Category Archives: Interview

Kadri Lehtla: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Kadri Lehtla.

Kadri Lehtla is an Estonian biathlete from Tallinn. She was born on the 3rd of May 1985 and started biathlon in 2006. She made her World Cup debut in 2007 and achieved her career best result in the Oestersund individual in 2013 when she finished 14th. She has represented Estonia at two Olympic Games in Vancouver and Sochi as well as at nine World Championships.

Follow Kadri on Instagram: kadrilehtla

Why did you become a biathlete?

I used to be a cross country skier until the age of 21. I was in a bit of a difficult situation. A friend of mine insisted that I try biathlon because there are much more opportunities. Best decision ever!

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

Since I haven’t had any good results in a long time (there are reasons why) and my last season didn’t seem different, I noticed the difference. I enjoyed racing again and gained back my confidence. Also my shooting was pretty nice.

What have you been doing for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

Actually my summer has gone very well. Quite possibly my best summer ever. So far the virus situation hasn’t affected my plans much. Not sure about the next months. I hope I will have the possibility to train in the Alps as well.

What are your goals for this season?

My goal is to come back strong and healthy again. I wish to reach at least those results I made a long time ago.

How has biathlon in Estonia changed since you started competing?

Biathlon is much more popular now. When I started, nobody really knew what was going on there. Cross country was number 1 and nobody cared about the rifles. Now it’s the opposite. The World Cup races are on national TV and the interest is very high. Love to see that. Sadly our winters are getting worse and worse and kids don’t want to ski on mud, so the future is fragile.

You have had a long career in biathlon. How long do you think you will continue and do you have any plans for afterwards like coaching for example?

I think it has been a long career. But to me it doesn’t seem so. Time flies so fast, it’s terrifying. I would love to do one more Olympics. To be honest I have never planned my career ending. I never set the exact date. It comes when it’s time.
I have some plans for afterwards. Coaching might be one of them. Also I’m into photography. And I would like to try Ironman!

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why?

I would invite Kaisa Mäkeräinen, because she is one of my favourites since the beginning. Susan Dunklee, it’s always nice to talk to her. And last, if it would be possible, Halvard Hanevold. His humour would make the dinner party fabulous. May he rest in peace. There’s going to be a “design your own pizza party” with some good wine. 😉

What song would you add to the stadium playlist and what song would you remove?

I don’t think I would remove anything. But I would add Rudimental ft. John Newman – ‘Not giving in’ and Kanye West – ‘Stronger’.

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

It’s glorious Antholz-Anterselva. Fell in love with that place the very first time I got there back in 2008.

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

Kaisa Mäkeräinen as I mentioned before. Always root for your neighbours. I have a strong connection with Finland.


Does your rifle have a name?

Unfortunately no. But Mustang would be cool name. Maybe I will start calling him that.

Describe yourself in three words.

Strong headed, Calm, Positive

Quick fire choices:
Choose one:

skiing or shooting? Both. You can’t do biathlon with just one.
prone or standing? Standing.
against the clock or head to head racing? Head to head.
uphill or downhill? Yay! Downhill it is!
mixed relay or women’s relay? Mixed.
morning or night? Morning.
sun or snow? Both. Sun is where you get the energy. On snow you use the energy.
roller skiing or cycling? Roller skiing. Actually I like mountainbiking too but not road.
alcohol or chocolate? Umm, I’m not much into chocolate. So I’d say a bottle of cold beer after tough week is good.

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Karolina Dusilova: The Interview!

Karolina (Kaja) Dusilova is a Czech biathlete who was born in Jablonec nad Nisou on the 1st of August 2000. She started biathlon in 2013 has competed on the IBU Cup as well as the IBU Junior Cup. She has represented the Czech Republic at the Youth and Junior World Championships and last season achieved her best result so far finishing 6th in the sprint at the Junior Open European Championships in Hochfilzen.

Follow Karolina on Twitter: @kajadus
and instagram: kaja_dusilova

Why did you become a biathlete?

