Category Archives: Profile

Lee In-bok!

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Now that those pesky Summer Olympics are over we can look forward to the real Olympics – The Winter Games! I mean is sport without snow even sport at all? Well that’s for the philosophers among you to decide but someone who will be looking forward to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang more than most people is Lee In-bok.

The South Korean biathlete will have the opportunity to compete in a home Olympic Games, a chance that not many sportspeople get. Lee was born in the North Jeolla Province of South Korea on the 30th of March 1984.

He is a vastly experienced member of the South Korean team. He has already competed at two Olympic Games for his country in Vancouver and Sochi. His best result at the Olympics was 65th place in the Sprint race in Vancouver.

He has also taken part in six biathlon World Championships starting in Antholz in 2007 going through to Oslo Holmenkollen last season. His best result for these Championships was 71st in the Sprint race in Nove Mesto in 2013.

On the World Cup he has achieved two Top 60 positions to date but is still waiting for his first points scoring finish. He was 53rd in the Hochfilzen Individual race in 2008/09 which is his career best result. He was also 60th in 2007/08 in the Sprint race at home in PyeongChang.

It will be a very important couple of seasons for Lee In-bok. He will be nearly 34 when the Olympics take place and so he will have to make sure he stays fit so that he can arrive at his home Games in good form.

This season he should be looking to grab a few more Top 60 finishes and obviously the best chance to do this is in the races that he is guaranteed to start – the Sprint and the Individual. There is also the chance to compete in Hochfilzen, the scene of his best finish to date, in the World Championships. Hopefully he can achieve another good result there to boost his confidence before he goes into the Olympic year.

As you will see from his results he won’t be threatening the podium in PyeongChang but it is a chance for him to get his own best result and with the motivation of a home crowd it could see him make it into the Top 40 in one of the events. Possibly more importantly it will give him the chance to showcase biathlon to his fellow Koreans and hopefully make it more popular and encourage more interest and investment in the sport there.

Only three people can win medals in any one race at the Olympics but they are, or should be, about a lot more than that. It is a chance for all the biathletes to show where all their hard work and training has got them and to hopefully encourage more people to take up the sport. It’s about participation and fairness and unity. Not everyone can win a medal but everyone who takes part and especially those like Lee In-bok who are competing in their own country can try and give the best performance of their career.

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Paulína Fialková!

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Slovakia’s Paulína Fialková enjoyed her best ever season in biathlon in 2015/16. She achieved her best result on the World Cup and became a senior medallist for the first time.

Paulina was born in Brezno on the 25th of October 1992. Her younger sister Ivona is also a biathlete. With just two years between them they often compete against each other.

In the absence of Anastasiya Kuzmina, Fialková really stepped up a level last season. In Ruhpolding she finished 6th in the Sprint race to record her top finish on the World Cup so far and she also came 7th in the Individual. She recorded another six Top 25 finishes to end the season 36th in the Total Score. The previous year she was 74th so you can see how much she has improved in only a year.

Not content with doing well on the World Cup she arrived in Tyumen for the Open European Championships full of confidence. In the Mixed Relay on the first day she helped her team of Jana Gerekova, Matej Kazar and Martin Otcenas to win the silver medal. Then she waited until the final day to secure her own silver medal when she came second in the Mass Start.

At 24 she is still young in biathlon terms but looks to have a bright future ahead of her. She has already had a taste of the Olympic Games when she competed in Sochi and has taken part in 3 senior World Championships with a top finish of 23rd in Oslo last time around.

However it is not easy to be successful on the Women’s World Cup as it is incredibly competitive. It’s tough for all the women but she will be hoping to add more Top Ten finishes to her C.V in the coming season and there is no reason why she couldn’t grab a first podium. With the return of teammate Kuzmina this season she will also have to fight to maintain her place in the Slovak Mixed Relay team.

It could be a really good year for Fialková and the whole Slovak Team. They have some good experience with Gerekova and Kuzmina and also promising young talent like the Fialková sisters. The men are looking strong too with good results last season for both Kazar and Otcenas. Hopefully Paulína Fialková can play her part in making Team Slovakia even more successful!

Like Paulina’s Facebook page: Paulína Fialková (sportsperson)

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Vladimir Chepelin!

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The Belarus Team has been getting stronger and stronger over the last few years. It is mainly the women who have been grabbing all the headlines with fantastic results from Darya Domracheva and Nadezhda Skardino in particular but the men’s team are doing well too.

Vladimir Chepelin is one of those who has stepped up his performances. He was born on the 15th of July 1988 and made his biathlon debut in 2011. Last season was one of his best so far.

On the World Cup he started the season well by coming 23rd in the opening round in Oestersund in the Individual. Overall he finished in 47th place in the Total Score. However it was in Oslo Holmenkollen at the World Championships where he really showed what a good biathlete he is.

