Tag Archives: Antholz

Tom Lahaye-Goffart: The Return!

Next in my series of catch ups with former biathlon23 interviewees is Tom Lahaye-Goffart. His first interview was 4 years ago when he was still a Junior! Now at age 23 (which is an excellent age) he has been competing on the IBU Cup and also on the World Cup in the relay.

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We last spoke 4 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

A lot of things changed for me during those 4 years. On the studies side, I graduated with a bachelor degree in Marketing and Communication, which means I can take a pause in my studies to focus 100% on biathlon! That’s a really good thing because I can completely rest between my training now (even if I didn’t work that much when I studied, but psssst, secret!). I also moved home, once again! I came back to my previous home in the South Alps but I took a flat in Villard De Lans to get the best training possibilities in France!

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with and were there any disappointments?

I’m really happy about last season! My goal was to be “back on track” after a pretty bad previous season, I didn’t expect anything in terms of results, I just wanted to feel good in what I do and not be disappointed about my races. It actually worked pretty well! My ski speed came back to normal, my shooting statistics increased a lot, and I got a few good results!
I was pretty happy with my individual race in Obertilliach in the IBU Cup. I knew I was able to do some great stuff but I never found the way to put everything together earlier, and it worked on that day! That was definitely a morale boost for the rest of the season!
On the bad side I was a bit frustrated not to get my chance on one of the individual races in the World Cup. I showed good shooting statistics all season long and didn’t get my chance to prove myself on the superior circuit. That was frustrating but that’s part of athlete life, you have to be patient!

You are part of everyone’s favourite relay team – Belgium! What is it like racing in that team?

I’m definitely proud to be part of that relay! It’s crazy how people adopted us after Hochfilzen and Oberhof 2 years ago! Being in that relay is really awesome, we don’t have that much pressure, we just do our best and we see at the finish line, and it’s always a good feeling to bother some “big nations”!

That foggy Oberhof Relay in 2018- tell us about it!

Actually that foggy relay is my worst memory as a biathlete! I wasn’t confident at all after the Hochfilzen relay, my shape was also pretty bad that season! And when you’re 21-years-old, you get the relay in 4th place as the last racer, it’s a really huge pressure on your shoulders. According to my self confidence on that day it was way too much for me, I completely cracked, made all the bad choices and lost 9 places to finish 13th! The contrast was so big at the end, everybody was so happy about the race, we led more than halfway, we got so much TV time, and I was crying on the shoulders of my sister because I f***ed up everything on that day. It took me months to get over it and find confidence again. I had so many nightmares about it! But I can say now that it gave me so much experience!

Jean-Guillaume Beatrix is Belgium’s coach now. Have you had much chance to work with him yet?

I have the chance to live really close to him now in Vercors, so I’m probably the luckiest one of the team because he can coach me on my sessions outside of training camps! So we work quite a lot together and try to find the things that can help me in shooting!

What are your plans for summer training?

The same as every biathlete I guess, lots of volume training! We will go with the Belgian team to the Summer World Champs in Minsk at the end of August, otherwise we were in Obertilliach in a camp in July, and then went to Antholz for few days to the World Championship’s location.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think that my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. I actually always try to understand everything around me, to see how things work, how to do it better and so on. It’s also a weakness because sometimes you have to do things naturally without questioning everything all the time! But my strengths and weaknesses are definitely on the mental side!

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal this season is to get to the World Cup. We are 3 athletes for 2 places, which means one will stay in the IBU Cup. After several years on it, I feel that it’s time to take a step further and discover real racing with the “big boys”. I really wish to compete in Östersund and Le Grand-Bornand, because it’s at the beginning of the season, which is the best period for me, and I’ve special connections with those places!

Is Presque Isle still your favourite track and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen your favourite biathlete?

I still like Presque Isle’s track, but my favourite track is definitely Oslo now! Skiing with a view of the Fjord is breathtaking, and reinforced by the feeling of skiing on an historical ski place!
OEB is still my favourite biathlete, he’s such a legend that I don’t even need to find arguments to justify that!

You put effort into your rifle design which is great! Have got a new design for this season or are you sticking with last year’s? Where do you get your ideas from for the designs?

