Tag Archives: Anton Shipulin

Ruhpolding 2018: The Mass Starts!

Well, well, well we got a treat on the final day in Ruhpolding. Two mass starts and two brilliant races.

The men went first and conditions were good. The first two laps were a bit pedestrian with Martin Fourcade controlling a slow pace. When Anton Shipulin tried to break and go ahead it cost him dear as he missed his first shot on the prone.

Everyone looked tired today which is no surprise condsidering the schedule. I think everyone was happy with the pace on the first two loops. At the front many biathletes hit 20/20 on the prone and so most of the field was still in contention for the win.

It was on the third loop that Martin Fourcade increased the pace a bit hoping to shake off some of the pack. That plan went well until he got to the shooting range. Johanned Boe rattled off 5 perfect shots and left before he could see Martin miss two.

That would ruin most people’s race but not for Fourcade. Boe was followed out of the range by Simon Schempp, Antonin Guigonnat, Simon Eder, Jakov Fak and Erik Lesser.

At the final shoot Johannes missed 1 target as did Schempp. Guigonnat cleared to make it 20/20 for him and left in second place behind Boe. Quentin Fillon Maillet cleared to find himself in third but Fourcade also hit 5 to come out just behind him. Fourcade fought hard on the final loop passing French teammates Maillet and Guigonnat but he couldn’t catch Johannes.

Guigonnat held on to third to take his second podium of the season thanks to being in bib 23! Fillon Maillet was 4th, Tarjei Boe was 5th and Simon Schempp was 6th. Along with Guigonnat, Michal Slesingr hit 20/20 to finish 8th and Jakov Fak did the same in 10th.

The women’s race was even better (as it usually is in fact!). Kaisa Makarainen took her first win of the season and the yellow bib from Kuzmina but she had to work really hard for it. At the first prone Kaisa missed one target. Others had a great start like Rosanna Crawford, Darya Domracheva and Dorothea Wierer who shot clean on the first two prone shoots.

At the third shoot Domracheva and Wierer missed but Crawford hit 5 to lead the race. She was followed by Kaisa and Laura Dahlmeier who both got all 5 targets. Dahlmeier, Makarainen and Domarcheva caught Crawford before the final shoot but then they all missed targets and Rosanna cleared again to take a 16 second lead. She hit all 50 targets this week over three competitions which is amazing.

However she couldn’t compete on the tracks with the top two who caught her with 800 metres to go. It was a ski race to the finish and Kaisa took it on the line winning by 0.8 of a second! In the end Crawford couldn’t hold on for the podium and she was passed by Veronika Vitkova who took third with 18/20.

Crawford was 4th to cap a fabulous World Cup round for her. Denise Hermman was 5th despite 4 misses and Domracheva was 6th. Rosanna Crawford was also the only woman in the field to hit 20/20.

Now we move to Antholz. Racing starts on Thursday for the final races before the Olympics. Kaisa Makarainen and Martin Fourcade will wear the yellow bibs.

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Ruhpolding 2018: The Relays!

Wow relays are boring without any fog, aren’t they! 😉 It’s Ruhpolding so of course Norway won the men’s relay. They have won 4 in a row here and 8 out of the last 11.

The Norwegian team, which looks like the Olympic team, of Lars Birkeland, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen and Johannes Boe were always near the front for the whole race. Birkeland on the first leg was just beaten to the first exchange by Erik Lesser. Lesser shot 10/10 while Birkeland needed 1 spare.

I know what you are thinking -“Where was Belgium?” It was not their day today with Michael Roesch doing 2 penalty loops. Apparently he shoots better when he can’t see the targets!

Matej Kazar and Lowell Bailey both had great legs handing over in 3rd and 4th.

Tarjei headed out fast on the second leg, a little too fast as he needed all his spares on the prone to avoid the penalty loop. That meant Lukas Hofer overtook him as did Tomas Hasilla and Benedikt Doll. Boe made up for it on the stand and cleared while the others needed spares. Simon Eder made great progress for Austria hitting 10/10 very fast so it was Italy in first, Norway second and Austria third at the next exchange.

