Tag Archives: Anais Bescond

PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Women’s Relay!

WOW! Just when you thought the biathlon races couldn’t get any better! The Women’s Relay was incredible! So much tension with so many ups and downs!

It started with snow! Unusual for the winter, I know! The wind was the big problem however with some horrible gusts hitting the range in different directions!

The first leg was again a good one for Italy. Lisa Vittozzi had another great start just using a single spare in the prone to hand over at the first exchange in the lead. She was followed by Susan Dunklee giving the USA a great start just needing 1 spare in the stand. Paulina Fialkova redeemed herself after a horrible Mixed Relay, when she shot on the wrong target, with just 1 spare required.

The first big casualty was Germany. Franziska Preuss went on the penalty loop after struggling terribly on the standing shoot. That left the door wide open for all the other teams.

Dorothea Wierer was on the second leg for Italy but she also had a nightmare this time in the prone incurring 2 penalty loops. At the second stand mayhem ensued! The wind was awful and caused almost everyone big problems. Kuzmina, Eckhoff, Herrmann and Vita Semerenko all ended up on the penalty loop and many others lost a lot of time shooting slowly. The best shoot however came from Dorothea Wierer! She cleaned the stand and left the range in the lead. A small biathlon miracle!

Kaisa Makarainen, with 2 spares needed, caught Wierer on the tracks and exchanged in the lead for Finland. The third leg was madness too with Poland’s Krystyna Guzik coming out on top. She did a penalty loop on the prone but used 1 spare in the stand to lead after leg three! Behind there were still many nations in the mix like Belarus, Slovakia, Switzerland and France. Germany couldn’t make up any ground with Franziska Hildebrand on the penalty loop as was Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold.

Some fantastic shooting from Nadezhda Skardino (2 spares), Iryna Kryuko (1 spare) and Dzinara Alimbekava (3 spares) had put Darya Domracheva in fourth place starting the last leg. She had Weronika Nowakowska in front of her as well as Anais Bescond and Federica Sanfilippo. Dasha cleaned the prone to take the lead while the others all needed spares.

That meant everything came down to the final shoot. With immense pressure on her Domracheva needed all three of her spares but when the last target went down the gold belonged to Belarus. Bescond came out after her but a stunning performance from Hanna Oberg hitting 10/10 left her in third.

She was able to pass the Frenchwomen to secure sliver for her teammates Linn Persson, Mona Brorsson and Anna Magnusson. The Swedes used 12 spares and the bronze medallists France with Anais Chevalier, Marie Dorin Habert, Justine Braisaz and Bescond used 14.

Norway finished 4th after a good leg from Marte Olsbu, Slovakia were fantastic in 5th and Switzerland also did really well finishing 6th.

It was a crazy race but an amazing spectacle and another great advert for biathlon. The men’s race tomorrow is the final event here in PyeongChang. Let’s hope they produce something similar!

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PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Mixed Relay!

Yet another dramatic biathlon race in PyeongChang. The Mixed Relay did not disappoint – well it did disappoint Germany but they aren’t short of medals, are they?!

The Italians were the first team to take the lead in this race. The brilliant Lisa Vittozzi, who should get a special gold medal for her performance, shot 10/10! She was so quick and accurate she made Martin Fourcade look like a beginner! Vanessa Hinz for Germany and Marie Dorin Habert did the same but Vittozzi handed over in the lead.

Marte Olsbu needed spares and put Norway on the back foot. Mona Brorsson ended Swedish hopes with 3 penalty loops and Paulina Fialkova did 5. I can only assume there was a problem with her rifle.

That left Dorothea Wierer at the front closely followed by Laura Dahlmeier and Anais Bescond. Bescond missed 1 in the prone but Wierer and Dahlmeier cleaned to give them a gap. In the stand Dahlmeier missed 1 while Wierer and Bescond needed all their spares.

Dahlmeier handed over a comfortable lead to Erik Lesser meanwhile Tiril Eckhoff went on the penalty loop for Norway and Dasha brought Belarus up to 4th.

Lesser had a straightforward leg just requiring 1 spare in the stand. It was the same for Lukas Hofer but Simon Desthieux for France hit 10/10. While that was going on Johannes Boe had dragged Norway right back to the front needing 1 spare but skiing fast.

Arnd Peiffer, a late replacement for the ill Simon Schempp, was out in front with Martin Fourcade, Emil Svendsen and Dominik Windisch chasing him down.

