Tyrolean Triumphs!

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Hurrah for Antholz! Real snow and lots of it and amazing scenery to enjoy on the way around the tracks. In unchivalrous style it was gentlemen first as we began round 6 with the Men’s Sprint. After winning last year’s sprint here in a tie with home boy Lukas Hofer, Simon Schempp decided that he was sick of sharing and decided to win the race for himself! A fantastic display by the German saw him shoot clean and with the second fastest ski time he wrapped up victory in some style. Behind him came Evgeniy Garanichev who replaced Anton Shipulin as top Russian for the day and after him came Jakov Fak in third. Fak did have the opportunity to win this race but missed his last shot in the standing and so had to settle for the bottom step of the podium. Benjamin Weger continued his fine form with his best result of the season and Brendan Green got his best result ever coming in fifth.

The women got underway on Friday and there was no stopping Darya Domracheva who shot clean and took another victory from second place Kaisa Makarainen. In third was Laura Dahlmeier who stood on the podium for the first time on the World Cup. There were also career bests for Lena Haecki in 12th and another German Luise Kummer in 13th.

Next came the Pursuit races and the men’s was quite a treat! The lead changed several times due to missed shots but in the end it came down to another close finish and Simon Schempp came out on top again. This time he just pipped Simon Eder and Garanichev in second and third. That made it a double double for Schempp in Antholz as he repeated his Sprint and Pursuit victories from last season. The women’s race saw Darya Domracheva sweep majestically round the tracks as she won easily. The other podium positions however was were all the excitement was at. A highly impressive Daria Virolaynen was second and Kaisa Makarainen was third despite missing 5 targets! She out skied Hildebrand on the last loop to prevent the German getting on the podium. It was incredible skiing from Kaisa once again.

Others who made a big impression in the Pursuit races were Martin Fourcade who made up 20 places from 25th to 5th. Erik Lesser came from 19th to 6th, Daniel Boehm went from 30th to 12th and Austria’s Sven Grossegger started 54th and finished 27th. On the women’s side the amazing Marie Dorin Habert went from 19th to 5th and Yana Romanova also did well coming from 42nd to 27th.

On the final day we had the Relays. The men started us off and Norway had a pretty comfortable journey to victory shooting and skiing really well. Simon Schempp anchored the Germans to second capping off a great couple of weeks for himself and France minus Martin Fourcade completed the podium in third. The women went in the afternoon and were unlucky with the conditions as they suffered from strong winds which affected the shooting range. The German ladies coped best and a very composed final leg from Laura Dalmeier secured them the win. In second came the ever impressive Czech Republic and Ukraine won the battle with Russia to come in third.

So the World Cup now moves on to Nove Mesto and begins again on the 6th of February. The race for the men’s overall title is heating up with Schempp moving up to second and closing in on Martin Fourcade. Domracheva has also closed the gap on Makarainen after a fruitful weekend of racing for the chasers. The season is getting exciting again after what looked like a procession for Fourcade and Makarainen. Both now have serious challengers for the big Crystal globes. Domracheva and Schempp are looking in good form and will take a lot of confidence from their Tyrolean Triumphs!

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Tom Lahaye-Goffart: The Interview!

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We are off to Belgium for this week’s young biathlete interview. Tom Lahaye-Goffart was born on the 4th of April 1996 in Liège. He has already competed in 2 Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle and Obertilliach and achieved his best result of 16th in the Pursuit race last year. He currently lives in France.

Find Tom on Twitter: @TomLahaye
Like his Facebook Page: ‘Tom Lahaye-Goffart Biathlon’
Have a look at his website (in French): http://tomlahayegoffart.jimdo.com/

How does a Belgian become a biathlete? It’s not a very popular sport in Belgium. How did you discover it and why did you want to be a biathlete?

My father introduced biathlon in Belgium in 1999 so when I was a baby I travelled a lot with him because he went to lot of World Cups. So I have been in the “biathlon family” for many years. I have been on skis since I was 2 years old, I skied a lot when I lived in Belgium and when we went to France I had the opportunity to try biathlon, I really liked to shoot so I decided to do biathlon. Of course it’s not a famous sport in Belgium but never mind, it’s not so important!

