Tag Archives: 2018 Winter Olympics PyeongChang

Season Preview 2017/18: Women

It’s almost time for the Women’s biathlon season to start. The first race is the Women’s Individual in Oestersund on the 29th of November. Last season was more or less a straight fight between Laura Dahlmeier and Gabriela Koukalova with Dahlmeier coming out on top winning the Overall Title for the first time.

It could be a similar situation this season but with the Olympics Games on the horizon the World Cup will not be the main focus for the majority of the biathletes. They will be concentrating on peaking for PyeongChang in February and we could even see some of them skipping World Cup races preferring to train for the Olympics.

It also means we could be losing a few of our favourites at the end of the season as the end of an Olympic cycle is a favoured time among sportspeople to retire.

Last season’s Total Scored ended like this:
1.Dahlmeier
2.Koukalova
3.Makarainen
4.Dorin Habert
5.Wierer
6.Braisaz
7.A.Chevalier
8.Dzhima
9.Hildebrand
10.Dunklee

Dahlmeier was impressive all year and crucially managed to stay fit and healthy for the entire season. She was a deserved winner of the big crystal globe and will start as favourite this season. However she didn’t have it easy.

At some points last season the top four were very close and Gabriela Koukalova pushed Dahlmeier the hardest. She is also a contender again this season but I fear she will be aiming solely for the Olympic medals and she has some health problems that could see her miss the first round in Sweden and possibly more.

It could be Kaisa Makarainen’s final season. She has spoken about retiring in the past and this may be the one she chooses to call it a day. Hopefully not but she also has a chance at the overall if she gets back some of her old consistency. Last season wasn’t her best but if she can sort out her shooting then it’s tough to beat her on the skis.

Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer are very talented biathletes but I am not sure either can put together enough consistent performances to win the World Cup.

The French women’s team in particular had a great season with Justine Braisaz and Anais Chevalier also in the Top 10. They can’t win it yet but look for them to continue moving up the standings.

None of the other ladies have produced enough points scoring finishes over the whole season to win the overall but the likes of Yuliia Dzhima, Franziska Hildebrand and Susan Dunklee can certainly win races and take podiums when they are on form.

Outside the Top 10 we found Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu in 11th and 12th place. Eckhoff has been pretty disappointing since she won the Sprint gold at the Oslo World Championships. She has struggled to put together a good season but she is still young and can hopefully make the Top 10 this year.

I would expect improvement from Anais Bescond and now also Mari Laukkanen after her great end to last season. Selina Gasparin has shown glimpses of getting back to her best and we should look to see her moving up the rankings.

Franziska Preuss had a season disrupted by injury and she will also be in the mix for podiums if she returns on good form. The Italian women like Lisa Vittozzi and Alexia Runggaldier will also be hoping to build on their successful seasons last year.

There is of course a dark horse in the women’s side. A certain Darya Domracheva. She was 24th in the Total Score but missed a lot of the season after having her baby. If she regains her form from the Sochi Olympic year she will be a massive challenger to Dahlmeier and the others.

One nation that has had a terrible time lately is Russia. Their women’s team is not nearly as good as it has been and their top performer last season was Tatiana Akimova in 16th. They will be hoping to step up their game in this very important season.

One person who will be missing from the start line in Sweden is Teja Gregorin. The Slovenian has been suspended by the IBU after retesting of her samples from the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 came back as positive for a banned substance. A growth hormone was discovered in her blood and there will be a hearing at the end of this month to deal with it.

However we will concentrate on those who are racing and the action gets underway very soon. If this season is anything like last year on the women’s World Cup you will not want to miss a single race!

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Season Preview 2017/18: Men

It’s Olympic season! That only means one thing! Nobody is particularly bothered about the World Cup! It’s understandable as the Olympics are only every four years and are the pinnacle of sporting achievement. However it does mean that the athletes will use it as either training and race practice or as a means to qualify for the Games. This is why we need a free year without an Olympics or a World Championships to afford the World Cup the respect it deserves. That argument is for another day though as I have a season to preview.

