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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I love Lucy!

glanville

Even as the youngest female competitor at the Sochi Olympics and only the third Australian woman ever to represent her country at the Games Lucy Glanville is probably still not a name people are very familiar with. Australia isn’t the first country that springs to mind when you think of biathlon but it actually has a thriving scene. Obviously with the weather they have it’s hard to convince people to take up a winter sport but they do get snow especially in the ironically named “Hotham”.

Lucy is one of a small band of Australians making a name for themselves in biathlon. Along with Alex Almoukov, Dyllan Harmer and Daniel Walker they are doing a great job representing a country that is not a typical winter sports competitor. The Australians are sports mad though and you know no matter what the sport they will always give it their all.

Lucy was born on the 16th of October 1994 and currently lives in Sydney where she is studying a degree in Art History at Macquarie University majoring in Russian studies. She is a clever one that Glanville as she spends a lot of time in Russia, as that is where the team trains in the summer, so she can combine biathlon and her education.

She was the first female biathlete from Australia to go to an Olympics since Nagano 1998. So you can see how hard it is for Australians to compete in biathlon but also how well Lucy is doing to have qualified aged only 19. Her best finish in Sochi was 78th in the Individual and she came 82nd in the Sprint. She has also competed at 2 Senior World Championships in Nove Mesto and Ruhpolding as well as in the Youth/Junior World Championships.

So as the new season approaches what might we see from Lucy this year. Well like all of the smaller biathlon nations funding is hard to come by and it’s especially important for Australians. Travel and accomodation eats up a lot of their money as they have to stay in Europe for an extended period to compete. It’s not like they can pop home for the weekend! Like many others Lucy will probably spend her time between the IBU Cup and the World Cup. Hopefully she can make more appearances on the World Cup and can improve on her best finish of 78th from Sochi.

A push into the TOP 60 would be excellent progress for the youngster and some better results on the IBU cup are achievable. Mostly it is gaining experience that will help her in the future and an appearance at the World Championships in Kontiolahti can only add to this. She is of course still eligible for the Junior World Championships and will be looking to do well in Raubichi, Belarus. Speaking of young biathletes there are a couple of other girls from Australia, Sabrina Howell and Gabriele Hawkins, who in the future might give Australia the chance to compete in the relays and give Lucy a chance to enter more races.

Continual improvement is all that we want to see from Lucy in the up coming season. It’s a difficult sport and it’s fiercely competitive but she has the talent and determination to do well. You have to respect her for coming to Europe to compete and it also means she can add a few dollars to her lessons(being a professional biathlete!) as she is also a qualified cross-country ski coach! So if you Aussies want a lesson or two you know who to ask! For Lucy it will be another tough season but she is doing a great job which is why I love Lucy and you should too!:-)

Have a look at Lucy’s website: http://lucyglanville.com.au/

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Login on to Loginov!

loginov

Alexander Loginov is biathlon’s new young hot shot. Along with Johannes Thingnes Boe he is the future of men’s biathlon. The two of them have brought their Junior rivalry up into the Senior ranks. It will be very interesting to see how the two of them do after pretty successful debut seasons.

Alexander Viktorovich Loginov was born in Saratov, a major port on the Volga River in Russia on the 31st of January 1992. He had a quite astonishing Junior Career winning 4 gold medals and 7 bronze across 4 years. In 2010 in Torsby at 18 he won gold as part of the relay team. The following year in Nove Mesto he helped defend that title and took two bronze medals finishing third in both the Sprint and Pursuit. He won another 3 bronze medals in 2012 in Kontiolahti in the Sprint, Individual and Relay before winning 2 gold and 2 bronze in Obertilliach.

In the meantime he was also winning more medals in the European Championships. In 2012 in Brezno-Osrblie he was first in the Individual and Pursuit and second in the Sprint and Mixed Relay. Then in 2013 in Bansko he took gold in the Sprint, Pursuit and Individual. Not a bad way to start your career in biathlon!

He made his long awaited debut on the World Cup in the 2012/13 season in Holmenkollen and started with a bang! He came 5th in the Sprint and 3rd in the Pursuit getting his first podium and also came 15th in the Mass Start just for good measure. He also helped himself to a 12th place in the Sprint in Sochi and two wins with the Relay team in Annecy and again in Sochi. A pretty decent debut year!

He had a good full season on the World Cup last year. Although not making the same kind of impact as old rival Johannes Boe, who won five races, he had a solid if not spectacular season. He made 2 appearances on the podium both in second place, one in the Sprint in Kontiolahti and one in the Holmenkollen Pursuit. He also made the Top 15 another six times and made one appearance at his home Olympic Games in Sochi coming 30th in the Individual.

Alexander has had a really good biathlon career up to now. He has made a great transition into Senior biathlon and if he doesn’t win a race next season I will be very surprised. I think the more established biathletes will need to watch out for him and I am hoping he can continue his battles with Boe the younger from their Junior days. He will also be a threat at the World Championships and the more experience he gets at the top level the more dangerous he will be. It won’t be long before you are all Login on to Loginov!

Update: Since writing this article Loginov has had a positive sample for doping dating from November 2013 but only tested in November 2014.

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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!

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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!

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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/

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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

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