Tag Archives: Anais Bescond

World Champs 2016: The Mixed Relay!

We are in Oslo for the first race of the 2016 World Championships! It was the Mixed Relay and it was a fantastic opening race in Holmenkollen!

The first leg was great. The USA led the race after Susan Dunklee’s excellent performance on the range and the tracks. She handed over in first place to Hannah Dreissigacker. Marte Olsbu of Norway, under a lot of pressure from the home fans, had an amazing opening leg leaving the final shoot in first place but handing over to Tiril Eckhoff in second just a small distance behind the USA. The team in third at the first exchange were the Ukraine with Valj Semerenko just ahead of Franziska Preuss in fourth and Anais Bescond in fifth.

The second leg was very close with Eckhoff, Marie Dorin Habert, Franziska Hildebrand, Dreissigacker and Olena Pidhrushna all in the hunt for the lead. Eckhoff was the poorest shot of them all missing 2 in the prone and 2 in the stand. Dorin Habert shot clean in the prone and brought herself up to the front alongside Hildebrand. Unfortunately just after she passed Hildebrand she fell on the downhill going under the bridge which allowed Hildebrand to retake the lead. Coming in to the exchange however Ukraine, France, Germany and Norway were all together.

The men took over in the third leg with Johannes Boe, Arnd Peiffer, Sergey Semenov and Quentin Fillon Maillet racing head to head. This was when I noticed the Norwegian technique of touching the skier at the exchange on the bottom to start the next leg. Interesting! This leg couldn’t seperate the four leading teams even though Fillon Maillet missed 3 in the stand he caught up again on the skis. It was surprising that none of the teams tried to break away from him as letting Martin Fourcade start his leg at the same time as the others would not prove to be a good idea.

The fourth leg as usual was crucial. Tarjei Boe, Simon Schempp and Dmtyro Pidruchnyi stayed with Fourace up to the first shoot where Boe missed 3 targets and looked like leaving Norway without a medal. The race then became between Fourcade and Schempp who both missed one target in the stand and so it came down to a ski race and you knew there would only be one winner. Schempp held on as long as he could but in the end Fourcade was too strong and just about had time to do his signature telemark landing over the bridge. Back in third Pidruchnyi missed 2 in the stand and Boe shot clean and fast to take Norway back into third position.

Special mentions to Belarus who used only 1 spare round, Austria for using 3 spare rounds and the USA who used 5.

It was a great race to start the World Championships. The French Team were excellent and deserved to win although I did feel sorry for the Ukraine who did so well up until the final shoot. I thought the others team would have done more to try and break the French Team before they got to Fourcade but they proved too strong. The Sprints are next on Saturday! I can’t wait!

As for the other teams:
Austria 5th Czech Republic 6th Russia 7th
Italy 8th Belarus 9th USA 10th
Canada 11th Sweden 12th Slovenia 13th
Switzerland 14th Kazakhstan 15th Bulgaria 16th
Slovakia 17th Finland 18th Japan 19th
Poland 20th Estonia 21st Romania 22nd
Lithuania 23rd Korea 24th Latvia 25th

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WC6: Antholz Review 2016!

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The sun is shining, there is snow all around, we have beautiful scenery and the temperature is getting down to -20 degrees. It must be Antholz-Anterselva! That’s right we are back in the South Tyrol and it actually looks and feels like winter!

The first race in Italy was on Thursday and we began with the Women’s Sprint. We had a couple of firsts in this event as Olga Podchufarova won her first ever race and she is also the first Russian women to make the podium on the World Cup this season. As with buses, after waiting ages for 1 podium the Russians actually got 2 with Ekaterina Yurlova taking 3rd place. Both the Russians shot clean but second place went to home favourite Dorothea Wierer who made the podium despite missing 1 shot. There was another great performance in the shape of Linn Persson from Sweden who shot clean and finished in 17th which is her career best individual finish by a big margin.

