Tag Archives: Antholz -Anterselva

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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A season in bib 23! The results!

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Wow from the first, Diana Rasimovicuite, to the last, Serhiy Semenov, the bearers of “the bib” have given me a roller coaster first season in 23! From the highs of 2 wins in 1 day to the lows of the doping scandal “biathlete23” has given me more fun, excitement and disappointment than I could ever have imagined before I started all this back in November.

For those of you unfamiliar with biathlete23 I decided that as a feature on my blog I would follow whichever athlete was wearing bib 23 and record their scores and see how they did. This led to a great new way for me to watch biathlon and to get to know some of the less well known biathletes.

For the first representative to score me some points was pretty great! To most 19th position doesn’t mean a whole lot but for me it was my first 22 points! That was the only point score I got in Oestersund in fact from 4 races. In Hochfilzen I was celebrating my first podium from Irina Starykh but that was wrecked after Christmas with her positive drugs test. Fortunately the lovely Gabriela Soukalova took a 9th place in the Pursuit and Evigeny Garanichev got me 7 points in the Men’s race.

But then came Annecy, the wonderful Annecy! The first two races were Sprints and were won by Selina Gasparin and Johannes Thingnes Boe who were both wearing bib 23!!! Maximum 120 points! To say I was delighted would be the understatement of the year! Two more points finishes from Garanichev and Gregorin took my total to 169 points for the weekend! Finally I was getting some good scores!

In Oberhof 5 out of the 6 biathletes in 23 scored points; Alexander Loginov and Daniel Boehm for the men and Vita Semerenko, Weronika Nowakowska and Krystyna Palka for the women.In Ruhpolding Teja Gregorin and Simon Desthieux grabbed me 43 points from the Pursuits.The last round before the Olympics in Antholz saw 46 points scored by Franziska Preuss and Yan Savitskiy.

The Olympics was fun to watch for bib 23. I didn’t really expect a medal at my first attempt but I got very close when Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle finished 4th in the Women’s Mass Start. However like Starykh before her my joy was short lived as she too tested positive for an illegal substance and was disqualified. My best results were from Yan Savitshiy who finished 20th in the Men’s 20km Individual for the men and Veronika Vitkova who was 6th in the Women’s Individual. My favourite athlete from the Olympics though has to be the awesome Mr. Brendan Green who represented 23 in the Pursuit. He finished 35th but was kind enough to photograph his bib and send it to me and you can see it at the top of this post and on my Facebook and Twitter accounts! Thanks Brendan!

Back to the World Cup and I was keen to get back scoring some big points. Pokljuka didn’t disappoint as 98 points were added to my total from Jana Gerekova, Tim Burke, Tomas Kaukenas, Zina Kocher and Serhiy Semenov. To Kontiolahti next where a strong team of Christoph Sumann, Tiril Eckhoff, Simon Eder, Susan Dunklee, Jean-Guillaume Beatrix and Julia Dzhyma scored an impressive 114 points!

Holmenkollen was our final stop and biggest points haul of the season! I had the great privilege of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen racing in bib 23(by this time I had gotten over the fact that he won Olympic Sprint gold in bib 24 – the traitor!). The rest of the biathletes were overall winner Kaisa Makarainen who I like to think was inspired in her Pursuit performance by number 23 to get to fourth and help her win the big Crystal Globe!!! The others were Dominik Landertinger, Yana Romanova and Serhiy Semenov(he loves bib 23 -always in it!). They scored 119 points to take my grand total up to 754 points for the season, 347 from the men and 407 from the women. These put me in 25th place in the Men’s overall between Daniel Boehm and Tim Burke and 14th in the Women’s between Teja Gregorin and Franziska Hildebrand. Not bad for a debut season in biathlon!

A big thanks to all the biathletes who have been lucky enough to wear bib 23 – you have all been fantastic with some obvious exceptions! You have to take the rough with the smooth though!It has been really enjoyable supporting whoever has been in bib 23 this season. I don’t really have favourites among the biathletes so this way I can support different ones in each race and I have learned about biathletes that I previously knew little of. It’s a great way to find out more about all the biathletes and a really nice way to show support for all of them.I had no idea quite how interesting it would be to follow a bib number throughout the season but I have loved it. I can’t wait for next season to start so I can do it all over again and I hope some of you will join me along the way supporting biathlete23!! I just hope I can beat the Total Score for this season!!! GO BIATHLETE23!

