Tag Archives: Arnd Peiffer

WC7: Canmore Review 2016!

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Biathlon has swum across the pond this season to take the World Cup across to North America! The first stop is in Canada and we found ourselves in beautiful Canmore. With stunning views and plenty of snow we got to experience biathlon in a winter wonderland.

The first race to take place here was the Men’s Sprint on Thursday. It was won by Martin Fourcade who shot clean to win the race by a comfortable 15.7 seconds. Anton Shipulin came second also shooting clean and Simon Schempp was third with 10/10 too. In fact there were a lot of zero scores on a great day for doing biathlon. Fourth place went to Austria’s Julian Eberhard who missed 2 shots but is skiing amazingly fast. He finished 45 seconds behind Fourcade but if he ever hits all the targets he will be able to beat him. The Austrian Men’s team are in great form at the moment with Simon Eder and Dominik Landertinger in fifth and sixth. Macx Davies was top Canadian in his home race with clean shooting in 25th place.

The Women’s race on Friday threw up a few surprises in part due to the windy conditions. Olena Pidhrushna won for only the second time in her long career. She shot clean and finished 7.5 seconds ahead of Poland’s Krystyna Guzik. Maybe everyone should retire and then make a comeback! It has certainly done Pidhrushna good. It was also Guzik’s second time finishing in second place which is her top finish so far. In third was Dorothea Wierer with yet another podium. The biggest surprise though came in the form of Latvia’s Baiba Bendika who shot clean and finished in 5th place which is a huge personal best for her. Her previous best was 41st so these are also her first ever World Cup points. Germany’s Karolin Horchler also got a personal best in 9th as did France’s Celia Aymonier in 13th.

Saturday began with the Men’s Mass Start and if you thought it was windy on Friday, Saturday was worse! The start of the race had to be delayed due to the strength of the wind. There was a happy ending through the gale though as Italy’s Dominik Windisch won his first ever race on the World Cup. He missed 4 shots but managed to out ski his competitors on the final loop to taste victory for the first time. Second place went to Benedikt Doll who also missed 4 shots and in third was Quentin Fillon Maillet.

The ladies race was slightly calmer although not for Italian fans as they were very excited to see an Italian double as Dorothea Wierer claimed victory! She missed one shot and finished ahead of her rivals for the overall title. Marie Dorin Habert was second and Gabriela Soukalova third. Gabi has certainly enjoyed her time in Canmore as she had time to cross the line backwards to entertain the fans!

The weather was kinder on Sunday for the Relays. We began with Single Mixed Relay and France put out their World Team Challenge winners Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin Habert. They won by a comfortable margin of 45 seconds and led the race from start to finish. In fact it would have been more surprising if they hadn’t won. Austria also put out a strong team of Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder their best shooters and it paid off as they finished second. Completing the podium in third were the Norwegian duo of Hilde Fenne and Lars Helge Birkeland proving that you don’t need the A team!!

The final race in Canada was the Mixed Relay and similar to the Single Mixed Relay it was dominated by one team. This time it was the German team of Hildebrand, Preuss, Peiffer and Schempp. They only required 4 spare rounds and won by over a minute. Second place was taken by the Italians who have had a remarkable round in Canmore. Wierer, Oberhofer, Hofer and Windisch even survived a penalty loop to finish ahead of third placed Norway. Olsbu, Solemdal, Os and Bogetveit just beat the American team by 2 seconds. It was a great performance from the US Team who head to their home race next week. Home team Canada also had a great race ending their home World Cup round in sixth place.

It has been a good few days in Canmore with great organisation and facilities. There have also been good supportive crowds and all that was missing really was a home podium. The weather was difficult with the unpredictable wind which biathletes hate but we spectators love and it threw up some different results and winners. We leave Canmore with Martin Fourcade and Gabriela Soukalova still in the yellow bibs and now we move across the border to the USA to Presque Isle in Maine and I am sure they will do a great job just like Canmore did. When are we coming back?!!! 🙂

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WC4: Ruhpolding Review 2016: Part 1!