On Friday we had the Men’s Sprint. In the 2 previous years it has been won by Simon Schempp so it wasn’t such a big surprise that he won it again! That made it 5 races unbeaten in Antholz as he also won the previous 2 Pursuits. I think it’s safe to say he enjoys racing in Antholz! In second place was Maxim Tsvetkov with his best ever finish and his first time on the podium. He is fast becoming a star of the Russian Team mainly thanks to his incredible shooting. It is now rare for him to miss more than one shot and he was clean again today. In third came “Mr Consistent” Tarjei Boe who has finished in the Top 10 more often than not this season and is climbing his way up the overall rankings.

The women had a day off on Friday but no such luck for the men who were back in action on Saturday. The Women’s Pursuit was first and yet again Russia took the win (remember what I said about buses). This time Ekaterina Yurlova was victorious coming from third to first. In second was a remarkable performance from Selina Gasparin, who is continuing her great form, making up 14 places from a start position of 16th. She out skied Dorothea Wierer on the final lap but the Italian still got her second podium at home in third.

Canada’s Julia Ransom went from 46th to 19th to record her best ever finish on the World Cup. Other big moves in the Pursuit came from Tiril Echhoff 20th to 4t, Krystyna Guzik 26th to 5th, Daria Virolaynen 32nd to 12th, Susan Dunklee 37th to 17th, Karolin Horchler 50th to 24th and Anastasia Zagoruiko 59th to 33rd.

The Men’s Pursuit started later in the day and you will never guess – another Russian won! This time it was Anton Shipulin claiming his first victory of the season. It’s not so much of a surprise though as he loves Antholz and this blog knows him as ANT-holz Shipulin! Second place went to Simon Schemmp who continued his amazing run of results in Antholz too. Third went to Johannes Boe who did consider letting Fourcade pass him to keep his record of only being on the podium in first place but decided third wasn’t so bad after all!!!

Martin Fourcade came from 28th to get 4th after shaving his beard. He had a bet that he couldn’t shave it until he shot clean but he shaved it before the race and then shot clean! Which I believe is cheating! 😉

Elsewhere Anton Babikov went from 31st to 7th to record his career best result, Andi Birnbacher from 41st to 14th, Benjamin Weger from 34th to 16th and Brendan Green from 45th to 31st.

The final day in Antholz was reserved for the relays. The Women’s race was won by France with some great shooting from the whole team of Justine Braisaz, Anais Bescond, Anais Chevalier and Marie Dorin Habert. The Czech Republic were second with Gabriela Soukalova back in the team and in third were the Russians capping off a fantastic World Cup round for themselves.

The Men’s race went right down to the wire with a repeat of the Sochi race with Anton Shipulin and Simon Schempp battling for the victory. The outcome was the same as the Olympics with Russia winning and Germany in second. Norway, without Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tarjei Boe, were third.

It has been a great World Cup in Antholz especially for the Russians with 3 individual wins and a relay victory and podium. The Russian women will be sad to have a break as they have just hit good form but everyone else is looking forward to a well-earned rest. Next time we are off over the pond to North America with rounds in Canmore and Preque Isle to look forward too. I can’t wait for those!

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World Champs 2015 Review: Women

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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.

Saturday was the first single competition and we began as usual with the Sprint. It was tough conditions for the ladies and it was a hard race. France took gold with a fabulous performance from Marie Dorin Habert. A good time to get her first ever win! She gave birth to her daughter in September and then became a World Champion in March! Little Adele has a very inspirational mum! In second place came Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska-Zemniak. Another great performance and the only biathlete to shoot clean. Bronze medal went to the ever consistent Valj Semerenko who has had a fantastic season. There were 3 Polish ladies in the TOP 10 with Guzik in 5th and Gwizdon in 7th and 2 Germans with Dahlmeier in 4th and Hildebrand in 10th. The favourites for the race did not have such a good day however with Domracheva in 25th and Makarainen in 35th both missing 5 targets.