For full results and participants please see my page Biathlete23
.

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Season Review 2013/14: Women

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Well the season is over and for me the women provided the best competition this season. Last year was dominated by Tora Berger but this time around it was much more competitive. The Overall title was won at the last round in Holmenkollen by Kaisa Makarainen .The individual Crystal Globes went to Kaisa Makarainen in the Sprint and the Pursuit, Darya Domracheva in the Mass Start and Gabriela Soukalova in the Individual 15km.

At the start of each race it was virtually impossible to pick who would win. That’s why it has been such a great season for the women. The level of competition is fantastic with many of the women on great form and others making big improvements throughout the season. If you cast your mind back to Oestersund Soukalova won the Individual and Ann-Kristin Flatland won the Sprint. Then in Hochfilzen Selina Gasparin was amazing as she took her first ever win and then Synnoeve Solemdal won the Pursuit. Gasparin followed up her success in Annecy again taking the Sprint and Valj Semerenko got the Pursuit. That made 5 different winners in the 6 races before Christmas as apposed to 3 in the men’s races.

In Hochfilzen we had another 2 winners with Darya Domracheva taking 2 wins and Tora Berger 1 in the Mass Start.In Ruhpolding it was Soukalova’s turn to do the double and in Antholz we saw another first time winner in Anais Bescond in the Sprint and a legend secure another career win when Andrea Henkel took the Pursuit.

The Olympics of course was dominated by Darya Domracheva who took home 3 gold medals and Anastasiya Kuzima came from nowhere to make it an Olympic Sprint double gold having shown little form on the World Cup. In the Women’s Relay the Ukraine women’s team won an emotional and well deserved gold.

Back on World Cup duty in Pokljuka we had yet another first time winner in Austria’s Katherina Innerhofer but then the big guns took over as Domracheva claimed another victory and Kaisa Makarainen won the Pursuit to kick off her amazing end of season form. She took all 3 victories in her home race in Kontiolahti and set us up for a tense finale in Holmenkollen. Neither Makarainen nor Berger won any races but Kaisa did enough to win the Overall even though Tora took 2 second places. I think she deserved it as she won more races than Tora and was very consistent in scoring points. I bet Tora wishes that she had last season’s form this year as she was almost unbeatable in 2012/13. The races were won by Domracheva who took the Sprint and Kuzmina who won the Pursuit and Mass Start to take her only 2 wins of the whole season apart from the Olympic Sprint!

So the more experienced ladies took all the spoils this year but we were also treated to some fantastic new talent. The young German team look like they will do well next year. Laura Dalmeier, Franziska Preuss and Franziska Hildebrand have all shown they have what it takes to do well on the World Cup. The Canadian ladies have also stepped up a level taking 4th place in Annecy in the relay and Rosanna Crawford had some great races individually too. Susan Dunklee likewise has had a fantastic season which ended in her first ever podium.

The Italians Dorothea Wierer and Karin Oberhofer had a great Olympics and have both done really well this season and won bronze at the Olympics too. Tiril Eckhoff’s amazing form this season has softened the blow of Tora Berger’s retirement for the Norwegian team. Nadezdha Skardino has come out of Domracheva’s shadow for Belarus and achieved some great results. Teja Gregorin has also had a really good season culminating in her Olympic bronze medal.If she can improve her standing shoot by a few percent and get a little bit of luck she will surely win her first World Cup race next season.

The season wasn’t great for everyone however as the Swedish women’s team didn’t even get to go to the Olympics. Marie Dorin Habert got injured at the start of the year and so ruined most of her season and fellow French star Marie-Laure Brunet seemed to loose her amazing shooting skills a bit and didn’t get the results she was hoping for. Synnoeve Solemdal started well but the end of her season was wrecked by illness. The Russian women’s team didn’t perform as well as expected, with the exception of Olga Zaitseva and Olga Vilukhina, and will be looking to win some races next season.

All in all it has been a stellar year for Women’s biathlon. They have had the closest and most competitive racing and the titles all went down to the final weekend. We have seen fantastic individual displays and also some amazing team performances. I hope that it will be equally unpredictable and exciting next season. Enjoy your rest and your summer ladies as you have certainly deserved it! Thanks for all the entertainment, see you in November!