Svendsen was on leg three up against Windisch and Daniel Mesotisch. They all has pretty solid legs using a few spares but unfortunaley for them Martin Fourcade was on leg three for France and shot fast and clean to move France into the lead heading into the final leg. Italy were in second and Norway third. Russia were up to 4th after 10/10 from Anton Babikov.

The tables turned again with Johannes Boe on the final leg for Norway. He flew off into the distance leaving Antonin Guigonnat and Thierry Chenal for dust! He used 2 spares on the stand but took the win comfortably. Guigonnat did well staying in second for France and Anton Shipulin moved Russia into third with a good final leg using just 1 spare.

Germany finished 4th, Austria 5th and Sweden 6th. The mysterious penalty for the USA was explained as Sean Doherty cross fired on the final leg.

Kazakstan who seem to love Ruhpolding as much as Norway does moved from 19th to 11th. They got a string of personal bests in the Individual and used only 5 spares between the four guys in the relay!

The women’s relay treated us to a really close finish. This time it was the home team Germany who took the victory. After their little slip up coming second in Oberhof they moved back up to first to the delight of the crowd.

However it was Italy who got off to the best start with Lisa Vittozzi having a great first leg hitting 10/10 and handing over in first place. She was just ahead of Franziska Preuss. Many other teams were close behind with France, Switzerland, Belarus, Austria, USA, Sweden, Norway and Poland all chasing the leaders.

Denise Herrmann and Dorothea Wierer battled it out on the second leg with Wierer shooting better(10/10) and Herrmann skiing faster which meant Germany took the lead into leg three. Norway came out the best from the chasing pack with Tiril Eckhoff skiing well.

It was now time for Franziska Hildebrand and Nicole Gontier to go head to head. However after the first prone it was Sweden who came out in the lead with Anna Magnusson shooting quickly. By the stand it was Chloe Chevalier with a clean shoot who left the range first but by the exchange Selina Gasparin was in the lead! Madness! Leg three was a good one!

She had Sweden, France and Germany behind her heading to the handover. Aita Gasparin was now up against Laura Dahlmeier, Federica Sanfilippo and Hanna Oberg. The German and the Swede both needed 1 spare and left the range together after the prone with Italy, Switzerland, Norway, France and Poland all within 30 seconds of the top two.

At the final shoot Sanfilippo cleared, Oberg used 1 spare and Dahlmeier needed 2. It was a ski race from there between Italy and Germany and with just 600 metres left Dahmeier passed the Italian and snatched the win. Oberg held on for third and Sweden’s second podium finish in a row in this event.

Norway were fourth a great result for them considering they have had a terrible season so far in the women’s relay. Poland were 5th and the Czech Republic moved up to take 6th. Switzerland dropped to 8th after 1 penalty loop on the final stand and France were 9th after 2 penalty loops on the same shoot.

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Biathlon Books!

What did you get for Christmas? Martin Fourcade’s autobiography? Maybe J.J Hensley’s ‘Bolt Action Remedy’? Scott Dixon’s ‘Pup The Brave’? That’s right 2017 was the year of the biathlon book! Never one to miss out on a trend this year’s Christmas holiday post will guide you through the most famous of biathlon books. However I’m not sure how many of these are available to buy in the shops! 😉

Lord of the Olympic Rings:
One man’s amazing adventure to collect the five Olympic Rings! It details his perilous journey through Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin and Vancouver. Not only does he find the rings in order to destroy them so no one can beat his records but he also wins 6 gold medals, 4 silver and a bronze. Aided by his small, big footed Norwegian colleagues and fighting against Orcs with French, German and Russian accents Ole Einar Bjorndalen has a difficult task. Luckily he never gets any older and so expect sequels from Sochi, 2 more gold medals,and PyeongChang.

