Category Archives: Interview

Thierry Langer: The Interview!

Thierry Langer is a Belgian biathlete who was born in Malmedy on the 24th of October 1991. He is regular on the IBU Cup and last season raced on the World Cup for the Belgian Men’s Relay Team. Not only is he a biathlete but he also competes in cross-country skiing and is studying chemistry. It’s safe to say he is quite busy!

Like his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thierrylangerbiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

When I was 14 years old a small group practised the sport already for a couple of years. I took part in the cross country events in Belgium every year so they suddenly invited me to try biathlon. That was when I tried it in a summer camp in Winterberg (Germany) for the first time. I liked the sport better than cross country skiing, athletics or football which I was practising back then. I stuck to it until now after I saw some progression and received a lot of support from my parents.

Unusually for the Belgian team you are actually Belgian! How have things changed for you with Roesch and Claude joining the team?

For me personally this is probably why I am still doing biathlon. I got new motivation to become as good as them or probably beat them one day. But also with them joining the whole Biathlon Federation became more professional every year and so did I. I learned a lot in this time and had my first professional winter season last year which was exciting.

The Relays were amazing to watch last season. What were they like from your perspective?

In Hochfilzen I was pretty nervous watching them on the warm up lap when I saw us in front. When I started my race all of this was gone. I was so focused on skiing that the crowd wasn’t really bothering me. In Oberhof it was easier. It wasn’t a new situation, so I knew what to do and I think it also worked out better for me with only one penalty loop in those special conditions.

You made the Belgian Olympic Team but for cross country skiing! How was your experience in PyeongChang?

It was amazing. I already had the chance to take part in every big event in biathlon and cross country skiing, but the Olympics were something special having every nation and almost every winter sport around. I really enjoyed the month in PyeongChang. I hope to qualify in 2022 again, but this time for the biathlon competitions.

How do you manage your season between competing on the IBU Cup, the World Cup and in cross country?

The last season was indeed a hard season. I had several weekends racing in different places which isn’t very ideal, but it was necessary to qualify for the Olympic Games. I raced for example in Campra, Switzerland, travelled seven hours after the race to start the day after in the relay in Oberhof. In the end it all worked out fine, I was fit when I had to be and I also had my best season ever but this is not for every year.

Do you think you will always do both biathlon and cross country or will you concentrate on just one sport in the future?

I will concentrate on biathlon for sure, but this doesn’t mean that I won’t compete at cross country races anymore. If there are some free weeks that I can fill with cross country races I will definitely do that.

What are you doing for summer training?

I like running, roller skiing or mountain biking. Otherwise the usual visits to the gym and the shooting range.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to get some good shooting results again this season. This is something which suffered a bit with all the cross country races. I want to repeat my 15th place at the IBU Cup again and probably get the chance to do some more World Cups beside the relay races. But in general repeating the good results of last season should be my main goal.

You also study chemistry. How difficult is it to balance studying and training? Can you make your own gunpowder? 😉

I better not tell that to anyone 😉 … but I’m more interested in waxing and the skis. This is also the topic of my Masters thesis.
After several years at the University I got used to the rhythm and how I can get free time for the sport. A huge factor is also the German system which makes it a lot easier to be flexible. After all I’m far from training like the pro’s but that’s why every training has to be effective and I think this works quite well so far.


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

Duszniki Zdroj, Poland. I enjoyed the track a lot during the ECH.

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

Raphael Poiree, he was my favourite when I was young for no reason.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined , quiet and clumsy.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Germany
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: None
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Erik Lesser / Arnd Peiffer
Best thing about being a biathlete: Unforgettable moments during this time.

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Derek Zaplotinsky: The Interview!

Derek Zaplotinsky is a Canadian para biathlete and cross country skier. He races in the sitting category and recently competed at his first Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. He lives in the awesomely named Smoky Lake, Alberta (which is the second best name for a lake!). He was paralysed in a motocross accident in 2006 when another bike landed on him. He initially tried hand cycling but made the smart decision to change to biathlon.

You can follow Derek on Twitter: @Derek_zap
Or Instagram: Derek_zap

Why did you become a biathlete?

Growing up in a small rural town in Alberta, shooting was something we enjoyed as kids. First with the pellet guns and then big game hunting. In all honesty I started cross country skiing because I wanted to do biathlon. I thought biathlon would be a fairly easy sport to compete in, with my experience with guns, but was I mistaken. I learned quickly it’s a lot harder than it looks. Biathlon is a sport that motivates me, I want the accuracy and speed while dealing with the heart rate and breathing.