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Season Review 2013/14: Men

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Before starting to write this I thought I would take a look back at my season preview and maybe just remove the “P” and so save myself a lot of time writing another! Alas it is not so as somewhat surprisingly not all of my predictions were right! 😉

Well it didn’t take a genius to predict Martin Fourcade being at the sharp end again and he duly delivered winning 4 out of the 5 Crystal Globes including the Overall title for the third year in a row. He was only prevented from another clean sweep by Emil Hegle Svendsen who won the globe for the Individual 20km. He also took 3 medals at the Olympics in Sochi. He won gold in the Pursuit and Individual and silver in the Mass Start once again being denied by, you guessed it, that pesky Emil Svendsen!

The other big winner in Sochi was of course Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who became the greatest ever Winter Olympian by winning the Sprint title and the Mixed Relay. Obviously enough to change his mind about retiring and in the process ruin my post about his last ever season! Thanks Ole Einar! The Russian men’s team brought the Olympics to a fine end winning the relay in their home Games.

Back on the World Cup tour a young and confident(slight understatement there!) Johannes Thingnes Boe was winning 5 World Cup races. He won 2 in Annecy and then all 3 in Kontiolahti.
Simon Schempp and Lukas Hofer shared their first ever wins in Antholz and Jakov Fak kept us waiting to the end to grab his win in Holmenkollen. Way back in November Martin Fourcade won both races in Oestersund recovering from his first day breakdown on the range in the Mixed Relay. Lars Berger came from nowhere in Hochfilzen to win the Sprint but Fourcade was again victorious in the Pursuit. Svendsen took 2 wins in Oberhof and in Ruhpolding. Bjorn Ferry surprised everyone after the Olympics by winning twice in Pokljuka and Anton Shipulin took his only victory of the season there too. In the last 2 races the spoils went to Simon Eder finally winning another race and Martin Fourcade who I think likes to win the first and last race of the season!

The year also saw some great improvement from a lot of men. Lowell Bailey achieved his first ever podium in Kontiolahti. Andrejs Rastorgujevs has been threatening the podium for most of the season but his shooting keeps letting him down. Canadians Nathan Smith and Brendan Green have being showing that life after Jean-Philippe Le Guellec won’t be so bad with their excellent performances. France’s Jean-Guilliame Beatrix has really stepped up his game winning Olympic bronze and Simon Desthieux looks a real talent making up for disappointing seasons for Simon Fourcade and Alexis Beouf. The Czech guys have been amazing this year with Jaroslav Soukup and Ondrej Moravec both winning multiple Olympic medals. Dominik Landertinger for Austria had a successful if quiet season. He won silver and bronze in Sochi and was solid on the World Cup without really setting the world on fire.

On the other had it was a season to forget for the likes of Tarjei Boe who never really got going and Andi Birnbacher who finished early due to his lack of form. Fredrik Lindstroem stared well in Oestersund with a second place but couldn’t better it during the rest of the season. The Russian team have been in and around the Top 10 but have only taken one win on the World Cup, although young Alexander Loginov looks like he could help them improve that statistic next season.

So that’s it for another season and next year will hopefully see some more new faces on the podium and more first time winners. It should be intriguing to see if Fourcade can make it 4 in a row or if the likes of Johannes Boe can give him a real run for his money. Whatever happens I hope that the Globes and titles can get spread out a little more. Don’t get me wrong I am a great admirer of Martin Fourcade but it can get a bit boring having to write his name all the time!!!(I can type it in my sleep!) Help me out guys! We want to see an epic battle for the Overall next season now that there are no Olympic Games to distract everyone. Enjoy your (short!)rest, put in a great Spring/Summer training and we will see you in November!

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Like father like Arwid-son!

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With his hometown in Lima, Peruvian biathlete Tobias Arwidson now races for Sweden. Not really I am just messing with you!!! It turns out there is in fact a place called Lima in Sweden too. Tobias was actually born in Mora, Sweden on the 7th of June 1988 but grew up in Lima in Dalarna County in the west of Sweden. He is the son of double Olympic bronze medal winner Lars-Göran Arwidson and currently lives in Oestersund which as it happens is also in Sweden! (I bet he hasn’t even been to Peru!)

