Tag Archives: Artem Tyshchenko

Meldonium Madness!

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Just to be clear before you start reading the main article Biathlon23 writes clean! Unless WADA have added alcohol and chocolate to the banned list! 😉

Meldonium, not to be confused with a melodium which is a musical instrument, is the latest drug to be banned by WADA. The World Anti-Doping Agency decided to ban it in September 2015 and it was officially added to the list on the 1st of January 2016. After which date athletes from many sports tested positive for its use. Biathlon was affected significantly with 4 biathletes having positive tests for the drug.

What exactly is Meldonium and why was it only banned this year? The drug which is also known as mildronate is principally used to treat ischaemia. Ischaemia, for those of you who aren’t doctors, is a lack of blood flow to parts of the body including the heart. Therefore Meldonium is often taken to treat angina or heart failure. As we have seen with the most famous case involving Maria Sharapova people have been taking it for a long time, in her case over 10 years. WADA had been monitoring the drug for a year before taking the decision to ban it.

The drug itself was made in Latvia and is available across the Baltic counties and Russia. It was originally intended for animals! It is not approved for use in Europe or America. You may be surprised at the amount of athletes across so many sports who are able to compete at such a high level with angina and heart failure but it turns out that’s probably not what they are taking it for! The fact that it increases blood flow around the body means that if an athlete is taking it they can improve their exercise capacity. That means they can train more and recover quicker. A distinct advantage over other athletes.

The reason that WADA decided to look into the use of Meldonium was because they were finding it so frequently in athletes samples and so began to monitor it. In biathlon the first to be found with a positive sample was Artem Tyshchenko from the Ukraine. He was followed by fellow Ukrainian Olga Abramova, then Russia’s Eduard Laytpov and finally by Romania’s Eva Tofalvi.

You would imagine that is the end of the story. They got caught, they get banned and we move on. Not so in this case as we have had athletes claiming that they stopped taking the drug before the 1st of January therefore breaking no rules. It all comes down to how long the drug remains in your system after you have stopped taking it.

WADA have stated that “cases where the concentration is below 1 µg/ml and the test was taken before the 1st of March 2016 are compatible with an intake prior to January 2016.” This has led to the lifting of the provisional suspension of both Tyshchenko and Latypov as this applied to both of their positive tests. However they are still required to explain why the substance was found in their samples.

In general the IBU seem to be doing a decent job in testing and finding possible cheats. Other winter sports have hardly found any cases of Meldonium use. Cross-country, alpine, snowboarding and all the others haven’t found many, if any, positive cases of Meldonium use. This suggests that either these other winter sportspeople are clean or much more likely they just aren’t getting caught.

Unfortunately sport is always going to be plagued by cheats. As long as they are caught and punished that helps me to believe that the vast majority of biathletes compete clean. It is getting harder and harder for us poor spectators to trust sportspeople nowadays though. With more money and rewards everything becomes about winning so maybe they would do well to remember that sport is not only about success. It’s about fun, being healthly, self improvement, setting a good example for others, learning skills and did I mention fun! Not everyone can win, even cheats will lose to other cheats. So maybe just try and enjoy your sport because it’s really not worth risking your health and career taking some random drug that might help you win but probably won’t! Even if it does help you deep down you know your success is undeserved. So please stop the MADNESS – Meldonium or any other performance enhancing drug!!!

Biathlon23 would like to point out that although not currently on the WADA banned list, the use of a melodium is not recommended as a way to make you into a better biathlete! 😉

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Spring Snapshot 2016!

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Seriously – you try and take a couple of months holiday from biathlon to refresh the mind and get excited again for a new season but it won’t let you! There is no escape! Here is a snapshot of just some of the things that happened in April and May in the world of biathlon.