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

First of all you have to know that I’m in a special school in France, there is a mix between Sport and Studies, we do our baccalaureat (The french final exam) in 4 years when a normal student does it in 3 years, in return we have free weeks to train during the winter (Approximately 15 weeks) so we aren’t often at school during winter. Moreover, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we have the afternoon free for training.

It’s quite hard to have a social life outside of biathlon because we don’t have the same life as others guys, some of them don’t understand why we make so many sacrifices just to be at the Olympics Games or on a podium.. But we have a social life in biathlon, I have some friends in Norway, Netherlands, Russia etc…

Of course we would like to party sometimes but we can’t because of training but it’s a choice, a way of life. Nobody forces us to do that but we know that if we party we can’t be strong on skis.

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

I don’t receive any funding but I’m searching for that, I need financial help because now, with international races, it’s very expensive, of course the Belgian federation pays for travelling for International races but at national level I have to pay my club affiliation, training, munitions and lot of other things.. So if anyone is interested in helping a young Belgian athlete, contact me!

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

Yes of course, I’ll take part in the Youth World Championships in Raubichi, actually it’s my main goal of the season, I focused my training to be the best there.

I don’t have any criteria to be selected for the races, that’s one of the advantages to being Belgian. I see my French teammates who must be very good in selection races and have to be focused on 2 goals (selections and championships) when I just have to be focused on Championships, that’s a chance for me!

Unfortunately for Tom after this interview took place he suffered an injury. He has compartment syndrome in his leg and his season is over so he won’t be competing in Raubichi. 😦

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

Hmmmm that’s hard to answer.. I think that I want the mental strength of Emil Svendsen. He has the ability to improve his level during important races, that’s amazing!

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

One of my wishes is to avoid rifle weight control, I don’t like the 3.5 kgs rule, I don’t know why they made this rule. I think it’s an obstacle to development..

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

I have really liked Ole Einar Bjoerndalen since I was young, his longevity, his skiing style, he is very charismatic and it’s a very good example for young athletes!

What is your typical day like?

I have 2 types of days, the first is the school day: We have courses from 8h to 13h and we have training during the afternoon, we come back at 17h, then we eat at 18h40, and finally we must study 1h before going to sleep.

The second example is the training day: I wake up at 8h, I eat, and I go to the stadium near my home at 9h, I do biathlon training. I come back home, I eat and I have a little sleep to recover. Near 15h30 I go to the second training, it’s often a low pace training, like classic skiing or running. Then I come back home, eat and sleep.

Michael Roesch has recently become Belgian! How big a difference does this make to the sport in Belgium and how do you think it will help you?

Yeah it’s a very good thing for us, he came with some sponsors (One Way, Fischer,…) and a new lifestyle, more professional. He has lot of experience and it’s really good for us, I often text with him and I like his way of thinking. I hope that he will take part in the Olympics Games because he made lot of sacrifices to be back in World Cup, it shows his love for biathlon and he’s a good example for us! So I hope the best for him!

Does your rifle have a name?

Ahaha good question! No, my rifle doesn’t have a name yet, maybe later..

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: I didn’t race on lot of tracks but I liked Presque Isle’s track

Favourite biathlete (past or present): Ole Einar Bjoerndalen

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Mass Start

Favourite/best race of your career so far? Pursuit in Presque Isle, and City Biathlon in Püttlingen

Favourite film: Shutter island, Inception, Limitless

Favourite sports team: Oméga Pharma Quick-Step Cycling Team

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Ruh-pold on for the win!

ruhpolding15

Typical isn’t it! You wait years for a victory and then you get two in row. The Czech Republic Women’s Relay team are doing an excellent impression of a bus! Seriously though it shows just how remarkable this small country is when it comes to biathlon. They are now reaping the reward for years of hard work and planning. Germany seems to be a happy hunting ground for the Czech ladies who took victory in Ruhpoling to add to that of Oberhof. It was a race that took place in pretty miserable conditions. Sleet and rain meant it was a wet and slow race with deteriorating tracks. That won’t bother the Czechs though who were on the top step of the podium followed by Belarus also for the second race in succession. Germany delighted the home crowd by coming in third.

The conditions for the Men’s relay were much improved and so in turn was the racing. A close finish saw the wily fox that is Emil Svendsen pick his moment perfectly to move past Simon Schempp and deny Germany a home victory. In third place came Russia. It was Norway’s first Men’s relay win since December 2013. Some of the other teams got involved for a while with Lowell Bailey putting USA in first after the first leg. Then it was Slovenia’s turn in the second leg with Jakov Fak. In the end though the big nations rose to the top. There were some good performances from some of the younger athletes like Rok Trsan of Slovenia, Sean Doherty from the USA and Great Britain’s Scott Dixon.

