Tag Archives: Andi Birnbacher

Spring Snapshot 2016!

spring16

Seriously – you try and take a couple of months holiday from biathlon to refresh the mind and get excited again for a new season but it won’t let you! There is no escape! Here is a snapshot of just some of the things that happened in April and May in the world of biathlon.

So obviously the biggest news story was that the Biathlon23 Awards 2015/16 broke all records to become the most read post on my blog!!! Less exciting but equally important was of course the news that Old-sorry-Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will continue competing until the Olympics in 2018 or maybe even forever! There is no stopping that man. Good news for men’s biathlon but he has managed to ruin the upcoming women’s season by impregnating former KGB operative Darya Domracheva and robbing us of her presence until probably January. How dare he! After the announcement that Kaisa Makarinen also intends to compete until 2018 (while building a house at the same time!) we won’t get to see her go head to head with Dasha for a while longer.

Dasha isn’t the only one expecting a baby though. Magdalena Neuer with her customary speed is having her second child and Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska is pregnant with twins.

Gabriela Soukalova changed her name by 1 letter, not just for fun of course, she got married to Petr Koukal making her Koukalova! Dmitry Malyshko also married in the Spring break. Congratulations all round! 🙂

With all that good news we also have some bad news too. Klaus Siebert, former German biathlete and coach of Germany, China and Belarus, died after a long battle with cancer. Two Ukrainian biathletes Artem Tyshchenko and Snizhana Tisyeyeva were involved in a serious car crash on the 2nd of May. Thankfully Tisyeyeva is out of intensive care after being treated for burns and Tyschenko was released from hospital after a head injury.

Tyshchenko was again in the news when he had his suspension for doping lifted as did Eduard Latypov as their samples were consistent with having stopped taking Meldonium before it was banned. This wasn’t the case for Romania’s Eva Tofalvi and Olga Abramova who also tested positive for the drug. All four cases are still on going.

Krystyna Guzik has a shoulder injury which needs surgery and means she will be out for 2 months.

In lighter news all the biathletes were off on their holidays and were making us all jealous with their social media pictures. Martin Fourcade went to Morocco, brother Simon went to Mauritius and Reunion. Laura Dahlmeier chose a nice relaxing holiday climbing in the Himalayas! Dominik Windisch took a little European road trip. Dorothea Wierer went to the Caribbean. Johannes Boe went to London and Klemen Bauer turned up at the World Snooker Final in Sheffield. I can’t go through everyone but I am sure they all had nice breaks!

There has also been some changes in the coaching department with the news that Siegfried Mazet was leaving the French team. It was no secret where he was going and he is now the shooting coach for Norway’s men who also announced Egil Kristiansen as their ski coach. France have replaced Mazet with Franck Badiou. Elsewhere Alfred Eder returns to the Belarusian women’s team, Valeriy Medvedtsev is the Russian Women’s new coach, Finland’s new coach is Antti Leppavuori and Juraj Sanitra takes charge of the Ukranian men’s team. Thomas Fusko is the new Slovak biathlon President and Erlend Slokvik has the job for Norway.

There have also been some retirements from the sport. Canadians Zina Kocher, Scott Perras and Audrey Vaillancourt have all decided to end their biathlon careers. They are joined by Americans Annelise Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker. Also retiring are Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi and Christian Martinelli, German Andi Birnbacher, Ivan Tcherazov of Russia, Austria’s Fritz Pinter, Marine Bolliet of France and Natayla Burdyga who is retiring for the second time!

To be fair I have probably forgotten many other things that happened but as Ross said to Rachel, “WE WERE ON A BREAK!”

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Biathlete23: Season Review 2015/16

biathlete23GOLD

For anyone unfamiliar with Biathlete23 this blog follows the results of whichever biathlete happens to be in bib23 for each race. It treats them like one athlete and adds up the score to see how this biathlete would have performed over the year.

In the first year the total for the men and the women was 802 and last year the total was 948. Excellent a bit of progress! Not this season however. Biathlete23 in 2015/16 had a bit of a “Tiril Eckhoff” season. Full of early promise, mostly disappointment but ending in surprising success!

