Tag Archives: Antonin Guigonnat

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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The Biathlon23 Awards 2016/17!!!

awards
It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their fourth year! As usual they are not your typical awards. In fact they are even more la-la than LA-LA Land! Luckily I double checked all the envelopes as I discovered Gabi Koukalova’s name in the Best Facial Hair category – OOPS!!! 😉 Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Shockingly this award was almost won by a ski technician. Now I love the ski/wax techs but they are forbidden from winning awards! Andrew Chisholm is the culprit proving very popular among his fellow Canadians. This had to be stopped and there was only one way to it. Interview a German! Luckily for me one of them agreed to do it and since it’s biathlon a German can beat anyone! This one also went on to become World Champion in the Sprint in Hochfilzen! (That’s what biathlon23 interviews can do for you!)
Winner: Benedikt Doll

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“biathlon23”: This is happening more often! It’s a worry! 😉
“little bit too much girly habert dorin”: Outrageous behaviour from a girl!!!
“martin fourcade and final lap of relay. did he cheat?” Yes he cheats in every race by being faster on skis and better at shooting than everyone else – Damn him!
“is aiden miller one of the fastest people”: I think it’s still Usain Bolt!
“simon fourcade has child”: I don’t think he can!
“van damme biathlon”: Well Belgium are always looking for biathletes!
“tarjei bø party”: I want to go!
“tarjei bö shirtless”: The party just got better!
“lisa theresa hauser high heels”: Not when she is skiing I hope!

Winner:“anton panton biathlon”: It’s Pantov! Anton Pantov! It must be the rhyming here that made me cry laughing so that’s why it wins!

Best Facial Hair:
Talk about famine to feast. Last season there was obviously some sort of offer on shaving items as there was hardly a whisker to be seen but this year the beard is back! It’s not just the biathletes either some of the coaches have beards and even the new IBU TV guy. Well sorry gents but this is a biathlete only award. The French put up a good fight this season with Simon Fourcade and also Antonin Guigonnat trying to become an extra on “Vikings”. The Canadians have Macx Davies trying to defend his title and a hidden gem in the IBU Cup with Matthew Neumann’s wonderful effort. The Germans tried but I’m sorry to say failed with Erik Lesser and Arnd Peiffer attempting the goatie but with little success. Klemen Bauer always has a great beard. Benni Weger was a strong candidate but the winner has a great beard to go with a great personality and also some great form!
Winner:Michael Roesch

Best earrings:
A strong category this season. There are a lot of ladies wearing earrings to compete and so it was a tough decision. Kaisa Makarainen has her snowflakes as does Tiril Eckhoff. There were a lot of ladies choosing long earrings this year. They are brave, I mean imagine if they got caught in your harness – AHH!!! The ones I liked best however were small blue earrings that actually looked like real flowers.
Winner:Nicole Gontier

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This year’s award has to be shared for a magnificent two person effort. Picture the scene. The Men’s Relay in Pokljuka, the first lap, a herd of biathletes hurtling down the hill. Sergey Bocharnikov of Belarus falls and Tuomas Gronman of Finland skis into him and goes flying through the air and lands on his face! Fortunately both were OK but it was a spectacular crash to watch.
Winner: Thomas Gronman and Sergey Bocharnikov

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
Again this has to go to a Boe! This year it’s Johannes but he does have to share it with Gabi! Asked at a press conference in Hochfilzen about Valentine’s Day he put his arm round Gabi and said he had everything he needed for Valentine’s Day. To which she replied that he would have to wait a few days because her husband was there! So funny and very cheeky as usual! (actually Gabi saying that Laura Dahlmeier ‘runs like a horse’ was also in contention!)
See the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLI4rZgjECE
Winner: Johannes Boe and Gabriela Koukalova

Best biathlon video:
There is only one possibility. Filmed in a bathroom at the World Championships (no it’s not that get your mind out of the gutter!) by the American team. Please feel free to ignore most of it except of course the part where Maddie Phaneuf talks about this blog! Fame at last! It’s all about 23! 🙂
(Actually you should watch all the videos they did as it’s a great behind the scenes view with some raw emotions too.)
see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UdHH16RR8c&feature=youtu.be
Winner: US biathlon women’s team

Best rifle design:
It’s been a lean year for rifle design. I mean biathletes have all summer to come up with a idea and then we get a blue,black or red rifle or a wooden stock. Come on people! We have a few saviours thankfully. Erik Lesser has a design that I think is miners. Joanne Reid has a naked lady! (Don’t look kids!). Andrejs Rastorgujevs has his like a zebra in case we do safari biathlon! Anastasiya Kuzmina has gone a bit psychedelic. Jaroslav Soukup has his kids on there (AWW!). Shipulin and Gasparin still have their cool rifles from last season but the winner is a lady who has a cat’s face on her stock. You can just see the eyes staring at you when she shoots. It’s PURR-fect! 😉
Winner: Darya Usanova