The Pursuit came on Sunday and had similar outcome to the Sprint. Marie Dorin Habert again skied herself to victory. She missed 3 shots but had enough time to win in front of Laura Dahlmeier by 15 seconds. Coming out of the range after the final shoot the Russian Ekaterina Shumilova was in third position after hitting 20/20. Heartbreakingly for her she fell on the downhill and Weronika Nowakowska swept past her to take her second medal of the Championships in bronze. Makarainen and Domracheva put up a better show finishing in 12th and 7th respectively.

The women had two days off to recover and it really did them the world of good as they produced one of the beat Individual races for a long time. Gabriela Soukalova set the pace and moved into first position with 1 miss. Dorothea Wierer put in a strong challenge also missing 1 and was 1.6 seconds behind Soukalova and went into second. Then came Kaisa Makarainen who put in the ski of her life in the last loop to make up for her 2 misses and just pipped Wierer to go into second, just 1.2 seconds behind Soukalova. She made up over 30 seconds from the range to the line which was absolutely remarkable. So we though that is our podium Soukalova, Makarainen and Wierer. Someone however had other ideas! Starting from bib number 93 and shooting clear Ekaterina Yurlova came through to win the race by 23 seconds. An outstanding performance by the Russian and her first ever win! What a race it was! You have to feel sorry for Wierer missing out on a medal by 0.4 seconds but it was also great to see Makarainen taking a medal at home.

From the Individual race we moved to the team race and the Women’s Relay. After a competitive start with a few changes of the lead it was on the third leg that the tables were turned in favour of one team. That team was Germany and Vanessa Hinz was fantastic shooting quickly and accurately when the others around her, The Czech Republic and Italy, missed. She gave Laura Dahlmeier a lead and she held on to it. It’s a strong young team from Germany and after a lot of criticism from their own country they did a great job. With Franziska Hildebrand and Franziska Preuss they could go on to win many more relays. In second was a valiant France adding another medal to Marie Dorin Habert’s haul! Justine Braisaz had a tough leg going on the penatly loop after her first shoot but stormed back to give the team a chance. With Anais Bescond and Enora Latuilliere they are also a team for the future. In bronze were Italy and they really deserved a medal as Dorothea Wierer, Karin Oberhofer, Nicole Gontier and Lisa Vittozzi have all had great seasons.

The final race for the Women was the Mass Start. It was a good one too with Valj Semerenko coming out on top with excellent shooting hitting 20/20 to win gold for the Ukraine. Behind her in silver came an ecstatic Franziska Preuss with her first solo medal and in third was Karin Oberhofer who ran out an exhausted Darya Domracheva for the bronze.

That’s all from Kontiolahti where the big surprise was that Domracheva failed to win a medal and Kaisa Makarainen only got 1. It just shows that competing for the Crystal Globe and trying to win World Championships is extremely difficult. It was really Marie Dorin Habert’s Championships winning 2 golds and a silver and a breakthrough moment for the young German girls. However we are not finished yet! It’s on to Khanty Mansiysk for the final World Cup round. There are globes yet to be won!

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Nove Mesto: Czech it out!

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The World Cup is back after a weekend off and what a place to start again. Nove Mesto is fast becoming a top destination for the Biathlon World Cup. The spectators there over the weekend were amazing with huge crowds giving raucous but good natured support to not only the home team but to all the nations. If this continues hopefully it will soon become a permanent fixture on the biathlon calendar.

“Nove” in Czech means “new” and so it was the perfect place to showcase biathlon’s new format. The Single Mixed Relay had it’s official debut on Friday. It involved a man and woman from each team competing together in a format similar to that held in Schalke over Christmas. The men complete 7.5km and the women 6km with the usual prone and standing shoots. The penalty loop is half the size at just 75 metres.

While the format was new the winners were not. Russia won the first ever race with a team of Yana Romanova and Alexey Volkov. They won by over 21 seconds from Norway who fielded a team of Marte Olsbu and Henrik L’Abee Lund. Juliya Dzhyma and Artem Tyshchenko came in third for the Ukraine. The best thing about it for me was the fact that Japan came in 10th! When is the last time you saw them in the Top Ten of a relay event! It is a great opportunity for the smaller nations to compete more often and with more possibilities to do well.