I saw biathlon on TV when I was 12-years-old when I was sick, I had a fever(39-40degrees), but when biathlon was on TV it was like I was healthy. It was love at first sight. And I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

Last season was very weird for me. For 2 years I had many problems with my health and I returned after one year’s long pause, when I couldn’t do anything. Last spring was a new strart. Training was good, but in August I had an injury during one training. I got a plaster cast on my leg and I couldn’t train. In September I had the graduation from the Gymnasium (high school) so this two months were very hard for my psyche. So the start of the winter season was very bad, and after the second IBU J.C. I thought I was done. But after Christmas I felt better and I qualified for the JWCH in Lenzerheide. And good results came in Italy (Martell) on the IBU cup, where I was 21st and I got my first points. The next competion was in Arber, where I got my first points in the IBU J.C. And the best result came in Hochfilzen, where I was 6th place in the sprint. But after came the bad news with COVID-19 and we had to go home.

What was your best or favourite race from last season and why?

Certainly in Martell on the IBU CUP. I was there for the first time this season and I really like this place. There are good tracks, hard hills and hard downhills and a good shooting range and beautiful mountains. And there was my break in results when I got my first points.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

I have 3 weeks per month together with the team. So when we spend time together, we have to be careful. We use disinfectant and don’t go to public places. And we train only in the Czech Republic, we don’t go abroad yet.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My biggest problem is my head. I speculate during the training about technique on skis, about me and my problems in normal life, why is this squirrel watching me etc. And I don’t concentrate and I have bad shooting or somwhere fall on skis or bike or I stumble into a tree. It’s very hard to train me, I think. Because I’m not communicative but my feelings show on my face (so seeing me, often isn’t nice!) 😃, and when some problem comes (with health or some misunderstanding) it’s worse. I don’t speak for example for 3 days. And often I want to train more and it’s difficult to stop me.

But on the other side I’m very competitive, purposeful, courageous, and know what I want to do. When I have support from trainers and people around me, I can do big things. So if I stay healthy and stop thinking about everything it will be good and top results will come.

What are your goals for this season?

I want more stability in results during the season, top 10 on JWCH and to be a member of the relay on JWCH and JEWCH.

Who is your roommate on tour and do they have any bad habits (eg.snoring) or good habits (eg.tidy)?

I’m very adaptable but I’m often with Terka Vinklárková and Klárka Polednová or I’m alone. But I haven’t got problem to be with anybody in the room. And I don’t know 😄 if i have some good habits. Maybe I’m quiet but often I speak in my sleep.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

I would invite Terka Vinklárková, because she is my soulmate, she plays beautifully on guitar and she is my sun, with her I have a better day 😊. The second is Klarka Polednová, she is my best friend with Terka and she is a very good dancer, she has a good choice of songs and with her there will be a party, a really big party 😃. And the last one will be Péťa Suchá, because she is a good singer, she plays guitar too and she is really a party girl. We will have meat, vegetable, etc. The best could be some grill party 😄!

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

Certainly snowboarding during the winter but because we spend so much time on races I haven’t got time for it. But when I can, I am somewhere on a downhill. During the summer I like to go to by bike. I love adrenaline sports, I haven’t got any fear so it’s ideal for me. And I really like to learn, I like finding new information and learning it.

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

Yes, three tracks are my top. In Martell, Lenzerheide and Obertilliach. Maybe because there are the best views of mountains 😄.

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

I don’t know. Every athlete is unique. And I can never have the same results like Gabina Koukalova or someone like her. I find the best things what they do and things which are good for me and I try them. When it functions, I continue with it. When it isn’t for me I find something new.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, I tried it. But we aren’t friends. So when I shoot bad, I put it in the corner of the room and we don’t speak together.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, quiet, tough 😄.

Quick fire choices:
Choose one:

skiing or shooting? Both of them, that’s why I do biathlon 😄.
prone or standing? Certainly standing!
uphill or downhill? Downhill, of course 😎.
mixed relay or women’s relay? Women’s relay. With my team girls.
morning or night? Beautiful sunny morning.
sun or snow? Sunny winter day. It’s the best skiing in shorts, sunglasses and t-shirt.
roller skiing or cycling? It’s difficult. Maybe it’s the same.😊
alcohol or chocolate? Neither. 😁 A big steak please!

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Anna Gandler: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Anna Gandler.


