Tag Archives: Annecy

Season Preview 2019/20: The Women!

The women’s World Cup is the best, isn’t it?! Year after year it has been producing the best racing and the closest title fights of any sport around. The last two seasons have both gone down to the final races and this season could well be the same.

Maybe the fact that it is so tough is why our ladies keep retiring! This year we will be without Anastasiya Kuzmina and Laura Dahlmeier who leave a big gap in the field. Luckily there are plenty of people to fill it!

Last year it was Dorothea Wierer who came out on top of an epic battle with fellow Italian Liza Vittozzi. Vittozzi faded at the end of last season but that experience will have made her stronger and more dangerous this time around. This season seems to be on course for another Italian head to head but for one thing – the World Championships! They are being held in Antholz and of course both women would dearly love to do well there. It could take their focus off the big crystal globe and on to home gold medals.

Looking to take advantage of this will be Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Since adding a new surname she has gone from strength to strength having the best season of her career last year. She finished in fourth place but only 69 points behind the winner.

Hanna Oberg and Paulina Fialkova were fifth and sixth and will also be hoping to move up the ranking although they lack the consistency of the Italians for now. A good season for Fialkova would be taking her first World Cup win.

Obviously we have to mention Kaisa Makarainen. A three time champion she has the experience and the skiing ability to win the overall once more but she wasn’t at her best last season finishing seventh. Denise Herrmann is the surprise package. We knew she could ski fast but she has picked up the shooting very quickly and is a fierce competitor. Whether she can put it together over the course of an entire season remains to be seen.

There is a lot of talent in the women’s side just now so here are some biathletes to look out for as potential first time race winners or podium finishers.

Ingrid Tandrevold got two second places last season including a silver medal at the World Championships so could this be the year she makes it into first place? Monika Hojnisz’s best finish is a second place and she also came 4th twice so could she improve to get her first taste of victory? She married in the summer and is now Monika Hojnisz-Starega so maybe she can emulate Marte Olsbu by having extra surname success! Clare Egan had the season of her life last year getting her first podium finish in the Mass Start in Oslo and three top ten finishes in total. Hopefully she can make it to the top of the podium this year.

Looking to get on any step of the podium this season will be Mona Brorsson. She was so close to winning a gold medal in Oestersund at the World Championships and hopefully she now knows it is possible if she executes a race perfectly. Celia Aymonier was close to a first podium last season coming 4th in the Oslo Sprint. She has a home World Cup in Annecy to look forward too and it would be a great place to break into the top three. Lena Haecki achieved two fifth place finished last season so she is not far from claiming a podium either.

However as we know with the Women’s World Cup anything could happen and anyone could win or get a podium! That’s why it is so exciting.

The ladies start the season on the 1st of December with the Sprint race in Oestersund. The World Cup opens on the 30th of November with the single and mixed relays.

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Irene Cadurisch: The Interview!

Irene Cadurisch is a Swiss biathlete. She was born on the 23rd of October 1991. She is known on the World Cup for her fast shooting and she finished an incredible 8th at the PyeongChang Olympic Games in the Sprint. She has suffered from a knee injury in recent years and also had to have an operation this summer. She is the anchor leg of the Swiss Women’s Relay team who finished 5th in Oslo last season and 6th at the Olympics.

Like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cadurisch.irene/
Check out her website: http://www.irene-cadurisch.ch/

Why did you become a biathlete?

When I was 16 or 17 our cross country skiing group in my home valley had a biathlon training. I tried it and I liked it.

Tell us about your 8th place in the Olympic Sprint! That was amazing! Can you describe your race and how you felt at the end?

I knew I was in shape before the races. I was very focused in the whole preparation time. The race day was like other race days. I tried to enjoy it. And it was working. To do my own race not worrying about others was my goal. While in the race I felt that I could hold my pace. In the first shooting I did a mistake but I kept fighting. It was a great race with not too much suffering, but pushing.

How do you assess your season on the World Cup last year? Are you happy with your progress? What do you need to work on?