PyeongChang was your first Paralympic Games. How did you find the experience overall?

The experience was overwhelming, but enjoyable. You train and prepare for years, but nothing can describe the feeling being there. You are competing against the best athletes in the world and the intensity level is high. I was proud to be representing my country and hopefully I’ll have the chance to experience this again in 2022.

Were you happy with your performances in Korea?

In all honesty, I was bummed with my performance. I went into the Games feeling good with my skiing and shooting. In the Biathlon sprint and 15 km cross country I was pleased with the 9th place results and was looking forward to putting it all together for the rest of the races. When it came to the middle distance biathlon I felt my skiing was good but my shooting was not consistent. Prior to the sprint cross country race I came down with a sinus infection, which definitely ended up hurting my performance for the rest of the Games.

Are you looking forward to the World Championships in Prince George? What are your goals for that event?

Yes, I did the Canadian Winter Games there 4 years ago and had some great results so I’m hoping it’s my good luck track. Without the extensive travel and no time difference to adjust to I would like to have a podium finish.

Do you still do summer training on a chair nailed to a skateboard or have you upgraded your equipment? 😉

Ha, Ha , Ha, not anymore. Upgraded and now use roller skis, works much better for shooting and simulates the position.

What are your plans for summer training?

A busy summer – there was a camp in Bend in June, I just got back from 3 weeks at the Snow Farm in New Zealand. It was good to be back on the snow, it helped break up the summer training. We have a camp in Mammoth Lakes in September, and I will make the 5 hour trip to Canmore for biathlon training as often as I can. If not at a camp, I ski around home following a daily program designed by my coach, along with a weekly strength program.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths – I would have to say would be my determination, and my competitiveness.
Weaknesses – I over think things and like to consistently play around with my sit ski, looking for the perfect fit.

What are your hobbies away from cross country and biathlon?

Really there is not a great amount of time for extra activities, if time and the weather works in my favor I enjoy boating with friends and snowmobiling in the mountains after the end of the season.

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

Finsterau, Germany. I had my best results of my career there so I can not wait to go back.

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

Dorothea Wierer, with Emily Young a close second. She’s like the sister I never wanted.

Does your rifle have a name?

No name, we still aren’t close friends, but I’m working on that.

Describe yourself in three words.

Focused, determined and sarcastic.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Italy
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova. Who doesn’t love unicorns?
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Sweden
Favourite shooting range: Canmore
Lucky bib number: Haven’t found it yet.
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Brittany Hudak
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Mark Arendz
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travel

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Herbert Cool: The Interview!

Herbert Cool is a former Dutch biathlete who was born in Rotterdam on the 9th of February 1985. He retired from biathlon in 2012, which was far too soon!, with a top finish of 50th in both the Sprint and Pursuit races at the 2008 World Championships in Oestersund. After retiring he began commentating on biathlon for Dutch Eurosport.

Follow Herbert on Twitter: @CoolHerbert

Why did you become a biathlete?

My father loves to go cross country skiing. As we have no snow in the Netherlands we used to spend our vacations in Germany and the Czech Republic. I got into the sport as well, enjoyed it, enjoyed racing against the local youth and sometimes even beating them. Age 18 I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Bled, Slovenia. I came 9th in the Sprint which was great. We hardly ever trained on snow, only roller skiing and some shooting in a shooting range without a roller ski loop. This made me realize I had a talent for the sport and made me decide to pursue a professional career in biathlon. At age 19 I moved to the US to train with the US Junior team in Minnesota. A year after, I moved to Ruhpolding and stayed there for 6 years.

What are your best memories from your biathlon career?

For sure the first year in the US was the most fun. Obviously it is a great experience to live there on the whole, especially after finishing school. I got to see a lot of the country and was surprised about the large Nordic community it has, not to mention the beautiful cross country tracks. Also, the team was great. Just a bunch of young people wanting to make it in a sport that wasn’t normal in the country they came from. I guess we shared this experience, even though our countries were so far apart. We shared the troubles with funding, we shared having to travel away from your own country to be able to do what you love. And we had a great coach, Vladimir Cervenka, who is still coaching the US Juniors in Minnesota. Of course there were many great memories after that year, but things became a bit more serious, more like a job.

How did you become a commentator for Eurosport and how long have you been doing it?