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Well it’s not technically ridiculous and not even that bad but as almost everyone has gone boring this season someone has to win. I don’t want to be too harsh, she may be short of money and that’s why she used her grandmother’s flowery wallpaper to cover her rifle including the barrel!
Winner: Veronika Vitkova

Best ski suit:
There has been a noticeable improvement in this years ski suits. I particularly like Estonia, Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic. The Norwegians and Great Britain have done well too. The winner was actually hard to choose for a change but I went with this country because I like the design and the colours and they deserve praise for getting rid of those pixelated trousers from last season!
Winner: Austria

Worst ski suit:
Well there is a clear winner this year but first I must commend some previous winners for improving their suits. Not France of course because theirs still sucks! Lithuania however have made major improvements in colour abandoning the yellow/green horror for a lovely shade of red. China came close to getting this award but avoided it by at least using the colours of their flag. However the winners was an easy choice. They have chosen the colour of the phlegm you cough up when you have a chest infection and matched it with silvery grey. None of these colours are on the country’s flag and hopefully it will never been seen again!
Winner: Romania

Best range decoration:
Oestersund got us started with range decoration this season by throwing some shells (the wrong size by the way) on to a pile of snow! Creativity at it’s best! PyeongChang got in on the action with a rabbit watching the shooting (FYI rabbits don’t like rifles!). The clear winner however is the digger and the penguin. Not that much to do with biathlon to be fair but good work nonetheless.
Winner:Ruhpolding

Best TV turn:
You may have noticed at the start of Sprint and Individual races the biathletes pop up with a TV turn at the left bottom corner of your screen. Most of them either cross their arms or put their arms on their hips. Luckily we have 2 creative rebels to entertain us. Vladimir Semakov of Ukraine does the 2 thumbs up and the winner who is 100% biathlon at all times makes a gun with his fingers for shooting!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Best Biathlete23:
Difficult this season without a win for bib23. We have had 3 podiums. Susan Dunklee was third and Anton Shipulin and Justine Braisaz were both second. How do you choose between them? You don’t! I have gone left field for this one. A biathlete who contacts the blog to say they are in bib23 in the first race of the season and then goes on to achieve their personal best wearing it deserves the title! It doesn’t matter if it’s World Cup, IBU Cup or the Junior World Cup. In this case 14th in the Junior Men’s Individual in Lenzerheide!
Winner: Tom Lahaye-Goffart

Biggest Improver:
One person in particular has had an amazing season. This season she has progressed from an athlete who would move between the IBU and World Cup to a regular on the World Cup. She got her first ever World Cup podium in Nove Mesto where she came second in the Sprint. She won her first ever race in the Pursuit a day later. She was also on the podium in Antholz coming second in the Individual and again in PyeongChang when she was 3rd in the Sprint. She won a bronze medal in the Sprint at the World Championships. Last season she was 39th in the Total Score and this season she was 7th. You can see the clear improvement!
Winner: Anais Chevalier

Best Team Performance:
There can only be one winner in this category. Winning every Women’s Relay of the season and the World Championships is a remarkable achievement. I mean it helps to have Laura Dahlmeier on the anchor leg but they can even win without her as was proved in PyeongChang.
Winner: German Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This one comes from the World Championships. Dominik Landertinger’s final lap in the Men’s Relay was a strong contender but there could only be one winner for me. Winning the Individual race for the USA was an outstanding achievement. A perfect shooting performance and a excellent ski meant he deserved all the accolades he got. However this award is actually for the whole Championships. He was also 4th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the Mass Start. After being overtaken in these races and losing positions his win in the Individual showed some amazing mental fortitude as well as his obvious talent.
Winner: Lowell Bailey

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
So it has to come down to Martin Fourcade vs. Laura Dahlmeier. That’s a race I would love to see! Martin now has 6 Overall Titles in a row and won an amazing 14 races this season. Dahlmeier won the Overall Title for the first time and won 5 gold and 1 silver medal at the World Championships. She also won 10 races this season and was a fantasic anchor in the Women’s Relay team. Basically I think it comes down to the more competitive nature of the women’s field as to why I chose this winner and that the first World Title is often the hardest.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

