Amanda Lightfoot: The Interview!

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Amanda Lightfoot is Great Britain’s top female biathlete. She was born on the 30th of January 1987 and is currently in the British Army. She is from the North East of England but lives and trains in Norway. Her best result was at the World Championships in Khanty Mansiysk in 2011 which was a 34th place finish. Her top result on the World Cup is 46th which she is determined to change this season.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter: @amandabiathlon1
You can like her Facebook page: Amanda Lightfoot Biathlete- Fan Page

Why did you become a biathlete?

I would have to say biathlon chose me, I had not even heard of the sport. I was actually on duty in the army out in Iraq when I got asked if I would like to go skiing for some adventure training when I returned and of course I jumped at the chance having never skied in my life before.

As you are still in the British Army do you still have military duties to carry out or do they let you concentrate on biathlon? (in case Britain has to go to war with Norway?!!)

The military are fantastic to me, they allow me to train full time as long as I can keep my military career and sporting career on a level with each other. For this I complete the necessary military courses when needed so when I return to the military full time I will fit back in no problem.

There have been a few retirements from the British team this year. What do you think it will be like without Lee Jackson and Kevin Kane? Will there be more pressure on you as one of the more experienced members of the team now?

I think they will be missed in the men’s team this year especially the relays, but I feel that there are also some up and coming young stars in our team and they will take their place and bring the men’s team back up to the standard it was if not even better.

Many of your best results come at World Championships. Why do you think that is? Do you love the big occasions?

I ask myself the same question. But yes I do love the World Championships and look forward to this event every year. I’m hoping for the same this year in Oslo as Norway has become my second home and it would be great to perform well here.

What training have you done so far this summer and what’s the plan until the start of the season?

I have done a lot of training so far this summer involving long endurance sessions, hard intervals, strength based workouts in the gym, balance and core, running, actually the list could go on and on, let’s just say I feel well prepared for the up coming season.

I will now be attending a couple of camps in Ruhpolding before the season and also aim to go onto snow at the beginning of November.

What are your goals for the coming season?

My goals for this season are:
To improve my shooting percentages in both prone and standing from last year.
I am aiming to be in the Top 40 on the World Cup, and I also believe a Top 30 finish is achievable when I bring everything together on the day.
To ski technically better overall.
To be happy and continue to absolutely love what I do.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc

I do not have any personal sponsors although the Army pay me a wage, this gets spent monthly on living costs i.e accommodation, food, travel, equipment , physiotherapy and leaves little for anything else. The team has now lost its main financial sponsor, so we are currently looking for a new sponsor to believe in us and Great Britain’s future in biathlon. So if you are reading this and are interested or know a company who might be then please get in contact with the British Biathlon Union or send an email to info@britishbiathlon.com . It would be amazing.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.

My Race Day:

Depending on when the race starts is dependent on what time I get up. But I don’t normally sleep past 9am.

First a morning light run to mobilise the body and kick start my metabolism.

Breakfast- coffee!!!! I can not function without a morning coffee and if I could, I would take my nespresso machine in my suitcase the whole season.
I do not have any specific breakfast items, it depends on what is available at each venue, but porridge is always good in the winter.

Then I am usually in my room normally dry firing and organising my race bag and race clothes.

Then it’s relaxing time either read a book, watch some TV , or sing along to every song on my playlist (usually the latter).

Before I leave for the race I do visualisation taking my mind around the whole course having a perfect race and every time at the end I’m always stood on that podium.. 😁🇬🇧 Maybe one day it will happen for real!

Then it’s down to the stadium to test and pick my race skis , zero my rifle ready for the race and give myself a good warm up before the start.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

I would say my “weakness” is probably my technique and this is also the main thing I want to improve on this year.

My strengths include my strong mind. I feel I am quite a tough girl in the mind and can really push myself to the limit. Believing in myself is a massive strength, I believe that nothing is impossible if you work your hardest for it. I feel my shooting will become a strength this year also, as last year results proved a massive need for improvement, but I have applied so much time into it this summer and now I’m feeling more confident than ever. I have a lot of strengths and I don’t really like to think of the word weaknesses I prefer the term goals. 🙂

Can we expect to see you in the Single Mixed Relay this year or do you think the schedule will mean it’s not possible?

