Season Review 2017/18: Men

Finally we got a World Cup season where the Overall Title went to the final round! Thank you Johannes Thingnes Boe! Obviously it wasn’t enough to stop Martin Fourcade winning his seventh Total Score in a row but it created a lot more excitement for the fans.

Mr. Fourcade also won the small crystal globes for the Sprint, Pursuit and Mass Start and shared the Individual with Johannes. The Frenchman is incredible. He almost finished on the podium in every single World Cup race he started just missing the final one in Tyumen. How he can achieve such a level of consistency in this sport is beyond belief. Biathlon is one of the hardest sports in the world and he makes it look easy.

I do have a suspicion that he is actually a machine. Something like that one from Terminator 2 that used to turn into a silver puddle and then reform again. WADA should be checking for that! 😉

Johannes Boe did have a great season even though he couldn’t topple Fourcade. He had a few races where he seemed to get his pacing wrong going too fast on the first loop and letting it affect his shooting. He also played around with his shooting style too which lost him points along the way. He is still young though and he will learn and improve meaning next season could be amazing!

Third place in the Overall went to Anton Shipulin. It was a tough season for the Russian with all the things going on off the track and not being able to compete at the Olympics. He showed however that on his day he is a still a match for anyone.

Arnd Peiffer was the top German finishing fourth overall, Lukas Hofer had a great end to the season and finished fifth with Jakov Fak coming sixth.

There were only another five guys who managed to win a race this season. Tarjei Boe, Anton Shipulin, Julian Eberhard all took victories and Henrik L’Abee Lund and Maxim Tsvetkov won their first ever World Cup races.

There were some big improvements on the men’s side this season too. Antonin Guigonnat especially made a huge leap from someone who was drifting between the IBU Cup and the World Cup to a podium finisher. He got two third places and was 20th overall this season.

Fellow Frenchman Simon Desthieux had a solid season finally getting his first podium and was 8th overall. Andrejs Rastorgujevs has improved his shooting dramatically. It led to his second World Cup podium finish and 13th place overall. His first win won’t be far away.

The Olympic gold medals went to Arnd Peiffer in the Sprint, Johannes Boe in the Individual and Fourcade took the Pursuit and the Mass Start titles. Sebastian Samuelsson also had a great Olympic Games taking a silver medal in the Pursuit and gold in the relay. If he continues like this he will be a thorn in Martin’s side next season!

The men’s relay went to a stunning performance by the Swedish team that included Samuelsson as well as Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin and Freddie Lindstroem.

The Rookie of the Year also went to France and Emilien Jacquelin. It was well deserved after his performances in Antholz particularly, finishing 5th in the Sprint and 6th in the Pursuit. He also got a spot on the French Olympic team which is very hard to do!

Norway won the Relay World Cup. Sweden were second and France third. The Norwegians also took the Nations Cup title.

The fun surprise of the season came from the Belgian relay team. Michael Roesch, Florent Claude, Thierry Langer and Tom Lahaye-Goffart provided a lot of excitement leading a couple of races and doing really well for a new team.

The sad part of the season came with the announcements of biathletes deciding to end their careers. Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke and Jaroslav Soukup have all hung up their rifles for good and we wish them well for the future. They will be missed.

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Tyumen 2018: The Mass Starts!

WOW! What a final race day in Tyumen! The World Cup finished with a bang! With a first time winner, personal best podium finishers and the Overall Title going to the last lap of the last race it begs the question – why are we ending the season? It just got good! 😉

The men raced first in what was a very tasty starter before the main event of the women’s showdown for the Overall Title. It was a fabulous Mass Start with 11 men still in contention for victory at the final shoot. It was necessary to shoot clean to have a chance of winning this one and Erlend Bjoentegaard, Maxim Tsvetkov, Jakov Fak and the Boe bros did just that.

It was Tsvetkov with the support of the home crowd who managed to grab a lead and held it to the line. It was his first ever World Cup win and to do it on home soil in that style was great. He hit 20/20 as did Bjoentegaard who got his personal best finish and third went to Johannes Boe with 2 misses.

Benedikt Doll was 4th, Henrik L’Abee Lund 5th and Tarjei Boe 6th. Martin Fourcade had a day off missing 4 targets and finished in 19th place. He missed the chance to finish on the podium in every World Cup race he started this season. Maybe he isn’t so good after all!!! 😉

If you thought that was good the women’s race was amazing! All eyes were on Anastasiya Kuzmina and Kaisa Makarainen to see who would lift the big crystal globe. However with that kind of pressure neither of them could take the win.

