Tag Archives: Alexey Volkov

Oberhof 2018: The Relays!

Normal weather service was restored in Oberhof for the Relays – fog and lots of it!

It wasn’t so bad for the women who raced first but it still caused problems for them on the range. This one was a tale of the penalty loop with with lots of unexpected people on it!

The first to suffer was Vanessa Hinz for Germany. She had a torrid first leg using all her spares in the prone and going on the penatly loop in the stand. It looked like Germany’s hopes were gone. Italy and France took advantage with Liza Vittozzi shooting clear and Anais Bescond with 1 spare only required.

On the second leg it was France’s turn to go on the penalty loop with Anais Chevalier doing a penalty loop after the prone. Dorothea Wierer kept Italy in the lead only using 2 spares in the stand.

Behind her Denise Herrmann had a fantastic leg. She made up about 10 places just using 2 spares in the prone shoot. Kaisa Makarainen was even better with 1 spare putting Finland into third place.

Remarkably on the third leg Franziska Preuss put Germany back into the lead shooting 10/10. It was France who led over the line though with a fine performance from Celia Aymonier skiing especially well. Nicole Gontier who started the leg at the front did 2 penalty loops dropping Italy back down the standings.

Russia were coming into the race with a great leg from Tatiana Akimova shooting 10/10 and Sweden were in there too with great shooting on all three legs from Linn Persson, Anna Magnussen and Elisabeth Hoeberg.

The final leg came down to a race between Justine Braisaz and Maren Hammerschmidt for the win. Braisaz shot steadily and although she needed 4 spares she didn’t go on the penatly loop. Hammerschmidt did as she missed on the stand and Braisaz had an easy ski to victory. Laura Toivanen of Finland and Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht suffered the same fate which left the way clear for Mona Brorsson who with 3 spares brought Sweden home in third for a magnificent podium!

It’s ironic that Germany’s dominance in the Women’s Relay was ended in Germany but they still managed second without Hildebrand and Dahlmeier in the team. Russia were 4th, Ukraine 5th and Italy 6th.

The men’s relay is difficult to describe as you couldn’t see it!!! Thick fog descended and the guys had a lot of trouble on the range just to see the targets nevermind hit them. It made for a fun race though!

It was again the Belgian team who impressed over the first two legs just like in Hochfilzen. Michael Roesch and Florent Claude both led their legs with Roesch using 1 spare and Claude 2. Alexey Volkov was amazing with 1 spare for Russia putting them up front. Martin Ponsiluoma also had a great start for Swedn with 2 spares used.

Italy went on the penalty loop early with Tomas Bormolini as did Germany’s Roman Rees and France’s Emilien Jacquelin.

Lukas Hofer had a strong second leg for Italy and left Dominik Windisch to put Italy into the lead after three legs. Windisch shot clean while many others did a penalty loop or in the case of Johannes Kuehn 9!!! Jesper Nelin was steady for Sweden keeping them near the front.

Behind Windisch was Sebastian Samuelsson who left Freddie Lindstrom to chase Thierry Chanal for the win. They both shot clean in the prone and the Italian had a 30 second lead. However in the stand he had to take a penalty loop when Lindstrom needed just 1 spare and he won the race comfortably in the end.

It was a brilliant win for the Swedes in horrible conditions. The Italians held on to second and out of the fog appeared Tarjei Boe to put Norway on the podium. They did 3 penalty loops earlier on but Boe brought them back with a good leg while others moved backwards.

Russia were 4th, France 5th and Germany came back to 6th. We were also treated to the Thuringian dumpling song by Michael Roesch at the end of the race to make up for not being able to see it!!!

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Oberhof 2018: The Pursuits!

No rain and no wind! Those were the unusual conditions facing the biathletes in the Oberhof Pursuits!

The women started first and it was a starightforward race for Anastasiya Kuzmina. She had a 35 second start on the field and she never gave it up. Clean shooting on the first prone settled any nerves and she stayed in control for the rest of the race. She missed 2 targets, on the second and third shoots, but she had time to complete her penalty loops before the others had started shooting.

It has been an amazing season so far for Kuzmina. She has 4 wins and a nice lead in the total score. Hopefully she can sustain her form right up until the Olympics where she will attempt to win her third Sprint gold in a row.

Behind her we had a race. Kaisa Makarainen and Veronika Vitkova missed in the first prone and so allowed the others to come through. These included Laura Dahlmeier and Darya Domracheva. However misses on the third and fourth shoots took them away from the podium.