Yes I am happy. Of course I didn’t have the greatest results but I saw my progress. And this was very important for me. My hard work since my knee injury paid off.

You shoot really fast! How are you able to do that? Is it natural for you or is it something you work on?

I was working on that since beginning with biathlon. But I have problems, when I try to change the rhythm. So there is a lot of work to do.
While shooting I don’t feel that I shoot fast. In my head it is all step by step in slow-motion. After the race they tell me if it was fast or not.

The Swiss women’s team is making great progress. You were 5th in the Relay in Oslo. Do you like the Relays and what do you think the team can do this season?

Of course I like the relay. Nowhere else is the whole team honestly happy or upset all together. We have to work good and hard. The podium is a goal.

You have a new coach this season (Sandra Flunger). Have you started working with her yet? Has she introduced anything new?

Yes the training rhythm changed. Every coach has a different way to be. We are happy with Sandra and try to learn and grow.

What are your plans for summer training?

I had an operation in the middle of July. My Hallux valgus (bunions) on both feet were always infected (also last winter) and now I had to do it. So I will not be able to train for 2 months. It is not an easy summer and it will be a hard preparation time. I try to stay positive and work hard. It will pay off.

What are your goals for this season?

Before the operation I wanted to continue my progress. But now I just want to come back strong and do my best in this short preparation time. Then I can see what happens. The World Championships are of course in my mind.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I don’t have favourites no. I like a lot: Hochfilzen, Antholz, Pokljuka, Oslo, Kontiolahti, Grand Bornand, of course Lenzerheide, Ridnaun and Obertilliach 😉

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

I don’t have favourites. Every athlete has his thing where I think: “wow this is really cool or strong”. But of course Bjørndalen will stay the King.

Does your rifle have a name?

No. But when I think about it, she would be Victoria.

Describe yourself in three words.

Home/Family person, Nature lover, I am an honest person.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):
France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): I like the natural ones.
Favourite ski suit design: Odlo has great suits.
Favourite shooting range: Lenzerheide
Lucky bib number: 1 in Pursuit 😉 (I don’t have a favourite)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anna Maka, Poland
Best thing about being a biathlete: Be focused in the right time.

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Some Scheduling Suggestions!

schedule

Some of my readers and I have been wondering lately why biathlon has a World Championships every year? We have the Olympic Games every four years and in the three years between there is always a World Championships in biathlon. I had not really considered it much before last season but with the IBU deciding to have two races in North America followed by the World Championships in Norway it got me thinking.

As you will know some biathletes chose to skip one or both of the World Cups in Canmore and Presque Isle to concentrate on the chances of doing well in Oslo at the World Championships. This wasn’t very good for the hosts of these World Cups as you want as many of the best biathletes competing to give the sport more coverage and a boost in popularity in other countries. It also wasn’t good for the biathletes whose minds would no doubt wander to thoughts of gold medals elsewhere and worry that all the long haul travel might affect their preparations.

So what could be done to resolve this? Well just in case I am ever in charge of the IBU (it could happen!) I thought about what I would do. Firstly I would make the World Championships every 2 years. For example for the next cycle you would have the Olympics in 2018, the World Champs in 2019, a break in 2020, a World Champs in 2021 and then the Olympics again in 2022. Not only that I would also change the World Cup schedule itself – that’s right I would be a sweeping reformer!!

Currently we start the season in Oestersund then go to Hochfilzen and Pokljuka before Christmas. Recent years have seen a lack of snow at the start of the season so I would start in Russia. Either Tyumen or Khanty Mansiysk could host the opening round as they are more likely to have snow. It also gets the longest journey out of the way when the biathletes are freshest. The second round can go to Antholz and the third remain in Pokljuka.

After Christmas we normally go to Oberhof and then Ruhpolding followed by Antholz. Sorry Germans I know biathlon is massive there but it is growing in many other places now so you would get one World Cup rotated between Oberhof one year and Ruhpolding the next. Round 5 would go to Nove Mesto which has to become a permanent fixture on the World Cup due to its huge popularity and amazing World Cup from the season before last. Round 6 switches to Hochfilzen. All three countries border each other therefore minimising travel time and costs.