That went to Darya Domracheva. She missed 1 target but was too strong on the skis for Paulina Fialkova and Anais Chevalier who had left the final shoot in the lead. She skied past them both to take the win. Fialkova held on for second hitting 19/20, her best finish on the World Cup, and Chevalier was third hitting 20/20.

Vanessa Hinz was 4th, Franziska Pruess 5th and Kaisa took 6th.

It was an incredible race from the Finn. She was close to Kuzmina throughout the race until the third shoot when she missed 2 shots and Kuzmina 1. On the final shoot Kuzmina missed again but Kaisa cleaned. They were neck and neck when Kaisa left the range and Kuzmina came off the penalty loop.

It was there that Kaisa took off. She had too much strength for Kuzmina who eventually finished 11th. Makarainen pushed herself to the limit and beyond to take the Overall Title, her third, but just 3 points! She also won the small globe for the Mass Start.

That brings the season to an end but look out for my season reviews for the men, women and biathlete23 as well as a little item I like to call THE BIATHLON23 AWARDS!!!

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Tyumen 2018: The Pursuits!

If you give Martin Fourcade a 33 second lead in a Pursuit then he will most likely extend it by the end. That’s what he did again today enjoying a victory lap after winning the Overall Title on Thursday. He shot very well just missing 1 target on the final shoot but he was never under any pressure.

The victory gave him the Pursuit crystal globe to add to the Sprint and Individual.

Behind him there was more excitement with Johannes Boe skiing super fast and hitting 19/20 to move from 14th to 2nd. He was followed by Lukas Hofer who shot 20/20 and came from 13th to take 3rd.

Freddie Lindstrom was 4th, Erik Lesser 5th and Arnd Peiffer 6th.

Simon Eder moved from 27th to 8th, Lars Birkeland from 38th to 13th and Anton Babikov went from 43rd to 24th.

The women’s race was much more exciting going right down to the final standing shoot then the finish line!. Laura Dahlmeier, Anais Bescond, Darya Domracheva and Kaisa Makarainen were all in contention. Three of the four missed but Kaisa took her time and shot clean. She left the range to find Anais Bescond coming off the penalty loop and it was a ski race between them for the win.

Kaisa took it with a sprint to the line by just 0.2 of a second in dramatic fashion to take the race for the Overall Title to the final race! Laura Dahlmeier finished in third.

Domracheva was 4th, Karolin Horchler was 5th getting her personal best result and Anastasiya Kuzmina was 6th securing the Pursuit crystal globe.

Irina Uslugina came from 22nd to 9th hitting 20/20 for her personal best result. Nadine Horchler hit 20 to go from 39th to 12th and Hanna Oberg went from 49th to 22nd.

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Tyumen 2018: The Sprints!

It’s the final weekend of the World Cup already! How did that happen?

We are in Tyumen. Well some people are and some people are not. As Russia is not yet compliant with anti-doping rules some biathletes have chosen to boycott the final World Cup round. Also all the samples from the biathletes taken here will be sent back to Germany for testing. Wouldn’t like to be sitting next to the person on the plane who has all the urine samples in their hand luggage!!

Anyway back to the racing. The final Sprints took place on Thursday and Friday. The men raced first and in a massive shock Martin Fourcade won the race! I mean when does that happen? Oh yes every weekend that’s right! The man is phenomenal!

He shot clean and skied fast to take the victory by 33 seconds. Second place was a bit of a surprise though with Simon Desthieux getting his first ever podium finish. He also shot clean and finished just 0.3 of a second ahead of Freddie Lindstrom who was third.

The shooting conditions were ideal with the top seven finishers hitting 10/10. Someone who didn’t however was Johannes Boe. He managed to miss 2 on the prone to throw away his chances of winning the sprint crystal globe!

Andrejs Rastorgujevs was 4th, Erik Lesser 5th and Maxim Tsvetkov and Quentin Fillon Maillet tied for 6th place.

Martin Fourcade won the Sprint title by just 2 points in the end from Johannes Boe. He also secured the Overall Title for the seventh year in a row. I have decided that he is quite good at biathlon! 😉

The Women raced on Friday and it was a really close run thing which doesn’t happen that often in the Sprints. Darya Domracheva won this one hitting 10/10 to beat Kaisa Makarainen by just 1.2 seconds. Kaisa also hit the perfect 10. Third place went to Tiril Eckhoff who missed 1 target in the prone.

Anais Bescond was 4th, Lisa Vittozzi 5th and Laura Dahlmeier was 6th.