Unfortunately I didn’t qualify for the Vancouver Olympics. The Dutch Olympic Association wants biathletes to be top 8 in the world, which obviously is a requirement similar to countries like Germany or Norway. However, there is hardly any funding and no talent development whatsoever. I really hope this will change and I am putting energy into this myself, but for now it is unrealistic to expect any talent from the Netherlands (nor is it realistic to expect youth to become interested in the sport, there simply are no facilities). Eurosport gave me a call; whether I would be interested in joining their biathlon commentator during the Olympics. I did, and it was a lot of fun. After I decided to quit in 2012 I pretty much became their new biathlon commentator. I still enjoy it a lot, and nowadays do some other sports as well as some presenting in front of the camera. For example during the 2018 Olympics. It’s a lot of fun and it enables me to stay on top of the sport that I love.

Did you find the transition from biathlete to commentator difficult? Was it harder or easier than you thought? Do you ever run out of things to say? 😉

I think it was the fact that I could become the biathlon commentator at Eurosport that helped me in the transition. You have to understand, I am a city boy. I was born and raised in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Definitely worth a visit if you have the time. So living in Ruhpolding was about as far away from living in the city as possible. Although I often miss the beautiful nature in the Alps (and the snow, obviously) I also really wanted to go back to Rotterdam. And I’m not just a commentator, I also own a sports management agency. We are into sports marketing, event management and athlete management. For example, this year we will bring a large group of Dutch biathlon fans to the World Team Challenge in Gelsenkirchen for the first year. You’d be surprised how many Dutch people love watching biathlon. When it comes to winter sports, speed skating is obviously the number 1 by far, but I would say biathlon is the second most popular winter sport on television here!
(Definitely not running out of things to say 😉 )

How much and what kind of research do you do before the races?

Honestly, I hardly do any research. I simply love the sport so much that I read and see everything no matter what. Before a race, I obviously do my preparation work, but that doesn’t take a lot of time this way.

Do you have some favourite/memorable races or moments that you have commentated on? Why were they special?

My relationship with the US team runs like a red line through my career. First I moved to Minnesota to train with the US Juniors. After that I moved to Ruhpolding where I was fortunate enough to have Ricco Gross coach me and help me a lot. He helped me connect to the US World Cup team -they waxed his ski’s during that time- and I ended up going with them in some of their training camps as well as travelling with them throughout the winter. A great setup for which I am still very grateful to both Ricco Gross, Bernd Eisenbichler, their high performance director and the team as a whole. It was during the time Tim Burke did very well, he even led the World Cup total score during Christmas, and I roomed up with them and learned a lot. So to answer the question, during the Hochfilzen World Champs there was the epic individual race men’s race. Moravec was in the lead, Lowell Bailey started really late. He shot well, and the finish loop was so intense. I think I screamed during my commentary and for sure I wasn’t very objective, but I didn’t care. It was such a great win for Lowell and I felt a lot of joy, especially seeing all of the wax techs and coaches celebrating afterwards. You know how hard they all work for it and how much effort goes in behind the scenes.

Is biathlon popular in The Netherlands? Can you tell us something about the current biathletes from the Netherlands.

It’s a difficult subject at the moment. The Dutch ski federation has chosen not to invest in talent development. One of the reasons is that the Dutch Olympic Association will only send a biathlete to the Olympics if he or she is around top 8 in the world. This is almost impossible to achieve in general, but especially with no funding, no facilities (no snow) and, very important, no athletes who are already on a World Cup level. You need to train with athletes who are at least as good as you on a daily basis. A good example is Chardine Sloof; she is a talented biathlete who got introduced to the sport because she lives in Sweden. She became a Junior World Champion for the Netherlands, which is crazy. Luck hardly has any influence on the sport of biathlon, if you become Junior World Champion you are talented. Period. After that she struggled with some physical issues and the funding stopped. She decided to switch to the Swedish team. A good decision, because she is surrounded by great athletes, the right culture and great facilities as well. She achieved 3 top 15 results during the Oberhof World Cup 2 seasons ago, really great stuff. I hope we will see more of her in the upcoming season.

Do you have any predictions for the up coming season? Anyone we should be looking out for to do well?

