All posts by biathlon23

Nils-Erik Ulset: The Interview!

Photo Credit: Biathlon23!!!

Nils-Erik Ulset is para-biathlon legend! The 36-year-old Norwegian has competed in 5 Paralympic Games from Salt Lake City 2002 to PyeongChang 2018. He has won biathlon medals at four of those Games including gold in Vancouver in 2010. He has 10 World Championship medals three of which are gold. He was born with a genetic condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease that affects the muscle strength in his legs. He has also been a World and Paralympic Champion in cross-country skiing.

Follow Nils-Erik on Instagram!

Why did you become a biathlete?

I have an older brother who started biathlon, and of course since he was a role model for me I had to follow in his steps.
(His brother is John Ola Ulset who represented Norway at IBU World Cup level.)

How did you assess last season? What were you happy with and what disappointed you?

Last season was a little up and down. The good races were very good winning world cup races, taking a medal in the world championship and finishing second in the overall cup. But my main goal was the world championship sprint and being so far from the podium in this race was a disappointment.

The first World Cup this season is in Lillehammer! Are you excited about that? Do you know the course there well?

It will be awesome starting the World Cup in Lillehammer. I know the area well since I lived for 7 years in Lillehammer, but I think we are going to use the FIS world cup tracks which I haven’t tested out yet. But I know they will be tough!

Are you focusing only on biathlon now? Will you do any cross country races this season?

Yes, I’m only focusing on biathlon now. I’ll never do cross country World Cup races again.

How does your impairment affect your skiing?

I have maybe 25% of normal muscle strength in my lower legs and my balance is very bad. So for me the hardest parts are flat areas where you benefit from having good balance. Also very soft(spring) conditions and icy tracks is some thing that I can struggle with.

What have you been doing for summer training? Are training with any of the IBU biathletes this summer?

This summer I have been focusing much more on strength training, a lot of roller skiing and some trail running.
I’m doing all my training camps with the Norwegian development (B-team), this is something that really suits me and helps me a lot in pushing forward.

When Norwegian biathletes retire they seem to become your coach! Lars Berger then Martin Eng. Who will coach you this season – L’Abbe Lund, Svendsen or Bjoerndalen?!!! Seriously though what is it like having ex-biathletes as your coach? How have they helped you?

Well actually Lars Berger is back again as my coach and in previous seasons, especially towards PyeongChang I got a lot of help and advice from Ole Einar. It’s great to have the possibility to ask these athletes for advice and to learn from them.

What are your goals for this season?

The main goal this season is the biathlon World Championships in Østersund.

Do you have a job? If so how do you fit your training around it?

I work part time in a sports shop that specializes in mountain sports like ski mountaineering, climbing and trail running.

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

My all time favourite tracks are Natrudstilen Sjusjøen, Canmore, Whistler Olympic Park and Nordmarka Surnadal. All these tracks really suit me and my strengths, and are located in really nice places.


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

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (of course) and Martin Fourcade. They are both amazing athletes who always push themselves forward and are ahead of everybody in their development as athletes. They are fair athletes who also take a clear stand for clean and fair sports.

Does your rifle have a name?

No I’ve never named any of my rifles.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, curious and childish.


Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Lukas Hofer
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Martell
Lucky bib number: Any
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Gregory Vovchinskiy
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Mark Arendz and Benjamin Daviet
Best thing about being a biathlete: You get to ski around and shoot.

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Joanne Reid: The Interview!

Joanne Reid is an American biathlete who was born in Madison, Wisconsin on the 28th June 1992. Last season she achieved her career best result finishing 10th in the Mass Start in Oestersund and finished 49th on the Overall World Cup. She started biathlon in 2015 and represented the USA at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018. She is the third Olympian in her family following her mother and uncle who were speed skaters. At university she studied applied mathematics and engineering.

Follow Joanne on Instagram for comedy ramblings and maths!