I am sure you will see Great Britain competing in the Single Mixed Relays this year, I think this is such a great competition especially for the spectators. It’s not my strongest race but I’m looking forward to competing in it for sure and seeing what’s possible.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle does not have a name but I’m open to suggestions?? Haha.

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined / #alwayssomething

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Oberhof
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Ole Einar Bjørndalen
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Nove Mesto Mixed Relay coming out of the range on the first leg as race leader.., amazing and unforgettable.
Favourite food: Can I have chocolate as a food? Lol In fact roasted marshmallows covered in melted chocolate. Yum! But if I had to choose a ‘Real Food’ I would say a typical British Sunday dinner with roasted chicken, vegetables, potatoes and gravy. It’s what I miss when I’m in Norway.
Favourite singer/band: Michael Jackson I have to start dancing and singing when I hear his music. He’s epic!
Favourite film: Dirty Dancing. I watched this repeatedly when I was a teenager and always wanted to find a Patrick Swayze to do the lift. (You will only know what I mean if you have watched the film) lol
Favourite sports team: Sunderland
Favourite TV show: The Vampire Diaries.

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Nathan Smith: The Interview!

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Season 2014/15 was a historic one for Canada’s Nathan Smith. He became the first Canadian to win a World Championship medal when he took silver in the Sprint in Kontiolahti. He then went on to win his first race in the Pursuit in Khanty Mansiysk at the last round of the World Cup. Nathan was born in Calgary on the 25th of December 1985. This season he has the chance to race at a home World Cup in Canmore in February the town where he currently lives.

You can like Nathan’s Facebook Page: Nathan Smith Fanpage

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I didn’t know anything about biathlon when I started. I already cross country skied with Foothills Nordic, and of course as a 10 year old boy, when I found out that there was a similar sport with guns…

Has last season sunk in yet? You won World Championship silver in Kontiolahti and your first World Cup race in Khanty! Does that put more pressure on you to win and get podiums or is it just more motivation to do better? And do you like places that start with “K”?

Yeah I’d say it took a while but after a good month of training I felt pretty settled by the beginning of June. No one has been putting pressure on me, but I would obviously like to continue the success with more podiums. I also understand that results at World Championships are vitally important for my team’s funding. I never thought of that before, but yes, I guess I have had quite a bit of luck in places starting with K.

As a native of Calgary there must have been a Stampede of media and journalists wanting a piece of your time after the World Champs! (see what I did there!) What is it like suddenly getting more attention than normal?

I did get a little more attention than normal, but to me honest it was pretty underwhelming. They are only interested for a day or two and then move onto the next story. Most sports journalists in Calgary unfortunately haven’t really gotten exposed much to biathlon and therefore don’t go out of their way to get a story.

Your win means some more funding for Canadian biathlon and gave you the chance to go to Norway for the Blink Festival. You must be really proud that your medal can also help your teammates but do you remind them of it occasionally and get them to make your breakfast etc? 😉

My team mates actually remind ME of it way more than necessary. Whenever I’m doing something well, or different, there are always teasing comments. Maybe I should start swinging my weight around more to get breakfast made. I’ll try that at the next camp.

What training have you done so far and what is the plan for the rest of the break?

So far I’ve done training camps in Jasper, Norway, and Vermont. Both the Jasper and Norway camps were new settings for me. Jasper was focused on volume, altitude, and exploring a new place close to home. Norway was awesome for training with athletes from other countries, and racing under high pressure in Blink Festival. We have our last camp of the year starting in about 3 weeks in Utah. I always enjoy training there on the long, empty roads and mountain passes.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.

Usually we race in the afternoon or evening so I don’t have to wake up too early. A leisurely sleep until maybe 830 or 9, then head down to breakfast which is usually buffet style. I always go for eggs and oatmeal, as well as bacon if it’s there. Before leaving to the race site I grab a quick light lunch, usually a little pasta but not too much meat.

I always try to fit in a short 10 minute dry fire session at the hotel where I can visualize the race with shooting. Its also important for me to go for a little 20 minute jog and stretching session to make sure my back won’t start hurting during the race later.

You won a biathlon23 Award for best improver last season! A great honour! What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season so you have a chance of winning the award again?

I think my biggest strength is shooting speed. I can pretty consistently be one of the fastest on a given day. I’ve been working really hard on my uphill climbing over the last couple years and its been paying off. A couple of my team mates are really strong at that so they push me.