In the Sprint race he finished in a fantastic 13th place which is his highest finish in a biathlon race to date. He dropped 10 places in the Pursuit to 23rd but another Top 25 finish is impressive. The Indiviual wasn’t as successful and he ended the race in 56th but in the Mass Start which is one of the toughest races he came back to take 13th place again equaling the personal best he set earlier in the week. Considering his top result in Kontiolahti at the last World Championships was 38th you can see he has made a significant step forward.

The coming season could be a good one for Chepelin. It would be great to see him take part in the Single Mixed Relay possibly with Skardino to see what they could do. However last season they were both in the Mixed Relay but without Domracheva they might do better in the Single as they are very capable of getting a podium. It’s much harder in the Mixed Relay to do well against the bigger nations but in the Single Mixed Relay the smaller nations have a better chance of success especially with a strong pair.

Individually Chepelin will be hoping to get his first Top Ten finish on the World Cup. He needs more consistency if he wants to improve his overall standing but I think he could break into the Top 30 overall this season. His shooting can be a bit erratic but if he can reduce the number of missed targets and stay healthy throughout the season it could be his best one yet.

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Galina Vishnevskaya!

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You may not be able to spell it but you should probably recognise the name. Galina Vishnevskaya is one of the up and coming biathletes on the Women’s World Cup and is definitely someone you should be looking out for next season.

She was born on the 10th of February 1994 in Semey, Kazakhstan and has already had a very successful junior career. She has two medals from the Youth Olympics in 2011 which were held in Innsbruck. She won silver in the Sprint race there and followed it up with bronze in the Pursuit.

She has also won 7 Youth/Junior World Championships medals. In 2011 she won her first medal which was a bronze in the Individual in Nove Mesto. A year later in Kontiolahti she took silver in the same event. In 2013 in Obertilliach she won silver again but this time in the Pursuit. Her best result came in Presque Isle in 2014 when she won gold in the Pursuit after getting the silver in the Sprint. She took another two medals in Raubichi in 2015 winning silver in the Pursuit and bronze in the Individual.

So as you can see Vishnevskaya did very well as a junior but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will translate to the senior World Cup. However in her case she has proved that she can also compete with the top biathletes. She has 12 Top 40 finishes to her name so far including two results in the Top 20. Her personal best result to date came in Ruhpolding last season where she was 15th in the Individual. She also managed 18th place in Presque Isle in the Sprint race.

In the Total Score last season she was 41st. Considering she is only 22-years-old that is very impressive. At 20 she went to Sochi for her first taste of Olympic action and her best result was 41st. She competed in Oslo at the Senior World Championships for the first time and finished every race inside the Top 25.

Vishnevskaya is a young biathlete and doesn’t come from one of the bigger biathlon nations but she will still be a dangerous competitor in the coming season. Her target must be to get into the Top 10 and finish consistently in the Top 20. If she stays healthy and injury free I see no reason why she can’t finish in the Top 20 overall. In fact with a little bit of luck we could see her on the podium or even take her first World Cup victory.

Along with her teammates Darya Usanova, Anna Kistanova and Alina Raikova she will be hoping to improve on their great result from the Women’s Relay in Oslo at the World Championships of 8th. She will also be trying to gain some more Nations Cup points in the Mixed and the Single Mixed Relays alongside Yan Savitsky, Anton Panton and Maxim Braun.

It is an important season coming up with the World Championships in Hochfilzen and it’s less than two years until the next Olympic Games in PyeongChang. They provide a great opportunity for Vishnevskaya to gain some valuable experience that will help her in her desire to win medals in the future and also to perform well for her country and help biathlon continue to grow in Kazakhstan. She is a good shot like most of her Kazakh teammates and with an improvement in her ski speed it could be an exciting two years for her.

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Mikito Tachizaki: The Man from Japan!

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Mikito Tachizaki is a Japanese biathlete who was born in Towada on the 17th of May 1988. He is also the reason why Fuyuko Suzuki disappeared last season and Fuyuko Tachizaki appeared on the World Cup. Well done to the detectives among you – that’s right they got married!

Originally like many biathletes he began his career as a cross-country skier competing for Japan on the FIS World Cup and at the Universiade. Realising that biathlon is much better he changed disciplines in 2011 and made his debut on the IBU Cup and then a year later moved on to the World Cup.

Unusually for a former cross-country athlete he is actually a fantastic shooter. Many athletes who make the switch between the sports rely on the ski speed to help them in biathlon and can struggle on the shooting range. Not so for Mikito, he is a great shot. The best result of his career so far came last year in the Oestersund Pursuit race where he came 51st and broke into the Top 60 for the first time. He improved 9 places from his Sprint result of 60th missing only two targets. Marriage must agree with him.

In fact it’s not only in a relationship will you find the Tachizakis. They also make a formidable Single Mixed Relay team. In the two races that were held last season they finished 10th in both of them. The first race in Oestersund saw them miss 7 targets but in the other race in Canmore they only missed 3. Both shoot really well and should improve that result next season. Unfortunately the Single Mixed Relay and the Mixed Relay are usually scheduled for the same day and so one or both of them have to take part in two races within a few hours which doesn’t help their chances in either.