Actually there is one man who will take both competitions seriously and that is Martin Fourcade. This is because he is the only male biathlete capable of winning it and gold at the Olympics. I would include Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in this if he was younger but he is 43 and can’t do both anymore.

Every season I try to make a case for the others to defeat Fourcade. If he stays fit and healthy they won’t! (He did have a health issue at the French Championships but hopefully it will not carry forward into the season). His remarkable consistency on the World Cup is unmatched among the others but the Olympic titles are definitely up for grabs. As we saw at the World Championships last season Fourcade only won 1 individual title in the Pursuit.

Another thing I don’t like about the Olympic season is that it is usually the time when biathletes like to retire. They do the Olympic cycle, compete at the Games and then decide the time is right to end their careers. Be prepared to lose some favourites after the PyeongChang Games are over. 😦

I am aware it may seem like I don’t like the Olympics! It’s not true I love them but they are ruined by the inclusion of other sports that aren’t biathlon. I mean who cares about ice sports and alpine skiing! That’s right – NOBODY! 😉

So every year I have to come up with ideas about who could beat Fourcade but it is really hard to see who could do it. So this season I have decided to talk about the rest of the TOP 10. Who will move up places? Who will drop down? Who will surprise us and who will disappoint?

Last season’s Total Score Top Ten looked like this:
1. Fourcade
2. Shipulin
3. J.Boe
4. Peiffer
5. Schempp
6. Eberhard
7. Svendsen
8. Bailey
9. Bjoerndalen
10. Lesser

There were couple of surprise names in there with Lowell Bailey having an amazing season and Julian Eberhard really progressing. There were others missing like Tarjei Boe who was 36th and Jakov Fak who had a season ruined by illness.

This time around I don’t see a big change in the Top 3. Hopefully they will be able to push Fourcade a bit closer but Johannes Boe and Anton Shipulin will probably be fighting each other for second place.

Arnd Peiffer had a great season and was the top German ahead of Schempp. Erik Lesser was also in the Top 10 and Benedikt Doll was just behind him in 11th. In the battle of the German’s I expect Doll to move into the Top 10 and maybe Lesser to drop out. Will Pieffer stay ahead of Schempp? It’s possible as he seems to be the more consistent performer of the two.

I am not expecting much from Emil Svendsen on this year’s World Cup. I think he will be targeting the Olympics in a big way as it could be his last. The same could apply to Ole Einar Bjoerndalen but you never know with him! I am expecting a much better season from Tarjei Boe but he hasn’t produced anywhere near the form that made him the Overall World Cup winner. He has been plagued by illness (and of course his little brother!) but hopefully he will show us the old Tarjei this season.

Julian Eberhard could keep his place in the Top 10 and even move up a place or two. His sprinting is great and if he continues his improvement in shooting he could pick up a lot more points from the pursuit and mass starts which have been his weakness in the past. As for the other Austrians Simon Eder was 13th last season and Dominik Landertinger was 16th. Without the pressure of a home World Championships they could both improve. However Landertinger will miss some races at the start of the season after back surgery.

France only had one man in the Top 10 with Jean Guillaume Beatrix the next best in 15th place. They will be looking for more from the likes of Quentin Fillon Maillet and Simon Fourcade but I don’t think any of them will break into the Top 10 again this season.

There are some others who will be hoping to make it there. The Czech Republic have good chances with both Ondrej Moravec (13th) and Michal Krcmar (17th) having good seasons in 2016/17. Andres Rastorgujevs finally made the podium and was 21st last season. Hopefully that will have given him the platform to greater success this time.

The young Russians are also dangerous. Maxim Tsvetkov was 19th and Anton Babikov was 24th. Both are excellent shots and good skiers and with a little more consistency will surely both improve their positions on the Total Score.