I still don’t know if I will change my rifle’s design this year, I would like to but I don’t think I’ll have enough time for that! I usually have a few colors in mind and then ask around what would be the best. I always try to be original with a design that no one has. The fact is that since I chose silver, a few other athletes chose it too, so I guess I’ll change again. I hate to be in the norm!

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Still not!!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Michal Krcmar’s lions!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): USA
Favourite shooting range: Not Oberhof!
Lucky bib number: 9
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Too hard to chose between Michael Rösch/ Emilien Jacquelin and the Claude brothers!
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup/IBU Cup: I’ll get problems if I name a girl.. So… The womanizer Florent Claude, of course!
Best thing about being a biathlete: The purpose is easy, you have to push as hard as you’re dumb, and shoot the black!

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Maddie Phaneuf: The Return!

Photo courtesy of Maddie Phaneuf.

This season I am revisiting some of the biathletes I have interviewed in the past to see what has changed for them. The first ever interview on this blog was with US biathlete Maddie Phaneuf so she was the obvious choice to start with!!! 🙂

Follow Maddie on Instagram.
Check out her website: https://www.maddiephaneuf.com/

We last spoke nearly 5 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

So much has changed! I think I may have still been living in Maine the last time we spoke, or had just recently moved to Lake Placid. Either way, since then I’ve mostly been training full time for biathlon, I took a mini break this past season (from August – March) and lived in Boulder, Colorado during that time and didn’t focus on training. Then this March I moved back to New York State and have been training again full time for biathlon. I’m back in Lake Placid, living on my own and training with the local ski club, NYSEF.

You have recently opened up about having PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) caused by the Olympics. What happened and why did you decide to about it publicly?

Basically I got really sick during the Olympics right when I was told I would finally be racing. I was beating myself up about it for months following the Olympics, and chose to go to therapy to get better. I decided to speak up about it because I know a lot of fellow athletes struggle with mental health issues, but not a lot of people actually talk about it publicly. I hope that speaking out gives others the courage to seek help.

How have you been dealing with it?

Mostly therapy. Also realizing what I need in my everyday life to keep a good balance between sport and life. For me that looks like having my own space (a house) where there’s no sign of professional sport, and I can mentally check out from training. I also have a lot of friends who aren’t teammates. Overall, just having a good balance between training and everyday life.

What advice would you give to other athletes who might have similar issues?

The biggest advice would be: You’re not weak if you ask for help. Honestly, I should’ve been going to therapy since high school, it just took me until my absolute breaking point to finally seek help. Also, know that it’s not your fault if you feel depressed/anxiety/any other mental health issue – mental health is an illness.

The US women’s team was fantastic last season. Does that inspire you to get back out training and racing to be part of it?

DEFINITELY!! I watched every race this winter when I was away from the sport, and I missed racing so much. Watching them crush it at World Championships, and leading the Women’s Relay for 3/4 of the race was so inspiring. I was so happy and proud of my teammates this season, and I’m very excited to be back on the training grind and can’t wait to race alongside them in the coming seasons.

What are your plans for summer training?

So I’m back in Lake Placid, NY training full-time with NYSEF. I’ve been training since the last week of April, and have been having a lot of fun and have been feeling great so far! I’ll be doing a lot of rollerskiing, shooting, trail running, strength training, mountain biking, and everything in between! I’ll be traveling down to North Carolina for a week in August to spend time with my family for vacation, which I’m very excited about because there are beautiful beaches down there! But yeah, nothing too crazy for me this summer, just training in New York.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think strengths would be shooting well under pressure, fast shooting speed, and being able to move past bad races. My weaknesses are usually slower ski speed, balance, and wanting to go mountain biking or rock climbing during my rest days!

What are your goals for this season?

To have fun and be happy. Also to race internationally on the IBU Cup and World Cup. I’d love to see myself racing at World Championships this winter, but I have no expectations for my first season back since taking last winter off 😉

Is Canmore still your favourite track and Franziska Hildebrand your favourite biathlete?

