Arendz: Making his Mark!


For those of you who are unfamiliar with Para-biathlon it is exactly the same as biathlon! ( It’s just that the para-biathletes are much better!!) They get a little bit of assistance to help them compete but essentially the format and competition is the same. One of the top para-biathletes is Canada’s Mark Arendz. He will be competing in the up-coming Paralympic Games in Sochi in 2 days time. (For more info on the games see my article Of Para-mount Importance.)

Mark was born on Prince Edward Island on the 3rd of March 1990. At the age of seven he was involved in a farming accident and had to have his left arm amputated just above the elbow. Having already showed a keen interest in sports it did not deter him and he started to compete in cross country skiing with the aid of a ski prosthetic.

To this day he still competes as a cross country skier but after watching in the biathlon in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics he decided to take it up too.A wise decision! Mark competes in the standing races in para-biathlon and made his Olympic debut at home in Vancouver 2010, but he really made a big step up in his biathlon career in 2011 when he finished second overall in the IPC Biathlon World Cup. He repeated that feat the next year again finishing second but finally won the overall title in 2013 taking the Chrystal Globe for the first time.

That was an amazing year for Mark as he won gold in the Sprint event at the IPC World Championships in Solleftea, Sweden and also two bronze medals in the Individual and the Biathlon Middle (12.5km). He ended the year in great form too when he took part in the IPC World Cup round in his adopted home town of Canmore. He finished second in the men’s 15-kilometre para-biathlon standing race but was later promoted to first when officials disqualified Russian winner Vladislav Lekomtchev for having his coach on the range providing instructions. In the same competition he was sixth in the Short and second in the Middle distance races.

So now it’s on to Sochi for Mark and the rest of the Paralympians. He will be competing in both cross country and biathlon. It will be tough for Mark in Sochi as the Russians have an exceptionally strong biathlon team and of course the full support of the home crowd. That being said he is still one of the favourites to win medals in all of the biathlon events so watch out for Arendz making his Mark in Sochi!

You can follow Mark on Twitter.

Mark’s website:

For more info see:

All the biathlon races take place on the 8th,11th and 14th March.
See here for more details:

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter.
Like biathlon23 on Facebook.


Flying Sircus!


No it’s not a preview of Monty Python’s summer reunion! It is in fact my rather catchy title for this article about Great Britain’s Robert Sircus. Robert was born on the 1st of December 1995 and will soon be competing for Great Britain in the upcoming Youth/Junior World Biathlon Championships. He will be competing in the Youth Men category in Presque Isle in Maine, U.S.A. This will be his first appearance at this level.

Born in Yeovil, he moved up to Scotland and started training at the Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic ski club and attended Kingussie High School. A familiar route for a lot of the young civilian British biathletes. The Cairngorms is one of the best places in the U.K to train and compete in biathlon under the careful eye of the legend that is Mr. Mike Dixon. He has also recently become a member of Team Out There Biathlon and Nordic which gives support to athletes from countries who stuggle with funding. Other members of the team include Victoria Padial (Spain), Leandro Lutz (Brazil) and Sarah Murphy (New Zealand).

Like the cross country skier Andrew Musgrave and biathletes like Selina Gasparin he has been lucky enough to be able to go to Norway to train and compete and benefit hugely from the coaching and facilities there. He moved to Sirdal last August to train alongside junior Norwegian biathletes under the guidance of National coach, Roger Grubben. Just two months later he took part in the Norwegian Summer Biathlon Championships, becoming the first British youth biathlete ever to compete in that event. It saw him competing against Norwegian biathletes (and we all know how good they are) from the elite biathlon schools like Geilo, Lillehammer and his own in Sirdal. In the first event, the 7.5km Sprint, he managed to finish in seventh place and then came eleventh in the following day’s Pursuit. Remarkable results considering the level of competition.

It showed a marked improvement from his results in the European Youth Olympic Winter festival in 2013 where he finished 74th in the Individual and 72nd in the Sprint. He said of that experience “I think I still expect too much of myself, I think I need to stop doing that before I can improve. I need to relax more and enjoy the competition and the experience more.” For one so young he sounds like a pretty intelligent guy but he has to be careful not to lose his competitiveness.You need to learn from such performances and do everything possible to improve from them. Robert has proven that he has the ski speed to compete but he needs to improve his shooting on the range. Missed targets have cost him some top finishes in various races but it’s generally easier to improve your shooting than skiing so he’s got it the right way round.

