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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PyeongChang 2017: The Pursuits!

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Saturday in PyeongChang was dedicated to the Pursuit races. The women went first and had conditions which were a little warm and so made the snow wet in places. The men had better skiing conditions later in the evening. There wasn’t a lot of wind to affect the shooting. There was also some excellent drumming and coordinated dance moves coming from the stands!

The women’s race was not that exciting in terms of the race for the victory. Dahlmeier and Eckhoff were together up to the first prone shoot and when Tiril missed Laura had the race all to herself. She hit 20/20 and was untouchable out front winning by over a minute.

Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who shot 10/10 in the prone and missed 2 shots in her third shoot. However she cleaned the final stand and was able to overtake Anais Bescond who had left the range just before her.

Bescond had a great race in third missing just 1 target but wasn’t able to keep up with Makarainen on the final loop despite shooting better than her. Eckhoff still managed to finish 4th even with 5 penalty loops and Susan Dunklee maintained her 5th place.

Gabriela Koukalova had a much better day missing 2 shots but finishing 8th from at start position of 21st. Marte Olsbu came from 24th to finish 9th. Irina Starykh came from 55th to finish 20th and Iryna Varvynets wento from 44th to 22nd.

In the men’s race Julian Eberhard started with a 40 second lead and managed to stay in front of the rest until the second prone shoot. He missed 2 shots there handing the lead to Martin Fourcade who like Dahlmeier never gave it up. He shot 20/20 to win by 35 seconds giving him his 12th win of the season. This equals the record of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and he still has more races left to try and beat it.

Fourcade was chased by a gang of Austrians. Eder, Landertinger and Eberhard were all trying in vain to catch him but all missed shots in the final standing. Sneaking up from behind was Anton Shipulin who had a magnificent race in bib23! He made up 21 places to come second hitting the perfect 20/20.

Third eventually went to Eberhard despite his 3 misses and teammate Eder was 4th. Anton Babikov moved from 41st to 15th, Henrik L’Abee Lund from 38th to 17th, Christian Gow went from 56th to 32nd and Anton Sinapov went from 60th to get some points in 39th.

Dahlmeier and Fourcade were outstanding today. Considering everything they have already won, especially Fourcade, their will to keep fighting and motivation to keep winning is extraordinary. We are very lucky to have them both racing in biathlon.

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PyeongChang 2017: The Sprints!

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We are in PyeongChang! Luckily nobody got confused and went to Pyongyang! It’s the Olympic test event and also World Cup round 7 in South Korea. Like Korean kimchi, that is stored on a roof for months, we have been waiting a long time to see the tracks and range that will be used for the Olympics in 2018.

The first race of the event was the Women’s Sprint and because of the time difference, which is 8 hours in front of CET, we had a night race.

The fans were out to watch. There weren’t huge numbers but what they lacked in quantity they made up for in quality and also the best headbands biathlon has ever seen! Where can I get one?! 😉

There was some wind to deal with for the women and what looked like an icy track. Some of the bigger names decided to go in the later groups possibly hoping for faster skiing conditions but Laura Dahlmeier didn’t. She went bib 18 and shot clean and skied well. When she does that it’s almost impossible to beat her these days.

Tiril Eckhoff gave it a good try though. Shooting 10/10, and the best I have seen her do in a while, she took her first podium of the season finishing 8 seconds behind Dahlmeier.

Third place went to Anais Chevalier with another clean shoot. It could have been snatched from her by teammate Marie Dorin Habert who also shot clean and was 5 seconds ahead of Chevalier after leaving the final shoot. However she disappeared completely and it was later revealed that she had to pull out of the race after feeling dizzy and a bit weak.

Sweden’s Mona Brorsson had her best result this season finishing equal 8th with Anais Bescond after shooting 10/10. Finishing in 17th place to claim her personal best result was Slovakia’s Ivona Fialkova. Annoyingly for her big sister Paulina still beat her when she finished in 14th!

Gabriela Koukalova finished in 21st position with 2 misses to hand an even bigger lead to Dahlmeier in the Total Score.

The men raced on Friday and shooting clean and winning the Sprint, probably 2 weeks after her would have liked to, was Austria’s Julian Eberhard. If only he could have done it in Hochfilzen! He won by 40 seconds from someone who did win in Hochfilzen Lowell Bailey. He is on amazing form at the moment shooting clean again proving he is no one hit wonder! 😉

Third place went to Martin Fourcade who missed 2 shots but that podium finish means that he has once again won the Overall Title. That makes it 6 seasons in a row which is an incredible achievement.