Peiffer had a nervous prone shoot needing 2 spares, Fourcade hit 5 and Svendsen and Windisch both used a spare. Fourcade was then left alone to hunt down Peiffer and challenge for the gold.

In the end it was heartbreak for Sprint gold medallist Peiffer as he went on the penalty loop on the stand. With Fourcade hitting 5 gold was assured for France. Svendsen used 1 spare to put Norway into silver medal position and Windisch used 2 which meant came out of the range just in front of Peiffer.

With gold and silver decided it was a race for bronze. It came down to a sprint and Windisch took it on the line. The German team protested that he had changed line in the straight and impeded Peiffer but after an agonising wait the jury decided that Peiffer didn’t have slow down due to Windisch’s actions and the bronze stayed with Italy.

Belarus were fantastic finishing 5th and Finland had a great run in 6th. Much will be made of Martin Fourcade winning a 5th gold medal but he is part of the team and they left him in a fabulous position. Occasionally Fourcade lets himself down like in the Idividual race but he rarely lets his team down and he didn’t today.

Spare a though for Arnd Peiffer and the German team though as it’s a tough thing to happen to anyone.

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PyeongChang 2018: The Olympic Pursuits!

The Pursuit race – when the cream rises to the top. Unless you are Laura Dahlmeier of course and already at the top! That’s right she started first and she finished first! Laura led this one most of the way with a short visit from Anastasiya Kuzmina but it was a comfortable race for the double gold medallist.

She hit 19/20 and won by a margin of 30 seconds. She has mastered the winds of PyeongChang and that’s what made the difference. Kuzmina moved up to second and just managed to stay there beating Anais Bescond over the line by 0.2 of a second. Kuzmina missed 4 while Bescond only missed 1 shot and moved from 19th to claim the bronze medal.

Marte Olsbu was 4th, Hanna Oberg was 5th and Denise Herrmann was 6th. The biggest mover of the day was Rosanna Crawford who despite missing twice went from 53rd to 19th!

In the men’s race a certain Mr. Fourcade remembered that he is supposed to win races and put the Sprint debacle behind him. It was a close race up until the third shoot when Fourcade cleaned and all his rivals missed to leave him with a clear path to the gold medal.

He shot 19/20 and won by only 12 seconds in the end but he did slow down to celebrate and do a bit of flag waving. The fight behind him was where the real race was. From the group behind Fourcade only two held their nerve to shoot clean and so it came down to a ski race between Sebastian Samuelsson and Benedikt Doll.

Doll had the lead out of the range but Samuelsson basically stalked him round and it seems he loves this course as he skis it faster than everyone else. He overtook Doll and held him off to take the silver medal at 20-years-old. The Swede shot 19/20 coming from 14th to 2nd and the German also hit 19/20 to claim bronze. I was very happy to see these guys on the podium as they have both done interviews for my blog!!!

Tarjei Boe was 4th, Simon Schempp 5th and Benjamin Weger was 6th. Tim Burke had a great race moving from 47th to 17th.

Tuesday is a day off and the Games continue on Wednesday with the Women’s Individual.

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Antholz 2018: The Pursuits!

Sunny Saturday in Antholz hosted both the Pursuit races. The women were first and treated us to another good race.

It was quite a tight race up to the final shoot. Eckhoff and Dahlmeier started first and second but both missed on the first prone to let Darya Domracheva and Anais Bescond catch up with them after they both shot clear.

At the second prone Dasha and Tiril missed and Laura and Anais shot clean giving them the lead. By this time Dorothea Wierer was also coming into the picture after starting 7th.

At the third shoot Bescond missed 2 and was out of the picture. However Laura, Dasha and Tiril hit all five. Wierer missed 1 and headed to the penatly loop.

So it was all to come down to the last shoot, just the way we like it! This time it was Laura who held her nerve and hit all 5 to take a comfortable lead and the victory. Dasha missed 1 and Tiril 2. This gave Wierer her chance hitting the final 5. It would be a ski race for second. Dasha was holding on but in an accidental clash on one of the final turns Dasha knocked Doro’s pole out of her hand and so decided not to contest the finish leaving Wierer to claim second.

It showed outstanding sportswomanship and was very fair from Domracheva. Eckhoff stayed in 4th with Kaisa Makarainen storming into 5th from a start of 26th with 2 misses. Galina Vishnevskaya, despite her team being raided by Austrian police in the morning, shot clean and went from 14th to 6th.

