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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Ian Daffern: The Interview!

Photo Credit: Les Berezowski Photography.

Ian Daffern is the head ski technician for the Canadian Para-nordic team. He has been to five Paralympic Games with the team starting in Salt Lake City and continuing all the way to the Winter Paralympics this past March in PyeongChang. He oversaw the skis for the 14 athletes who won a record 16 medals including 4 gold medals in cross country skiing but more importantly 1 in biathlon! 🙂

You can follow Ian on Twitter: @skiingwithian

Why did you become a ski technician? How long have you worked with the Para-nordic team?

I have been working with the Canadian Para-nordic team for 17 years. In the fall of 2001 Brian and Robin McKeever were looking for a ski technician to help them prepare and compete in the Salt Lake City Paralympics. They had just started with the team on the Para World Cup circuit and needed more ski and wax support on the race days. Since I had experience coaching at the same ski club and was friends with Brian and Robin it was a natural fit and as they say the rest is history. Five Paralympics later and I’m still excited to help as best I can in support of the Para team athletes quest for Gold.

The Canadian Para-nordic team had an amazing Paralympics. How did it feel to contribute towards that success?

Yes it was an unbelievable Paralympics for the team. It was amazing and very satisfying to see Canadian athletes on the podium everyday knowing the wax room technical plan and hard work since Sochi to prepare specifically for Korea was paying off. I have to thank my wax team of Laurent Roux, Bruce Johnson and Bjorn Taylor for believing and contributing to my personal Paralympics wax room goal of trying to have the best skis of the field for every race.

Can you describe what your typical day was like in PyeongChang?

A typical race day started with a 6am alarm followed by breakfast in the village food hall and a 7am bus to the race site. At the site we would check out the track conditions, have a quick discussion about the weather, snow and temperatures and start to prepare and plan the ski and wax testing for the morning prior to the athletes arrival. Once athlete skis, wax and structure selection was made the skis were prepared for racing just before the athletes start time. We had a runner who would bring the skis to the start line from the wax room. Strava records were broken everyday. 😉

Once the races were over, the afternoon was spent prepping, grinding and testing athletes skis for the next day races. Almost every night, due to the athletes success, the wax team would often go to the medal plaza for the 6:30pm ceremony followed by dinner back in the athletes village. After dinner there would be an athlete team meeting followed by a coaches / technicians meeting to go over the next days assignments usually finishing up by 10-11pm each night. Luckily Bruce is an expert at making cappuccinos on a wax iron so we were never short on caffeine!!

What is it like waxing in the cross country relay when you have someone racing two legs? What can you do to the skis in such a short time? Is it a bit stressful?!

It’s more of an adrenaline rush knowing you only have about 6-7 minutes to prep a pair of skis between relay legs. This was the case when Brian and Collin Cameron won bronze in the relay in Korea with each skier doing 2 legs. With the dirty snow conditions the main goal is to clean the skis right away and then apply a layer or two of the best testing flouro liquid or puck as quickly as possible. We were lucky to be able to bring a bench close to the exchange zone so it was fun to be in the thick of the action.

Are you excited about the World Championships coming to Canada? Will you have a wax advantage on home snow?! 😉

I am very excited to have the World Championships this upcoming season in Prince George. Head Coach Robin McKeever and I did a site visit in April to ski the trails and learn more about the conditions we can expect. I think and am hoping we will have a wax advantage since I plan to do some pre World Championship testing and we are familiar with the cold February conditions and snow in Canada. Some of the athletes on our team have competed on these trails before so they know what to expect. It will be a great event with challenging trails, a world class biathlon range and a enthusiastic organizing committee.

Are there any differences in waxing for para cross country than able bodied?

For a skier like Brian who is at a high level as an able bodied skier there are no differences. In classic skiing, grip waxing can slightly change for one arm or no arm skiers depending on the snow conditions as one pole or no poles can effect the amount of grip wax needed to climb the hills. Testing and waxing skate skis for the visually impaired and standing classes would be the same as for an able bodied program.

