Season Preview 2017/18: Men

It’s Olympic season! That only means one thing! Nobody is particularly bothered about the World Cup! It’s understandable as the Olympics are only every four years and are the pinnacle of sporting achievement. However it does mean that the athletes will use it as either training and race practice or as a means to qualify for the Games. This is why we need a free year without an Olympics or a World Championships to afford the World Cup the respect it deserves. That argument is for another day though as I have a season to preview.

Actually there is one man who will take both competitions seriously and that is Martin Fourcade. This is because he is the only male biathlete capable of winning it and gold at the Olympics. I would include Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in this if he was younger but he is 43 and can’t do both anymore.

Every season I try to make a case for the others to defeat Fourcade. If he stays fit and healthy they won’t! (He did have a health issue at the French Championships but hopefully it will not carry forward into the season). His remarkable consistency on the World Cup is unmatched among the others but the Olympic titles are definitely up for grabs. As we saw at the World Championships last season Fourcade only won 1 individual title in the Pursuit.

Another thing I don’t like about the Olympic season is that it is usually the time when biathletes like to retire. They do the Olympic cycle, compete at the Games and then decide the time is right to end their careers. Be prepared to lose some favourites after the PyeongChang Games are over. 😦

I am aware it may seem like I don’t like the Olympics! It’s not true I love them but they are ruined by the inclusion of other sports that aren’t biathlon. I mean who cares about ice sports and alpine skiing! That’s right – NOBODY! 😉

So every year I have to come up with ideas about who could beat Fourcade but it is really hard to see who could do it. So this season I have decided to talk about the rest of the TOP 10. Who will move up places? Who will drop down? Who will surprise us and who will disappoint?

Last season’s Total Score Top Ten looked like this:
1. Fourcade
2. Shipulin
3. J.Boe
4. Peiffer
5. Schempp
6. Eberhard
7. Svendsen
8. Bailey
9. Bjoerndalen
10. Lesser

There were couple of surprise names in there with Lowell Bailey having an amazing season and Julian Eberhard really progressing. There were others missing like Tarjei Boe who was 36th and Jakov Fak who had a season ruined by illness.

This time around I don’t see a big change in the Top 3. Hopefully they will be able to push Fourcade a bit closer but Johannes Boe and Anton Shipulin will probably be fighting each other for second place.

Arnd Peiffer had a great season and was the top German ahead of Schempp. Erik Lesser was also in the Top 10 and Benedikt Doll was just behind him in 11th. In the battle of the German’s I expect Doll to move into the Top 10 and maybe Lesser to drop out. Will Pieffer stay ahead of Schempp? It’s possible as he seems to be the more consistent performer of the two.

I am not expecting much from Emil Svendsen on this year’s World Cup. I think he will be targeting the Olympics in a big way as it could be his last. The same could apply to Ole Einar Bjoerndalen but you never know with him! I am expecting a much better season from Tarjei Boe but he hasn’t produced anywhere near the form that made him the Overall World Cup winner. He has been plagued by illness (and of course his little brother!) but hopefully he will show us the old Tarjei this season.

Julian Eberhard could keep his place in the Top 10 and even move up a place or two. His sprinting is great and if he continues his improvement in shooting he could pick up a lot more points from the pursuit and mass starts which have been his weakness in the past. As for the other Austrians Simon Eder was 13th last season and Dominik Landertinger was 16th. Without the pressure of a home World Championships they could both improve. However Landertinger will miss some races at the start of the season after back surgery.

France only had one man in the Top 10 with Jean Guillaume Beatrix the next best in 15th place. They will be looking for more from the likes of Quentin Fillon Maillet and Simon Fourcade but I don’t think any of them will break into the Top 10 again this season.

There are some others who will be hoping to make it there. The Czech Republic have good chances with both Ondrej Moravec (13th) and Michal Krcmar (17th) having good seasons in 2016/17. Andres Rastorgujevs finally made the podium and was 21st last season. Hopefully that will have given him the platform to greater success this time.

The young Russians are also dangerous. Maxim Tsvetkov was 19th and Anton Babikov was 24th. Both are excellent shots and good skiers and with a little more consistency will surely both improve their positions on the Total Score.

The Italian team are improving all the time and Dominik Windisch was their star man last season. He was 14th overall and could improve on that. Lukas Hofer needs to find some more consistency if he wants to match his teammate.