The Snowman:
A young Norwegian detective with amazing hair, let’s call him Emil, sets out to discover a murderer in snowy Oslo. The only clue is that he leaves a snowman outside the house of his victims with a World Cup winners medal around its neck. The action is spread across the city but comes to a shocking conclusion at the Holmenkollen arena. Will Emil find the murderer in time?

The Three Musketeers:
You may know them as Porthos, Athos and Aramis but we know them better as Florent, Fabien and Emilien Claude! Florent is called back from Belgium by his brothers to help fight their arch enemies! That’s right the Gasparin sisters – Selina, Elisa and Aita! A swashbuckling battle begins to decide whose family has the best three biathlon siblings. The action moves from France to Switzerland, from Annecy to Lenzerheide. Which family will survive and who will be in the firing line?

Fakenstein:
Dr. Jakov Fakenstein decides, a bit gruesomely, to take parts from various biathletes to make a super biathlete. For example he uses the eyes of Nadezhda Skardino for shooting, the legs of Julian Eberhard for skiing, the brain of Laura Dahlmeier, the shooting speed of Simon Eder, the beard of Michael Roesch, one arm each from the Semerenko twins and the torso of Simon Fourcade.
However things go terribly wrong and he ends up creating a monster. He calls him Klemen. Dr. Fakenstein’s choice of name definitely not mine! 😉

BrendANN of GREEN Gables:

Brendann, a young orphan from Hay River, is sent to Prince Edward Island to work on the Arendz family farm. At school he meets Rosanna who teases him and he immediately dislikes her! However it is school so secretly they are of course in love. The book chronicles their adventures as they both take up biathlon and travel the world competing for Canada. AWW!

The Bjorn Legacy:
When you are bourne (see what I did there) into the family your future is already decided. No not the Mafia – the Bjoerndalen’s! Yes this is the story of Dag Bjoerndalen, his little brother Ole Einar and his son Dag Sander and their obsession with biathlon. It tells their life stories and how they passed on the ‘family business’ to young Dag to race in the Youth/Junior World Championships. There is a lot, and I mean a lot of shooting, in this one!

The Other Bølyn Boy:
A tale of two brothers who vie for the affection of King Harald of Norway. First the elder brother Tarjei wins his favour by winning the World Cup and everything is going well. But then younger brother Johannes arrives at court and tries to impress the King with his speed and shooting skills. Who will come out on top? Who will the King choose as his favourite? I do hope no one loses their head!

A Song of Ice and Fire:

She is Gabriela of the House Koukalova, the First of Her Name, Czech born, Queen of the tracks, the range and the podium, Queen of Make Up, Khaleesi of the Great Snowy Mountain, Protector of the Rifle, Lady Regnant of the Seven Biathlon Kingdoms, Breaker of Ski Poles and Wearer of Earrings.

Yes this is the tale of Gabi Koukalova. Her epic tale of trying to rule the seven kingdoms of biathlon. Aided in quest by her loyal team of Michal Snowsingr, Ned-ezdha Stark-dino, Lukas Hodor, Direwolf-gang Pichler, Pod-chufarova, Iryna Varys-nets, Lord Lowell Baelish, Jo-anne-jen Reid, Sebastian Samwell-son and Tommen Lahaye-Goffart.

She has to fight many battles to win the Crystal Globe and maybe even some Olympic medals! She sings some songs along the way too. There is also a dragon even if it does just appear on Anton Shipulin’s rifle!

(I’m warning you now this is a long read! Currently in 5 weighty tomes and unfinished so you might not want to start it!)

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Annecy 2017: The Mass Starts!

Before I tell you the tale of today’s Mass Starts I just want to congratulate the French biathlon fans! They have been amazing in Annecy and on the whole very fair supporting all the biathletes not just the home team. It might not have the most demanding tracks and the range is not the most difficult but this place should feature more often on the World Cup because of the great support. Well done Annecy!

