and taking advantage of all the great opportunities we can find in the mountains. This year I’ve done a few more long run/hikes and adventure workouts with the girls, as well as just trying to keep things exciting in day-to-day training.

The Winter Olympics are coming up this season. What do you need to do to qualify to represent Canada?

We will be sending a team of 4 women to the Olympics, so I need to be in the top-4 by mid-January. We have some complicated criteria that will determine who the team is, and a lot of the benchmarks are top-30’s on the World Cup, so I’m looking to achieve a few more of those!

You are also a barista! Can you do that fancy art on top of the coffee? Some of your teammates are coffee obsessed! Is that all they talk to you about? 😉

Yes I’ve been working at Starbucks for 8 years! Sarah Beaudry and I are the two women on our team working for Starbucks, and we’re the only two on the team who don’t drink coffee on a regular basis 😉 I’m slowly working on my latte art… I leave the really fancy stuff up to Rosanna Crawford and Brendan Green who are our team’s true coffee connoisseurs.

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

My favorite race course is probably Kontiolahti. I like the ripping downhills and killer climbs.

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

Magdalena Neuner – she was the first female biathlete I started following, and meeting her in Vancouver in 2010 made me want to train harder and get onto the World Cup circuit.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope!

Describe yourself in three words.

Entertaining, emotional, mischievous.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway – for the brown cheese!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Aita Gasparin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy for the last 2 years
Favourite shooting range: Antholz
Lucky bib number: 39
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benjamin Weger
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anais Bescond
Best thing about being a biathlete: Getting to travel the world with my amazing team.

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Summer World Championships!

The Nut Cracker, Swan Lake…wait a minute….sorry, sorry wrong Tchiakovsky!

It’s the Russian town of Chaykovskiy that we are interested in as the biathlon Summer World Championships took place there over the weekend of the 25th to the 27th of August. There were 26 nations putting on their roller skis including biathletes from Greenland, Uzbekistan and Mongolia.

The Mixed Relays for the Juniors and Seniors took place on Friday followed by the Sprint races on Saturday and the Pursuits on Sunday.

The Russians dominated the Relays winning both the Junior and Senior titles. The Junior team did it the hard way with Kristina Reztsova doing two penalty loops and Valeriia Vasnetcova also doing one. The men fared better with Nikita Porschnev needing 3 spares and Igor Malinovskii using 5 to win the race by 57.9 seconds.

It was decided on ski speed as Russia with 3 penalty loops won the gold from the Ukraine who only used 6 spares in total! Khrystyna Dmytrenko used 2 on the first leg, Anna Kryvonos shot clean on her leg and the men, Vitaliy Trush and Taras Lesiuk needed two spares each. They finished well ahead of Belarus in third with a team of Anastasiya Anifryieva, Dzinara Alimbekova, Ihor Karpiuk and Anton Smolski incurring 2 penalty loops, one the first leg and one on the final leg.

Turkey finished in fourth, Kazakhstan were fifth, Romania sixth and Slovakia were seventh.

The Senior mixed relay was won by a strong Russian team. Uliana Kaisheva took the first leg using 3 spares. Sveltana Sleptsova was second using 2 spares. She handed over to Alexey Volkov who also used 2 spares and then Anton Shipulin led the team home to victory using 3 spares. They finished almost 30 seconds ahead of Slovakia who took the silver medal.

Their team of Paulina Fialkova (4 spares), her sister Ivona Fialkova (4 spares), Tomas Hasilla (5 spares) and Matek Kazar (3 spares) crossed the line nearly a minute in front of bronze medallists Ukraine.

As usual they shot really well with Yuliya Zhurakov shooting clean on the first leg, Mariya Panfilova using 2 spares, Anton Myhda with 1 spare and Maksom Ivko with 3. Fourth place went to Belarus, fifth to Kazakhstan, sixth to Moldova and seventh to Mongolia.

There were some familiar faces on the podiums for the Sprint races on Saturday. The Junior Women’s Sprint was won by Russia’s Kristina Reztsova. She missed just one shot in the standing shoot to finish 32.7 seconds ahead of the second placed athlete. That went to Dzinara Alimbekova from Belarus who missed one in the stand. Valeriia Vasnetcova was third but she missed 3 shots, two in the prone and one in the stand.

