Category Archives: Race Report

Holmenkollen 2017: The Mass Starts!

Say it isn’t so! The final races of the 2016/17 biathlon World Cup season! I’m afraid it is so. Hopefully you can all read this through the river of tears but it’s over again for another year! 😦

We ended the season in Holmenkollen with the two Mass Start races. They were exciting and full of incident. You know it’s the last day of biathlon when a squirrel and an asterisk take centre stage!

The Women raced first and it was another great race to finish of a fantastic season on the Women’s World Cup. First we had a faller. Celia Aymonier fell on the fast downhill and basically ruined her rifle and her chances of doing well in the race. We had Susan Dunklee in the lead after the first prone. She also came out of the range first after the second prone. Unfortunately she missed 3 in the first standing.

Between shoot 2 and 3 we had a squirrel run across the tracks at the start of the uphill and it almost took out Justine Braisaz. It’s lucky she didn’t take her rifle off and shoot it after the shock she got! The squirrel will now be known as Squirrel Eckhoff after the eventual winner! 😉

Franziska Hildebrand took over in the lead after the third shoot going clear. The final shoot decided the race with Hildebrand missing 1 and Eckhoff going clean. She took off in front of Gabriela Koukalova who also hit the final 5 targets. Eckhoff went fast until the end so Gabi had to settle for second but she did win the small crystal globe for the Mass Start after Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 9th.

Third place went to Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen was 6th to wrap up a difficult weekend for the Finnish team after the death of their shooting coach. They have honoured his memory in great style this weekend.

Veronika Vitkova was 4th with her best result this season and Hildebrand was 5th.

The Men’s race in the afternoon was a bit confusing! We got to the first prone shoot and up went Martin Fourcade’s hand. He had forgotten to reload his magazines! How in the world do you win 14 races, get 22 podiums from 26 races, win 6 World Titles in a row and forget that!!! Anyway his coach threw him a new one and he cleared the targets with amazing mental fortitude.

Eighteen other biathletes also shot clean at the first prone. Even though he lost time on the range the first time around Fourcade was first in for the second prone. This time there was an official waiting to give him new magazines. He again hit all the targets.

We were now down to 13 people who shot clean including Lowell Bailey and Anton Shipulin who were at the front. The third shoot was were Fourcade made his break. He shot clean along with Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Michal Slesingr and left those three in the podium positions.

In the meantime the asterisk had appeared next to Fourcade’s name for all the range problems. No one knew what was going on though. However Fourcade shot the perfect 20/20 despite all the problems and easily won the race. Or did he? Well yes he did after some discussion between the officials. They decided that his coach throwing him the magazine in the first prone, although against the rules, was the coach’s mistake and not Fourcade’s.

Second place went to Andrejs Rastorgujevs who shot clean at the final shoot and skied past Simon Eder on the tracks to get his first ever podium on the World Cup. Simon Eder held on to third with Emil Svendsen in 4th, Arnd Peiffer 5th and Michal Slesingr 6th.

With Simon Schempp finishing down in 20th it meant that Martin Fourcade also won the crystal globe for the Mass Start.

That concludes all the races for season 2016/17 with Martin Fourcade champion for the men and Laura Dahlmeier for the women.

There are still 3 season reviews and a certain awards ceremony to come from biathlon23 this week so it’s not all over yet!

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Holmenkollen 2017: The Pursuits!

We had the final Pursuits of the season in Holmenkollen on Saturday. It was still windy but sunny and the conditions caused a little difficulty like they did in the Sprint.

Mari Laukkanen was amazing today. She won the Pursuit comfortably and was never troubled by anyone else for the lead. Her only mistake was missing a target on her final standing shoot but she had enough of a gap to second not to bother her too much. She is on fantastic ski form and her shooting is the best it’s ever been. After winning the Sprint, her first ever victory yesterday, she was full of confidence starting the Pursuit.

