Johanna Talihärm: The Interview!

Talihärm

Johanna Talihärm is an Estonian biathlete who was born on the 27th of June 1993 in Tallinn. She is a part of the Estonian Women’s Relay Team and last season she broke into the TOP 40 on the World Cup. She has a brother who is also a biathlete. Next season she will be trying to get into that TOP 40 more often and score some more points if she can sort out her prone shooting!

Blog:http://www.johannablogi.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: @johannataliharm
Facebook: Estonian Fantastic Four in the biathlon world

How popular is biathlon in Estonia?

Biathlon used to be in the shadow of cross county skiing which is “the national sport” in Estonia, but we are gaining popularity now.
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You achieved your best career result last season at the World Championships in Kontiolahti coming 39th in the Sprint in difficult conditions. How good did that feel and how much confidence has it given you for next season?

I had a rough start for the 2014/15 season. Then I started to feel better, gained energy and confidence during the season and was finally prepared to give my best in the World Championships. After 3 penalties in prone I thought the race is over, but I got myself together again and pushed as hard as I could and cleaned the standing. I never thought I had a chance for points with 3(!!!) penalties, I was super happy that I finally reached the top 40 goal I had had for so long. It showed me how much more is possible with clean shooting.

The Estonian Women’s Team seem to be very good friends. How nice is it to travel and compete in such a good atmosphere?

I don’t even want to imagine how hard and boring it would be if we didn’t get along so well. I feel so lucky to be able to call my teammates my best friends. It is great to share the emotions, no matter if they are good or bad with them immediately. To explore the world with them! And of course to race in the same relay team!

What are your plans for summer training?

We have a new team coach with whom I personally have worked since last August. We’re mostly training in Otepää, where we have an amazing center with a 6km rollerski track with two shooting ranges.

What are your goals for next season?

To improve technique and balance, to hit more targets and shoot faster.

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

It depends on what time the race starts. Usually our races are in the afternoon so I like to sleep longer, have breakfast, then go for a run and have an light lunch and get ready to go to the stadium. I eat “normal food” but avoid milk products because they don’t suit my stomach.

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 am quite a slow shooter, and also much worse in prone than standing. Ski wise I want to improve balance and technique.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

I usually wear my favorite pieces of clothing, but just because they are the most comfortable. Also I have a routine of warm up exercises, which I do every time before the start.

How difficult is it to keep up with the WADA rules for doping? Is it hard to keep track of all your food, supplements and medicines etc?

It comes with time, and now we have a database made by the Estonian anti-doping where we can search for all the medicines sold in Estonia to see if they are allowed or not.

I don’t want to criticize but you are Johanna and your brother is called Johan which shows a lack of imagination by your parents!!!;-) Does this ever cause any confusion because your names are so similar?

You are not the first one to ask this question. Both Johan and Johanna are very common names in Estonia and Scandinavia so usually there is no problem. Our parents just wanted them to be similar for both siblings and international.

Does your rifle have a name?

I usually call it “rifle” or “gun” 🙂

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling, independent, lively.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Oslo
Favourite biathlete (past or present):The whole biathlon family is super friendly and fun, it would be a shame to pick just one.
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit and relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? First ever clean shooting at the Sochi Olympics
Favourite food: chocolate
Favourite singer/band: can change daily
Favourite film: 1+1 (The Intouchables)
Favourite TV show: news or any other show that is not read in some language that I can’t understand.

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Iliev: The Bullet from Bulgaria!

iliev

I love a surprise, don’t you? One of last season’s biggest surprises came from Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev. He enjoyed his best season ever and turned in some very impressive performances. It’s always great to see biathletes from the so-called smaller nations doing well and fighting at the top with the big boys! Vladimir was born in Troyan, Bulgaria on the 17th of March 1987 and has been competing on the international stage since 2004.

We first noticed him way back in 2007 when he won his first medal in the Junior Summer World Championships in Otepaa. He took bronze in the 10km Sprint and proved that he is very good on the roller skis by winning the bronze in the Senior Summer World Championships in Nove Mesto in 2011 in the same event. He was also part of the Bulgarian Team who won a bronze medal in the Mixed Relay at the 2011 Universiade in Erzurum.