I still love Canmore, but I think Antholz may be my current favorite. My favorite biathlete to watch race is Hanna Oberg because she’s so strong on the range.

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Haha not yet! I need suggestions…

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova’s unicorn rifle!!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway’s always looks classy
Favourite shooting range: Martell, ITA
Lucky bib number: I don’t have one!
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Regina Oja – she gave me her clothes when my luggage didn’t arrive in Estonia!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Traveling the world and meeting new people from other countries.

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Herbert Cool: The Interview!

Herbert Cool is a former Dutch biathlete who was born in Rotterdam on the 9th of February 1985. He retired from biathlon in 2012, which was far too soon!, with a top finish of 50th in both the Sprint and Pursuit races at the 2008 World Championships in Oestersund. After retiring he began commentating on biathlon for Dutch Eurosport.

Follow Herbert on Twitter: @CoolHerbert

Why did you become a biathlete?

My father loves to go cross country skiing. As we have no snow in the Netherlands we used to spend our vacations in Germany and the Czech Republic. I got into the sport as well, enjoyed it, enjoyed racing against the local youth and sometimes even beating them. Age 18 I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Bled, Slovenia. I came 9th in the Sprint which was great. We hardly ever trained on snow, only roller skiing and some shooting in a shooting range without a roller ski loop. This made me realize I had a talent for the sport and made me decide to pursue a professional career in biathlon. At age 19 I moved to the US to train with the US Junior team in Minnesota. A year after, I moved to Ruhpolding and stayed there for 6 years.

What are your best memories from your biathlon career?

For sure the first year in the US was the most fun. Obviously it is a great experience to live there on the whole, especially after finishing school. I got to see a lot of the country and was surprised about the large Nordic community it has, not to mention the beautiful cross country tracks. Also, the team was great. Just a bunch of young people wanting to make it in a sport that wasn’t normal in the country they came from. I guess we shared this experience, even though our countries were so far apart. We shared the troubles with funding, we shared having to travel away from your own country to be able to do what you love. And we had a great coach, Vladimir Cervenka, who is still coaching the US Juniors in Minnesota. Of course there were many great memories after that year, but things became a bit more serious, more like a job.

How did you become a commentator for Eurosport and how long have you been doing it?

Unfortunately I didn’t qualify for the Vancouver Olympics. The Dutch Olympic Association wants biathletes to be top 8 in the world, which obviously is a requirement similar to countries like Germany or Norway. However, there is hardly any funding and no talent development whatsoever. I really hope this will change and I am putting energy into this myself, but for now it is unrealistic to expect any talent from the Netherlands (nor is it realistic to expect youth to become interested in the sport, there simply are no facilities). Eurosport gave me a call; whether I would be interested in joining their biathlon commentator during the Olympics. I did, and it was a lot of fun. After I decided to quit in 2012 I pretty much became their new biathlon commentator. I still enjoy it a lot, and nowadays do some other sports as well as some presenting in front of the camera. For example during the 2018 Olympics. It’s a lot of fun and it enables me to stay on top of the sport that I love.

Did you find the transition from biathlete to commentator difficult? Was it harder or easier than you thought? Do you ever run out of things to say? 😉

I think it was the fact that I could become the biathlon commentator at Eurosport that helped me in the transition. You have to understand, I am a city boy. I was born and raised in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Definitely worth a visit if you have the time. So living in Ruhpolding was about as far away from living in the city as possible. Although I often miss the beautiful nature in the Alps (and the snow, obviously) I also really wanted to go back to Rotterdam. And I’m not just a commentator, I also own a sports management agency. We are into sports marketing, event management and athlete management. For example, this year we will bring a large group of Dutch biathlon fans to the World Team Challenge in Gelsenkirchen for the first year. You’d be surprised how many Dutch people love watching biathlon. When it comes to winter sports, speed skating is obviously the number 1 by far, but I would say biathlon is the second most popular winter sport on television here!
(Definitely not running out of things to say 😉 )

How much and what kind of research do you do before the races?

Honestly, I hardly do any research. I simply love the sport so much that I read and see everything no matter what. Before a race, I obviously do my preparation work, but that doesn’t take a lot of time this way.