If you listened to a certain commentary team however you may have thought differently. They gave her no chance at the start and didn’t see her winning even after she hit 15/15 on the first 3 shoots. Please remember biathletes are not just their statistics! It’s not a case of ski stats + shooting stats = result. There is a lot more to it as Mari showed today.

Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova who shot the perfect 20/20 to move from 4th onto the podium. Third place went to Justine Braisaz who missed 4 shots and gave her no chance of fighting for the win. Teja Gregorin finished 4th, her best performance of the season, missing just 1 target. Lisa Hauser came from 22nd to 5th hitting 20/20 and Marte Olsbu was top Norwegian in 6th.

Kaisa Makarainen moved from 27th to 7th, Laura Dhalmeier went from 31st to 9th to win the Pursuit title and Lisa Vittozzi went from 46th to 16th.

The Men’s race was just between the top three from the Sprint. Johannes Boe, Martin Fourcade and Anton Shipulin. They were pretty closely matched right up to the final shoot. Fourcade and Boe both missed 1 in the first prone, then Shipulin missed in the first stand so it all came down to the final shoot!

This was where Mr. Pursuit showed just how good he is in this event. Shipulin shot clean and the other two both missed a target. Shipulin won by 5 seconds but Fouracde and Boe had to fight it out on the tracks for second. Fourcade attacked on the uphill and Boe didn’t have the energy to match him. That makes 21 podiums for Fourcade this season.

Freddie Lindstrom moved from 15th to 4th shooting 20/20, Lukas Hofer went from 21st to 5th and Julian Eberhard went from 10th to 6th.

Andrejs Rastorgujevs had a good race going from 23rd to 10th (YEAH!), Michal Krcmar from 28th to 13th, Dominik Windisch from 40th to 15th, Artem Pryma from 39th to 21st, Lowell Bailey from 44th to 23rd, Vladimir Iliev from 58th to 29th and Vetle Christiansen from 53rd to 30th.

Don’t cry but tomorrow is the final day of the World Cup season! It’s the Mass Starts though so it should be a good one!

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Holmenkollen 2017: The Sprints!

It is the final World Cup round in Holmenkollen and it’s just like school before you break up for the holidays. With most of the big prizes already decided there is a bit of craziness in the air. We had Serafin Wiestner with underwear over his ski suit (like Superman) in training after losing a bet with his coach. Anton Babikov trying to throw snowballs at a Russian TV interview and Michal Krcmar falling out of his hotel window (it was very low to the ground).

Finally on Friday we got a little more serious for the Sprint races. The Women’s Sprint threw up a lot of surprises. We had another brand new winner with Finland’s Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever race on the World Cup. She shot clean to win by almost 8 seconds. Second place went to Justine Braisaz getting her second podium of the season also hitting 10/10. Her teammate Anais Bescond had a good race hitting the perfect score finishing in third.

The big surprise was that Gabriela Kouklava won the Sprint Title. She finished 4th with 1 miss but rival Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 31st with 3 misses all in the prone. Those results meant that Gabi won the small crystal globe by just 5 points!

Some of the younger women coming up from the IBU Cup also had a good day. There were personal bests for Austria’s Julia Schwaiger in 14th, France’s Julia Simon in 25th and Russia’s Victoria Slivko in 30th.

The Men’s race was less surprising! Johannnes Boe shot 10/10 and skied really well to win the race by over 13 seconds. Second place went to Martin Fourcade who has chosen to race this weekend despite the imminent arrival of his second child. He missed his last standing target but skied his way to the podium.

Third place went to Anton Shipulin who at one point was ahead of Fourcade but lost a lot of time on the tracks possibly because of his late start bib giving him trickier conditions. He hit 10/10 but was 8 seconds behind Fourcade in the end. He was also just 0.2 of a second ahead of Dominik Landertinger in 4th so he did well to stay on the podium!

Fredrik Gjesbakk got his personal best on the World Cup in 25th as did Slovenia’s Miha Dovzan in 34th. In his final race of the season Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also improved his best result to 65th!

Tomorrow we have the final Pursuit races and we will see if Laura Dahlmeier can hang on to that title!