Later on Friday we had the normal Mixed Relay. This time Norway went one better and won the race. The Bø brothers brought home the victory with some good shooting and fast skiing. The home nation were 4 seconds behind in second place and Ukraine completed the podium in third consigning Russia to fourth. The USA finished in 7th which was excellent for a team without Tim Burke or Lowell Bailey. The team did very well and anchorman Sean Doherty just missed out on 6th by a tiny margin just pipped at the post by Germany’s Benedikt Doll. France started off very well with Anais Bescond and Marie Dorin Habert putting them in the lead at the half way point but Simon Fourcade had a leg to forget which put them out of contention.

On Saturday we moved on to the Sprint races. In the Women’s race some outstanding shooting and a good ski time saw Laura Dahlmeier take her first ever World Cup victory. The 21 year old held her nerve and managed to beat her teammate Franziska Hildebrand by just 1 second. It may have helped that she was wearing bib 23!!! Hildebrand had a fantastic race and second was a personal best for her. In third was home favourite Veronika Vitkova who gave the crowd even more reason to cheer loudly!

In the Men’s race Jakov Fak finally did what he has been threatening to do for a while and won the race! Behind him came the super consistent Simon Schempp and in third getting on the podium for the first time this season was Jean Guillaume Beatrix. There were also some great perfomances by Nathan Smith 7th and Leif Nordgren 16th who both got their best results to date and Coline Varcin 8th and Lisa Vittozzi 19th did likewise in the Women’s race.

The Pursuits were the last races of the weekend and provided the crowd with a great show. The Women’s Pursuit was hotly contested and in the end Darya Domracheva came through to win with her main rival for the Overall title Kaisa Makarainen behing her in second place. Third went to Laura Dahlmeier who has been on the podium in the last three races. Gabriela Soukalova had a great chance to win when leading into the final shoot but she missed two and finished 5th. Hildebrand shot on Vitkova’s target on the final shoot due to the heavy snow that was falling and the wind on the range. She lost alot of time but got it back after the race and was given 11th place. Vanessa Hinz and Iryna Kryuko both got their best results on the World coming in 4th and 10th. Romania’s Eva Tofalvi had an amazing race coming from 24th to finish in 8th place and similarly Luise Kummer went from 29th to 12th.

In the Men’s race we had a similar podium to the Sprint with Fak holding on to his lead to win with Schempp again in second. Martin Fourcade finished 4th to gain points over rival Shipulin but gave them away to Schempp. Nathan Smith again produced a great race to improve his personal best to 5th, Simon Desthieux came from 34th to 15th and Sven Grossegger moved from 37th to 18th. Antonin Guigonnat made up 20 places from 45th to 25th as did Svendsen going from 43rd to 23rd.

Nove Mesto has turned into a fantastic venue for biathlon. With crowds of over 30,000 everyday and challenging tracks it is fast becoming a favourite venue for biathletes and spectators alike. The success of the Czech team obviously helps fill the stadium but the whole weekend was a great success from the new format Single Mixed Relay to the excitement of the final Pursuit races. We now move from the new to the old and head to Norway and Oslo Holmenkollen. The race for the yellow bib is hotting up with Domracheva and Schemmp continuing to catch up to Makarainen and Fourcade. It will be a very interesting round of the World Cup but if you missed Nove Mesto you should really consider going next year to Czech it out!

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Ruh-pold on for the win!

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Typical isn’t it! You wait years for a victory and then you get two in row. The Czech Republic Women’s Relay team are doing an excellent impression of a bus! Seriously though it shows just how remarkable this small country is when it comes to biathlon. They are now reaping the reward for years of hard work and planning. Germany seems to be a happy hunting ground for the Czech ladies who took victory in Ruhpoling to add to that of Oberhof. It was a race that took place in pretty miserable conditions. Sleet and rain meant it was a wet and slow race with deteriorating tracks. That won’t bother the Czechs though who were on the top step of the podium followed by Belarus also for the second race in succession. Germany delighted the home crowd by coming in third.

