Tag Archives: Anais Bescond

PyeongChang 2017: The Relays!

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It was the final day of racing in PyeongChang and also the final men’s and women’s relays of the season. There are reports going around that after his record equaling 6 Overall Titles in a row and 12 wins in a season that Martin Fourcade was using his big crystal globe to drink soju from! Soju is like the Korean version of sake. We thought he might miss the Relay but as these reports were from an American source it’s possible that it was fake news! 😉

Laura Dahlmeier did miss the women’s relay which is real news! The German’s lined up with their ‘H’ team (like the A team but further down the alphabet) of Horchler, Hammerschmidt, Hermann and Hildebrand! The absence of Dahlmeier didn’t prevent them from winning their fifth relay in a row and every relay this season. A fantastic achievement.

At one point it looked like it wasn’t going to happen though. Nadine Horchler had a solid first leg with just one spare needed handing over to Hammerschmidt in third place behind Chevalier of France and Crawford of Canada.

Hammerschmidt moved Germany into the lead after her leg using 2 spares but staying ahead of France’s Anais Bescond and Canada’s Julia Ransom. Ransom had an amazing leg shooting 10/10 and handing over to Megan Tandy still in contention for the lead.

Denise Hermann was confident on the prone hitting all five. However in the standing shoot she had a lot of trouble and ending up on the penalty loop. This meant that Justine Braisaz of France could take the lead handing over in front of Hermann. Then came Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who had a stunning leg making up for Hilde Fenne’s penalty loop on leg 2. Megan Tandy was brilliant in 4th using just 1 spare.

Celia Aymonier took over for France and was up against Franziska Hildebrand, Marte Olsbu and Emma Lunder. After a solid prone she had a horrible stand ending up with 2 penalty loops and so France were out of the picture. Hildebrand was excellent with just one spare meaning she had a comfortable final loop to victory.

The race was still on for the podium and it came down to a sprint finish on the line between Marte Olsbu, Gabriela Koukalova and Anna Magnusson. Some excellent shooting from these three put them all in with a chance but on the line Olsbu took second by 0.1 of a second with Koukalova in third just in front of Magnusson.

Emma Lunder needed 2 spares and in the end Canada finished 8th but it was a great race from ever member of their team racing in the top 4 for much of the relay.

The men’s race was a little less dramatic but still entertaining. Lukas Hofer set off very fast and led the first loop for Italy before having to do 3 penalty loops on the prone! Norway were up at the front after a great leg from Vetle Christiansen shooting 10/10. The USA were in seconds thanks to Lowell Bailey’s clean shoot and the Ukraine were in 3rd with Artem Pryma.

Bjoerndalen held on to the lead for Norway in the second leg with 3 spares. France’s Simon Fourcade moved them up from 7th, where Beatrix handed over, using just 1 spare. Ukraine were still in third after Sergiy Semenov’s leg.

The third leg saw France move into the lead and they wouldn’t give it up. Simon Desthieux was steady on the range unlike his competitor Vergard Gjermandshaug who incurred a penalty loop for Norway. Austria moved into second with two great legs from Simon Eder and then Julian Eberhard and Norway were still in third.

That’s how the race would end with legs from Martin Fourcade, Dominik Landertinger and Henrik L’Abee Lund. They were all good enough on the range to stop any others catching or passing them.

That is the end of the pre-Olympic event here in PyeongChang and now it’s back to Kontiolahti for World Cup 8!

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PyeongChang 2017: The Pursuits!

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Saturday in PyeongChang was dedicated to the Pursuit races. The women went first and had conditions which were a little warm and so made the snow wet in places. The men had better skiing conditions later in the evening. There wasn’t a lot of wind to affect the shooting. There was also some excellent drumming and coordinated dance moves coming from the stands!

The women’s race was not that exciting in terms of the race for the victory. Dahlmeier and Eckhoff were together up to the first prone shoot and when Tiril missed Laura had the race all to herself. She hit 20/20 and was untouchable out front winning by over a minute.

Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who shot 10/10 in the prone and missed 2 shots in her third shoot. However she cleaned the final stand and was able to overtake Anais Bescond who had left the range just before her.

Bescond had a great race in third missing just 1 target but wasn’t able to keep up with Makarainen on the final loop despite shooting better than her. Eckhoff still managed to finish 4th even with 5 penalty loops and Susan Dunklee maintained her 5th place.

Gabriela Koukalova had a much better day missing 2 shots but finishing 8th from at start position of 21st. Marte Olsbu came from 24th to finish 9th. Irina Starykh came from 55th to finish 20th and Iryna Varvynets wento from 44th to 22nd.

In the men’s race Julian Eberhard started with a 40 second lead and managed to stay in front of the rest until the second prone shoot. He missed 2 shots there handing the lead to Martin Fourcade who like Dahlmeier never gave it up. He shot 20/20 to win by 35 seconds giving him his 12th win of the season. This equals the record of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and he still has more races left to try and beat it.

Fourcade was chased by a gang of Austrians. Eder, Landertinger and Eberhard were all trying in vain to catch him but all missed shots in the final standing. Sneaking up from behind was Anton Shipulin who had a magnificent race in bib23! He made up 21 places to come second hitting the perfect 20/20.

Third eventually went to Eberhard despite his 3 misses and teammate Eder was 4th. Anton Babikov moved from 41st to 15th, Henrik L’Abee Lund from 38th to 17th, Christian Gow went from 56th to 32nd and Anton Sinapov went from 60th to get some points in 39th.

Dahlmeier and Fourcade were outstanding today. Considering everything they have already won, especially Fourcade, their will to keep fighting and motivation to keep winning is extraordinary. We are very lucky to have them both racing in biathlon.

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PyeongChang 2017: The Sprints!

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We are in PyeongChang! Luckily nobody got confused and went to Pyongyang! It’s the Olympic test event and also World Cup round 7 in South Korea. Like Korean kimchi, that is stored on a roof for months, we have been waiting a long time to see the tracks and range that will be used for the Olympics in 2018.

The first race of the event was the Women’s Sprint and because of the time difference, which is 8 hours in front of CET, we had a night race.

The fans were out to watch. There weren’t huge numbers but what they lacked in quantity they made up for in quality and also the best headbands biathlon has ever seen! Where can I get one?! 😉

There was some wind to deal with for the women and what looked like an icy track. Some of the bigger names decided to go in the later groups possibly hoping for faster skiing conditions but Laura Dahlmeier didn’t. She went bib 18 and shot clean and skied well. When she does that it’s almost impossible to beat her these days.

Tiril Eckhoff gave it a good try though. Shooting 10/10, and the best I have seen her do in a while, she took her first podium of the season finishing 8 seconds behind Dahlmeier.

Third place went to Anais Chevalier with another clean shoot. It could have been snatched from her by teammate Marie Dorin Habert who also shot clean and was 5 seconds ahead of Chevalier after leaving the final shoot. However she disappeared completely and it was later revealed that she had to pull out of the race after feeling dizzy and a bit weak.

Sweden’s Mona Brorsson had her best result this season finishing equal 8th with Anais Bescond after shooting 10/10. Finishing in 17th place to claim her personal best result was Slovakia’s Ivona Fialkova. Annoyingly for her big sister Paulina still beat her when she finished in 14th!

Gabriela Koukalova finished in 21st position with 2 misses to hand an even bigger lead to Dahlmeier in the Total Score.

The men raced on Friday and shooting clean and winning the Sprint, probably 2 weeks after her would have liked to, was Austria’s Julian Eberhard. If only he could have done it in Hochfilzen! He won by 40 seconds from someone who did win in Hochfilzen Lowell Bailey. He is on amazing form at the moment shooting clean again proving he is no one hit wonder! 😉

Third place went to Martin Fourcade who missed 2 shots but that podium finish means that he has once again won the Overall Title. That makes it 6 seasons in a row which is an incredible achievement.