So on to Presque Isle where he will be joined in the Youth events by Lachlan Cowie and Scott Dixon will also be there competing with the Juniors. Accompanied by coach Carl Carrier, it is a great chance for Robert to measure his performances against the best young biathletes in the world and see how he measures up. To be honest British biathlon could use a boost after all the funding issues. That is another discussion however and he just needs to concentrate on his own races. Good luck to all three of the guys going off to represent Great Britain in America and be sure to keep an eye out for the Flying Sircus!

Robert has his own Twitter and Facebook pages where you can follow him.
You can also read his blog entries on the British Biathlon blog:

Team Out There and Nordic are also on Facebook and Twitter. Their website is:

For more info on The Cairngorms Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club see their website:

The Youth/Junior World Championships take place in Presque Isle USA from the 27th of February to the 7th of March.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter.
Like biathlon23 on Facebook.

A RELAY great ending to the Olympics!


Well that’s it! It’s over for another 4 years. What a great Games it has been and for Martin Fourcade, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen,Darya Domracheva, Anastasiya Kuzima and Emil Hegle Svendsen they get to say they are Olympic champion for the next 4 years until we get to Pyeongchang 2018!!!

The last races were they relays and we started with the first ever Mixed Relay to be included in the Winter Olympics. Unsurprisingly it was won by Norway and meant that Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the greatest ever Winter Olympian winning his 13th medal. It was nice to see both him and Tora Berger take gold together in what is their last ever Olympics. Svendsen and Eckhoff also picked up their second medal of the Games. The Czech Republic were second winning their 5th Olympic biathlon medal in Sochi. It meant another silver for Moravec to take his total to three, a second medal for both Soukalova and Soukup and a first for Veronika Vitkova. Taking a well deserved bronze was Italy. Some assured performances from Wierer, Oberhofer and Dominik Windisch meant that Lukas Hofer had a pretty straight forward final leg to clinch the medal.

Next was the Women’s Relay which saw a well deserved and quite poignant, given the problems in their country, gold medal go to Ukraine. The team of Vita and Valj Semerenko, Olena Pidrushna and Julia Dzhyma were fantastic. It just shows you though how small the margins are in biathlon between winning and losing. On the third leg Valj Semerenko hit the last shot with her last spare round. If she had missed the Ukraine wouldn’t even have got a medal. She hit it under tremendous presssure and they went on to clinch gold. Russia came in second with a strong team of Yana Romanova, Olga Zaitseva, Ekaterina Shumilova and Olga Vilukhina. In third were Norway giving Tora Berger and Tiril Eckhoff their third medals of the Games and a first for Fanny Horn and Ann Kristin Flatland.

The best relay was saved for last however as on the final shoot of the Men’s Relay there were still 4 teams in contention for gold. Russia, Norway, Germany and Austria all came in to the range together. If you were going to put your house on who would hold their nerve between Svendsen, Shipulin, Schempp and Landertinger you would go for Svendsen every time. However he was the one who buckled under the pressure and allowed the other three to fight it out for gold while he went on the penalty loop. In the end Anton Shipulin took gold for the home nation in a fitting end to an amazing Olympic Games for biathlon. Along with Alexey Volkov, Evgeny Ustyukov and Dmitry Malyshko they final gave the great crowds in the Laura stadium what they had been waiting for – a Russian victory. The silver went to the German team of Erik Lesser, Daniel Boehm, Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp. Bronze went to a deserving Austrian team of Cristoph Sumann, Simon Eder, Daniel Mesotitsch and Dominik Landertinger.

That is the Olympic Games in Sochi over as far as biathlon is concerned. It has been fantastic with great racing, great crowds and great biathletes. We only have another 4 years to go until the next one in South Korea but it is a little sad that we are saying goodbye to some fantastic biathetes like Bjoerndalen, Berger, Henkel, Ferry, Bergman, Zaitseva, Mesotitsch and Sumann who have either announced their retirement or are very unlikely to compete in another Olympics. They still have the rest of the season to go and I am just happy we had a RELAY great end to the Olympics!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter!
Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Sochi Individually and Collectively!