The Women’s Sprint came on Friday and threw up a surprise in the form of Fanny Welle-Strand Horn of Norway. She shot clear and out skied Darya Domracheva to take her first World Cup win. In third was fellow Norwegian Tiril Eckhoff. It was another tough day on the range for overall leader Kaisa Makarainen who missed 2 shots. Canada’s Megan Heinicke got her top World Cup finish to date coming in 11th and France’s Marie Dorin Habert was 15th and considering she had a baby 4 months ago that is quite a remarkable feat.

In the Men’s Sprint there was a very unusual occurence. This strange white stuff fell down from the sky. Some have speculated that it may be the illusive substance known as snow but reports could neither confirm or deny this! Anyway it didn’t stop Johannes Boe winning the race. When that boy is on form there are very few biathletes who can beat him. He is the epitome of ‘go hard or go home’ because he has only come first or off the podium in all the races he has done. He has never had a second or third place to date. Simon Schempp was second and Arnd Peiffer third keeping the home crowd happy. Canada did well again with Brendan Green in 16th and Scott Gow getting his best finish so far in 27th.

The last day of Ruhpolding was definitely the best! The Women’s Mass Start was very entertaining with Darya Domracheva yo-yoing back and forward up the field to eventually secure the win. Second went to Germany’s Franziska Preuss who got on the podium for the first time on the World Cup with her best career performance so far. Third came down to a sprint which was won by Veronika Vitkova ahead of Valj Semerenko and Anais Bescond. Speaking of close finishes the Men’s Mass Start was even better. A three way photo finish gave Simon Schempp the victory that has so far eluded him this season as he just edged out Quentin Fillon Maillet and Michal Slesingr. It was Fillon Maillet’s best result on the World Cup. Johannes Boe would have been in with a chance of winning again as he shot clear like the Top 3 but a bad fall along with Jakov Fak put him out of contention.

Elsewhere it was a bad weekend by his standards for Martin Fourcade who came in 26th in the Sprint and 21st in the Mass Start allowing both Shipulin and Schempp to eat into his overall lead. Makarainen also lost some of her lead to Domracheva put still maintains a healthy margin in the yellow bib. We go uphill next to the altitude race in Antholz and hopefully we will be treated to more of the same. I have to say I was pleased to see Simon Schempp finally getting the victory all his great form has deserved and he managed by a toenail to Ruh-pold on to the win!!!

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Ober and out!

oberhof 2015

Unlike last year when there was no snow-berhof this time we were lucky enough to have the first real snow of the season in Germany. The races got underway on Wednesday with the Women’s Relay. It was a great race which saw the Czech Republic win for the first time in 17 years. Well worth the wait though as Veronika Vitkova beat a determined Anais Bescond and the French team into second. Darya Domracheva made sure that Belarus would come third holding off valiant attempts from Norway, Italy and the Ukraine to snatch the last place on the podium. Unfortunately for the hosts they had a penalty loop on the very first shoot which put them out of contention immediately. Maybe I shouldn’t mention it but they were also beaten at home by rivals Austria!

The Men’s Relay on Thursday was horrible! Not the race but the weather. It was delayed due to fog and when it did start it was wet,windy and foggy – no fun for biathletes or spectators. The racing itself was good although marred by a large number of falls the worst coming from the Czech Republic’s Michal Krcmar who couldn’t finish his leg. In the end Russia came through to win their third relay in a row. In a close finish Anton Shipulin continued his great pre-Christmas form by sprinting away from Bjoernadalen leaving Norway in second. France took the last place on the podium showing they don’t even need Martin Fourcade as Quentin Fillon Maillet was an excellent replacement. Home team Germany were fourth and Finland were exceptional coming in 9th from a start position of 24th. Sweden were disqualified when Tobias Arwidson only shot 9 times instead of 10!