These achievements may not have made big headlines in biathlon but are significant steps for someone who doesn’t have the money and support behind them like the big teams do. He was making quiet progress on the World Cup up until last year with his best overall finish being 44th in the Total Score. He has taken part in 6 World Championships and 2 Olympic Games which has given him a wealth of experience which is now being put to good use.

Before last season Vladimir had only finished in the Top 20 three times, a 6th place in Pokljuka in 2012/13, an 11th place in the Ruhpolding Individual in 2011/12 and a 15th place in the Antholz Pursuit in 2013/14. Now he can boast 9 Top 20 finishes in a single season and two Top 10 finishes in the World Championships which were his best results by far in that competition. All of these excellent results meant that he finished a fantastic 25th in the Total Score.

So what has brought about this change in Iliev? Well he has always been a consistently good shot. He might not be the fastest shooter but he doesn’t miss a lot of targets. The thing that has improved however is his ski speed. He is now skiing faster and that coupled with his shooting skills has meant that he has propelled himself into the Top 20 biathletes more often and is scoring good points. He isn’t the only one however as his teammate Krasimir Anev also had a successful season. When Bulgarian biathlon legend Vladimir Velickov says “The boys in Bulgarian biathlon are very good” then you know they are doing something right!

The highlight of Iliev’s season was probably winning a medal in the European Championships in Oteppaa the scene of his first Junior medal. Again it was bronze but this time came in the 20km Individual race and is a big step in his career. Next season will be a crucial one for Iliev. He must continue his progress and not slip backwards which can happen very easily. He has to be aiming for the Top 5 and a podium is not out of the question. An improvement on 25th in the Total Score would be a success and a good showing in the World Championships in Oslo must also be on his agenda. Whatever happens in the coming season he is doing a fantastic job representing his country and making people sit up and take notice of Bulgarian biathlon. If he manages to improve his ski speed and shooting even more it will be a good season for the Bullet from Bulgaria!

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Juliya Dzhyma: Uk’raining’ Talent!

dzyhma

Do you remember when you were young and your father made you do biathlon and it made you cry? No? Well that’s why you are not an Olympic gold medallist and Juliya Dzyhma is! In fact both her parents were biathletes and her father, Valentin Dzyhma, competed briefly on the World Cup for the USSR so she had the correct genes for it but she did need some encouragement to take up the sport. After a few days of tears she eventually liked biathlon!

She was also sent to try many different activities when she was a child. At dance lessons her teacher told her she danced like bear! She wasn’t good at singing or gymnastics either but a pottery class led her on to her other passion away from biathlon which is painting. In fact Juliya has even won some national competitions in her home country of Ukraine!

Her father won though as she decided to concentrate on biathlon and although she was a talented shot from early on she did have more trouble learning to ski. However that is all in the past. Nowadays Juliya is a top biathlete. Born in Kiev on the 19th of September 1990 she has been competing on the World Cup since season 2011/12 but really made her mark in 2013.

Early that season in Hochfilzen she achieved her best result to date with a second place finish in the Pursuit race after finishing 5th in the Sprint. She followed that up with another 4 TOP 10 finishes. Obviously her biggest success came at the end of the season in Sochi at the Olympic Games. She was part of the Ukrainian Women’s Team along with Vita and Valj Semerenko and Olena Pidhrushna who won the gold medal in the Relay. It was a great team performance and a thoroughly deserved win. Juliya actually has quite a few medals from Relay competitions. She won silver in the World Championships in 2013, 3 golds and a bronze from the European Championships in 2011,2012, 2013 and 2015. Her only individual medal to date was a silver in the Sprint at the European Championships in Bansko 2013.

Last season she made a little bit of history too by being on the podium in the first ever Single Mixed Relay in Nove Mesto. She finished third alongside teammate Artem Tyshchenko. That was her only podium but she did finish in the TOP 10 another 3 times and ended the total score in 24th place. She didn’t have a good World Championships however just racing in 2 events.

On the other hand she is the only biathlete to have worn bib23 on 4 separate occasions and has gained many points for biathlete23!! Better than Olympic gold? Maybe not but it has to be a close second! She says that her hero is Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and that when she first met him she got his autograph and had a photo taken with him. If you are going to choose a role model in biathlon he is a good one to pick! Could she perhaps emulate some of his success?