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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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WC1: Oestersund 2015 Review!

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AT LAST! Winter is here and the withdrawal symptoms have gone – biathlon is back! As usual we kicked off the season in Oestersund, Sweden and this year we started with the Single Mixed Relay.

This time around it was poor Simon who suffered from the “Oestersund Curse of the Fourcades” when he failed to fire all his bullets and missed a penalty loop which cost the French team a victory. Simon and Marie Dorin Habert were winning by a margin but after a 3 minute time penalty they ended up 21st. This left the way clear for Norway to win with a team of Kaia Nicolaisen and Lars Birkeland. In second and taking their first ever relay podium was the Canadian pair of Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith and third were the German team of Maren Hammerschmidt and Daniel Boehm.

Next came the Mixed Relay which Norway controlled and won by a margin big enough for Tarjei Boe to pose in front of a car advert pleasing the sponsors immensely. Second came Germany and in third was the Czech Republic. It wasn’t the most exciting relay apart from the first takeover where Franziska Hildebrand, Vanessa Hinz and Ekaterina Yurlova managed to play skittles with each other and Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Freddie Lindstrom treated us to a sprint finish for 4th place.

On Wednesday the first individual race of the season got underway and coincidentally it was the Men’s Individual 20km! It was won by Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who had a great race shooting 20/20 to win his 95th race. He profited slightly from calmer conditions on the shooting range but that doesn’t take anything away from his victory. In second was Overall Title contender Simon Schempp and third was Alexey Volkov who also shot clear. Windy and snowy conditions made it a difficult day on the range with Martin Fourcade missing 5 shots to finish in 21st, Tarjei Boe missing 4 in 22nd and Anton Shipulin missing 3 to finish 16th. Svendsen came joint 4th with Quentin Fillon Maillet who was France’s top finisher in the race.

In contrast to Bjoerndalen the winner of the Women’s race collected her first ever win on the World Cup. Italy’s Dorothea Wierer shot clear to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time. Marie Dorin Habert put in a great skiing performance to come second and Olena Pidhrushna was third after coming out of retirement. Overall title hopefuls Tiril Eckhoff and Gabriela Soukalova finished 4th and 5th. Also in the Top 10 was Lisa Hauser getting her best finish of 8th on the World Cup.

On Saturday came the Sprints and they were held in windy conditions which meant shooting was very difficult. Fortunately for winner Martin Fourcade he can miss some targets and still win. This time everyone missed targets except one.In second was Arnd Peiffer and third was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. The wind threw some new names into the TOP 20 with Macx Davies of Canada finishing 10th shooting 10/10. Raman Yaliotnau from Belarus was 15th and Jesper Nelin of Sweden was 16th.

In the Women’s race Gabriela Soukalova hit 10/10 to take the win denying Italy’s Federica Sanfilippo her first World Cup victory. Second is still an amazing result for her finishing ahead of a resurgent Olena Pidhrushna who was third for the second race in succession.

The Sprint result meant that Martin Fourcade would start the Pursuit 52 seconds before Peiffer and it would be very difficult to beat him, and so it proved as he won comfortably. Peiffer maintained his second place and Quentin Fillon Maillet finally got on the podium in third after two 4th place finishes.

You might have noticed I haven’t mentioned Kaisa Makarainen yet. She got off to an inauspicious start by her standards with a 24th and 10th place finish. She showed her class in the Pursuit though with a stunning final shoot and last lap to claim victory. Second was Dorothea Wierer and third was Franziska Hildebrand who couldn’t hold off Kaisa and her amazing skiing.