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Kontiolahti 2017: The Mixed Relays!

The final races in Kontiolahti were the Single Mixed and the Mixed Relay. Martin Fourcade decided to have a day off and would not compete in either race. To be fair he deserves a bit of a rest!

The Single Mixed Relay contained some strong teams and the team with the top shooters would prove to be the best. It was Italy who took the lead after the first leg with Lisa Vittozzi on great form using just 1 spare. However Lukas Hofer went on the penalty loop 3 times on the prone leaving them no chance. He was great yesterday finishing 6th in the Pursuit and terrible today! He also did a similar thing in PyeongChang. He is possibly the most inconsistent biathlete ever!

That left the USA and Austria in contention for victory with some great shooting from Lisa Hauser, Simon Eder, Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey. Dunklee actually had a fall on the downhill but didn’t injury herself or her equipment.

Germany were also in the mix with Laura Dahlmeier and Roman Rees as were France with Anais Chevalier and Jean-Guillaume Beatrix.

In the end it was Eder’s fast and accurate shooting on the last leg that won it for Austria. He hit 10/10 in lightning speed to win by 32 second in the end. The race for second and third came down to a sprint finish with Roman Rees leaving the range in second after a clean shoot in his final stand. Lowell Bailey needed 1 spare and was just behind the German. Bailey stayed behind until the last few metres when he managed to get his ski ahead and take the second place for the USA. Germany were third and France finished 4th. The two top teams both needed just 5 spares with Germany using 6 and France 8.

The Mixed Relay was later in the evening. France got a great start with Marie Dorin Habert taking the first leg. She used 1 spare but handed over in the lead. She was 4 seconds in front of Iryna Varvynets of the Ukraine and 7 seconds ahead of Italy’s Dorothea Wierer. Japan were in 4th with Fuyuko Tachizaki and Austria 5th with Dunja Zdouc. Norway went on the penalty loop twice with Marte Olsbu.

France also controlled the second leg. Germany moved into second with another fantastic relay leg from Maren Hammerschmidt. She needed 2 spares to hand over in front of Slovakia in third after two great legs from Paulina and Ivona Fialkova. The Ukraine were in 4th with Olga Abramova and Russia in 5th with Irina Starykh. After the first prone the USA with Joanne Reid were up to 3rd but after her stand they dropped back to 9th.

The men took over in the third leg. Simon Desthieux for France needed 4 spares and finished with a lead of 25 seconds. He was chased by Benedikt Doll who needed 3 spares. Sergiy Semenov for Ukraine moved into third but Matvey Eliseev for Russia and Tomas Hasilla for Slovakia had bad standing shoots to allow Michal Slesingr to move the Czech Republic up to 4th.

Quentin Fillon Maillet took the final leg for France and he was followed by Arnd Peiffer for Germany, Dmytro Pidruchnyi for the Ukriane, Michal Krcmar for the Czechs and Evgeniy Garanichev for Russia. The top 3 teams all needed 1 spare on the prone. Russia shot clean but the Czech Republic went on the penalty loop.

It all came down to the final standing shoot. Just the way we like it to! France and Germany both missed two shots and Fillon Maillet had some trouble loading his spare rounds. He did really well to keep cool and hit the remaining targets to give France the win. Germany were second. Ukraine needed 1 spare but Russia just avoided going on the penalty loop with the last spare round. Ukraine were third showing they are a great relay team. Russia were 4th ahead of Norway who came back to finish in 5th.

Well that concludes some great racing from Kontiolahti and we only have 1 more World Cup left before the end of the season in Holmenkollen! NO say it’s not true!!! 😦

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Kontiolahti 2017: The Pursuits!

Saturday in Kontiolahti and we had the Pursuit races. The Men started first in nice sunny conditions and the women raced later.

The Men’s race was very exciting. At the first shoot the top 7 men all shot clear and made a great start to what would prove to be a great race. At the second shoot Martin Fourcade missed on the prone and so did Johannes Boe which I am sure all the others were very pleased about. It was the third shoot where all the excitement happened.