As always after an Olympic season we saw some big names quit. Of course we will miss Domracheva for example. She has one of the best techniques on the women’s side and is of great added value to the exposure of biathlon due to her personality. On a personal note I will miss Bjoerndalen, because he was my idol when I was a biathlete myself. I think Johannes Thingnes Boe will again be a little bit better and more solid this time, although he did admit to not training as much as he should have done in spring. But it will be interesting to see whether Fourcade can take another overall World Cup. I think it’s Boe’s time now. And the Swedes will be strong. They have the momentum after their successful Olympics. Of course there is a big difference between having nothing to lose and being one of the favourites, so this will be a role they will have to get used to. On the women’s side I think Dahlmeier will be very strong, if she stays healthy on her way to December. But I’m afraid that if she wins a lot, she will quit after this winter, which would be a big loss to the sport. I would also keep an eye on Lisa Vittozzi, she made big steps last season and is still very young.

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

I loved Östersund. Great atmosphere downtown, great energy on the whole and tracks that suited me. Long uphills that you really had to dig into. Antholz is everybody’s favorite, not only because of the great food and kind people. I always joke during my commentary that they somehow always seem to have a lot of snow, yet the sun is always shining!

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

Bjoerndalen, because he made biathlon into the sport it is today. He pulled it out of cross country skiing’s shadow. His technique was perfection. Someone who also has great balance and style on ski’s is Simon Fourcade, I love watching him ski. When it comes to fighting spirit you have to mention Kaisa Makarainen. Such a great athlete, a fierce competitor on the tracks and a great person once she crosses the finish line.

Did your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, passionate, calm.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Right now: Belgium!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin’s carved rifle looks great.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Not sure which year, and a bit of a different sport, but I loved the suit the Norwegian cross country team had in the last seasons Bjorn Daehlie was racing.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Being active in a worldwide sport that is still small enough to be a small community, and the closeness to nature.
Best thing about being a commentator: Sharing what you love with viewers who really discover your sport -and how great it is. Because biathlon wasn’t really known in the Netherlands, viewers can ask me question through Twitter during the race. This works out great and gives me the chance to bring the sport closer to the Dutch audience.

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Regina Oja: The Interview!

Regina Oja is an Estonian biathlete. She was born in Tallinn on the 31st of January 1996. She made her biathlon debut in 2013 and raced on the World Cup for the first time in 2016. Last season she spent most of her time competing on the World Cup and raced at the Open European Championships in Ridnaun where she finished 4th in the Single Mixed Relay. She can also be found racing the first leg for the Estonian Women’s Relay team.

Like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/reginabiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started with many activities such as dancing, gymnastics and swimming and afterwards skiing. For a long time I did swimming and skiing at the same time but in the end it was skiing I chose, I had really good friends and training partners and that’s what became decisive. When I got older my father took me to shoot and showed me how everything works. It was really interesting for me and it didn’t take long until I raced my first biathlon race. It was during summer and in running. The first day I shot really well and got 1st place. The second day in one range I shot 5 penalties but ran 4 penalty laps, so I got +2mins and ended up somewhere at the back of the list. However it was really interesting for me, I started to wonder if I could get my own rifle so my father said, that if I wanted my own rifle I had to start doing biathlon more often. So that’s when I started to race in biathlon races more often than cross-country and so it went. 🙂

Last season was your first major season on the World Cup. How do you assess your season?

I consider it okay. It wasn’t anything super good but I didn’t have high hopes either. I wished to race all season long and that’s what I accomplished. Of course I wanted to race well in every race, the beginning was hard and many new races and disciplines, but after New Year I think it started to look better for me. I learned a lot and started to feel better again. It was a long season and definitely different than my other seasons have been, to begin and start the season on the World Cup was new for me but something I really wanted and worked for.

You were 4th in the Single Mixed Relay at the ECH in Ridnaun with Rene Zakhna. Were you happy with that race or disappointed to just miss a medal?

Yes, we were happy. I didn’t think so much about missing out on a medal because it was either way a surprise race for us. Of course we wanted to do well but I had already raced the whole of January and also 3 races in Ridnaun ( Individual, sprint and pursuit) before the Single Mixed so I really started to feel tired. I wanted to keep calm and not think about results. It was a good race and I’m happy we managed to achieve 4th place, of course a medal would have been something completely different but that would have meant better shooting and skiing from both of us. 🙂

In Kontiolahti you raced in the Single Mixed Relay and the Mixed Relay on the same day. How difficult is that physically and mentally?