There was more home success in the Junior Men’s Sprint with a clean sweep of the podium from Russia. Igor Malinovskii won the race missing a single target in the prone. He was wearing bib23 which undoubted helped him win! The silver went to Vasilii Tomshin who missed 1 in the standing and finished 12.6 seconds behind the winner. Third went to Nikita Porshnev who missed 3 targets but was only 28.3 seconds back from the leader.

The Women’s Sprint also went to Russia. Svetlana Sleptsova won the gold shooting clean and then promptly announced her retirement! Maybe all she ever wanted was that gold! Second place went to Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova with two misses in the stand and third went again to Russia with Olga Dmitrieva missing two shots and the silver medal by just under a second.

Finally in the Men’s Sprint we got a winner who wasn’t Russian! That’s right Vladimir Chepelin from Belarus took the gold with one miss in the prone. Russia got the silver with Alexey Volkov shooting clean but finishing 3.4 seconds behind Chepelin. Slovakia took another medal with Tomas Hasilla claiming bronze.

The final day of the Championships was on Sunday and we had 4 Pursuit races to look forward to. The Junior Women’s race went to Natalia Ushkina who came from 4th to grab the win ahead of Reztova and Vasnetcova. She shot the best of the three with just 1 miss while the others missed 7 and 6 shots. It was a comfortable victory in the end for Ushkina who led a Russian clean sweep of the medals.

The Junior Men’s race went to Taras Lesiuk and Ukraine. He came from 4th to take the win by nearly 18 seconds from the two Russians Igor Malinovskii and Stepan Parfenov. Again the shooting was crucial with just 3 targets missed by Lesiuk compared to 5 and 6 from the Russians.

The Women’s Pursuit was won by Sleptsova giving her 3 golds from 3 races. Not a bad way to retire! Ukraine got another medal with Nadiia Bielkina coming from 5th with just 2 misses to get silver. The bronze went to Paulina Fialkova who dropped one spot from the Sprint.

The Men’s race went to Russia too with Alexey Volkov taking the gold by 43.7 seconds from teammate Anton Shipulin who started 6th. Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria came from 5th to 3rd and another Russian Sergey Klyachin went from 18th to 4th despite four missed targets. Let’s just say across all the races the shooting wasn’t the best. Luckily there is still time to improve before the snow comes!

It was a very successful home Championships for the Russian team leading the medal table with 18 medals, 8 of which were gold. The Ukraine were second and Belarus third. Slovakia and Bulgaria were the only other teams to win medals.

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The Road to PyeongChang? Seriously?

Apparently there is something going on next year in February and March. Not sure what it is but maybe it’s one of those new reality TV shows about survival. People keep talking about the road to PyeongChang. I don’t know about you but the only road I know that goes to PyeongChang runs through North Korea so maybe I am right!

Of course not! It’s the Winter Olympics and Paralympics! If nuclear war hasn’t broken out by then the eyes of the biathlon world will turn to South Korea. There are other ‘so-called’ sports taking place too but none of interest to us! 😉

PyeongChang is a county in the Gwangwon province of South Korea. It is located in the Taebaek mountain region and is around 180km east of the capital Seoul. Happy 700 PyeongChang is the slogan of the area. The average height of the region is 700 metres above sea level and apparently this is the optimal elevation to live at. Expect lots of elderly spectators at the biathlon then.

The biathlon races will take place at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre which will also be used for sports such as cross country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. Or as I call them biathlon’s annoying little cousins! 😉

The arena has 4500 seats and room for 3000 people to stand giving an official capacity of 7500. The altitude difference for the tracks is from 749 to 796 metres. They weren’t joking about the height of the area!

There will be 11 biathlon events taking place. On the 10th of February is the Women’s Sprint followed by the Men’s Sprint on the 11th. Both Pursuit races take place on the 12th. The 14th and 15th are for the Women’s and Men’s Individuals respectively. The Mass Starts are on the 17th and 18th. The Relays are all at the end of the programme with the Mixed Relay on the 20th, the Women’s Relay on the 22nd and excitingly the Men’s Relay on the 23rd!!! An auspicious day indeed! 😉

The races will all be held in the evening local time which means if you are watching in Europe they will be on mid-morning or early afternoon when everyone is at work. If you are watching in North America they will be on very early morning when you are asleep! Great news!