Anna Gandler is an Austrian biathlete. She was born in Hall in the Tyrol region on the 5th of January 2001. Last season she won the individual race at the IBU Junior Open European Championships in Hochfilzen. At the Youth World Championships in Lenzerheide she took the gold medal in the pursuit, after finishing 4th in the sprint, and also claimed the bronze medal in the individual. She finished in 15th place overall in the total score on the IBU Junior Cup.

Follow Anna on Instagram: anna_gandler
Like her Facebook page: Anna Gandler

Why did you become a biathlete?

First, I started with cross-country skiing, because my dad (Markus Gandler) was a very successful cross-country skier and he showed me the sport. The training was always a lot of fun. We always trained in Seefeld and there is a shooting range too. I think like every child, I was fascinated by the rifle, which was something special. A teammate of my dad, who has a cross-country school in Seefeld, gave me the opportunity to try shooting, although I was very young. Since then, I am a biathlete.

How do you assess last season overall? What was good and what was bad?

I have to say that overall, I am very satisfied with this season. The good things were the gold and bronze medals in the Youth World Championships and the gold medal in the Junior European Championships. The bad thing was the start of the season. I had problems with my muscles and could not find my performance.

What was your best or favourite race from last season and why?

My favourite race of last season was the pursuit of the World Championships in Lenzerheide. It was always a big dream, after the silver medal 2017 in Osrblie, to win a gold medal once. In addition, my family was there and it was such a great atmosphere.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

Corona only affected my training in the first weeks after the season. In Tirol, where I live, the rules were very strict. I trained a lot at home and I had luck because I have a dog, so I was allowed to go out sometimes too. Right now, everything is going according to plan.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think my strength is the shooting, because I can be really focused, especially in prone. My weaknesses are the pressure I put on myself before competitions and my nervousness.

What are your goals for this season?

The next season is my first junior year. So my goals for next season are:
– to win a medal (World Champion and European Championships) in the junior class. I think it is possible, if I stay healthy, because I also won the gold medal in the Junior European Championships in Hochfilzen this year.
– to start and make good results in the IBU Cup competitions again.

Who is your roommate on tour and do they have any bad habits (eg.snoring) or good habits (eg.tidy)?

Haha… my roommates change all the time, but usually I am with Lisa Osl, Kristina Oberthaler and Lea Rothschopf. No, they haven’t any bad habits… maybe I am the one who is snoring sometimes ;).

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

I think I would invite Dorothea Wierer, Johannes Boe and Dominik Landertinger, because I want to know more about their training and experiences and in addition, they make a nice and funny impression (Landi I also know a little bit). On the menu would be sushi or tacos. Maybe sushi as an appetizer and for main course tacos haha. I really like that :).

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

I play violin and I really like to do something with my animals at home. I also like cooking and trying out new recipes.

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

I really like the tracks which are in the woods like Pokljuka, Obertilliach or Oberhof, but honestly I don’t have a favourite one.

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

Oh I have many: When I was a kid I always said Magdalena Neuner and Christoph Sumann, because they achieved so much in their career. Now I am also a big fan of
– Dorothea Wierer, because she is so cool, her fast shooting is amazing and she is also interested in other things than sport, for example fashion.
– Laura Dahlmeier, it is amazing how many medals she won in such a short time and of course
– Dominik Landertinger. He has so often picked himself up and never gave up, also after his operation and always showed his performance when he needed it and his final lap was the best.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, but I just think about that.

Describe yourself in three words.

independent, tidy, ambitious

Quick fire choices:
Choose one:
skiing or shooting? I can’t decide, can I say both? 🙂
prone or standing? prone
against the clock or head to head racing? head to head racing
uphill or downhill? uphill (I am a bad downhiller)
mixed relay or women’s relay? both 🙂
morning or night? night
sun or snow? in winter snow and in summer sun 😉
roller skiing or cycling? roller skiing
alcohol or chocolate? definitely chocholate

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Hallie Grossman: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Hallie Grossman.

Hallie Grossman is an American biathlete. She was born in Vermont on the 27th of April 1993. She has been doing biathlon since 2016 after initially competing as a skier for the Craftsbury Green Racing Project. Last season she made her debut on the World Cup in Oberhof and raced in Ruhpolding. She also got some good results on the IBU Cup at the end of the season in Minsk with two Top 30 finishes.