Following in his father footsteps Tobias took part in his first Olympic Games this year in Sochi. His Dad actually represented Sweden (not Peru!) in 3 Olympic Games in 1968, 1972 and 1976. In 1968 in Grenoble, he won a bronze medal with the Swedish relay team in the 4 x 7.5 km relay and in 1972 in Sapporo, he won a bronze medal in the 20km Individual. Tobias is also a medal winner although unfortunately for him not in the Olympics –yet! He won a silver medal in the European Championships in 2013 in the Individual event in Bansko, Bulgaria.

Tobias warmed up for the Games by achieving his two best ever results on the World Cup. Firstly in Oestersund in his home race he was 22nd in the Individual and then in Ruhpolding he came 17th also in the 20km Individual. (Anyone would think he and his Dad like that event!!) His previous best results were all outside the TOP 30. He was also part of the Swedish Men’s Relay team who came second in Antholz, together with Bjorn Ferry, Carl Johan Bergman and Fredrik Lindstrom.

In Sochi he finished an impressive 28th in the Pursuit, from a start number of 42 where he finished in the Sprint, beating his more experienced colleagues Bergman and Ferry. In the Individual he came 41st but the Swedish Men’s relay team couldn’t repeat their podium in Sochi and they finished 10th. I think Tobias gets his best results from the Individual events because he is an excellent shot. At the Olympics he only missed 2 shots in 4 races. If he can increase his ski speed (which is easier said than done I know) it could propel him into the TOP 20 more often and I am sure he will be appearing inside the TOP 10 soon! Unfortunately it won’t be this season as he is too sick to race in Oslo but hopefully he will back fit and illness free next season!

So even though he is not actually from Peru I am sure all the residents of Lima and his Dad are proud of his achievements so far. He is still just 25 years old so has the potential to compete in 2 more Olympic Games and maybe he could win something in those. After all he is like father like Arwid-son!

If you follow any biathlete on Twitter make it Tobias! He has a keen eye for comedy!:-)

Check out his website too:
http://www.tobiasarwidson.com/


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Is it a bird?Is it a plane?No,it’s Michal Šlesingr!!!

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If you look up an see something hurtling towards you out of the sky it’s probably this guy!Full time adrenaline junkie,skydiver,and biathlete Michal Šlesingr is one of the Czech Republic’s best known winter sports stars. Born on the 3rd of February 1983 in Ústí nad Orlicí he started training in biathlon at the age of ten. He graduated in 2004 by which time he had already won medals at Junior World and European level.

He has taken part in the World Cup since 2002/03 where he finished 78th overall in his first season and his highest overall position came in the 2010/11 season where he finished 9th. His only World Cup victory came in 2007 in Holmenkollen in the Mass Start and is one of eight podium finishes in his career so far. He enjoyed a successful World Championships in Antholz, Italy in 2007 winning a silver medal in the 10 km Sprint and bronze medal in the 20 km Individual. He didn’t have the best individual performances at his home World Championships in Nove Mesto. The mixed relay team won bronze but unfortunately he wasn’t in it.

This season has been disrupted by illness for Michal. He got the flu and then a bacterial infection which meant he only just came back to the World Cup in Oberhof.It was a great return though as he took 12th place in the Sprint, 5th in the Pursuit and 19th in the Mass Start. Some training in Pokljuka and Obertilliach probably helped with the first 2 results and lack of competition would account for the third. Coming back to race 3 hard races in 3 days is not easy for anyone let alone someone who is just back from illness.

As a baby Michal was described as “a little hyperactive”. A huge understatement if ever there was one! He has continued this hyperactivity into adulthood and includes among his many passions skydiving, scuba diving, climbing, white water kayaking and base jumping. Some quiet little sports there to fill in the time when he isn’t doing biathlon or looking after his daughter! In fact I think biathlon may be a bit tame and boring for Mr.Šlesingr.

What he needs to do is start a bit of extreme biathlon! Skydive out of a plane, land on the top of a ski slope, ski down to a river, kayak down over the rapids, get out at the biathlon track,hit the targets and head for the finish line!!! That would liven up his weekend a bit! Actually biathlonworld tv missed a trick not using him as a stuntman in their “Bond adventure”. Remember that scene from “The Spy Who Loved Me” when Bond skies of the cliff and parachutes down. See the clip here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvv2lv2s_gM
Michal could have done that easily! He might have used a Czech flag though!