That’s right Biathlete23 got off to a promising start in Oestersund with Quentin Fillon Maillet wearing 23 in the first race. He also shared a photo of his bib and rifle as he was so excited to be number 23! 😉 He was 4th and the other biathletes also did well meaning we left Sweden with 149 points.

In Hochfilzen Anton Shipulin also got 4th and 2 of the 3 others scored points to make a decent total of 85. Pokljuka wasn’t a great success with 48 points and a top result of 18th from Julian Eberhard.

World Cup 4 in Ruhpolding was better with Susan Dunklee getting a 6th place finish with the others making up 95 points. The second round in Ruhpolding yielded 70 points with another top finish of 6th this time from Evgeniy Garanichev. Antholz was a good round with Anais Bescond in 4th and a points total of 83.

Canmore wasn’t great for bib23 with only 51 points and a best finish of 22nd from Karin Oberhofer. In Presque Isle there was just one more point with 52 and a finish of 15th for Andi Birnbacher.

So biathlete23 went into the World Championships in Oslo with confidence pretty low and in the first 5 races only scored points in one race with Anton Babikov taking 21st place. This led to some pretty desperate action from the coach who decided to change the Twitter hashtag from #biathlete23 to #biathletevingttrois hoping to steal a little of the French success.

It was of course a masterstroke! The coach is a genius! Who got bib23 in the Men’s Individual –Martin Fourcade! I knew there was a very good chance of a medal and Fourcade didn’t let me down! Even though he missed one target he skied his heart out to make sure that biathlete23 would claim their first ever medal at a major Championships and that medal was GOLD!!! Let’s just say there was a lot of celebrating in the biathlete23 camp that evening! 😉

With that success and a few more good results afterwards the points total from Oslo was 113. So it was on to the final World Cup Round in Khanty Mansiysk . Unfortunately things went back to normal there and there was only 1 points scorer from the 4 races which was Alexey Slepov in 27th place!

So in the end the total points score was 760. The Men scored 436 points which would have put them in 18th place in the Total Score between Lowell Bailey and Michal Slesingr. The Women’s points total was 324 making them 25th in the Total Score between Selina Gasparin and Maren Hammerschmidt.

Overall it’s not been a great World Cup season for biathlete23. It’s the tricky third season on the World Cup that all biathletes suffer from! 😉 Fortunately a gold medal can save anyone’s season! Biathlete23 will have a nice holiday and then a hard summer of training to come back better next season! Hopefully we can beat the points total and get some wins on the board. We also have a new unofficial ambassador (unpaid position) Quentin Fillon Maillet to work with Brendan Green! Merci for the photo QFM!!!

For the full results see the biathlete23 page on this blog.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

WC6: Antholz Review 2016!

ant16

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!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

WC3: Pokljuka Review 2015!

pokl15

How did that happen? Three World Cup rounds have past already! The latest in Slovenia in lovely Pokljuka. The first race got underway on Thursday and was the Men’s Sprint.

It was a pretty lively affair too to kick off the weekend with Simon Schempp winning his second Sprint in a row and crucially out-shooting and out-skiing Martin Fourcade. Fourcade finished in 5th missing one shot. In second place was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who at 41 shows no sign of slowing down. Another perfect shoot saw him finish 15 seconds off the lead. Third place went to Evgeniy Garanichev who was just 0.2 of a second faster than teammate Alexey Slepov who achieved his best ever result in 4th. In fact the Russians had 5 biathletes in the Top 12 places. The Canadian Team also did well getting all their biathletes into the Pursuit with Christian Gow getting a personal best of 37th.

On Friday it was the Women’s turn and they served up yet another treat for us in the Sprint. Marie Dorin Habert claimed her first ever World Cup victory (hard to believe, right!) beating Laura Dahmeier by just 1.1 seconds. In third was Franziska Hildebrand maintaining her great form from Hochfilzen. In fact all 6 German women finished in the TOP 15 which is quite remarkable. They were joined in the TOP 15 by 3 Czechs (Vitkova, Soukalova and Puskarcikova) and 3 Poles (Guzik, Hojnisz and Gwizdon). Susan Dunklee got in on the action too in 6th with her best finish of the season so far. Hilde Fenne of Norway also got a personal best result in 18th.