Simon Eder, Emil Svendsen, Andrejs Rastorgujevs, Ondrej Moravec and Martin Fourcade (yes he caught up as usual) came to the range together. They all missed 1 shot. Slightly behind was Arnd Peiffer and he didn’t. This put him in the lead but by the time they all arrived at the fourth shoot they were back together again.

Unbelievably they all missed 1 target again except Fourcade who missed 2 and Arnd Peiffer who hit all five to make it 20/20. Fourcade actually tripped on the range mat in lane 2 and almost tripped Svendsen in lane 1 which I think put both of them at a disadvantage.

Peiffer’s shooting wasn’t enough though as Simon Eder and Emil Svendsen caught him again on the tracks. It came down to a sprint finish which Arnd Peiffer just won on the line by 0.3 of a second from Simon Eder with Svendsen in third. It was a strange sprint as it didn’t actually look that fast! It was revealed later that Peiffer was sick, vomited on the final lap and also had a fall so it’s pretty amazing that he won!

Moravec held on to 4th with Fourcade settling for 5th after 4 penalties. It’s possible he was replaced by a double for this race as that doesn’t happen very often! Lukas Hofer had a great race in 6th hitting 19/20 from a start of 15th.

Vetle Christiansen got his personal best result in 8th coming from 13th hitting 19/20. Mr. Pursuit (Anton Shipulin) came from 29th to finish 10th, Tarjei Boe went from 32nd to 11th and Sean Doherty hit the perfect score to move from 44th to 18th.

The Women’s Pursuit wasn’t such a close race but it was still a good one. Tiril Eckhoff started in the lead but her shooting let her down today. She missed 6 targets in total and finished in 15th. Taking advantage was of course Laura Dahlmeier. She shot 19/20 to win the race and also her first ever Overall Title and the big crystal globe. She has had an outstanding season and is a very worthy winner.

Second place went to Marie Dorin Habert who missed 2 targets and moved up from 9th. In third place getting her first ever World Cup podium was Lisa Vittozzi who hit 19/20. She has been threatening the podium for a while now and deserves her place on it. Darya Domracheva missed 3 targets to drop to 4th just 2 seconds off third place.

Paulina Fialkova had a brilliant race finishing 5th from a start bib of 37 shooting 20/20 to achieve her personal best result on the World Cup. Lisa Hauser also shot the perfect score to move from 29th to 6th, Iryna Varvynets hit 20 to move from 33rd to 7th.

That is the last of the individual races in Kontiolahti. Tomorrow is the Single Mixed and Mixed Relays.

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Kontiolahti 2017: The Sprints!

The Wall is back! And there are going to be some tired biathletes climbing it! To be fair it wasn’t scheduled this season but with Kontiolahti replacing Tyumen as host of World Cup 8 they get to spend all weekend going up and up and up!

It started with the Sprint races and in the Men’s race Martin Fourcade did it again. He won yet another Sprint to make it 13 wins this season breaking the record of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. He did by just 0.6 of a second however stealing the glory from poor Ondrej Moravec. The Czech shot clean while Fourcade missed a target in the stand but he still managed to win. What a great biathlete he is but not very generous! 😉

Third place went to Emil Svendsen who also shot clean finishing 9 seconds behind the winner. Johannes Boe was fourth hitting 10/10 and Arnd Peiffer in 5th did the same. Fellow Germans Roman Rees and Philipp Nawrath both got personal bests. Rees finished 12th and Nawrath 34th. Olli Hiidensalo sneaked into the points in 39th in his home race.

Continuing her great form from PyeongChang Tiril Eckhoff finally got the better of Laura Dalmeier to win her first race of the season. She shot 10/10 to win by 18 seconds from Dahlmeier who missed 1 standing target. Third place went to Darya Domracheva with clean shooting continuing her excellent comeback after having her first child.