Follow Hallie on Instagram: halliegeee
Check out her website: https://halliegrossmanblog.wordpress.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

After graduating college, I joined the Craftsbury Green Racing Project as a skier. During my first summer on the team, I injured my knee and couldn’t do very much training. During this time, some of the biathlon boys on the team taught me how to shoot and I enjoyed the challenge. It took about a year to really get into it, but I’m so glad that I did.

You got your first taste of the World Cup last season. What was that experience like?

It was an awesome experience! My first weekend on the World Cup was in Oberhof in the pouring rain but I arguably had the biggest smile on my face and was the happiest person at the venue all weekend. Our relay team was made up all of women from the same club in Craftsbury, which was fun and something our ski coach at home was really excited about. On the IBU Cup, my teammates and I started wearing glitter for most of the races, and happily sharing it with anyone and everyone. It was a great bonding experience and way to get to know our competitors (who quickly turn into friends!). I wasn’t sure I wanted to wear it in the “big leagues,” but was so happy I decided to and it reminded me that racing really is quite fun.

What was your best or favourite race from last season and why?

There are several, for different reasons. My favorite race was the opening sprint in Sjusjoen, where my teammate Kelsey Dickinson was 2nd. It was so awesome to see one of my closest friends do so well. One of my best races was in Minsk at the very end of the year. I had been struggling with my shooting for a few weeks, but things came together and I shot 1,0 in the sprint and was ecstatic.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

I have been home in Craftsbury since March and it’s been great! It definitely is a bummer to not be able to have camps or see our National team coaches except through a computer screen, but I feel fortunate that I have such great training partners and opportunities at home.

What are your goals for this season?

To do my part in this pandemic (wearing my mask!) to help the world get to a point where we can gather and race again!

You are away from home for long periods of time. Do you pack anything special in your suitcase when you travel to Europe?

My aeropress coffee maker, my knitting, and my mini sewing kit. You never know what the coffee situation will be in any given country or hotel. Knitting provides endless hours of activity, especially when you get as distracted as myself and pull it out many, many times. And the sewing kit comes in handy because it turns out clothing and equipment can rip when it’s worn nearly everyday for several months straight.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

(I changed it to 4 🙂 ) Johanna Taliharm, because she’s been training in Craftsbury with us for the last few summers and has become an integral honorary member of our team. Kaisa Makarainen, she joined us for a camp last year in France and it was great to get to know her a bit. Her incredible ski speed has made me a fan of hers since I started doing biathlon. Mona Brorsson. In Oberhof, she reminded me to have fun and enjoy it right before the relay. It was such a kind gesture and it makes me want to get to know her better! Flurina Volken. Flurina and I met two years ago when we started near the very end of the race together, since then I’ve spend several weeks living with her and her family in Switzerland and she has become a great friend. The menu! Depends where we are dining. If we’re at my home, we’ll have salad, tacos, and one Emily Dreissigacker’s cake for dessert.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

I love to teach kids. When I’m home (prepandemic) I spend time in a local elementary school, working with kids on math or reading, or whatever they may need a little extra attention with. This summer, I’ve been tutoring a 9 year old girl and we’ve been reading books, doing math, and just playing outside and riding our bikes.

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

Martell. This is where I did my first IBU Cup in 2017 and this past year where I had my fastest ski times. I like it because there are some tough uphills and the downhills appeared tricky but I was able to practice them enough that they seemed ok!

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle doesn’t but my stock does. Her name is Maisey. My first stock was Posey.

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiley, caring, energetic.

Quick fire choices:

prone or standing? prone
against the clock or head to head racing? head to head
uphill or downhill? uphill
mixed relay or women’s relay? This one is tricky! I’ve done one women’s relay on the WC and several mixed relays on the IBU cup and both are special in their own ways!
morning or night? morning
sun or snow? sun
roller skiing or cycling? cycling
alcohol or chocolate? chocolate

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Dzmitry Lazouski: The Interview!

Dzmitry Lazouski is a biathlete from Belarus. He was born on the 9th of September 1998 in Minsk. His best finish to date on the World Cup came in the sprint in Nove Mesto in 2018/19 when he was 47th. Last season he won the bronze medal in the sprint at the Junior World Championships in Lenzerheide and was 4th in the pursuit. At the Summer World Championships held at his home track in Raubichi in 2019 he won both the junior sprint and pursuit titles.