Defending their title (because let’s face it no one remembers who won in Sochi!) will be Anastasiya Kuzmina and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in the Sprints, Darya Domracheva and Martin Fourcade in the Pursuits and the Individuals and Domracheva and Emil Hegle Svendsen in the Mass Starts. Hoping to hang on to the Relay titles will be Norway in the Mixed Relay, Ukraine in the Women’s Relay and Russia in the Men’s Relay.

It should be a great Olympic Games and it will be followed in March from the 9th to the 18th by the Paralympics. There will be 18 biathlon events over 3 categories. Men and women compete in the visually impaired races, the standing races or the sitting races depending on their impairment.

They will race over 3 distances which are the short, middle and lndividual. The short distance is 6km for the women and 7.5 for the men. The middle distance is 10km or 12.5km and the Indvidual is 12.5km or 15km.

The champions from Sochi in the short distance for the women were Russia’a Mikhalina Lysova (VI), Alena Kaufman (standing) and Germany’s Andrea Eskau (sitting). For the men it was the Ukraine’s Vitaliy Lukyanenko (VI),Russia’s Vladislav Lekomtsev (standing) and Russia’s Roman Petushkov (sitting).

The middle distance gold medals were won by Lysova and Kaufman and Germany’s Anja Wicker in the sitting race. The men’s were won by Lukayenko, Russia’s Azat Karachurin and Petushkov. The Individual titles went to Russia’s Iuliia Budaleeva, Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova and Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova. Winning for the men were Russia’s Nikolai Polukhin, Ukraine’s Gyrgorii Vovchynskyi and Petushkov completeing his clean sweep in the sitting races.

At the time of writing it is unknown whether the Russian team will be allowed to compete in PyeongChang as they are currently banned after the McLaren Report findings. The decision will be made in September by the International Paralympic Committee and will be an important one as you can see where a lot of the medals tend to go!

There are less than six months to go before the Games get underway. The biathletes are already quite far along the road to PyeongChang. However I would recommend booking a flight. Seriously!!! 😉

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Carine Leijn: The Interview!

Carine Leijn is a Dutch biathlete who was born on the 11th of March 1999. She raced on the Junior World Cup last season achieving a best result of 46th in the Individual in Lenzerheide. She also raced in the Junior Open European Championships in Nove Mesto as well as the Youth World Championships in Brezno-Orsblie. Her big sister Lilian also used to be a biathlete until she recently gave up the sport leaving Carine as the only female Dutch biathlete.

Follow her on Twitter: @CarineLeijn
on Instagram.com/carine.leijn
and Facebook: Biatleijn
Website: http://www.leijn.eu/

Why did you become a biathlete?

Besides the fact that biathlon is just plain awesome, I have two older sisters who used to do biathlon. So you could say it runs in the family. So when my parents were around 30 years old they started cross country skiing. And we grew up going to Sweden every winter to do cross country skiing in the snow. We also practised on these plastic ski mats in Gouda (yes yes Gouda from the cheese). It’s hard to imagine what it looks like and even harder to describe its appearance, so I’ll leave it at that. Eventually the Dutch ski federation asked my oldest sister if she was interested in doing biathlon. Since then our family was in love.

How do you assess last season? You raced in the Junior World Cup and at the Youth World Championships. What were they like?

Last season started out pretty good in Lenzerheide and Hochfilzen. I had overall good races and felt good on the skis. Last season was supposed to be promising. With sneak peeks of my good races I was excited to see what more I could do at the Junior cups and The Youth World Championships. Sadly my nightmare came true after the Christmas break, at the first day of the IBU-IOC training camp in Slovenia I got sick. Not the “I don’t feel so good but I will train anyway even if coach said not to cold” but the real deal 39 degrees, hot and cold am I dead yet fever! So I had to take a lot rest and a lot of Slovenian honey to get back on my feet. So the races in Pokljuka and in NMNM were kind of doomed before I even started because they were directly after this camp. Then I got home for a few weeks to prep for the Youth World Champs. I was feeling a bit more in shape but not as good as I was before. In Slovakia the conditions weren’t the best, a lot of rain, wind and soft snow. Swimming was almost faster than skiing on the tracks. No but in all seriousness taking into account the short period of time Osrblie had to organize everything they did a really good job. At all the venues the people were so nice and kind. It was a great experience to be able to compete at the Junior cup with so many countries. I learned so much which I am really grateful for.