So after his biathlon career he has plenty of things to keep him busy but we are a long way from that I hope. With another Olympics coming up Michal will be hoping the Czech team can reproduce their form from Nove Mesto and hopefully he will be able to beat his best Olympic performance of 16th in the Mass Start in Vancouver and 6th and 7th place in the relays. Having missed the start of the season he may be fresher than the others and has a good shot at an individual medal in one of the events at least. I really hope he can do it but he always has his adrenaline fuelled sports to keep him busy. So next time you see something in the sky and it’s not a bird or a plane,it’s probably Michal Šlesingr!!!

You can like Michal’s Facebook page or get more info on him from his website in Czech and English:

http://www.slesingr.com

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Antholtz: Ital never be forgotten!

antholz

Wow what a World Cup round we had in Antholz-Anterselva! Round six on the tour did not disappoint and we saw 3 new winners and a host of other biathletes recording their best ever results. Not a bad time to do it seeing as the Olympics are coming up and some places in the teams are still up for grabs.

This round started with the Women’s Sprint event which was won by Anais Bescond of France. Her first ever win on the World Cup came in front of Andrea Henkel and Darya Domracheva. It was a great boost for French women’s biathlon especially with the injury to Dorin Habert and a loss of shooting form for Brunet. Fourth place was taken by a fantastic Susan Dunklee who recorded her best finish ever too and was really close to getting on the podium herself.

The pressure of such good results and leading the Pursuit was too much for Bescond and Dunklee as they didn’t continue their form in the Pursuit race. Instead it was the cool head and experience of Andrea Henkel who got the win. It was her 22nd win on the World Cup her first one coming in 1998. What an amazing biathlete she is!Second place went to another biathlete getting a career best result Nadezhda Skardino of Belarus who performed really well and beat Tora Berger into third position. Tora produced a storming last lap to overtake her own teammate Tiril Echhoff who also put in a great performance moving from 14th to 4th but couldn’t match Berger’s skiing on the final leg.

Other movers in the Pursuit race were Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier who started bib 21 and finished 7th, China’s Chaoquig Song who stared 30th and made up 20 places with some immaculate shooting to finish 10th.Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska also did well finishing 15th from a starting bib of 36. The women’s races overall where great to watch in Antholz and have definitely wet the appetite for Sochi as anyone could win there!

The men’s races were no less exciting! In the Sprint Simon Schempp and Lukas Hofer shared the win after some initial confusion with the timing. A first win for both of them but sweeter for Hofer as it was his home race. They beat Arnd Peiffer into third and it’s great to see him back on the podium after a tough season last year. Bjorn Ferry returned to the Top 10 finishing in 6th and Krasimir Anev also got back in there with a season’s best result to take 7th and followed up with 5th in the Pursuit. Canada’s Brendan Green produced an amazing result to finish 8th his best ever finish in the World Cup.

In the Pursuit Schempp held his nerve and made it two wins out of two with an impressive display of physical, and particularly mental, toughness. Hofer was not able to match this and dropped down to 20th.Second place saw Jean-Guilliame Beatrix of France achieve his best result ever and he could have taken the win but for a missed target on the last shoot. Third went to Norways Henrik L’Abee-Lund who produced his best finish this season. I just hope it’s not too late for Olympic selection. Fourth place went to Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who made up 16 places from a start number of 20 in a terrific display.Other noteworthy performers were France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet who moved up from 32nd to 14th and Norway’s Martin Eng who started 53rd and finished 34th.

Unfortunately on Sunday the Women’s Relay was cancelled on the second shoot due to thick fog, that appeared as if from nowhere, with the Russian team in the lead. It’s a shame as there were still some decisions to be made and places to be won on the Olympic teams but the coaches will just have to decide based on previous races. It is the third cancelled race this year. The men were luckier and faced only a 30 minute delay before the start. France took the victory with a strong team and Sweden finished second improving from 4th last time out. Germany were third, a penalty loop from Andi Birnbacher of all people cost them any chance of victory. Canada finished a very impressive sixth rightly described as “frickin awesome” by JP Le Guellec! Belarus finished 7th from a ranking of 21st and had a great race too.

So that concludes all the World Cup rounds before the Olympics.The next races will be in Sochi! Antholz-Anterselva was again a fantastic round with great crowds and great tracks if not the great weather we usually expect there. This top venue provided some unforgettable moments for all the biathletes who achieved their career best finishes. For Simom Schempp, Anais Bescond and especially Lukas Hofer it means this season’s Antholz : Ital never be forgotten!!!

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