Follow Dzmitry on Instagram: laza41

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete by accident, I went with friends for the company and I liked it.

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

I can rate the last season as 7 out of 10. It turned out that I came up to the main start in good shape, and only sometimes my skis were bad.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

The virus did not affect the training plan, but prevented us from going to the mountains.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

It is difficult to say which side is my weak and which is my strong side. There are still many aspects to work on.

Who is your roommate on tour and do they have any bad habits (eg. snoring) or good habits (eg. tidy)?

We live permanently with Anton Smolski. He has no bad sides 😅.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

I would call the guys with whom I communicate well. On the menu would be: Draniki (potato pancakes), Margarita pizza and fish steaks.

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

Emil Svendsen was my childhood idol. He looks very funny in life and is very collected at the races.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, my rifle does not have a specific name.

Describe yourself in three words.

Kind, sympathetic and probably crazy about sports.

Quick fire choices:

skiing or shooting? Skiing.
prone or standing? Prone
uphill or downhill? Uphill.
morning or night? Morning.
roller skiing or cycling? Bicycle
alcohol or chocolate? Better chocolate 😅.

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Suvi Minkkinen: The Interview!

Suvi Minkkinen is a Finnish biathlete born on the 8th of December 1994 in Joutsa. She made her debut on the World Cup in 2017 but last season was her most successful so far. Her best result came in the Ruhpolding when she broke into in the Top 30 for the first time after finishing 29th in the pursuit following a 31st place finish in the sprint.

Follow her on Instagram: suviminkkinen

Check out her website: https://www.suviminkkinen.fi/

Why did you become a biathlete?

My younger brother started biathlon first and I followed him. I was watching some of his summer competitions and after that I asked my Dad if I could also come to the training. Before that I was a cross country skier but quickly I realised that biathlon is much more interesting.

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

My last season was a bit weird. The first half was really bad especially in the shooting range. It was mentally hard to process because I always think that shooting is my strength in biathlon. In the second half I did many career best results which I also expected from myself from the beginning of the season. After all I’m happy with last season because I had so many good races since the week in Ruhpolding. I think my skiing improved a lot and I also got my normal shooting level back during the season.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

We have quite a good situation in Finland and I have been able to train almost normally. Due to corona we haven’t been able to travel for high altitude camps but other than that it has been nice to stay home more than normally. But other than that summer training has gone well and as planned.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think my strengths are fast and good shooting. I also like to sprint fast on the skis but I still have a lot to improve in longer distance skiing.

What are your goals for this season?

My goal is to be better than last year. I think if I would get most results between 20-30 places it would be a good step for me. And the perfect race could be top 15 or even top 10 I would be very happy.

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

I think I must say Ruhpolding is my favourite track. I have done good races there and I like the track profile. I also like many other tracks but this is probably the favourite.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle doesn’t have a name but I think it is a she 💁🏼‍♀️

Quick fire choices:
prone or standing? At the moment I would say standing but it depends, sometimes one position goes well and the other doesn’t and it’s frustrating.
against the clock or head to head racing? Head to head
uphill or downhill? Downhill. I hope someday I’m in such good shape that I could say uphill.
mixed relay or women’s relay? Both. I haven’t done so many mixed relays yet probably none🤔 but I like relays, also the single mixed relay is one of the favourites.
morning or night? Night. I’m not a morning person really 😂
sun or snow? Sun and snow?😎☀️❄ best combination
roller skiing or cycling? Roller skiing
alcohol or chocolate? Chocolate

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Vinny Fountain: The Interview!

Vinny Fountain is a British biathlete and also a serving member of the British Army in the Royal Artillery (16 Regt RA). He was born on the 12th of October 1991 and his hometown is Nottingham. Vinny first raced on the IBU Cup in the 2015/16 season and last season he competed for GB at the World Championships in Antholz as well as the Open European Championships in Minsk.

Follow Vinny on Instagram: vinnyfountain12

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because I really enjoyed alpining when I was at school so I wanted a new challenge therefore took on biathlon. And what a challenge it is.

How much of your time is split between being a biathlete and being a soldier? What duties do you still have in the army?

