China is on SONG!

song

There are over a billion people in China. One of them is a biathlete. Chaoqing Song is China’s best female biathlete making her one in a billion! OK so I exaggerate there is in fact more than one Chinese biathlete but it sounded good, didn’t it! It’s fair to say that biathlon is not a popular sport in China but it has still managed to produce some really good biathletes.

Chaoqing Song was born on the 21st of March 1991 and has been competing in biathlon since 2005. She has had an inconsistent sort of career on the World Cup so far. Her best ever result came in season 2009/10 where she finished an excellent 5th in the Oestersund Sprint race. In fact that season was fantastic for Song as she managed to finish eight times in the TOP 25 and meant that she finished 34th in the Total Score that season. A quite incredible result for an 18 year old as she was at the time.

That was not her only success that year however. In February 2009 she won gold at the Winter Universiade at home in China. She crossed the line first in the Women’s Mass Start to win China’s first ever Winter Universiade biathlon gold medal beating some very good Russian biathletes along the way.

Since then however Song has lost her way a little. She has competed in 2 Olympic Games for China with her best result coming back in Vancouver, a 32nd place finish in the Sprint. Last season however she showed glimpses of her old self. She came in 10th in the Antholz Pursuit race which was her highest place finish since that 5th place in Oestersund 2009. She made up an amazing 20 places starting from 30th and shooting clean to take 10th beating the likes of Bescond, Wierer, Brunet and Flatland to name but a few.

She has fluctuated between the World Cup and the IBU Cup for a few seasons now but hopefully that result from Antholz can boost her confidence and help her to improve her performances for next season. She has proven that she is a good biathlete and has achieved some positive results. She just needs to add some consistency because she can shoot really well when she is in the mood.

China also have some other strong female biathletes coming through the ranks, like Zhang Yan, Tang Jialin (who just won 2 bronze medals in the Summer Championships in Tyumen) and Song Na who all went to Sochi, which can help to push Chaoqing to up her game. I would love to see her in the TOP 10 again next season and back in the TOP 40 more often as it would be a great boost for her and for biathlon in China. Let’s hope that Chaoqing is back on SONG soon!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

A’Eder the pack!

eder

So if your name was Simon what would your potential nicknames be? How about Si, or Simo or maybe just plain Simple! For some reason Austria’s Simon Eder’s nickname is Sam!! It has obviously stuck as he uses it as the name of his website too: http://www.edersam.com.

Sam or as I like to call him Simon (mainly because it’s his name!) was born in Zell am See on the 23rd of February 1983. His father Alfred Eder was also a biathlete and took part in 6 Winter Olympic Games. Simon has only been to 2 so far so if my Maths is correct that makes his Dad 3 times better than him!!:-) Luckily for Simon his Dad is now also his coach.

Last season was probably his best ever. He won a race on the World Cup for the first time since he claimed his first ever victory in 2008/09. A brilliant end to the season saw him win the Oslo Pursuit to add to his win in the Mass Start in Khanty-Mansiysk from 5 years ago. He also began the season well finishing 2nd in the Oestersund Individual and he just missed out on another podium finishing 4th in the Ruhpolding Pursuit.

He ended the season in fifth place in the Total Score which is his highest finish to date mainly thanks to him coming second in both the Pursuit and Individual standings. The best result of the year obviously has to be his bronze medal from the Sochi Olympics Men’s Relay which he won with Daniel Mesotitsch, Dominik Landertinger and Christoph Sumann. The same team in fact who won silver in Vancouver in 2010 in the same event. He has also finished 4th twice at the Olympics which is the worst position to finish in. He was 4th in the Vancouver Pursuit and 4th in the Individual in Sochi.

He has had quite a successful Olympic career so far but has done less well when it comes to the World Championships. He has competed in 6 but his only medal came again in the relay in Pyeongchang 2009 where Austria finished second. At the age of 31 Simon must be looking to set this right in the coming season in Kontiolahti. He has plenty of experience now and if he can carry his form over from last year he will definitely be in contention to finally grab that individual medal and another relay one too.