The biggest difference for sure would be in the sit ski category where there are many factors to consider such as whether the sit skier will use the tracks or race outside the tracks, the fact that the skis are always on the snow, the ability of the sit skier to control the skis on corners and on downhills etc. Most of the testing for sit skiers is done by the sit skiers whenever possible so they can test not only for speed and free glide but also their ability to turn and control the skis on corners. In a pinch though if time is tight one of the techs or coaches can run the sit skis since they have regular ski bindings on them.

Are you responsible for certain athletes skis or do help with them all?

As head technician I am responsible for the overall working of the wax room and all the athletes skis. Unlike many able bodied wax rooms I don’t assign specific techs to certain athletes skis as we are too small and few in number but instead have developed our own system of making sure each athlete has the correct skis for race day. I work closely with all the athletes each race to discuss and make sure the correct skis get tested pre race with the help of other coaches and technicians. Our grip wax specialist Laurent Roux will work only on classic skis but for all athletes on the team.

Have you ever had any waxidents? (accidents with wax)

Well most of our waxidents involve our grip waxer. 😉 He once set our wax table on fire with a heat gun and since he used a lot of soft klister wax in Korea our door knobs and everything else were always sticky. Perhaps the funniest waxident in Korea though was when I found klister wax all over our ski caddy which is used to take skis out on course for testing. It took a lot of wax remover to clean it up so I could use it for glide test skis again….

Do you have any good waxing tips for the non-expert?

Best advice for novices looking to make fast skate skis is to keep it simple. Sometimes the least expensive waxes can be the fastest especially in colder conditions so don’t be fooled by the price or amount of flouro as it doesn’t always correlate to ski speed. High flouro powders, gels, liquids and pucks for sure can be faster in humid and wetter snow so in those conditions try some of the newer waxing methods out such as the fleece buffer applications instead of ironing in powders and creating lots of fumes and smoke unless you have proper safety masks or good ventilation system. Also when the snow is wet, ski structure to prevent suction is more important than the wax so it’s good to invest in some basic ski structuring tools.

The Para-nordic season is pretty short with usually 3 World Cups and a major Championships. What do you do for the rest of the year?

Currently I am in Bend, Oregon (this was in June) where the Canadian Para team is having their first camp of the season. We normally have 3-4 camps in the off season which I help out at with the biggest being a 3 week skiing camp at the Snow Farm in New Zealand in August. Besides assisting at camps I am involved with planning, budgeting and purchasing equipment and wax for the upcoming racing season. Part of the this involves visiting the Fischer ski factory in October to select and pick up athletes skis followed by testing and a camp in Ramsau on the Dachstein glacier. Once we can ski in Canmore on the Frozen Thunder stored snow loop I am working with the athletes testing new skis and wax and preparing for the upcoming season. I often end up waxing at non para races throughout the winter season also.

Describe yourself in three words.

As a ski technician I would say organized, calm and relaxed.


Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlete: Mark Arendz of course!
Favourite track: Snow Farm, New Zealand.
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Samurai design on Mark’s rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Funniest ski tech on the World Cup: Our grip waxer Laurent Roux !
Nicest ski tech on the World Cup: Steiner from the Norwegian Para Team
Best thing about being a ski tech: Celebrating a great day with the athletes.

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Wojciech Janik: The Interview!

Wojciech Janik is a Polish biathlete. The 18-year-old was born in Wałbrzych and has competed on the Junior World Cup, at the Junior European Championships and also at the Youth World Championships. His best result to date is a 7th place in Otepaa, Estonia in the Youth Individual race from last season’s World Championships. His older brother Mateusz is also a biathlete and they are now the first brothers to have both done a Biathlon23 Interview! 🙂

Follow Wojtek on Twitter: @wojtekjaniks
Like his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/wojtekbiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I think that the adventure with biathlon began mainly from the big sporting traditions that my family has.

You finished 7th in the Individual at the Youth World Championships. Can you tell me about the race? How did you feel at the end?

It was an amazing race for me, at the last shooting I missed the first shot which buried my dreams for a medal, but I came to the World Championships with the intention to enter the Top 10. At the finish when I saw the results I could not believe that so many were missing the medals, I gave everything on the track but it was not enough. I know that I still have to train a lot and return to the World Cup next year even stronger.