I would say my time split between being a biathlete and being a soldier is 80/20. I’m only ever in work after the winter season or to carry out a career course. Apart from that I’m training. The duties I currently have is to help the regimental team throughout the winter nordic and biathlon season where possible.

What was your best or favourite race from last season and why?

My favourite race from last season would be the single mixed relay in Minsk. Even though the conditions weren’t great, it was so fun and exciting and we (TeamGB) didn’t do too bad either.

What are your plans for summer training? How have they been affected by corona virus?

Summer training is the same as last year apart from a few months of delay. I’m currently training in Ruhpolding and will remain here until the winter season. During covid, unfortunately I had to train back at camp where it is flat and only at sea level but this was my only option. I just have some catching up to do ha.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for this season are to improve my shooting accuracy to at least 75% or even 80% and gain a World Cup start place.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths – maintain discipline, motivated and I feel like my skiing is getting better.
Weaknesses – I can still improve on my running, shooting needs a little more work and I should be doing more stretching than I am to recover.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

I would invite Johannes Boe, not only is he a very funny guy, but last year at the World Champs in Antholz, he was kind enough to give me a can of coke so I would like to repay the favour with some good food.
Martin Fourcade – he’s a legend in himself and it would be comedy to watch Johannes and Martin debate who the better biathlete was 😂
Lisa Vittozzi – I’ve heard some good things about Lisa so I’d use this opportunity to get to know her and she is also nice to look at ha.

The menu – it has to be good or they won’t want to come back haha. I think I’ll spice things up with a Mexican night. Cheesey nachos with salsa dip/sour cream/guacamole for starters. The main is make your own fajitas with as many or as little fillings as you want and for dessert, warm chocolate fudge cake with some potential shots of tequila on the side.

What song would you add to the stadium playlist and what song would you remove?

I don’t think I’d remove a song from the stadium play list however if I could add one, it would either be Eminem – Collapse, or Welshly Arms – Legendary. Both very good songs. Gets you pumped for racing ha.

On your IBU profile one of your hobbies is tattoos! What have you got and where? What is your next tattoo going to be?

I have a full right arm sleeve, wings and a crown on my chest, writing on my ribs and a cool little palm tree just below my left calf. I’m thinking hard about my next one and I think its either going to be the face of a lion or a wolf. Not sure where yet. I would also like the Olympic rings but we’ll have to wait and see about that one.

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

My favourite biathlon track would have to be Sjusjoen, Norway. It was my first ever official track I’d trained and raced on and I think for the amount of effort you put in, you get back. By this I mean, you work hard uphill and then you get a nice downhill rest after.

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

Don’t tell him I said this but it is the one and only Lee Steven Jackson. Former Team GB athlete and good friend. The reason for this is because when I first started biathlon he was the best we had and I wanted to get to the places and venues he had already been. He showed great determination and his work ethic was immense. Everything you’d expect from a role model.

Does your rifle have a name?

Rita

Describe yourself in three words.

Spontaneous, easy going and sociable.

Quick fire choices:

prone or standing? Prone
against the clock or head to head racing? Head to head
uphill or downhill? Definitely downhill
mixed relay or men’s relay? mixed relay
morning or night? morning
sun or snow? sun
roller skiing or cycling? roller skiing
alcohol or chocolate? erm….alcohol

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Nicole Gontier: The Interview!

Nicole Gontier is an Italian biathlete from the Aosta Valley. The 27-year-old made her World Cup debut in 2012 and achieved her personal best result in 2015 when she finished third in the Oberhof Sprint. She has 2 bronze medals from the World Championships in 2013 and 2015 as a member of the Women’s relay team. She has represented Italy twice at the Olympics in Sochi and PyeongChang.

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Why did you become a biathlete?

I started to do biathlon thanks to my father and my grandfather who were in charge of the Aosta valley biathlon and also thanks to the atmosphere and training of the coaches of Aosta valley biathlon.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season I was happy about my shape on skis, I had good feelings but I have to improve my shooting on the range.

The World Championships are in Antholz! How excited are you about that?

I’m really happy that the World Championships will be in Antholz. I really like there and I hope that it will be sunny and it will be perfect. The Italian ambience is the best.

The Italian women have a really strong team at the moment. What are your expectations for the World Championships in particular the women’s relay?