Those fantastic crowd had a lot to cheer about today. Justine Braisaz finally took her first ever win after coming second 4 times. She did it the hard way too in a Mass Start at her home race. She kept her cool all the way through this one and even dictated the pace to the others. She missed just one target but crucially cleared her final five to cruise to victory.

Kuzmina initially led this race but did the same as she did in the Pursuit missing on the first prone. It was just two misses today but it still put her way down the field. She eventually finished 4th with 4 misses altogether which is amazing.

Denise Hermman had the chance to win here as she was leading into the final stand but she missed 3. Dahlmeier also missed 1 on the last shoot leaving Braisaz out front. Someone who didn’t miss at all was Iryna Kryuko. She hit all 20 targets and was the only woman to do that today. It was her first ever podium and thoroughly deserved for her excellent shooting.

Dahlmeier held on to third. Kuzmina was 4th, Vanessa Hinz did very well in 5th and Anais Chevalier had a good race finishing 6th.

In the men’s race Martin Fourcade finally got his long awaited win at his home World Cup. He controlled this race from start to finish in the old Fourcade style. It helped that Johannes Boe missed two shots in the first prone so Martin could play aroung with his closest challengers Anton Shipulin and Erik Lesser.

The lead changed a few times coming out of the range each time with Fourcade being careful with his shooting. However he caught and passed his rivals each time on the tracks and maybe pushed them a bit beyond their limits.

In the end Fourcade shot 20/20 and no one could touch him. Johannes Boe made a great comeback and finished second by out skiing Lesser and Shipulin on the final lap. Lesser took third place also hitting 20/20.

Shipulin took 4th also with a clean shoot. Benjamin Weger was 5th with a good performance (1 miss) ahead of Arnd Peiffer in 6th who also missed one. Freddie Lindstrom was the only other man to shoot clean in 14th place.

So that concludes all the biathlon races for this year! We return in January in Oberhof on the 4th of January. Anastasiya Kuzmina will have the yellow bib for the women, just 6 points ahead of Justine Braisaz. Martin Fourcade stays in yellow for the men but with Johannes Boe just 20 points behind him.

Hope you all have a great Christmas and I will be back over the holidays with my usual ‘unusual’ biathlon story!

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Annecy 2017: The Pursuits!

The Pursuits can be strange races, can’t they? In Annecy we had two leaders with comfortable margins out in front of the races, but by the end one had trebled their lead while the other lost all the time on the first shoot!

Unfortunately for Anastasiya Kuzmina she was the one who lost the lead. She started 34 seconds ahead of Laura Dahlmeier but missed 3 targets in the first prone. Sometimes the pressure of leading tells and mistakes are easy to make. That left Dahlmeier to lead the rest of the race quite easily hitting 15/15 on the first three shoots.

However she missed her last shot on the final stand and left the door open for Kuzmina to retake the lead. Again the pressure was high and she also missed her final target. That meant that Dahmeier took her first win of the season and left Kuzmina in second place.

Third place went to Lisa Vittozzi who shot 19/20. Vita Semerenko looked like third place was hers shooting 15/15 and skiing steadily. On the last shoot she missed 3 which is very unusual for her and let Vittozzi in.

Selina Gasparin was 4th, Denise Herrmann stayed in 5th and Susan Dunklee moved up to 6th for her best result so far this season.

Emma Lunder had a fantastic race coming from 34th to 18th to get her best World Cup result. Tiril Eckhoff went from 50th to 24th and Ekaterina Avvakummova went from 53rd to 31st.

In the men’s race Johannes Boe was incredible! He won the race without missing a target and by a margin over over a minute! He has done the double double in Annecy after winning the Sprint and Pursuit there in 2013.

Martin Fourcade stayed in second missing 2 targets. He only has one chance left to secure a home win in the Mass Start. Anton Shipulin moved up from 6th to third with just 1 miss.

Alexander Loginov went from 18th to claim 4th, Simon Schempp dropped to 5th and Simon Desthieux was 6th.

