There is a Lind-Störm coming!

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Fredrik Lindström is only 25! Can you believe that? It seems like he has been on the World Cup for ages! He must have started when he was 12 or something! Actually he made his debut at age 19 in Hochfilzen and where he finished 47th in the Sprint race.

Freddie was born on the 24th of July, 1989 in a bread bin. Wait a minute that’s not right! He was born in Bredbyn of course! That’s in the Örnsköldsvik Municipality in Sweden as you all know! It also makes part sense of his Twitter name which is @bredbypajken. As for the rest you will have to ask him. I mean I guess I could have asked him but you need to retain some mystery in your life!

Freddie had great start to last season when he came second in the Sprint race at his home World Cup round in Oestersund. Many, including me, thought that this was a sign of a great year to come but unfortunately it turned out to be his best result of the whole season. After finishing 7th in the Total Score in 2012/13 big things were expected from Mr. Lindström. However after making good progress every year in his career until now he slipped back a little last year and finished only 17th overall with just that one podium to his name.

He has won a race on the World Cup though which as you know is not that easy to do and some older and more experienced athletes than him have not managed it yet. It came back in season 2011/12 in Anholtz where he took victory in the Sprint. Actually he had a lot of great results that season which is why people expect a lot from him because they know what he is capable of.

Freddie has always performed well in the World Championships and has 2 bronze medals to prove it. In Ruhpolding in 2012 he was third in the Mass Start and in 2013 in Nove Mesto he was third in the Individual. He also just missed out on a bronze in the Men’s relay in 2011 in Khanty-Mansiysk when the team came in fourth. In fact last year the Swedish Men’s Relay team were on excellent form. They were twice on the podium on the World Cup coming second in Hochfilzen and Antholz and also took two fourth place finishes in Annecy and Ruhpolding. They were tipped to make the podium in Sochi too with such great form but ended up a disappointing 10th.

With the retirement of half of that relay team the pressure will be on Freddie and also Tobias Arwidson to keep up those impressive results. Without the talent and experience of Bergman and Ferry it will be hard to repeat such feats but Sweden has the likes of Peppe Femling and Ted Armgren who will finally get their chance to shine. Freddie is going to have to handle the new pressure of being Sweden’s top male biathlete and a lot will be expected from him from Sweden’s coach Johan Hagström. He will have to set the example for the rest of the team.

So will he be able to use that extra pressure to get back to his best? I think he can. He is a really talented biathlete and for someone so young he has a lot of experience to fall back on. It will be a big year for him as the leader of Team Sweden and he will be looking to add some more podiums and wins to his collection. With the World Championships “next door” in Finland he will have a lot of supporters there and if his past record is anything to go by he should get a bronze medal at the very least! The other biathletes need to keep an eye out for Freddie as I think it could potentially be his best season yet! Beware there is a Lind-Störm coming!

Follow Freddie on Twitter: @bredbypajken
Have a look at his website (in Swedish): http://www.flindstrom.se/


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A Light Foot across the snow!

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“It’s cold up North!” That’s what they say about the North of England which means that it is a great place to acclimatise to winter sports! Lucky for Great Britain then that the frozen wastes of South Shields have helped their top female biathlete get to where she is now. No need to go looking for cold weather in Europe, Amanda Lightfoot can get plenty of it at home!

Amanda was born on the 30th of January 1987 and raised in South Shields which is more famous for football and running than for biathlon!(Shocking I know!). In fact biathlon is not a well-known sport at all in Great Britain so how did Amanda end up becoming a biathlete? Well like many others she discovered the sport after she joined the army. Actually she only learned to ski at age 19 and considering most biathletes can ski when they are children she has had a lot of catching up to do.

With only 3 months of biathlon training she won the novice prize in the British Championships and earned the chance to spend a year training in the Development Squad. In 2007 she was selected for the European Cup and after only 3 races qualified for the Women’s Relay team to compete on the World Cup.

After a lot of hard work and gaining valuable experience along the way she got her best ever result in the World Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2011. She came 34th in the Individual race which is an amazing result for someone who had only been doing biathlon for 5 years! Most biathletes have been training and competing since childhood especially in places like Norway and Russia. This led Amanda to be named British Biathlete of the Year in 2011. She is also the first GB biathlete to score World Cup points since 1992 and is only the second female biathlete from her country to compete in an Olympic Games following Emma Fowler in 2006.