Do you have some favourite/memorable races or moments that you have commentated on? Why were they special?

My relationship with the US team runs like a red line through my career. First I moved to Minnesota to train with the US Juniors. After that I moved to Ruhpolding where I was fortunate enough to have Ricco Gross coach me and help me a lot. He helped me connect to the US World Cup team -they waxed his ski’s during that time- and I ended up going with them in some of their training camps as well as travelling with them throughout the winter. A great setup for which I am still very grateful to both Ricco Gross, Bernd Eisenbichler, their high performance director and the team as a whole. It was during the time Tim Burke did very well, he even led the World Cup total score during Christmas, and I roomed up with them and learned a lot. So to answer the question, during the Hochfilzen World Champs there was the epic individual race men’s race. Moravec was in the lead, Lowell Bailey started really late. He shot well, and the finish loop was so intense. I think I screamed during my commentary and for sure I wasn’t very objective, but I didn’t care. It was such a great win for Lowell and I felt a lot of joy, especially seeing all of the wax techs and coaches celebrating afterwards. You know how hard they all work for it and how much effort goes in behind the scenes.

Is biathlon popular in The Netherlands? Can you tell us something about the current biathletes from the Netherlands.

It’s a difficult subject at the moment. The Dutch ski federation has chosen not to invest in talent development. One of the reasons is that the Dutch Olympic Association will only send a biathlete to the Olympics if he or she is around top 8 in the world. This is almost impossible to achieve in general, but especially with no funding, no facilities (no snow) and, very important, no athletes who are already on a World Cup level. You need to train with athletes who are at least as good as you on a daily basis. A good example is Chardine Sloof; she is a talented biathlete who got introduced to the sport because she lives in Sweden. She became a Junior World Champion for the Netherlands, which is crazy. Luck hardly has any influence on the sport of biathlon, if you become Junior World Champion you are talented. Period. After that she struggled with some physical issues and the funding stopped. She decided to switch to the Swedish team. A good decision, because she is surrounded by great athletes, the right culture and great facilities as well. She achieved 3 top 15 results during the Oberhof World Cup 2 seasons ago, really great stuff. I hope we will see more of her in the upcoming season.

Do you have any predictions for the up coming season? Anyone we should be looking out for to do well?

As always after an Olympic season we saw some big names quit. Of course we will miss Domracheva for example. She has one of the best techniques on the women’s side and is of great added value to the exposure of biathlon due to her personality. On a personal note I will miss Bjoerndalen, because he was my idol when I was a biathlete myself. I think Johannes Thingnes Boe will again be a little bit better and more solid this time, although he did admit to not training as much as he should have done in spring. But it will be interesting to see whether Fourcade can take another overall World Cup. I think it’s Boe’s time now. And the Swedes will be strong. They have the momentum after their successful Olympics. Of course there is a big difference between having nothing to lose and being one of the favourites, so this will be a role they will have to get used to. On the women’s side I think Dahlmeier will be very strong, if she stays healthy on her way to December. But I’m afraid that if she wins a lot, she will quit after this winter, which would be a big loss to the sport. I would also keep an eye on Lisa Vittozzi, she made big steps last season and is still very young.

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

I loved Östersund. Great atmosphere downtown, great energy on the whole and tracks that suited me. Long uphills that you really had to dig into. Antholz is everybody’s favorite, not only because of the great food and kind people. I always joke during my commentary that they somehow always seem to have a lot of snow, yet the sun is always shining!

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

Bjoerndalen, because he made biathlon into the sport it is today. He pulled it out of cross country skiing’s shadow. His technique was perfection. Someone who also has great balance and style on ski’s is Simon Fourcade, I love watching him ski. When it comes to fighting spirit you have to mention Kaisa Makarainen. Such a great athlete, a fierce competitor on the tracks and a great person once she crosses the finish line.