I would like to see Jakov Fak back to his best this season and it would also be great to see guys like Freddie Lindstroem, Benjamin Weger and Michal Slesingr on the podium. Also if Michael Roesch gets a podium I think EVERYONE will cry not just him!

Obviously anything can happen in biathlon we will just have to wait and see! Luckily we don’t have to wait long as the first race on the Men’s World Cup is on the 30th of November! It’s the 20km Individual and I can’t wait!!!

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Franziska Hildebrand : The Interview!

Franziska Hildebrand is a German biathlete from Halle. She has won two races so far in her World Cup career both in Sprint races. She was victorious in her home race in Ruhpolding in 2015/16 and also in Hochfilzen in the same season. She has made the podium six times since her World Cup debut in 2011. With the German Women’s Relay team she has won two World Championship gold medals in Kontiolahti 2015 and Hochfilzen 2017. She was born on the 24th of March 1987 and has a twin sister called Stephanie.

Like her Facebook page: Franziska Hildebrand

Why did you become a biathlete?

This was accidental. First I tried various other sports like football and hockey. One day an article was published in the newspaper that the ski club of my hometown was looking for athletes. My parents took me to the training there and I liked it.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy about and what disappointed you?

The greatest moment for me was the moment I reached the line first for the German Relay team in PyeongChang with the German Flag. On the other hand I felt disappointed that I hadn’t reached a podium in the individual races.

You are part of the German Relay team that won gold in Hochfilzen and every relay on the World Cup. Why is the team so good?

We have a good atmosphere in the team, it is harmonious and we understand each other well. Everyone looks out for each other.

Do you have a favourite leg on the relay? Do you have any input into it or do the coaches make all the decisions?

My favourite leg is third. I also feel comfortable on the other legs but this is the one I like the most. Normally the coaches tell us the decision but they ask about the shape of the athletes.

Your shooting statistics are fantastic. Why are you so good at shooting? Is it natural talent, practice, hard work or a combination of things?

I think it`s a combination of natural talent and hard work. Talent is good but you still have to train again and again to keep this level.

You had some good results at the World Cup event in PyeongChang. Has that given you confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

I go with a positive feeling to Korea because of the good results I had there. I like the Asian culture and look forward to the Olympics. The tracks are nice and the range is good. I like it.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Recovery from an injury. In July I injured my ankle and it took time to heal. I did a lot of double polling and cycling because nothing else was possible. But it was nice to do something different from the other years.

Can you describe what it was like to win the Sprint race back in 2016 in Ruhpolding?

It was amazing. The victory there was a special moment for my career. To win in Germany in front of all the spectators was incredible.

You have your own fan club! What is that like and do they come and support you a lot?

It is a lot of fun. Every year we have a big fan club meeting where we all come together and meet each other. In my fan club are some very pleasant people who are crazy about biathlon and with whom I can have a lot of fun and who support me.

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

Katrin Apel. When I was watching Biathlon as a child she impressed me. She wasn’t the best all the time but she never gave up. And she was nice in her interviews.

Describe yourself in three words.

Persistent, colourful, freedom-loving.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): New Zealand
Favourite shooting range: Le Grand Bornard
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benedikt Doll
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Clare Egan
Best thing about being a biathlete: The best thing is that I get to do what I am talented in and I love to do!

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Mark Arendz: The Interview 2!

Mark Arendz is a Canadian para biathlete and cross country skier who competes in the standing races. He is a double World Champion in biathlon after winning gold in the Sprint (7.5km) and Middle distance (12.5km) races in Finsterau in February 2017. He also won silver in the Individual (15km) biathlon race as well as bronze in both the 10km and Open Relay cross country races. The 27-year-old from Prince Edward Island also has a silver and bronze medal in biathlon from the Sochi Paralympics. This is his second interview for biathlon23 which of course eclipses all these achievements! 😉

Follow Mark on Twitter: @markarendz
Have a look at his website: http://www.markarendz.com/

You are a double biathlon World Champion! How does that feel? Can you describe your winning races in Finsterau?

Reassuring, confidence building. All of my performances in Finsterau confirmed that my training and preparations were right on. My focus is on the process, controlling factors I have control over. If I can cross a finish line knowing I executed a perfect race plan, then I can be satisfied with the result regardless of what it is. The first race of the Championships, the Middle Distance, was about staying clean and consistent skiing times. That race set a great tone for me throughout the rest of the Championships. The Sprint was a tight finish and led to some tense moments afterward awaiting the results. I skied a strong race, but success for me was hitting the five targets in the second bout. After going clean; it was simple, get to the finish as fast as possible.