You are lucky to be able to train in a great place like Canmore. How excited are you that there will be a World Cup round there this season? Does it give you an advantage knowing the tracks so well?

I’m really excited for it. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase our sport and race in front of all our family and friends. I don’t think knowing the tracks will be much of an advantage, but it will definitely be an advantage to sleep in my own bed, eat normal food, and have no travel.

Canada has some really great biathletes at the moment. What are your goals for the season personally and what do think the team can achieve in terms of relay performances?

Personally, I’m hoping for a couple more medals next year, with a special emphasis on World Championships and the Canmore races. Our team showed consistent results of 5-9th most of the season in relays, so I think with another year of experience we can regularly get into the prize ceremony. I’d also really like to team up with Rosanna and try a single-mixed relay. I think we could do pretty well.

I recently saw a photo of you standing next to a big pick up truck that had your name on it!! What’s that all about?

Yeah, I’ve been super lucky to be supported by Canmore Chrysler, who are lending me a Ram 1500. Its a lot bigger than my old car and I’m still getting used to parking it in tight spaces.

Is your nickname really Harry Potter? Personally I don’t think you look like him but maybe it’s because you are a wizard at biathlon? 😉

It’s true. That got started when I was probably 15 years old. Maybe I looked more like him back then. Its also been apparently abbreviated to Potts, which the wax techs label my skis with.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Deliberate, Relaxed, Patient

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:Canmore or Kontiolahti
Favourite biathlete (past or present):Ole Einar Bjørndalen
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc):Mass Start
Favourite/best race of your career so far? World Champs silver
Favourite food: Wraps and Root Beer
Favourite sports team: Calgary Stampeders
Favourite TV show: Castle

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Rosanna Crawford: The Interview!

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Rosanna Crawford was born on the 23rd of May 1988 in Canmore. She is currently the top ranked female biathlete from Canada after finishing 21st in the Total Score on the World Cup last season. Her sister is Olympic gold medalist in cross country skiing Chandra Crawford. This year is a special one for the Canadian team as they have a home World Cup to look forward to in February and it’s extra special for Rosanna as in it’s her home town.

You can follow Rosanna on Twitter: @RosannaCrawford
She has a Facebook Page: Rosanna Crawford

Why did you want to become a biathlete? Is it so you didn’t have to compete against your sister in cross country? 🙂

I started cross country skiing at a young age and was able to try biathlon at the age of 10, I had lots of friends who were doing it, and really enjoyed the challenge. Chandra actually started in biathlon but she was not a very good shooter, she switched over to just cross country when she was 16!

You achieved your best result of 4th last season. Is your goal to get on the podium this season and how much would you love to do it in Canmore?

Definitely my goal is to be on the podium next year, to have that happen in Canmore would be pretty special!

You went to the Blink Festival for the first time and won the Super Sprint! How pleased were you with that and does it give you a lot of confidence turning up in the home of biathlon and showing them how it’s done?!!

It was a really fun event. All the athletes are a bit more relaxed in the training season! But it was cool to go head to head with some of the best in the world. You can’t look too much into these races. We will never encounter a 9 minute flat race course, or a 40 minute uphill on the World Cup, so it’s just fun to practice some head to head shooting!

What training have you done so far and what is the plan for the rest of the break?

The training varies a lot over the summer and fall months, we train from May (on snow where we can find it) to the middle of November when the race season starts. So there is lots of roller skiing, we spend time on the roller ski treadmill and playing in the mountains. Canmore is a great place to train full time, there is so many activities we can do.

How to you cope being away from home for so long during a season? Do you get homesick and what’s it like living out of a suitcase for up to 6 months a year?

It’s hard, but I am lucky that I found my boyfriend on the National team! Brendan Green and I have been together almost 6 years now, so being able to share our triumphs and disappointments makes it a lot easier! I miss my dog Moki a lot while on the road!

Your sister started Fast and Female. Are you involved in that too and what do you think of the work that it’s doing?

I think it’s an amazing organization and I try to participate in as many events as I can!
For more information on Fast and Female here is the website: https://www.fastandfemale.com/

I saw you and Brendan went on a tour in the North West Territory to talk to kids about biathlon. Can you tell us about it and how important is it for you to be able to do those kinds of things?

We are so lucky to get to travel the world and do something we are passionate about, so it’s really important to Brendan and I to give back to the community and try and inspire the next generation to follow their dreams!