At first I didn’t think it would be a big deal, I knew what I said “yes” to and I was prepared. The hardest part was lack of time between the two races and also in the warm up before the second race, my body was already relaxed and recovering from the first race and it was hard to do zeroing and warm up again in such a short time. It was just something I haven’t done before. It wasn’t that bad and I had time to prepare myself for that situation. I knew I had 2 races before the races and when I arrived at the stadium that’s what I went to do. It was just to keep a positive and open mind about the situation and everything. My team helped a lot and were very supportive.

What are your plans for summer training?

To raise the training hours and a little bit of a different training method than before. I have done a lot more running than earlier years and I will start roller skiing more from September. I have had a tendency for some things to come up in autumn so this is what we’re now trying to anticipate and start with some training a little bit later than usual.

What are your goals for this season?

Of course to do better than last year. I have now seen and felt my weak spots and how things worked last year so I can be more aware now. I want to stay healthy and get in shape when it’s most needed.

It seems you like the colour pink. Any plans for a pink rifle for next season? Or maybe a pink harness? Or pink gloves? 😉

Pink is not my favourite colour, it has just happened that I have many things in pink. I don’t want a pink rifle, I think it’s too much. I have a pink harness and magazines, these details I’m okay with pink. I like colour and would rather choose something colourful instead of black. Often things are either in black, pink or something like yellow, green or blue. Then I choose pink, but not because it’s my favourite color but because it’s the prettiest of the choices I have. 🙂

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

I really liked to race in Ruhpolding and in Kontiolahti last year. I don’t know if these are my favourite, I still have many places to discover but these are what I remember the most from last season. 🙂

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

Magdalena Neuner, always has and always will be. She was so natural and pure wow. I like everything about her.

Does your rifle have a name?

Usually I say rifle when I talk about it but it’s also called Tessa. I don’t call it that way though, it’s just there.

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling, honest and strong.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Favourite shooting range: in Solleftea, Sweden
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Lena Häcki
Best thing about being a biathlete: The Biathlon Family

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Irene Cadurisch: The Interview!

Irene Cadurisch is a Swiss biathlete. She was born on the 23rd of October 1991. She is known on the World Cup for her fast shooting and she finished an incredible 8th at the PyeongChang Olympic Games in the Sprint. She has suffered from a knee injury in recent years and also had to have an operation this summer. She is the anchor leg of the Swiss Women’s Relay team who finished 5th in Oslo last season and 6th at the Olympics.

Like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cadurisch.irene/
Check out her website: http://www.irene-cadurisch.ch/

Why did you become a biathlete?

When I was 16 or 17 our cross country skiing group in my home valley had a biathlon training. I tried it and I liked it.

Tell us about your 8th place in the Olympic Sprint! That was amazing! Can you describe your race and how you felt at the end?

I knew I was in shape before the races. I was very focused in the whole preparation time. The race day was like other race days. I tried to enjoy it. And it was working. To do my own race not worrying about others was my goal. While in the race I felt that I could hold my pace. In the first shooting I did a mistake but I kept fighting. It was a great race with not too much suffering, but pushing.

How do you assess your season on the World Cup last year? Are you happy with your progress? What do you need to work on?

Yes I am happy. Of course I didn’t have the greatest results but I saw my progress. And this was very important for me. My hard work since my knee injury paid off.

You shoot really fast! How are you able to do that? Is it natural for you or is it something you work on?

I was working on that since beginning with biathlon. But I have problems, when I try to change the rhythm. So there is a lot of work to do.
While shooting I don’t feel that I shoot fast. In my head it is all step by step in slow-motion. After the race they tell me if it was fast or not.

The Swiss women’s team is making great progress. You were 5th in the Relay in Oslo. Do you like the Relays and what do you think the team can do this season?

Of course I like the relay. Nowhere else is the whole team honestly happy or upset all together. We have to work good and hard. The podium is a goal.

You have a new coach this season (Sandra Flunger). Have you started working with her yet? Has she introduced anything new?

Yes the training rhythm changed. Every coach has a different way to be. We are happy with Sandra and try to learn and grow.

What are your plans for summer training?

I had an operation in the middle of July. My Hallux valgus (bunions) on both feet were always infected (also last winter) and now I had to do it. So I will not be able to train for 2 months. It is not an easy summer and it will be a hard preparation time. I try to stay positive and work hard. It will pay off.

What are your goals for this season?

Before the operation I wanted to continue my progress. But now I just want to come back strong and do my best in this short preparation time. Then I can see what happens. The World Championships are of course in my mind.

