Tag Archives: Aristide Begue

Biathlon23 Awards 2017/18!!!

awards

Welcome to the 5th anniversary of the Biathlon23 awards! (imaginary fanfare!) I know, I am as surprised as you that it has lasted this long! This year we have a couple of special guests giving out awards. I couldn’t afford much so no Leo DiCaprio or Jennifer Lawrence. Instead we have the winner of the OLYMPICKS (my Olympic competition) and also the runner-up. Look out for their awards below. It could be the first and last time I let anyone else run amok on my blog! Their awards are all their own work! Mine are of course subject to the the same rigorous system used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree! 🙂

After the news that Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is retiring, these awards are dedicated to him for being such an amazing competitor and a fabulous servant to the greatest sport in the world. Thanks Ole, will will miss you!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
At one point this was going to a para-biathlete which I was very excited about considering it was Scotland’s Scott Meenagh but then the Olympics happened! A certain lady became very, very, very popular after some good performances finishing 5th in two races. In fact she now has the most popular interview on my blog ever and by a very long way. She also got her first podium finishing second in the last race of the season. I hope all the attention is due to how good she is at biathlon and not how beautiful she is but that may be wishful thinking!

Winner: Paulina Fialkova

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:

“Paralympic biathlon, Brittany Hudak skiing in 2018, biathlon 2018 Paralympic Games”: YES! I will make you all love para-biathlon! ALL OF YOU!
“nationality of 2018 Olympic sprint skier Bolshanov”: That is f#####g cross-country! Get off my blog!
“dorothea wierer the blast”: I’ve got nothing!
“how to pronounce einar bjoerndalen’s name”: I believe it is ‘Ole’ like the Spanish!
“anton guigonnat, elisa vitozzi, samulson biathlon”: How they will be known from now on!
“klemen bauer nude”: I suspect it was Klemen himself searching for this!
“größe paulina fialkova”: She is neither big nor fat! 😉
“andre chisholm”: Canada’s wax tech Andrew just became all European and sexy sounding! 😉
“linstrum bistholon switzerland”: Makes perfect sense to me!

Winner:“french biathlete Anais Chevalier fires her rifle”: Well yes every couple of kilometeres in fact! It’s kind of what biathletes do! 😉

Best Facial Hair:
Some strong competition coming from the para-biathletes this season with Collin Cameron and Aaron Pike sporting some majestic full beards. The IBU had the usual suspects, last year’s champ Michael Roesch and Benjamin Weger. However this year there is only one choice. At the Olympics a mad Italian decided to dye his moustache in the colours of the Italian flag. I guess he really wanted this award!

Winner: Lukas Hofer

Best earrings:
Ladies you have been disappointing this year with the earring choices. None have inspired me much. In fact this season it’s not even a woman who will win this. It’s not even an earring! For some reason someone thought it would be a good idea to get their nose pierced. But not on the side, oh no, through the middle. Doing his best impression of a bull and risking getting it caught on something ripping his whole nose off, for bravery it has to go to the American!

Winner: Leif Nordgren

Best fall:
It turns out falls are better when you see them on TV and not in real life. The best one on TV this season was in the Oslo Men’s Sprint. It was the mighty who fell breaking a ski pole and you just know all the other biathletes were happy to see that even he makes mistakes! Well I was anyway. Admit it you were secretly pleased too! 😉 Of course he falls just as well as he skis and so got up and still made the podium!

Winner: Martin Fourcade

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
The question was “The teams ran 151 penalty loops and you shot 10/10 today, what was your secret?”
The answer was ” From now on I will shoot with closed eyes! Maybe it’s better, maybe it was the secret!”
I knew it! I knew that’s what most biathletes do! Now I have the proof!
Also watch for Lukas Hofer’s reaction to the question! 😉
You can watch it here from about 3:48.

Winner: Dominik Windisch

Best biathlon video:
There exists in the darkest corner of France, I believe it’s commonly known as the Savoie region, a collection of odd winter sports people who make crazy videos of a nordic nature. Their third installment of ‘One of Those Nordic Days’ is another madcap showcase of all things on snow. They seem to have strange obsession with minions and chainsaws but c’est la vie! Worryingly they seems to have included people who are not biathletes in it! Once they sort this out they will surely win an Oscar!
You can watch it here. (Look out for a certain Simon Fourcade as Rambo!)