IPC biathlete of the Year:
I think this is the hardest award of all to choose with 3 categories of men and women there are a lot of possibilities. This year I have chosen someone who dramatically claimed his first ever biathlon World Title at the final World Cup round in Japan in the final race. He also won two gold medals at his home World Championships in Finsterau in the sitting category. Also he likes biathlon better than cross-country which is very important!
Winner: Martin Fleig

Junior Biathlete of the Year:

A very tough category especially as there is now a Junior World Cup as well as World Championships. I chose this guy because of his consistency over the season as well as his obvious talent in skiing and shooting. He won the Overall Title on the Junior World Cup and silver at the European Junior Championships in the Individual. He also won silver in the Sprint at the World Championships and helped his team to Relay gold.
Winner: Kirill Streltsov

Youth Biathlete of the Year:
This was a duel between two biathletes again. Irene Lardschneider and Claude 3 or Emilien as he is also known. They have both competed on the Junior World Cup. They both won 2 gold medals at the Youth World Championships in the Sprint and Pursuit. One of them also won a bronze medal with their team in the Relay so for that and the fact that they have a great surname here is the winner.
Winner: Irene Lardschneider

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WC4: Ruhpolding Review 2016: Part 1!

ruhp16

So we found ourselves in Ruhpolding for round 4 of the World Cup. As you know there is not much snow around so the organisers in Oberhof were forced to cancel the races there. All of which means we have 8 races in 10 days just like a biathlon version of the Tour de Ski!

Coincidentally just like the Tour de Ski we had an all Norwegian podium in the first race in the men’s sprint. Johannes Boe managed to beat his brother Tarjei into second and teammate Emil Hegle Svensen into third. All three shot clear but Johannes just had enough ski speed to defeat the other two. Some might suggest that it was karma as earlier in the week Johannes chose his big brother as his favourite biathlete while Tarjei went for Dorothea Wierer! Sven Grossegger finished 5th, his personal best result, leading an Austrian charge with Eder, Landertinger and Julian Eberhard all making the Top 20.

In the Women’s race Franziska Hildebrand became the first woman this season to win 2 Sprint events by winning her home race. It was a bit surprising as the Top 3 all shot clear but Hildebrand skied a little faster than Gabi Soukalova in second and Kaisa Makarainen in third. However Soukalova was unlucky dropping a ski pole which cost her the chance of victory as she only finished 0.3 of a second behind Hildebrand.

The Men’s Pursuit raced promised to be a great one with Boe,Boe, Svendsen and Fourcade all starting one after the other battling for the victory. So of course Simon Eder won! In a dazzling display of shooting he claimed the third victory of his career. Shooting hampered the others although Fourcade still finished second with 2 misses and Michal Slesingr shot clean to complete the podium.

New Dad Evgeniy Garanichev came from 40th to finish 9th! Simon Fourcade or should we call him Mr. Pursuit this season came from 29th to 13th, teammate Antonin Guigonnat went from 51st to 31st and Alexander Os came from 45th to finish 32nd.

The Women’s race also promised excitement and didn’t disappoint even with Makarainen and Hildebrand bowing out quickly with misses. That left a race long head to head between Soukalova and Dahlmeier. In the end Dahlmeier won by 7 seconds and Dorothea Wierer took her chance to get on the podium in third. Paulina Fialkova made up 9 places to finish a personal best 6th.

Tiril Eckhoff came from 17th to 4th, Lisa Hauser went from 27th to 12th, Karin Oberhofer from 35th to 16th, Valj Semerenko from 41st to 17th, Lucie Charvatova from 42nd to 20th, Olga Abramova from 44th to 25th and Yan Zhang from 51st to 32nd.

The final races of this round were the Mass Starts. In the men’s race Martin Fourcade took victory over Ondrej Moravec in a battle of the new fathers! Despite Moravec being the only biathlete to shoot clean Fourcade was just too quick on the skis. In third was Tarjei Boe with an impressive last lap to deny Simon Fourcade, Dmytro Pidruchnyi and Arnd Pfeiffer who all had a chance at claiming the final podium position. Svendsen was in a good position coming into the final shoot alongside Fourcade but had a nightmare missing 3 shots – very un-Svendsen-like!

The women’s race was dominated by Laura Dahmeier. She shot clean to see off the challenge of Marie Dorin Habert who missed 1 and finished 15 seconds down. The fight for third went right to the line- literally! In a photo finish Tiril Eckhoff beat Anais Bescond by a toe nail to get onto the podium. Japan’s Fuyuko Tachizaki (formerly Suzuki) shot clean in 10th to get her best ever result in an individual race.