Anastasiya Kuzmina was 12th with 3 misses but it was enough to give her the Sprint title and the small crystal globe. The fight for the Overall Title continues to the Pursuit.

There was also some personal bests today for Estonia’s Meril Beilmann and Regina Oja in 40th and 50th. Moldovia’s Anna Ghilenko was 60th meaning she qualified for her first ever Pursuit.

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Junior World Champs: Otepaa 2018!

Freezing! That was the exact temperature in Otepaa, Estonia for the first race in the Junior World Championships. After a bit of rescheduling the Relays were the first races on Tuesday.

The women’s 3x6km relay went to the French team of Camille Bened, Myrtille Begue and and Lou Jeanmonnot Laurent. The did 1 penalty loop but beat the Norwegian team to gold. Une Tronerod, Emilie Kalkenberg and Kjersti Dengerud incurred 2 penalty loops on their way to the silver medal. The bronze went to the Russian team of Polina Shevnina, Emma Timerbulatova and Valeriia Vasnetkova who also went around the penalty loop twice.

The men’s 4×7.5km relay was won by a strong Russian team of Said Khalili, Vasilii Tomshin, Viacheslav Maleev and Igor Malinovskii. They used just 9 spares beating Norway by 57 seconds. The team of Sivert Bakken, Johannes Dale, Endre Stroemsheim and Sturla Laegreid won silver despite 3 penalty loops. The bronze went to the French team of Hugo Rivail, Emilien Claude, Morgan Lamure and Martin Perrillat Bottonet who did 2 penalty loops.

The second race for the Juniors was the Individual. It was slightly warmer at -10 degrees!! There were also wind gusts in the range. The women’s race went to Poland with Kamila Zuk winning the gold medal. She won by a massive 3 minutes hitting 18/20. The silver medal went to Anna Kryvonos from the Ukraine also with 2 misses. The bronze medal went to Russia’s Irina Kazakevich who hit 17/20.

The men’s race was won by Igor Malinovskii who hit 17/20 and finished 19 seconds ahead of Norway’s Sturla Laegreid who had the same shooting score. The bronze medal also went to Russia with Said Khalili hitting 18/20.

The Sprint races were held on Saturday and Kamila Zuk made it a golden double for herself and Poland. She hit 9/10 and won the race by 26 seconds. The silver medal went to Marketa Davidova from the Czech Republic with 8/10 hits and the bronze went to France with Myrtille Begue who hit the perfect 10/10.

The men’s race was won by Russia but this time it was Vasilii Tomshin who took gold hitting 10/10 to take a 20 second lead into the Pursuit. The silver medal went to Frenchman Martin Perrillat Bottonet who missed 1 target and Norway’s Sverre Aspenes grabbed the bronze despite missing 2 targets.

The pursuits were held on Sunday and this time Marketa Davidova took the gold medal. She hit 16/20 but it was enough to pass Kamila Zuk who had to settle for silver this time with 6 misses. Myrtille Begue missed 3 shots but maintained her third place finish to take another bronze medal.

In the men’s race Sverre Aspenes moved up from third to take the gold medal hitting the perfect 20/20. Martin Perrillat Bottonet stayed in second to get another silver medal hitting 19/20. The bronze also went to Norway with Johannes Dale moving from 5th to 3rd despite missing 4 targets.

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Youth World Champs: Otepaa 2018!

After all the biathlon pensioners took part in the Winter Olympics it was time for the youths to shine at the Youth World Championships in Otepaa, Estonia.

It was a cold start for the first two races, the women’s and men’s Individuals. Sweden’s Elvira Oberg won the women’s race on her 19th birthday. She is the younger sister of Hanna and now they both have a gold medal so there should be no fighting at the Oberg residence! She hit 19/20 to win by 35 seconds. Russian Anastasiya Shevchenko took the silver medal with 18/20 and the bronze went to her teammate Anastasiia Goreeva who hit 17/20.

In the men’s race Mikhail Pervushin won the gold medal also with 19/20. The 19-year-old Russian beat Norway’s Filip Andersen by 12 seconds. Andersen also hit 19/20 to take the silver ahead of the amazingly named Frenchman Martin Bourgeois Republique who hit 18/20 to win bronze.

It was still freezing on Wednesday for the relays. The women’s race went down to the line with a sprint finish between Sweden and Finland. It was Elvira Oberg who won it giving Sweden the gold and making it a golden double for her. Along with teammates Amanda Lundstroem and Ella Halvarsson they needed just 6 spares on the range. The Finnish team of Jenni Keranen, Kaisa Keranen and Heidi Nikkinen went on the penalty loop twice. Bronze went to Norway with a team of Marte Johansen, Sigrid Vig and Juni Arnekleiv who also went two times around the penalty loop.