Statistically she is one of the best shots on the Women’s tour. Her ski speed is not as good as the very best women but it is around the TOP 20. This means that if she can shoot well when others don’t she can get more podiums and also win races. The best chance of a maiden victory for her could come in the Individual race. Her shooting skill gives her a great chance of winning if the other fast skiers miss targets.

This season she will face some stiff competition from her own teammates. With Vita Semerenko back from injury and Olena Pidrushna coming out of retirement she will have to fight for her place in the Relay team with them and also the good young biathletes coming through like Iryna Varvynets and Yuliya Zhuravok. Hopefully Juliya can find some consistency in her performances for the coming season and she will be aiming to get into the TOP 10 on a more regular basis. She will be trying hard to get some more podiums and to take her first World Cup victory as well as looking to do well in Oslo in the World Championships. Dzhyma is lucky to be part of such a strong team where she can get experience from the older members as well as being an integral part of the team herfelf in a country that is Uk’raining’ talent!

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A long way to Malysh-GO!!!

malyshko

You would assume that Dmitry Malyshko has been on the World Cup for a long time now but in fact he only made his debut in 2011. At 28 he is reaching his prime as a biathlete and it will be a big season coming up for him. Born in Sosnovy Bor in the Leningrad region of Russia, Dmitry is now an established member of the Russian national team.

He enjoyed early success on the World Cup stage as he got his first podium in his first season with a third place finish in Kontiolahti. His second season 2012/13 was his best so far as he won twice doing the double in the Oberhof Sprint and Pursuit races. He also took two second place results that season in the Hochfilzen Pursuit and the Ruhpolding Mass Start. He narrowly missed out on a medal in the Nove Mesto World Championships coming in fourth in both the Pursuit and the Relay. Despite not getting a medal it was an impressive season for him and he finished 8th in the Total Score in only his second year on the World Cup.

Since then however his results have not been so good. Of course he was part of the relay team which won gold on home soil in the Sochi Olympic Games and it was a fantastic performance along with teammates Anton Shipulin, Alexey Volkov and Evgeny Ustyugov. Individually however the best he could do in Sochi was 20th in the Mass Start. He did get a couple of 4th place finishes on the World Cup too but no podiums.

Last season he returned to the podium once with third place in the Oberhof Mass Start but he didn’t enjoy a good World Championships in Kontiolahti with his best result there a 34th place in the Sprint. Compared to his teammate Anton Shipulin he didn’t have a successful season. As a Russian biathlete you have massive pressure on your shoulders to do well as there are a lot of other athletes in line to take your place.

Dmitry has shown however that he does have the talent to match the results of compatriot Shipulin but he seems to lack the consistency of his teammate. He seems to perform well as part of the Relay team but needs to show that form more often individually. Shipulin has been criticised for training away from the rest of the Russian team but it hasn’t done him any harm looking at last season’s performances. Maybe Malyshko could try a similar tactic as he needs to do something to help his chances. His ski speed last year was down on previous years and his shooting stats were outside of the TOP 20 men on the tour.

As a young man he looked up to biathletes such as Bjoerndalen, Poiree, Fischer and Cherezov. The consistency of Cherezov is what he should be trying to emulate. He could also take inspiration from the others in the way that they were not afraid to try different training methods, take risks and to try new things. He missed one World Cup round last season but that doesn’t account for his worst ever finish in the Total Score of 31st.

Dmitry has a big season ahead of him. If he could recapture his form of 2 years ago he will be back challenging at the front of the biathlon field. He is very capable of doing this as he is a really talented biathlete. He needs to take some inspiration from what Shipulin has achieved and have the self belief to know that he can perform at a similar level to his teammate. It’s imperative that he improves next season as places in the Russian team are very hard to keep. However I have faith that he can do it because anyone who describes their favourite food as good steak and potatoes has a long way to Malysh-GO!!!

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Marie-Gold!

dorin wc

Wow she may have competed for less than a full season but she certainly made the most of it! Before Kontiolahti she had never won a race but Marie Dorin Habert changed all that with an amazing end to last season. Born in Lyon, France Marie currently lives in Villard De Lans and is a member of Team Grenoble Isere. She started cross country skiing when she was 14 when her family moved to the mountains and she took up biathlon at age 15. She likes playing the piano and horse riding is another passion of hers. As are cherries! She is married to retired biathlete Lois Habert and they have a daughter called Adele who was born in September 2014.