Excitingly for us fans Simon has one of the best websites of all the biathletes. It is in German and English and best of all he has his own shop! Yes you can buy Simon Eder goodies straight from his website! He has his own range of T-shirts for men, women and children and my favourite part – he also sells accessories! You can get a mug, a backpack, a lap top case and who in the world wouldn’t want a Simon Eder pencil case! Actually if you have a biathlon fan in the family they would make great Christmas presents. It’s also nice to see biathletes be proactive in the raising of funds and giving the fans a chance to support them and buy a pencil case! (I am obsessed with the pencil case!).

The upcoming year will be an interesting one for Simon and not just in terms of T-shirt sales! He has a real chance to challenge at the very top and to claim a few more wins on the World Cup. The World Championships have to be one of his main goals and he has the ability and the experience to take medals. Let’s hope he has a great year and can finish A’Eder the pack!

 

LIke ‘Simon Eder’ on Facebook!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Veronika Vikt-ory!

vitkova

Fresh from her best ever season on the Biathlon World Cup and winning a silver medal at the Sochi Olympics Veronika Vítková is making a name for herself in the world of biathlon. Born on the 9th of December 1988 in Vrchlabí she is part of a golden era for Czech biathlon.

With teammates Ondřej Moravec, Jaroslav Soukup and Gabriela Soukalová she won silver in the Mixed Relay in Sochi to add to the bronze medal from her home World Championships in Nove Mesto in the same event. In total Czech biathletes brought home 5 medals from the Olympics in biathlon which is an amazing total for a small country up against the likes of Russia, Germany, France and Norway.

Veronika enjoyed a very successful Youth/Junior career so it shouldn’t be a surprise that she is doing so well now. She took her first gold back in 2006 winning the Individual in Presque Isle in the Youth World Championships before claiming silver 2 years later in 2008 in Ruhpolding in the World Junior Pursuit. In 2009 she won gold in the relay before going on to finish 5th in the Senior World Championships in the Pyeongchang Individual event in the same year.

She has also been quite successful on the World Cup. Her best ever result is second place which she has now achieved twice. The first time in season 2012/13 in the Oberhof Pursuit and then again last season in the Sprint race in Hochfilzen. She also finished on the podium in Ruhpolding in the Individual to take her tally to six TOP 10 finishes for the season. She came twice in the TOP 10 in Sochi, 6th in the Individual and 8th in the Mass Start, to cap off an excellent season.

All these great results meant that Veronika ended the season on 9th place in the Total Score. This was mainly down to her finishing 7th in both the Sprint and Pursuit standings and meant that she improved her Overall position from 16th the previous year to 9th.

With a new season coming up Veronika will be keen to get an excellent summer of training behind her and to improve on last season’s fantastic performances. A big target will be the World Championships in Kontiolahti where the Czech Mixed Relay team have a great chance of taking a medal if not the gold. She will also be looking to grab some individual glory there to emulate the results of her teammates from Sochi. Something she will be very eager to achieve is a first ever win on the World Cup. She has the ability to do it and she just needs to put everything together on the day and with a bit of luck she will be celebrating a Veronika Vikt-ory!

Follow Veronika on Twitter: @Verca_Vitkova
Like her Facebook page: Veronika Vítková
Check out her website: http://www.veronikavitkova.cz/

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Magic BéaTRIX!

beatrix

You could say that last season was magic for Jean Guillaume Béatrix! He won bronze in the Pursuit race in the Sochi Olympics and finished on the podium for the first time ever on the World Cup. He has been threatening to do this for a while now and has finally lived up to the promise that he showed in his Junior career. I didn’t want to say it’s about time Jean-Guillaume, but it’s about time!!

I am not suggesting he is old though. In fact Jean Guillaume is just 26 years old. He was born on the 24th of March 1988 in Saint Priest, France and he is the same age as Martin Fourcade, Simon Schempp and Tarjei Boe to name a few. In fact competing with these guys goes some way to explaining why it has taken a while for him to reach the podium. It is extremely difficult to make it into the TOP 3 nowadays with the vast amount of talent in men’s biathlon both old and new.

Between learning to play the piano and the guitar(show off!) Jean Guillaume had a successful career at Youth and Junior level. He won 2 bronze medals in the 2007 Youth World Championships in the Individual and the Relay before going on to win gold in the Individual the next year in the Junior World Championships. Like a lot of biathletes he found the transition to the Senior level more demanding and it is in the last few years that he has really shown what a classy biathlete he is.