Franziska Hildebrand had a great chance to get second place but she missed in the final stand. Not missing a single target however was Dorothea Wierer. She hit 20/20 to move from 16th to 2nd. She loves a pursuit! The same happened to Vita Semerenko. Perfect shooting put her in 3rd place moving up from 22nd.

Weronika Nowakowska moved in to 4th from 6th htiing 20/20, Kaisa Makarainen hung in for 5th and Darya Domracheva was 6th beating Dahlmeier on the line.

Yulia Dzhima had a fantasic pursuit race going from 42nd to 13th, Denise Herrmann went from 45th to 16th and Vanessa Hinz from 55th to 18th. The only other woman to shoot clean was Olga Poltoranina in 41st.

The men’s race was more competitive but with the same outcome of bib number 1 winning. Martin Fourcade had three Norwegians chasing him but kept calm and in control of the race despite some pressure from the viking lads!

It was Svendsen who took the lead after the first prone with misses from Martin and Johannes. Martin caught up with him on the third loop and in the last shooting Svendsen made a mistake and Fourcade took the victory hitting 19/20 overall.

Johannes still finished second despite missing 3 targets. Big brother Tarjei was third hitting 20/20. Svendven was 4th in the end with 19/20.

Dmytro Pidruchnyi went from 10th to 5th with 1 miss and Lukas Hofer maintained 6th with 2 misses.

Further back in the pack Antonin Guiggonat moved from 46th to 27th, Alexey Volkov went from 55th to 28th shooting 20/20. Freddie Linstrom was the only other man to hit all 20 in 15th.

The final races are relays so that leaves Kuzmina with a lead of 47 points over Makarainen in the women’s overall and Martin Fourcade 38 points ahead of Johannes Boe as we head to Ruhpolding.

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Summer World Championships!

The Nut Cracker, Swan Lake…wait a minute….sorry, sorry wrong Tchiakovsky!

It’s the Russian town of Chaykovskiy that we are interested in as the biathlon Summer World Championships took place there over the weekend of the 25th to the 27th of August. There were 26 nations putting on their roller skis including biathletes from Greenland, Uzbekistan and Mongolia.

The Mixed Relays for the Juniors and Seniors took place on Friday followed by the Sprint races on Saturday and the Pursuits on Sunday.

The Russians dominated the Relays winning both the Junior and Senior titles. The Junior team did it the hard way with Kristina Reztsova doing two penalty loops and Valeriia Vasnetcova also doing one. The men fared better with Nikita Porschnev needing 3 spares and Igor Malinovskii using 5 to win the race by 57.9 seconds.

It was decided on ski speed as Russia with 3 penalty loops won the gold from the Ukraine who only used 6 spares in total! Khrystyna Dmytrenko used 2 on the first leg, Anna Kryvonos shot clean on her leg and the men, Vitaliy Trush and Taras Lesiuk needed two spares each. They finished well ahead of Belarus in third with a team of Anastasiya Anifryieva, Dzinara Alimbekova, Ihor Karpiuk and Anton Smolski incurring 2 penalty loops, one the first leg and one on the final leg.

Turkey finished in fourth, Kazakhstan were fifth, Romania sixth and Slovakia were seventh.

The Senior mixed relay was won by a strong Russian team. Uliana Kaisheva took the first leg using 3 spares. Sveltana Sleptsova was second using 2 spares. She handed over to Alexey Volkov who also used 2 spares and then Anton Shipulin led the team home to victory using 3 spares. They finished almost 30 seconds ahead of Slovakia who took the silver medal.

Their team of Paulina Fialkova (4 spares), her sister Ivona Fialkova (4 spares), Tomas Hasilla (5 spares) and Matek Kazar (3 spares) crossed the line nearly a minute in front of bronze medallists Ukraine.

As usual they shot really well with Yuliya Zhurakov shooting clean on the first leg, Mariya Panfilova using 2 spares, Anton Myhda with 1 spare and Maksom Ivko with 3. Fourth place went to Belarus, fifth to Kazakhstan, sixth to Moldova and seventh to Mongolia.

There were some familiar faces on the podiums for the Sprint races on Saturday. The Junior Women’s Sprint was won by Russia’s Kristina Reztsova. She missed just one shot in the standing shoot to finish 32.7 seconds ahead of the second placed athlete. That went to Dzinara Alimbekova from Belarus who missed one in the stand. Valeriia Vasnetcova was third but she missed 3 shots, two in the prone and one in the stand.