The conditions for the Men’s relay were much improved and so in turn was the racing. A close finish saw the wily fox that is Emil Svendsen pick his moment perfectly to move past Simon Schempp and deny Germany a home victory. In third place came Russia. It was Norway’s first Men’s relay win since December 2013. Some of the other teams got involved for a while with Lowell Bailey putting USA in first after the first leg. Then it was Slovenia’s turn in the second leg with Jakov Fak. In the end though the big nations rose to the top. There were some good performances from some of the younger athletes like Rok Trsan of Slovenia, Sean Doherty from the USA and Great Britain’s Scott Dixon.

The Women’s Sprint came on Friday and threw up a surprise in the form of Fanny Welle-Strand Horn of Norway. She shot clear and out skied Darya Domracheva to take her first World Cup win. In third was fellow Norwegian Tiril Eckhoff. It was another tough day on the range for overall leader Kaisa Makarainen who missed 2 shots. Canada’s Megan Heinicke got her top World Cup finish to date coming in 11th and France’s Marie Dorin Habert was 15th and considering she had a baby 4 months ago that is quite a remarkable feat.

In the Men’s Sprint there was a very unusual occurence. This strange white stuff fell down from the sky. Some have speculated that it may be the illusive substance known as snow but reports could neither confirm or deny this! Anyway it didn’t stop Johannes Boe winning the race. When that boy is on form there are very few biathletes who can beat him. He is the epitome of ‘go hard or go home’ because he has only come first or off the podium in all the races he has done. He has never had a second or third place to date. Simon Schempp was second and Arnd Peiffer third keeping the home crowd happy. Canada did well again with Brendan Green in 16th and Scott Gow getting his best finish so far in 27th.

The last day of Ruhpolding was definitely the best! The Women’s Mass Start was very entertaining with Darya Domracheva yo-yoing back and forward up the field to eventually secure the win. Second went to Germany’s Franziska Preuss who got on the podium for the first time on the World Cup with her best career performance so far. Third came down to a sprint which was won by Veronika Vitkova ahead of Valj Semerenko and Anais Bescond. Speaking of close finishes the Men’s Mass Start was even better. A three way photo finish gave Simon Schempp the victory that has so far eluded him this season as he just edged out Quentin Fillon Maillet and Michal Slesingr. It was Fillon Maillet’s best result on the World Cup. Johannes Boe would have been in with a chance of winning again as he shot clear like the Top 3 but a bad fall along with Jakov Fak put him out of contention.

Elsewhere it was a bad weekend by his standards for Martin Fourcade who came in 26th in the Sprint and 21st in the Mass Start allowing both Shipulin and Schempp to eat into his overall lead. Makarainen also lost some of her lead to Domracheva put still maintains a healthy margin in the yellow bib. We go uphill next to the altitude race in Antholz and hopefully we will be treated to more of the same. I have to say I was pleased to see Simon Schempp finally getting the victory all his great form has deserved and he managed by a toenail to Ruh-pold on to the win!!!

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Ober and out!

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Unlike last year when there was no snow-berhof this time we were lucky enough to have the first real snow of the season in Germany. The races got underway on Wednesday with the Women’s Relay. It was a great race which saw the Czech Republic win for the first time in 17 years. Well worth the wait though as Veronika Vitkova beat a determined Anais Bescond and the French team into second. Darya Domracheva made sure that Belarus would come third holding off valiant attempts from Norway, Italy and the Ukraine to snatch the last place on the podium. Unfortunately for the hosts they had a penalty loop on the very first shoot which put them out of contention immediately. Maybe I shouldn’t mention it but they were also beaten at home by rivals Austria!