There were other good performances from Lisa Vittozzi who went from 40th to 9th with 1 miss, Maren Hammerschmidt who missed 4 but moved from 49th to 24th and Synnoeve Solemdal who went from 53rd to 29th with 3 misses. Apart from Vishnevskaya two other women shot 20/20 and they were Alexia Runggaldier and Kaia Nicolaisen.

The men raced next and it was an altogether different race. Actually no it wasn’t, it was exactly the same as the Pursuit race in Annecy. Johannes Boe started with a lead of around 12 seconds and finished the race with a lead of around a minute. Johannes was incredible shooting 20/20 and cruising to victory.

It helped that Martin missed on the very first prone to give him a more comfortable cushion early on but he looked unbeatable today.

Martin held on to second hitting 19/20. Antholz Shipulin obviously had to move up on to the podium as he usually does here. He managed to pass Peiffer who went down 1 place to 4th.

There real show behind Boe came from his teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen. He started in 32nd place but shot 20/20 and moved all the way up to 5th. Emilien Jacquelin was again impressive missing just 2 shots to finish in 6th.

The Norwegians had a great time today with Erlend Bjoentegaard moving from 36th to 11th with 2 misses and L’Abee Lund went from 38th to 23rd. Dominik Landertinger went from 49th to 22nd, Michal Slesingr from 55th to 24th and Michael Roesch from 40th to 26th.

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Antholz 2018: The Sprints!

It was a beautiful day in Antholz on Thursday for the women’s Sprint with sunshine and no wind. With surprising weather comes surprising results and no one was more surprising than the winner!

Tiril Eckhoff, who has had a pretty average season so far, finally put everything together today and won the Sprint race. She started late in bib 71 but crucially she shot clean for the first time this season and with her ski speed she beat Laura Dahlmeier into second by 12 seconds.

We all know how good Tiril can be on her day, it’s just that those days don’t come often enough.

Dahlmeier also hit 10/10 as did Veronika Vitkova in third place. Vitkova has shown some fantastic form since Christmas and took her third podium of the season. Darya Domracheva missed 1 but is skiing well and finished 4th.

Anais Bescond hit the perfect 10 in 5th and Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht did the same to finish 6th.

There was also some personal bests in the race today from Julia Simon in 12th, Jessica Jislova in 15th, Laura Toivanen in 33rd, Kamila Zuk in 51st, Emily Dreissigacker in 59th, Regina Oja in 61st, Johanna Skottheim in 66th, and Fanqui Meng in 68th.

Some of the bigger names are missing this weekend for Olympic preparation like the Swedish and Polish women. That handed World Cup debuts to Felicia Lindqvist of Sweden who was 63rd and also Canada’s Nadia Moser who was 85th.

The top two fighting for the Overall Title, Kuzmina and Makarainen, were 18th and 26th respectively.

There were no surprises in the men’s Sprint. The race was between Johannes Boe and Martin Fourcade. A common theme for this season. We just have to wait to see who wins. This time it was Johannes. It was a little windier on Friday for the men and it showed in the early shooting.

Johannes missed 1 in the prone but skied like a maniac to win the race by 12.8 seconds. Fourcade hit the perfect 10 but was only second. After looking tired in Ruhpolding last week Johannes recovered well and put in a great skiing display. I mean who misses a shot and beats Fourcade when he has a clear shoot? Only Johannes!

Third place went to Arnd Peiffer. He also shot clean but just beat Anton Shipulin into 4th. Shipulin missed 1 but was only 4 seconds from the podium. Remember though that Anton loves Antholz!

Emilien Jacquelin was a fantastic 5th. He started in bib 94 but cleaned 10/10 and skied really well to take his personal best finish and some flowers! His amazing form this season probably means that a big French name is going to miss the Olympics!

Sixth place went to Lars Birkeland with 10/10 continuing his good form this season and justifying his place at the Olympics ahead of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Apart from Jacquelin there were a few more personal bests in the field. Volodymyr Siemakov was 12th, Andrzej Nedza- Kubiniec was 51st and Vladislav Vitenko was 52nd. There were also some World Cup debuts from Linas Banys of Lithuania in 103rd and Canada’s Aiden Millar in 107th.

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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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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:
4.Dorin Habert

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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