You did 6 races at the World Championships and medalled in 5 of them. How tough is it to do that both mentally and physically?

True, I did a lot of races in Finsterau. I had to take each day by its self. I woke up each morning with my plan for the day. I kept my focus on that plan and what I could control. In the end, I was fortunate enough to celebrate a few evenings. After four races, I was feeling quite beat up on that final rest day. The body recovered well enough so that I could wake up the next morning and win the Biathlon Sprint. I finished the week with a surprising third place in the Cross Country Middle Distance.

Are you going to do all the events in PyeongChang? It’s a pretty tough schedule, have you considered targeting specific races?

In PyeongChang, at the Games, my priority is on the three Biathlon races. If the body is holding up and everything is going well, my next priority will be on being prepared to be part of a Relay team. Any other races will be a day to day decision based on health and energy levels.

You had some good results on the World Cup in PyeongChang. Do you like the tracks and range there?

I have been at the venue in PyeongChang twice now. I do enjoy the courses there. There are a lot of working sections, and some big, steep climbs. The wind is a little unpredictable which should make for some interesting shooting. I look forward to battling out it with my fellow competitors.

You get to start the season in your back garden in Canmore! What is it like racing at home? Do you feel some extra pressure to perform well?

It is always exciting to race at home, in front of family and friends. To have the edge in knowing every single snowflake on the course. Or how the weather will affect the conditions. The key to success will be to distinguish between an everyday training session and a World Cup race morning! For performance, there is nothing better than sleeping in your own bed!

What have you been doing for summer training?

A busy summer with several training camps in Bend and Mammoth Lakes in the United States. The Snow Farm in New Zealand where I was on-snow for three weeks. Throughout the rest of the summer, I have been doing a lot of roller skiing, biking both on the road and off. Of course running, exploring the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Some time spent in the gym as well. It is all about the fine details that will make the difference come March.

It will be your third Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. How do you think para-biathlon has changed over the years? Is there anything you would like to change about it for the future?

The depth in the fields has been one of the biggest changes in the past few years. There are several competitors in each category that are capable of winning. I would love to see the Pursuit format perfected and replace the Middle Distance race at major competitions.

You are the Nordic skiing athlete representative. What does that involve and are you enjoying it?

At the test event in PyeongChang, I was elected by the other athletes to become the Athlete Representative. It is a new role I am taking on and so far I have enjoyed. Being part of the decisions, shaping the future of the sport. The sport of Nordic Skiing is off and running but now is the time to make decisions on how we approach the future. I have been on conference calls once every two weeks. Once we get to the Winter, there will be a few meetings at several of the World Cups to openly discuss issues and hopefully, brainstorm ideas to make our sport better.

Obviously training takes up a lot of your time but what do you do in your free time? Any exciting hobbies we should know about?!

Besides following Biathlon23, no, there are no exciting hobbies as of yet. I’m open to any suggestions!

This is the greatest answer ever given to a Biathlon23 interview question!!! 🙂

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Paulína Fialková: The Interview!

Paulína Fialková is a Slovakian biathlete who won three medals at the recent Summer World Championships in Russia. She won silver in the Sprint and Mixed Relay and bronze in the Pursuit. Last season she achieved her personal best result of 5th on the World Cup in Kontiolahti and finished 31st in the Total Score. She was born on the 25th of October 1992 in Brezno and her younger sister Ivona is also a biathlete.

Like her Facebook page: Paulína Fialková
Follow her on Instagram: paja.fialkova

Why did you become a biathlete?

Because I was too hyperactive as a child and my parents chose biathlon as the right solution.

You got your personal best result of 5th last season in the Kontiolahti Pursuit coming from 37th with clean shooting. What do you remember about that race and what were your emotions at the finish line?

I had quite strong back pain before the race. I took some medicine for the pain and I knew, I will shoot 4×0 today. I was really happy after the race because of pushing my personal limit higher and especially with the clean shooting.

You went to the summer World Championships and won 3 medals. Is it good preparation and did it give you a lot of confidence for this coming season?

I had a hard summer preparation and it was important for me to know how the training was going. I did it not for confidence but for experience. I will never be old enough to gain more experience. Every time I wear my start number I can learn something new.