You competed on the Junior World Cup last season. Was it a good experience for you?

It was a very big and good experience for me because it was my debut in the international arena.

Your brother Mateusz is also a biathlete. Do you train together? Does he give you any advice?

We always train together when we’re at home between national assemblies. When I was little, Mateusz was my idol and I wanted to do everything that he did and thanks to him I became a biathlete. Mateusz so far has given me tips that I try to use in every situation.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

I am a person who puts 100% into sports and nothing else matters to me. My family and friends understand it and support me in it.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strong point is definitely to endure a high training load. When it is really hard to train, I start to enjoy it and give it more. My weakness is the pressure which I sometimes do not handle as well as I could and I know I still have to work a lot on that.


What are your goals for this season?


My goal for this season, of course, is to compete for Youth World Championships medals, but my main goal is to get to the Olympic Games in 2022 in Beijing.

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

It is Ondrej Moravec. I am impressed with his running technique, his character as an athlete and of course his results.

Describe yourself in three words.
Determined, Strong, Hopeful

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Czech Republic
Favourite shooting range: Nové Město na Moravě
Lucky bib number: 23
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Kuba štvrtecký
Best thing about being a biathlete: Satisfaction with sports results.

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Spring Things 2018!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Biathlon23 Awards 2017/18!!!

awards

Welcome to the 5th anniversary of the Biathlon23 awards! (imaginary fanfare!) I know, I am as surprised as you that it has lasted this long! This year we have a couple of special guests giving out awards. I couldn’t afford much so no Leo DiCaprio or Jennifer Lawrence. Instead we have the winner of the OLYMPICKS (my Olympic competition) and also the runner-up. Look out for their awards below. It could be the first and last time I let anyone else run amok on my blog! Their awards are all their own work! Mine are of course subject to the the same rigorous system used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree! 🙂

After the news that Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is retiring, these awards are dedicated to him for being such an amazing competitor and a fabulous servant to the greatest sport in the world. Thanks Ole, will will miss you!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
At one point this was going to a para-biathlete which I was very excited about considering it was Scotland’s Scott Meenagh but then the Olympics happened! A certain lady became very, very, very popular after some good performances finishing 5th in two races. In fact she now has the most popular interview on my blog ever and by a very long way. She also got her first podium finishing second in the last race of the season. I hope all the attention is due to how good she is at biathlon and not how beautiful she is but that may be wishful thinking!

Winner: Paulina Fialkova

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“Paralympic biathlon, Brittany Hudak skiing in 2018, biathlon 2018 Paralympic Games”: YES! I will make you all love para-biathlon! ALL OF YOU!
“nationality of 2018 Olympic sprint skier Bolshanov”: That is f#####g cross-country! Get off my blog!
“dorothea wierer the blast”: I’ve got nothing!
“how to pronounce einar bjoerndalen’s name”: I believe it is ‘Ole’ like the Spanish!
“anton guigonnat, elisa vitozzi, samulson biathlon”: How they will be known from now on!
“klemen bauer nude”: I suspect it was Klemen himself searching for this!
“größe paulina fialkova”: She is neither big nor fat! 😉
“andre chisholm”: Canada’s wax tech Andrew just became all European and sexy sounding! 😉
“linstrum bistholon switzerland”: Makes perfect sense to me!

Winner:“french biathlete Anais Chevalier fires her rifle”: Well yes every couple of kilometeres in fact! It’s kind of what biathletes do! 😉

Best Facial Hair:
Some strong competition coming from the para-biathletes this season with Collin Cameron and Aaron Pike sporting some majestic full beards. The IBU had the usual suspects, last year’s champ Michael Roesch and Benjamin Weger. However this year there is only one choice. At the Olympics a mad Italian decided to dye his moustache in the colours of the Italian flag. I guess he really wanted this award!