That’s right her daughter was born just a few months before the biathlon season began which makes her achievements all the more remarkable. We have to start Marie’s amazing journey back in season 2013/14 when she injured her ankle while out running in Oestersund at the very first World Cup round. She slipped in some mud and missed most of the season. She did get back into training just before the Olympics in Sochi but it was far too late for her to have any chance of repeating her medal winning performances in Vancouver.

If you are good at maths you will have worked out that Marie was already pregnant while at the Olympic Games. Normally mums eat for two not compete for two! Not only did she compete however but in the final World Cup round that year she got on to the podium finishing third in the Mass Start in Oslo! A first podium for Adele! She continued to train whilst pregnant which gave her a good chance of returning for the 2014/15 season and she did so coming back in January.

Being a mum is hard enough but being a mum and a professional athlete is even more difficult. It requires time away from your baby to train and compete and it is not an easy thing to do. However it is also a huge motivation because if you are giving up time with your child it means that you are more determined not to waste that time away by doing badly. Marie always seems like a happy, fun woman but there is a steely determination behind all the smiles and this has helped her achieve her extraordinary success.

She made her comeback in Oberhof where she finished 25th in the Sprint. In Ruhpolding she improved that to 15th and was 11th in the Mass Start. In Antholz she was 19th in the Sprint race and came 5th in the Pursuit. In Nove Mesto she was 5th again in the Sprint and 15th in the Pursuit. In Oslo just before the World Championships she was 15th in the Individual and 3rd in the Sprint taking her first podium of the season. Basically since her first race of the year in Oberhof she never finished outside the TOP 25 taking two 5th places and a third place podium all after giving birth in September.

That was just the warm up though! In tough conditions in Kontiolahti she won gold in the Sprint race and followed it up with gold in the Pursuit. Not only that but she won silver in both the mixed and women’s relay races. To leave Kontiolahti with four medals was an outstanding achievement.

It’s not really a total surprise that Marie has done all these things. She does after all have 2 Olympic medals, a silver and bronze from Vancouver and she is a regular in the Top 20 on the World Cup and has often finished on the podium. Marie will be looking forward to next season immensely. She will be able to get in a whole summer of training without breaks and will be hoping to challenge Makarainen and Domracheva for the overall title as well as defending her World titles in Oslo. She certainly has the talent to do all this but she is against top opposition and will have to perform well on a consistent basis. With her sunny disposition and her smiling face she is a fans favourite, an inspiration to other female athletes and she definitely has what it takes to win more Marie-Gold*!

*Marigold is the name of a flower in English.

Marie has her own website: http://familledorin.free.fr

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2014/15!!!

awards

It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their second year! It has now taken over from the Oscars as the best awards around! As usual they are not your typical awards and there are a few new categories too. Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Who says the Americans don’t know what biathlon is?! A lot of them read the winning interview. There was strong competition from fellow American Susan Dunklee and Great Britain’s Scott Dixon but there is only one winner this year. We just can’t get Phaneuf!
Winner: Maddie Phaneuf

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:
Why does Vita Semerenko like biathlon?” ..erm I don’t know ask her!
Martin Olsbu” – sorry about that MARTE!
Emil Svendsen prince” – news to King Harald!
biathlon Musgrave” – we live in hope!
Julia Soukalova” – maybe Gabriela’s sister?!!!
feet Darya Domracheva” – I can confirm that yes she has them, 2 in fact!
Jakov Fak beard” It’s lovely but what do you need to know about it?!
Winner: “What does Tiril Eckhoff mean?” Good question!

Best Facial hair:
A hotly contested award this year. We had season long beards from the likes of Jakov Fak, Klemen Bauer and Daniel Mesotitsch and the part time beard appearance from last year’s winner Simon Fourcade. However in Oestersund we had 2 normally clean shaven contenders, in full beard Lowell Bailey and Zorro/Don Juan style from Tobias Arwidson. Just for the concept, growing and sculpting efforts and more importantly making me laugh out loud!
Winner: Tobias Arwidson.

Best earrings:
Again there were many contenders in this category. Veronika Vitkova brought the pink earrings, Gabriela Soukalova had some pretty heart shaped ones too but the winner has to be snowflakes for snowsports!
Winner: Darya Domracheva.