There was more home success in the Junior Men’s Sprint with a clean sweep of the podium from Russia. Igor Malinovskii won the race missing a single target in the prone. He was wearing bib23 which undoubted helped him win! The silver went to Vasilii Tomshin who missed 1 in the standing and finished 12.6 seconds behind the winner. Third went to Nikita Porshnev who missed 3 targets but was only 28.3 seconds back from the leader.

The Women’s Sprint also went to Russia. Svetlana Sleptsova won the gold shooting clean and then promptly announced her retirement! Maybe all she ever wanted was that gold! Second place went to Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova with two misses in the stand and third went again to Russia with Olga Dmitrieva missing two shots and the silver medal by just under a second.

Finally in the Men’s Sprint we got a winner who wasn’t Russian! That’s right Vladimir Chepelin from Belarus took the gold with one miss in the prone. Russia got the silver with Alexey Volkov shooting clean but finishing 3.4 seconds behind Chepelin. Slovakia took another medal with Tomas Hasilla claiming bronze.

The final day of the Championships was on Sunday and we had 4 Pursuit races to look forward to. The Junior Women’s race went to Natalia Ushkina who came from 4th to grab the win ahead of Reztova and Vasnetcova. She shot the best of the three with just 1 miss while the others missed 7 and 6 shots. It was a comfortable victory in the end for Ushkina who led a Russian clean sweep of the medals.

The Junior Men’s race went to Taras Lesiuk and Ukraine. He came from 4th to take the win by nearly 18 seconds from the two Russians Igor Malinovskii and Stepan Parfenov. Again the shooting was crucial with just 3 targets missed by Lesiuk compared to 5 and 6 from the Russians.

The Women’s Pursuit was won by Sleptsova giving her 3 golds from 3 races. Not a bad way to retire! Ukraine got another medal with Nadiia Bielkina coming from 5th with just 2 misses to get silver. The bronze went to Paulina Fialkova who dropped one spot from the Sprint.

The Men’s race went to Russia too with Alexey Volkov taking the gold by 43.7 seconds from teammate Anton Shipulin who started 6th. Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria came from 5th to 3rd and another Russian Sergey Klyachin went from 18th to 4th despite four missed targets. Let’s just say across all the races the shooting wasn’t the best. Luckily there is still time to improve before the snow comes!

It was a very successful home Championships for the Russian team leading the medal table with 18 medals, 8 of which were gold. The Ukraine were second and Belarus third. Slovakia and Bulgaria were the only other teams to win medals.

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Men’s Relay!

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It was back to sunshine for the Men’s Relay at the Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen. We had a field of 26 starting the race and it was another great one.

The first leg went very well for all the top teams. Erik Lesser had a great leg shooting 10/10 and handing over in the lead. He was followed by Jean Guillaume Beatrix who also hit 10/10. Lowell Bailey continued his good form with just 1 spare needed, Bjoerndalen needed 2 spares as did Hofer and Volkov. Pyrma and Mesotitsch used 1 each so it was all pretty close at the first exchange. Andrejs Rastorgujevs went out very fast on the first leg for Latvia and was leading up until the standing when he ended up on the penalty loop!

Benedikt Doll took over for Germany and although he used 1 spare on the prone he used 3 on the stand and risked a penalty loop. Quentin Fillon Maillet had a much better leg than in the Mixed Relay and used only 1 spare. Maxim Tsvetkov, Dominik Windisch and Sergey Semenov were all brilliant shooing 10/10. Emil Svendsen used 1 spare as did Leif Nordgren but Julian Eberhard needed 4. All of that left France just in the lead in front of the chasing pack.

The third leg is usually where things can be decided. Anton Babikov didn’t put a foot wrong shooting 10/10 and put Russia firmly in control of the race. Behind him Simon Eder, Arnd Peiffer, Simon Desthieux and Vladimir Semakov all needed to use 3 spares. Tarjei Boe ended Norway’s chances by going on the penalty loop on his standing shoot. Italy’s Guiseppe Montello had a fine leg using just 1 spare.

That left us with the final leg to go and Anton Shupulin in the lead. He was chased by Martin Fourcade and after him came Dominik Landertinger and Simon Schempp. Italy and Ukraine were left fighting for the minor placings with Thomas Bormolini and Dmytro Pidruchnyi racing for 5th and 6th.