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

I don’t have favourites no. I like a lot: Hochfilzen, Antholz, Pokljuka, Oslo, Kontiolahti, Grand Bornand, of course Lenzerheide, Ridnaun and Obertilliach 😉

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

I don’t have favourites. Every athlete has his thing where I think: “wow this is really cool or strong”. But of course Bjørndalen will stay the King.

Does your rifle have a name?

No. But when I think about it, she would be Victoria.

Describe yourself in three words.

Home/Family person, Nature lover, I am an honest person.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):
France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): I like the natural ones.
Favourite ski suit design: Odlo has great suits.
Favourite shooting range: Lenzerheide
Lucky bib number: 1 in Pursuit 😉 (I don’t have a favourite)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anna Maka, Poland
Best thing about being a biathlete: Be focused in the right time.

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Steve Arnold: The Interview!

Steve Arnold is a British para biathlete and cross country skier. He was serving with the Royal Engineers in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both of his legs above the knee. He initially started in sport as a hand cyclist but saw the error of his ways when he was introduced to Nordic skiing in 2017. He has also competed at the Invictus Games and was Vice Captain for the British team at the last edition in Toronto in 2017.

Follow Steve on Twitter: @stevearnold79
Check out his website: stevearnoldsport.com
He is on Instagram too: Instagram.com/stevearnold79

Why did you become a biathlete?

After finishing with GB Para Cycling in Dec 2016, I wanted a new challenge and Nordic/biathlon was a sport I’d never done before. I knew it was hard physically and technically but I wanted to see that for myself and see if I could push myself to the standard required to race for GB.

How hard was the transition from cycling to biathlon and cross country? Are there any similarities or are they very different?

Obviously the climate change was a little bit of a shock to the system going from a summer sport to a winter one but the most difficult bit has been learning the technique of moving the ski around on the snow. It’s also different muscle groups from the cycling so going from a lot of chest and arm work to back/lats and triceps has been an interesting challenge in the gym. (I’m not a lover of gym work!)

How do you assess your progress so far in para nordic? Are you happy with how it’s going? Have you identified areas which you need to work on?

After just one season I can’t really complain about my progress, I know there’s still plenty to learn on the technical side and I do need a bit more explosive power for the sprint races but with just being in the sport for a little over 16 months its been a good start with exciting times ahead.

You missed out on the Paralympics in South Korea. Does that motivate you more to make it to Beijing or will you just go season by season?

Not going to South Korea did hurt but its definitely made me start this four year cycle well. I’ve looked at how I can improve as an all round athlete and be at the top of my game in four years time. I also think you need to look at it season by season though, set yourself realistic goals, don’t be afraid to try new things in the first couple of seasons and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just looking at four years away for me would be mentally draining and I think it would take the enjoyment out of it.

What are your goals for this season?

Consistently be in the Top 15 in all Cross country/Biathlon races.
Know which distances I’m going to prioritise for 2019/20 by the end of this season.
Handle the ski better.
Improve in the sprint races.(explosive power)

What are you doing for summer training?

I’m currently working with GB Para Canoe to make me stronger and have better core stability, but along side that I’m back on the bike and Mountain board (roller skis) getting the miles in. Also plenty of time in the gym, soon the team will be out in Oberhof in the snow tunnel so looking forward to being back on snow.

You were in the Army. Does the shooting you learned there help you with biathlon or not?

Not really. Although the Marksmanship principles are the same it’s very different shooting an air rifle to a 5.56mm rifle. For one there is no kick back on the air rifle, you are only shooting 10 metres and the target is tiny. Put that all together with it being a race I’d say put me back on the front line anytime.

British Olympic and Paralympic snow sports are merging. Do you think that is a good thing for the para nordic team?

I think this is a great thing to happen to our sport and team to be training with the best British winter athletes in this country with great facilities and knowledge can only be a good thing.

You were Vice Captain of the British team last year at the Invictus Games. You must have been really proud of that. What was that experience like? Will you compete this year?

Being VC last year was incredible and I’m still very proud and honoured to be able to have been a small part of helping people change there lives for the better. It was amazing to see first hand how powerful sport can be in helping people. I wont be competing this year but I am the athlete representative on the UK Delegation Board so it’s been great to still be part of the Invictus Games in a small way.