Winner: Team Suitcase sorry I mean Valoche! 😉

Best rifle design:
Another disappointing rifle design season. I mean seriously people you have all summer to come up with a design and then choose one block colour or a wooden stock. YAWN! Two people did make the effort thankfully! Marketa Davidova went for pink with unicorns! Amazing! However it wasn’t quite enough to win. Taking inspiration from teammate Anton Shipulin’s dragon, this lady has a tiger carved into the front of her rifle! RAAR! (That’s meant to be a tiger by the way!)

Winner: Svetlana Mironova

Flower Gatherer of the season: (awarded by Nuno Magalhães, Portugal winner of the OLYMPICKS!)

Biathlon’s flower ceremony, which rewards the individuals placed between 4th and 6th in every World Cup event, is very unique to the sport and the spark for a particular cocktail of feelings, ranging from the satisfaction of a job well done to the pain of falling just short of the podium. It stands to reason then that, taken in the context of a whole season, claiming a litany of flower bouquets is both a reflection of consistency throughout the year and a fair bit of bad luck.

Thus, in order to identify the biathletes that fell most frequently into this grey area, I went back to the final standings of every non-relay WC race contested in 2017-18 and tallied the points for every male and female competitor, distributing 3-2-1 points for each fourth, fifth and sixth position.

Lisa Vittozzi (2 fourths, 2 fifths, 0 sixths (2-2-0), 10 pts) and Kaisa Makarainen (1-2-3, 10 pts) share the top spot for the women. On the men’s side, Benedikt Doll (3-0-0, 9 pts), Arnd Peiffer (1-1-5, 10 pts) and Emil Hegle Svendsen (3-1-0, 11 pts) put up a good fight, but the award ultimately belongs to a German with (3-2-1, 14 pts), who I hope will find some solace after a season that featured several near misses, no WC podiums for the first time since 2012-13, and that heart-breaking photo-finish defeat to Martin Fourcade in PyeongChang.
He might have to be nicknamed the florist from now on! 😉

Winner: Simon Schempp

Best ski suit:
Norway receives a special commendation for their suit. It’s always good. The Czech Republic I also like. Canada almost won this in an excellent comeback from the ‘Where’s Wally (Waldo)’ debacle! There was a lot of red, white and blue suits this season but one stood out for me above the rest. Paulina Fialkova told me it was her favourite and it’s mine too.

Winner: Slovakia

Worst ski suit:
Russia in maroon? Germany in green and yellow? Some strange colour choices this season. Belarus dressing like frogs for the Olympics! However one suit stood out (quite literally) from the rest and that was the bananas on skis. Strangely it grew on me over the season, kind of like mould on cheese, but not enough to avoid this award. I think it’s just the block yellow that does it. Throw a bit of blue in somewhere. Not even Zlatan would be seen head to toe in yellow!

Winner: Sweden

Best Biathlete23:
The easiest decision I have ever had to make for these awards! Turn up at the Olympics, win a gold medal in the first race. What a star! She couldn’t have done it without the bib though!

Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

Biggest Improver:
This goes to a biathlete who has always been good but this season looked like the real deal. Before this year she only had 1 podium finish to her name. This season she got three plus another three fourth place finishes. At the Olympics she was 4th in the Mass Start, 6th in the Sprint and 11th in the Pursuit. She won a bronze medal as part of the Mixed Relay team and her shooting has been exceptional. She moved from 27th to 6th in the Total Score and it’s just a matter of time before she wins her first race. I’m sure it won’t be long until she becomes Italy’s number one biathlete.

Winner: Lisa Vittozzi

Best Team Performance:
This one was pretty obvious to me. As a fan of biathlon I like biathletes who shoot well and I like to see them beat the teams who can ski faster than them. The conditions were exactly right for this at the Olympics with the weather levelling the playing field. The two biathletes who would normally be seen as weaker really shone and the team shot better than anyone else on the day in a victory for shooting over ski speed. Although it does help if you have Darya Domracheva on last leg for the skiing! 😉

Winner: Belarus Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
After finishing 7th in the Sprint and 5th in the Pursuit at the Olympics it wasn’t a surprise to see this person do well in the Individual. It was a surprise that she won it! One of just three women who shot the perfect 20/20 the 22-year-old turned in a faultless performance in the ultimate test of a biathlete. Actually there was one small fault, she was wearing bib 24!