In the men’s race it was Russia who took the gold with Denis Tashtimerov, Andrei Viukhin and Mikhail Pervushin despite two penalty loops. It meant double gold for Pervushkin too. The Czech team took the silver with just 7 spares needed by Vitezslav Hornig, Tomas Mikyska and Mikulas Karlik. The bronze went to Norway’s team of Eirik Gerhardsen, Martin Alfheim and Filip Andersen.

The Sprint races took place on Friday and it was treble gold for our two young champions Elvira Oberg and Mikhail Pervushkin. Oberg missed 1 shot but still managed to win by 13 seconds. Silver went to Heidi Nikkinen also with 1 missed target. A clean shoot won Amanda Lundstroem the bronze.

Pervushkin won his third gold with 10/10 on the range and a 21 second lead to take into the Pursuit. Silver went to Italy’s Tommaso Giacomel who also shot clean. The bronze went to Vitezslav Hornig who had 1 miss.

The final races were the Pursuits on Sunday. None of the medallists from the women’s sprint could hold on to their places and the gold medal went to Anastasiia Goreeva who started 4th. Despite missing 3 targets she took the win by 17.5 seconds. With just 1 miss Germany’s Franziska Pfnuer came from 14th to win the silver medal and the bronze went to Amy Baserga of Switzerland. She came from 16th hitting 18/20 to finish third.

The men’s pursuit was a clean sweep for Russia. Andrei Viukhin went from 7th to 1st even though he missed 4 targets. He knocked teammate Mikhail Pervushkin off the top of the podium for the first time this week. He had to settle for silver after also missing 4 shots. The bronze went to Aleksei Ogorelkov who hit 18/20 and went from 12th to 3rd.

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PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Men’s Relay

Wow it has been a fantastic two weeks of biathlon in PyeongChang. Possibly the best ever Olympic Games for biathlon in terms of exciting races and all the different nations who picked up medals.

Today was the final race (sniff,sniff) but it was another good one. The conditions were much better for the men than the women but curiously only one team avoided the penalty loop for the men and three did for the women!!!

The golden team today was Sweden. They were fantastic from start to finish. Let’s start at the start though and the first leg saw Germany firmly in control of the race with a great leg from Erik Lesser. He used 1 spare in the stand and produced a brilliant ski to hand over with a comfortable lead.

Matej Kazar did a great job for Slovakia hitting 10/10, Austria were up there with Tobias Eberhard, Sweden were in the mix after 1 spare from Peppe Femling, Artem Pryma for Ukraine hit 10/10 and Lars Birkeland had a solid start for Norway using 2 spares. It was France who were the major casualty with Simon Desthieux having a disaster with 2 penalty loops on the stand.

Leg 2 saw Benedikt Doll keep Germany’s lead until the stand where he did 2 penalty loops letting all the following teams back into the race. It was the Czech Republic with Michal Slesingr who took advantage using just 1 spare. Jesper Nelin and Simon Eder were still towards the front along with Tarjei Boe.

Jaroslav Soukup was on the third leg for the Czech team but he was being chased by Sebastian Samuelsson, Johannes Boe and Julian Eberhard three of the fastest skiers there are!

Eberhard cracked first with 2 penalty loops on his standing shoot, Soukup had to do one too but Samuelsson and Boe just used 1 spare each and were neck and neck at the exchange. Arnd Peiffer did a great job for Germany hitting 10/10 and putting them back up to third. It was good to see after his Mixed Relay meltdown. Meanwhile Martin Fourcade’s efforts to haul back time failed when he also incurred a penalty loop probably from skiing too hard.

So the final leg came down to Fredrik Linstrom against Emil Svendsen. Now we all remember what happen to Emil in Sochi on the last leg when he took Norway from 1st to 4th so he must have been nervous! They matched each other on the prone and behind them Simon Schempp needed all three spares and so the gold medal was between Norway and Sweden.

When they arrived for the final shoot the wind suddenly got up and both missed their first shots. Lindstrom hit the other 4 but Emil missed another. With 1 spare Lindstrom hit the last target and the gold belonged to Sweden. Emil couldn’t hit his final target with the spares and had to go on the penalty loop.

Schempp couldn’t capitalize on Svendsen’s error and ended up on the penalty loop himself. He had enough time to still take the bronze medal, with Norway in silver and Sweden with just 7 spare rounds and no penalty loops were well deserved gold medallists.

Austria were 4th, France 5th and the USA were 6th.

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