He helped the French Men’s Relay team to consecutive silver medals in the World Championships in 2012 and 2013 before claiming individual glory in the Olympic Games. He came from 14th place to win his bronze medal and also did well in the Individual race finishing 6th. He arrived at the Olympics fresh from his first appearance on a World Cup podium in Antholz where he came second in the Pursuit. Not a bad couple of months!

In fact his whole season was pretty good. He matched his position the Total Score from the previous season finishing 13th overall. His best result came in the Mass Start standings where he came 6th which is a good indication of someone who can compete under pressure. He has improved his shooting a lot and I think this has been the real difference in his results. He has always been a fast skier and can compete with the top guys but his shooting has sometimes let him down. If he can continue his progress I am sure a trip to the top step of the podium is not far away.

Of course Jean Guillaume is also known for his musical skills as well as biathlon. He is part of the “biathlon band” that includes Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Former member JP Le Guellec has now retired so there is a place up for grabs. They were joined for their version of Venus by Larisa Nedbaeva on violin but I do play a pretty mean triangle and tambourine myself if required!:-)

So I am sure that Jean Guillaume will be performing another song next season with the band but what can we expect from his performances on the track? Well he has to be targeting a first win on the World Cup and I am pretty confident he will get it. Improving on 13th in the Total Score should also be achievable. The World Championships could provide him with more chances for medals and of course France are guaranteed silver in the Men’s Relay because that’s where they always finish but he could also take an individual medal or two. Great skiing and shooting are obviously the key to success but if he can add some Magic BéaTRIX it could see him ski away with a gold!

You can like Jean-Guillaume’s Facebook page : Jean-Guillaume Beatrix – Officiel

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Slam Dunk-lee!

dunklee

With a father and an uncle who were both Winter Olympians in cross-country skiing it’s no wonder that America’s Susan Dunklee could ski by the age of 2! It did however take her another 20 years before she learned how to shoot! Born on the 13th of February 1986 Susan Dunklee became the first female America biathlete to get on the podium since 1994. She matched the efforts of Joan Smith who also made a second place finish.

Originally an All American cross-country skier like her father and uncle before her Susan was a bit of a late comer to the world of biathlon. Whilst in her final year at Dartmouth College she received an email from the then head of biathlon development, James Upham, who invited her to a biathlon training camp. He offered her the chance to learn to shoot in return for a commitment to pursue biathlon instead of cross-country.

This proved to be a great decision on both sides. With an excellent background in skiing, her father Stan Dunklee competed in the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics following his brother and Susan’s uncle Everett Dunklee who competed in 1972, and a total immersion course in shooting Susan has gone on to become an excellent biathlete.

Last season was her best yet but she had already shown signs of what was to come. In her debut season on the World Cup she finished a mightily impressive 5th in the World Championships Individual in Ruhpolding which equalled the best ever result by an American woman. She also got a 9th and 10th place finish that season in the Pursuit and Sprint in Khanty-Mansiysk. The following year in 2012/13 she placed once in the TOP 10 in the Olympic warm up in Sochi.

Last season however exceeded expectations with a first ever podium coming in the last round in Oslo which eclipsed her 4th place in Annecy and meant a total of seven TOP 10 finishes for the year. In her first Olympics in Sochi she finished 11th in the Mass Start and was part of a good performance from the Women’s Relay team who came in 7th and the Mixed Relay team who were 8th.

This year Susan has to be in contention to take her first ever victory on the World Cup. No America woman has ever won a World Cup race and so if she gets it she will be making history for US biathlon (no pressure or anything!!!). It will be a difficult thing to achieve however considering the strength of the female competitors but it has to be one of her goals for the season.

Another will be to take a medal in Kontiolahti in the World Championships. She is capable of getting an individual medal but will also make up a pretty strong Mixed Relay team with the likes of Tim Burke, Hannah Dreissigacker and Lowell Bailey and with a great performance and some luck they have a decent chance of a medal. I hope she can make history and win a race because it will be a huge Slam Dunk-lee for the US biathlon programme who are doing a great job!