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

I would have to say so far it would be Canmore in Canada. It’s just set in a great place and the town is incredible.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Honest,funny,fearless

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): CANADA
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): GB
Favourite shooting range: OBERHOF
Lucky bib number: 24
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: TRYVGE LARSEN (NOR)
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: COLLIN CAMERON (CAN)
Best thing about being a biathlete: You’ll never know how hard it is until you try it.

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Valera Patotski: The Interview!

Photo Credit: Tumashov/IBU

Valera Patotski is a biathlon journalist who works for the IBU. He covers the Junior Cup and Youth/Junior World Championships. He is Russian but lives in Norway which are about the best credentials you can have for covering biathlon! Currently finishing his journalism degree he is the mastermind behind the IBU Junior Twitter and Snapchat accounts and also contributes to the IBU magazine.

Follow Valera on Twitter: @ValeraPatotski
And on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valera.patotski/

Why do you love biathlon?
I think I could write a book on why I love biathlon, there are so many reasons, but mainly; because the sport is so unpredictable, everything can change in a matter of seconds. All the different disciplines, which is extremely fun to watch.
And the engaging community.

Can you describe your typical day when you are working at the Junior Cup?

I wake up, check social media for updates, comments, stats. Then I eat breakfast and rush to the stadium. I arrive at the stadium in advance of the athletes so I can prepare for the upcoming training or competition. Upon arriving I already have a plan on what I want to produce and how I want to do it. When the first athletes are arriving I leave the press centre and start producing content for Snapchat and Twitter. Often videos need editing so during zeroing I regroup at the press centre to edit and upload the content. Then I run out for the competitions and continue to produce content. After competitions I do interviews. When everyone has left the stadium I head back to the hotel, and usually continue with video concept shooting or writing from the hotel bed. Sometimes the day ends with some billiards or table tennis with the athletes. More or less this is a typical day for me.

Do you have a favourite/memorable race(s) that you have covered? Why was it special?

The Single mixed relay in JOECH 2018 is the most memorable one. It was just a very intense and close battle for the podium. What made the competition so special is that France who crossed the finish line first was disqualified due to Emilien Claude using one extra spare round during his last shooting.

My favourite competition is the youth relay from YJWCH 2018. Just a super exciting competition that ended with Sweden’s Elvira Oeberg beating Finland’s Heidi Nikkinen for the gold medal at the finish line.

Who should we be watching next season from the Juniors? Any big stars in the making?

In fact, many. I have seen a lot of talented young athletes, and I am confident that soon some of them will shine on the big stage. I would point out Emilien Claude, Igor Malinovskii, Elvira Oeberg and Sophia Schneider. They are all very skilled biathletes with a great future ahead of them.

I also would like to add that it is very cool that we see more and more Juniors and first year seniors at the World Cup.

Which biathlete would you really love to interview and what would you ask them?

I would love to do a 5-hour interview with Martin Fourcade. To try to understand his mind set a little bit better. I think he is mentally two steps above his competitors.
Poor Martin! 😉

There is a lot more coverage of biathlon on social media now. Do you enjoy that side of it or do you prefer writing articles?

The IBU became more visible on social media in 2016 and I feel very honoured that I took part in that “renovation”. I enjoy working with social media it is a very different way of bringing biathlon to the people. If I had to pick a side between social media and classic articles, I would go with social media.

You are still a student. What would you like to do in the future?

I still have one year left of my bachelor in journalism. When I’m finished I would like to continue working with winter sport and social media.

When I am IBU President and you are my Vice President (VP the VP!) what would you like to see change in biathlon?

I wish there were more races on the calendar as I cannot get enough of biathlon.

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

I have to go with Pokljuka here, I have been there two times. They have a great stadium and usually great weather. The staff who work with hosting the competitions are very professional and kind.

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

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, he was one of the reasons I started following biathlon back in 2007. I remember him beating Raphael Poiree when I attended in my first ever biathlon competition. It was quite something!

If you had a rifle what would you call it?

Shakespeare

Describe yourself in three words

confident, funny, empathetic

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Biathlon family
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): all-time favourite Norway (2016), but currently Czech Republic has a great ski suit design.
Funniest biathlete: Tom Lahaye
Nicest biathlete: Joscha Burkhalter
Best media centre: Holmenkollen
Favourite biathlon journalist (not yourself!): Rene Denfeld and Giulio Gasparin, you cannot have one without the other. You mean like Tweedledum and Tweedledee? 😉
Best thing about being a biathlon journalist: Travel around the world, original right?

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