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

My favourite race was in Hochfilzen, before I got sick. There were a few factors which made it really special for me. I really liked the tracks, the up and downhills, tricky curves and the high speed. So I was testing my skis and all of a sudden I heard Dutch people and realized they were talking to me. They told me they just moved to Hochfilzen and asked me if I was going to compete in the Junior cup. They told me they were going to try to come and watch the race. The next day they actually showed up, wished me good luck and cheered for me from the tribunes. So in that Sprint I shot clean, had the best skis and gave everything I had. So this was really my favourite race from last season.

You can also race in the Single Mixed Relay with Jarl Hengstmengel. Do you like that event?

The Single Mixed Relay was really something on its own. I never did a competition like this before but I really liked the fact that you’re a team against all the other countries. Also the girls start in a mass start which I’d never done before, so that was really awesome. This Single Mixed Relay was when I was had just started training a few days after my fever. So I was dying during the whole race. It was good that we had a little rest in between when the boys were racing. But Jarl and I agreed beforehand that no matter what happened we weren’t going to do the penalty loop and we were going to beat the Belgian team. We succeeded at both so we were quite happy with our race.

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

No it sure isn’t. The hardest of thing of all is that I always have to train alone. Given that I am the only girl at this point, there isn’t a training group it’s just me. I used to have my sister as a training partner but when she quit I really had to do it on my own. One of the good things about being a Dutch biathlete is I think the IBU-IOC camps. Because The Netherlands isn’t a major country in biathlon we get invited, along side other small countries, to these camps. My motivation really gets a boost from these camps. You meet a lot of new people and go to places that are really awesome. But for me most important thing is the fact that you train in a group which is really important because no matter how hard you work you can’t always do it on your own.

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

At this point I’m still in high school. I split the year before my senior year in 2 years. So I had more time to train, this was in the last school year. But next year I’ll be a senior and hopefully will be graduating high school. My high school is really cooperative with my sport. They help me with my school planning and I get a lot of guidance. As for my social life, my friends support me all the way and help me stay motivated for school and for training. They help me study when I miss a lot of school due to races or a training camp.I really love having my friends around and I don’t have the idea that biathlon is in the way of that.

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

Not particularly. I’ve never been a person who likes to go out or something like that. So I don’t miss it and it’s not something I would want to do. Because I really grew up in the sport I am used to making certain sacrifices.

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

My big goal for next season is to qualify again for the Youth World Championships. And to not get sick during the season. And for further in to the future it isn’t that easy to say. I think we all dream really big, which is a good thing. But we have to have goals in between to keep our feet on the ground. For now I hope I will make a lot of progress in the Junior cup over the next years and who knows what we can achieve with hard work, passion and big dreams.

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

I think one of my strengths is that I am mentally able to push myself to the very end, during training or a competition. My weakness is my speed on the shooting range, and my shooting time which I am currently working on. The less time you spend on the shooting range the better.

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

Pokljuka for sure, the track in the winter is really fast with quick turns which is really fun. Also I’ve been there so many times that every time I get there it feels like coming home which feels really special to me.

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

Darya Domracheva. Since I was little she has been my favourite. I always watched the races, looked at her skiing with her perfect technique and wanting to be like her. So I was really excited last season when she was making a comeback in Oberhof. I can’t wait to find out what she’ll do next season.

Does your rifle have a name?

I don’t think I got the note stating this was a thing… It is a thing! A biathlon23 thing! 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

chaotic – resilient – hard worker

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Finland
Favourite shooting range: Hochfilzen
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Tarjei Bø
Best thing about being a biathlete: The food in all the different countries.

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