Follow @SusanDunklee on Twitter!
Like ‘Susan Dunklee’ on Facebook!
Check out her blog: susandunklee.wordpress.com


Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter!Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Andrejs Rastorgu-YEAH!!!

rastorgujevs

Contrary to popular belief Andrejs Rastorgujevs is just one person! The ‘s’ at the end of both names is just because he comes from Latvia and not because he is plural! I am a huge fan of Rastorgujevs but he managed to drive me mad last season. He was in a winning position so many times and threw a podium away on the final shoot every time. I was willing him in every race to get there but he just missed out.

Apart from that he actually had a fantastic season and made some amazing progress! He finished a career best 4th in the Pursuit in Oberhof (which really led to my desperation to see him on the podium!). He got another seven TOP 10 finishes which really made it an outstanding season for him.

Andrejs Rastorgujevs was born on the 27th of May 1988 in Alūksne, Latvia and is a member of the army as well as being a biathlete. His debut on the World Cup in the 2009/10 season in Oestersund was quite a memorable one – for all the wrong reasons! He finished 47th in the Sprint which you would agree is a pretty impressive first race but only if you finish in the correct lane! He was unfortunately disqualified. However this didn’t stop him heading to Vancouver to compete in his first Olympics where his best finish was 50th in the Sprint. In fact it underlies his massive improvement that his best finish in Sochi was 9th in the Pursuit and his worst result was just 33rd in the Individual.

Andrejs has competed many times in the European Championships where he continued to infuriate me by finishing 5th and 4th in many events over several years!;-). However it all came good in Nove Mesto 2014 and he won gold in the Individual and bronze in the Sprint. This showed that he does have the nerve to handle the pressure in important races and hopefully he can bring that to the World Cup this December.

It’s a really important season coming up for Andrejs. He has got everything he needs to be able to win a race on the World Cup. He has the ski speed to match any of the top men and he is also a consistent shooter. It is just that final shoot he needs to work on and show that he can cope with the pressure of leading a race and being chased down by the other guys. I am pretty confident he can do it and make it on to the podium this season if not all the way up to the top step. Actually he better do it for my sanity and blood pressure watching him and so I can finally shout congratulations Andrejs Rastorgu-YEAH!!!

Check out his website: andrejsrastorgujevs.com

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

 

Kuzmina: A fast Slo Russian?

kuzmina

Confused? You should be! Anastasiya Vladimirovna Kuzmina is a complicated lady. She was born in and competed for Russia. She is Anton Shipulin’s big sister. She is married to an Israeli cross country skier. She now lives in and competes for Slovakia. Have you got all that? Good! I would never say that Kuzmina is lazy but she does like a short race! She is double Olympic gold medallist in the Sprint event. She produced a remarkable defence of her title in Sochi and to do it in what was her home games, even though she doesn’t compete for Russia anymore, must have been an amazing feeling for her.

It was pretty amazing for us too as she hadn’t really shown much form on the World Cup leading up to the games but like the wily competitor that she is, she timed her form beautifully. However she couldn’t repeat her double medal winning performance from Vancouver where she followed up Sprint gold with Pursuit silver. She finished 6th in the Sochi Pursuit but she was up against Darya Domracheva who went on to win the 3 remaining golds.

Anastasiya was born on the 28th of August 1984 in Tyumen, Russia. She originally competed for Russia and had a pretty successful Junior career in the team. She won 7 medals in the Junior World Championships, 2 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze. After getting married and having a son she changed allegiance to compete for Slovakia in 2008 so that her son could go to training camps with her. As her husband is also her skiing coach it made sense for them to be together as a family and meant she could continue to compete.

It proved a good decision for her as she has made history for her new country. She was the first ever woman representing Slovakia to win an Olympic gold medal. This led to her rightly winning the 2010 Slovak Athlete of the Year and for the last 5 years she has been named Queen of the Slovak Biathlon Track! A rhyming award is always the best one to win!

Kuzmina turns 30 this summer and so is now one of the most experienced athletes on the World Cup after the retirements of the likes of Henkel and Berger. She will be looking to improve on her World Cup results from last season and get back on the podium on a more regular basis. In Kontiolahti she will surely want to add to her 2 World Championship medals. Don’t bet against her winning the Sprint again as she is a fast, Slo Russian!

Like ‘Anastasiya Kuzmina’ on Facebook. Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!