In fourth was Russia’s Daria Virolaynen also hitting 10/10. Susan Dunklee missed a target to come 5th for the third race in a row! Lisa Vittozzi hit 10 to finish 6th.

Celia Aymonier grabbed a personal best in 7th. Darya Usanova also got a personal best shooing 10/10 in 14th. Denise Hermann got her best result on the World Cup missing 2 but finishing 18th.

Gabriela Koukalova finished in 13th and Kaisa Makarainen was 49th after missing 4 targets. Mari Laukkanen was the top Finn in 19th with 2 misses.

Tomorrow we have both the Pursuit races and they should be exciting with the time gaps between biathletes pretty close!

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PyeongChang 2017: The Relays!

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It was the final day of racing in PyeongChang and also the final men’s and women’s relays of the season. There are reports going around that after his record equaling 6 Overall Titles in a row and 12 wins in a season that Martin Fourcade was using his big crystal globe to drink soju from! Soju is like the Korean version of sake. We thought he might miss the Relay but as these reports were from an American source it’s possible that it was fake news! 😉

Laura Dahlmeier did miss the women’s relay which is real news! The German’s lined up with their ‘H’ team (like the A team but further down the alphabet) of Horchler, Hammerschmidt, Hermann and Hildebrand! The absence of Dahlmeier didn’t prevent them from winning their fifth relay in a row and every relay this season. A fantastic achievement.

At one point it looked like it wasn’t going to happen though. Nadine Horchler had a solid first leg with just one spare needed handing over to Hammerschmidt in third place behind Chevalier of France and Crawford of Canada.

Hammerschmidt moved Germany into the lead after her leg using 2 spares but staying ahead of France’s Anais Bescond and Canada’s Julia Ransom. Ransom had an amazing leg shooting 10/10 and handing over to Megan Tandy still in contention for the lead.

Denise Hermann was confident on the prone hitting all five. However in the standing shoot she had a lot of trouble and ending up on the penalty loop. This meant that Justine Braisaz of France could take the lead handing over in front of Hermann. Then came Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who had a stunning leg making up for Hilde Fenne’s penalty loop on leg 2. Megan Tandy was brilliant in 4th using just 1 spare.

Celia Aymonier took over for France and was up against Franziska Hildebrand, Marte Olsbu and Emma Lunder. After a solid prone she had a horrible stand ending up with 2 penalty loops and so France were out of the picture. Hildebrand was excellent with just one spare meaning she had a comfortable final loop to victory.

The race was still on for the podium and it came down to a sprint finish on the line between Marte Olsbu, Gabriela Koukalova and Anna Magnusson. Some excellent shooting from these three put them all in with a chance but on the line Olsbu took second by 0.1 of a second with Koukalova in third just in front of Magnusson.

Emma Lunder needed 2 spares and in the end Canada finished 8th but it was a great race from ever member of their team racing in the top 4 for much of the relay.

The men’s race was a little less dramatic but still entertaining. Lukas Hofer set off very fast and led the first loop for Italy before having to do 3 penalty loops on the prone! Norway were up at the front after a great leg from Vetle Christiansen shooting 10/10. The USA were in seconds thanks to Lowell Bailey’s clean shoot and the Ukraine were in 3rd with Artem Pryma.

Bjoerndalen held on to the lead for Norway in the second leg with 3 spares. France’s Simon Fourcade moved them up from 7th, where Beatrix handed over, using just 1 spare. Ukraine were still in third after Sergiy Semenov’s leg.

The third leg saw France move into the lead and they wouldn’t give it up. Simon Desthieux was steady on the range unlike his competitor Vergard Gjermandshaug who incurred a penalty loop for Norway. Austria moved into second with two great legs from Simon Eder and then Julian Eberhard and Norway were still in third.

That’s how the race would end with legs from Martin Fourcade, Dominik Landertinger and Henrik L’Abee Lund. They were all good enough on the range to stop any others catching or passing them.

That is the end of the pre-Olympic event here in PyeongChang and now it’s back to Kontiolahti for World Cup 8!

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