The Italian team are improving all the time and Dominik Windisch was their star man last season. He was 14th overall and could improve on that. Lukas Hofer needs to find some more consistency if he wants to match his teammate.

I would like to see Jakov Fak back to his best this season and it would also be great to see guys like Freddie Lindstroem, Benjamin Weger and Michal Slesingr on the podium. Also if Michael Roesch gets a podium I think EVERYONE will cry not just him!

Obviously anything can happen in biathlon we will just have to wait and see! Luckily we don’t have to wait long as the first race on the Men’s World Cup is on the 30th of November! It’s the 20km Individual and I can’t wait!!!

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Franziska Hildebrand : The Interview!

Franziska Hildebrand is a German biathlete from Halle. She has won two races so far in her World Cup career both in Sprint races. She was victorious in her home race in Ruhpolding in 2015/16 and also in Hochfilzen in the same season. She has made the podium six times since her World Cup debut in 2011. With the German Women’s Relay team she has won two World Championship gold medals in Kontiolahti 2015 and Hochfilzen 2017. She was born on the 24th of March 1987 and has a twin sister called Stephanie.

Like her Facebook page: Franziska Hildebrand

Why did you become a biathlete?

This was accidental. First I tried various other sports like football and hockey. One day an article was published in the newspaper that the ski club of my hometown was looking for athletes. My parents took me to the training there and I liked it.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy about and what disappointed you?

The greatest moment for me was the moment I reached the line first for the German Relay team in PyeongChang with the German Flag. On the other hand I felt disappointed that I hadn’t reached a podium in the individual races.

You are part of the German Relay team that won gold in Hochfilzen and every relay on the World Cup. Why is the team so good?

We have a good atmosphere in the team, it is harmonious and we understand each other well. Everyone looks out for each other.

Do you have a favourite leg on the relay? Do you have any input into it or do the coaches make all the decisions?

My favourite leg is third. I also feel comfortable on the other legs but this is the one I like the most. Normally the coaches tell us the decision but they ask about the shape of the athletes.

Your shooting statistics are fantastic. Why are you so good at shooting? Is it natural talent, practice, hard work or a combination of things?

I think it`s a combination of natural talent and hard work. Talent is good but you still have to train again and again to keep this level.

You had some good results at the World Cup event in PyeongChang. Has that given you confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

I go with a positive feeling to Korea because of the good results I had there. I like the Asian culture and look forward to the Olympics. The tracks are nice and the range is good. I like it.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Recovery from an injury. In July I injured my ankle and it took time to heal. I did a lot of double polling and cycling because nothing else was possible. But it was nice to do something different from the other years.

Can you describe what it was like to win the Sprint race back in 2016 in Ruhpolding?

It was amazing. The victory there was a special moment for my career. To win in Germany in front of all the spectators was incredible.

You have your own fan club! What is that like and do they come and support you a lot?

It is a lot of fun. Every year we have a big fan club meeting where we all come together and meet each other. In my fan club are some very pleasant people who are crazy about biathlon and with whom I can have a lot of fun and who support me.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Katrin Apel. When I was watching Biathlon as a child she impressed me. She wasn’t the best all the time but she never gave up. And she was nice in her interviews.

Describe yourself in three words.

Persistent, colourful, freedom-loving.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): New Zealand
Favourite shooting range: Le Grand Bornard
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benedikt Doll
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Clare Egan
Best thing about being a biathlete: The best thing is that I get to do what I am talented in and I love to do!

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Paulína Fialková: The Interview!

Paulína Fialková is a Slovakian biathlete who won three medals at the recent Summer World Championships in Russia. She won silver in the Sprint and Mixed Relay and bronze in the Pursuit. Last season she achieved her personal best result of 5th on the World Cup in Kontiolahti and finished 31st in the Total Score. She was born on the 25th of October 1992 in Brezno and her younger sister Ivona is also a biathlete.

Like her Facebook page: Paulína Fialková
Follow her on Instagram: paja.fialkova

Why did you become a biathlete?