Her best result on the World Cup was last year’s 46th place in the Oberhof Pursuit. That beat her previous best which was 47th in the Oberhof Sprint from the day before! Strangely enough her top results have all been achieved at World Championships. The best in Khanty and then in Ruhpolding where she came 36th in the Sprint and 43rd in the Pursuit in 2012.This bodes well of course for this season and the up coming World Championships in Finland. As someone who has served in Iraq the Kontiolahti wall will hold no fear for Amanda – just exhaustion!

Like many British biathletes she has had to base herself abroad so that she can have the use of quality training facilities and Amanda chose Lillehammer in Norway. She has even been learning the language over the summer which should be pretty easy for her because if you can speak “Geordie” then Norwegian should be a breeze!

It’s difficult to become a successful biathlete if you come from Great Britain. There are problems with funding and facilities and also snow! Amanda is a tough girl though and she needs to be to do what she does. This year she will be hoping to clinch a first Top 30 position and grab some more World Cup points. A good showing at the World Championships would also be a good confidence boost.

There are some young British ladies coming through, like Sophie Hopkins and Holly Rees-Lay, who would like to be to be professional biathletes one day. They should be inspired by Amanda and can learn a lot from her remarkable progress. So keep an eye out for Amanda this season and watch her progress carefully. British biathlon needs some good results and I am sure she is the one who can provide them. She has the skills required to be in the TOP 40 more often and coupled with her determination and motivation she will get there. She also has something the others don’t have – the gift of stealth! They don’t know she is coming because she has such a Light Foot across the Snow!

Follow Amanda on Twitter: @amandabiathlon1
Like her Facebook Fan page: ‘Amanda Lightfoot Biathlete -Fan Page’

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Those who Win-disch never quit!

windisch

Now that big brother Markus has retired it falls solely upon the shoulders of Dominik Windisch to uphold the family name on the world stage of biathlon! To be fair he was doing a pretty good job of that alongside his brother and recent results suggest that he can continue to get better even though he is on his own.

Dominik was born in Brunico on the 6th of November 1989. According to his website he is a “real South Tyrolean guy”. I am not exactly sure what that is but I think it means wearing Lederhosen and drinking beer but I can’t be 100% sure!! 😉 He lives in Oberrasen which is located in Pustertal near to Antholz. Handy!

He made his World Cup debut for Italy in Oslo in 2011. Since then he has improved immensely and is now the proud owner of an Olympic bronze medal. Along with Lukas Hofer, Dorothea Wierer and Karin Oberhofer he came third in the Mixed Relay in Sochi and put the icing on the cake of a fantastic season for Italian biathlon. The whole team have produced some great performances not only in the relays but individually too like Hofer getting his first win and Wierer getting her first podium on the World Cup.

An 11th place in the Sprint was Dominik’s best result individually in Sochi which was a great effort. In fact the previous year in the Sochi test races on the World Cup he achieved his best ever result which was a 5th place also in the Sprint. It’s a really tough track so his results there are really positive although the altitude probably helped him a bit. Living and training at altitude back home must have been great for his Olympic preparation.

Dominik has a lot of TOP 25 finishes on his C.V in the short time he has been competing at the top level. However he only has 1 TOP 10 finish. It has to be one of his targets for the new season to break into the TOP 10 more often although that is easier said than done. After their Sochi performance the Italian Mixed Relay team have to one of the favourites in Kontiolahti to win another medal at the World Championships so Dominik has a big season in front of him.

To take the pressure off a bit Dominik’s hobby is drawing. He has recently ventured into the world of 3D drawing and you can sometimes see his work on Facebook. He gets his artistic skills from his father who paints in oil and also sculpts in wood. It is very important for biathletes to have a hobby outside of the sport as you could drive yourself crazy if all you think about is biathlon. Dominik has his own website too in German, Italian and English although interestingly only the Italian part gives you all the artistic information(outrageous stereotyping 🙂 )! I also learned that he has a motto which I am sure will serve him well in his career. Those who quit never Win-disch and those who Win-disch never quit!

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Look at his website: http://www.dominik-windisch.com


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Teja Gregor-win!

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As you probably all know Teja Gregorin is another Slovenia biathlete who comes from Ihan, where all great Slovenian biathletes come from! Along with Klemen Bauer and Peter Dokl she makes up the triangle of talent from the small town. Teja was born in Ljubljana on the 29th of June, 1980 and is her country’s top female biathlete.