Did your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, passionate, calm.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Right now: Belgium!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin’s carved rifle looks great.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Not sure which year, and a bit of a different sport, but I loved the suit the Norwegian cross country team had in the last seasons Bjorn Daehlie was racing.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Being active in a worldwide sport that is still small enough to be a small community, and the closeness to nature.
Best thing about being a commentator: Sharing what you love with viewers who really discover your sport -and how great it is. Because biathlon wasn’t really known in the Netherlands, viewers can ask me question through Twitter during the race. This works out great and gives me the chance to bring the sport closer to the Dutch audience.

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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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Maija Holopainen: The Interview!

Maija Holopainen is a Finnish biathlete who has recently become a coach. She was born in Liperi on the 22nd of February 1978. She made her World Cup debut in Oestersund in 2002 but now she has become coach of the Finnish Youth National team as well as at a high school in Vuokatti. Here she talks about what it’s like to coach biathlon.

You can follow Maija on Twitter: @MehisMaija

Why did you become a biathlete?

I was a cross country skier and was always better at freestyle because my mum didn’t know how to get my skis to work in classic. I wanted to try biathlon so I didn’t have to race in classic races anymore.

What is your best memory from your biathlon career?

There are a lot of good memories: training camps with the national team and friends, many World cup and IBU cup weeks. But maybe it’s my first two World Cup weeks in December 2002 in Östersund. It’s hard to choose, I have so many good memories with the biathlon family.

When did you become a coach and why did you want to do it?

My first season as a coach was in 2014/15 when I was still training and racing 100%, I only had some junior training camps. But in season 2015/16 I became a full time coach in Vuokatti- Ruka Urheiluakatemia (upper secondary school) and the Finnish biathlon association youth team coach.

I love biathlon and I have done almost nothing but biathlon since 1995, so it was natural for me to change from an athlete to a coach.

Who were your coaches when you were a biathlete? What did you learn from them that you now use as a coach?

I have had many coaches in my long biathlon career. I have learned most from Anatoly Khovantsev, Marko Laaksonen and Toni Roponen.

For example Marko taught me to train like a biathlete, not like a cross country skier or shooter. In Finland we have many good cross country coaches but they forget that we are biathletes.

You are coaching Juniors. Do you enjoy working with the young biathletes?

Yes, I really enjoy working daily with the juniors. It is very inspiring when they learn and progress at something. I think I can and want to help them most in growing as athletes.

How much time do you spend with the biathletes? Do you send them a programme to work through alone or do you see/speak to them every day?

I have some athletes who I help and write personal daily programmes for. I try to be with them as much as possible at training.

We have about 25 biathletes in Vuokatti who we see daily in our training and who we help daily in school time (from mid August to the first weekend in June). They all can get our training programme so we can train together and do some food biathlon training also.

In the Finnish Youth national team there are 10 athletes from our Vuokatti group, so I can see their training also in training camps.

What do you do before, during and after a race as a coach?

It depends whether I am the only coach or if we have two coaches in the races.

If I’m alone, I have to be in the range all the time. Before the race I normally test the skis with the girls and do some wax and grid testing (helping service) and zeroing with athletes, trying to get familiar with the wind. During the race I’m in the range giving some info to athletes or I’m on the skiing loop giving some intermissions or/and wind info from the range.

After the race I go through the race with the athletes, but only if they want to.

Would you like to be a coach on the World Cup one day?

Of course, I think I have similar goals to an athlete, going up step by step.

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

Antholz, I like the profile and altitude. It is always harder to shoot well at 1600 metres.

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

I have many 🙂
Ole-Einar, Liv-Grete and Frode. OEB because he is OEB, he wants to be better and better year after year. Respect.
Liv-Grete and Frode because of the skiing technique. Just so easy and fast.

Does your rifle have a name?
Frode.

Describe yourself in three words.

Worlds smallest biathlon coach. Maybe the craziest also.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation(not your own): Germany, they know how to coach biathlon.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Favourite shooting range: Antholz
Lucky bib number: 8
Funniest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Jon Kristian Svaland,Peter Sendel and of course Andi Stitzl he is my idol! Just watch him in the races!
Nicest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: So many, it’s hard to pick, I have got help from so many coaches when I was an athlete. But maybe Cristian Stebler.
Best thing about being a coach: I can still work full time in a sport that I love. And give something back to our juniors about what I have learned in my long biathlon career.

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