Shipulin was comfortable on the prone hitting all 5 to maintain his lead. Fourcade also hit them all but Landertinger and Schempp both needed 1 spare. So that left one fight for gold and silver and another for bronze. Shipulin missed a target in the stand but hit quickly with his spare to keep a gap over Fourcade who again shot clean. Landertinger needed a spare but Schempp didn’t and they were together leaving the range.

Shipulin went out hard and Fourade couldn’t catch him giving Russia their first gold of these Championships. France took silver but there was a great fight for bronze.

It looked like Schemmp was going to sit in behind Landertinger and use his sprint finish to beat him. Landi had other ideas and when they got to the final climb he threw everything at it going up like a rocket. He managed to break Schempp and held the gap all the way to the line and gave Austria their first medal at their home World Championships. It was great and the hosts deserved a medal for putting on a great show here in Hochfilzen. Plus Germany have got loads of medals already -it’s time to share!

Fourth place went to Germany, Italy were amazing to get 5th, Ukraine were 6th, the USA were excellent in 7th inspired by Lowell Bailey, Norway were 8th, Bulgaria took 9th and the Czech Republic 10th.

11th Sweden
12th Slovakia
13th Canada
14th Kazakhstan
15th Japan
16th Switzerland
17th Romania
18th Slovenia
19th Belarus
20th Finland
21st Estonia
22nd Latvia
23rd Korea
24th Poland
25th Lithuania
26th Great Britain

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OECH 2017: Duszniki Zdroj!

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The Open European Championships got underway in Duszniki Zdroj in Poland on Wednesday with the Individual races. With a brand new stadium and good weather conditions it made it a good day to race.

The results of both races were a bit controversial however and to be fair you could see it coming. Alexander Loginov won the Men’s Individual and Irina Starykh won the women’s race. Both have just returned to the sport after serving 2 year suspensions for doping violations. According to the rules they were caught, they have served their suspensions and are free to compete again. However against the backdrop of alleged Russian state sponsored doping and the IBU biathletes threatening action if the IBU doesn’t crack down on doping it makes an uncomfortable situation for the governing body.

Whatever you feel about the outcome of the race they were the winners and performed the best on the day. They have both been doing well on the IBU Cup so it wasn’t a big surprise that they won. The silver medal for the men went to Bulgaria’s Krasimir Anev who shot 20/20 and bronze went to Alexey Slepov who also shot the perfect score.

In the Women’s Individual silver went to Russia’s Svetlana Sleptsova, who has also been involved in doping in the past, and bronze to Anastasiya Merkushyna from the Ukraine who both missed 1 target.

Both Sprint races took place on Friday and in the men’s race Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev won his first race and his first title despite 1 missed target. He finished 5 seconds ahead of Loginov who won silver and 16 seconds ahead of teammate Krasimir Anev who won bronze. They both shot 10/10 which makes Iliev’s performance a very good one.

In the women’s race in the afternoon Ukraine’s Yuliia Dzhima won gold by 27 seconds shooting 10/10. Silver again went to Sleptsova who also shot clean and the bronze went to Starykh with 1 miss.

On Saturday both Pursuit races were held and Irina Starykh won yet again. She shot 20/20 which means she hasn’t missed a target yet in 3 races. Silver medal went to Yuliia Dzhima who missed 2 targets, one in each standing shoot to finish 20 seconds behind. Third place went to Sleptsova who had 1 miss. It means over the 3 races only 4 women have won all 9 medals. Ingrid Tandrevold had a great race a bit further back coming from 48th shooting clean to end up 16th.

The men’s race was again dominated by the Russians. Loginov took gold again shooting 19/20 to beat compatriot Evgeniy Garanichev by 28 seconds. Garanichev had a great race starting 17th and taking the silver medal shooting 19/20. Andrejs Rastorgujevs finally made it on to the podium missing 4 shots and having to pass another Russian Volkov on the final lap to take the bronze medal. The Sprint winner Iliev missed 6 targets and finished in 11th place.

The final day of racing on Sunday was for the Relays. Unsurprisingly they were both won by the Russians. First it was the Single Mixed Relay and Garanichev and Daria Virolaynen who used 7 spare rounds finished 6.3 seconds ahead of Norway who also used 7. Tandrevold and Christiansen held on to silver in front of home favourites Krystyna and Grzegorz Guzik who finally gave the home fans something to cheer winning bronze.