So that’s it for Ruhpolding we now set off for…..Ruhpolding!! Round 5 involves a crazy schedule with the Men’s Individual on Wednesday and the Women’s on Thursday followed by the Men’s Relay on Friday, the 2 Mass Starts on Saturday and the Women’s Relay on Sunday!

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Biathlon at the Movies!

popcorn

We all need something to fill in the time between Christmas and New Year when there is no biathlon. Last year I brought you an exclusive interview with biathlon rifle Reginald P.Rifle and this year I was hoping to talk to ski poles Marek and Justyna but they were too busy! So instead I bring you some reviews of “biathlon” related films so you can fill in the time before the next event in Ruhpolding! It’s biathlon so all ratings are in Crystal Globes not stars. Get your popcorn ready people!!!

Top Gun:

Martin Fourcade stars as Maverick who gets his chance in the top rifle school in California ‘Top Gun’. His main rival is Iceman played by Emil Hegle Svendsen. Unfortunately in target practice Martin accidentally kills a goose and loses his confidence. However after a slow motion game of volleyball he seems to recover and in the final scene manages to team up with Emil to shoot at baddies. They become best of friends and in fact go on a date together in a helicopter!

Biathlon 23: “Top entertainment!” Rating: 5 Globes

Hot Shots:

A documentary about biathletes and their shooting skills. Highlights include biathletes shooting in the prone position and the standing position. They shoot at targets 50 metres away on what is known as “a range”. Sometimes they hit these targets and sometimes they miss. Watch out for some reloading action and cartridges falling onto the mats. There is also a great behind the scenes feature about cleaning a rifle, choosing a fancy design for the stock and placement of stickers.

Biathlon23: “Unmissable” Rating: 5 targets – sorry I mean Globes!

Hot Shots Part Deux:

You might think that this is the sequel to Hot Shots but it is in fact a remake. It turns out that the French biathlon team thought they were not featured enough in the original and decided to make their own version. A more avant-garde piece in black and white. In French with French subtitles. An Antonin Guigonnat production. Director: Quentin “Tarantino” Maillet.

Biathlon 23: “Magnifique!” Rating:Cinq Globes

The Man with the Golden Gun:

Simon Fourcade makes his second appearance as James Bond in this spy thriller. The villain is played by Johannes Thingnes Bø who with his golden rifle is terrorising the world of biathlon. His obsession with all things gold means he is out to steal all the gold medals from the biathletes. There is a car chase, a martini, a few ladies and some gadgets! What else do you want?!!! (Set in Season 2014/15 before “someone” changed their rifle from gold to shocking pink!!!)

Biathlon23: “Great action” Daniel Craig: “Better than Spectre!”
Rating: After 5 martinis 5 Globes

Mad Maxes: Fury Range

In a post nuclear holocaust future Maxim Braun, Maxim Tsvetkov, Maksim Ramanouski, Maksim Varabei, Maxim Savitsky, Maksym Ivko, Max Durtschi and Macx Davies have to find all the bullets left on Earth (well in the desert somewhere!). When they have found them all they must return to the shooting range and hit all the targets to save the world!

Biathlon23: “Max-imum fun!” Rating: 5 Globes

RamBø:

Norwegian veteran and drifter Tarjei Bø wanders into a small Washington town in search of an old friend Tora Berger, but is met with intolerance and brutality by the local sheriff. When he and his deputies restrain and shave RamBø, he flashes back to season 2011/12 when he suffered from Twar virus and unleashes his fury on the officers. He narrowly escapes the manhunt, but it will take his former commander Lars Berger to save the hunters from the hunted.

Biathlon23: “UnBølievable!” Rating: 5 Globes

Harry Potter and the Wax Cabin of Secrets:

Nathan Smith makes his debut in the first film about the boy who grows up to be a wizard at biathlon. Here he teams up with his uncle Sirius Fak to try and defeat the master of the dark arts Beatrix Lestrange. Beatrix has stolen the secret wax formula from Potter and threatens to use it to win all the biathlon races beginning with the Mass Start in Pokljuka. Will Potts be able to stop him?

Biathlon23: “It’s magic!” Rating: 5 Globes

There’s Something About Marie:

A biography of French star Marie Dorin Habert. From her childhood to the present dealing with biathlon, marriage, having a child, playing the piano, horse riding and cherries. Everything you need to know about Marie. And the one thing you really need to know…please never offer her any “hair gel”!!!