Is there any chance of seeing you and Brendan doing the Single Mixed Relay this season or is that too much pressure on the relationship?!!!

Hmm hopefully! Depends on what our World Cup team looks like and if every Single Mixed and normal Mixed Relay are on the same day!!

Your favourite number is 23 and so is mine. When are you going to get bib23?!! Do you think it might guarantee victory for us?

Haha I sure hope so!!! 🙂

Does your rifle have a name?

No😦

Describe yourself in three words.

Caring, compassionate, stubborn (according to Brendan)

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Antholz (for the sunshine) Pokljuka (race course)
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Magdalena Neuner
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit
Favourite/best race of your career so far? My 5th place in the pursuit in Hochfilzen last year! Moving from 34th – 5th was pretty incredible!
Favourite food: Pizza!
Favourite singer/band: Taylor Swift
Favourite film: Maleficent, but I try to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once a year!
Favourite sports team: I don’t follow many team sports!
Favourite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy


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Tomas: Yes, he Kau’KAN’as!!!

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It’s fair to say that last season wasn’t the greatest for Tomas Kaukenas. The Lithuanian biathlete from Ignalina didn’t manage to score a single point on the World Cup which means he never got inside the TOP 40 in any of the races. He’s not the only one you are thinking and that’s correct but it is not a true indication of his talents.

Tomas was born on the 1st of May 1990 and made his World Cup debut at age 18 in 2009. At only 25 he has been to 4 World Championships and also to the Olympics in Sochi. In fact he performed really well in Sochi and managed a trio of respectable results. He finished 47th in the Sprint and improved that to 40th in the Pursuit. It was in the the Individual that he produced his best result however finishing in 23rd place.

His personal best on the World Cup was a 22nd place finish in the Pursuit race in Kontiolahti in season 2013/14. That year he finished 58th in the Total Score with 62 points. Strangely enough that was exactly the same score as he got when finishing in 63rd position overall the year before. His personal best finish from the World Championships just happens to be a 22nd place in the Sprint from Nove Mesto in 2013.

So as you can see apart from being a numerical oddity he is also a very good biathlete which makes his performances last year a bit of an enigma. Lithuania is not one of the biggest biathlon nations and so therefore doesn’t have the money to compete with some of the other teams when trying to identify and bring through young talent. However they seem to have done that with Kaukenas and so hopefully last year was just a little slip from him and he will come back stronger next season.

With the addition of the Single Mixed Relay to the biathlon schedule hopefully he will have a chance to showcase his talents and maybe get a few points for the Lithuanian team. He has the skill to break into the TOP 20 if he can regain his form. If he can recreate his performances from 2013 and 2014 he will easily make the TOP 40 and maybe even score more than the 62 points he got in those 2 seasons!

You could also argue that the colour of last year’s Lithuanian ski suit may have mean that Tomas didn’t want to be seen and that could be the reason for his disappearance from the TOP 40 last season!! Joking aside it would be great to see him get back to his best as it’s always good to see biathletes from different countries doing well. Their neighbour’s Latvia have Andrejs Rastorgujevs to inspire them and it would be nice of Tomas could do the same sort of thing for Lithuania. Can he do that this coming season? Yes he Kau’KAN’as!!

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SMR: The reaction is Mixed!

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Last season saw the first ever Single Mixed Relay on the World Cup. The format has been tested before and we have the World Team Challenge in Germany between Christmas and New Year but this was the first time that it was an official World Cup event and worth points to the competing nations. In this article I wanted to review just how that went by exploring the purpose of the event and how successful it was.

Firstly though we need to understand exactly what the Single Mixed Relay is. Two biathletes from each country, one male and one female, form a team to take part in the relay. It is raced over a distance of 6km for the women and 7.5km for the men. It is very similar to the Mixed Relay where the biathletes each shoot in the prone and standing position before handing over to their partner. The penalty loop is shorter in this race at only 75 metres. The race is started by the women and finished by the men. The women will do 4 laps in the race and the men 5 as they must complete a whole lap after the final shoot.

So what is the purpose of this new race? It is the first new event to be added to the World Cup since the Mixed Relay was introduced in 2003. There are several different reasons why it has now been included as an event. The first is simply that it adds something new for the spectators and is a short and exciting race. The World Team Challenge has always been very entertaining to watch and now we can enjoy that excitement on the World Cup too. The second reason was, to quote IBU Race Director for the World Cup Borut Nunar, “to present one more team event where nations with only one good male and female athlete could have a strong chance for top rankings”. In other words to give some of the smaller teams a chance to get more Nation’s Cup points.