Why did you become a biathlete?

My grandfather was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s (dementia) and as such his biathlon rifle passed to me, the only competitive nordic skier in the family. I had the means then, and the ability to do the skiing part, though I had never fired a rifle before. They told me I wouldn’t have any bad shooting habits, however, so I wouldn’t have to unlearn, just learn. I actually used his rifle my first season on the World Cup.

Your career best result came in Oestersund last season when you finished 10th in the mass start. What do you remember about that race?

Susan screaming her face off at me to hurry the heck up, and running next to me up the hill, because I left the range in 12th. I hurried the heck up. Something about that has stuck with me the most, because it’s a beautiful part of Susan’s soul that she is just as genuinely excited for her teammate’s accomplishments as her own, and she wanted that result for me as badly as I did.

As a funny side note, the targets in Sweden were so slow to fall that I thought I had missed three the second prone, and looked up at the end to see only one miss. (My shooting in the race was 1-1-1-1).


All the US women had a great season last year. What do you think made the difference for all of you?

You know how at pools there are sometimes competitions for biggest splash, usually for kids? Well, our new coach Armin Auchentaller made the biggest splash in our team’s history. In fact, it’s about the splash equivalent of dropping a killer whale into a pool.

What have you been doing for summer training and what is the plan up until winter?

This is a really interesting question, doesn’t everyone give the same answer to this always? Rollerski. Shoot. Repeat. Rollerski. Shoot. Sleep. After about eight months, do an aggressive snow dance and some serious wishful thinking.

Since we are on a two week on, two week off travel schedule and I live very far from anything, and anyone, I have a high airline premier status, so that’s really what I might declare my season goal.

What are your other goals for this season? 😉

Goals are just hopes you’re demanding from yourself to feel a sense of completeness. I am complete without such a thing. (But I do not look negatively upon people who set goals). I hope our relay team puts it all together, because I know we can. Whatever that result is, it doesn’t matter as much as the performance. I want to race in joy with my star-clad girls in solidarity. Who wouldn’t?

You are Joanne Firesteel Reid. Where does the “firesteel” come from? Is it a family name or did your parents think it would make you tough?! 😉

The Firesteel River is a river that cuts through the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, which is where I spent my early childhood. As to whether or not I’m tough, I’ll leave it to the reader to decide.

You have a cool rifle design. Where did the idea come from for that?

My mother designed and did the entire thing, with some input from me. She sanded, burned, and re-varnished the entire stock. She and my dad also built all the carbon fiber pieces, which are based off of the original French parts, but a little stronger, lighter, and more fitted to my tiny little hands.

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

Soldier Hollow, of course! I saw that venue grow from ten years of ignored infancy into World Cup level. They poured so much work and time and man-hours into that course and that week that I can’t help but love it. With its high speed downhills and sweeping turns with beautiful mountain views, what’s not to love?

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

Susan Dunklee, because she carved the way for us all. She changed the way that USBA viewed its female biathletes, and created a foundation of belief. No matter what she does in the rest of her career and the rest of her life, she has already done something for us all that has made a difference.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle is named Tunkasila (pronounced duen-kah-shee-lah), which is woodburned into the back (it gets covered with the Viessmann sticker in the winter), which means Grandfather In Lakota, a tribute to my grandfather who got me into the sport. He passed just after the Winter Olympics in March of 2018 from Alzheimer’s.

The lady burned into the stock is the Lady Fortune, so sometimes people refer to it by that name instead.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sarcastic, introverted, snarky.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Quentin! What a well-designed stock that clearly took hours and hours of thought, design, iterations, and creation. I admire that immensely.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): I find the new Kazakh suits are really geometrical in an artistically abstract way, and very pleasing to my brain. (Hello, math brain).
Favourite shooting range: Antholz, I like a hard range approach at altitude! Yes please! To that effect, I also enjoy that massive climb in Finland (Kontiolahti) that is pretty close to the range. I think Finland may have been the first World Cup I ever cleaned.
Lucky bib number: Anything in the set of Natural numbers is fine by me.
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Anais Bescond
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Megan Bankes
Best thing about being a biathlete: Eating mountains and mountains of food and still being hungry. Sometimes this is also the worst thing.