Winner: Hanna Öberg

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
I know what you are thinking Martin Fourcade will win this! WRONG! It must be Kaisa then! WRONG again! They are always at the top either winning or very close to it. This season we saw a biathlete who despite having 2 Olympic gold medals was never that great on the World Cup. Previously she had won 5 World Cup races in her entire career and she now she has won 5 in one season. She has shown much better consistency just missing out on the Overall by 3 points but winning the Sprint and Pursuit titles. Oh and she won 3 medals at the Olympics, a gold and 2 silvers!

Winner: Anastasiya Kuzmina

IPC Para-biathlete of the Year:
There were so many amazing performances by the biathletes at the Paralympic Games that it’s almost impossible to choose a winner. There were many multiple medallists and some stunning performances. I am giving it to someone who got six medals in six races (even though 3 were in cross country I will overlook such treachery just this once). He won his first biathlon Paralympic title and also a silver and bronze in the two other biathlon races hitting 49 out of 50 targets. He added another silver and two bronze in the sport we don’t like to mention. Apart from that has done two biathlon23 interviews which also helps when it comes to winning awards! 😉

Winner: Mark Arendz

Junior Biathlete of the Year:
A difficult decision for this award as there are a lot of good Juniors around at the moment. The winner finished second in the Junior World Cup Overall but actually with the same points as the winner. She also won a gold medal in the Women’s Relay at the Junior World Championships as well as two bronze medals in the Sprint and Pursuit. She won a race on the World Cup in the Obertilliach Sprint and was third in the Mixed Relay there too. She grabbed another podium in Nove Mesto also coming third in the Sprint. At just 21 she looks like a great prospect for France and dare I say it, is already better than her big brother Aristide! 😉

Winner: Myrtille Begue

Youth Biathlete of the Year: (awarded by Jeff Mattarocci, USA runner-up in the Olympicks)

I’ll choose a member of the US Biathlon Team. She is an under 16 athlete, who regularly competes with the Youth ladies and can hold her own with them. She just came off a great US Biathlon Championships, where she won every race she entered, two as a youth and one as an under 16. The future looks good for the US ladies team! 🙂
We will have to keep an eye out for her!

Winner: Lexie Madigan

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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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Aristide Bègue: The Interview!

begue2015

This week I was lucky enough to interview France’s Aristide Bègue. Born on the 16th of August 1994 in Beauvais he has just returned from the Junior World Championships in Raubichi where he won gold in the Individual 15km and bronze in the Junior Men’s Relay. Earlier in the season he also won gold in the Junior Individual 15km race at the Open European Championships in Otepaa as well as silver in the Mixed Relay.
Those medals are added to his already impressive collection of 2 silver medals from Presque Isle 2014 (Individual and Relay), his gold and bronze (Individual and Relay) from the Youth World Championships in Obertilliach 2013 and another 2 gold medals (Individual and Relay) from Kontiolahti 2012. It is safe to say that he is really good at the Individual and the Relay!

You can follow Aristide on Twitter: @Aribeguu
He is on Facebook: facebook.com/AristideBegue
He has his own website: http://www.aristidebegue-font-romeu.fr/

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I wanted to become a biathlete because I had seen the races of biathlon when I was a child and Simon Fourcade inspired me.

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

Thanks to my faculty (STAPS of Font-Romeu) I can study and train every day.
The high-level sport asks for a seriousness in our life (I do not often party with friends) but I succeed in doing things which I enjoy. Furthermore, sport is a passion so I do something I like every day.

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

I have the chance to have institutions which help me in my financing (my city Font-Romeu, my region, my department). So, thanks to my good results, I have several sponsors who give me money to live and do my sport (Colas, Altiservice ..)

You have had a really great season winning medals at the Junior Open European Championships and at Junior World Championships. Explain why you are so good at the Individual please! Do you have a favourite race from this season and why?