Winner: Lukas Hofer

Best earrings:
Ladies you have been disappointing this year with the earring choices. None have inspired me much. In fact this season it’s not even a woman who will win this. It’s not even an earring! For some reason someone thought it would be a good idea to get their nose pierced. But not on the side, oh no, through the middle. Doing his best impression of a bull and risking getting it caught on something ripping his whole nose off, for bravery it has to go to the American!

Winner: Leif Nordgren

Best fall:
It turns out falls are better when you see them on TV and not in real life. The best one on TV this season was in the Oslo Men’s Sprint. It was the mighty who fell breaking a ski pole and you just know all the other biathletes were happy to see that even he makes mistakes! Well I was anyway. Admit it you were secretly pleased too! 😉 Of course he falls just as well as he skis and so got up and still made the podium!

Winner: Martin Fourcade

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
The question was “The teams ran 151 penalty loops and you shot 10/10 today, what was your secret?”
The answer was ” From now on I will shoot with closed eyes! Maybe it’s better, maybe it was the secret!”
I knew it! I knew that’s what most biathletes do! Now I have the proof!
Also watch for Lukas Hofer’s reaction to the question! 😉
You can watch it here from about 3:48.

Winner: Dominik Windisch

Best biathlon video:
There exists in the darkest corner of France, I believe it’s commonly known as the Savoie region, a collection of odd winter sports people who make crazy videos of a nordic nature. Their third installment of ‘One of Those Nordic Days’ is another madcap showcase of all things on snow. They seem to have strange obsession with minions and chainsaws but c’est la vie! Worryingly they seems to have included people who are not biathletes in it! Once they sort this out they will surely win an Oscar!
You can watch it here. (Look out for a certain Simon Fourcade as Rambo!)

Winner: Team Suitcase sorry I mean Valoche! 😉

Best rifle design:
Another disappointing rifle design season. I mean seriously people you have all summer to come up with a design and then choose one block colour or a wooden stock. YAWN! Two people did make the effort thankfully! Marketa Davidova went for pink with unicorns! Amazing! However it wasn’t quite enough to win. Taking inspiration from teammate Anton Shipulin’s dragon, this lady has a tiger carved into the front of her rifle! RAAR! (That’s meant to be a tiger by the way!)

Winner: Svetlana Mironova

Flower Gatherer of the season: (awarded by Nuno Magalhães, Portugal winner of the OLYMPICKS!)

Biathlon’s flower ceremony, which rewards the individuals placed between 4th and 6th in every World Cup event, is very unique to the sport and the spark for a particular cocktail of feelings, ranging from the satisfaction of a job well done to the pain of falling just short of the podium. It stands to reason then that, taken in the context of a whole season, claiming a litany of flower bouquets is both a reflection of consistency throughout the year and a fair bit of bad luck.

Thus, in order to identify the biathletes that fell most frequently into this grey area, I went back to the final standings of every non-relay WC race contested in 2017-18 and tallied the points for every male and female competitor, distributing 3-2-1 points for each fourth, fifth and sixth position.

Lisa Vittozzi (2 fourths, 2 fifths, 0 sixths (2-2-0), 10 pts) and Kaisa Makarainen (1-2-3, 10 pts) share the top spot for the women. On the men’s side, Benedikt Doll (3-0-0, 9 pts), Arnd Peiffer (1-1-5, 10 pts) and Emil Hegle Svendsen (3-1-0, 11 pts) put up a good fight, but the award ultimately belongs to a German with (3-2-1, 14 pts), who I hope will find some solace after a season that featured several near misses, no WC podiums for the first time since 2012-13, and that heart-breaking photo-finish defeat to Martin Fourcade in PyeongChang.
He might have to be nicknamed the florist from now on! 😉

Winner: Simon Schempp

Best ski suit:
Norway receives a special commendation for their suit. It’s always good. The Czech Republic I also like. Canada almost won this in an excellent comeback from the ‘Where’s Wally (Waldo)’ debacle! There was a lot of red, white and blue suits this season but one stood out for me above the rest. Paulina Fialkova told me it was her favourite and it’s mine too.