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Amanda Lightfoot: The Return!

Amanda Lightfoot is the next in the catch up series with previous biathlon23 interviewees. The 32-year-old British biathlete was absent from the World Cup last season but she is back and ready to race this winter. She has a career best finish of 31st from the Individual in Oestersund in 2017 and represented Great Britain at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang and 2014 in Sochi.

Follow Amanda on Instagram.

We last spoke 4 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

4 years has flown by. I’m now engaged to a fantastic and wonderful guy that is Ilario Maddalin.
I now have 12 nephews and nieces. Lol
I got promoted to Sergeant in the British Army.

What happened last season? You didn’t compete on the World Cup, why was that?

Last season I did not compete, I needed to go back to the military and complete career courses. So last season I did not compete internationally. I did compete at the British Championships in Ruhpolding and won the women’s Overall, coming away with 6 medals and 4 trophies though.

How much did you miss racing last season? What things did you miss and was there anything that you didn’t miss?

I absolutely missed racing last season, I missed the atmosphere of the World Cup, the biathlon family and just competing in general.

Do you think missing last season will make the start of this season more difficult or could it be a positive thing?

For sure I will not be on top form this season after missing a whole summer training, shooting and a full competing season, but training has been going well this year, and it’s the right time to come back in before Beijing. I’m hoping to find myself again on the circuit and really enjoy what I love about biathlon. Next season is the big season when the Olympic qualification season starts and this is my next big goal.

What have you been doing for summer training and what are the plans up until the start of the season?

So far I have mainly based myself in Ruhpolding. This year I have put a big focus on the shooting and I can see and feel the benefits this is having on me as a biathlete. My shooting has always been my Achilles heel, so I knew this had to be my primary focus this summer.

I went to the Summer World Championship in Minsk (where unfortunately she was ill), then following that I’m doing the German Championships here in my summer home turf that is Ruhpolding.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals are to enjoy what I love doing and that’s competing. I’m not getting any younger and after Beijing it will be the end of my career.

I have goals at all levels this season and I plan to achieve them all.

Do you think biathlon is getting more popular in the UK? Do you ever get recognised by people?

Yes I believe it is, we have summer camps both in Scotland and the south of England where more and more people are discovering the crazy and awesome sport that is biathlon.

I do get recognized by people, however it is a lot more grander in Europe where you find most of your fan base.

What are you hobbies away from biathlon?

I have to say learning the piano, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but I do struggle finding the time to learn. I also love a good coffee and cake on a free afternoon..
And this season I’ve just signed up to study 2 modern languages, so looking forward to trying to find the time to fit that in.. haha.

Is Oberhof still your favourite track and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen your favourite biathlete?

Did I really say Oberhof?? Wow..
Well that has definitely changed, it is now Oslo, it has to be the most beautiful place and atmosphere on the World Cup Circuit.

My favourite biathlete would now be the Olympic Champion and a great friend that is Hanna Oberg. I watched her grow into a fantastic athlete whilst training along side her and the rest of Sweden team for over 3 years. it was amazing to be part of their great inspirational journey to Olympic gold.

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Hmmm… no.. however I’m open to suggestions, send them to me via Instagram @amanda198726

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Amanda Lightfoot.. haha
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation):Japan
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 61
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Tarjei Boe
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup/IBU Cup: Mona Brorsson
Best thing about being a biathlete: competing on the World stage and being part of a huge biathlon family.

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Summer World Champs 2019: Minsk!

More than 250 biathletes made the journey to Belarus to compete in the IBU Summer World Championships. Minsk Raubichi was the host to both Juniors and Senior racing over three days from the 23rd to the 25th of August.