She switched to biathlon form cross country skiing and has been a member of the national team since 2002. She has had a pretty amazing career but like a fine Slovenian wine she seems to be getting better with age. In August this year in the Summer Biathlon Championships in Tyumen she won gold in both the Sprint and Pursuit and took bronze in the Mixed Relay. However her best result so far has to be the bronze medal she won in the Olympics in Sochi.

Teja also has a couple of silver medals from the Biathlon World Championships. She won Mixed Relay silver in Ruhpolding 2012 with Andreja Mali, Klemen Bauer and Jakov Fak. Back in Pyeongchang 2009 she claimed an individual medal finishing second in the 15km Individual. She has in fact taken part in 10 World Championships and 3 Olympic Games which makes her one of the most experienced women competing today.

On the World Cup she has been just as successful. She has 4 podium finishes to her name, 2 second places and 2 third places. Her best ever finish in the Total Score came in season 2010/11 when she was 8th overall and last season she came 13th. Since 2005 she has never finished the season outside the TOP 40 overall which is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to her incredible consistency.

There is however one thing missing from Teja’s fantastic career and that is of course a win. She has come close on several occasions but has never stood on the top step yet on the World Cup or in the Winter World Championships. That is why it was so pleasing to see her win in Tyumen this summer. It shows that she can do it and of all the biathletes it is Teja that I would love to see take a win this coming season. I am sure she is desperate to do it too.

So why is it in such a long and consistently good career that she hasn’t won? Well firstly it is really hard to win a race because there are so many great biathletes competing and there is always new talent coming through. Secondly Teja has some issues with her standing shoot. It is essential to victory as it is always the last shoot before the end of every race. Hers is not terrible but her prone stats have never dropped below 90% whereas her stand is normally between 70-80% which makes the crucial difference between coming second or first in the race. Her ski speed is not amongst the TOP10 and this is also a major factor in her results.

At 34 Teja doesn’t have too many years left at the top level but I am sure she will make the most of them. I know all biathlon fans wish her well and we are all hoping that we can soon congratulate Teja on her first Gregor-win!

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Weger: The Beni-fit of experience!

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Benjamin Weger is a bit of a biathlon conundrum. Considering his age and where he is from he has had a fantastic career so far on the World Cup which is just missing a first win. He has a better record than many other biathletes who are older and from bigger biathlon countries. So what is the conundrum then? Well he hasn’t been able to translate that World Cup success over to the World Championships or Olympic Games – yet!

Benjamin is a Swiss biathlete who was born in Brig on the 5th of October 1989. He is a keen mountaineer (shocking behaviour from a Swiss person!) and enjoys fly fishing. He is also lucky enough to have his own supporters group called Fanclub “WÄGi” based in Geschinen where he lives.

Benjamin’s best result on the World Cup came back in season 2010/11 when he finished 2nd in the Individual race in Pokljuka. That was the first of 4 podiums that he has achieved so far in his career. The other 3 all came in season 2011/12 which saw him finish third in Kontiolahti in the Sprint and also in the Sprint and Pursuit in Hochfilzen. In fact that season has been his best to date with an overall result in the Total Score of 18th.

His best result last season was a 5th place in Annecy in the Pursuit and he also came 8th in Oberhof in the same event. It wasn’t the season that he might have been expecting coming 37th in the Total Score with his best individual result being unsurprisingly in the Pursuit standings where he was 32nd overall.

His performances in the Olympic Games in Sochi were not that great unfortunately. His best position there was 48th in the Individual. In fact many of his championship performances have been a bit disappointing which is where the conundrum kicks in. In fact his best Championship performance came in his Junior career. He won silver in the Sprint in the 2009 Junior World Championships in Canada behind Lukas Hofer. His top result so far in the Senior ranks was a 19th place last time round in Nove Mesto in the Individual.

This must be something he is desperate to rectify and this year’s competition in Kontiolahti will give him the chance to do just that. He has had some good results there finishing twice in the Top 10 so that should give him confidence. He knows from World Cup results that he is good enough to get on the podium and will probably get his best chance in the Individual. The Swiss Mixed Relay team has some potential too with the Gasparin sisters leading it off so they should be able to get a solid result. It could be a good year for Weger now he has the Beni-fit of experience!

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Have a look at his website : http://www.benjamin-weger.ch/

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Over the Mun!

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Now that the Sochi Olympics is long gone and we have forgotten what happened and who won what (only joking!) it’s time to turn our attention to the next Winter Olympics which will take place in Pyeongchang in South Korea. For those of you who don’t know South Korea is at the same latitude as Spain and can get very cold in winter as I know from personal frozen cheeked experience! Therefore it should make a great place for the next Olympics.