Others who did well in the Pursuits were Tarjei Boe who went from 29th to 4th, Dmitry Malyshko 34th to 7th, Evgeniy Garanichev 27th to 8th, Simon Fourcade 49th to 14th and Lars Birkeland 58th to 25th. For the women Marte Olsbu went from 26th to 7th, Eva Tofalvi from 60th to 19th, Megan Tandy from 46th to 25th and Nadezhda Skardino from 26th to 7th.

All in all it was a great start to the new season and we now head to Austria and Hochfilzen for round 2 with Martin Fourcade in the yellow bib for the men and Gabriela Soukalova for the women. It promises to be a great World Cup round!

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Aiming for the Top! Season Preview Men 2015/16

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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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Global Success!2014/15 Season Review:Men

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Season 2014/15 has come to an end and there is no surprise about who came out on top in the Men’s field. Yes for the fourth time in a row France’s Martin Fourcade has won the overall title and gets another big Crystal Globe to put on his already overcrowded mantlepiece. It didn’t start out that way though. We all got a bit excited in the first race of the season way back in Oestersund in the Individual 20km.

It was won by Fourcade’s main rival at the start of the season Emil Hegle Svendsen and with Martin having a total nightmare and finishing in 81st place we thought we might see the title go elsewhere. Of course we we entirely wrong because Fourcade popped up and won the very next race, the Sprint, by 28 seconds and went on to win the Pursuit too. After the first World Cup round it was business as usual with Fourcade and Svendsen setting the pace.

That didn’t last long though as two new contenders appeared to chase Fourcade. Germany’s Simon Schempp started putting in some fantastic performances with two second places in Hochfilzen. In Pokljuka Russia’s Anton Shipulin emerged as a real challenger for the overall with 2 wins and a second place. At this point Svendsen was still going along nicely picking up wins and podiums to stay in the hunt.

After Christmas we had the two German races in Oberhof and Ruhpolding. Oberhof went well for Fourcade where he won both races but in Ruhpolding he started to have some problems. Both Schempp and Shipulin gained points there with Schempp getting a win and a second place. Antholz was next and that’s where Schempp did even more damage. With Fourcade under the weather he won both races just as he did the year before to make a big dent in Fourcade’s lead in the yellow bib. It was around this time that Svendsen’s title challenge faded away as he failed to get on the podium or even into the Top 10. Schempp again beat Fourcade in Nove Mesto but not by much as he was second twice while Fourcade was third and fourth.

By now Shipulin’s charge was slowing and while he still made the podium and TOP 10 in Holmenkollen Fourcade’s win and second place gave him the advantage. Schempp didn’t have a great round in Norway either which left Fourcade with a lead of 78 points going into the World Championships where the results also counted towards the overall title. His rivals didn’t fare too well in the points department but Shipulin and Schempp did medal. Martin won the Individual and was competitive enough in all the other races to give him a lead of 111 points to take into the final round.

We found ourselves in Khanty-Mansiysk for round 9 and in the first race, the Sprint, Martin won convincingly and also won the small Crystal globe. Shipulin was second but it left a deficit of 117 points going into the final 2 races. He was also second in the Sprint standings ahead of Simon Schempp in third. In the Pursuit race Martin did enough to win the Overall Title finishing fourth just one place behind Shipulin. This means he has won the total score for 4 years in a row the first person to do so. The final race saw Shipulin claiming the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Outside of these guys there have been other impressive performances. Ukraine’s Sergey Semenov won the Individual 20km competition with some great shooting and consistent results and did enough in Kontiolahti to hang on to beat Fourcade and Svendsen to the title. Jakov Fak put up a late charge coming into great ski form towards the end of the year winning World Championship gold as well as 3 other races. This put him into third place in the overall standings.

Johannes Thingnes Boe didn’t get as many World Cup wins as last year but he is the World Champion in the Sprint. He is also relatively inexperienced on the World Cup which is obviously a worry for all the other biathletes! His big brother Tarjei made up for a slow start to the season troubled by illness to win 5 medals in Kontiolahti. The German team were stronger than they have been in a while with Schempp but Arnd Peiffer also got back to winning ways in Holmenkollen and with Lesser becoming Pursuit World Champion and Andi Birnbacher getting back to his old form they are a formidable team. They also have Daniel Boehm and Benedikt Doll who collected his first 2 podiums in Khanty Mansiysk.