Super Sprints
Day 1 on Friday saw an new event for these Championships although we have already seen on the IBU Cup – the Super Sprint. This is when all biathletes race in the qualifying round which is a shortened sprint but only the Top 30 go into the final which is a short version of a mass start. The Junior men kicked us off with Vitezslav Hornig qualifying fastest. For the Junior women it was Anna Kryvonos who topped the leader board.

In the men’s final the gold medal went to the home nation with Mikita Labastau (1 miss), the silver to Hornig (clean) and the bronze to Igor Malinovskii(1 miss). The women’s final saw Russia’s Valeriia Vastnetcova take the gold with Yuanmeng Chu in silver and Kryvonos with bronze. The top two shot clean with Kryvonos missing 1.

In the Senior Super Sprint it was Martin Otcenas who was quickest in qualifying for the men and Darya Blashko for the women. Timofey (the moustache) Lapshin took the gold medal in the men’s event. He was followed home by Klemen Bauer in second and Eduard Latypov in third. Clean shooting was the key to victory with Lasphin only one of two men to shoot perfectly.

The women’s race came down to a sprint finish and it was super! It seems we are still relying on the ladies for the best races! Valj Semerenko won the gold medal on the line by 0.1 of a second from Lucie Charvatova in silver. Bronze went to Ekaterina Glazyrina who was 0.4 of a second from the victory.

Sprints
Saturday was the day for the Sprint, just the regular one without being so super! 😉

This time it was a different Belarus athlete who gave the home crowd something to cheer. Dzmitry Lazouski took the Junior men’s title despite 3 misses! Luckily he roller skis really fast! Mikulas Karlik was second with 2 misses and Yurii Sytnyk was third with 1 miss. The junior women’s gold medal went to Yuanmeng Chu going one better than yesterday! She hit 10/10 to get her first win at international level. Ekaterina Bekh missed 1 for silver and Anastasiia Goreeva missed 2 for bronze.

The senior men’s race went to Timofey Lasphin grabbing double gold after yesterday’s victory. He missed 1 but still finished 4 seconds ahead of Alexander Povarnitsyn who also missed 1. Bronze went to Eduard Latypov with 2 misses.

Again it was the women’s race that provided the most excitement with two gold medals awarded! Ekaterina Glazyrina and Lucie Charvatova had exactly the same time and were both given the win! However Glazyrina shot clean while Charvatova missed 1! The bronze medal went to Darya Blashko. They silver medal is available if anyone wants it!!! 😉

Pursuits
On Sunday we had all four Pursuits races. It was business as usual for the Juniors with the men’s title going to Dzmitry Lazouski and the women’s to Yuanmeng Chu. Lazouski led a Belarus 1-2 with teammate Mikita Labastau taking silver. He moved up from 10th to get the silver and Igor Malinovskii moved up one place from fourth to third to complete the podium.

Chu had a great race in the junior women’s pursuit missing only one target on the final standing shoot. Goreeva moved up a spot from the sprint to take silver and Anna Kryvonos went from 10th to third to grab the bronze medal.

Pursuit gold was won by Martin Otcenas in the men’s race on his birthday. He shot the perfect 20/20 to move from 22nd to first – nice present to himself! Latypov missed 5 but still came in second and Klemen Bauer went from 6th to third to take bronze despite 6 misses.

Yan Zhang made it a golden day for China by winning the women’s pursuit to match her junior teammate. She came from 12th missing 1 shot to take her first senior win. Tamara Voronina (1 miss) came from 8th to take silver and Vita Semerenko ( 2 misses) went from 6th to third to claim bronze.

P.S Don’t forget this weekend (31st August) there is also the inaugural Festival of Martin Fourcade where you can find out about what he eats for breakfast, his shoe size and what kind of toothpaste he uses….no wait…. it’s the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival for biathlon and cross country skiing! Easy mistake to make! 😉

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Shawna Pendry: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Shawna Pendry.