Biathlon23: “A-dor-able!” Rating: 5 Globes

No Cross Country for Old Men:

While out cross country skiing, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finds the grisly aftermath of a drug deal. Though he knows better, he cannot resist the cash left behind and takes it with him possibly to buy an even bigger motor home with. The hunter becomes the hunted when a merciless killer picks up his trail. Also looking for Bjoerndalen is Sheriff Daniel Mesotitsch, an aging lawman who reflects on a changing world and a dark secret of his own, as he tries to find and protect Bjoerndalen.

Biathlon23: “Great but a bit “old” fashioned!” Rating: 5 Globes

The Shooter:

Tobias Arwidson reluctantly leaves a self-imposed exile from his isolated mountain home in Sweden at the request of the IBU, who appeal to him to help track down an assassin who is planning to shoot the IBU president. He is set up by the IBU (saw that coming!) and is chased around a bit before he takes his revenge and returns to Lima to fish and take some photographs.

Biathlon23:”Definitely a hit!” Rating: 5 Globes

Sister Act:

When 3 young sisters witness a mafia hit(by someone who looks suspiciously like Dominik Windisch!) they are sent to a convent where they are to be disguised as nuns. Starting Selina, Elisa and Aita Gasparin, the sisters fit in by teaching the nuns how to do biathlon. They take part in a competition at the end with all the nuns and so they can defend themselves from the mafia!

Biathlon23: “N-unmissable!” Rating: 5 Globes

The Usual Suspects:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world she wasn’t going to win the Crystal Globe.” The film starts with the retelling of the 2014/15 Women’s biathlon season. It stars Darya Domracheva, Valj Semerenko, Veronika Vitkova and Franziska Hildebrand. They each explain how they got caught up in the race for the Overall Title by a mysterious Kaisa Söze. No one knows who this Kaisa is but some say she had won the Crystal Globe in the past. None of them has met her before but everyone thinks she is going to win the Total Score! I don’t want to spoil the end but it turns out that it was Darya Domracheva the whole time!!!

Biathlon23: “I didn’t understand it either!” Rating: 5 confusing Globes!

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Aiming for the Top! Season Preview Men 2015/16

fourcade2015

Can you believe it! It’s that time of year again! With only 3 days until the first World Cup of the 2015/16 season in Oestersund it’s time to preview the chances of the male biathletes. I could make this very short and say four time Total Score winner Martin Fourcade will win again but that is not very fair on the other biathetes and you never know he might not win!

Chances are he will though! Fourcade is the red hot favourite to make it five in a row and it is going to be very difficult for the others to challenge him. His amazing speed on the skis and the mental strength he possesses to take his time on the shooting range to make sure he hits the targets are an irresistable combination. However there are some ways in which he could slip up this season.

Firstly he is a new dad and sleepless nights can take their toll on even the best! Also the fact he might find it more difficult to be away from home. His plans to compete in cross country which were ruined by last season’s mononucleosis have been resurrected and we don’t know how that could affect him physically. It might not do him any favours mentally either if he doesn’t perform well. Remember he is used to winning but that won’t come easily in cross country.

So who will be out to capitalise should Fourcade have any issues. Well we just have to look at last season’s Top 10 in the Total Score to find our main contenders. In second place was Russia’s Anton Shipulin. He had his best season ever finishing 64 points behind Fourcade. If he can make a few more podiums this time and crucially beat Fourcade in some more races it will boost his chances of winning. If he carries on as he did last season he will be a genuine threat.

In third last year with a late run of excellent results was Slovenia’s Jakov Fak. He commented himself that winning races does make a big difference to your chances! Now that he has discovered that is how racing in fact works hopefully he will be able to do just that. He can match Fourcade on skis but he needs to make sure his shooting is more consistent because if he hits all the targets he is very difficult to beat.

In fourth place was the real revelation of last season Germany’s Simon Schempp. After getting his first victory the season before he really improved getting more victories and more podiums to put him in contention for the title . A weak end of season however meant he lost out on third place to Fak. He will have learned a lot from that and will be dangerous again this time around.

Shockingly we have to wait until fifth position in the Total Score to find our first Norwegian – how times have changed! Johannes Bø took this position making him the strongest threat from Norway last season. His youth and inconsistency meant he couldn’t mount a credible challenge to win the Overall but that could change this time round. He is unbelievably fast on skis but at times he is reckless on the shooting range. His super confidence is great to see though and although he may not win the Overall I think he will move up on to the podium this time around.
Big brother Tarjei Bø will be looking to recapture his end of season form from last season and will hope to be challenging at the top again if he stays free of illness.

