Tag Archives: Annelise Cook

Clare Egan: The Interview!

Clare Egan is an American biathlete from Cape Elizabeth in Maine. She was born on the 19th of November 1987. She is part of the US Women’s Relay Team and has taken part in two World Championships. She had three Top 40 points finishes last season and achieved her personal best so far of 16th. This meant that she came 67th in the Total Score at the end of the season an improvement of 29 places from season 2014/15.

Like her Facebook Page: Clare Egan Biathlete
Read her blog: http://lclareegan.blogspot.co.uk

How did you discover biathlon and why did you want to become a biathlete?

When I was 25, I was a slightly bored cross-country skier, questioning whether to continue with the sport. It was perfect timing when US Biathlon’s regional development coach, Algis Shalna, asked if I wanted to learn how to shoot. He is a former Lithuanian biathlete who was part of a gold medal-winning relay team for the Soviet Union. I took him up on his offer because I was inspired by the success of biathletes Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee, who, like me, started shooting after university and trained in Craftsbury, Vermont with the Green Racing Project ski team. I had a great experience working with Algis and learning the skills of shooting, so it was a good fit.

You had a really good season last year getting your personal best result of 16th in the Oestersund Sprint. Can you describe that race?

I went into that race with only one goal: to shoot well. I took my time making 10 good shots, and the downhill range approach helped me make that happen. I just wanted to make the pursuit but it was a nice surprise to clean a World Cup race for the first time and get my first top-20.

You also got two great results at your home race in Presque Isle. What was it like competing at home? Did you feel the pressure or did you enjoy it?

I had two great races in Presque-Isle, finishing 32nd in the sprint and then 23rd in the pursuit. I did not feel more pressure than usual, because biathlon is not well known in the US. But I am glad I had the experience of doing a biathlon World Cup in my home country and home state. Even though Presque-Isle is a 6-hour drive from where I grew up, there were some familiar faces in the crowd. My whole team did great that weekend, including Susan’s 2nd place in the sprint, and we were very proud.

Annalise Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker have both retired. How do you think the women’s team will cope with losing two great biathletes?

I really miss Annelies and Hannah even more than I thought I would. It is a very different team environment without those two! They lived and trained in Lake Placid, where our national team is based and where I live. Now that they are not here, I am one of the senior members of the team so I am learning how to be in that role. I miss them not only at training but also outside of training because they are great friends. Now, Susan and I are joined on the national team by two talented biathletes, Maddie Phaneuf and Joanne Reid, both of whom have already raced World Cups, so I have no doubt that our team will continue to move forward and improve, following in the footsteps of Hannah and Annelies.

What did you learn about yourself last season? Are you working on anything specific that you want to improve for the coming season?

I put a lot of pressure on myself, so I am working on staying relaxed and focussing on the positive aspects of each performance. In terms of specific biathlon skills I am working on my standing shooting and physical strength.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to consistently make the pursuits and score World Cup points. I would also like to qualify for a mass start!


Who has been the biggest inspiration or supporter of your biathlon career and why?

I think Algis Shalna, my first biathlon coach, is the person most responsible for where I am now. I learned so much from him even though we only worked together for one year. I wrote everything down in a little book that I travel with all winter so I can remember the most important basic lessons he taught me.

You sang in a biathlonworld video last season with Lowell and Jean-Gui. Have you always sung? Are you replacing Gabriela and will we see more of your singing next season?!

Gabriela was a little busy winning the overall World Cup title! I was just her substitute. I love singing and playing music with other people so I am always ready for the next video. I learned many instruments growing up… I don’t do anything super well, but I can do a little bit of everything.


Do you have a favourite race (sprint, pursuit etc.)? Which is it and why?

I like anything that is head-to-head, so pursuits and relays are my favorite so far. I hope to do a mass start one day because I think that would be my favorite.

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

Andrea Henkel Burke!!! She is a great athlete, a great person and a great mentor. We are so lucky to have her living in Lake Placid.

Does your rifle have a name?

She is called Rifey.


Describe yourself in three words.

outgoing, energetic, pig-lover

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Everybody is great
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Johannes Thingnes Boe’s pink rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Belarus 2015 World Championships
Favourite shooting range: Ostersund, because the approach is downhill!
Lucky bib number: 11
Best use of the IBU Athlete Guidebook: checking out who is single, hot and has interesting hobbies.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Stefani Popova (BUL) and Amanda Lightfoot (GB)
Best dancers on the World/IBU Cup: 1st Place: Team Manager from Kazakstan (AMAZING!!!), 2nd Place (tie): Lithuanian biathletes Gabriele Lescinskaite and Vytautas Strolia.
Best World Cup food: dense hot chocolate available in Italy and Slovenia
Friendliest Wax Tech: Gregoire Deschamps
Favourite song on stadium playlist: “Walking on sunshine”
Most annoying song on stadium playlist: “Hey baby I wanna know if you’ll be my girl”
Best thing about being a biathlete: Having the opportunity to represent the best side of my country, when the world often only sees the worst.

(Please note Clare added some of her own quick fire questions here! If only all the biathletes were so conscientious!:-)

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Spring Snapshot 2016!

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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!”

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‘Fil-zen you in!

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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!