The Men’s Relay on Thursday was horrible! Not the race but the weather. It was delayed due to fog and when it did start it was wet,windy and foggy – no fun for biathletes or spectators. The racing itself was good although marred by a large number of falls the worst coming from the Czech Republic’s Michal Krcmar who couldn’t finish his leg. In the end Russia came through to win their third relay in a row. In a close finish Anton Shipulin continued his great pre-Christmas form by sprinting away from Bjoernadalen leaving Norway in second. France took the last place on the podium showing they don’t even need Martin Fourcade as Quentin Fillon Maillet was an excellent replacement. Home team Germany were fourth and Finland were exceptional coming in 9th from a start position of 24th. Sweden were disqualified when Tobias Arwidson only shot 9 times instead of 10!

On Friday we had the Women’s Sprint. After a great race in tough conditions the Czech Republic’s Veronika Vitkova crossed the line first for the second race in a row and took her first ever World Cup win. She had to ski really well to secure the victory over Italian pair Dorothea Wierer and Nicole Gontier who were second and third respectively. In fact the Italians had five finishers inside the TOP 60. The Ukraine’s Natalya Burdyga is also worthy of a mention as the only other women apart from Gontier to shoot clean. On the other hand favourites Makarainen and Domracheva had days to forget on the range.

The Men’s race suffered again from difficult conditions with heavy overnight rain making most of the snow disappear and windy conditions affecting the shooting. In fact the race was delayed until the afternoon so they could work on the tracks and the loop was also shortened. This didn’t stop Martin Fourcade however who took the win after an extended Christmas break. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was second getting his 170th podium and Timofey Lapshin was third making it three times on the podium for him! Benedikt Doll gave the crowd something to shout about by being the best German in 8th. Benjamin Weger was 5th and Estonia’s Roland Lessing was excellent in 7th. Switzerland’s Serafin Weistner got his best career finish coming in 28th.

On Sunday we managed to get two races in one day – hurrah! They were of course the total chaos that is the Mass Start! People missing targets, others falling, great recoveries and total meltdowns! Out of the madness however emerged Martin Fourcade and Darya Domracheva to claim victory. Fourcade was followed home by Russian pair Shipulin and Malyshko and Vitkova capped of a fantastic week with second place beating Tiril Eckhoff in third. The wind played a big part in the Men’s race and Martin kept very calm especially on the final shoot and went clear. Jana Gerekova did the same in the Women’s race but didn’t have the ski speed to compete at the front. She eventually finished fifth but if there was any justice in the world she would have come first!! Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria also had the best race of his career in fourth place and Franziska Preuss 6th, Benedikt Doll 8th and Simon Schempp 10th finally gave the huge crowdd something to cheer about.

There has been a lot of criticism about Oberhof this week from the biathletes. However you can’t predict the snow conditions and all the venues have been struggling this season. The wind is always a big factor in Oberhof and they have known that for many years so they just need to get on with it. I understand that sometimes it’s just a matter of luck there who wins and loses but that’s the nature of the place. The fans love to see how the conditions can turn races on their head and give others a chance to do well. It makes it all the more exciting and as paying customers they are the most important people in biathlon. If it wasn’t for fantastic fans turning up in big numbers and in horrible weather there wouldn’t be any biathlon! So that’s all from the first installment of the German races. It’s straight off to Ruhpolding for the next World Cup round. Biathlon 23 Ober and out!

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Pokljuka in SLO-motion!

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Well the World Cup is back in Slovenia and still there is no snow! Fortunately Pokljuka did a great job of the tracks and racing went ahead as normal. Well I say as normal but the first race, the Women’s Sprint, was far from normal. First Kaisa Makarainen missed four shots and finished 15th on what looked like a relatively easy shooting day. Gabriela Soukalova took full advantage and made up for a slow start to the season by shooting clear and winning by 18 seconds. Dorothea Wierer returned to the podium in second and probably the most consistent of the women so far this season Valj Semerenko came in third.

Further down the field there were some tremendous personal performances. Rosanna Crawford continued to creep closer to the podium by coming fourth. Olga Podchufarova made another TOP 5, 2 more Italians got into the TOP 10 with Nicole Gontier in 8th and Karin Oberhofer in 10th. Laura Dahlmeier came back from her summer injury to finish 9th, Mari Laukkanen beat Makarainen by coming in 11th and the two French girls Braisaz 14th and Latuilliere 20th continue to impress. Fuyuko Suzuki 12th and the USA’s Hanna Dreissigacker 17th posted their career best results. There were also 3 Austrians in the points and I could go on but I still have a lot to write about the other races!!!