Rounding off the Top Ten were Czech pair Ondrej Moravec (6th) and Michal Slesingr(8th), Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev in 7th, Emil Hegle Svendsen in 9th and Eril Lesser from Germany in 10th. Of these I don’t think any are capable of challenging Fourcade except for Svendsen. He normally finishes second to Fourcade so last year would have been a big shock to him finishing in 9th place. With the World Championships being held in Oslo though the Overall Title might not be a top priority for him.

There will be others out to add to their success from last season by getting more wins and podiums under their belts like Nathan Smith,Arnd Peiffer and Vladimir Iliev. Others will be trying to recover from a disappointing season like Lukas Hofer, Fredrik Lindstrom and Dominik Landertinger.

Away from the usual suspects look out for some newer faces to appear toward the front of the races. Slovakia’s Martin Otcenas will be aiming for some more points scoring finishes. Serafin Weistner of Swizerland will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Benjamin Weger. Slovenia’s Rok Trsan showed a lot of potential last season too. French youngster Antonin Guigonnat will be trying to step up from the IBU Cup and America’s Sean Doherty will want to make good progress this season.

It should be an exciting season to come whatever happens in the race for the big Crystal Globe. We have been waiting all summer to see how the biathletes will do this season. With a couple of races in North America too it will be a different kind of World Cup and hopefully a memorable one. I hope to see a lot of the men Aiming for the TOP!

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2014/15!!!

awards

It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their second year! It has now taken over from the Oscars as the best awards around! As usual they are not your typical awards and there are a few new categories too. Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Who says the Americans don’t know what biathlon is?! A lot of them read the winning interview. There was strong competition from fellow American Susan Dunklee and Great Britain’s Scott Dixon but there is only one winner this year. We just can’t get Phaneuf!
Winner: Maddie Phaneuf

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:
Why does Vita Semerenko like biathlon?” ..erm I don’t know ask her!
Martin Olsbu” – sorry about that MARTE!
Emil Svendsen prince” – news to King Harald!
biathlon Musgrave” – we live in hope!
Julia Soukalova” – maybe Gabriela’s sister?!!!
feet Darya Domracheva” – I can confirm that yes she has them, 2 in fact!
Jakov Fak beard” It’s lovely but what do you need to know about it?!
Winner: “What does Tiril Eckhoff mean?” Good question!

Best Facial hair:
A hotly contested award this year. We had season long beards from the likes of Jakov Fak, Klemen Bauer and Daniel Mesotitsch and the part time beard appearance from last year’s winner Simon Fourcade. However in Oestersund we had 2 normally clean shaven contenders, in full beard Lowell Bailey and Zorro/Don Juan style from Tobias Arwidson. Just for the concept, growing and sculpting efforts and more importantly making me laugh out loud!
Winner: Tobias Arwidson.

Best earrings:
Again there were many contenders in this category. Veronika Vitkova brought the pink earrings, Gabriela Soukalova had some pretty heart shaped ones too but the winner has to be snowflakes for snowsports!
Winner: Darya Domracheva.

Nicest person in biathlon:
There are many reason why this person wins. He helps out biathlonworld.tv with all their songs and appears in almost every video (taking advantage of his kind nature obviously!), he helps the French team win relay medals, he eats Cheerios for breakfast. Most of all though he didn’t even try to punch Anton Shipulin in the face when he ruined his chances of a first win in Pokljuka! He was philosophical with a “shit happens” response! Well done!
Winner: Jean Guillaume Beatrix

Best Team Performance:

There were some great team performances this year. The amazing shooting from the Ukrainians and the fantastic Czech Women’s relay team were in contention. However after the World Championships there can only be one winner with both the Men’s and Women’s Relay teams winning gold. That is true teamwork!
Winner: Germany

Biggest improver:
His previous best result was an 8th place last year but this year he has been in the TOP 10 on six occasions and saved his best for the World Championships where he won a silver medal on his first ever trip to the podium. He then went on to Khanty Mansiysk where he won his first ever World Cup race in the Pursuit. We knew he could shoot but it turns out he can also ski as well. Obviously he has put a lot of effort into improving his skiing and it’s paid off with this award!!!
Winner: Nathan Smith

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This guy did get hurt but thankfully not too badly. He had concussion and scrapped much of his handsome face off but made a full recovery to take part in his home World Championships.For the fall on the downhill in Pokljuka the award has to go to the greatest face plant in biathlon history.
Winner: Olli Hiidensalo

Best quote in a press conference:
Erik Lesser was asked after winning the Pursuit in the World Championships what he would do with the special lock he was awarded. He couldn’t think of an answer but someone else kindly obliged saying “Erik has seen 50 Shades of Grey, he knows exactly what to do with the lock!” Ha, ha it was brilliant! Thanks.
Winner: Tarjei Boe