Shawna Pendry is a 17-year-old British biathlete who is based in France. She was born in England but moved to France aged four. She started cross country skiing when she was eight and biathlon at eleven in Font-Romeo where Simon and Martin Fourcade started. Last season was her first competing internationally on the IBU Junior Cup.

Check out her website: https://shawna-pendry.site123.me/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because my best friend cross country skied and it looked fun so I also joined the ski club, a few years later we started shooting and I loved it! Since then I have been doing biathlon.

How do you assess last season overall? Were you happy with it? Was there anything you were disappointed with?

Last season was my first season competing in international races so it was pretty scary but I also learned so much. I am happy because at each competition I had the impression that I was getting better and stronger but also because I reached one of my main goals that was to qualify for a pursuit race. I am not disappointed with anything because I know that with every mistake I made I also learned something.

How do you manage going to school with training and competing in biathlon?

It is hard to do both school and sport especially in winter because I am away so often on competitions but I am lucky to got to a “sporting school” were most of the students are like me so the teachers are very helpful, and then when I am away I have to try and work even if all I want to do is ski and sleep.

It’s not easy being a British biathlete. How are you funded and do you get support from the BBU or train with any of the British team?

I do receive financial support from the BBU who with the aid from their IBU funding cover the majority of my travel and accommodation costs during the race season. I still need to fund my equipment which I do with the aid of my parents and I am always looking for external help like crowdfunding or grants just like the ‘Vincent Budge Award’ from the British Skiers Trust that I am very proud to have just received.
Training wise I train with my local team and I will join the British team for an on snow training camp in the autumn, apart from that I do not do any training with them as I need to stay at school this season.

What is it like training where Martin and Simon Fourcade started? Have you ever met them?

It is really inspiring coming from where Martin and Simon started because I tell myself that they have become some of the best biathletes in the world so why could I not maybe some day? I have already met both of them and they’re really nice, I actually trained just next to Martin the other week when he came back home.

What are your plans for summer training?

For this summer I am training mostly at Font-Romeu and I have 3 training camps with my local team that I am looking forward to.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strengths are my motivation and determination and my weaknesses are being impatient and skiing up hills.

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal for the upcoming season is to represent Team GB at the Lausanne Youth Olympic games. I also want to qualify myself to as many pursuits as possible!

If you have any time after school and training what do you like to do in your free time?

I love cooking, especially cakes and cookies (they taste so good after a hard training!) and I also like reading.

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

Yes, my favorite track is at Sjusjøen in Norway because that is where I shot my first 10/10 in competition and qualified to my first pursuit race, and because Norway is so pretty!

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

My favorite biathlete would either be Tiril Eckhoff or Ingrid Tandrevold because they are both inspiring women and they make biathlon look fun.

Does your rifle have a name?

No it doesn’t but I think if it did it would be something like Gwendolyn or Bernadette!

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined / organized / impatient .

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): the one with unicorns
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Finland
Favourite shooting range: Sjusjøen
Lucky bib number: I don’t have one.
Funniest biathlete on the Junior Cup/Nicest biathlete on the Junior Cup: I don’t really know anyone because I’m shy, come and say hi next season if you’re reading this!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travelling to awesome places and missing school for it!

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Tom Lahaye-Goffart: The Return!

Next in my series of catch ups with former biathlon23 interviewees is Tom Lahaye-Goffart. His first interview was 4 years ago when he was still a Junior! Now at age 23 (which is an excellent age) he has been competing on the IBU Cup and also on the World Cup in the relay.

Follow Tom on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram!

We last spoke 4 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

A lot of things changed for me during those 4 years. On the studies side, I graduated with a bachelor degree in Marketing and Communication, which means I can take a pause in my studies to focus 100% on biathlon! That’s a really good thing because I can completely rest between my training now (even if I didn’t work that much when I studied, but psssst, secret!). I also moved home, once again! I came back to my previous home in the South Alps but I took a flat in Villard De Lans to get the best training possibilities in France!

