Tag Archives: Annecy

Some Scheduling Suggestions!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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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One ‘Eck hoff a biathlete!

Winner of three Olympic medals at her first attempt and more importantly winner of biathlon 23’s Rising Star award 2013/14 Tiril Eckhoff has had an amazing season. Born on the 21st of May 1990 she represents Fossum IF as well as the Norwegian national team. At 24 she has been on the scene a little while but last season saw her rise to the top of the biathlon ranks and start challenging the main contenders.

She stated her intentions early on in the season by finishing 5th in the Individual in Oestersund. She backed it up with third in the Pursuit in Annecy for her first ever podium on the World Cup and then took 4th in the Pursuit in Antholz to make her one of the ones to watch in Sochi. Her perceived inexperience in the top competitions didn’t hold her back as she came away with 2 bronze and 1 gold medal from Russia.

Her performances in the relays were excellent and backed up by some very talented and experienced teammates she won gold in the Mixed Relay and bronze in the Women’s relay. To prove she wasn’t just carried by the others but was an integral part of the victories, she also bagged herself an individual bronze medal in the Mass Start behind Domracheva and Soukalova.

Her great results didn’t finish there though as on her return to World Cup racing in Pokljuka she took two 5th place positions in the Pursuit and Mass Start when the rest of the Norwegian team seemed to be a bit jaded after the Olympics. She finished 9 times in the TOP 10 and maybe the only small disappointment from the season is that she couldn’t convert her great form into a win.

She has a lot of pressure on her shoulders competing for Norway and will have even more next year after her great results last season. That coupled with the retirements of Tora Berger and Ann Kristin Flatland makes her, along with Synnøve Solemdal, one of the top 2 female biathletes in her country. She will also have a new coach next season. It just happens to be a familiar face as it is her older brother Stian Eckhoff. It seems biathlon is a bit of a family affair in the Eckhoff household as her sister Kaja is also a biathlete.

So under the guidance of big bro next season Tiril will be looking to get that first World Cup win under her belt. I think she will have bigger ambitions than that though. If she continues her consistency from last season and adds some wins she has to be in contention for an individual Crystal globe if not the overall title. She will also be looking to win some more medals in the World Championships in Kontiolahti to keep her Olympic medals company. She won’t have it easy however as the Women’s competition is extremely strong. Whatever happens we already know that Tiril is one ‘eck hoff a biathlete!

Follow Tiril on Twitter: @TirilEckhoff

* to be ‘one heck of something’ means to be really good at something eg. Messi is one heck of a footballer.

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2013/14!

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Second only to the Oscars for drama and excitement the most highly anticipated awards of the year are here! In traditional biathlon23 style they are not exactly the standard awards you might have come to expect. I have decided not to bore you too much with the nominees and sometimes just go directly to the winners and the reasons why they won.Congratulations everyone for a great biathlon season 2013/14!!!


Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
She is much more popular with the fans than the New Zealand Winter Olympic selection committee(those dream ruining fiends!) with 426 hits and counting for Hurricane Murphy and crushing the likes of Fourcade, Svendsen, Bjoerndalen, Berger, Domracheva and Makarainen!
Winner: The lovely Miss Sarah Murphy.

Best Facial hair: Brendan Green came close with his moustache(eh..no he didn’t!!)but with a beautiful full beard giving Santa a run for his money(even though he shaved it off!).
Winner: Simon Fourcade

Best name:
I am a fan of Rastorgujevs (because it has a nice flow!). I also like Amanda Lightfoot(you need a light foot for skiing!), Leif Nordgren(could it be more nordic!),Meri Maijala(just sounds happy to me!)but then I discovered this guy.
Winner: Jaan Koolmeister

Best Team Performance: Lots of options here the Ukrainian Women’s Relay team, the Russians Men’s relay team for example but I am giving it to a team who have improved significantly on both the Men’s and Women’s side and are not one of the “big” biathlon countries.
Winner: Canada

