Max Durtschi: The Interview!

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Max Durtschi from Ketchum, Idaho in America is one of US biathlon’s newest recruits. He made the decision to become a biathlete after retiring from professional cycling. When he was young he was an accomplished cross country skier and also enjoyed shooting so naturally he became a cyclist!!! Now having seen the error of his ways the 24-year-old is embarking on a new career in biathlon and he made his debut on the IBU Cup last season in Canmore.

You can follow Max on Twitter: @MaxDurtschi

You used to be a professional cyclist. How and why did you become a biathlete?

I grew up ski racing and spent a lot of time shooting with my father. In 2013, I retired from cycling, and really wanted to get back to my skiing roots. At some point during that winter I was shooting with a friend and something clicked. I thought, “I need to try biathlon.” I can’t explain why the thought came to my mind, but it was pretty clear to me that I should give the sport a shot.

As someone who is relatively new to biathlon what do you find most difficult? What are the things you need to improve on for the coming season?

The coming season is really exciting for me because I can improve in everything. I did not have a chance to ski often when I was a cyclist and learning how to shoot well and consistently is a big challenge. A focus of mine this summer is to build strength in my upper body. I lost a lot of that during my time as a cyclist.


What were your goals for last season and did you achieve them?

Last year my goal was to learn. Every single day I wanted to make progress and educate myself. At the beginning of the year I did not even know what the different race formats were. By the end of the season I was able to compete in an IBU Cup in Canmore, which was a very valuable learning experience. Overall, last season was challenging, but I can be happy with the progress I made.

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

I am very fortunate to be supported by USA Biathlon. They are providing me with the structure that I need to succeed. In addition, Powerbar, Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Foundation, and Play Hard Give Back provide me with remarkable support.

What’s your typical day like?

Everyday I wake up and take a moment to make a decision, “Today, am I going to work hard to be better at my trade?” The answer is always “Yes.” From there, my day is filled with skiing, running, shooting, gym work, and other forms of training. I do usually have time to eat a bit and have a nap too…

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Have you been able to train with anyone from the World Cup Team yet? If so what was it like? What did you learn from them?

I am very fortunate to interact with the World Cup athletes on a daily basis. They bring a level of professionalism to every single training session. I have learned from the focus they exhibit during shooting exercises. They make every single bullet count on the range, and I strive to do the same.

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

I admire the body language of Johannes Thingnes Boe when he approaches the range. He looks mean, assertive, and confident – like he is hunting the targets. I try to keep that same attitude in training and racing.

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

I really admire the work ethic of my parents. Both have incredible stories, and are great examples of determination overcoming circumstance. When my training sessions are particularly hard, I think about the things they have had to overcome and it inspires me.

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 am not superstitious. I believe that confidence is a very important trait in sport and regardless of external factors, I believe that everyday I am capable of performing well.

What do you do to relax and forget about biathlon for a bit?

I really enjoy fishing, watching movies, and reading. I live with Sean Doherty at the Olympic Training Center, and we have a really good time together joking and talking. This really helps keep my mind off of sport when need be.

Normally I ask if your rifle has a name but your rifle has a whole life story. Can you tell me about it?

My rifle means a lot to me. It belonged to a remarkable young man, and friend of mine, Willie Neal. He passed away, but his spirit is alive and well. He inspires me to work hard every day. His family was kind enough to pass his rifle on to me, and I do my best to represent Willie in a positive light.
For more about Willie Neal and the Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Foundation see here: http://www.wnealenvirofund.org/

Describe yourself in three words.

This is tough… I will go with: Relaxed, Thoughtful, Driven.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Hochfilzen, Austria
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Tim Burke
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Individual
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Individual IBU CUP 8 Canmore, AB
Favourite food: Good Oatmeal
Favourite singer/band: Kelly Joe Phelps
Favourite film: So many! Apollo 13
Favourite sports team: Seattle Seahawks
Favourite TV show: SportsCenter

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Sofie Hopkins: The Interview!