The other Austrians all did well today too with Dominik Landertinger finishing 4th and Simon Eder in 8th. It could be the medal bounce after their performance in the Men’s Relay at the World Championships as Daniel Mesotitsch also took a podium on the IBU Cup in Kontiolahti yesterday.

Serafin Wiestner finished in 7th which is his best result this season. Germany’s Roman Rees got his career best finish in 13th and Tomas Krupkic from the Czech Republic also got a personal best in 19th.

We now have both Pursuit races on Saturday and they should be good races. The women are quite close together as are the men with the exception of Eberhard who will start with a decent lead.

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Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 2!

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Well that was a good finish to a fun weekend in Antholz! We had a new winner in the women’s races with Nadine Horchler and a first podium at home for Alexia Runggaldier and Martin Fourcade didn’t win a race! Surprises everywhere!

The men raced first this morning in the Mass Start and it was another cracker. They attacked it from the start with Emil Svendsen pushing the pace on the first loop. It didn’t work out too well for him though as he was the one who missed a target.

At the second prone it was Shipulin’s turn to miss which left Johannes Boe, Martin Fourcade, Lars Birkeland and Erik Lesser in the lead.

The third shoot saw Fourcade miss but Boe, Lesser and Birkeland all cleared. Behind them Beatrix, Schempp, Fillon Maillet and Svendsen were all closing back in on the leaders.

The final shoot as usual was the crucial one. Lesser missed 1 and Fourcade missed 2 which left Boe and Fillon Maillet fighting it out on the tracks for the victory with Shipulin just behind. The last person you want to ski the final loop of a race with is Martin Fourcade but the second last is Johannes Boe!

Fillon Maillet just couldn’t hang on to him in the closing stages and was denied a first victory. However Johannes more than deserved the win for his powerful skiing as well as shooting 20/20. He was the only man to shoot clean today and gave Fourcade a gentle reminder that he won’t have it all his own way in Hochfilzen.

We had 3 Frenchmen in the top six with Fourcade in 5th and Beatrix in 6th. Svendsen came back to finish 4th and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was 10th.

The Women’s Relay was not as close as the men’s race yesterday and there was no surprise who won this one. It was the German women who made it a Deutsch eins-zwei in the Relays.

They fielded a strong team of Laura Dahlmeier, Franziska Hildebrand, Maren Hammerschmidt and Vanessa Hinz and if they all perform well it’s a very hard group to beat. The French team of Chevalier, Braisaz , Bescond and Dorin Habert gave it a good try leading the first leg but from there the Germans took over and never looked back winning by 24 seconds. They did use 12 spares to France’s 8 so they are not perfect.

Third place went to Italy whose women rounded off a good weekend for the team. Vitozzi, Sanfilippo, Runggaldier and Wierer put in a great performance to move from 7th to third with 9 spares.

Finland had a great Relay too coming 8th from a start position of 16th with Toivanen, Markkanen, Laukkanen and Makarainen. The USA also did well finishing 13th after starting in bib 22 with Dunklee, Egan, Reid and Phaneuf.

So that is the end of the World Cup races for a little while. We have a short break before the World Championships in Hochfilzen on the 9th of February. Martin Fourcade will wear the yellow bib for the men and Laura Dahlemier is in yellow for the women.

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Ruhpolding 2017: The Relays!

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It seems the people of Ruhpolding like everything weiß. Weißbier, weißwurst and of course weiß snow! They also love an exciting finish in the Relay and that’s exactly what they got in the Men’s race on Wednesday.

We all know the Norwegian men love to win the Relay in Ruhpolding and they did so again for the third time in a row. For most of the race it didn’t look that likely until Emil Svendsen took over on the final leg and very much proved why he is called Super Svendsen – and it’s not because he wears his underpants over his trousers! No it’s because when he is on form he is an awesome biathlete.