Saturday saw the Men’s and Women’s Pursuit races and both of them turned into a neighbourhood feud between France and Germany! For the men it was Simon Schempp versus Martin Fourcade. Schempp was so impressive in his calmness in the shooting range and didn’t let the huge pressure applied by Fourcade put him off. He won with a clean shoot and really proved his credentials as an Overall Title contender. Fourcade had to settle for second after 1 miss and Anton Shipulin valiantly tried to catch up but was too far behind and took third.

For the Women the fight was between Laura Dahlmeier and Marie Dorin Habert. They were inseparable up until the lap before the final shoot where unfortunately Dorin Habert fell and couldn’t recover enough to challenge right up to the finish. Dahlmeier took her second win of the season and Kaisa Makarainen got herself onto the podium in third for some much needed points. The Germans may have won the battle but the French are ahead in the war with Fourcade and Dorin Habert both ending the day in the yellow bibs.

They weren’t the only ones to do well in the Pursuits however. Simon Fourcade went from 33rd to 10th continuing his amazing Pursuit form! Freddie Lindstrom went from 30th to 14th, Jean Guillaume Beatrix from 32nd to 15th, Dmytro Pidruchnyi from 43rd to 19th, Brendan Green from 46th to 30th, Vladimir Iliev from 50th to 37th even with a fall in the home straight! For the ladies Olga Pudchufarova went from 37th to 14th, Teja Gregorin from 47th to 21st,Olga Abramova from 52nd to 28th, Marte Olsbu 48th to 29th and Natalya Burdyga from 55th to 37th.

The first Mass Starts of the season rounded off the events in Pokljuka. The men were first and Jean Guillaume Beatrix was the only man to shoot 20/20 and won the race by 0.3 of a second from Emil Hegle Svendsen in a sprint finish. It was Jean-Gui’s first ever win on the World Cup and extremely well deserved as he probably would have won this same race last season if he hadn’t been “Shipulined” up the final hill! Bjoerndalen continued his remarkable form coming home third just beating Schempp in a photo finish. Andi Birnbacher (5th), Simon Desthieux (6th) and Dominik Windisch (10th) all got their best results of the season so far.

The women’s race ended the action before the Christmas break and was won in style by Kaisa Makarainen who managed victory even with 1 miss. Gabriela Soukalova shot clear to take second as did Olga Podchufarova who was third giving the Russian women’s team a much needed boost.

So that’s it 3 World Cup rounds down already and we go into the Christmas and New Year break with Martin Fourcade and Gabriela Soukalova in the yellow bibs! Biathlon is back on the 7th of January in Oberhof and I hope you have all asked Santa for some snow this Christmas!

Biathlon23 hopes you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Look out for a special post over the holidays – it’s a cracker!! 🙂

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Global Success!2014/15 Season Review:Men

fourcade2015

Season 2014/15 has come to an end and there is no surprise about who came out on top in the Men’s field. Yes for the fourth time in a row France’s Martin Fourcade has won the overall title and gets another big Crystal Globe to put on his already overcrowded mantlepiece. It didn’t start out that way though. We all got a bit excited in the first race of the season way back in Oestersund in the Individual 20km.

It was won by Fourcade’s main rival at the start of the season Emil Hegle Svendsen and with Martin having a total nightmare and finishing in 81st place we thought we might see the title go elsewhere. Of course we we entirely wrong because Fourcade popped up and won the very next race, the Sprint, by 28 seconds and went on to win the Pursuit too. After the first World Cup round it was business as usual with Fourcade and Svendsen setting the pace.

That didn’t last long though as two new contenders appeared to chase Fourcade. Germany’s Simon Schempp started putting in some fantastic performances with two second places in Hochfilzen. In Pokljuka Russia’s Anton Shipulin emerged as a real challenger for the overall with 2 wins and a second place. At this point Svendsen was still going along nicely picking up wins and podiums to stay in the hunt.