Simon Fourcade enjoyed a better season than last year finishing 4th in every race!!;-) The French team also have a new star in Quentin Fillon Maillet. He has finished in the TOP 10 nine times with his best result of second place coming in the Ruhpolding Mass Start in a photo finish. Benjamin Weger has shown more consistency this season and has had 4 Top 10 finishes. The Czech team had a good season too with Michal Slesingr in great form and Ondrej Moravec performing well at the World Championships. Evgeniy Garanichev did well too for Russia and finished 6th in the total score.

The Canadians have done really well with Nathan Smith winning silver in the World Championship Sprint, taking 6 TOP 10 finishes and his first ever win in Khanty Mansiysk to finish the season on a high. Brendan Green got a personal best result of 5th too. For the Americans Leif Nordgren outshone his better known colleagues Burke and Bailey with 4 TOP 30 results and a personal best of 16th in the Nove Mesto Sprint. The Bulgarians Krasimir Anev and Vladimir Iliev have been a breath of fresh air this season both shooting really well and getting 14 Top 20 finishes between them, 9 for Iliev and 5 for Anev. Anev achieved a PB of 4th and Iliev 6th.

It has been a very enjoyable season watching the men’s races. I would like to have seen a closer challenge to Fourcade but it sets up next season very nicely. It’s not a two horse race anymore between Fourcade and Svendsen. There are other opponents who can stop Fourcade achieving 5 in a row! However they will find it very tough. It was nice to see the small globes shared around too with Semenov taking the Individual title, Shipulin the Mass Start and the Sprint and Pursuit going to Fourcade. The Nation’s Cup went to Norway. Well we have a long summer ahead of us to digest this season and look forward to the next one. One thing is certain for Monsieur Fourcade season 2014/15 has been a Global Success!

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World Champs 2015 Review: Men

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After many days of anticipation and then the opening ceremony, action finally got underway in the 2015 Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti. The first race took place on Thursday afternoon and saw 26 teams take part in the Mixed Relay. The conditions were really tough with warm temperatures making the snow wet and it looked like it was up to the biathletes knees!!!

The race got off to a great start with Fuyuko Suzuki taking the lead after 2 shoots for Japan. Veronika Vitkova took the Czech Republic into the lead however in the first exchange and it was then Soukalova and Domracheva who were in contention in the second leg. Domracheva handed over to Chepelin for Belarus and he managed to hold on to the lead in his leg to send Liadov out first for the final leg. Unfortunately for him he only had an 11 second lead and couldn’t hold off Moravec from the Czech Republic who came home first to win gold for his country. He was followed by Martin Fourcade who made up a lot of time to bring France home for silver and Tarjei Boe continued his brother Johannes’ good work by hanging on for bronze despite a penalty loop from Eckhoff. Belarus were fourth by an agonizing 4 seconds. The Finnish team put in a great display for the home crowd and were in with a podium shot going into leg 3. They ended in 9th which was a 7 place improvement on their start of 16th.

On Saturday we had the Sprint competition. Conditions were better but still far from ideal for the 129 biathletes. This didn’t seem to bother Johannes Thingnes Boe however as he went out and won! It easy to forget that this is his first ever start in an individual event in a Senior World Championships and he couldn’t have done any better on his debut. There was more good news for the Boe family as big brother Tarjei shot clean to come home to win bronze. It was guaranteed to be a good night out in Styrn, the boys home town, on Saturday! Splitting up the family however was the history making Nathan Smith. He took the silver and is the first Canadian man to win a World Championship medal. He has been getting closer and closer to the podium all year and timed his best ever result to perfection. It wasn’t a great day for some of the big favourites with Martin Fourcade in 12th, Anton Shipulin in 18th, Emil Svendsen in 36th and Simon Schempp in 77th!

