Category Archives: Biathletes

Spring Things 2018!

Spring was depressing, wasn’t it! It started off with the raid at IBU HQ in Salzburg. The President of the IBU Anders Besseburg and the General Secretary Nicole Resch are both under investigation by the Austrian police for covering up positive doping samples from Russian biathletes. At the time of writing no charges have been brought against either party but both stepped down from their positions while the investigation is on going. Both deny any wrong doing.

Then we had all the retirements to deal with! The legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finally called it a day although I think he made the decision at rifle point as he seemed a bit reluctant to retire! We won’t get rid off him though, he will be coaching or commentating next season I am sure. 🙂

It was not a surprise when his teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen also gave up the sport. He made no secret of the fact that he would go after the Olympics. I know what you are thinking – whose hair will I admire now? Well I take a keen interest in Sebastian Samuelsson’s coiffure but actually I have found someone with even better hair than Emil! Step forward German para- biathlete Steffen Lehmker! 🙂

Jean Guillaume Beatrix has gone too. Very sad to see a biathlon23 interviewee finish their career mainly because it is not allowed! Americans Tim Burke and Lowell Bailey also hung up their rifles along with Russell Currier leaving a lot of space to fill on the men’s team. Jaroslav Soukup and Daniel Mesotitsch retired too. Florian Graf quit and in a bit of a shock so did Canada’s Macx Davies! No!

On the women’s side we said goodbye to a lot of mums! Marie Dorin Habert, Karin Oberhofer and Weronika Nowakowska all stopped racing. All three women have young children so that may have come into their decisions. Then at the end of June Darya Domracheva decided that she would also retire wanting to focus on her child too. This followed the announcement from Nadezhda Skardino at the start of June that she was ending her career thus decimating the Belarus Olympic gold medal Relay team!

Eva Tofalvi, Hilde Fenne, Coline Varcin and Olga Podchufarova also gave up biathlon. And we lost another biathlon23 interviewee in Julia Ransom. 😦

Miriam Goessner has changed sports to go to cross country skiing. Her back problems meant she had trouble carrying the rifle and her aim meant she had trouble hitting the targets! 😉 Good luck Miri!

Gabriela Koukalova will not race again this season and possibly not ever again. She seems to have fallen out of love with biathlon! How could she?!! She also has an autobiography out which has already caused a bit of controversy. Think the fame may have gone to her head a bit! 😉

In other news Mario Dolder got married and Selina Gasparin is pregnant with her second child in exciting times for the Swiss. Not with each other though just to be clear!

Jakov Fak got married too and Ondrej Moravec had a little boy called Ondrej. Again not with each other!

Nadezhda Pisareva also married Russian ski technician Andrey Shatokin. Johannes Boe will be married on the 30th of June and Marte Olsbu and Mari Laukkanen will also get married this summer. You guessed it – not to each other! 😉

My postman assures me that he didn’t lose my wedding invitations so I have no idea what has happened to them!!!

In less exciting news Simon Schempp broke his shoulder in a bike accident and Dzinara Alimbakava had surgery on her shoulder. Florent Claude had a operation for compartment syndrome in his shins and Anton Shipulin has mononucleosis.

Finally we had the coaching merry-go-round! I don’t think so many changes have been made in the Spring before! Take a deep breath, possibly grab a snack and a drink – follow this if you can!

USA:
The Americans lost both their coaches this Spring. The women’s coach Jonne Kähkönen went back to the Finnish women’s team and the men’s coach Jonas Johansson went back to Sweden as Development Coach. They were replaced by Michael Greis (Men) and Armin Auchentaller (Women). They now have Tim Burke as athlete development manager. He didn’t stay away for long, did he!!!

France:
The French team made big changes with the appointments of Vincent Vittoz, a former cross-country skier, and Patrick Favre from the Italian team taking over as the men’s coaches. Coaching the French women will be Fredric Jean and Vincent Porret.

Norway:
The coaches for the women’s team have changed. Patrick Oberegger moves from the Italian team and ex-cross country skier Sverre Kaas will take care of the skiing.

Germany:
Germany have gone for youth with their new coaches all in their 30’s. Mark Kirchner is now head of the German men and women with Gerald Honig as German national shooting coach. Kristian Mehringer is the Senior Women’s coach with Florian Steirer as his assistant. Isidor Scheurl is the new men’s assistant coach.

Poland:
Nadija Belova is the new Polish women’s head coach taking over from Tobias Torgersen.

Italy:
Andreas Zingerle is the new World Cup and Elite Team coach. He will be assisted by Andrea Zattoni while Klaus Hoellrigl and Nicola Pozzi will coach the A team. Olympic gold medallist in shooting without skiing (apparently that’s a thing!) Niccolò Campriani will be shooting coach for all the Italian biathletes.