After Christmas we had the two German races in Oberhof and Ruhpolding. Oberhof went well for Fourcade where he won both races but in Ruhpolding he started to have some problems. Both Schempp and Shipulin gained points there with Schempp getting a win and a second place. Antholz was next and that’s where Schempp did even more damage. With Fourcade under the weather he won both races just as he did the year before to make a big dent in Fourcade’s lead in the yellow bib. It was around this time that Svendsen’s title challenge faded away as he failed to get on the podium or even into the Top 10. Schempp again beat Fourcade in Nove Mesto but not by much as he was second twice while Fourcade was third and fourth.

By now Shipulin’s charge was slowing and while he still made the podium and TOP 10 in Holmenkollen Fourcade’s win and second place gave him the advantage. Schempp didn’t have a great round in Norway either which left Fourcade with a lead of 78 points going into the World Championships where the results also counted towards the overall title. His rivals didn’t fare too well in the points department but Shipulin and Schempp did medal. Martin won the Individual and was competitive enough in all the other races to give him a lead of 111 points to take into the final round.

We found ourselves in Khanty-Mansiysk for round 9 and in the first race, the Sprint, Martin won convincingly and also won the small Crystal globe. Shipulin was second but it left a deficit of 117 points going into the final 2 races. He was also second in the Sprint standings ahead of Simon Schempp in third. In the Pursuit race Martin did enough to win the Overall Title finishing fourth just one place behind Shipulin. This means he has won the total score for 4 years in a row the first person to do so. The final race saw Shipulin claiming the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Outside of these guys there have been other impressive performances. Ukraine’s Sergey Semenov won the Individual 20km competition with some great shooting and consistent results and did enough in Kontiolahti to hang on to beat Fourcade and Svendsen to the title. Jakov Fak put up a late charge coming into great ski form towards the end of the year winning World Championship gold as well as 3 other races. This put him into third place in the overall standings.

Johannes Thingnes Boe didn’t get as many World Cup wins as last year but he is the World Champion in the Sprint. He is also relatively inexperienced on the World Cup which is obviously a worry for all the other biathletes! His big brother Tarjei made up for a slow start to the season troubled by illness to win 5 medals in Kontiolahti. The German team were stronger than they have been in a while with Schempp but Arnd Peiffer also got back to winning ways in Holmenkollen and with Lesser becoming Pursuit World Champion and Andi Birnbacher getting back to his old form they are a formidable team. They also have Daniel Boehm and Benedikt Doll who collected his first 2 podiums in Khanty Mansiysk.

Simon Fourcade enjoyed a better season than last year finishing 4th in every race!!;-) The French team also have a new star in Quentin Fillon Maillet. He has finished in the TOP 10 nine times with his best result of second place coming in the Ruhpolding Mass Start in a photo finish. Benjamin Weger has shown more consistency this season and has had 4 Top 10 finishes. The Czech team had a good season too with Michal Slesingr in great form and Ondrej Moravec performing well at the World Championships. Evgeniy Garanichev did well too for Russia and finished 6th in the total score.

The Canadians have done really well with Nathan Smith winning silver in the World Championship Sprint, taking 6 TOP 10 finishes and his first ever win in Khanty Mansiysk to finish the season on a high. Brendan Green got a personal best result of 5th too. For the Americans Leif Nordgren outshone his better known colleagues Burke and Bailey with 4 TOP 30 results and a personal best of 16th in the Nove Mesto Sprint. The Bulgarians Krasimir Anev and Vladimir Iliev have been a breath of fresh air this season both shooting really well and getting 14 Top 20 finishes between them, 9 for Iliev and 5 for Anev. Anev achieved a PB of 4th and Iliev 6th.

It has been a very enjoyable season watching the men’s races. I would like to have seen a closer challenge to Fourcade but it sets up next season very nicely. It’s not a two horse race anymore between Fourcade and Svendsen. There are other opponents who can stop Fourcade achieving 5 in a row! However they will find it very tough. It was nice to see the small globes shared around too with Semenov taking the Individual title, Shipulin the Mass Start and the Sprint and Pursuit going to Fourcade. The Nation’s Cup went to Norway. Well we have a long summer ahead of us to digest this season and look forward to the next one. One thing is certain for Monsieur Fourcade season 2014/15 has been a Global Success!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

‘Fil-zen you in!