Well I asked in my last post if anyone could beat Fourcade and Domracheva in the Individual races and the answer was a pretty emphatic NO!Both of them performed magnificently and even managed to win by clear margins while hitting 19/20 and while others around them shot clear. Their ski speed is a huge factor for both but for Dasha in particular her shooting has come good at exactly the right time.

Germany finally showed up and Erik Lesser took silver in the Individual going someway to make up for his grandfather losing out on an Olympic medal when he crashed into a spectator. In third was birthday boy Evgeniy Garanichev who turned 26, won a bronze medal and did it all from bib 1! A great display as you have no idea how any of the field are doing behind you and no time references. Other men who did well were Lowell Bailey who finished 8th the highest an American has achieved in this event and also Alex Almoukov who did the same for Australia finishing 45th.

Selina Gasparin won silver in the women’s race to add to the amazing season she has already been having with a clear shoot and pipped Nadezhda Skardino into bronze. The Belarus biathlete made it a great day for her country by getting on the podium along with Domracheva. Other biathletes who had a good race were Anais Bescond who finished 5th and Veronika Vitkova who was 6th.

So after the Individual race we went on to the collective races with the Men’s and Women’s Mass Starts. Well we tried anyway. The Men’s race was postponed about a million times because of fog but the Women’s went off without any problems. Well one big problem actually for all the biathletes who aren’t Darya Domracheva! She took her third gold in a row in imperious style beating Gabriela Soukalova into second. Bronze was won by Tiril Eckhoff who just pipped Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle in the final straight. Others like Anais Bescond 5th, Monika Hojnisz 6th, Susuan Dunklee 12th and Karin Oberhofer 14th continued their excellent form so far in these Games.

The Men’s race finally got underway on Tuesday instead of Sunday! Luckily we got what we have all been waiting for since the Games started, another titanic battle between Svendsen and Fourcade like last year in Nove Mesto. The outcome was the same too with Svendsen winning by centimetres! It was a gutsy performance from Emil who hasn’t had quite the Olympics he was hoping for but I am sure today made up for it. For Martin it’s an historic three medals and in third another outstanding race from Ondrej Moravec gave him his second medal this time bronze. Brendan Green and JP Le Guellec did Canada proud finishing 9th and 10th and Matej Kazar did an amazing job to qualify for the Mass Start and finished a highly creditable 15th.

So it’s on to the real collective races tomorrow with the Mixed Relay, then the Women on Friday and the Men on Saturday, weather permitting of course! All the medals have been won strong>individually and it’s now down to the teams to see who can take them collectively!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter!
Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Sochi so far: Biathlon Royalty!


Phew! A rest day for biathlon today and just in time for me to calm down a bit from my ridiculous over excitement and keep you up to date with what’s been happening. We have had 4 races so far – 2 Sprints and 2 Pursuits. Unless you have been on a trip to the moon or deep under the ocean you will have heard by now that the King of Biathlon Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won the Men’s Sprint race on Saturday. His highness claimed his 12th Olympic medal and equalled the record of his fellow countryman Bjorn Daehlie. The Women’s Sprint was won by Queen Kuzmina who successfully defended her Olympic title from Vancouver.

The Prince and Princess of Pursuit were Martin Fourcade and Darya Domracheva who both showed amazing ski speed and backed it up with highly accurate marksmanship to take their first ever gold medals. The other medallists so far have been Dominik Landertinger and Jaroslav Soukup who took silver and bronze in the Sprint. Soukup’s achievement was all the more amazing after recovering from an arm injury that doctor’s thought might mean he would never ski competitively again. Well he showed them!

In the Women’s Sprint silver and bronze went to Olga Vilukhina, who pleased the home crowd, and Vita Semerenko. The other Pursuit medals went to Ondrej Moravec and Jean Guilliame Beatrix and for the women Tora Berger and Teja Gregorin who won Slovenia’s first ever medal in Olympic biathlon.

The Czech Republic are having a great games so far with 2 medals for the men in 2 races and are looking very good to win more in the relays. Gabriela Soukalova looks back on form in the Pursuit coming from 29th to finish 4th. France have also done well again with 2 medals from 2 races and a very good Pursuit performance from young Simon Destheiux who went from 46th to 21st. They will be difficult to beat in the Men’s Relay.