Nicest person in biathlon:
There are many reason why this person wins. He helps out biathlonworld.tv with all their songs and appears in almost every video (taking advantage of his kind nature obviously!), he helps the French team win relay medals, he eats Cheerios for breakfast. Most of all though he didn’t even try to punch Anton Shipulin in the face when he ruined his chances of a first win in Pokljuka! He was philosophical with a “shit happens” response! Well done!
Winner: Jean Guillaume Beatrix

Best Team Performance:

There were some great team performances this year. The amazing shooting from the Ukrainians and the fantastic Czech Women’s relay team were in contention. However after the World Championships there can only be one winner with both the Men’s and Women’s Relay teams winning gold. That is true teamwork!
Winner: Germany

Biggest improver:
His previous best result was an 8th place last year but this year he has been in the TOP 10 on six occasions and saved his best for the World Championships where he won a silver medal on his first ever trip to the podium. He then went on to Khanty Mansiysk where he won his first ever World Cup race in the Pursuit. We knew he could shoot but it turns out he can also ski as well. Obviously he has put a lot of effort into improving his skiing and it’s paid off with this award!!!
Winner: Nathan Smith

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This guy did get hurt but thankfully not too badly. He had concussion and scrapped much of his handsome face off but made a full recovery to take part in his home World Championships.For the fall on the downhill in Pokljuka the award has to go to the greatest face plant in biathlon history.
Winner: Olli Hiidensalo

Best quote in a press conference:
Erik Lesser was asked after winning the Pursuit in the World Championships what he would do with the special lock he was awarded. He couldn’t think of an answer but someone else kindly obliged saying “Erik has seen 50 Shades of Grey, he knows exactly what to do with the lock!” Ha, ha it was brilliant! Thanks.
Winner: Tarjei Boe

Best Tweeter:
There are a few candidates for this award. Tobias Arwidson is a regular tweeter of funny stuff but lately has become far too obsessed with food!;-) Martin Fourcade tweets a lot of pictures of himself and I mean A LOT! Nerys Jones likes to show everyone just how much she loves coffee. Chardine Sloof and Amanda Lightfoot often appear in each others photos on Twitter. The winner though keeps us up to date on everything. Training, eating, her sponsors, her van and sometimes even biathlon! And just about anything else you can think of!
Winner: Victoria Padial

Best Facebooker:
So again Martin Fourcade is great at keeping us up to date with everything on social media with posts almost everyday but here at Biathlon23 we think he has won enough already this year!!! The award goes to one of his fellow countrymen however. Not only do we get updates from this guy but also a short video recap complete with awesome soundtrack! I don’t know where he finds the tunes but they are always good ones!
Winner: Antonin Guigonnat

Best rifle design:
So most rifles go for the design on the stock. There are a range of fancy colours and stickers and things but one lady has taken it further. In an audacious move she has decorated the barrel with white to get a nice black and white design. We like your style!
Winner: Eva Puskarčíková

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
There are some very odd choices of rifle colour but none more so than a kind of “pea” green.
Winner: Nicole Gontier

Best ski suit:
A few options here. The Norwegians followed my advice and added a splash of colour to their suit. Great Britain had another good one. I liked the look of Finland’s too. I like that Slovenia have put some blue and white in to counteract the neon yellow. For design and colour combination which is similar in style to Slovenia but with more blue and less yellow.
Winner: Estonia

Worst ski suit:
Well France and Sweden didn’t seem to change theirs at all! Italy went from blue to red but they are all still good designs. For the colour alone which is a horribly suspicious shade of yellow.
Winner: Lithuania

Rising star:
I had to give this one to a youngster who has made a huge breakthrough this year. She broke her foot in the summer and started the season late but still got her first 2 wins on the World Cup as well as grabbing 4 podiums in a row! She also helped her relay team to World Championship gold and won Pursuit silver for herself. She is one of the best shots on the whole tour and at only 21 there is a lot more to come from her.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

Best vocal performance:
Well this category was won last year by Bjorn Ferry with his retirement tune “Breaking the Law”. As there seems to have been no raucous singing caught on camera this year it has to be a straight battle between Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Or does it? I suddenly remembered the Christmas video when they were joined by Lukas Hofer and Darya Domracheva singing some Christmas songs. For awkward hand placement as well as his lovely singing voice there is only one victor!
Winner: Lukas Hofer

Biggest disappointment:
Well unfortunately it’s the same as last year!
Winner: More doping scandals.