Russia:

New RBU president Vladimir Drachev has appointed Anatoly Khovantsev as the new head coach. He will take the men’s team with Sergei Idinov assisting him. Vitaly Noritsyn is the women’s coach with assistant Sergei Bashkirov.

Czech Republic:
Norwegian Egil Gjelland is the new coach of the women’s team. The former coach of Norway’s men will be joined by Jiří Holubec and Tomáš Kašpar. Zdeněk Vitek moves from the women’s team to coach the men with another Norwegian Anders Bratli assisting him as well as Aleš Ligaun.

Austria:
The Austrian men’s team will be coached by Ricco Gross after he left his job with the Russian men’s team.

Ukraine:
Andrei Prokunin will take over as the new Women’s Coach for Ukraine. Uros Velepec will most likely return to coach Slovenia.

Switzerland:
The new women’s head coach is Austrian Sandra Flunger who happens to be Simon Eder’s cousin!

If you have made it this far I congratulate you and encourage you to consider climbing Everest – it’s a similar feat! 😉

I imagine I have forgotten some retirements, events or coaching changes but there is a lot going on!


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Bye, Bye Berger!

berger

Rumour has it that Tora Berger is going to retire after next season. She has let it be known that after this Olympic season she will hang up her skis for good. If she does stick to her decision she will be sorely missed.

Tora Berger was born on 18 March 1981 in Ringerike, Norway but she grew up in Lesja with her older brother Lars. She married her high school sweetheart in 2010 and lives in Meråker with her husband and 2 dogs. Away from biathlon Tora enjoys hunting, fishing, knitting and reading crime novels.

Tora has been competing in biathlon as a member of the Norwegian women’s team since 1999. However it has only been in the latter stages of her career that she has been successful. Somewhat surprisingly Berger had never been a World Cup winner either overall or in any of the individual disciplines until the end of the 2011/12 season.

However last season made up for that! Winning 11 races, being on the podium 19 times, winning all the Chrystal Globes, the Nation’s Cup for the women, the mixed and women’s relay titles on the World Cup was only part of a stellar season for Tora. In Nove Mesto she became the first biathlete to win 6 medals(4 gold and 2 silver) at a single World Championships, as well as the first woman to defend the 15km individual title.

So it’s no wonder she wants to retire, it’s going to be very hard to top last season’s amazing results! Luckily for Tora her final season includes the Sochi Olympics and provides probably the only way of topping last season by winning Olympic gold. Of course Tora being Tora she already has an Olympic gold medal from Vancouver in 15km individual. I’m sure she is hoping to go out on a high by defending that title and winning some more for good measure.

She will however be another year older and faces some stiff competition from the other female biathletes. But if she keeps up the amazing consistency from this past season I wouldn’t bet against her saying “bye, bye” to biathlon with a bunch of medals in her hand.

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“Dash”ing through the snow!

dasha

It might feel like she has been around forever but Belarusian biathlete Darya “Dasha” Domracheva is still only 26 years old! She has been competing in the Biathlon World Cup since 2005 and is therefore one of the most experienced female biathletes currently competing.

She was born in Minsk in 1986 and when she was four Darya moved to Nyagan, in Siberia. In a newly created town there was little fun to be had apart from cross-country skiing, and so Darya took up the sport. Darya later changed sport to biathlon and has won an Olympic bronze medal in the Individual event, 2 gold medals, 3 silvers and 1 bronze in the World Championships including her victory in the Mass Start in Nove Mesto.

This has led to her becoming quite the celebrity in Belarus and this year she was given the honour of presenting the voting results in the Eurovision song contest. That’s when you know you have made it! Apart from presenting Dasha has also turned her hand to movie making. She documented all the biathletes from 2008 until after the 2010 Olympics showing them training, competing and relaxing which gave all the fans an amazing insight into the life of a professional biathlete. She also starred in “The Spy Who Loved Biathlon”, and as a self-confessed lover of dance, is there nothing this woman can’t do?!!!

This year Dasha will be competing in the Olympics in Sochi, Russia which I suppose will be the closest she can get to a home Olympics and I’m sure she will have a lot of Belarussian fans there to cheer her on. She produced a great performance there this year finishing first in the Individual event. She has a consistently good shooting record and she is a strong skier. Even though she seems like such a nice girl don’t be fooled as she is also a fierce competitor.

The main problem for Dasha and all the other female biathletes is of course Tora Berger. Darya has managed to finish second in the Total Score 2 years in a row. She was also second in both the Sprint and Mass Start standings last season. When she is on top form Darya is very difficult to beat but she needs to find some more consistency over the season if she is going to topple Tora from the top spot.