Because I was too hyperactive as a child and my parents chose biathlon as the right solution.

You got your personal best result of 5th last season in the Kontiolahti Pursuit coming from 37th with clean shooting. What do you remember about that race and what were your emotions at the finish line?

I had quite strong back pain before the race. I took some medicine for the pain and I knew, I will shoot 4×0 today. I was really happy after the race because of pushing my personal limit higher and especially with the clean shooting.

You went to the summer World Championships and won 3 medals. Is it good preparation and did it give you a lot of confidence for this coming season?

I had a hard summer preparation and it was important for me to know how the training was going. I did it not for confidence but for experience. I will never be old enough to gain more experience. Every time I wear my start number I can learn something new.

What other training have you done over the summer? Is there anything specific you have been trying to improve?

I changed a little bit my skiing technique and after shooting analysis also my rifle settings. I hope it will work.

What are your goals for this season on the World Cup?

To be better…I mean more points, hoping for some podiums.

You had some good results at the PyeongChang World Cup. Do you like the tracks and the range there? Have you set any goals for the Olympic Games?

I really liked PyeongChang. There are hard uphills and it satisfies me. The shooting range was windy but after the downhill.

What’s it like to be on the same team as your sister. Do you get on well or fight like all other families!? 😉

No fighting, just supporting 🙂 She does a great job as my sparring partner in the team!

Brezno-Osrblie is your home track and it hosts the IBU Cup races most years. Would you like to see a World Cup going there in the future? Is biathlon popular in Slovakia like it is next door in the Czech Republic?

I hope for the World Cup in Osrblie but it seems to be very far away. Biathlon in Slovakia is also becoming more and more popular.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Osrblie because I know every centimetre very well.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Maybe Magdalena Neuner. She was not thinking only about the sport, when she said stop, she really stopped her career.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Aspiring, combative, hard working.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Italy
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Mine
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Our new one for 2017/2018.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 44
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Matej Kazár
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Dorothea Wierer
Best thing about being a biathlete: It’s my dream job!

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Susan Dunklee: The Interview!

Susan Dunklee is an American biathlete who was born on the 13th of February 1986. She enjoyed her best season to date in 2016/17. She finished 10th in the Total Score and more importantly won her first World Championship medal taking silver in the Mass Start in Hochfilzen. She is the first American women to win a medal at a major Championships and in doing so qualified to race for the US at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang this March. Her father Stan and her uncle Everett have both competed for America at the Olympics in cross country skiing.

Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanDunklee
Like her Facebook page: Susan Dunklee
Check out her blog: https://susandunklee.wordpress.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I didn’t want to give up ski racing after college. USBA offered a better training and living situation than any US xc ski club at the time, so I figured why not learn how to shoot?

The Mass Start in Hochfilzen. Talk us through your silver medal winning race and your emotions at the end.

I felt inspired after watching Lowell’s Individual. I remember thinking that I had got my first ever WC podium in 2014 the week after he got his first podium.
Despite that, I didn’t feel particularly good going into the race. By the end of the Championships you have raced so much that both your body and head feel fried. I had to remind myself that everyone else was exhausted too and that there is opportunity in that.
Much of that race felt surreal. Leading was an experience that I’m not very familiar with. I didn’t intend to lead because it’s usually not a smart tactical decision and it is harder to ski fast and efficiently by yourself. However, after every shooting stage I found myself alone out front. It seemed silly to just pull over for 5 seconds and let the pack catch up. So I skied my own pace, tried to stay relaxed and didn’t worry about what the pack did.
People ask me if the last shooting stage felt any different. In this case, no, it was more of a deja vu feeling. It felt just like the 3 stages before it. I remember thinking after the last shooting stage that now it was time to “get the hell out of there” because I knew some fast people would be chasing my tail. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to challenge Laura [Dahlmeier] when she caught me, but I was so psyched to hold onto second. It truly was a perfect race for me.

Apart from your medal you were also 10th in the Total Score. What was the key to your great season?