On Friday we had the Women’s Sprint. After a great race in tough conditions the Czech Republic’s Veronika Vitkova crossed the line first for the second race in a row and took her first ever World Cup win. She had to ski really well to secure the victory over Italian pair Dorothea Wierer and Nicole Gontier who were second and third respectively. In fact the Italians had five finishers inside the TOP 60. The Ukraine’s Natalya Burdyga is also worthy of a mention as the only other women apart from Gontier to shoot clean. On the other hand favourites Makarainen and Domracheva had days to forget on the range.

The Men’s race suffered again from difficult conditions with heavy overnight rain making most of the snow disappear and windy conditions affecting the shooting. In fact the race was delayed until the afternoon so they could work on the tracks and the loop was also shortened. This didn’t stop Martin Fourcade however who took the win after an extended Christmas break. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was second getting his 170th podium and Timofey Lapshin was third making it three times on the podium for him! Benedikt Doll gave the crowd something to shout about by being the best German in 8th. Benjamin Weger was 5th and Estonia’s Roland Lessing was excellent in 7th. Switzerland’s Serafin Weistner got his best career finish coming in 28th.

On Sunday we managed to get two races in one day – hurrah! They were of course the total chaos that is the Mass Start! People missing targets, others falling, great recoveries and total meltdowns! Out of the madness however emerged Martin Fourcade and Darya Domracheva to claim victory. Fourcade was followed home by Russian pair Shipulin and Malyshko and Vitkova capped of a fantastic week with second place beating Tiril Eckhoff in third. The wind played a big part in the Men’s race and Martin kept very calm especially on the final shoot and went clear. Jana Gerekova did the same in the Women’s race but didn’t have the ski speed to compete at the front. She eventually finished fifth but if there was any justice in the world she would have come first!! Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria also had the best race of his career in fourth place and Franziska Preuss 6th, Benedikt Doll 8th and Simon Schempp 10th finally gave the huge crowdd something to cheer about.

There has been a lot of criticism about Oberhof this week from the biathletes. However you can’t predict the snow conditions and all the venues have been struggling this season. The wind is always a big factor in Oberhof and they have known that for many years so they just need to get on with it. I understand that sometimes it’s just a matter of luck there who wins and loses but that’s the nature of the place. The fans love to see how the conditions can turn races on their head and give others a chance to do well. It makes it all the more exciting and as paying customers they are the most important people in biathlon. If it wasn’t for fantastic fans turning up in big numbers and in horrible weather there wouldn’t be any biathlon! So that’s all from the first installment of the German races. It’s straight off to Ruhpolding for the next World Cup round. Biathlon 23 Ober and out!

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Brian Halligan:The Interview!

halligan

This week’s interviewee is another young American biathlete Brian Halligan from Saratoga Springs. The 19 year old currently lives in Fort Kent, Maine. He has already taken part in two Youth/Junior World Championships in Obertilliach and Presque Isle.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @bhbiathlon

Take a look at his blog: http://brianhalliganbiathlon.blogspot.co.uk

Americans play baseball, basketball, hockey, football and want to be WWE Wrestlers! Explain yourself! How did you become a biathlete?

My father was a National Guard biathlete so I grew up around the sport. I was never pushed to do it but I fell in love with it at an early age. My childhood winters were filled with skiing and biathlon so it was just natural for me to do biathlon.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

I will admit that training and racing has kept me from some social outings with friends but they understand that this is something I love to do. Plus they all tell me they are jealous of me because I get to go to Europe. As for education I decided to put university off for a few years to see how far I could get with biathlon.

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

I have not qualified for Raubichi yet. Qualification for the US is at the end of December. It is a best 2 of 3 race series in Anchorage, Alaska. The top junior athletes within 98% of the leader qualify for the Championships.

(This interview was done before the trials which were eventually held in Mount Itasca, Minnesota and good news Brian qualified not only for Raubichi but also the Open European Championships in Estonia!)

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

Right now I do not receive any funding. Travel and equipment is paid for by my parents and I.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

I really hate explaining biathlon to people. Nobody in the US knows what it is so they always ask about it. When graduating high school I got so tired of explaining to people I was joining a biathlon team instead of going to university, I started telling people I was just going to University in Maine. The best part of biathlon for me is the racing. I love to race, even during training. My teammates always tell me to slow down because I am going too hard but I love to race.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

I wish I could steal the Bo brothers speed and accuracy on the range. It is always fun to see them come in and shoot clean in 19 or 18 seconds.