I had the opportunity to get good results this season. During the Championships of Europe and the World, I managed to make perfect races and perfect shooting (20/20) and thanks to that I have won gold medals. I have no secret to making a success of the Individual but I know how to excel during these races because they are long and difficult and it pleases me. Furthermore, as I am not skiing fast enough to win sprints, I give everything to the Individual because it is the race which favors me because I fire well.

Did you set specific goals for the Junior World Championships in Raubichi? Did you achieve them all?

I wanted to make a success of my last championships in the Junior category and it is what I did. My objectives are filled because I progressed in skiing and I got closer to the best.

What did you learn about yourself, you technique, your shooting etc. from the Championships and what are you plans going forward to improve?

I exceeded my expectations because I learnt to fire faster and to ski faster. It confirms to me that the work I have done was good quality and that it is necessary to continue like that.

The competition in the French team is really high. How difficult do you think it will be to progress to World Cup level and do you have a long term plan on how to get into the World Cup team?

The competition is rough but it is rewarding. I am going to work on the race of the 10km sprint because it is the most important race in Seniors. I am going to work to go to the IBU Cup and perform well enough to go to the World Cup as quickly as possible.

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

To be a biathlete is cool because our job is to train every day, so if you are passionate about sport like me it’s the perfect job.

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

As that is not possible, I am going to work with my characteristics and work to improve my weak points while keeping my key strong points. I admit to admiring the ski speed of my friend Fabien Claude.

What’s your typical day like?

One day of training begins by waking up at 7 am, eating a sportsman’s breakfast then first training (ski and shooting) between 9 am and 11 am. Then I eat, I have a nap to be on form and go to training again between 3 pm and 5 pm. Then I can visit the physio then eat food by 7 pm and sleep at 9 pm.

Do you get the opportunity to train with Martin Fourcade and the World Cup team? Have they given you any good tips or advice? Is Martin worried that you could be better at the Individual than him? 😉

I have good feeling with the athletes of the World Cup but we don’t see each other often but when we make do train together I can ask some advice but the best advice, it is from the experienced staff. I won the Individual but it was in the Junior category so Martin Fourcade does not have to fear. He even congratulated me and I think that he is happy to see the young French biathletes winning medals.

Does your rifle have a name?

LOL! No, it’s not a person, I like using it in my sport but that’s all.

Describe yourself in three words.

Little, Determined, Attached to my family and friends.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:Raubichi

Favourite biathlete (past or present):Martin Fourcade

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc):The relay

Favourite/best race of your career so far? Individual race of World Junior Championships 2015 in Raubichi.

Favourite sports team:USAP (rugby team of Perpignan)

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Raubichi 2015: The Joy of Juniors!

raubichi2015relay

The Junior Men and Women had to wait a day longer than the Youths to start their competition in Raubichi and it was lucky for them as the conditions were better than the first days racing. The Women got us underway in the Individual with an early start and it was the Ukraine who came out on top. Yuliya Zhurakov shot the perfect score and took gold but only by 0.2 of a second from Poland’s Kinga Mitoraj. She also shot clear to take silver and was maybe at a disadvantage starting bib 3 so that Zhurakov could get her timings having started later and knew she had to push hard. In third was Kazakhstan’s Galina Vishnevskaya who missed 1 shot. If she had shot clean she would have won as she was only 30 second behind the winner. Two Swedish women made it into the Top 15 with Linn Persson in 12th and Hanna Öberg in 13th which is a good boost for the team.

In the Men’s race France’s pocket rocket Aristide Begue won the Individual again! He loves this race! His shooting was outstanding with 20/20 and he managed to hold off the challenge from Russia’s Alexsandr Dediukhin by 3 seconds. In third was Norway’s Vemund Gurigard who also shot zero. Begue’s teammate Emilien Jacquelin was 4th missing one shot which prevented him making the podium. Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also just missed the one target finishing 18th in a high quality field. In fact the level of the biathletes in the Men’s Junior field is quite incredible. Some of the shooting in the race was fantastic not just for the accuracy but also the speed under real pressure. I thought Johannes Boe was a top shooter when it came to speed but looking at Begue, Dediukhin, Jacquelin and Gurigard I think he still has work to do!;-)