Shooting speed had been my biggest focus during training for a couple years and that work started to pay off last winter.

You had some good results at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Has that given you a lot of confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

It doesn’t matter if I like them or not. What matters is if I’m willing to make those tracks and that range “my own” so that I will feel strong and confident there.

What are your goals for next season for the World Cup as well as the Olympics?

To keep my focus on “performing well.” If I can do that, the results will take care of themselves.

Team USA is a really close team. What was it like watching Lowell win his gold medal at the World Champs?

Lowell put together an impressive performance which personified a tremendous effort on the part a whole host of people. For an achievement like that you need everything to go right such as ski fitness, shooting performance, and ski preparation. There are so many people who contributed to making that possible- coaches, teammates, ski techs, physios, managers, psychologists, sponsors, supportive friends and family back home…. Everyone in the USBA community felt some ownership of America’s first gold medal moment and that’s one of the reasons why I think the US Team is special.

Have you noticed any changes in the popularity of biathlon in the US after your recent success? Has it helped you with funding and sponsors?

Not as much as we had expected.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Same routine as usual- roller skiing, shooting, running, biking, lifting, etc. We did an on-snow camp in May in Bend, Oregon as well as a three week camp in Germany in September.

One of your hobbies is bee keeping. How did you get into that and why do you like it?

I already was interested in pollination systems after studying them in college. A few years ago I visited one of my ecologist friends who kept honey bees and I watched a barefoot “bee-whisperer” capture an escaped swarm. I was fascinated. Working with bees is a lot like shooting in a high pressure race situation. The consequences of making mistakes are high and you must conquer your fears and stay calm.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Nove Mesto has the best atmosphere with the biggest, friendliest crowds of spectators. I love racing there.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Michal Slesingr, Martin Fourcade and Lowell Bailey. They are phenomenal athletes and leaders who insist on fighting for the integrity of our sport.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sincere, hardworking, contemplative.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin’s dragon
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch. Honorable mention: Stefani Popova
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Toss up: Johanna Taliharm, Anais Bescond, and Katja Yurlova.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Recovery massages.

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Alexia Runggaldier: The Interview!

Alexia Runggaldier had a fantastic season in 2016/17. At the World Championships in Hochfilzen she won the bronze medal in the Individual race. At her home round of the World Cup in Antholz she got her first ever podium coming third, again in the Individual, and also helped the Italian Women’s team to third place in the Relay in the same weekend. She was born in Bressanone on the 27th of November 1991 and her younger sister Carmen is also a biathlete.

Like her Facebook Page: Alexia Runggaldier
Follow her on Twitter: @AlexiaMRTmx

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete thanks to my father and the Ski Club of Val Gardena. When I was a little girl, I practiced Alpine Skiing. One day my dad brought me to try some Cross Country Skiing and after this experience I knew that I wanted to do this. My Ski Club let me try shooting and I noticed that biathlon was a very fascinating and exciting sport. At the age of 18 the sport department of the Police hired me and that made it possible for me to became a professional biathlete!

You had a great World Championships. Can you describe your bronze medal winning race in Hochfilzen? What do you remember about it? How did you feel?

It was a strange race, because I didn’t feel so good on the skis and I lost a pole on the 4th loop. During the race, after loosing the pole, I was thinking ‘oh no today it will not be my day’ but at the end of the race I was starting to hope that it would be my day! 🙂 I was very happy and I enjoyed every moment!

It was your first full season on the World Cup and you had an amazing round in Antholz. What was it like to be on the podium twice at home? Were all your friends and family there to see it?

It was an indescribable feeling to be for the first time in an Individual race on the podium and this at home. I was crying tears of happiness and relief. And then three days after the second podium came with my teammates and this was the best way to conclude an amazing weekend! Yes, my parents did a weekend of partying and also my friends came to cheer for me. The atmosphere in Antholz was very special to me!