On the other hand Norway’s Crown Princes, Svendsen and the Boe brothers, have been a little bit off the pace. They haven’t raced competitively since Ruhpolding but will no doubt come in to form for the latter races. The German team haven’t performed very well either with the exception of Schempp but will still be in with a chance especially in the relays.

The Olympics can bring out the best in people. Even thought they might not win a medal for it some of the biathletes have been performing really well. JP Le Guellec finished 5th in the Sprint an improvement on 6th place in Vancouver and he was leading the Pursuit race up until his unfortunate fall on that treacherous corner. Tobias Arwidson of Sweden outperformed his much more experienced countrymen Ferry and Bergman by being one of only two men to shoot clear in the Pursuit – the other being silver medallist Moravec. You also have to feel for Anton Shipulin who came so close to a medal in the Sprint at his home games. Hopefully he will get something from the remaining races.

For the women Karin Oberhofer and Dorothea Weirer of Italy did exceptionally well in the Sprint finishing 4th and 6th. Anais Bescond had a great race finishing in 5th and Switzerland’s Elisa Gasparin finished 8th beating her big sister Selina. In the Pursuit Ann Kristin Flatland made up a lot of places finishing 9th from a start bib of 24 and Olga Zaitseva showed some encouraging form coming from 28th to finish 11th. Sunsan Dunklee has also been breaking all kinds of US records finishing 14th in the Sprint and 18th in the Pursuit.

Tomorrow is the Men’s Individual and then it’s the Women’s turn on Friday. I am not even going to try and predict any medallists as it’s a difficult one to call with the 1 minute penalty per missed target. The gold medals in Sochi so far have been dominated by biathlon’s royalty but can anyone beat them in the next races? You will just have to watch and see!

Like biathlon23 on Facebook!
Follow@biathlo23 on Twitter!

Going for Gold!Part 2

women olympics

The heat is on, the time is right,
It’s time for you for you to play your game,
’cause, people are coming, everyone’s trying,
trying to be the best that they can,
when they’re going for going for gold!

The heat is definitely on! With only 3 days until the women’s opening race on Sunday in Sochi there is just time for a final preview of the female biathletes. They kick off just like the men with the Sprint event followed by the Pursuit, the 15km Individual, the Mass Start, the Mixed Relay and finally the Women’s Relay on the 21st of February.

This is probably one of the most open Olympic Games for a while on the women’s side.There are some favourites of course but no one athlete has really dominated the World Cup so far like Tora Berger did last season. Of course Tora is still one of the favourites to win gold but her problems in the standing shoot have left the door open for the other biathletes. Particularly impressive so far this season is Gabriela Soukalova. She has won 3 races and is the leader of the overall World Cup. Her wins in the Individual races mean she is likely to medal in that event in Sochi but she could be on the podium in more than one race.

The run of races after Christmas showed that Darya Domracheva is also back on top form after a quiet start to the season. Germany(Oberhof and Ruhpolding) in particular was a strong period for her and she has a great chance of winning a few medals in Sochi. Kaisa Makarainen had exactly the same run of form as Domracheva and could also feature on the podium. Her skiing is excellent but her shooting might mean that she can’t quite reach the top step.

These four will be contending for medals in all the races but they are not the only ones. Selina Gasparin has come into her own this season and with 2 Sprint victories she can’t be discounted to do the same in the Olympic Sprint.The Semerenko twins are always there either on or around the podium. Valj seems in better form than Vita but the Olympics could change that. Olga Zaitseva will be under extreme pressure to deliver in her home Olympics and her form has been patchy up to now and so it will be difficult for her in Sochi. I think she will be able to rise to the occasion and handle the pressure with her vast experience. Another veteran in with a shout is Andrea Henkel. She thrives in the big competitions and I wouldn’t be surprised if she follows up her silver in last years World Championships with another medal in Sochi.

On the other hand there is a lot of good young talent emerging this year. Germany have a strong young team and it’s possible that Laura Dalmeier could spring a shock and take a medal(she also shares her name with the stadium – a good omen?).Anais Bescond is coming off the back of a first win in Antholz and will be full of confidence. Tiril Eckhoff is currently having the best season of her life and she too could challenge at the sharp end. My only concern for these girls is lack of experience in the really important competitions and the huge pressure they will need to cope with.