What other training have you done over the summer? Is there anything specific you have been trying to improve?

I changed a little bit my skiing technique and after shooting analysis also my rifle settings. I hope it will work.

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

To be better…I mean more points, hoping for some podiums.

You had some good results at the PyeongChang World Cup. Do you like the tracks and the range there? Have you set any goals for the Olympic Games?

I really liked PyeongChang. There are hard uphills and it satisfies me. The shooting range was windy but after the downhill.

What’s it like to be on the same team as your sister. Do you get on well or fight like all other families!? 😉

No fighting, just supporting 🙂 She does a great job as my sparring partner in the team!

Brezno-Osrblie is your home track and it hosts the IBU Cup races most years. Would you like to see a World Cup going there in the future? Is biathlon popular in Slovakia like it is next door in the Czech Republic?

I hope for the World Cup in Osrblie but it seems to be very far away. Biathlon in Slovakia is also becoming more and more popular.

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

Osrblie because I know every centimetre very well.

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

Maybe Magdalena Neuner. She was not thinking only about the sport, when she said stop, she really stopped her career.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Aspiring, combative, hard working.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Italy
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Mine
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Our new one for 2017/2018.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 44
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Matej Kazár
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Dorothea Wierer
Best thing about being a biathlete: It’s my dream job!

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Martin Fleig: The Interview!

Martin Fleig is a German para biathlete who competes in the sitting category. In February he won double gold in biathlon at his home World Championships in Finsterau. His victories in the 12.5km middle distance and the 15km Individual were were followed with bronze in the 7.5km Sprint event. He also won bronze in the 15km cross country race. He won the biathlon Overall World Cup last season and is the current world number one. The 28-year-old was born with spina bifida and fluid on the brain.

Like his Facebook Page: Martin Fleig
Check out his website: http://www.martin-fleig.de/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started with cross country skiing. One day, I guess I was 14 years old or so, I tried biathlon. I really did not like it! A few years later I had the chance to get my own rifle, so I could shoot much more easily because the rifle fit me perfectly. My first competitions were not really good, but I found my motivation to go ahead with doing biathlon. And over the years the fun came too.

You became double World Champion in biathlon at your home Championships in Finsterau last season. Can you describe the feeling and what do you remember about the races?

It’s really difficult to describe. I guess I had a really good feeling before the first race started. I knew that I was in really good shape and the races at the World Cups before the Worlds were also very good for me. So I was able to start the Worlds with confidence. During the first race I often thought about my training at home at the Notschrei Nordic Center. I told myself all the time ‘you can do it, just do it like in your training’. I knew I just had to remember my shootings from the past and in my training before doing it clean. Honestly, at the 15k race I did not know about my comfortable situation by being the leader by almost 3 minutes. It was strange for me when I missed one shot because I was sure that my chance to take a medal was over. But after I finished the last shooting I heard the stadium commentator said something like‚ ‘Dont worry about your missed shot, Martin. You are still in the lead!’ That was really cool because I knew that I would be able to win a medal again.

You won both biathlon races at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Do you like the tracks and range there? What are you goals for the Paralympic Games?

Oh yes, I really do like the tracks and also the place itself. About my goals, I am really not able to say something directly about that. Let us first start the new season and the first World Cup races and maybe then we could say a bit more about what we could expect at the PWG. All I can say now is, that I train really hard and do my best to be prepared for it! We also have to wait and see what the Russian guys will be able to do if they come back because we should not forget that those guys are the strongest skiers in the world!
(The Russian Team are currently banned by the IPC from all competitions following the McLaren Report into state sponsored doping at the Sochi Olympics.)

What have you been doing for summer training? Do you mostly train alone or with your teammates?

I have put my training into a new level. More hours overall than last year and some more technical training. We are doing a good mix of muscle and athletic training, skiing technique and also some other kinds of stamina training like handcycling, roller skiing or swimming. Most of the time I train with my Mother or alone. Twice a week I train with some teammates or with the head coach, Ralf Rombach or Michael Huhn.

Is your sit-ski custom made? Do you have the same one for roller skiing or do you need two? What is the most challenging thing for you in terms of skiing in the sit-ski?

Yes, it has been made by a firm called Rapp & Seifert – Sanitätshaus und Orthopädietechnik GmbH. A BIG thanks to those guys who make it possible for me to do my sport so successfully!!! For the upcoming season they have built me a new, much lighter sledge. So yes, now I have got two of them. To ski in the sitting position is very challenging in general. For me, the fast corners on a track are the most challenging ones.