The final three rounds would be a tour of Scandinavia with Round 7 in Kontiolahti, round 8 in Oestersund and the final round in Oslo. Again all counties that border each other. I know what you are thinking. What about Canmore, Presque Isle, Annecy and the other countries that can host biathlon like Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Poland to name a few? Fear not I have a cunning plan for that!

The year that there would be no World Championships in my schedule would be the year where we could boldly go where no biathlete has gone before, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations! Oh no, wait a minute, that’s the opening to Star Trek but Captain Kirk had the right idea!

In a season without a World Championships we could probably squeeze in 3 more World Cup rounds. So you could potentially have 3 World Cups across Canada and America or even further afield in Asia possibly Korea, Japan and China. You could also mix and match the established World Cup rounds with others in for example Annecy, Otepaa, Cheile Gradistei, Bansko or Brezno-Orsblie.

You could point out that usually there are only 3 or 4 people who are capable of winning the Overall biathlon title so if there is no World Championships what incentive is there for the other biathletes. Well there is also the possibility in the free year of having a “Tour de Biathlon”-I came up with that name and idea myself, I have not copied it from anywhere!!! 😉

You could take three or four venues that are not too far apart and hold a series of races across them with a nice cash incentive for the winners of each event and the overall tour. You could even throw in some classic ski races like in olden times biathlon and also some pure shooting knockout competitions as well as team events. These are just suggestions there could be many ways of doing it.

So there you have it, an alternative biathlon season. Obviously there are probably many reasons of money, sponsorships deals and logistics that might not make such ideas feasible but as I still don’t work for the IBU (but it really could happen!) they are not my problem!! If anyone from the IBU is reading this you can copy it if you like although you will have to use the name “The Tour de Biathlon23!!”

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There is a Lind-Störm coming!

lindstrom

Fredrik Lindström is only 25! Can you believe that? It seems like he has been on the World Cup for ages! He must have started when he was 12 or something! Actually he made his debut at age 19 in Hochfilzen and where he finished 47th in the Sprint race.

Freddie was born on the 24th of July, 1989 in a bread bin. Wait a minute that’s not right! He was born in Bredbyn of course! That’s in the Örnsköldsvik Municipality in Sweden as you all know! It also makes part sense of his Twitter name which is @bredbypajken. As for the rest you will have to ask him. I mean I guess I could have asked him but you need to retain some mystery in your life!

Freddie had great start to last season when he came second in the Sprint race at his home World Cup round in Oestersund. Many, including me, thought that this was a sign of a great year to come but unfortunately it turned out to be his best result of the whole season. After finishing 7th in the Total Score in 2012/13 big things were expected from Mr. Lindström. However after making good progress every year in his career until now he slipped back a little last year and finished only 17th overall with just that one podium to his name.

He has won a race on the World Cup though which as you know is not that easy to do and some older and more experienced athletes than him have not managed it yet. It came back in season 2011/12 in Anholtz where he took victory in the Sprint. Actually he had a lot of great results that season which is why people expect a lot from him because they know what he is capable of.

Freddie has always performed well in the World Championships and has 2 bronze medals to prove it. In Ruhpolding in 2012 he was third in the Mass Start and in 2013 in Nove Mesto he was third in the Individual. He also just missed out on a bronze in the Men’s relay in 2011 in Khanty-Mansiysk when the team came in fourth. In fact last year the Swedish Men’s Relay team were on excellent form. They were twice on the podium on the World Cup coming second in Hochfilzen and Antholz and also took two fourth place finishes in Annecy and Ruhpolding. They were tipped to make the podium in Sochi too with such great form but ended up a disappointing 10th.