Best Tweeter:
There are a few candidates for this award. Tobias Arwidson is a regular tweeter of funny stuff but lately has become far too obsessed with food!;-) Martin Fourcade tweets a lot of pictures of himself and I mean A LOT! Nerys Jones likes to show everyone just how much she loves coffee. Chardine Sloof and Amanda Lightfoot often appear in each others photos on Twitter. The winner though keeps us up to date on everything. Training, eating, her sponsors, her van and sometimes even biathlon! And just about anything else you can think of!
Winner: Victoria Padial

Best Facebooker:
So again Martin Fourcade is great at keeping us up to date with everything on social media with posts almost everyday but here at Biathlon23 we think he has won enough already this year!!! The award goes to one of his fellow countrymen however. Not only do we get updates from this guy but also a short video recap complete with awesome soundtrack! I don’t know where he finds the tunes but they are always good ones!
Winner: Antonin Guigonnat

Best rifle design:
So most rifles go for the design on the stock. There are a range of fancy colours and stickers and things but one lady has taken it further. In an audacious move she has decorated the barrel with white to get a nice black and white design. We like your style!
Winner: Eva Puskarčíková

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
There are some very odd choices of rifle colour but none more so than a kind of “pea” green.
Winner: Nicole Gontier

Best ski suit:
A few options here. The Norwegians followed my advice and added a splash of colour to their suit. Great Britain had another good one. I liked the look of Finland’s too. I like that Slovenia have put some blue and white in to counteract the neon yellow. For design and colour combination which is similar in style to Slovenia but with more blue and less yellow.
Winner: Estonia

Worst ski suit:
Well France and Sweden didn’t seem to change theirs at all! Italy went from blue to red but they are all still good designs. For the colour alone which is a horribly suspicious shade of yellow.
Winner: Lithuania

Rising star:
I had to give this one to a youngster who has made a huge breakthrough this year. She broke her foot in the summer and started the season late but still got her first 2 wins on the World Cup as well as grabbing 4 podiums in a row! She also helped her relay team to World Championship gold and won Pursuit silver for herself. She is one of the best shots on the whole tour and at only 21 there is a lot more to come from her.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

Best vocal performance:
Well this category was won last year by Bjorn Ferry with his retirement tune “Breaking the Law”. As there seems to have been no raucous singing caught on camera this year it has to be a straight battle between Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Or does it? I suddenly remembered the Christmas video when they were joined by Lukas Hofer and Darya Domracheva singing some Christmas songs. For awkward hand placement as well as his lovely singing voice there is only one victor!
Winner: Lukas Hofer

Biggest disappointment:
Well unfortunately it’s the same as last year!
Winner: More doping scandals.

Best biathlete blog:
There is one reason and one reason only why this blog is the winner. The section known as Pepp-talk! It’s a Swedish blog but when you translate it into English the title changes to Pepper-talc and totally ruins the awesome play on words. Biathlon 23 loves nothing better than a good play on words!
Winner: Peppe Femling – femling.se

Best biathlete website:
A clear winner here for 2 reasons. The first is the picture of the cowboy leaning against the biathlon targets. Cool! Secondly there is a shop and regular readers will know of my obsession with the pencil case!!Check it out yourself! http://www.edersam.com
Winner: Simon Eder

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This was a hard one to choose. There were many outstanding performances this year. I had to choose one and so I went for probably the biggest surprise and against the odds win. After not even making her country’s team for the Sprint at the World Championships she was drawn in bib 93 for the Individual and was given no chance of winning. No one told her that of course and she produced the performance of her life shooting 20/20 and skiing well to take the gold medal.
Winner: Ekaterina Yurlova

IPC biathlete of the Year:
America’s Andy Soule (sitting)was a contender for this with 2 silver medals in the IPC World Championship at home in Cable. The Russian pair of Nikolay Polukhin and Andrey Tokarev (visually impaired) won 3 gold medals at the World Championships but the worthy winner also winning 3 golds in biathlon and 3 golds in cross country is Ukraine’s remarkable athlete in the standing category.
Winner: Oleksandra Kononova

Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year:
A really difficult decision this one as we had some stellar performances from the Juniors this year. Aristide Begue dominated the Individual races, Galina Vishnevskaya had a great year, Alexsandr Dediukhin really impressed as did Lena Arnaud. The Youth category was also really strong with Kirill Streltsov, Darya Blashko, Julia Schwaiger and Felix Leitner all having great World Championships. However I am awarding it to a young lady from Norway who won 4 medals in 4 races in Raubichi in the Youth category, a gold, silver and 2 bronze.
Winner: Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold.