Can you describe for my readers how you shoot from a sit-ski?

If I come to the shooting range, a coach has got my rifle in his hands and he chooses a shooting lane. Then I come to that lane, let myself fall down on my left side and the coach gives me the rifle and I can begin to shoot. After the shooting (5 targets), I get up by myself and go ahead with the next loop of 2,5km or 3km.

More and more of your fellow athletes are doing both a winter and summer sport now. Have you ever considered turning to the ‘dark side’ of summer sport? What sport would you do?

Well, I really admire those who handle both kinds of summer and winter sports at this high level. For me, in my situation it is impossible to imagine doing so. But IF I think about which summer sport I would do, it would be wheelchair races I guess. But I am not really sure about that, it is just a thought.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon and cross country?

I love photography! I prefer to be outside, no matter if I do sport or something else. To be outside gives me a feeling of freedom. And if I go outside to take photos, I can really get my mind free from all around me. It makes me feel very satisfied. I mostly photograph things like insects, flowers or things in nature.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite track: Ruhpolding
Favourite biathlete (IPC or IBU): Vanessa Hinz, Simon Schempp
Favourite shooting range: Oberhof
Lucky bib number: 10
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Martin Fourcade
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Laura Dahlmeier
Best thing about being a biathlete: The ability to manage the difference between skiing and shooting.

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Susan Dunklee: The Interview!

Susan Dunklee is an American biathlete who was born on the 13th of February 1986. She enjoyed her best season to date in 2016/17. She finished 10th in the Total Score and more importantly won her first World Championship medal taking silver in the Mass Start in Hochfilzen. She is the first American women to win a medal at a major Championships and in doing so qualified to race for the US at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang this March. Her father Stan and her uncle Everett have both competed for America at the Olympics in cross country skiing.

Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanDunklee
Like her Facebook page: Susan Dunklee
Check out her blog: https://susandunklee.wordpress.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I didn’t want to give up ski racing after college. USBA offered a better training and living situation than any US xc ski club at the time, so I figured why not learn how to shoot?

The Mass Start in Hochfilzen. Talk us through your silver medal winning race and your emotions at the end.

I felt inspired after watching Lowell’s Individual. I remember thinking that I had got my first ever WC podium in 2014 the week after he got his first podium.
Despite that, I didn’t feel particularly good going into the race. By the end of the Championships you have raced so much that both your body and head feel fried. I had to remind myself that everyone else was exhausted too and that there is opportunity in that.
Much of that race felt surreal. Leading was an experience that I’m not very familiar with. I didn’t intend to lead because it’s usually not a smart tactical decision and it is harder to ski fast and efficiently by yourself. However, after every shooting stage I found myself alone out front. It seemed silly to just pull over for 5 seconds and let the pack catch up. So I skied my own pace, tried to stay relaxed and didn’t worry about what the pack did.
People ask me if the last shooting stage felt any different. In this case, no, it was more of a deja vu feeling. It felt just like the 3 stages before it. I remember thinking after the last shooting stage that now it was time to “get the hell out of there” because I knew some fast people would be chasing my tail. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to challenge Laura [Dahlmeier] when she caught me, but I was so psyched to hold onto second. It truly was a perfect race for me.

Apart from your medal you were also 10th in the Total Score. What was the key to your great season?

Shooting speed had been my biggest focus during training for a couple years and that work started to pay off last winter.

You had some good results at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Has that given you a lot of confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

It doesn’t matter if I like them or not. What matters is if I’m willing to make those tracks and that range “my own” so that I will feel strong and confident there.

What are your goals for next season for the World Cup as well as the Olympics?

To keep my focus on “performing well.” If I can do that, the results will take care of themselves.

Team USA is a really close team. What was it like watching Lowell win his gold medal at the World Champs?

Lowell put together an impressive performance which personified a tremendous effort on the part a whole host of people. For an achievement like that you need everything to go right such as ski fitness, shooting performance, and ski preparation. There are so many people who contributed to making that possible- coaches, teammates, ski techs, physios, managers, psychologists, sponsors, supportive friends and family back home…. Everyone in the USBA community felt some ownership of America’s first gold medal moment and that’s one of the reasons why I think the US Team is special.

Have you noticed any changes in the popularity of biathlon in the US after your recent success? Has it helped you with funding and sponsors?