Best biathlete blog:
There is one reason and one reason only why this blog is the winner. The section known as Pepp-talk! It’s a Swedish blog but when you translate it into English the title changes to Pepper-talc and totally ruins the awesome play on words. Biathlon 23 loves nothing better than a good play on words!
Winner: Peppe Femling – femling.se

Best biathlete website:
A clear winner here for 2 reasons. The first is the picture of the cowboy leaning against the biathlon targets. Cool! Secondly there is a shop and regular readers will know of my obsession with the pencil case!!Check it out yourself! http://www.edersam.com
Winner: Simon Eder

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This was a hard one to choose. There were many outstanding performances this year. I had to choose one and so I went for probably the biggest surprise and against the odds win. After not even making her country’s team for the Sprint at the World Championships she was drawn in bib 93 for the Individual and was given no chance of winning. No one told her that of course and she produced the performance of her life shooting 20/20 and skiing well to take the gold medal.
Winner: Ekaterina Yurlova

IPC biathlete of the Year:
America’s Andy Soule (sitting)was a contender for this with 2 silver medals in the IPC World Championship at home in Cable. The Russian pair of Nikolay Polukhin and Andrey Tokarev (visually impaired) won 3 gold medals at the World Championships but the worthy winner also winning 3 golds in biathlon and 3 golds in cross country is Ukraine’s remarkable athlete in the standing category.
Winner: Oleksandra Kononova

Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year:
A really difficult decision this one as we had some stellar performances from the Juniors this year. Aristide Begue dominated the Individual races, Galina Vishnevskaya had a great year, Alexsandr Dediukhin really impressed as did Lena Arnaud. The Youth category was also really strong with Kirill Streltsov, Darya Blashko, Julia Schwaiger and Felix Leitner all having great World Championships. However I am awarding it to a young lady from Norway who won 4 medals in 4 races in Raubichi in the Youth category, a gold, silver and 2 bronze.
Winner: Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold.

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Biathlete23: Season 2014/15 Review!

novemesto15

After the excitement of a debut season your next full year on the World Cup can be difficult. There are no excuses you know what it’s all about now. Mostly you just want to improve your performances and results from the season before. It’s been an up and down year for biathlete23 but thankfully no one suspended for doping which is always good news. In case you don’t know this blog follows the fortunes of whoever is lucky enough to be drawn in bib 23 throughout the season and calculates the points to see how they compare to the real biathletes. Last year there were 2 wins from the bib from Selina Gasparin and Johannes Thingnes Boe which were coincidentally on the same day and were also their debut wins!

This year got off to a slow start no doubt due to the pressure that biathletes suffer when they learn they are in bib 23 and have to represent the blog. It may also be from fear of repraisals from me. If you think the Norwegian coaches are tough you haven’t seen anything yet! In Oestersund the biathletes in 23 were Diana Rasimoviciute, Simon Desthieux, Dmitry Malyshko,Juliya Dzhyma, Jitka Landova and Lowell Bailey which yielded a total of 64 points. Not the best results ever but it was still early days.

On to Hochfilzen and happy days! Kaisa Makarainen was drawn in bib 23 and went on to win the Sprint! The first win of the season is always sweet. It was backed up by a solid 17th place for Krasimir Anev. In the Pursuits Luise Kummer failed to score any points but Maxim Tsvetkov was 21st and meant a total of 104 points from the round.

The last races before Christmas came in Pokljuka and I was lucky enough to get home favourite Teja Gregorin into bib 23! She didn’t disappoint coming home in 7th and for the men Simon Eder took 11th place. Fredrik Lindstrom finished 12th in the Pursuit but bad luck struck when Tiril Eckhoff pulled out of the race. In the Mass Start Quentin Fillon Maillet got 12th and Fanny Horn 21st which meant leaving Slovenia with 115 points.