filzen

To Austria this week and between eating strudel, singing all the songs from The Sound of Music and getting into trouble for outrageous stereotyping there was just about time for some biathlon! Generally speaking shooting clean in a Sprint Race means you have a good chance of winning it. Not however if you happen to be racing against Kaisa Makarainen! At the moment she can afford a miss and still win, much to the consternation of Karin Oberhofer. The Italian produced a great race, shooting clean, that ended with her first ever podium. Second place is fantastic for the Italian but it would have been first but for Makarainen’s amazing ski speed. In third was Tiril Eckhoff who is rapidly emerging as a real contender for the Chrystal Globe. Other ladies who impressed were France’s Justine Braisaz who on her World Cup debut finished 17th. Enora Latuilliere continued her good progress in 20th the German ladies had 3 in the TOP 10 -Hildebrand 5th, Hinz 6th and Preuss 10th.

The men’s race was a bit of a surprise even before it began with Fourcade and Bjoerndalen choosing to go in group 4 with the later starters. This was to take advantage of colder conditions making a faster track. It didn’t work and Johannes Thingnes Bø skied round like a rocket beating the field by 14 seconds. The Germans also did well here completing the podium with Simon Schempp in second and Andi Birnbacher third. Home favourite Dominik Landertinger just missed the podium coming in fourth. Elsewhere Dutch biathlete Joel Sloof qualified for his first ever Pursuit by coming in 52nd and Romania’s Cornel Puchianu matched last weeks 28th place to equal his best result.

Saturday saw the first Men’s and Women’s Relays of the season. Well they were definitely worth the wait. The Women’s race was one of the best I have seen in a long time. The lead changed several times and there were so many good performances and of course a few bad ones which made it all the more exciting. The Germans carried their great Sprint form over and were so calm and collected for such a young team especially Preuss who was on the last leg. Kummer also did well on the first leg and Hildebrand and Hinz were strong in between. It did look like Russia might cruise to victory but Glazyrina had a total meltdown on the range and handed the win to Germany. Domracheva outskied Vitkova to take second, an exceptional result for them and the Czechs were impressive in third. Italy’s chances of a podium were ruined by some bad shooting from Gontier and Tiril Eckhoff pulled of a miracle to get Norway back to 5th after starting her leg in 14th!

The Men’s race was characterised by some excellent shooting. The Russians won by only using one spare round which is incredible! Lapshin was the culprit missing one target but we can forgive him! The French also shot well only using 4 spare rounds and Norway came in third despite Birkeland and Tarjei Bø both needing all three spares in their standing shoots on legs three and four. Austria and Germany had a sprint for fourth where Landertinger beat Schempp to the line and Canada finished in sixth,a good result for them.

Sunday was Pursuit day and a dominant Kaisa Makarainen was untroubled on her way to victory. She missed 1 shot but won with time to spare. In second was Ekaterina Glazyrina who recovered in incredibly quick time from her relay disaster and also just missed 1 target. In third was France’s Anais Bescond with her best result of the season so far. She had the strength at the end to hold off Podchufarova who was 4th and a magnificent Rosanna Crawford who came from 34th to finish 5th which is a career best result for her. Other good performances came from Monika Hojnisz (POL) 40th-11th, Nadezhda Skardino (BLR) 36th-12th, Annelise Cook (USA) 50th-33rd and Daria Virolaynen (RUS) 51st-35th!

The men ended the weekend with a shocking result! Yes Martin Fourcade won – that hardly ever happens!;-) Actually he wouldn’t have won if Johannes Bø hadn’t missed two targets in his third shoot when he was well in control of the race. Simon Schempp was second proving he has a last found some consistency and Jakov Fak came in third holding off the challenge from a tired looking Johannes Bø. Vladimir Iliev added to his 19th place in the Sprint with an 11th place here which is great news for Bulgarian biathlon and other good races were had by Quentin Fillon Maillet (FRA) 45th-15th, Fredrik Lindstrom 47th-22nd and Leif Nordgren (USA) 51st-37th.