Not as much as we had expected.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Same routine as usual- roller skiing, shooting, running, biking, lifting, etc. We did an on-snow camp in May in Bend, Oregon as well as a three week camp in Germany in September.

One of your hobbies is bee keeping. How did you get into that and why do you like it?

I already was interested in pollination systems after studying them in college. A few years ago I visited one of my ecologist friends who kept honey bees and I watched a barefoot “bee-whisperer” capture an escaped swarm. I was fascinated. Working with bees is a lot like shooting in a high pressure race situation. The consequences of making mistakes are high and you must conquer your fears and stay calm.

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

Nove Mesto has the best atmosphere with the biggest, friendliest crowds of spectators. I love racing there.

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

Michal Slesingr, Martin Fourcade and Lowell Bailey. They are phenomenal athletes and leaders who insist on fighting for the integrity of our sport.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sincere, hardworking, contemplative.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin’s dragon
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch. Honorable mention: Stefani Popova
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Toss up: Johanna Taliharm, Anais Bescond, and Katja Yurlova.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Recovery massages.

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Alexia Runggaldier: The Interview!

Alexia Runggaldier had a fantastic season in 2016/17. At the World Championships in Hochfilzen she won the bronze medal in the Individual race. At her home round of the World Cup in Antholz she got her first ever podium coming third, again in the Individual, and also helped the Italian Women’s team to third place in the Relay in the same weekend. She was born in Bressanone on the 27th of November 1991 and her younger sister Carmen is also a biathlete.

Like her Facebook Page: Alexia Runggaldier
Follow her on Twitter: @AlexiaMRTmx

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete thanks to my father and the Ski Club of Val Gardena. When I was a little girl, I practiced Alpine Skiing. One day my dad brought me to try some Cross Country Skiing and after this experience I knew that I wanted to do this. My Ski Club let me try shooting and I noticed that biathlon was a very fascinating and exciting sport. At the age of 18 the sport department of the Police hired me and that made it possible for me to became a professional biathlete!

You had a great World Championships. Can you describe your bronze medal winning race in Hochfilzen? What do you remember about it? How did you feel?

It was a strange race, because I didn’t feel so good on the skis and I lost a pole on the 4th loop. During the race, after loosing the pole, I was thinking ‘oh no today it will not be my day’ but at the end of the race I was starting to hope that it would be my day! 🙂 I was very happy and I enjoyed every moment!

It was your first full season on the World Cup and you had an amazing round in Antholz. What was it like to be on the podium twice at home? Were all your friends and family there to see it?

It was an indescribable feeling to be for the first time in an Individual race on the podium and this at home. I was crying tears of happiness and relief. And then three days after the second podium came with my teammates and this was the best way to conclude an amazing weekend! Yes, my parents did a weekend of partying and also my friends came to cheer for me. The atmosphere in Antholz was very special to me!

You improved a lot last season. Why do you think that happened? Have you changed anything in training? Is it your shooting that is better or the skiing or both?

I think I improved a lot last season, because I started to listen to my body and I’ve found a way of training that is good for my body and my characteristics. I think I mostly improved in skiing but also in shooting.

The Italian women’s team is really strong right now and you have a great relay team. Do you think you can win a medal in PyeongChang?

I hope so! 🙂

What are your personal goals for the Olympics? What do you think of the course and range in PyeongChang?

My personal goals for the Olympics are to be in good shape in order to be able to give my best. I think that the course is quite hard but I like it and also the range is not that easy.

What have you been doing for summer training?

We had good summer preparation. With the team, we had a lot of training camps in France, Germany, Austria, Italy and also in Norway for some skiing. The good weather made it possible to train well…although it was too hot sometimes!

If it’s possible can you try and describe your process when you are shooting? Is it all automatic or are you thinking everything through all the time? How do you try and stop thinking about the other athletes and what is happening in the race?

During the race the process of shooting most of the time is automatic. On the range the movements that have been trained during summer training come out, but sometimes when I’m tired and the shape is not so good I have to think about some processes.
During a race a lot is happening, but the best thing is to focus on myself and to do my race.

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

My favourite biathlon track is Hochfilzen or Oslo.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, simple, bright.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Simon Schempp
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Of course Italy 😉
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 59
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Giuseppe Montello
Best thing about being a biathlete: The life we can live. We have the chance to travel a lot, seeing new places and meeting a lot of nice people.

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