There is also Veronika Vitkova, Marie-Laure Brunet, Synoevve Solemdal, Anastasiya Kuzmina and Olena Pidhrushna who have the capabilites of winning medals. The women’s side is really tough to call at this Olympics. The relay is exactly the same. Russia, Norway, Ukraine and Germany are the ones most likely to be fighting for the top three spots but any penalty loops could destroy their chances and leave the door open for teams like France, Belarus and also Canada if they can better their amazing performance in Annecy.

In the mixed relay the same teams will be involved at the front. I would also throw in The Czech Republic, who won the only mixed relay of this season in Ostersund, and Italy to pick up any places lost by any bad performances from the top teams. All in all the women’s races are going to be very exciting and pretty unpredictable. It would nice to see some of the Russians on the podium in their home Games but whoever takes the medals will do so in one of the most difficult and competitive years and so will fully deserve their victories when they are going for gold!

Good luck ladies! Especially those lucky enough to wear bib 23!!!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter!
Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Going for Gold!

,men olympics

The heat is on, the time is right,
It’s time for you for you to play your game,
’cause, people are coming, everyone’s trying,
trying to be the best that they can,
when they’re going for going for gold!

I know what you are thinking – what an amazing poem about the Olympics! You would be right it’s just that I didn’t write it, I stole it from popular 90’s British game show “Going for Gold”! Either way it’s still works when talking about the Olympic Games which begin on Friday with the Opening Ceremony. We are getting very close to the end of the “Road to Sochi” and all the hard training and preparation is almost finished. It’s down to pure competition athlete vs. athlete to see who is the strongest both mentally and physically.

As regular readers of my blog may have noticed I end all my articles by wishing that those I have written about win some colour of medal in Sochi. Unfortunately that is not possible as there are only 12 individual medals on offer and another 9 for the relays. So here I want to take a closer look at the favourites for gold and also some outside chances who may surprise us come crunch time. (These are merely my views and have no basis in statistical fact or indeed any expert knowledge of any kind and should under no circumstances be used to bet on the races!!!)

This article will deal with the men’s prospects and the women will be in Part 2. I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying that Norway have the best chance of winning the men’s relay. They have the strength in depth just now that no other country has and all of the relay team are capable of winning a gold medal in the individual events and you can’t say that about any of the other countries. Only some bad shooting can stop them winning. There are others who will run them close of course. France has a decent squad and with Martin Fourcade on the last leg anything is possible. Russia also have a good team but the pressure of a home Olympics will be hard to deal with. The Germans are returning to form and will be in with a shout for a medal.Others with a shot at the podium include Austria, Sweden,Slovenia and maybe Canada too.

Moving on to the individual events which are the Sprint,Pursuit,Mass Start and Individual. These are much harder to predict but again there are the favourites which have to be Martin Fourcade and Emil Hegle Svendsen. They shared most of the medals in last season’s World Championships and barring any major disasters will probably do so again. However it won’t be easy with a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen desperate to get more medals in his final Olympics and Tarjei Boe looking to add to his relay gold from Vancouver the competition is strong.

Others in contention for medals are of course the Russian team and I think Anton Shipulin is probably their best shot at getting them. He can perform under pressure and the pressure will be immense in Sochi. Simon Schempp is going into Sochi in great form after 2 wins in Antholz and could be a contender especially in the Sprint.If Jakov Fak has recovered fully from his illness he is also a candidate for a medal as he usually turns up on the big occasions. Please don’t be foolish enough to write off the young guys because of their age. Johannes Boe, Simon Desthieux and Alexander Loginov could all get on the podium too.

There is a good chance that the Sprint and Pursuit medals will go to the same people but the Individual is the best chance to spring a surprise. Guys to watch out for here are the likes of Dominik Landertinger, Michal Slesingr, Tim Burke,Fredrik Lindstrom,Lukas Hofer and the rest of the Russian team. Andrejs Rastorgujevs has been having a great season has the possibility of winning a medal to add to his recent European Championship gold in the Individual.

Even though I would like all these guys to do well what I really want is for whoever is wearing bib 23 to get gold! It has been great just supporting the man in 23 this year!Whatever happens I know that whoever wins will definitely deserve it and I want to wish all of them good luck! The Olympics only comes round every 4 years so make the most of it and remember to be the best that you can when you are going for,GOING FOR GOLD!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter!
Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Biathlon blog."If it's not biathlon, it's crap!"