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with and were there any disappointments?

I’m really happy about last season! My goal was to be “back on track” after a pretty bad previous season, I didn’t expect anything in terms of results, I just wanted to feel good in what I do and not be disappointed about my races. It actually worked pretty well! My ski speed came back to normal, my shooting statistics increased a lot, and I got a few good results!
I was pretty happy with my individual race in Obertilliach in the IBU Cup. I knew I was able to do some great stuff but I never found the way to put everything together earlier, and it worked on that day! That was definitely a morale boost for the rest of the season!
On the bad side I was a bit frustrated not to get my chance on one of the individual races in the World Cup. I showed good shooting statistics all season long and didn’t get my chance to prove myself on the superior circuit. That was frustrating but that’s part of athlete life, you have to be patient!

You are part of everyone’s favourite relay team – Belgium! What is it like racing in that team?

I’m definitely proud to be part of that relay! It’s crazy how people adopted us after Hochfilzen and Oberhof 2 years ago! Being in that relay is really awesome, we don’t have that much pressure, we just do our best and we see at the finish line, and it’s always a good feeling to bother some “big nations”!

That foggy Oberhof Relay in 2018- tell us about it!

Actually that foggy relay is my worst memory as a biathlete! I wasn’t confident at all after the Hochfilzen relay, my shape was also pretty bad that season! And when you’re 21-years-old, you get the relay in 4th place as the last racer, it’s a really huge pressure on your shoulders. According to my self confidence on that day it was way too much for me, I completely cracked, made all the bad choices and lost 9 places to finish 13th! The contrast was so big at the end, everybody was so happy about the race, we led more than halfway, we got so much TV time, and I was crying on the shoulders of my sister because I f***ed up everything on that day. It took me months to get over it and find confidence again. I had so many nightmares about it! But I can say now that it gave me so much experience!

Jean-Guillaume Beatrix is Belgium’s coach now. Have you had much chance to work with him yet?

I have the chance to live really close to him now in Vercors, so I’m probably the luckiest one of the team because he can coach me on my sessions outside of training camps! So we work quite a lot together and try to find the things that can help me in shooting!

What are your plans for summer training?

The same as every biathlete I guess, lots of volume training! We will go with the Belgian team to the Summer World Champs in Minsk at the end of August, otherwise we were in Obertilliach in a camp in July, and then went to Antholz for few days to the World Championship’s location.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think that my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. I actually always try to understand everything around me, to see how things work, how to do it better and so on. It’s also a weakness because sometimes you have to do things naturally without questioning everything all the time! But my strengths and weaknesses are definitely on the mental side!

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal this season is to get to the World Cup. We are 3 athletes for 2 places, which means one will stay in the IBU Cup. After several years on it, I feel that it’s time to take a step further and discover real racing with the “big boys”. I really wish to compete in Östersund and Le Grand-Bornand, because it’s at the beginning of the season, which is the best period for me, and I’ve special connections with those places!

Is Presque Isle still your favourite track and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen your favourite biathlete?

I still like Presque Isle’s track, but my favourite track is definitely Oslo now! Skiing with a view of the Fjord is breathtaking, and reinforced by the feeling of skiing on an historical ski place!
OEB is still my favourite biathlete, he’s such a legend that I don’t even need to find arguments to justify that!

You put effort into your rifle design which is great! Have got a new design for this season or are you sticking with last year’s? Where do you get your ideas from for the designs?

I still don’t know if I will change my rifle’s design this year, I would like to but I don’t think I’ll have enough time for that! I usually have a few colors in mind and then ask around what would be the best. I always try to be original with a design that no one has. The fact is that since I chose silver, a few other athletes chose it too, so I guess I’ll change again. I hate to be in the norm!