It was the mens turn to race in the Sprint on Friday afternoon and Anton Shipulin kept up his great start to the season by winning in style. Another clear shoot and a strong ski meant he finished 12 seconds ahead of Austria’s Dominik Landertinger. In third was Svendsen whose shooting has been amazing so far but his skiing needs to catch up a little bit. His fellow Norwegians the brothers Bø also got into the TOP10 with Tarjei 7th and Johannes 10th. Two more Russians also hit the TOP 10 with Garanichev in 5th and Tsvetkov in 9th. France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet got his best result on the World Cup so far in 8th and Joel Sloof also achieved his in 46th qualifying his for the Pursuit for the second week in a row. Slovakia’s Martin Otcenas got in on the act too getting his best place finish in 21st.

The Pursuits took place on Friday and two great performances from Darya Domracheva and Emil Svendsen secured them the wins. They both shot well, Emil shooting 20/20 and Darya 19/20. Kaisa Makarainen tried her best to catch up to Dasha but she started too far back to be able to do it. Third was a great battle between Valj Semerenko and Dorothea Wierer which the Ukrainian won in a sprint for the line. In the men’s race there was no such action as Svendsen won with a comfortable margin and Shipulin took second well ahead of Martin Fourcade in third.

Further back in the field there were some great place gains for the likes of Canada’s Megan Heinicke who went from 41st to 14th and Russia’s Timofey Lapshin who started 45th and finished 6th! Also impressive were Johannes Kuehn(GER) 37th-13th, Martin Krcmar(CZE) 35th-15th, Simon Fourcade(FRA) 41st-20th and Sven Grossegger(AUT) 43rd-24th. In the women’s race there were a lot of big moves like Nadezhda Skardino(BLR) 22nd-6th, Daria Virolaynen 35th -9th, Krystyna Guzik(POL)48th-22nd, Nadzeya Pisareva(BLR) 42nd-27th,Juliya Dzyhma (UKR) 60th-34th and Natalya Burdyga(UKR) 53rd- 33rd! Two biathletes in the Men’s Pursuit also hit the deck pretty hard. Italy’s Dominik Windisch face planted his way across the line and Finland’s Olli Hiidensalo gave himself a nasty scrape and a concussion doing the same on the tracks.

On Sunday we were traeted to the first Mass Starts of the season. I was really looking forward to Kaisa vs. Dasha in a head to head race with no advantages for either. Unfortunately for Dasha and for us this ended after the first lap when she crashed into another athlete while exiting the penalty loop. She continued to the next shoot but had to use the spare rifle and missed four shots. Understandably she called it a day after that! This then left Kaisa to go on and win but it wasn’t easy. She had to chase down and pass the excellent Anais Bescond who was too tired to hold her off. More great shooting from Skardino saw her take third.

The men’s race was similarly unjust as this time Jean-Guillaume Beatrix got the bad luck. In a race to the finish with Shipulin and Fourcade the Russian skied over his basket on the end of the ski and tripped him. Then Fourcade broke his pole trying to avoid him and so Jean-Gui lost a chance to fight for the podium and probably the win. Shipulin took advantage of the accident and skied away from a slightly tired looking Fourcade to make it two wins and a second place for him! He loves Pokljuka! Simon Eder snapped up the chance to get third just pipping Fredrik Lindstrom on the line to get his first podium of the year.

Pokljuka provided some great racing this year and saw a lot of biathletes achieve their personal best performances. We head into the Christmas break with Kaisa and Martin still in yellow but with a lot to look forward to when we start again in Oberhof. If you suffer withdrawal symptoms over Christmas with no biathlon may I suggest you watch the replays of this weekend’s action. I am sure you will enjoy a bit of Pokljuka in SLO-motion!

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