Russia spent most of the race in the lead apart from the first lap where a great leg from Lukas Hofer, shooting 10/10, put Italy in the lead at the first changeover. The second two legs were dominated by Anton Shipulin who only used one spare and Matvey Eliseev who didn’t miss a target.

He handed over a 30 second lead to Anton Babikov who had Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen chasing him. Schempp was lucky to be there after Erik Lesser did a penalty loop on the first leg but some great work from Bendikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer put Germany back into contention.

Svendsen proved to be the best of the three, shooting 10/10 when the other two both needed a spare and had a great ski to catch and then pass Babikov to win the race by 5 seconds. He has teammates Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Vetle Christiansen and Henrik L’Abee Lund to thank for putting him in such a good position and also his ski technicians for some incredible skis. With Norway winning without a Boe in sight they could be hard to beat for the rest of the season.

Back in the pack Sweden came all the way from 23rd to finish 6th using 8 spares, Bulgaria finished an impressive 8th including a penalty loop and the Ukraine showed how good a team they have maintaining 4th place with Vitaliy Kilchytskyy completing his standing shoot in 17 seconds hitting all the targets. France came 9th unable to recover from a poor first leg from Simon Fourcade who is back after an illness.

So then the Women’s race on Thursday had a lot to live up to and it did just that! Kaisa Makarainen got us off to a great start by leading the race up to the first exchange. However Finnish hopes were short lived as the bigger teams took over from there. Maren Hammerschmidt took the second leg for home team Germany taking over from Vanessa Hinz. She managed to hand over the lead to Franziska Preuss despite the close attentions of Italy, Ukraine, Norway and France.

In the third leg it was Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who went into the lead missing just one shot in the prone. In fact that was the only spare round the Norwegian team used in the race! She handed Marte Oslbu a 4.5 second lead but she had some tough competition in the form of Olena Pidhrushna, Laura Dahlmeier and Celia Aymonier.

In the end it was Laura Dahlmeier who was victorious giving the crowd something to cheer! She used 1 spare but was too strong on the skis for the others making up a 10 second deficit on Olsbu. Second place went to France with Celia Aymonier also beating Olsbu to the line after they both hit every target. Aymonier, who used to be on the dark side of cross-country, seems to have found some Jedi powers on the shooting range and is becoming a fantastic biathlete. The French team were without Marie Dorin Habert today but with Anais Chevalier, Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz and Aymonier they look a formidable team even without her.

Norway had a great race in third. Their women’s team hasn’t been as strong this season but Kaia Nicolaisen, Hilde Fenne, Eckhoff and Olsbu put that right today. Hopefully they can carry this success into the individual races.

Norway were the top team on the range followed by Ukraine and Canada who used only 3 spares and finished 4th and 10th respectively and Sweden used only 4 finishing 7th. Russia had a bad day at the range using 11 spares and incurring 2 penalty loops.

The Relays were both really good races to watch with exciting finishes. Hopefully the rest of the round will be the same with the Sprints on Friday and Saturday and the Pursuits on Sunday.

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Nove Mesto 2016: The Sprints!

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Hurray! The World Cup is bock in Nove Mesto Na Morave and it’s about time too. With the stands packed with around 30,000 fantastic fans it’s a great place to go racing. We started on Thursday with the Men’s Sprint and Martin Fourcade won again! That’s all three Sprint races he has won so far this season, 5 out of 6 victories in individual races and he has been on the podium in every single race! Unbelievable! The only race he didn’t win was the won I predicted he would definitely win so for the sake of biathlon I am absolutely sure he will win the Pursuit! 😉

In second place was Anton Shipulin who shot clean but was still beaten by Fourcade by 1.6 seconds and Martin missed a target. A more encouraging result however was Emil Hegle Svendsen in third who also missed 1 target but was only 6.5 seconds back. It seems having Fourcade’s old coach and the same skis is paying off. If he eats a few plates of svíčková (sirlion with vegetables) in Nove Mesto he will surely be able to beat him! It should make an interesting Pursuit race.