You improved a lot last season. Why do you think that happened? Have you changed anything in training? Is it your shooting that is better or the skiing or both?

I think I improved a lot last season, because I started to listen to my body and I’ve found a way of training that is good for my body and my characteristics. I think I mostly improved in skiing but also in shooting.

The Italian women’s team is really strong right now and you have a great relay team. Do you think you can win a medal in PyeongChang?

I hope so! 🙂

What are your personal goals for the Olympics? What do you think of the course and range in PyeongChang?

My personal goals for the Olympics are to be in good shape in order to be able to give my best. I think that the course is quite hard but I like it and also the range is not that easy.

What have you been doing for summer training?

We had good summer preparation. With the team, we had a lot of training camps in France, Germany, Austria, Italy and also in Norway for some skiing. The good weather made it possible to train well…although it was too hot sometimes!

If it’s possible can you try and describe your process when you are shooting? Is it all automatic or are you thinking everything through all the time? How do you try and stop thinking about the other athletes and what is happening in the race?

During the race the process of shooting most of the time is automatic. On the range the movements that have been trained during summer training come out, but sometimes when I’m tired and the shape is not so good I have to think about some processes.
During a race a lot is happening, but the best thing is to focus on myself and to do my race.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

My favourite biathlon track is Hochfilzen or Oslo.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, simple, bright.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Simon Schempp
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Of course Italy 😉
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 59
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Giuseppe Montello
Best thing about being a biathlete: The life we can live. We have the chance to travel a lot, seeing new places and meeting a lot of nice people.

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Michael Rösch: The Interview!

Michael Rösch is a Belgian biathlete who used to be a German biathlete that now trains with the Swiss Team. When he isn’t confused about who he is he does a bit of shooting and skiing. He was born in Pirna on the 4th of May 1983 and his father Eberhard Rösch was also a successful biathlete. Michael has an Olympic gold medal from Turin 2006 when he competed for Germany in the Men’s Relay, and 3 bronze medals from the World Championships also from the Men’s Relay. He has won two World Cup races, the Khanty-Mansiysk Sprint in 2005/06 and the Ruhpolding Pursuitin 2006/07. He has had a difficult couple of years but came back on good form as a Belgian last season! Current holder of the Biathlon23 Best Facial Hair award, he loves his beard and also the exclamation mark!!!!! 😉

Michael is currently crowd funding to help him get to the Olympics and to pay for the season. You can get some really cool things from him if you are able to donate. You can find the page here (in German):
https://www.ibelieveinyou.ch/ibiy/src/#!/projectdetail/12326/fotobomb-fuer-pyeong-chang

Like his Facebook Page: Michael “Ebs” Rösch
Check out his website: http://www.michael-roesch.de/

Why did you become a biathlete? Did your Dad make you do it?! 😉

Of course my Dad was my idol and I started at 6 years old to do biathlon! Early on we saw that there was a talent and we focused on competing in biathlon until I was 16, then I was lucky to finish school and started in the police school of sport and could do my education and training together! At 19 I finished police school and trained 100%!
And of course I liked it as a kid to ski and shoot!!!

Last season was great for you with two 6th place finishes. The first in Pokljuka was emotional, the second in Nove Mesto was impressive going from 30th to 6th! What are your memories from those two races?

Yes two different races with the same result. In Pokljuka I was not so confident after bad results in Östersund so I started without pressure and the key was a good Sprint the day before! 16th and only 1.15min (or so) behind. I knew this range suited me and in Pokljuka I had my first time 0-0-0-0 in 2007 I guess. So everything was perfect that day. Good skiing and good shooting. I actually started to believe I could make the top 10 and in the last loop I was crying in the last kilometers because I thought of Klaus Siebert and my rifle man who had both died just before that 😦 but that pushed me so hard and I was fighting like hell!!!
In Nove Mesto it was more crazy, because in the Sprint I was with the same gap (1.15min or so) 30th. The level was amazingly high but I could make it and I was so proud to beat Rastorgujevs on the last loop! My dad was on the loop and it pushed me to make it!!!!