Clean shooting was the key to success today. Lowell Bailey hit 20/20 to move from 35th to 14th, Florent Claude did the same going from 36th to 18th for a big personal best. Jeremy Finello hit all the targets moving from 54th to 21st also getting his best World Cup finish. Latvia’s Oskars Muiznieks missed 1 shot while going from 51st to 35th for his career best result. Lukas Hofer also missed just 1 target and went from 40th to 7th!

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Annecy 2017: The Sprints!

Annecy Le Grand Bornand is great isn’t it? Probably the greatest ever World Cup venue! We should just base the whole World Cup season, all the World Championships and the Olympics there! 😉

Why do I like it so much? Well the last time we were there Selina Gasparin and Johannes Boe both got their debut wins on the World Cup in the Sprint races. Both were wearing bib 23!

On Thursday in the Women’s Sprint Anastasiya Kuzmina won the Women’s Sprint also in bib 23. Basically Annecy is my spiritual biathlon home! 🙂

It was an impressive win for Kuzmina. She is a bit of a Sprint specialist as you know but she beat the rest of the field by nearly 40 seconds. She shot clean on a kind day in the range with a small breeze and little snow.

Laura Dahlmeier got her first individual podium of the season in second also hitting 10/10. Vita Semerenko was third with another perfect shoot. It was her first return to the podium in an individual race too after the birth of her son.

Lisa Vittozzi was fourth again with no misses continuing her great early season form. Fifth went to Denise Herrmann with 1 miss and Selina Gasparin proved she likes Annecy as much as me by coming in 6th with 1 miss.

Susan Dunklee had her best race of the season in 10th after struggling in the first two World Cups. Jessica Jislova got her personal best in 24th as did Anja Erzen in 31st. Dzinara Alimbekava got her career best result in 33rd as did Thelka Brun-Lie in 38th. Home girl Chloe Chevalier finished in her best World Cup position in 57th and qualified for the Pursuit after moving up from the IBU Cup. Japan’s Sari Furuya also did well finishing in 40th and grabbing a World Cup point.

The men had similar conditions on Friday and there was a lot of good shooting which meant the race came down to the skiing. Johannes Boe (in bib24- so close!) won his 4th race of the season with fast shooting and skiing. He beat Martin Fourcade into second by 21 seconds! The Frenchman also shot clean but couldn’t match Johannes on the tracks.

Third place went to Antonin Guigonnat! He shot clear and from bib 88 swooped in and took his first ever World Cup podium. He has been on great form on the IBU Cup winning his last two races and it’s a fantastic result for him at his home race.

Simon Schempp was 4th shooting clean as did Simon Desthieux in 5th. Anton Shipulin was 6th despite 1 miss.

Frederik Gjesbakk got his best ever result on the World Cup in 7th. He has also been doing well on the IBU Cup. Timofey Lapshin gave Korea a Top Ten finish in 8th and Florent Claude got his personal best in 36th in his first individual start for Belgium.

On Saturday we have both Pursuit races which should be a lot of fun especially if the conditions get tougher!

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Season Preview 2017/18: Men

It’s Olympic season! That only means one thing! Nobody is particularly bothered about the World Cup! It’s understandable as the Olympics are only every four years and are the pinnacle of sporting achievement. However it does mean that the athletes will use it as either training and race practice or as a means to qualify for the Games. This is why we need a free year without an Olympics or a World Championships to afford the World Cup the respect it deserves. That argument is for another day though as I have a season to preview.

Actually there is one man who will take both competitions seriously and that is Martin Fourcade. This is because he is the only male biathlete capable of winning it and gold at the Olympics. I would include Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in this if he was younger but he is 43 and can’t do both anymore.

Every season I try to make a case for the others to defeat Fourcade. If he stays fit and healthy they won’t! (He did have a health issue at the French Championships but hopefully it will not carry forward into the season). His remarkable consistency on the World Cup is unmatched among the others but the Olympic titles are definitely up for grabs. As we saw at the World Championships last season Fourcade only won 1 individual title in the Pursuit.