Luckily for her Tiril Eckhoff got to make up for her DNS in Pokljuka by finishing 13th in the Sprint in Oberhof. Backing her up in 10th was Artem Tyshchenko. Fanny Horn did the business again getting 29th in the Mass Start and Vladimir Iliev kept up the points scoring with 19th in the men’s race which gave a points total of 93. It was then on to Ruhpolding where we started with the women’s Sprint and a fourth place from Valj Semerenko! In the men’s race it was over to legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who was 15th. It’s always a pleasure to see Ole Einar in bib 23! On to the Mass Starts with Lisa Hauser taking 21st and Vladimir Iliev, in his second appearance in 23, coming home 30th. Biathlete 23 left Germany with 100 points from round 5.

Antholz came next and it wasn’t the highest scoring round. Daniel Mesotitsch failed to score any points coming 45th in the Sprint. Juliya Dzhyma did better in 30th for the women. The Pursuit saw 2 Czech biathletes race with Gabriela Soukalova in 21st and Michal Krcmar in 24th. That only meant a total of 48 points for bib 23.

Just like after Hochfilzen biathlete23 doesn’t take disappointing results lying down -oh no! Laura Dahlmeier stepped up in Nove Mesto and won her first World Cup race and 60 points! Woo hoo second win of the season. It was Emil Hegle Svendsen’s turn next but he failed to get any points finishing 43rd in the men’s race. We can rely on the Czechs though and another one Eva Puskarcikova got 14th in the Pursuit and Simon Fourcade went one better and came home 13th. Another 115 points gained.

In Oslo we saw Juliya Dzyhma in bib 23 for the third time this season and she used the occasion to perform well. She came in 6th in the Individual to earn some vital points to make up for Ondrej Moravec who was 70th staining the Czechs good form in the bib. In the Sprint Kadri Lehtla was 28th and another appearance for Vladimir Iliev saw him finish 27th. 65 points was the total from that weekend.

So it was on to Kontiolahti and as the result counted towards World Cup total score it was important to have some biathletes in the points here too. The Sprint races were first and Daria Virolaynen came in 21st and Dominik Windisch was 35th. In the Pursuit we had Ondrej Moravec, making up for Oslo, who was 9th and Megan Heinicke in 28th. For the Individual Anna Magnussen was 72nd and Tim Burke 31st. Lastly we had the Mass Start and Jana Gerekova was 12th for the women and in the men’s race my old pal Brendan Green was in bib23 once again. That’s the Olympics and now the World Championships where he found himself in bib 23! That’s why he is the unofficial ambassador for bib23 (unpaid position!). He finished 21st and meant total points from Kontiolahti were 130.

On to the final round and Khanty Mansisyk. The last chance to score points and see where biathlete 23 would have finished in comparison to the other biathletes in the total score. The first races were the Sprints and for the men Simon Fourcade was 8th. Why he chose this one occasion not to come 4th I don’t know!!! For for the women Elise Ringen was 47th which meant no points. In the Pursuit race Tiril Eckhoff was back and got 17th while Florian Graf got 18th place. The final races were the Mass Starts and biathlete 23 regular Juliya Dzhyma finished in 18th and Sergey Semenov was 26th. The final points total from Russia was 119.

So where did that leave us at the end of the season. Well like the real biathletes you have to deduct your two worst finishes from your total but as biathlete 23 had more than 2 non points scoring finishes it wasn’t necessary!!! The final total for the men was 467 which would have put them in equal 20th place in the overall with the exact same score as Jean Guillaume Beatrix! The women’s total was 481 and left them between Daria Virolaynen in 16th and Susan Dunklee in 17th in the overall. The big question however was did they do better than last year?

Last year’s total score for the men and women combined was 754 points. This year it is 948! An improvement of 194 points. Although last year the Olympics didn’t count towards the overall so that will account for some of the difference but even if you deduct the World Championship points of 130 the score would be 818 points so it is still a better year than the first! The women’s score last year was 407 and the men’s was 347. Good news the results improved! The coach is very happy!!!

Special thanks goes to all the biathletes who are lucky enough to be drawn in bib23 and that have scored points for biathlete 23! Juliya Dzhyma has been in bib23 a record 4 times this year! A great team player! Obviously the biggest thanks has to go to the two athletes who won in bib 23 Kaisa Makarainen and with her debut win Laura Dahlmeier! Biathlete 23 will return next year and who knows maybe we can win 3 races and sneak into the TOP 10! 🙂

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