The first event was held in Nove Mesto and was won by Russia with a team of Volkov and Romanova. Second was Norway with Olsbu and L’Abee Lund and in third came the Ukraine with Dzhyma and Tyshchenko. The smaller teams had mixed fortunes. Japan did really well finishing 10th but Lithuania were 19th and Great Britain were 20th. Estonia didn’t enter a team, neither did Italy or The Netherlands.

Why was this? Well mainly because the event was scheduled on the same day as the Mixed Relay! The small teams don’t have enough biathletes to compete in both relays on the same day and in fact Nerys Jones and Kevin Kane of Great Britain and Fuyuko Suzuki of Japan were forced to compete in both events. So instead of being an event to help the smaller nations it actually became a hindrance! The teams prioritised the Mixed Relay and so couldn’t use the opportunity to gain any extra ranking points.

In the end it seemed to be more of a useful event for the top nations. It gave their biathletes that couldn’t get into the Mixed Relay team the chance to have a race and get even more ranking points for the Nation’s Cup. As we saw Russia won and Norway who were second went on to win the Mixed Relay later in the day. The problem lies in the scheduling of the event. If you can’t have it on the same day as the other relays though, when can you have it?

Well it wouldn’t be possible on the same day as the Sprint or the Individual as nearly all of the biathletes compete in these. That leaves the same day as a Pursuit or a Mass Start where just the TOP 60 or 30 biathletes take part. That would seem to be a better solution but then you have the issue of the tracks. That would mean 3 races in one day on the tracks and as we have seen in the last couple of years the venues are having difficulty providing good tracks because of the lack of snow and 3 races in a short space of time wouldn’t help the skiing conditions. Ideally the Single Mixed Relay would take place on a day with no other races but then it doesn’t last as long as the other relays and so might not be value for money for the spectators.

Overall the Single Mixed Relay serves the first purpose very well. It is new and exciting and something a bit different for fans and biathletes. The second purpose of helping countries gain more ranking points has yet to be seen. We have 2 Single Mixed Relays on the calendar this season in Oestersund and Canmore which are both scheduled on the same day as the Mixed Relays again. The strength of the big teams and scheduling problems mean that it won’t help the smaller teams much to improve their ranking. It is the same with all sports though. The bigger, richer teams will always have more money and be more successful than the smaller ones. Having said all of this we have only had one official race so far!! There is plenty of time to see just how well the event progresses over the next few seasons. We like new things in biathlon but in regards to this relay the reaction is Mixed!

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Federico Fontana: The Interview!

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Federico Fontana is a ski and wax technician from Frassinoro in Italy. He has been working in biathlon for 4 years firstly with the Polish Team, then Great Britain and has just taken a new job with US biathlon. He currently lives in Germany but is still involved in the Frassinoro Summer Biathlon Festival. Apparently his nickname in biathlon is “Helmut” but we are not allowed to know why!!:-)

You can follow Federico on Twitter: @fedefontana82

How did you become a wax tech? Are you just a frustrated athlete or do you prefer the equipment/technical side?

A nice question..well I wasn’t like that, I was a cross country skier but after the junior category I decided I wasn’t good enough….or the results did it for me! I started to ski when I was around one year old (in my dad’s child backpack). In Frassinoro, my town, you don’t have any choice but to try to be a cross country skier so the passion for my sport is inside.

After my short career as an athlete I started all the steps to make it my profession first becoming a ski teacher then a 2nd level cross country and biathlon trainer with the dream to work at the top in the World Cup. An important role in that was played by my “GURU” Gianluca Marcolini,one of the best wax techs in the world, who was also my former coach and he gave me the motivation to achieve my goals and the biggest help to learn about wax and skis. He has always been my role model in that and with him my first ski teacher,a legend in Italian cross country skiing history, Leonello Biondini, president of my ski club, a dedicated person that loves the sport more than everything. He taught us to work hard and do it with passion and love.
I can never thank Gianluca and Leonello enough for what they gave me in my career.