Why did you decide to compete for Belgium? What is the process of changing nationality? Did it involve eating a lot of chocolates and watching Tintin? 😉

After the cut with the German Federation I decided to change and start for Belgium! For me the first priority was to find a federation where I could get a passport and permission to start in the World Cup! Afterwards it was a disaster to get the passport, I needed to wait almost 2.5 years and the process took such a long time and I couldn’t race. I missed the Olympics in Sochi, I lost my job as a police officer and I lost almost all my sponsors! So the situation was difficult, I had no money but big motivation to show myself to show those who didn’t believe in me and especially those who supported me in this hard time that I could come back!
The process is pretty normal, I sent my files and data to Belgium and then I needed to wait until the process was finished.
OK it took a long time but anyway now I’m happy that I can show my potential on the World Cup!!!!!!
Biathlon is not as important in Belgium as chocolate or beer or fries. 😉

You train with the Swiss team. What have you been doing with them for summer training? What is it like having your old teammate Jörn Wollschläger as your coach? Is he nicer to you than the Swiss guys?! 😉

The Swiss team was one of the major keys in my progress! The team took me with open arms and I felt like I had found my second family there! We push each other to higher limits and we are all good friends! I am 100% with the team (Hotel, Camps, Competition , ski service etc.) so that’s the most important thing for me to know I am safe and can focus 100 percent on sport!!!
Actually it’s funny that Jörn is my coach now because we were teammates and roommates in 2005/06 🙂
I follow his plan 100% and he has helped me a lot!!!!!
Of course his main priority is the Swiss team but we have known each other so long and he supports me like everybody else!!!!
The summer training is mostly long easy trips and hard intervals! I changed my training methods to the Swiss plan and it worked very well!!!!
The camps are mostly in Switzerland so I am often away from home and it’s very expensive there but that’s what I need to do to be successful 😉

At the last Olympics you competed in you won a gold medal in the relay in Turin. 12 years later what are your goals for PyeongChang?

First of all my goal is to start in Korea!!! Not everybody would survive that path which I had to take. So I am proud to have kept my spirit and now my dream will come true with my second Olympics 12 years later with pain and suffering I reach my goal !!!
I don’t know if a medal is realistic but you never know what can happen in sport and especially in Olympic races!!!

You are one of the more experienced biathletes. Do you think the sport has changed much over the years (good or bad) and what changes would you like to see in the future?

I have seen a lot in my career, athletes have come and gone. Some of my generation are still there some are retired. I think sport in general is in a change! I still want to stand for the attributes like fighting, social connection, fairness etc. I would like to see that sport is not only about money and cheating . Sport is the biggest good we have and we should respect this!

Why are you known as “Ebs“?

My Dad’s name is Eberhard and his nickname is EBS so they called my Dad Ebs and I am little Ebs 🙂

Let’s talk beards. You won the Biathlon23 Award for best Facial Hair last season. Will the beard stay for next season? Do you want to retain your title? Is there beard competition with you and Benjamin Weger?

Of course I will keep my beard!!!!!!!!!! If I make a podium I will maybe shave it! (So I hope I only get 4th hahahahahaha).
No it’s nice that people recognise me with my beard and I like that Benjamin has one too so we can talk about beard balm and stuff like girls 😉 I actually found an awesome barber shop nearby in Dresden and I have an appointment to make my beard nice!!!
It’s not a competition it’s a lifestyle!!!!!!!!!

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Oberhof (best fans), Ruhpolding (first World Cup victory ), Antholz (best atmosphere), Oslo (best location), Tyumen (best of Russia).

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Sven Fischer (he taught me a lot when we were roommates).

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny, respectful, ambitious

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Switzerland
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 13
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Me 😉
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Me 😉
Best thing about being a biathlete: You ski in tights in the forest in circles and shoot at black targets… and people love it and cheer for it????? That’s cool …

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