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Nove Mesto: Czech it out!

novemesto15

The World Cup is back after a weekend off and what a place to start again. Nove Mesto is fast becoming a top destination for the Biathlon World Cup. The spectators there over the weekend were amazing with huge crowds giving raucous but good natured support to not only the home team but to all the nations. If this continues hopefully it will soon become a permanent fixture on the biathlon calendar.

“Nove” in Czech means “new” and so it was the perfect place to showcase biathlon’s new format. The Single Mixed Relay had it’s official debut on Friday. It involved a man and woman from each team competing together in a format similar to that held in Schalke over Christmas. The men complete 7.5km and the women 6km with the usual prone and standing shoots. The penalty loop is half the size at just 75 metres.

While the format was new the winners were not. Russia won the first ever race with a team of Yana Romanova and Alexey Volkov. They won by over 21 seconds from Norway who fielded a team of Marte Olsbu and Henrik L’Abee Lund. Juliya Dzhyma and Artem Tyshchenko came in third for the Ukraine. The best thing about it for me was the fact that Japan came in 10th! When is the last time you saw them in the Top Ten of a relay event! It is a great opportunity for the smaller nations to compete more often and with more possibilities to do well.

Later on Friday we had the normal Mixed Relay. This time Norway went one better and won the race. The Bø brothers brought home the victory with some good shooting and fast skiing. The home nation were 4 seconds behind in second place and Ukraine completed the podium in third consigning Russia to fourth. The USA finished in 7th which was excellent for a team without Tim Burke or Lowell Bailey. The team did very well and anchorman Sean Doherty just missed out on 6th by a tiny margin just pipped at the post by Germany’s Benedikt Doll. France started off very well with Anais Bescond and Marie Dorin Habert putting them in the lead at the half way point but Simon Fourcade had a leg to forget which put them out of contention.

On Saturday we moved on to the Sprint races. In the Women’s race some outstanding shooting and a good ski time saw Laura Dahlmeier take her first ever World Cup victory. The 21 year old held her nerve and managed to beat her teammate Franziska Hildebrand by just 1 second. It may have helped that she was wearing bib 23!!! Hildebrand had a fantastic race and second was a personal best for her. In third was home favourite Veronika Vitkova who gave the crowd even more reason to cheer loudly!

In the Men’s race Jakov Fak finally did what he has been threatening to do for a while and won the race! Behind him came the super consistent Simon Schempp and in third getting on the podium for the first time this season was Jean Guillaume Beatrix. There were also some great perfomances by Nathan Smith 7th and Leif Nordgren 16th who both got their best results to date and Coline Varcin 8th and Lisa Vittozzi 19th did likewise in the Women’s race.

The Pursuits were the last races of the weekend and provided the crowd with a great show. The Women’s Pursuit was hotly contested and in the end Darya Domracheva came through to win with her main rival for the Overall title Kaisa Makarainen behing her in second place. Third went to Laura Dahlmeier who has been on the podium in the last three races. Gabriela Soukalova had a great chance to win when leading into the final shoot but she missed two and finished 5th. Hildebrand shot on Vitkova’s target on the final shoot due to the heavy snow that was falling and the wind on the range. She lost alot of time but got it back after the race and was given 11th place. Vanessa Hinz and Iryna Kryuko both got their best results on the World coming in 4th and 10th. Romania’s Eva Tofalvi had an amazing race coming from 24th to finish in 8th place and similarly Luise Kummer went from 29th to 12th.

In the Men’s race we had a similar podium to the Sprint with Fak holding on to his lead to win with Schempp again in second. Martin Fourcade finished 4th to gain points over rival Shipulin but gave them away to Schempp. Nathan Smith again produced a great race to improve his personal best to 5th, Simon Desthieux came from 34th to 15th and Sven Grossegger moved from 37th to 18th. Antonin Guigonnat made up 20 places from 45th to 25th as did Svendsen going from 43rd to 23rd.

Nove Mesto has turned into a fantastic venue for biathlon. With crowds of over 30,000 everyday and challenging tracks it is fast becoming a favourite venue for biathletes and spectators alike. The success of the Czech team obviously helps fill the stadium but the whole weekend was a great success from the new format Single Mixed Relay to the excitement of the final Pursuit races. We now move from the new to the old and head to Norway and Oslo Holmenkollen. The race for the yellow bib is hotting up with Domracheva and Schemmp continuing to catch up to Makarainen and Fourcade. It will be a very interesting round of the World Cup but if you missed Nove Mesto you should really consider going next year to Czech it out!

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