After all my courses I worked for several years with my ski club coaching and waxing,then with the Emilia Romagna regional team (my region). Then in 2011 the opportunity came… I received a phone call from a person who at that time turned out to be an other important person in my life…Bruno Maddalin, asking me if I would like to work with him with the Polish team…the answer was easy:let’s do it!Two years with Bruno were perfect,if Gianluca was and is still my guru and my role model and one of my best friends,Bruno taught me so much,a great man,and very good friend now. The rest is history and I have more goals and hopefully a long career to come.

You just got a new job working for the US Team. How is it going so far?

Yes the contract with the US I can say is a big step forward for me, a huge injection of motivation and desire to do a great job.
After two years with Poland and one season with the British Team as main wax tech, which gave me a big opportunity to improve myself taking decisions and organizing a working system, the time came and I accepted without hesitation the offer from the US.
After the first months of work I’m really satisfied, it is a great team, hard working and really well organised….and other than that a really tight group of positive and friendly people, that always helps towards working for a good result.
We will show you next season what we can do!!!

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

A nice question!….well I had… but I prefer not to mention it or describe it! Not good for kids but I just suggest you should always wash your hands after powder application even if it is only to go to the washroom 😉
Biathlon23 is very grateful to Federico for not going into detail here. You can use your imagination!!!

What advice would you give to someone who is learning to wax skis?

There are a lot of suggestions but the best and this is what someone said to me, and I chose to make it my motto is : in our job nothing is written, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can learn everything from the label of a powder bottle, don’t be afraid to try or to do crazy applications that don’t seem logical. Behind these things you can find the pot of gold!

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What are the best and worst things about being a wax tech?

Everyday I put everything into my job so as a person I remember everything, the good and bad things and I try to learn from all of it…also in the bad days you must learn a lesson and especially in this you must find the reason.
For sure when you have a good result and everybody is glad it is nicer, but you can find good things also when the skis are not perfect. Basically never give up!

How much input do the biathletes have when you are choosing the wax for the skis? Who makes the final decision?

For the wax athletes have nothing to do it is all in our hands. We work with them for the choice of the skis this of course, and it works like an exchange of feelings and several combinations,considering snow conditions, place, start number, weather etc…but most of the time when you and your athletes have a good connection they trust you 100% and in the end we choose for them.

Are you responsible for preparing all the skis or are you assigned to certain biathletes?

With the US I will be responsible for wax and application plus I will follow directly Susan Dunklee and our male talent Sean Doherty.
And I’m very happy for my position.

Describe your typical race weekend? What are your responsibilities, how long do you spend waxing, testing etc? Do you help on the tracks or shooting range during the race?

Oooh! Do you have enough space in the article? Just kidding! Everyday we write down a working plan schedule with time and action but basically to make it short the day can start at 8 am and finish at 8 or 9 pm.
During the race every tech has a job to do and we cover all the critical points of the race course following also the request of the coaches, for example if needed we do the feeding during the individual etc.. but me for example I will be the last to leave the cabin in case the weather changes and I receive from my colleagues information from the track…and if this happens it can be panic….you must be cold enough and have the solution ready in your pocket…and you can save or rescue the performance…basically it is hard work in stressful situations.

Is the world of wax quite secretive? Do you have special formulas that you don’t want other teams to know about?

Sure I like to keep everything secret, application formulas etc….everything that we develop stays in a database and only we know how we do it….we are jealous about our job!

What do you do in the summer? Roller skis don’t need wax so what do you do until the start of the new season?

In the summer we are not always on holiday, we also have a summer working schedule which means selecting skis,inventory and testing. For the rest of the time most of us have a second job. Me for example I work as a “pizzaiolo”(pizza baker) and cook helper in an Italian restaurant here in Germany! Cooking is one of my passions….these Italians. …pasta pizza e mandolino!!!

You are involved in the Frassinoro summer biathlon festival. Can you tell me something about it and why biathlon is so popular in such a small place?

This is something I’m really proud of! As I said we are a huge cross country center with a big tradition and good athletes in our history, but Frassinoro being a town of 700 people is funny because it seems like we have some genetics to be wax techs. Right now three of us work on the World Cup and in total there have been 6. The passion for biathlon grew up from me and another 3 or 4 guys, first going to Ruhpolding to watch the World Cup, and it was love at first sight. Day by day the group became bigger and bigger and the trips for the events more and more. Now it’s one of the largest fan clubs in Italy – The Frassinoro Biathlon Friends.