With the retirement of half of that relay team the pressure will be on Freddie and also Tobias Arwidson to keep up those impressive results. Without the talent and experience of Bergman and Ferry it will be hard to repeat such feats but Sweden has the likes of Peppe Femling and Ted Armgren who will finally get their chance to shine. Freddie is going to have to handle the new pressure of being Sweden’s top male biathlete and a lot will be expected from him from Sweden’s coach Johan Hagström. He will have to set the example for the rest of the team.

So will he be able to use that extra pressure to get back to his best? I think he can. He is a really talented biathlete and for someone so young he has a lot of experience to fall back on. It will be a big year for him as the leader of Team Sweden and he will be looking to add some more podiums and wins to his collection. With the World Championships “next door” in Finland he will have a lot of supporters there and if his past record is anything to go by he should get a bronze medal at the very least! The other biathletes need to keep an eye out for Freddie as I think it could potentially be his best season yet! Beware there is a Lind-Störm coming!

Follow Freddie on Twitter: @bredbypajken
Have a look at his website (in Swedish): http://www.flindstrom.se/


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Weger: The Beni-fit of experience!

weger

Benjamin Weger is a bit of a biathlon conundrum. Considering his age and where he is from he has had a fantastic career so far on the World Cup which is just missing a first win. He has a better record than many other biathletes who are older and from bigger biathlon countries. So what is the conundrum then? Well he hasn’t been able to translate that World Cup success over to the World Championships or Olympic Games – yet!

Benjamin is a Swiss biathlete who was born in Brig on the 5th of October 1989. He is a keen mountaineer (shocking behaviour from a Swiss person!) and enjoys fly fishing. He is also lucky enough to have his own supporters group called Fanclub “WÄGi” based in Geschinen where he lives.

Benjamin’s best result on the World Cup came back in season 2010/11 when he finished 2nd in the Individual race in Pokljuka. That was the first of 4 podiums that he has achieved so far in his career. The other 3 all came in season 2011/12 which saw him finish third in Kontiolahti in the Sprint and also in the Sprint and Pursuit in Hochfilzen. In fact that season has been his best to date with an overall result in the Total Score of 18th.

His best result last season was a 5th place in Annecy in the Pursuit and he also came 8th in Oberhof in the same event. It wasn’t the season that he might have been expecting coming 37th in the Total Score with his best individual result being unsurprisingly in the Pursuit standings where he was 32nd overall.

His performances in the Olympic Games in Sochi were not that great unfortunately. His best position there was 48th in the Individual. In fact many of his championship performances have been a bit disappointing which is where the conundrum kicks in. In fact his best Championship performance came in his Junior career. He won silver in the Sprint in the 2009 Junior World Championships in Canada behind Lukas Hofer. His top result so far in the Senior ranks was a 19th place last time round in Nove Mesto in the Individual.

This must be something he is desperate to rectify and this year’s competition in Kontiolahti will give him the chance to do just that. He has had some good results there finishing twice in the Top 10 so that should give him confidence. He knows from World Cup results that he is good enough to get on the podium and will probably get his best chance in the Individual. The Swiss Mixed Relay team has some potential too with the Gasparin sisters leading it off so they should be able to get a solid result. It could be a good year for Weger now he has the Beni-fit of experience!

Like ‘Benjamin Weger’ on Facebook!
Have a look at his website : http://www.benjamin-weger.ch/

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Login on to Loginov!

loginov

Alexander Loginov is biathlon’s new young hot shot. Along with Johannes Thingnes Boe he is the future of men’s biathlon. The two of them have brought their Junior rivalry up into the Senior ranks. It will be very interesting to see how the two of them do after pretty successful debut seasons.

Alexander Viktorovich Loginov was born in Saratov, a major port on the Volga River in Russia on the 31st of January 1992. He had a quite astonishing Junior Career winning 4 gold medals and 7 bronze across 4 years. In 2010 in Torsby at 18 he won gold as part of the relay team. The following year in Nove Mesto he helped defend that title and took two bronze medals finishing third in both the Sprint and Pursuit. He won another 3 bronze medals in 2012 in Kontiolahti in the Sprint, Individual and Relay before winning 2 gold and 2 bronze in Obertilliach.