Winner: Slovakia

Worst ski suit:
Russia in maroon? Germany in green and yellow? Some strange colour choices this season. Belarus dressing like frogs for the Olympics! However one suit stood out (quite literally) from the rest and that was the bananas on skis. Strangely it grew on me over the season, kind of like mould on cheese, but not enough to avoid this award. I think it’s just the block yellow that does it. Throw a bit of blue in somewhere. Not even Zlatan would be seen head to toe in yellow!

Winner: Sweden

Best Biathlete23:
The easiest decision I have ever had to make for these awards! Turn up at the Olympics, win a gold medal in the first race. What a star! She couldn’t have done it without the bib though!

Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

Biggest Improver:
This goes to a biathlete who has always been good but this season looked like the real deal. Before this year she only had 1 podium finish to her name. This season she got three plus another three fourth place finishes. At the Olympics she was 4th in the Mass Start, 6th in the Sprint and 11th in the Pursuit. She won a bronze medal as part of the Mixed Relay team and her shooting has been exceptional. She moved from 27th to 6th in the Total Score and it’s just a matter of time before she wins her first race. I’m sure it won’t be long until she becomes Italy’s number one biathlete.

Winner: Lisa Vittozzi

Best Team Performance:
This one was pretty obvious to me. As a fan of biathlon I like biathletes who shoot well and I like to see them beat the teams who can ski faster than them. The conditions were exactly right for this at the Olympics with the weather levelling the playing field. The two biathletes who would normally be seen as weaker really shone and the team shot better than anyone else on the day in a victory for shooting over ski speed. Although it does help if you have Darya Domracheva on last leg for the skiing! 😉

Winner: Belarus Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
After finishing 7th in the Sprint and 5th in the Pursuit at the Olympics it wasn’t a surprise to see this person do well in the Individual. It was a surprise that she won it! One of just three women who shot the perfect 20/20 the 22-year-old turned in a faultless performance in the ultimate test of a biathlete. Actually there was one small fault, she was wearing bib 24!

Winner: Hanna Öberg

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
I know what you are thinking Martin Fourcade will win this! WRONG! It must be Kaisa then! WRONG again! They are always at the top either winning or very close to it. This season we saw a biathlete who despite having 2 Olympic gold medals was never that great on the World Cup. Previously she had won 5 World Cup races in her entire career and she now she has won 5 in one season. She has shown much better consistency just missing out on the Overall by 3 points but winning the Sprint and Pursuit titles. Oh and she won 3 medals at the Olympics, a gold and 2 silvers!

Winner: Anastasiya Kuzmina

IPC Para-biathlete of the Year:
There were so many amazing performances by the biathletes at the Paralympic Games that it’s almost impossible to choose a winner. There were many multiple medallists and some stunning performances. I am giving it to someone who got six medals in six races (even though 3 were in cross country I will overlook such treachery just this once). He won his first biathlon Paralympic title and also a silver and bronze in the two other biathlon races hitting 49 out of 50 targets. He added another silver and two bronze in the sport we don’t like to mention. Apart from that has done two biathlon23 interviews which also helps when it comes to winning awards! 😉

Winner: Mark Arendz

Junior Biathlete of the Year:
A difficult decision for this award as there are a lot of good Juniors around at the moment. The winner finished second in the Junior World Cup Overall but actually with the same points as the winner. She also won a gold medal in the Women’s Relay at the Junior World Championships as well as two bronze medals in the Sprint and Pursuit. She won a race on the World Cup in the Obertilliach Sprint and was third in the Mixed Relay there too. She grabbed another podium in Nove Mesto also coming third in the Sprint. At just 21 she looks like a great prospect for France and dare I say it, is already better than her big brother Aristide! 😉

Winner: Myrtille Begue

Youth Biathlete of the Year: (awarded by Jeff Mattarocci, USA runner-up in the Olympicks)

I’ll choose a member of the US Biathlon Team. She is an under 16 athlete, who regularly competes with the Youth ladies and can hold her own with them. She just came off a great US Biathlon Championships, where she won every race she entered, two as a youth and one as an under 16. The future looks good for the US ladies team! 🙂
We will have to keep an eye out for her!

Winner: Lexie Madigan

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