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18-year-old Sofie Hopkins from Great Britain is a great example of the perseverance you need to become a biathlete. Coming from a country where biathlon is not popular it is a very difficult career to choose and requires a lot of sacrifice and determination as well as courage. Here she talks about her goals for the future and her clear love of the sport.

You can follow Sofie on Twitter: @Sofiehops
She has a Facebook page: Sofie Hopkins (Sportsperson)
She has her own blog: https://landofsofie.wordpress.com/

Biathlon isn’t a big sport in Great Britain. How did you discover it and why did you want to become a biathlete?
I first discovered biathlon through my Dad’s Army friend as he had done a bit of biathlon with the military. He also was first to suggest the idea as at the time I was competing in National Cross Country and Hockey Events with the Army Cadet Force which I really enjoyed. I knew then I wanted to pursue a career in a sport and that’s when my Dad’s friend turned around and observed that “I had really big feet” (I was a size 9 when I was 13) and my build was similar to most biathletes already. I then searched biathlon online and I instantly fell in love with it and watched it everyday for a month on youtube. My Dad asked me if I really wanted to do such an insane sport and if was I willing to dedicate my time as he explained it would be a lot of sacrifice. I replied with a yes and from that day on that is exactly what I have done.

How much and what kind of training do you? Do you have a coach?
I train 5 days a week, however it has been cut down to 3 at the moment due to my A Level exams. I use roller skis for 4 of the days where I do endurance one day, technique another and then focus on speed wherever I can fit it in. I also go to the gym once a week where I do biathlon specific exercises, for example: pulling down on wires but adding weight each time. I am also an avid runner and like to do the occasional 10km once every other week as I still compete in local running competitions to get more experience in terms of competing. I’m also very fortunate to use the uphill slope at the ski centre in Xscape, Castleford as the staff kindly allow me to use the uphill and junior slope at 6am before customers arrive. After I have done my one and a half hours of skiing I then do another hour of Alpine Skiing with The Lions Ski Club as I also really enjoy other skiing disciplines and it is helpful as I can usually incorporate some of the skills into my biathlon. My coach is my Dad as he has supported me throughout my Biathlon journey and our close father and daughter relationship has really helped. My Dad is not a skiing coach, but after serving as an officer in the military as a Sniper for over 20 years and also qualifying to be an NRA coach he knows a lot about shooting. He gave up his job in the Army to focus on training me, which means the world to me.The skiing side was purely self-taught from watching youtube videos and also gathering tips from many other people over the years. Shooting has also been a big part of my life as I started shooting at the age of 5 where me and my father would go out and hunt for rabbits.

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 find that my flexible timetable at college helps me to fit in my training perfectly as most of the time I only do quarter or half days of lessons. This allows me to do a lot of training, although when I get home at 6pm then I focus on my studies for a good 4 hours before getting an early night. However due to the intensity of my training I do find it very hard to concentrate on my work and sometimes end up falling asleep very early whilst I’m doing my homework. In terms of my social life I feel that in my first 2 years I put my social life on hold. I went to occasional events to support my other friends in their future careers, however training dominated most of my time. I now do squeeze in time to see my friends on a weekend as I think that it’s good to have some free time to socialise as it creates a good balance between the two. If I wasn’t training for biathlon I really don’t know what I would be doing. Biathlon has changed my life for the better. It has become a part of who I am.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?
I do not receive any “official” long term funding at the moment. However I have recently secured a sponsorship deal with Eley Ammunition who are supplying me with 5,000 rounds a year and Eley merchandise which has been a big help. The money for travelling and equipment is all saved and self raised by me and my parents. I go skiing at a Caravan Park near where I live and by doing raffles and just by talking to people on the campsite we managed to raise a £100 pound in 1 week, which is incredible. The manager on the site also shaved his hair off last year to raise money for me and we made an immense amount of money and it was a brilliant day for me and all the caravaners. If we are not doing raffles or anything special a lot of people I meet give me a donation out of the kindness of their hearts and I’m forever grateful. In terms of my rifle which is not cheap my parents managed to save up £1000 pounds which we knew wasn’t enough and was preying on our minds for months. However luckily the owner of the Shooting ground where I shoot twice a week ordered my Anschutz rifle and paid the rest of the money for it. He also got a good friend to make me my own range, which in total cost £2000 pounds. I can’t believe how generous people have been. Me and my Father over the past four years wrote letter after to letter to every different company you could think of and all we got was a resounding “no” or no response at all. The first year me and my parents planned a Summer Trip to the DKB Skihalle in Oberhof we had to scrape what money we had together to get there. We couldn’t afford a plane or an apartment so my Dad drove his car what seemed liked 3000+ miles over the border at Dover all the way down to Oberhof where we had to find a campsite and sleep in a tent. Even with a low budget we have always tried to get there. I’ve always said you have to sacrifice for what you love.