Biggest improver: A difficult category as so many people have done well. I chose the winner because she won 2 European silver medals, got her first TOP 20 finish, is the only woman who represents her country and she funds herself.
Winner: Victoria Padial


Best save (from a fall):
A difficult one as there were 2 beautiful pirouettes from Martin Fourcade and Tarjei Boe in Hochfilzen but as one was alone and the other in the middle of a group there is only one choice.
Winner: Tarjei Boe

Best quote in a press conference: Annecy. Winning on Martin Fourcade’s home patch “it’s not everyday you can beat Martin but it’s cool that I can do it here in his cave in France!” I like that he said it while sitting right next to him!
Winner: Johannes Thingnes Boe


Best Twitter follower(of me)
: Only one winner in this category. He followed me on Twitter without me having to a)follow him b)ask him to do it and c)write a post about him (although this will be fixed in the summer!)
Winner: Peter Dokl

Best Tweeter: Easy! Always spots something funny at the tracks or on his travels.
Winner: Tobias Arwidson

Best Facebooker: Has to go to the man who shares everything from his holidays to his coffee breaks, from his races to his home town of Mrkopalj(the Croatian tourist board love him and so do we!)
Winner: Jakov Fak

Best rifle design: For the Olympics. The Slovenian colours with the mountain design – very cool!
Winner: Klemen Bauer

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Literally a shoot out between the Boe brothers. Tarjei with orange, Johannes with gold. You have to have balls to race with a gold rifle and he backed it up with 5 wins and orange does clash with red.
Winner: Tarjei Boe

Best ski suit: Standing out from the other teams normal block colour with bit of a stripe here and there. Especially like the leg design incorporating the national flag.
Winner: Great Britain


Worst ski suit:
Generally for having the same design most years without deviation from red with a splash of black. Nothing wrong with it but needs a change!
Winner: Norway

Rising star:Another super difficult category and I almost gave it to several others but getting good results and holding your place in the Norwegian team and winning an Olympic gold and 2 bronze are so hard to do in your first Games. Also replacing Tora Berger isn’t going to be a piece of cake either!
Winner: Tiril Eckhoff

Best vocal performance: I know what you are thinking it’s between Soukalova and Bailey, right?WRONG! A man in a dress singing “Breaking The Law” like he was born to do it!
Winner: Bjorn Ferry

Luckiest: Some may call it skill and his whole race up to the finish was but the ending was a little bit lucky. Let’s say it’s lucky he didn’t start celebrating gold any earlier in the Olympic Mass Start or he would have given it to Fourcade!
Winner:Emil Hegle Svensden

Unluckiest: Falling at the first World Cup round (on a lump of frozen mud while running and not even a skiing injury)and pretty much wrecking her Olypmic hopes. Still it turned out OK in the end with a podium and baby on the way but unlucky in biathlon terms.
Winner: Marie Dorin Habert

Biggest disappointment:I wanted this to be the cancellation of the races due to fog and wind but something else got in the way 😦
Winner: Biathletes caught doping


Best biathlete blog:
Lots of biathletes have blogs these days but because she is retiring and won’t be eligible again as well as it being very good of course I chose this lady.
Winner: Sara Studebaker

Best biathlete website: More and more biathletes are getting fancy websites but one of the first I discovered and really liked the entry page(even though he later changed it!)belongs to this guy.
Winner: Lukas Hofer

Biathlon23’s performance of the season: A very difficult choice but you can’t look past 3 gold medals in one Olympics creating history for her country.
Winner: Darya Domracheva

These are all my own ideas so feel free to Facebook or Tweet me if you have any of your own thoughts! The funnier the better please!

Biathlon23 in true biathlon style is having a little post season break before I get back into writing articles again. But don’t worry like the biathletes I will be back around May with weekly posts to keep you going through the long, barren biathlon free summer!:-)

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