Tag Archives: Alex Almoukov

World Champs 2015 Review: Men

boe wc

After many days of anticipation and then the opening ceremony, action finally got underway in the 2015 Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti. The first race took place on Thursday afternoon and saw 26 teams take part in the Mixed Relay. The conditions were really tough with warm temperatures making the snow wet and it looked like it was up to the biathletes knees!!!

The race got off to a great start with Fuyuko Suzuki taking the lead after 2 shoots for Japan. Veronika Vitkova took the Czech Republic into the lead however in the first exchange and it was then Soukalova and Domracheva who were in contention in the second leg. Domracheva handed over to Chepelin for Belarus and he managed to hold on to the lead in his leg to send Liadov out first for the final leg. Unfortunately for him he only had an 11 second lead and couldn’t hold off Moravec from the Czech Republic who came home first to win gold for his country. He was followed by Martin Fourcade who made up a lot of time to bring France home for silver and Tarjei Boe continued his brother Johannes’ good work by hanging on for bronze despite a penalty loop from Eckhoff. Belarus were fourth by an agonizing 4 seconds. The Finnish team put in a great display for the home crowd and were in with a podium shot going into leg 3. They ended in 9th which was a 7 place improvement on their start of 16th.

On Saturday we had the Sprint competition. Conditions were better but still far from ideal for the 129 biathletes. This didn’t seem to bother Johannes Thingnes Boe however as he went out and won! It easy to forget that this is his first ever start in an individual event in a Senior World Championships and he couldn’t have done any better on his debut. There was more good news for the Boe family as big brother Tarjei shot clean to come home to win bronze. It was guaranteed to be a good night out in Styrn, the boys home town, on Saturday! Splitting up the family however was the history making Nathan Smith. He took the silver and is the first Canadian man to win a World Championship medal. He has been getting closer and closer to the podium all year and timed his best ever result to perfection. It wasn’t a great day for some of the big favourites with Martin Fourcade in 12th, Anton Shipulin in 18th, Emil Svendsen in 36th and Simon Schempp in 77th!

Johannes went into the Pursuit as favourite but he had a total nightmare missing 8 shots and finished 31st. On the other hand Germany’s Erik Lesser had a magnificent race. He shot clear and he controlled the pace from the front after the first shoot. He showed remarkable mental strength to hold his nerve shooting not only the perfect 20/20 but he shot fast as well. He always performs well on the big occasion and can now add World Championship gold to his Olympic silver. In second was Anton Shipulin who paced the race well and shot 19/20. At the final shoot when the guys in contention for the final two places missed around him he and Tarjei Boe kept their cool and fought it out on the track for the remaining medals. It was obvious that Shipulin had the upper hand on the skis but it might have been different if Boe had been on his top ski form. Even so he won his third bronze in three races. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen produced a good race to finish in 5th as did Vladimir Iliev who was 6th.

The men had three days of rest before they had the Individual 20km. Normal service was resumed with Martin Fourcade winning yet again! He is very hard to beat at this race. Emil Hegle Svendsen tried his best to do that but he just doesn’t have the ski speed this season. Martin skied 1 minute 20 seconds faster than him as he missed 1 shot but still won comfortably. What was joy for one Fourcade was anguish for the other. Simon took the lead early in the race and shot clear to suggest a podium place would be his. It wasn’t to be however as Ondrej Moravec with 1 missed shot out skied him to take the bronze medal by five seconds. It is the second time Simon Fourcade has finished 4th at this World Championships which must be horribly frustrating for him but on the bright side this is his best season for a long while. Sergey Semenov finished 5th to secure the small Crystal Globe in the Individual for Ukraine. There were also good performances from Lee Jackson of Great Britain in 39th and Alex Almoukov of Australia in 43rd. It was also good to see Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi rolling back the years in 12th adding to his other 2 TOP 30 finishes here.

The Relay was next up and it was won by a dominant German team to match the gold from their Women’s team. They only used 3 spare rounds and were always in the TOP 3. After Arnd Peiffer’s excellent third leg they controlled the race and no one else could catch them. The team of Erik Lesser, Daniel Boehm, Peiffer and Simon Schempp meant a very happy medal ceremony for Germany. In silver medal position came Norway with Emil Hegle Svendsen, Tarjei and Johannes Boe helping Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to his 40th World Championship medal. He was the only one of them not to use a spare round and led after his leg so he is still showing those youngsters how it’s done! I am happy to report that France were third finally getting Simon Fourcade onto the podium and preventing his nervous breakdown after finishing 4th twice already. Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Quentin Fillon Maillet and little brother Martin did a good job!

To finish we had the Mass Start which proved to be a very good race to end with. Jakov Fak took gold in a great race which went all the way to the finish line. In second came Ondrej Moravec to add silver to his gold and bronze to complete the set. Third place went to surprise, surprise Mr. Bronze himself Tarjei Boe who leaves with 5 medals. He beat teammate Bjoerndalen who was fourth but he had an excellent race shooting clean and always up at the front.

So that’s all from Kontiolahti. It has been a great World Championships and France came out on top of the medal table in front of Germany and Norway. I am sure the biathletes are glad to see the back of the “Wall” as they have been up it about a million times now but they can’t rest yet! It’s on to Khanty Mansisyk for the last World Cup of the season!


Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Advertisements

I love Lucy!

glanville

Even as the youngest female competitor at the Sochi Olympics and only the third Australian woman ever to represent her country at the Games Lucy Glanville is probably still not a name people are very familiar with. Australia isn’t the first country that springs to mind when you think of biathlon but it actually has a thriving scene. Obviously with the weather they have it’s hard to convince people to take up a winter sport but they do get snow especially in the ironically named “Hotham”.

Lucy is one of a small band of Australians making a name for themselves in biathlon. Along with Alex Almoukov, Dyllan Harmer and Daniel Walker they are doing a great job representing a country that is not a typical winter sports competitor. The Australians are sports mad though and you know no matter what the sport they will always give it their all.

Lucy was born on the 16th of October 1994 and currently lives in Sydney where she is studying a degree in Art History at Macquarie University majoring in Russian studies. She is a clever one that Glanville as she spends a lot of time in Russia, as that is where the team trains in the summer, so she can combine biathlon and her education.

She was the first female biathlete from Australia to go to an Olympics since Nagano 1998. So you can see how hard it is for Australians to compete in biathlon but also how well Lucy is doing to have qualified aged only 19. Her best finish in Sochi was 78th in the Individual and she came 82nd in the Sprint. She has also competed at 2 Senior World Championships in Nove Mesto and Ruhpolding as well as in the Youth/Junior World Championships.

So as the new season approaches what might we see from Lucy this year. Well like all of the smaller biathlon nations funding is hard to come by and it’s especially important for Australians. Travel and accomodation eats up a lot of their money as they have to stay in Europe for an extended period to compete. It’s not like they can pop home for the weekend! Like many others Lucy will probably spend her time between the IBU Cup and the World Cup. Hopefully she can make more appearances on the World Cup and can improve on her best finish of 78th from Sochi.

A push into the TOP 60 would be excellent progress for the youngster and some better results on the IBU cup are achievable. Mostly it is gaining experience that will help her in the future and an appearance at the World Championships in Kontiolahti can only add to this. She is of course still eligible for the Junior World Championships and will be looking to do well in Raubichi, Belarus. Speaking of young biathletes there are a couple of other girls from Australia, Sabrina Howell and Gabriele Hawkins, who in the future might give Australia the chance to compete in the relays and give Lucy a chance to enter more races.

Continual improvement is all that we want to see from Lucy in the up coming season. It’s a difficult sport and it’s fiercely competitive but she has the talent and determination to do well. You have to respect her for coming to Europe to compete and it also means she can add a few dollars to her lessons(being a professional biathlete!) as she is also a qualified cross-country ski coach! So if you Aussies want a lesson or two you know who to ask! For Lucy it will be another tough season but she is doing a great job which is why I love Lucy and you should too!:-)

Have a look at Lucy’s website: http://lucyglanville.com.au/

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Sochi Individually and Collectively!

dashasochi

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!

Almoukov:The Blizzard of Oz!

Almoukov

When you think about Australia the first things that come to mind are sun, sea, sand, barbeques, corks on hats and deadly animals. If you think about Australian sport you might come up with Aussies Rules, Rugby Union, cricket and surfing. What doesn’t immediately spring to mind though is biathlon.

Biathlon I hear you cry! But it doesn’t even snow in Australia so how can they do biathlon? Well it does and they do! Not only that but they also have athletes who compete on the IBU World Cup. One in particular made history last season by becoming the first Australian male biathlete to finish in the Top 40 and score World Cup points. His name is Alex Almoukov.

Yes I know what you are thinking, Almoukov? Isn’t that a Russian name? Well of course it is and in fact Alex was born in Russia in Solobo to Russian parents and moved to Australia when he was six. Let’s face it it’s no bad thing to be Russian if you want to do biathlon! But he competes for Australia and considers it his home having spent the majority of his life there.

The 23 year old has recently graduated from University and is a fellow WordPress blogger. You can follow him here and on Facebook. It is an interesting insight into how the other half live. By the other half I mean the biathletes who struggle to get sponsorship and funding rather than the more fortunate who get a lot of support (you can find them at the top of all the standings!). It’s not easy when you compete for one of the countries whose Winter Sports teams are not well supported. Travel costs are high as are equipment costs especially ammunition.

Alex seems to progressing really well despite all of these hardships. He took part in the last Olympics and has shown good improvement especially in the Individual event. However it’s not easy to gain experience on the World Cup circuit as competition is fierce and chances to race are limited due to only the Top 60 or Top 30 being able to start the Pursuit and Mass-Start respectively.

This year the Australian team have been able to go to Russia for some summer training which will be a great help. Unfortunately if you are an Australian biathlete you tend to live in eternal winter. You spend winter in Europe competing and go home where it’s winter again. On the plus side you can spend the “summer” training skiing on real snow in Australia in places like Whisky Flats rather than on roller skis.

So what about next season for Alex? Well he did pretty well in Sochi last season so I am sure he will want to improve on his placing there in the Olympics. A good season for him I think will be to build on his progress from last year and try to break into the Top 40 more often. So next time you are watching biathlon look out for Alex and cheer on The Blizzard of Oz!

You can find Alex on Facebook or read his blog http://almoukov.wordpress.com.

For more information on Australian biathlon see http://www.biathlon.asn.au/

Don’t forget you can like biathlon 23 on Facebook!