Did you go to the British Championships in Ruhpolding? How did you do and what did you learn from the experience?
This year was my second year of competing at the British Championships and I learnt an awful lot. I didn’t do as well as the previous year, but after a week of analysing what went wrong I am really grateful that the slips ups happened so I can work on them. The biggest thing I learnt not only about competing, but about myself was that I can not achieve under pressure. I started off really well on the 7.5km Sprint, which I wasn’t aware of until I got pulled off as everything started going in slow motion around me and I just collapsed under the pressure to achieve as I had done so well the year before.

For more about this you can read Sofie’s thoughts on her blog here: https://landofsofie.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/the-pressures-of-competition-my-story/

What are your goals for the rest of this year and the future?
My goals for this year was to build up my confidence in a competition scenario again which I feel I have already conquered through the different competitions I have been entering since January and I now feel comfortable and a competitive scene has no longer become overwhelming. My long term future goals is to get to the highest level in the sport that I can. I would love to one day be in the World Cup, it would be an honour to be skiing with some of the Worlds greatest biathletes!

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to work on just now?
I feel my strengths are on the range as I’ve been shooting since I was 5 years old so it is pretty much second nature to me. However as far as weaknesses my speed on the flats has always been an issue. I do think that it is slowly improving as people have noticed that my glide technique (or Skate 1) has improved tenfold in comparison to what it was a year ago. If I were to be my own critic I now think that maintaining speed around a course is a big weakness overall and hopefully my summer training regime will help me to practice and perfect this.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?
I think I would have to borrow Darya Domracheva’s technique. She is so effortless on the snow, but still so fast. Although it’s obviously really tough she makes it look like a walk in the park whilst also making it look stylish in some way.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)
My biathlon heroine is hands down Magdalena Neuner. She has won so many titles and did it in such a short space of time. I really admire her work ethic and also the way she was confident to criticise some training methods and try ones that she had created herself. My ultimate role model is my Dad, he has such a great attitude to life and sacrificed so much to give me the best life possible and make sure I do everything with my best efforts. He has always encouraged me to do things that I have been scared or unsure about so that I have no fear, which has made me stronger and more confident. My Dad has also done lots of great things in his life independently and I hope to follow in his footsteps and make him proud!

What do you do to relax and forget about biathlon for a bit?
I find a day with my friends and having a catch up over a cup of tea is the perfect way to switch off from training. I like to keep my friends and my work (as in training) separate, although of course they are very supportive and I always keep them up to date with my progress as they generally find it interesting listening to my stories. If I’m not doing that I will sit on the sofa watching movies or reading books for long periods of time. Once I’m in a good book you can’t take me away!

Describe yourself in three words.
Shy, Serious and Loving.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:Oberhof
Favourite biathlete (past or present):Martin Fourcade
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Individual
Favourite/best race of your career so far? British Championships 2015, 12.5km Women’s Individual
Favourite food: Olives
Favourite singer/band: Jackie Evancho
Favourite film: The Burbs
Favourite TV show: Sherlock Holmes

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Johanna Talihärm: The Interview!

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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.
You can help too by following Estonian fantastic four on Facebook!

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!

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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!

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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!!!

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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!

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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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