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Maddie Phaneuf: The Interview!

phaneuf2

In the first in a new series of interviews with young biathletes Biathlon23 talked to the USA’s Maddie Phaneuf about her experiences in the sport so far. Maddie is 19 and was born in Virginia and now lives in Lake Placid. She had a great Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle and I am looking forward to seeing what she can achieve this season.

You can follow Maddie on Twitter: @MaddieBiathlete, find her on Facebook and I highly recommend reading her blog:
http://maddiebiathlon.blogspot.co.uk/

Biathlon is not that popular in America, cheerleading is! How did you escape the pom-poms to become a biathlete?

It’s funny because I actually started out dancing and doing ballet when I was younger, but then my family and I moved to my current hometown (in New York State) and they did not have a good dance program there. They did have a lot of snow and skiing though, so that’s when I learned how to ski…and eventually picked up biathlon.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Currently, I am not doing full-time school, but instead I am just doing a few online college classes. So during my down time from training I work on my school. It seems to be working well, and I will be done with the classes by the time the race season begins. For my social life, most of my friends are within the biathlon community, so it is very easy to continue that social life during training and competitions. Although, I do have friends from high school that are not in biathlon, and it’s a bit harder to keep up with their lives. Usually if I am home for a while I try to hang out with them and catch up, otherwise I just see what they are up to by checking their Facebook. If I were not training, I would definitely have more of a social life, and sometimes I miss that. I usually cannot just meet up with a friend for the weekend, or stay out too late because of training, which can be not so fun.

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

Yes, I will be competing in Raubichi! I am very excited to compete in my second ever World Youth/Junior Championships. It will be interesting to see how different the competition is compared to last season in the USA, and now this year as a Junior rather than a Youth. The selection criteria for my country (USA) is that we have a set of three races in December over a week. To make the team you have to be a certain percent back from the winner of each race, and they count the two best of three races. Sean Doherty and I have pre qualified for these races because of our performance at the last World Youth/Junior Championships, so we will not be competing at the selection races.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

I receive some funding, but currently unsure on how much funding I will receive this season. I did get a good deal from Rossignol on my equipment, but I pay for my equipment myself with the help of my parents. With travel my parents help a lot, because I do not have a job because of training…so I don’t have an income. Also, for training, I live in Lake Placid, NY at the Olympic Training Center with the National Team, so our housing and food is all paid for…so training is basically free, which is very helpful.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

I think the best part about being a biathlete is that I get to travel around the world and meet people from different cultures while doing the thing I enjoy most! There really aren’t many things that make being a biathlete a bad thing. Maybe the worst thing about being a biathlete would be having to carry your large ski bag and rifle case while traveling in the airport…which can be tiring and take a long time.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

If I could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, I would want to be able to look as beautiful as Gabriela Soukalova does when she’s competing. It’s impressive how she can look so pretty while competing and win! I don’t know how she does it…but it’s a skill I’d like to have. I’m already a natural blonde, so I’m part-way there!

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

I don’t think there is really anything I would choose to change about biathlon. Maybe the only thing would be for the relay, if a team does not have 4 people, they could use one of their teammates twice. I know this is an issue for the USA Women’s team this season, because they will only have three women competing on the first World Cup races. They all really want to compete in the relays this season, but they do not have enough women, so it would be cool if they could race Susan, Hannah, Annelies, Susan.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

Steve Prefontaine, I have been inspired by him since I was younger. I was more into running before biathlon, and he was a phenomenal track star. I would watch the movie Prefontaine on repeat, and know his story as well as I know my story! To be as good as an athlete as he was and to have the passion for a sport like he did for running, would mean everything to me.

To learn more about Steve Prefontaine see his website: http://prefontainerun.com/index.php

What’s your typical day like?

Well, my typical day is as follows:

1)Wake up 7:00
2)Breakfast 7:30-8:30
3)Morning training 9:00
4)Shower
5)Lunch 12:00-13:00
6)Recovery/Free 13:00-15:30
7)Afternoon training 15:30
8)Shower
9)Dinner 18:00-19:00
10)Dry fire
11)Bed 21:30

You are on a team with Susan Dunklee, Hannah Dreissigacker and Annelies Cook. Do they help you with tips and advice or are they super competitive and don’t want you to steal their place in the team?! 😉

It has been a great experience training with Susan, Annelies, and Hannah after watching them compete on the World Cup and looking up to them the past few years. They have been extremely helpful! If I ever need help with anything or if I ever have a question they are always there for me. I don’t think they are too worried about me stealing their place on the team, because they are all so much older than I am. I am still only 19 and in my developing years, they are each in their late 20’s early 30’s and have been in this sport longer than me! I also don’t see them as the type of people that are super competitive when it comes to teammates. They are competitive when they need to be, during training and competitions, but when you need help or are just hanging out as a team, they are all so friendly and caring. It has been a fun experience, and I’m excited to see how they do this season!

Does your rifle have a name?

It currently does not, but I’ll take suggestions!! I never thought about naming my rifle before…do people actually do that?

Describe yourself in three words.

I am…happy, outgoing, determined.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Franziska Hildebrand, GER
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? 4th place (shooting clean!) in Youth Women Sprint at Youth/Junior World Championships 2014 in Presque Isle, Maine USA

Favourite food: Chocolate
Favourite singer/band: Vance Joy
Favourite film: Into The Wild
Favourite sports team: USA Women’s Soccer
Favourite TV show: The Vampire Diaries (guilty pleasure)

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