All the South Korean biathletes will be looking forward to 2018 and I have decided to cast my eye over one of them here. Ji-hee Mun -pronounced ‘moon’ otherwise my title doesn’t work so well! – is one of South Korea’s best known biathletes. Born in Jeonbuk Province on the 2nd of August 1988 she will be coming up to 30 by the time we reach Pyeongchang.

She was the only female biathlete from South Korea to go to Sochi accompanying the vastly experienced Lee In-bok. She finished 74th in the Sprint event and 69th in the Individual. On the World Cup her best result to date was a 37th place finish in the Sprint event in Pyeongchang in 2007/08. This was one of two occasions that she has appeared in the TOP 40, the other coming in the Antholz Individual where she came 39th. Ji-hee also has many TOP 60 finishes to her name and is a prominent member of the South Korean relay teams.

Winning the right to host the Winter Olympics in 2018 is a big deal for South Korea and is a fantastic chance to increase the popularity of biathlon in the country. You won’t be surprised to learn that it is not a well-known or well supported sport there but with the Olympics it is a fantastic opportunity for biathletes like Ji-hee to showcase their sport at home. They also had a chance to do this in 2009 when the World Championships where held there. It was nice for the South Koreans to have their families and friends be able to watch them and with the bigger stage of the Olympics it will bring more attention to them and the sport.

Ji-hee started biathlon at the age of 14 and I am sure she never expected to have the chance to compete in a home Olympics some 16 years later. It is only the beginning of the 4 year cycle that will take us to Pyeongchang and I am sure all the South Korea team will be working really hard to make sure they are selected for the team and that they can compete well and show their fellow citizens what biathlon is all about. Ji-hee must really be looking forward to this and if she can get some good results at home I know she will be Over the Mun!

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Hiiden talent!

hiidensalo

Kimi Räikkönen, Mika Häkkinen and Valtteri Bottas are all very fast Finns. As we know however they are cheating because they have a motor to make them go quick. The real fast Finns are the ones on skis – cross country skis! The cross country scene in Finland is really strong right now with the likes of Iivo and Kerttu Niskanen, Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Krista Parmakosi, Anne Kylloenen and Sami Jauhojaervi. The biathletes are getting better too with the likes of Kaisa Mäkäräinen and Mari Laukkanen for inspiration. They also have some young talent coming through on the men’s side like today’s subject Olli Hiidensalo.

After greatly improving his hair style from his IBU Profile picture Olli has now become a biathlete worth taking notice of! He comes from Nummi-Pusula and was born on the 2nd of February 1991. He now lives in Tampere where he studies Industrial Management at the University of Technology. He includes among his hobbies fishing, hunting and orienteering (can you tell he is Finnish!) and the most important one ‘nap’.

He had quite a good Junior career where his best place was a 12th in the Individual in Kontiolahti 2012 and he came 4th in the relay back in 2010 in Torsby. Last season he finished a career high 30th in the Oestersund Individual race scoring his first ever World Cup points so we can safely conclude that he likes racing in Scandinavia. He also managed another 3 TOP 60 finishes in the season, 2 coming in Pokljuka and another in Kontiolahti.

Lucky then for a Finn who races well in Finland that the World Championships are in Kontiolahti this season! It is asking far too much of him to get an Individual medal there but a good result in the relays is not out of the question. It will be a valuable experience for him to race a Championships at home and he will receive great support from the home crowd. They can help a lot and don’t be surprised if Olli produces some of his career best results there. As for the rest of the season he needs to try and make that push into the TOP 40 on a more regular basis and score some more World Cup points.

It’s not easy for the Finns though as although they may get lumped in with their Scandinavian neighbours they are not a biathlon powerhouse like Norway and Sweden. They have issues with funding like many other biathletes and so it’s not easy for them to compete at the very top. They are lucky enough to have a venue that can host a World Cup round and World Championships so that is an advantage. With guys like Olli improving all the time hopefully the situation for the Finnish team will get better.

As for Olli himself well I hope his love of orienteering will help him ‘find his way’ into the TOP 40 more often! 😉 A home World Championship will be good motivation for him this season. He can cement his place in the Men’s Relay team and try to break into the Mixed Relay team too. So if you want to see really fast Finns stick to watching cross country and biathlon and look out for Olli because he won’t be a Hiiden talent for much longer!

Check out his website: http://ollihiidensalo.com/
Follow Olli on Twitter: @OlliHiidensalo
Like his FB page: ‘Olli Hiidensalo’


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