Baiba Bendika is a Latvian biathlete who was born on the 27th of June 1991 in Cesis. She made her international debut in 2008 and her World Cup debut in 2011. She has participated in three Junior World Championships and four World Championships. Last season she finished 49th in the Total Score and has a personal best finish of fifth.
You can follow Baiba on Twitter: @biathleteLV
Why did you decide to become a biathlete?
My father was a biathlete for a few years and his coach was looking for kids for a new biathlon group. He called his old biathletes and so I started to go to biathlon training with my brother!
Is biathlon popular in Latvia? Do you get any funding from your country or do you have to find it yourself?
There are many people who enjoy watching biathlon, but there are not too many biathletes competing in Latvian races. There is a little money from sport schools, but mainly all the money comes from parents until you get to the national team, then there is money from federation sponsors and the country’s sport committee.
Last season was your best ever with a top finish of 5th in the Canmore Sprint. Can you describe the race and how you felt?
The race was with a strong and changing wind, but I got lucky and when I shot it wasn’t so bad, so I did a fast shooting and felt really free and with a clear mind on the track. It was a perfect day for me when everything came together, only on the last loop I heard my result from the Ukraine coach and was really surprised and even thought for some seconds that this information was not for me. So it was a crazy feeling to change your best result from 41st place to 5th!
Why did you have such a good season last year? Did you change anything about your skiing, shooting or training?
Yes, I changed coaches and also my preparation was different. I had better skis from Madshus sponsored by Sportland and also good help from the wax team. I improved my shooting and skiing technique, but the big part I guess is that all the hard work that I had put in in those many years just finally paid off.
What are your plans for summer training?
This year I will have some camps without the team at high altitude, so this again will be something new for me and I’m already discovering new training places. There is the Summer World Championships in Estonia, Otepaa in August, so it’s almost home and I hope to be ready for this event too.
What are you goals for this season?
I want to be consistent all season and to be in the points as much as I can, so that at the end of the season I can be in the overall Top 30, but also I finally want to do well at the World Championships.
Do you like the Single Mixed Relay? Could you do well in it with Andrejs Rastorgujevs?
Yes, I really enjoy this race because it’s fast and dynamic and it’s also a good possibility for small nations like Latvia to get good results and I am sure that we can do even better than last season’s two 8th places.
Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?
First I would like to say that it’s Canmore, I would love to see this track every season. But from the regular stadiums I enjoy Antholz like almost every biathlete and also Hochfilzen, so I’m happy that the World Championships will be there. And from IBU tracks I’d like to mention Beitostolen.
Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?
For the men it’s the King Ole, because I grew up watching him and he is still so good and it’s incredible how you can stay motivated for so many years. For the women it’s Andrea Burke (Henkel) because she showed me that also small biathletes can be on top (she is 158 cm, I’m 155cm).
Does your rifle have a name?
No, it’s just a good friend of mine, but maybe I need to give it a name!
Describe yourself in three words.
Short, positive, motivated.
Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite teammate: Ilmars Bricis
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): It’s hard to imagine now, but let’s say- Quentin Fillon Maillet.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Latvia and Italy
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 63
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Johannes Thingnes Boe
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Tiril Eckhoff
Best thing about being a biathlete: Biathletes are the best and it’s fun!
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