Yes the Italian women are really strong but for the moment I expect nothing. I prefer to concentrate on training and then I will see my shape with the first races!

What have you been doing for summer training?

In summer we train on the shooting range and with the roller ski,running,hiking and with the bike.

What are your goals for this season on the World Cup?

Like I said before I don’t have any goals. My goal is to improve myself and I work for this, then I will see in winter where I am.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is that my head is really hard to break so I continue to work hard also in the worst moments because I love what I do. My weakness is that I don’t really trust in me! I will have to trust more in my abilities.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read, to study, to knit and to stay with my dog! The best is to stay on the sofa with him watching the TV. I like to travel in Italy and to discover new little places and eat the special dish and drink the local wine.

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

I really like Antholz, it is a hard track but I had good feelings with it.

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

I really respect Martin Fourcade, he always has the situation under control and he does what he wants. I like so much Doro(Wierer) and Lisa (Vittozzi)! They are really strong.

Does your rifle have a name?

Ahah.. no for the moment no, we have a relationship of love and hate.

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling,stubborn,sweet.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): French
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Lukas Hofer – last year’s rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy’s suits of last year’s Championship
Lucky bib number: Mmm… I don’t have one.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade (but he stopped).
Best thing about being a biathlete: We never get bored!

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Johannes Dale: The Interview!

Johannes Dale is a Norwegian biathlete who burst onto the World Cup last season. In his debut WC race in Nove Mesto he finished 15th in the Sprint and eventually got a personal best finish of 10th in the Soldier Hollow Sprint. These results meant the 22-year-old from Lørenskog finished 50th in the Total Score and won the IBU’s Rookie of the Season award.

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Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because of my father. My father was doing biathlon back in the day. I remember the time I decided to start doing biathlon. I was in the basement of our house and looking at the medals he had won. I remember thinking that I also wanted to win these medals. I went up and told my dad that I wanted to start with biathlon, and from there, there was no way back.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season was in many ways my breakthrough. I started racing in the senior class in IBU-Cup and World Cup, and started to race against the best. I am happy that I have gotten to a level that I can compete with the best athletes in the world, and also already doing some good races. The most disappointing part of the season was actually in the beginning. I was doing bad races, and I didn’t qualify for anything..

You got to race a World Cup in Holmenkollen for the first time last season. What was that like?

To race in Holmenkollen was a great experience. To race at home in front of the home crowd is an amazing experience and everybody is cheering for you. It was also a special moment, because my whole family and my friends were there cheering for me during a World Cup race. A moment I have been working towards for a long time.

What have you been doing for summer training?

For the summer training I have been putting down a lot of hard work. It started in May with a lot of training hours, and during the summer and fall it gets more and more specific. I am very satisfied with the hard work I have done, and hope it will pay off.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for this season is mainly to race in the World Cup. And when I race there, I know what kind of results I can achieve. I also have a goal of reaching the podium this winter in World Cup. I think that it can be realistic.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength has been the speed on the track over the past years. What I have to improve is to be more stable in the shooting, and control challenging situations better.

What is it like being on a team with Johannes Boe? Does it inspire you to be like him or does it make your life harder trying to keep up with him?! 😉

To be on team with Johannes Boe is great. He is a great guy, and someone I can learn from. Of course he is a good biathlete, and I can’t challenge him all the time.

On the IBU website it says your hobby is Tinder but also that you are single! Do you have any other hobbies that you are more successful at? 😉

Haha! Actually that bio is a bit old. I have an girlfriend who also is doing biathlon, and we are living together in Lillehammer. Maybe I should change the bio for the upcoming season 😉

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

For the World Cups tracks I have raced on, I have to say Nove Mesto! The atmosphere there is unbelievable, and an amazing crowd. You almost can’t hear yourself breathe. That was also my first World Cup race, so an awesome memory.

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

I grew up having two biathletes I looked up to. Ole Einar Bjørndalen was one of them, and a legend in biathlon. The other was Tarjei Bø, I looked very much up to him. To be on the same team as him now is awesome.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle does not have a name, but I love my rifle very much. For me it’s very important to have a good feeling with the rifle, and almost to feel a bit of friendship with it.