It was over to the Junior French Women on Saturday to continue their country’s success. Lena Arnaud won the Sprint race by 2.4 seconds from Galina Vishnevskaya who added silver to her bronze from the Individual. Chloe Chevalier added to France’s medals by winning bronze. The race was characterised by excellent shooting as the Top 6 all shot 10/10. It then came down to ski speed with Arnaud proving the fastest on the day. In the Men’s Sprint Alexsandr Dediukhin recovered very well from his exertions in the Individual to come home in first and claim the gold medal. Unlike in the women’s race he was the only one in the Top 20 to shoot the perfect score and so was a deserving winner. In second came France again but this time it was Fabien Claude who won silver. Taking the bronze was America’s Sean Doherty who got his first medal after moving up from the Youth category. Canada’s Aiden Miller impressed by getting his best finish of 8th and it was also good to see a Croatian biathlete doing well when Kresimir Crnkovic finished in 12th position.

heinrich

Both of the Pursuits took place on Sunday and we got our first German medal of the Championships. Marie Heinrich shot clean to win her first gold ahead of Vishnevskaya who took silver and has won a medal in every race. In bronze position was Yulila Zhuravok who added to her Individual gold. In the Men’s Pursuit Russia got back on the top step of the podium with Eduard Latypov taking gold ahead of Vemund Gurigard in silver and teammate Alexander Povarnitsyn who won bronze.

The final day of competition on Tuesday morning was for the Relays. The Junior Women were first and a very impressive French team won the gold medal. Chloe Chevalier, Julia Simon and Lena Arnaud only needed 6 spare rounds to win and finished 27 seconds ahead of second placed Russia. The Russian team of Victoria Slivko, Natalia Gerbulova and Uliana Kaisheva only used 7 spares themselves but couldn’t make up the time on the tracks. In bronze medal position were Germany whose team of Anna Weidel, Helene Terese Hendel and Marie Heinrich finished over 1 minute 30 seconds down on France who led from start to finish. The Swedish team came fourth with a penalty loop meaning they couldn’t reach the podium. The Norwegian team in 8th only used 7 spares like the teams in second and third but were over 3 minutes off the pace which must be a worry for their selectors.

The Men’s race was won by a really strong Russian team of Dediukhin, Viktor Tretiakov, Latypov and Povarnitsyn. Silver medal went to Norway who had a team of Andreas Kvam, Henrik Sagosen Smeby, Aslak Nenseter and Vemund Gurigard. They used 5 spare rounds to the Russians 4 but where still 1 minute 12 off the time of the winners. In third was France with Aristide Begue, Felix Cottet Puinel, Emilien Jacquelin and Fabien Claude. They used a total of 8 spares and finished 10 seconds behind the Norwegians.

What are the conclusions from the Junior World Championships? Firstly France are in really good shape and have an impressive Junior squad. They come away from Raubichi with 6 medals,three from the men and three from the women. Russia also have a strong squad and a star in the making in Dediukhin who is a fast skier and an excellent shot. The Norwegian men’s team look promising but the women’s side have a lot of work in front of them to match the high standards expected by their country. On the other hand it was great to see the Swedish women do well. They just missed out on the medals but after the criticism they have had in recent years it’s good to see some improvement from them. Individually it was a good Championships for Galina Vishnevskaya who won two silvers and a bronze, Lena Arnaud with 2 golds and obviously Dediukhin who won two golds and a silver.

There will be many happy biathletes leaving Raubichi having achieved their targets or even exceeded them. Equally there will be those who are disappointed and frustrated at their performances. The Junior category has an amazingly high standard of competitor this year especially in the men’s field. Some of the biathletes know just how hard it is to compete at this level and others will have gotten a massive shock at just how good the guys and girls are at Junior level. They will all be taking something away from these Championships whether it be medals or just the drive and motivation to train harder and practise more to come back stronger next year. That is the Joy of Juniors!

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Raubichi: Give Youth a Chance!

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For this year’s Youth/Junior World Championships all eyes will be turning to Belarus. The home of Darya Domracheva will be hosting this year’s Championships in Raubichi, a purpose built winter sports complex just 20km North East of Minsk. The Junior WC was first held in 1997 in Forni Avoltri Italy followed by the Youth WC in 2002 in Ridnaun also in Italy. You might recognise some of the former winners. If you are good enough to get a medal here you are joining some illustrious company.