In Frassinoro we are stubborn and when we decide to do something we do it, typical of mountain people and the idea to bring an event home was born during a Saturday night aperitivo. We try to do as much as we can and I really want to make it clear that it is all volunteering, with help from sponsors and all done by ourselves. Now we showed to the institution that we are serious and we presented a project for a summer biathlon center which will complete the sport and touristic offers that we already give for the winter with an amazing cross country center also in the summer. They like it and the first installment of financing is approved!
It is worth it to visit our mountains even if they are not The Alps. They are amazing and Frassinoro is a wonderful place to do sport, relax and enjoy the typical friendly Italian lifestyle!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Ruhpolding most for the atmosphere
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Past:Ole Einar….ok well he is still a present athlete (joking)
Present: my girlfriend….;-)
(Megan Heinicke)
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit
Favourite wax tech: Gianluca Marcolini
Favourite food: pasta and pizza
Favourite singer/band: Rod Stewart
Favourite film: I’m not a movie person but I like the historical genre
Favourite sports team: USA biathlon team
Favourite TV show: The Simpsons, Hells kitchen


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Gianluca Marcolini: The Interview!

marcolini

Gianluca Marcolini from Frassinoro, Italy is one of the top ski technicians working in biathlon at the moment. Previously he worked in cross country skiing and was ski technician to the likes of Stefania Belmondo and Dario Cologna. In 2013 he switched to biathlon to work with the Russian team in the run up to and during the Sochi Olympics. In 2014 he took up a position with the Norwegian team and he kindly took some time to talk to me about his job.

You can follow Gianluca on Twitter: @marcolinigluca

How did you become a ski technician? Are you just a frustrated athlete or do you prefer the equipment/technical side?

I’ve always been a lover of ski wax and skis as a child, I was an athlete as a young man but always with the passion of a ski technician.

You currently work for Norway. How does an Italian gets a job waxing for the Norwegians?

I work for Norway and I’m proud to work for them. It is the most I can ask, a dream come true. I consider myself privileged to have the honour to work for the number 1 nation in the world.

Have you ever had waxidents (accidents with wax)?

I’ve never had problems with my work, I have always tried to use the maximum precautions.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to be a ski technician?

The advice I could give to a person who wants to start the job of ski/wax tech is just to have a lot of passion and love the job.

What are the best and worst things about being a ski technician?

The best things are when your team wins and I’m able to do my job well. The worst thing for me doesn’t exist if you are supported by a group of wax techs, coaches, staff and athletes with whom you can talk openly, even when you are wrong, to try to find the mistake because that’s the only way you can grow positively.

How much input do biathletes have when choosing wax for skis? Who makes the final decision?

I think it’s important to have a good feeling with the athletes when testing skis both in training and before the race. The final decision for the selection of cross-country skis is taken between the ski technician and the athlete, but many times it takes just the ski tech to choose the skis and the products to be used on the racing skis.

Are you responsible for preparing all the skis or are you assigned to certain biathletes?

I mainly follow three athletes, Johannes Bø, Tarjei Bø and Synnøve Solemdal, but the whole group of ski technicians work together in harmony and help each other.

Describe your typical race weekend? What are your responsibilities, how much time do you spend waxing, tests, etc.?

I do not help on the tracks or shooting range during the race. I think the hours we spend in the ski room are already a lot. There is no timetable to start and finish it’s just when you think you’ve achieved the result you wanted. I sometimes go to help the coaches on track to give supplies to athletes.

Is the world of wax quite secretive? Do you have special formulas that you don’t want other teams to know about?

I try to do my work based on my experience and my professionalism. If I have any product or solution that I feel is good I want only my team using it and I don’t want it to be disclosed to the other teams.

What do you do in summer? Roller skis don’t need wax so what to do until the start of the new season?

In summer I talk with the ski companies, I go to the companies to research and test new skis for next season to try to always have the top skis.

The Italian biathlon team is doing really well right now. Why do you think that is?

I think that the Italian team is working very well both on shooting and on their physical abilities. When the Italians are strong in the race I’m happy, but I’m much happier when the Norwegians win.

Quick fire questions:

Favourite track biathlon: Holmenkollen
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Johannes Bo
Favorite event: (sprint, pursuit, etc.): all of them
Favourite Ski Tech: all of them
Favorite food: Pizza
Favourite singer/band: U2
Favorite Movie: Fast and Furious 6
Favorite team sport: cycling
Favourite TV show: quark

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