Johannes went into the Pursuit as favourite but he had a total nightmare missing 8 shots and finished 31st. On the other hand Germany’s Erik Lesser had a magnificent race. He shot clear and he controlled the pace from the front after the first shoot. He showed remarkable mental strength to hold his nerve shooting not only the perfect 20/20 but he shot fast as well. He always performs well on the big occasion and can now add World Championship gold to his Olympic silver. In second was Anton Shipulin who paced the race well and shot 19/20. At the final shoot when the guys in contention for the final two places missed around him he and Tarjei Boe kept their cool and fought it out on the track for the remaining medals. It was obvious that Shipulin had the upper hand on the skis but it might have been different if Boe had been on his top ski form. Even so he won his third bronze in three races. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen produced a good race to finish in 5th as did Vladimir Iliev who was 6th.

The men had three days of rest before they had the Individual 20km. Normal service was resumed with Martin Fourcade winning yet again! He is very hard to beat at this race. Emil Hegle Svendsen tried his best to do that but he just doesn’t have the ski speed this season. Martin skied 1 minute 20 seconds faster than him as he missed 1 shot but still won comfortably. What was joy for one Fourcade was anguish for the other. Simon took the lead early in the race and shot clear to suggest a podium place would be his. It wasn’t to be however as Ondrej Moravec with 1 missed shot out skied him to take the bronze medal by five seconds. It is the second time Simon Fourcade has finished 4th at this World Championships which must be horribly frustrating for him but on the bright side this is his best season for a long while. Sergey Semenov finished 5th to secure the small Crystal Globe in the Individual for Ukraine. There were also good performances from Lee Jackson of Great Britain in 39th and Alex Almoukov of Australia in 43rd. It was also good to see Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi rolling back the years in 12th adding to his other 2 TOP 30 finishes here.

The Relay was next up and it was won by a dominant German team to match the gold from their Women’s team. They only used 3 spare rounds and were always in the TOP 3. After Arnd Peiffer’s excellent third leg they controlled the race and no one else could catch them. The team of Erik Lesser, Daniel Boehm, Peiffer and Simon Schempp meant a very happy medal ceremony for Germany. In silver medal position came Norway with Emil Hegle Svendsen, Tarjei and Johannes Boe helping Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to his 40th World Championship medal. He was the only one of them not to use a spare round and led after his leg so he is still showing those youngsters how it’s done! I am happy to report that France were third finally getting Simon Fourcade onto the podium and preventing his nervous breakdown after finishing 4th twice already. Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Quentin Fillon Maillet and little brother Martin did a good job!

To finish we had the Mass Start which proved to be a very good race to end with. Jakov Fak took gold in a great race which went all the way to the finish line. In second came Ondrej Moravec to add silver to his gold and bronze to complete the set. Third place went to surprise, surprise Mr. Bronze himself Tarjei Boe who leaves with 5 medals. He beat teammate Bjoerndalen who was fourth but he had an excellent race shooting clean and always up at the front.

So that’s all from Kontiolahti. It has been a great World Championships and France came out on top of the medal table in front of Germany and Norway. I am sure the biathletes are glad to see the back of the “Wall” as they have been up it about a million times now but they can’t rest yet! It’s on to Khanty Mansisyk for the last World Cup of the season!


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In Oslo – NO(r)WAY!

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Well after a million pictures of the Holmenkollen jump on the biathletes social media pages and an equal amount of beautiful Oslo sunrises/sunsets we started the Women’s Individual race in a cloud of fog!!! That’s right the World Cup is back in Norway for the last round before the World Championships come along in March. Missing in the Oslo fog was most of the Norwegian men’s team with Svendsen and Tarjei Boe sick and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen choosing to skip the round!