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny, relaxed and engaged.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Dorothea Wierer
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Favourite shooting range: Holmenkollen
Lucky bib number: 5
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Tarjei Bø
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: The biathlon family is full of nice people, I can’t choose one!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Living the best life I can ever imagine.

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Jake Brown: The Interview!

Jake Brown is an American biathlete from Minnesota. The 27-year-old was a cross country skier until 2016 when he saw sense and became a biathlete! His progress has been rapid making his World Cup debut last season and scoring his first point when he finished 40th in the Antholz Sprint.

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Why did you become a biathlete?

I have always been a strong skate distance skier and had always wanted to try biathlon- I got the chance after racing NCAA skiing through the US Biathlon’s development program of post-collegiate cross-country skiers. Growing up I loved running, training, and pushing my limits, seeing how hard I could go. Yet I was still drawn to the great moments of team sports, like the buzzer beater in a basketball game or the 2-out at-bat in the bottom of the baseball’s ninth inning. I love that biathlon has a bit of both.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season surpassed my expectations for 2018-2019. I had previously raced in four IBU cups, and so was shooting for a full IBU Cup season with the goal of making top-15s and a dream goal of racing our home World Cup in Utah. I hit 15th in my first IBU Cup race and spent most of the season racing World Cups, plus World Championships. It was a season I won’t forget!

I was really happy with how I trained last year, both in preparation for and throughout the winter. However, this year I’ll seek to do a better job of staying healthy. Lucky for me, sickness struck mostly during breaks in the race schedule last year, but I don’t think the frequency with which I was getting sick would be sustainable in the long term. I want to be more intentional this year about keeping sleep, nutrition, and healthy habits a priority.

You got to race at a home World Cup in Soldier Hollow for the first time last season. What was that like?

I was glued to the 2002 Olympics which were held in Salt Lake (with XC and Biathlon at Soldier Hollow) when I was 10, so to get to race there last year was special. Biathlon is growing in the US, and hosting a World Cup in close proximity to a metro area like Salt Lake City is a great way to spread the hype for this sport.

Your best result was in Antholz where the World Championships are being held! Is that a good track and range for you? Do you like the altitude?

In general I like racing hilly courses, and a lot of courses at altitude tend to have hills. Antholz has a good variety of terrain and is definitely tough, I like that. I needed at least three breaths between shots last year, so I wouldn’t say the range is easy for me, but I enjoyed racing there last year and look forward to racing there again- what a beautiful place.

We thought Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke had finished biathlon but they are both still working with the US team. How important is it for you to still have them around?

It’s been great. We in the US often need to recruit Europeans to lead our programs, and we do benefit from having European coaches. But Lowell and Tim have as much experience as anyone, and they understand better than anyone the challenges that American biathletes face. Lowell, having spent a year in Montana leading the Cross-Cut program at the club level, and Tim, now in a development-director role, are more invested in the grassroots growth of biathlon in the US, not just trying to fast track college skiers to the World Cup (as I was). I think that’s important long term.

What have you been doing for summer training?

I dealt with lower body injuries this spring, so I did a ton of upper body aerobic training early on: mostly Ski-Erg with a little surf-ski paddling with Paul Schommer. In late June I was able to get back on roller skis and double pole plus introduce a bit a gravel biking. I’ve never been a big cyclist, but I found I really enjoy long solo gravel riding for my over distance workouts in the Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

What are your goals for this season?

-Increase my shooting consistency and dial in my mental approach.
-Help our team crack the top 10 in Nations Cup for both World and IBU Cup

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A few of my strengths are hilly courses, pushing myself on the last loop, and staying positive. A few current weaknesses are staying healthy, shooting speed and shooting consistency.

What are your hobbies?

Reading, helping out with the junior ski programs at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, exploring, water skiing, and playing sports.

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

Valcartier, Quebec. It’s a Nor-Am course on a military base, I love it because it is really challenging yet has great flow. It’s a narrow track through the forest with big climbs and fun, windy, wooded descents.

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

I don’t have a favorite, but I like it when an underdog puts it all together and wins- it was sweet to see Lowell win in 2017 and Dominik Windisch win last year.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

I love sports.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Estonia
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): The Unicorn one
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Russia’s black, blue, and pink suit from last year.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 77
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Jules Burnotte, Canada
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade, France
Best thing about being a biathlete: Becoming mentally stronger every day.

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