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

It would be cool if there was a Jr. World Cup. It doesn’t have to be all season, but 2 or 3 stops would be fun and something to look forward to while training in the summer, not just YJWC.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

I don’t think I have one role model. I have received so much help and guidance from so many athletes past and present. They say it takes a village to raise a child. In my case it took the biathlon community to raise me.

What’s your typical day like?

My typical day: I wake up at 7:00 and eat breakfast. Then I go to training at 8 or 8:30. Training ends around 11 so I usually eat either second breakfast or first lunch. A little later around 1:30 I’ll eat a bigger lunch. Next, depending on how I’m feeling I’ll nap, do homework, or watch a biathlon race from last year’s world cup. At about 3 I will dry-fire and get ready for afternoon training. Training will end at about 6, then it’s time for dinner, then bed at 10. Some days I have to skip afternoon training because I work in the Deli at the grocery store in Fort Kent.

You are lucky enough to have people like Tim Burke and Lowell Bailey in your team. Do they give you help and advice or are they mean and just ignore you?;-)

I have seen Tim and Lowell as role models my whole life, even though I just met them this year. They haven’t given me advice of any kind but just being able to practice with them and hang out with them from time to time is really cool and inspirational.

Does your rifle have a name?

Haha, no. But when I shoot well I sometimes talk to my rifle.

Describe yourself in three words.

Fun, Focused, Happy

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Nove Mesto, CZE

Favourite biathlete (past or present): Russell Currier (I live with him in Fort Kent)

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Mass Start

Favourite/best race of your career so far? YJWC, 2014 in Presque Isle. In the Individual I was 18th

Favourite food: Pineapple and Ham Pizza

Favourite singer/band: Twenty One Pilots

Favourite film: Miracle on Ice

Favourite sports team: New York Yankees

Favourite TV show: The Walking Dead.

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Jarl Hengstmengel: The Interview!

jarl

We are going Dutch this week for the young biathlete interview. Jarl Hengstmengel talks about how he got into biathlon and why he can’t go to Raubichi! He was born on the 7th of May 1996 and has already taken part in 2 Youth/Junior World Championships in Obertilliach and Presque Isle where his best result was a 42nd place in the Sprint race. Hopefully he will be back next year to improve on that.

You can follow Jarl on Twitter: @JGHengstmengel
Like his page on Facebook : ‘Jarl Hengstmengel’ (Sportsperson)

In the Netherlands the Winter Sportspeople are speed skaters, speed skaters and more speed skaters! How did you escape the ice and become a biathlete?

When I was 5 years old, my family decided to go to Germany. There we had the first touch with biathlon on TV and we found it much more exiting than speed skating. So we started first with cross country skiing and later on my brothers tried biathlon. And from then there was no escape anymore and I started biathlon when I was 11. First I trained in a beginner group in the south of Bavaria, close to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Then I trained in a scholar group and then I became an youth athlete. I always trained with Germans and competed in German competitions. So my way to escape the typical Dutch sport was to go to Germany. In Germany I had no choice then.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

It’s very complicated to combine school with sports. I’m often at competitions and when I’m at home I have to study what I missed when I was away. I’m at a school which has a special concept for athletes to combine sports and school. That helps a lot.

I often miss things like parties or have to leave earlier because of training, but I have a lot of fun during training and competitions and I know a lot of people in biathlon, that is also a big part of my social life. But it is true I would like to have more time for a social life outside of sports.

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

At the moment I get a lot of help from my ski club SC Mittenwald, who help to pay competition and training costs and some very friendly parents! But after graduating this year I need more financial help to keep me on a professional level of sports. The financial situation for junior winter athletes in the Netherlands is not the best, so I have to finance a lot by myself.

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

I want to, but because it’s my final year at school I can’t be away at that time. To qualify I have to be under 10% behind the first 3 in the Alpencup two times.

What are your goals for this season and for the future?

This year I want to make a big step forward in running and to be under 8% behind the first 3 in running in the Alpencup. In the next years I want reach the World cup and to take part in the Olympics in 2022. That would be great.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

Too many good things to count, but one of the best things is travelling. I love travelling and to discover the world. And you meet a lot of people from different countries and learn a lot about the world.

Worst thing? Which worse things!?

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

The running technique of Martin Fourcade. He is a really good biathlete and really fast on the track. Every year again he is in good shape. I still remember that one moment during the World Championships in Ruhpolding 2012, when Bergman and Fourcade battled in the last lap and Fourcade jumped away on the last uphill. For me a legendary moment in biathlon.