Another thing I don’t like about the Olympic season is that it is usually the time when biathletes like to retire. They do the Olympic cycle, compete at the Games and then decide the time is right to end their careers. Be prepared to lose some favourites after the PyeongChang Games are over. 😦

I am aware it may seem like I don’t like the Olympics! It’s not true I love them but they are ruined by the inclusion of other sports that aren’t biathlon. I mean who cares about ice sports and alpine skiing! That’s right – NOBODY! 😉

So every year I have to come up with ideas about who could beat Fourcade but it is really hard to see who could do it. So this season I have decided to talk about the rest of the TOP 10. Who will move up places? Who will drop down? Who will surprise us and who will disappoint?

Last season’s Total Score Top Ten looked like this:
1. Fourcade
2. Shipulin
3. J.Boe
4. Peiffer
5. Schempp
6. Eberhard
7. Svendsen
8. Bailey
9. Bjoerndalen
10. Lesser

There were couple of surprise names in there with Lowell Bailey having an amazing season and Julian Eberhard really progressing. There were others missing like Tarjei Boe who was 36th and Jakov Fak who had a season ruined by illness.

This time around I don’t see a big change in the Top 3. Hopefully they will be able to push Fourcade a bit closer but Johannes Boe and Anton Shipulin will probably be fighting each other for second place.

Arnd Peiffer had a great season and was the top German ahead of Schempp. Erik Lesser was also in the Top 10 and Benedikt Doll was just behind him in 11th. In the battle of the German’s I expect Doll to move into the Top 10 and maybe Lesser to drop out. Will Pieffer stay ahead of Schempp? It’s possible as he seems to be the more consistent performer of the two.

I am not expecting much from Emil Svendsen on this year’s World Cup. I think he will be targeting the Olympics in a big way as it could be his last. The same could apply to Ole Einar Bjoerndalen but you never know with him! I am expecting a much better season from Tarjei Boe but he hasn’t produced anywhere near the form that made him the Overall World Cup winner. He has been plagued by illness (and of course his little brother!) but hopefully he will show us the old Tarjei this season.

Julian Eberhard could keep his place in the Top 10 and even move up a place or two. His sprinting is great and if he continues his improvement in shooting he could pick up a lot more points from the pursuit and mass starts which have been his weakness in the past. As for the other Austrians Simon Eder was 13th last season and Dominik Landertinger was 16th. Without the pressure of a home World Championships they could both improve. However Landertinger will miss some races at the start of the season after back surgery.

France only had one man in the Top 10 with Jean Guillaume Beatrix the next best in 15th place. They will be looking for more from the likes of Quentin Fillon Maillet and Simon Fourcade but I don’t think any of them will break into the Top 10 again this season.

There are some others who will be hoping to make it there. The Czech Republic have good chances with both Ondrej Moravec (13th) and Michal Krcmar (17th) having good seasons in 2016/17. Andres Rastorgujevs finally made the podium and was 21st last season. Hopefully that will have given him the platform to greater success this time.

The young Russians are also dangerous. Maxim Tsvetkov was 19th and Anton Babikov was 24th. Both are excellent shots and good skiers and with a little more consistency will surely both improve their positions on the Total Score.

The Italian team are improving all the time and Dominik Windisch was their star man last season. He was 14th overall and could improve on that. Lukas Hofer needs to find some more consistency if he wants to match his teammate.

I would like to see Jakov Fak back to his best this season and it would also be great to see guys like Freddie Lindstroem, Benjamin Weger and Michal Slesingr on the podium. Also if Michael Roesch gets a podium I think EVERYONE will cry not just him!

Obviously anything can happen in biathlon we will just have to wait and see! Luckily we don’t have to wait long as the first race on the Men’s World Cup is on the 30th of November! It’s the 20km Individual and I can’t wait!!!

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