Kaisa Makarainen got bib number 2 for the race and she crossed the line in first blowing away all the competition with 20/20 on the range and super fast skiing. It made the rest of the race a little predictable as you knew no one could beat her. Darya Domracheva missed one target which meant that she could only finish second and in by now what is becoming quite a familiar looking podium Veronika Vitkova was third. The conditions on the range were good when the fog cleared and so there was some excellent shooting from the field. Along with Makarainen there were another 9 scores on the range of 20/20 from Vitkova, Juliya Dzhyma, Iryna Varvynets, Megan Heinicke, Audrey Vaillancourt, Laura Dahlmeier, Monika Hojnisz, Jialin Tang and Emma Nilsson.

The men’s race turned out the same! Martin Fourcade stared in bib number 1 and won the race with clean shooting and so we knew no one could beat him! In second place was Evgeniy Garanichev and in third was Sergey Semenov who both also shot the perfect score. Jakov Fak skied the fastest of everyone but 2 missed shots meant he couldn’t challenge Fourcade for the win. He did come in fourth which was a great effort with 18/20. Seven men in all hit all the targets. Joining the TOP 3 were Benjamin Weger, Maxim Tsvetkov, Poland’s Lukasz Szczurek who set a personal best of 51st and Peppe Femling who achieved his personal best result of 21st.

There was a rest day on Friday and so the Sprints took place on Saturday. The women went first and Darya Domracheva did the perfect race to come home first. Laura Dahlmeier got her 4th podium in a row finishing in second ahead of Marie Dorin Habert who got her first podium of the season and is going in Kontiolahti in fantastic form. Kaisa Makarainen unfortunately missed 3 shots and could only finish 24th which means that Domracheva takes over the yellow bib and leads Makarainen by 10 points. The USA’s Hannah Dreissigacker got her PB in the race in 16th place as did the Ukraine’s Iana Bondar who was 14th.

In the men’s race Martin Fourcade thought he had another victory in the bag but he was beaten by 3 seconds by Germany’s Arnd Peiffer who won his first race since the 2011/12 season and relegated Fourcade into second. Less telemark landings off the bridge and more sprinting for the line Martin – lesson learned! It didn’t cost him any points in the overall as he finished ahead of Shipulin in third and Schempp who was 13th. Lars Helge Birkeland was the best of the home team coming in 5th and elsewhere there were personal bests for Switzerland’s Mario Dolder in 16th and Estonia’s Kalev Ermits in 20th.

The final day of competition on Sunday was for the relays. In the women’s race The Czech Republic won yet again and are red hot favourites for the World Championships. They are an impressive team and are solid on each leg with each women doing their very best for their country. Second was Italy who did a great job especially in legs 2 and 3 with the less experienced members of the team Gontier and Sanfilippo keeping them in touch with the leaders. France were third with top shooting in legs 3 and 4 as Varcin and Dorin Habert used no spares. Germany had the chance to win with Miriam Goessner doing a great job on leg 3 and showing fantastic mental strength on her standing shoot to hand over to Dahlmeier in second place. She couldn’t keep that position however and the Germans were 4th. The Estonian team had an exceptional race and used only 1 spare round between all four women and saw them take 12th place.

The men’s race gave us some fabulous entertainment where Shipulin and Schemmp treated us to yet another sprint finish! This time Shipulin won to give Russia the victory by 0.2 seconds. In third were an impressive Austrian team with Landertinger hitting good form in time for Kontiolahti. The Canadian team were 5th which is their best ever finish in a relay but home team Norway were a disappointing 9th missing a lot of big names.

So now all eyes turn to Finland for the World Championships and thoughts of yellow bibs and crystal globes are replaced by gold, silver and bronze medals. It has been a good round in Oslo with up and downs for many biathletes. There were a few surprises too with Peiffer winning, Kaisa losing the yellow bib and the Norwegian team not getting any podiums. If you had told me that last week I would have said in Oslo – NO(r)WAY!

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