The Mixed Relay gold went to the team of Starykh, Sleptsova, Volkov and Loginov. They finished 36 seconds ahead of silver medalists Norway with a team of Erdal, Huber, Bjoentegaard and Gjesbakk. Bronze medal went to the Ukrainians with a team of Merkushyna, Dzhima, Zhyrnyi, and Tkalenko despite Dzhima going on the penalty loop and Tkalenko being in second until Gjesbakk overtook him on the final downhill.

That concludes the Open European Championships which were dominated by Russia. Thankfully some others from the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Latvia and Norway got in on a bit of the action! It will be interesting to see if the likes of Loginov and Starykh get named on the World Championships team for Hochfilzen which starts on the 9th of February.

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WC1: Oestersund 2015 Review!

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AT LAST! Winter is here and the withdrawal symptoms have gone – biathlon is back! As usual we kicked off the season in Oestersund, Sweden and this year we started with the Single Mixed Relay.

This time around it was poor Simon who suffered from the “Oestersund Curse of the Fourcades” when he failed to fire all his bullets and missed a penalty loop which cost the French team a victory. Simon and Marie Dorin Habert were winning by a margin but after a 3 minute time penalty they ended up 21st. This left the way clear for Norway to win with a team of Kaia Nicolaisen and Lars Birkeland. In second and taking their first ever relay podium was the Canadian pair of Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith and third were the German team of Maren Hammerschmidt and Daniel Boehm.

Next came the Mixed Relay which Norway controlled and won by a margin big enough for Tarjei Boe to pose in front of a car advert pleasing the sponsors immensely. Second came Germany and in third was the Czech Republic. It wasn’t the most exciting relay apart from the first takeover where Franziska Hildebrand, Vanessa Hinz and Ekaterina Yurlova managed to play skittles with each other and Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Freddie Lindstrom treated us to a sprint finish for 4th place.

On Wednesday the first individual race of the season got underway and coincidentally it was the Men’s Individual 20km! It was won by Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who had a great race shooting 20/20 to win his 95th race. He profited slightly from calmer conditions on the shooting range but that doesn’t take anything away from his victory. In second was Overall Title contender Simon Schempp and third was Alexey Volkov who also shot clear. Windy and snowy conditions made it a difficult day on the range with Martin Fourcade missing 5 shots to finish in 21st, Tarjei Boe missing 4 in 22nd and Anton Shipulin missing 3 to finish 16th. Svendsen came joint 4th with Quentin Fillon Maillet who was France’s top finisher in the race.

In contrast to Bjoerndalen the winner of the Women’s race collected her first ever win on the World Cup. Italy’s Dorothea Wierer shot clear to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time. Marie Dorin Habert put in a great skiing performance to come second and Olena Pidhrushna was third after coming out of retirement. Overall title hopefuls Tiril Eckhoff and Gabriela Soukalova finished 4th and 5th. Also in the Top 10 was Lisa Hauser getting her best finish of 8th on the World Cup.

On Saturday came the Sprints and they were held in windy conditions which meant shooting was very difficult. Fortunately for winner Martin Fourcade he can miss some targets and still win. This time everyone missed targets except one.In second was Arnd Peiffer and third was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. The wind threw some new names into the TOP 20 with Macx Davies of Canada finishing 10th shooting 10/10. Raman Yaliotnau from Belarus was 15th and Jesper Nelin of Sweden was 16th.

In the Women’s race Gabriela Soukalova hit 10/10 to take the win denying Italy’s Federica Sanfilippo her first World Cup victory. Second is still an amazing result for her finishing ahead of a resurgent Olena Pidhrushna who was third for the second race in succession.

The Sprint result meant that Martin Fourcade would start the Pursuit 52 seconds before Peiffer and it would be very difficult to beat him, and so it proved as he won comfortably. Peiffer maintained his second place and Quentin Fillon Maillet finally got on the podium in third after two 4th place finishes.

You might have noticed I haven’t mentioned Kaisa Makarainen yet. She got off to an inauspicious start by her standards with a 24th and 10th place finish. She showed her class in the Pursuit though with a stunning final shoot and last lap to claim victory. Second was Dorothea Wierer and third was Franziska Hildebrand who couldn’t hold off Kaisa and her amazing skiing.