Do you have any hobbies outside of sport?

I really like to work with computers. I want to study something in that direction. I love to be out there in nature, hiking and mountain biking without the meaning of training for biathlon. Only to enjoy.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, I tried once to find one but there is no name which is good enough for him. It’s my rifle, that is all there is to say.

Describe yourself in three words.

Calm, concentrated, motivated.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Pokljuka

Favourite biathlete (past or present): Martin Fourcade

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Individual

Favourite/best race of your career so far?
Individual YJWCH 2013 in Obertilliach

Favourite food: Pancakes

Favourite singer/band:
Armin van Buuren

Favourite film: The Italian Job

Favourite sports team:
Team Out There

Favourite TV show: Game of Thrones, How I met your mother

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The Rifle Fires Back!

rifle2

Hi everyone my name is Reginald P. Rifle but you can call me Reggie if you like. I am a professional biathlon rifle and as we are sorely neglected in comparison to our carriers I have decided to redress the balance and tell you all what it’s like to be me.

I am a short bore rifle and like most of my colleagues I am an Anschütz Fortner. I have a fore sight and a rear sight and I can hold 4 magazines containing five .22 calibre cartridges. I also have an annoying harness attached to me so my carriers can hold me on their back. My minimum weight is 3.5kg which is around 8 pounds but it is cold in winter and sometimes you put on a few extra pounds to keep warm. Don’t judge me! I also have a snazzy little snow cover over my muzzle to stop the snow getting in.

You might think it’s an easy life being a professional rifle but you are wrong. When you are a young rifle you think “I will be in biathlon and see the world”. See the inside of a bag or case more like! That’s where I spend a lot of time. I have seen the inside of many airports and airplane holds but not a lot else! My Summer Olympic cousins the pistol and shotgun have it easy. All they have to do is aim and fire, aim and fire but not me. No I have to get carried around on someone’s back for up to 20 kilometres. It’s not much fun let me tell you. You get jostled and bumped side to side and up and down and then there is always the danger of my carrier falling. Do they fall face first to save me? –no! They fall backwards and can break my stock or give my barrel a nasty bruise. When they do fire me I have to put up with heavy breathing and all the shaking from a high pulse rate. It’s no walk in the park believe me!

At least that is in the heat of competition. Don’t get me started on dry firing. Off the back, fire, on the back, over and over again! Do these people not realise how dizzy that can make a rifle. Also I fire bullets not little puffs of air! That’s not the worst of it though. Sometimes…sorry this is difficult to talk about…sometimes they take me to pieces and clean me!! The horror! You don’t see their precious skis and poles treated like that oh no! They get technicians and a wax truck! Worse still after all the hard work we put in and all the hours we spend together they don’t even give us a name! I am one of the lucky ones but many of my colleagues are nameless. They do however like to colour us in ridiculous colours like gold, red, orange and pink without even consulting us beforehand. We prefer the classic black by the way.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not all bad. If it was I wouldn’t be doing it! I get to spend a lot of time outdoors and see a lot of nice scenery out on the tracks. The best bit though is the races. I love competition. There is nothing better than entering the stadium with the crowd cheering and all eyes on me to see how I will perform. Once I am settled and ready to fire it’s just me versus my eternal nemesis –the targets! Just fifty metres down range there they are, 5 black circles 11.5cm in diameter for the standing and 4.5cm for the prone.

There is no better feeling than knocking those 5 down in quick succession. Actually that’s not true the best feeling is when my neighbour shooting beside me misses the last one and I hit it. I enjoy looking over and winking at them and letting out a little triumphant chuckle as my biathlete swings me onto their back and skis off to victory. I live for the roar of the crowd every time a target goes down that’s why I do what I do. I also enjoy the trip to the podium especially if it’s on the top step where I can bask in the glory and adoration from the crowd!

So next time you are watching biathlon I hope you will have a bit more appreciation for me and my friends the other rifles. If it wasn’t for us you would be just be watching boring cross-country skiing! We play a big part in the sport and deserve more recognition from both biathletes and fans. Please look out for us and cheer and maybe even give us a name like Reginald P. Rifle or else you might be shocked when one day the rifle fires back!

Reggie’s opinions are not necessarily those of biathlon23. All views are his own.

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