So will we see her dashing through the snow this season to Olympic glory? Well she has as good a chance as anybody and so hopefully we will see her dancing on the top step of the podium next season!

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Ant – holz Shipulin!

shipulin

Anton Vladimirovich Shipulin not only has the best name for a bond villain ever but is also a fantastic biathlete! He was born on August 21, 1987 in Tyumen, Russia and shares the biathlon limelight with older sister Anastasiya Kuzmina.

Last year was pretty successful for Anton. He won 2 medals at the World Championships in Nove Mesto, a silver in the mass start and a bronze in the pursuit. He was named Russia’s top male biathlete for helping them to Nation’s Cup victory as well as finishing 3rd in the pursuit standings and in the top ten of the total score.

He lists his favourite event as the mass start but recently he has picked up better results in the pursuit and sprint races. I don’t know what his favourite track is but I would hazard a guess at it being Antholz- Anterselva in Italy. Why do I think this? Well his results there have always been good. Last year he won both the sprint and pursuit races, the year before he was 2nd in the mass start and the year before that he took another victory in the sprint.

So what is it about Antholz that makes Anton produce these great results? The area is at altitude so maybe he performs better in those conditions. The Russian team often train there too, sometimes in between World Cup events and so that’s another reason why he is so good there. Or maybe it’s just that different athletes perform better on certain tracks and Antholz is his. I bet he wishes the Olympics were being held there as he would have a great chance of winning medals.

However they are being held in Sochi and as a Russian biathlete there is huge pressure on Anton and the rest of the team to be successful at their home Olympics. Last year seemed like a big training run for them to prepare for this season. I really hope the home team can get some good results in Sochi as I know biathlon is really popular in Russia and the biathletes have put a lot of work in to prepare for it already. For Anton it’s a great chance to take a medal in front of his home fans. All you need to do is pretend you are in Antholz, Shipulin!

I know a few Russians read the blog so большое спасибо!

Selected Results:

1st Pursuit 2012/13 Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
1st Sprint 2012/13 Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
1st Sprint 2010/11 Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
2nd Mass Start 2012/13 Nove Mesto (CZE)
2nd Mass Start 2011/12 Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
3rd Pursuit 2012/13 Nove Mesto (CZE)

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Four-gone conclusion?

fourcade

Martin Fourcade is arguably one of the best biathletes ever. He won the overall title last year and all of the individual Chrystal globes. Born 14 September 1988 in Céret, Martin is a French biathlete and non-commissioned officer in the French Army. He has won several medals at the World Championships including four golds. He is also an Olympic silver medalist and winner of the 2011–12 World Cup as well as last season’s title.

As a child he took part in many sports like judo, swimming, athletics and mountain biking. In the end he followed his big brother Simon into Nordic skiing and biathlon. (So for all the other biathletes – you know who to blame!)Meeting Thierry Dusserre was a big moment for Martin. It was he who focused his attention on biathlon and instilled the necessary discipline and importance of training well. (You can blame Thierry too!)

Last season was amazing for Martin. To wear the yellow bib from start to finish and win all the individual events is an outstanding feat especially when you consider the competition he was facing. Great consistency coupled with some of the fastest skiing I have ever seen meant he thoroughly deserved all the titles and all the plaudits he received. However the World Championships in Nove Mesto didn’t go quite to plan mainly thanks to some missed targets and a certain Mr. Svendsen. He still won a gold and 4 silvers which for most biathletes would be a dream result but I can’t help feeling that Martin was disappointed that he didn’t take home more golds.

If he has a weakness it has to be his shooting. He tends to be slower than some of his main rivals to settle on the mat before he takes his first shot and has missed a few targets when the pressure is on. However he is still a great shot! And his ski speed is so good he can usually make up for it but I wouldn’t want to rely on that in the big races. The great competitor that he is I am sure it’s something he will be working on over the summer. Like the other biathletes he was back in full training by May for next season and I am sure he will be totally focused on making sure what happened in Nove Mesto doesn’t happen again in Sochi. The Olympics only come round every 4 years so it’s crucial to be able to peak at the right time as well as maintaining form for the World Cup.

Being one of the top performers in biathlon it is nice to see the good relationship he seems to have with his closest rivals. Housing hunting with Tarjei Bø and the now obligatory hugs at the end of races with Svendsen is very good to see. His relationship with his brother Simon also seems to help Martin. I’m sure having him as a roommate and teammate is both great support and motivation and maybe Simon can give him some shooting tips too!

So is it a four-gone conclusion that Martin Fourcade will win the World Cup again and Olympic gold next season? Nothing is ever certain in biathlon, there is a lot of competition but he has a fantastic chance of doing it. The one thing that I do know is he will give it his best shot!!!
Allez Martin!

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