Overall Hochfilzen was a great race weekend and thank god they got the snow to let it go ahead. Kaisa Makarainen extended her lead in the yellow bib and Martin Fourcade will wear the men’s next week after wrestling it from Svendsen. Thursday is when we race again in Pokljuka and with the great results form the Slovenia biathletes the home crowd will be really looking forward to it. The biathlete will be looking forward to a sneaky Kremna Rezina(delicious Slovenian dessert!) down in Bled too! I really enjoyed all the races in Austria and I also enjoyed ‘Filzen you in!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Östersund: Swede Emotions!

swede emotions

It’s back! Biathlon came back with a bang in Östersund! Wow and what a Mixed Relay they delivered for us to get the new season underway. They kept us guessing right until the end but as usual “the shark” Martin Fourcade waited until the last moment to seize his prey(you can almost hear the music from Jaws as he sneaks up behind people!!!). Norway came in second despite a penalty loop and the German team were third. A great win for France and a great opening race. Well OK so it wasn’t great for everyone just ask Ondrej Moravec and Jakov Fak among others but everyone has their bad days even the best.

Which is exactly what happened to Fourcade himself in the Individual Race! Another Östersund meltdown on the shooting range to add to his collection. It’s how he likes to start the season! At the opposite end of the scale was Emil! Wow one of the best shooting performances I have seen from Svendsen and he was the only man to shoot 0. Second was a surprising yet brilliant display from Serhiy Semenov and it was great to see Michal Slesingr back on the podium after a rough year last season. Italian youngster Thomas Bormolini made a rather impressive World Cup debut finishing 19th.

Unfortunately for the other women in the Individual race star of last year’s Olympics Darya Domracheva seems to be continuing her amazing form into this season. Her ski speed is great as usual but she is shooting really well too. She took the win and was followed by Kaisa Makarainen who is also in great form and this race will probably set the tone for an ongoing battle between these two over the season. Valj Semerenko produced a clear shoot to come in third. Home girl Elisabeth Hoegberg gave the crowd something to cheer about finishing 9th and two World Cup debutants made it look easy by finishing in the TOP 20, France’s Enora Latuilliere in 13th and Luise Kummer of Germany in 18th.

Everyone had Friday off for good behaviour and so we had to wait until Saturday to see the first Sprints of the season. The men started things off and the real Martin Fourcade showed up again after his 81st place in the Individual and won easily with 28 seconds to spare! I was also happy to see Moravec and Fak recovering from their Relay nightmare on the range to both shoot clean and come home second and third. The women’s Sprint saw Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff storm home to win her first ever World Cup race. I am sure her brother and coach Stian will be trying to take all the credit – you know what brother’s are like! The Czech Republic’s Veronika Vitkova took second further adding to the her teams fantastic start to the season and third was Kaisa Makarainen. Latuilliere again showed what a great young talent she is by coming 10th.

So that left us with just the Pursuit races to go and the men’s looked like it was going to be an easy win for Fourcade. Bless him though he missed his first two shots to make it exciting for us to watch but inevitably he still won. Anton Shipulin produced a very calm and collected race to get second and Emil Svendsen came home third to keep the yellow bib on his back. Canada’s Nathan Smith ran a great race until the final shoot when I think the exertions of keeping up with Svendsen caused him to miss 3 shots and he ended up 16th. Back down the field a little there were some tremendous performances from Dominik Landertinger 30th-5th, Andi Birnbacher 22nd-7th, Klemen Bauer 26th-12th, Freddie Lindstrom 36th-13th and Vetle Christiansen 45th -15th!

The women’s race was won in great style by Kaisa Makarainen. On the third shoot when everyone around her was missing targets she took her time and used all her valuable experience to shoot clear and ski to victory. Valj Semerenko continued her good form by beating Dorothea Wierer into second although the Italian is just coming back from illness. Other impressive moves came from Ekaterina Glazyrina 20th-9th, Franziska Preuss 22nd-9th, Susan Dunklee 41st-19th and Elise Ringen 55th-23rd!

Östersund proved to be a bit of a roller coaster ride throughout the week with people performing well one day and terribly the next but that’s the first races of the season for you! We are now off to Hochfilzen where there is currently no snow but luckily in Austria you can just go up a mountain and get some! Kaisa and Emil have come out best from the weekend and will wear the yellow bibs but it’s still very early in the season. After all the ups and downs in Sweden the others will be hoping for a bit more consistency. It has been quite the week in Östersund and with all the drama on the range it has been full of Swede Emotions!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!