Medalists from the YJWC’s include Andrea Henkel, Olga Vilhukina, Darya Domracheva, Magdalena Neuner and Dorothea Wierer. Some former male champions include Simon Fourcade, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Anton Shipulin, Lukas Hofer, Simon Eder and Jean Guillaume Beatrix to name but a few! This year’s races start with the Youth Men and Women’s Individual on the 18th of February and end on the 24th with the Men’s and Women’s Junior Relays.

The Youth section of the championships is open to athletes who are under 18. To qualify as a Junior you must be between the ages of 19 and 21 by the 31st of December which is the cut-off date for the age ranges. Each country has their own selection criteria by which they select the eligible athletes. Last year’s competition took place in Presque Isle, USA and showcased some great young talent that is coming through in biathlon.

The two biathletes who stood out in the Youth category were American Sean Doherty and Italian Lisa Vittozzi. Curiously they both achieved exactly the same results with both winning gold in the Sprint and Pursuit and silver in the Individual. Other impressive performers were Julia Schwaiger of Austria who won the Individual and Germany’s Anna Weidel who was second in the Sprint and Pursuit behind Vittozzi. France sent a strong team and reaped the rewards with two individual medals, one each for Julia Simon (bronze in the Sprint) and Estelle Mougel (bronze in the Pursuit) and team gold in the Youth Relay. Stand outs among the young men were Germany’s Marco Gross and Russia’s Dmitrii Shamaev who were 2nd and 3rd respectively in both the Sprint and Pursuit. Another young Russian, Yaroslav Kostyukov, won the Individual and Russia also won the relay ahead of Canada and Finland.

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There were equally good performances from people just outside the medals who will be pushing to get on the podium this time around. America’s Maddie Phaneuf, Estonia’s Tuuli Tomingas and Russian pair Liliya Davletshina and Maria Ivanova will all be hoping to medal in the Women’s competition although some will be making the move to Junior level. The young Canadian guys will be looking for some individual medals to add to a very impressive Relay silver as will the young Finns who were third.

Last year’s Junior competitions were a little more evenly spread in terms of medalists. On the Womens side a Russian, Evgeniya Pavlova, won the Sprint, a Kazakh Galina Vishnevskaya won the Pursuit and Luise Kummer a German won the Individual. Austria and Canada also had success with Lisa Hauser and Sarah Beaudry. As for the junior men Russia’s Alexander Povarnitsyn won Sprint gold and Pursuit silver. The French team won gold with Fabien Claude in the Pursuit and silver and bronze in the Individual from Aristide Begue and Dany Chavoutier. Norway also turned up at this point with Tore Leren taking Individual gold and Sprint silver with Jarle Midthjell Gjoerven adding Pursuit bronze. The Junior Relays were dominated by the German Team who won both the men’s and women’s races.

Some of these biathletes will be competing again in Raubichi and some are now too old and will be hoping to move to the IBU Cup and hopefully the World Cup for their respective countries. One thing is for sure there is a lot of good young talent in biathlon at the moment and there will surely be new names that come to the fore in Raubichi especially in the Youth Category.

What is important to remember though is that it’s not all about medals and success. For the majority of the biathletes that take part it is great experience for them and hopefully a stepping stone to greater things. You don’t have to win at this level to be a great biathlete just ask Martin Fourcade. For many of the youngsters taking part it is not only a challenge to be selected but just to be able to get to the venue. Many are partly funded or not funded at all and have to raise their own money just to pay for flights, accomodation and food. They all deserve your support and so keep an eye out for all the results not just the TOP 3. So if you don’t normally pay much attention to the Youth and Junior biathletes now is your chance. You never know you could be watching future World and Olympic champions in the making. What are you waiting for – Give Youth a Chance!

I have to say a huge thank you and good luck to Maddie Phaneuf, Robert Sircus, Martin Femsteinivik, Brian Halligan and Mateusz Janik who were all kind enough to do interviews for me in the build up to these Championships! I know you will all do your best and I will be behind you all the way! Tom Lahaye-Goffart and Jarl Hengstmengel won’t make it but better luck for next time!

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