Others who did well in the Pursuits were Tarjei Boe who went from 29th to 4th, Dmitry Malyshko 34th to 7th, Evgeniy Garanichev 27th to 8th, Simon Fourcade 49th to 14th and Lars Birkeland 58th to 25th. For the women Marte Olsbu went from 26th to 7th, Eva Tofalvi from 60th to 19th, Megan Tandy from 46th to 25th and Nadezhda Skardino from 26th to 7th.

All in all it was a great start to the new season and we now head to Austria and Hochfilzen for round 2 with Martin Fourcade in the yellow bib for the men and Gabriela Soukalova for the women. It promises to be a great World Cup round!

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SMR: The reaction is Mixed!

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Last season saw the first ever Single Mixed Relay on the World Cup. The format has been tested before and we have the World Team Challenge in Germany between Christmas and New Year but this was the first time that it was an official World Cup event and worth points to the competing nations. In this article I wanted to review just how that went by exploring the purpose of the event and how successful it was.

Firstly though we need to understand exactly what the Single Mixed Relay is. Two biathletes from each country, one male and one female, form a team to take part in the relay. It is raced over a distance of 6km for the women and 7.5km for the men. It is very similar to the Mixed Relay where the biathletes each shoot in the prone and standing position before handing over to their partner. The penalty loop is shorter in this race at only 75 metres. The race is started by the women and finished by the men. The women will do 4 laps in the race and the men 5 as they must complete a whole lap after the final shoot.

So what is the purpose of this new race? It is the first new event to be added to the World Cup since the Mixed Relay was introduced in 2003. There are several different reasons why it has now been included as an event. The first is simply that it adds something new for the spectators and is a short and exciting race. The World Team Challenge has always been very entertaining to watch and now we can enjoy that excitement on the World Cup too. The second reason was, to quote IBU Race Director for the World Cup Borut Nunar, “to present one more team event where nations with only one good male and female athlete could have a strong chance for top rankings”. In other words to give some of the smaller teams a chance to get more Nation’s Cup points.

The first event was held in Nove Mesto and was won by Russia with a team of Volkov and Romanova. Second was Norway with Olsbu and L’Abee Lund and in third came the Ukraine with Dzhyma and Tyshchenko. The smaller teams had mixed fortunes. Japan did really well finishing 10th but Lithuania were 19th and Great Britain were 20th. Estonia didn’t enter a team, neither did Italy or The Netherlands.

Why was this? Well mainly because the event was scheduled on the same day as the Mixed Relay! The small teams don’t have enough biathletes to compete in both relays on the same day and in fact Nerys Jones and Kevin Kane of Great Britain and Fuyuko Suzuki of Japan were forced to compete in both events. So instead of being an event to help the smaller nations it actually became a hindrance! The teams prioritised the Mixed Relay and so couldn’t use the opportunity to gain any extra ranking points.

In the end it seemed to be more of a useful event for the top nations. It gave their biathletes that couldn’t get into the Mixed Relay team the chance to have a race and get even more ranking points for the Nation’s Cup. As we saw Russia won and Norway who were second went on to win the Mixed Relay later in the day. The problem lies in the scheduling of the event. If you can’t have it on the same day as the other relays though, when can you have it?

Well it wouldn’t be possible on the same day as the Sprint or the Individual as nearly all of the biathletes compete in these. That leaves the same day as a Pursuit or a Mass Start where just the TOP 60 or 30 biathletes take part. That would seem to be a better solution but then you have the issue of the tracks. That would mean 3 races in one day on the tracks and as we have seen in the last couple of years the venues are having difficulty providing good tracks because of the lack of snow and 3 races in a short space of time wouldn’t help the skiing conditions. Ideally the Single Mixed Relay would take place on a day with no other races but then it doesn’t last as long as the other relays and so might not be value for money for the spectators.

Overall the Single Mixed Relay serves the first purpose very well. It is new and exciting and something a bit different for fans and biathletes. The second purpose of helping countries gain more ranking points has yet to be seen. We have 2 Single Mixed Relays on the calendar this season in Oestersund and Canmore which are both scheduled on the same day as the Mixed Relays again. The strength of the big teams and scheduling problems mean that it won’t help the smaller teams much to improve their ranking. It is the same with all sports though. The bigger, richer teams will always have more money and be more successful than the smaller ones. Having said all of this we have only had one official race so far!! There is plenty of time to see just how well the event progresses over the next few seasons. We like new things in biathlon but in regards to this relay the reaction is Mixed!

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