The other Austrians all did well today too with Dominik Landertinger finishing 4th and Simon Eder in 8th. It could be the medal bounce after their performance in the Men’s Relay at the World Championships as Daniel Mesotitsch also took a podium on the IBU Cup in Kontiolahti yesterday.

Serafin Wiestner finished in 7th which is his best result this season. Germany’s Roman Rees got his career best finish in 13th and Tomas Krupkic from the Czech Republic also got a personal best in 19th.

We now have both Pursuit races on Saturday and they should be good races. The women are quite close together as are the men with the exception of Eberhard who will start with a decent lead.

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Brezno 2017: Junior World Champs!

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Zobel,Pettersen,Lobastov

The second day of competition at the Youth/Junior World Championships was the Junior biathletes chance to race the Individual. The Juniors are all 21 or under.

The Men went first and after a small delay due to warm temperatures overnight, which meant extra time was needed to prepare the tracks, we got underway.

The race was won by Norway’s Sindre Petterson who led the whole race despite missing 2 shots on his final standing shoot. He took gold by 51 seconds from Germany’s David Zobel who missed 3 targets but still claimed silver. The bronze medal went to Russia’s Nikita Lobastov who shot 19/20. Just one biathlete shot the perfect 20/20 and that was Latvia’s Ingus Deksnis who finished 5th.

The Women’s race was held in the afternoon and this time the gold medal went to Canada. In another excellent display of shooting Megan Bankes hit 20/20 to win the race by 45 seconds. Silver medal went to Austria’s Julia Schwaiger who hit 19/20 and the bronze medal went to Germany’s Anna Weidel who missed 1 target too. Three other women hit the perfect 20/20 and they were Deborah Laffont of France, Natalie Jurcova of the Czech Republic and Mariana Brykailo of Ukraine.

Saturday was Sprint day for the juniors and the men’s race went to Russia. Igor Malinovskii was the winner hitting 10/10 to win the gold medal by 12 seconds. His teammate Kirill Streltsov took silver with clean shooting and Roman Yeremin won bronze for Kazakhstan.

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Michela Carrara

The Women’s Sprint went to an Italian. They are in great form at this event and Michela Carrara shot clean to take gold by 15 seconds. Silver went to Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold who missed 1 shot and France’s Myrtille Begue got the bronze hitting all the targets.

The Pursuits were raced on Sunday and Malinovskii held on to his lead. He missed 4 shots altogether but still took the victory by 13 seconds. Norway took another silver this time for the winner of the Individual race Sindre Pettersen who came from 8th to 2nd missing 5 targets. The bronze went to Belarus with Anton Smolski also missing 5 targets. Not a single one of the competitors hit 20/20 despite favourable conditions.

Russia also took gold in the Women’s race with Valeriia Vasnetcova shooting clean to come from 24th to 1st! With 3 misses the Sprint winner Carrara dropped to second and Tandrevold took the bronze with 2 shots missed.

The final day of competition took place on Tuesday with both the men’s and women’s relays. The men’s teams have 4 biathletes racing but the women just 3. It wasn’t a big surprise to see Russia winning the men’s race. They had strong team of Nikita Lobastov, Igor Malinovskii, Nikita Porshev and Kirill Streltsov. They are by far the best shooting team using just 7 spares although that was matched by the Finns in 5th.

Silver went to the Norwegian team of Dag Bjoerndalen (son of Dag Bjoerndalen, nephew of OEB), Johannes Dale, Aleksander Andersen and Sindre Petterson. They used 12 spares and incurred 1 penalty loop. Bronze was won by the German team of Justus Strelow, Danilo Riethmueller, Dominic Schmuck and David Zobel. They needed 16 spares and also did 1 penalty loop.

The women race saw the same 3 teams on the podium but in different order. This time Norway took the gold medal with Hilde Eide, Karolina Erdal and Ingrid Tandrevold using 8 spares. Germany were second with Vanessa Voigt, Sophia Schneider and Anna Weidel going on the penalty loop once. Russia took bronze with Kristina Reztsova, Ekaterina Moshkova and Valeriia Vasnetcova also completing a penalty loop.

Those races brought the Youth/ Junior Championship to an end with Russia topping the medal table with 11, Norway in second with 9 and Italy in third with 8. It shows that the big nations are still producing good young biathletes but it is great to see Italy up there competing with them. Hopefully we will be seeing some of these juniors making more appearances at IBU Cup and even World Cup level very soon.

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