Johannes Boe was 4th and Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev had a fantastic race finishing 5th. Home hero Ondrej Moravec was 8th giving the crowd more reason to shout and Julian Eberhard missed 3 targets but was still 9th only 28.6 seconds behind the winner. In 13th place was young Swede Sebastian Samuelsson who missed 1 target and was 38.2 seconds behind Fourcade. He will be 20 in March!

The Women’s race took place on Friday and much like some řízek (triple coated schnitzel) there was a triple surprise on the podium. Taking her first ever win was Russia’s Tatiana Akimova. She shot clean and won the race by 4.3 seconds. In second place with her career best finish on the World Cup was France’s Anais Chevalier who also shot clean just beating the USA’s Susan Dunklee into third by 0.8 of a second. Dunklee also shot clean and grabbed her first podium of the season (the power of bib23!).

The French women’s team was really impressive as they had five biathletes in the Top 12 with Braisaz in 6th, Bescond in 8th, Dorin Habert in 11th and Aymonier in 12th. The top Czech was Gabriela Koukalova who was 13th but she missed 3 targets in the standing shoot. With 29,000 fans cheering every shot there is a lot of pressure on her to perform well and I think she will improve on that in the Pursuit.

Speaking of the Pursuit I think both races should be very exciting with only a few seconds separating the top biathletes in both the men’s and women’s races. Don’t miss them!

I now have a strange desire to buy a pair of bright orange trousers but I am not sure why! 😉 So while I pop to the shops you can enjoy the rest of the weekend in Nove Mesto!

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Oestersund 2016:The Individuals!

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Seriously the IBU are pretty mean, aren’t they? They give us two Relays on Sunday and then nothing until Wednesday! Luckily the wait is over and the first individual races got under way with well – the Individual races!

The Women’s race was first and there was a smörgåsbord of talent on view. (That’s right -I used smörgåsbord in a review of a race in Sweden!) Wednesday was windy but it’s Oestersund if it’s not windy, it’s crap as some might say. 😉 The wind is great, not for the biathletes for the fans. It helps to throw up some different results and introduce us to some new faces.

The winner didn’t need an introduction of course. Laura Dahlmeier won the race missing 2 targets but still managed to win by nearly 16 seconds from Anais Bescond who only missed one. In third place we got the surprise result. Dayra Yurkevich from Belarus got her first ever podium finish and deservedly so as she shot clean and was the only woman to do so.

Home biathlete Hanna Oberg came 8th which is a fantastic result for her. With Anna Magnusson and Mona Brorsson also in the Top 25 it was a good race for the Swedes. Joanne Reid from the USA also had a great race finishing in 29th position. The Austrian team did really well too with personal bests for Lisa Hauser 7th, Fabienne Hartweger 22nd and Julia Schwaiger 28th.

Apart from Dahlmeier it wasn’t the best day for the pre-race favourites with Koukalova in 17th, Dorin Habert in 19th, Makarainen in 24th and Wierer in 31st.

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The wind was unpredictable again on Thursday for the men but the result was very predictable with Martin Fourcade winning. He is hard to beat in the Individual and rarely loses in this format. In second place was Johannes Boe who had the opportunity to win but missed twice in his final shoot. Third place went to Vladimir Chepelin of Belarus taking his first ever podium missing just 1 target. In fact it was his first Top 10 result. If only there was someone who had written a blog post about him before the start of the World Cup predicting such a possibility! 😉

There were another two Norwegians in the Top 5 with Lars Birkeland in 4th and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in 5th. I really must find out what magic he is using so I can bottle it and sell it. What a legend! There were equally impressive performances from Cornel Puchianu in 14th and Tuomas Gronman in 20th.

It wasn’t such a good day for some of Fourcades main rivals however. Shipulin finished in 11th but missed 3 targets on the final shoot and could have got more points. Simon Schempp missed 7 and finished outside the points in 46th and Svendsen didn’t even start the race.

The Sprints take place on Saturday for both the men and women but the big question is – can I get pickled herring into my race report? Wait and see….

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