In the meantime he was also winning more medals in the European Championships. In 2012 in Brezno-Osrblie he was first in the Individual and Pursuit and second in the Sprint and Mixed Relay. Then in 2013 in Bansko he took gold in the Sprint, Pursuit and Individual. Not a bad way to start your career in biathlon!

He made his long awaited debut on the World Cup in the 2012/13 season in Holmenkollen and started with a bang! He came 5th in the Sprint and 3rd in the Pursuit getting his first podium and also came 15th in the Mass Start just for good measure. He also helped himself to a 12th place in the Sprint in Sochi and two wins with the Relay team in Annecy and again in Sochi. A pretty decent debut year!

He had a good full season on the World Cup last year. Although not making the same kind of impact as old rival Johannes Boe, who won five races, he had a solid if not spectacular season. He made 2 appearances on the podium both in second place, one in the Sprint in Kontiolahti and one in the Holmenkollen Pursuit. He also made the Top 15 another six times and made one appearance at his home Olympic Games in Sochi coming 30th in the Individual.

Alexander has had a really good biathlon career up to now. He has made a great transition into Senior biathlon and if he doesn’t win a race next season I will be very surprised. I think the more established biathletes will need to watch out for him and I am hoping he can continue his battles with Boe the younger from their Junior days. He will also be a threat at the World Championships and the more experience he gets at the top level the more dangerous he will be. It won’t be long before you are all Login on to Loginov!

Update: Since writing this article Loginov has had a positive sample for doping dating from November 2013 but only tested in November 2014.

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Slam Dunk-lee!

dunklee

With a father and an uncle who were both Winter Olympians in cross-country skiing it’s no wonder that America’s Susan Dunklee could ski by the age of 2! It did however take her another 20 years before she learned how to shoot! Born on the 13th of February 1986 Susan Dunklee became the first female America biathlete to get on the podium since 1994. She matched the efforts of Joan Smith who also made a second place finish.

Originally an All American cross-country skier like her father and uncle before her Susan was a bit of a late comer to the world of biathlon. Whilst in her final year at Dartmouth College she received an email from the then head of biathlon development, James Upham, who invited her to a biathlon training camp. He offered her the chance to learn to shoot in return for a commitment to pursue biathlon instead of cross-country.

This proved to be a great decision on both sides. With an excellent background in skiing, her father Stan Dunklee competed in the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics following his brother and Susan’s uncle Everett Dunklee who competed in 1972, and a total immersion course in shooting Susan has gone on to become an excellent biathlete.

Last season was her best yet but she had already shown signs of what was to come. In her debut season on the World Cup she finished a mightily impressive 5th in the World Championships Individual in Ruhpolding which equalled the best ever result by an American woman. She also got a 9th and 10th place finish that season in the Pursuit and Sprint in Khanty-Mansiysk. The following year in 2012/13 she placed once in the TOP 10 in the Olympic warm up in Sochi.

Last season however exceeded expectations with a first ever podium coming in the last round in Oslo which eclipsed her 4th place in Annecy and meant a total of seven TOP 10 finishes for the year. In her first Olympics in Sochi she finished 11th in the Mass Start and was part of a good performance from the Women’s Relay team who came in 7th and the Mixed Relay team who were 8th.

This year Susan has to be in contention to take her first ever victory on the World Cup. No America woman has ever won a World Cup race and so if she gets it she will be making history for US biathlon (no pressure or anything!!!). It will be a difficult thing to achieve however considering the strength of the female competitors but it has to be one of her goals for the season.

Another will be to take a medal in Kontiolahti in the World Championships. She is capable of getting an individual medal but will also make up a pretty strong Mixed Relay team with the likes of Tim Burke, Hannah Dreissigacker and Lowell Bailey and with a great performance and some luck they have a decent chance of a medal. I hope she can make history and win a race because it will be a huge Slam Dunk-lee for the US biathlon programme who are doing a great job!

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Check out her blog: susandunklee.wordpress.com


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