Next season will be another chance to see continued improvement from Mikito. He beat his previous best result by 24 places last season and if he can repeat that feat he will be in the Top 40 and score his first World Cup points. His shooting is great but he needs to improve his ski speed if he wants to do it. His best chance of success will be alongside his wife in the Single Mixed Relay and with a bit of luck a podium in that event is not out of the question. With the next two Winter Olympics in Asia he will be trying his best to do well in those competition as they are so close to home. Watch out for the Man from Japan!

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Pidhrushna: The second coming!

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Olena Pidhrushna is only 29! It feels like she has been around for ages! We even thought she had retired at the end of season 2013/14 but it turns out she was just on a break. She came back at the beginning of last season looking better than ever.

Pidhrusha was born in Poland on the 9th of January 1987 but obviously competes for Ukraine. Her debut season on the World Cup was back in 2008/09 where she finished 52nd in the Total Score. Last season was her best ever as she finished 7th in the Overall and won her first World Cup race taking the victory in the Sprint race in Canmore. She also finished on the podium twice with two third places in the Oestersund Individual and the Sprint.

Taking a year off where she worked for a time as Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports and had a baby seems to have worked wonders for Pidhrushna. She looked to be back to the form that helped her to win a World Championship title in Nove Mesto in 2013. There she won the gold medal in the Sprint and that same season finished 8th in the Total score by claiming another four Top 4 finishes on the World Cup.

Of course she is probably best known for her part in the Ukrainian Women’s Relay team who won the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. She took the final leg in the race and used all her experience using only 1 spare round to beat the Russian team by 26 seconds. At the start of a time of political turmoil between the two countries it had a lot of significance beyond that of just sport.

So will she be able to repeat her success next season? She is up against some very strong competition but she has the chance to move up the rankings if she continues last season’s form. Her best events seem to be those against the clock rather than head to head racing as many of her best results come in the Sprint races. This is where she has picked up most of her points, in fact she was 5th in the Sprint standing last season but dropped to 7th in the Pursuit and Mass Start rankings.

If she can improve her results in those events it will give her a good chance of getting into the Top 5 overall. She also has opportunities to add to her World Championship medal in Hochfilzen. She has a great chance of a medal in the Sprint of course and also in the Relays as Ukraine has a strong Women’s team and may also contend in the Mixed Relay. It seems that taking a year off from competing has done Pidhrushna a lot of good and she actually looks like a better biathlete in her second coming!

Like Olena’s Facebook page: Olena Pidhrushna – Fanpage

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Garanichev: Russia’s Pocket Rocket!

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Competition is fierce if you are a Russian biathlete. The sport in Russia is hugely popular and there are many excellent Russian biathletes. One of them is Evgeniy Garanichev. At 1 metre 69 centimetres he is one of the smaller biathletes on the World Cup but it hasn’t stopped him being very successful.

Garanichev was born on the 13th of February 1988 in Novoilinskiy, Russia. He currently lives in Tyumen and this was the place where he achieved great success last season. In the Open European Championships he won gold in the Mixed Relay, gold in the Sprint and silver in the Pursuit just losing out to his teammate Anton Babikov.

The medals in Tyumen are not the only ones he has won however. Back at his home Olympics in Sochi 2014 he won the bronze medal in the Individual but unfortunately wasn’t chosen for the Men’s Relay team and so missed out on a gold medal. It was a good event for him and although there is now a cloud hanging over many of the Russian athletes in terms of doping no accusations have yet been made against the biathletes from Sochi. He also won 3 medals in the Universiade back in 2011, silver in the Mixed Relay and two bronze for the Sprint and Pursuit.

At the World Championships in Oslo last season his best result was 6th place in the Sprint event. There could have been the possibility of a medal for Garanichev but maybe his appearance and results in Tyumen was one competition too many and tired him out a little. He still achieved some really good results there finishing in the Top 25 of every event.

Overall on the World Cup he finished as the 7th best biathlete. He was also in 7th place on the Total Score the previous year which is his best place finish to date. In his career he has only ever won one World Cup race which was back in Holmenkollen in season 2011/12 when he took the Sprint race. However he has had many podium places.

Now aged 28 Garanichev has a few big seasons ahead of him. We have the World Championships in Hochfilzen and then the Olympic Games in South Korea. As a new father he will have to juggle training and family life but the next two seasons will probably be his last chance to win more medals and to propel himself into the Top 5 biathletes.

Firstly however he has to become Russia’s top biathlete and so needs to become more consistent to overhaul Anton Shipulin. Only then can he set his sights on beating the likes of Fourcade, Boe and Schempp to those all important medals. He may not be the biggest biathlete from Russia but this pocket rocket has the chance to be a really successful one!

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