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Still not!!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Michal Krcmar’s lions!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): USA
Favourite shooting range: Not Oberhof!
Lucky bib number: 9
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Too hard to chose between Michael Rösch/ Emilien Jacquelin and the Claude brothers!
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup/IBU Cup: I’ll get problems if I name a girl.. So… The womanizer Florent Claude, of course!
Best thing about being a biathlete: The purpose is easy, you have to push as hard as you’re dumb, and shoot the black!

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Kyle Barber: The Interview!

Kyle Barber is a Canadian para biathlete and cross country skier. The 27-year-old who lives in Sudbury, Ontario has been racing since 2016. He was born with underdeveloped and missing fingers on both hands, known as symbrachydactyly, which means he skis without using poles.

Follow Kyle on Instagram: k.barber.para.nordic
and Facebook: Kyle Barber ParaNordic/Biathlon

Why did you become a Para nordic athlete?

It all started from a Paralympic talent search held in Toronto, Ontario in early 2016. I went to Toronto, performed a few athletic tests and the results stated that I would be good at either cross country skiing or cycling. I chose cross country skiing because of the biathlon aspect to it and my hunting background. I met the previous Canadian Para Biathlon Coach, Kaspar (Wirz), and my current Ontario Coach, Patti (Kitler) , shortly there after and the rest is history.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with and what disappointed you?

I assess last season as a success! I managed to gain WPNS points during the World Cup in Finland. I was not toohappy with my results at World Championships in British Columbia but I was able to shoot my first few clean rounds at in a race at World Championships. Currently I keep comparing season to season and so far it has all been a climb upwards.

What was it like competing at a home World Championships?

Competing on home soil for the World Championships was the best part about last year’s season. To have the local support and fans cheering me on around the race course really helped me keep going. I was not a fan of what seemed to be continual uphills because of skiing without poles.

You have only done a few biathlon races so far. How did you find them?

Biathlon and cross country skiing is tough! I have had a very short career thus far and I am still learning lots everyday. Biathlon is a challenge that seemed to be winning but I am not giving up on it and looking forward to performing better this upcoming season.

You have Mark Arendz and Brittany Hudak as teammates in standing biathlon. Do you get to train much with them? Have they given you any advice?

Unfortunately I do not get a lot of training time with my 2 teammates, who live in Canmore Alberta, but they are more than willing to answer my questions and let me bounce tactics off them. I do however get to train with Collin Cameron more as we are both living/training in Sudbury.

What are your plans for summer training?

Actually Collin and I just finished a training camp with our Canadian Biathlon coach John Jacques here in Sudbury. We are also getting ready to head to the Snow Farm in New Zealand leaving July 31st for 2.5 weeks. I will continue training at home while having 2 more camps in Canmore prior to the Norway World Cup in December.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I am stubborn. I consider that to be both a strength and weakness due to the fact I will not give up. It just all depends on the situation and how it looks when I take a step back and look at the bigger picture. My 2 biggest weaknesses while racing though is wearing glasses and trying to keep my hand/only finger warm. Since I only have the one thumb and terrible circulation, I can not wear contacts and it is hard to feel the trigger when my hand has gone numb.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for this season are to keep improving my skiing and shooting techniques. This will entail in having better performances and results all around.

Do you have a job? If so how do you fit your training around it?

I work 40+hours a week depending on a lot of variables. Fortunately this job can be physical and I am always working outdoors. When it comes to training my coach and I make it fit, make it work and by far, make it count!

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

Currently my favourite track is in Canmore due to the fact of the surrounding picturesque mountain scenery. I have been told by many that this might change come August.

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

I thoroughly enjoy the time spent with my teammates. They all have great personalities and quite honestly I am not too familiar with or about others.

Does your rifle have a name?

It does not.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn haha, challenge seeker, opportunist.

What the best thing about being a biathlete?

Everything!

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