Finishing 3rd in the Total Score was a happy surprise for both Andrea Henkel and us last season. The 35 year old, who has been competing in biathlon since 1998, managed to reach third place overall by only making the podium 4 times and never winning a race. Experience and a coolness under pressure meant she was more consistent and scored more points than the majority of her competitors.
Andrea Henkel was born on December 10, 1977 in Ilmenau, Germany. She is the younger sister of Manuela Henkel, a successful cross-country skier and girlfriend of fellow biathlete Tim Burke. Like many biathletes she started out as a cross-country skier but changed to biathlon when it became an Olympic sport. This proved to be a wise decision for Andrea. She has won 4 Olympic medals so far; a gold in the 15km individual in 2002 and a gold, silver and bronze in successive Games in the relay event.
She has also produced some remarkable results on the World Cup. It only took until her second year of competition to win her first event and she took the overall title in the 2006/07 season. The World Championships have also been a happy hunting ground for Henkel. She was the first biathlete to become World Champion in each individual event and has a total haul of 8 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze medals. This includes the silver she won in Nove Mesto in the Individual event matching her boyfriend Tim’s result in the men’s race.
Andrea currently writes a blog on the IBU website which is a great insight into the athletes training as well as her analysis of her own performances last year and some amusing little travel stories. She also has her own website http://www.andrea-henkel.de and page on Facebook (Andrea Henkel Biathlon) making Andrea one of the most accessible and interesting biathletes around.
In her own analysis of last season she said that her skiing improved during the year but her shooting, especially the final shoot, was not up to her previous standards. Personally I think this is one of the most important parts in biathlon. How you deal with the pressure coming into the final shoot, especially in a close race, can mean the difference between finishing on the podium and dropping outside the points. In previous years Andrea was very good in the final shoot and if she can regain this skill for next season she will have a good chance of medalling in Sochi and making another Top 3 finish in the Total Score.
Andrea turns 36 before the Olympics and obviously this will make winning more difficult but it seems in women’s biathlon at least the older you get the better you become like Berger and Zaitseva. So don’t be surprised if we see a very Happy Henkel appearing somewhere on a podium in Sochi next year!
Good luck Andrea!
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