So obviously the biggest news story was that the Biathlon23 Awards 2015/16 broke all records to become the most read post on my blog!!! Less exciting but equally important was of course the news that Old-sorry-Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will continue competing until the Olympics in 2018 or maybe even forever! There is no stopping that man. Good news for men’s biathlon but he has managed to ruin the upcoming women’s season by impregnating former KGB operative Darya Domracheva and robbing us of her presence until probably January. How dare he! After the announcement that Kaisa Makarinen also intends to compete until 2018 (while building a house at the same time!) we won’t get to see her go head to head with Dasha for a while longer.

Dasha isn’t the only one expecting a baby though. Magdalena Neuer with her customary speed is having her second child and Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska is pregnant with twins.

Gabriela Soukalova changed her name by 1 letter, not just for fun of course, she got married to Petr Koukal making her Koukalova! Dmitry Malyshko also married in the Spring break. Congratulations all round! 🙂

With all that good news we also have some bad news too. Klaus Siebert, former German biathlete and coach of Germany, China and Belarus, died after a long battle with cancer. Two Ukrainian biathletes Artem Tyshchenko and Snizhana Tisyeyeva were involved in a serious car crash on the 2nd of May. Thankfully Tisyeyeva is out of intensive care after being treated for burns and Tyschenko was released from hospital after a head injury.

Tyshchenko was again in the news when he had his suspension for doping lifted as did Eduard Latypov as their samples were consistent with having stopped taking Meldonium before it was banned. This wasn’t the case for Romania’s Eva Tofalvi and Olga Abramova who also tested positive for the drug. All four cases are still on going.

Krystyna Guzik has a shoulder injury which needs surgery and means she will be out for 2 months.

In lighter news all the biathletes were off on their holidays and were making us all jealous with their social media pictures. Martin Fourcade went to Morocco, brother Simon went to Mauritius and Reunion. Laura Dahlmeier chose a nice relaxing holiday climbing in the Himalayas! Dominik Windisch took a little European road trip. Dorothea Wierer went to the Caribbean. Johannes Boe went to London and Klemen Bauer turned up at the World Snooker Final in Sheffield. I can’t go through everyone but I am sure they all had nice breaks!

There has also been some changes in the coaching department with the news that Siegfried Mazet was leaving the French team. It was no secret where he was going and he is now the shooting coach for Norway’s men who also announced Egil Kristiansen as their ski coach. France have replaced Mazet with Franck Badiou. Elsewhere Alfred Eder returns to the Belarusian women’s team, Valeriy Medvedtsev is the Russian Women’s new coach, Finland’s new coach is Antti Leppavuori and Juraj Sanitra takes charge of the Ukranian men’s team. Thomas Fusko is the new Slovak biathlon President and Erlend Slokvik has the job for Norway.

There have also been some retirements from the sport. Canadians Zina Kocher, Scott Perras and Audrey Vaillancourt have all decided to end their biathlon careers. They are joined by Americans Annelise Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker. Also retiring are Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi and Christian Martinelli, German Andi Birnbacher, Ivan Tcherazov of Russia, Austria’s Fritz Pinter, Marine Bolliet of France and Natayla Burdyga who is retiring for the second time!

To be fair I have probably forgotten many other things that happened but as Ross said to Rachel, “WE WERE ON A BREAK!”

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SMR: The reaction is Mixed!

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Last season saw the first ever Single Mixed Relay on the World Cup. The format has been tested before and we have the World Team Challenge in Germany between Christmas and New Year but this was the first time that it was an official World Cup event and worth points to the competing nations. In this article I wanted to review just how that went by exploring the purpose of the event and how successful it was.

Firstly though we need to understand exactly what the Single Mixed Relay is. Two biathletes from each country, one male and one female, form a team to take part in the relay. It is raced over a distance of 6km for the women and 7.5km for the men. It is very similar to the Mixed Relay where the biathletes each shoot in the prone and standing position before handing over to their partner. The penalty loop is shorter in this race at only 75 metres. The race is started by the women and finished by the men. The women will do 4 laps in the race and the men 5 as they must complete a whole lap after the final shoot.

So what is the purpose of this new race? It is the first new event to be added to the World Cup since the Mixed Relay was introduced in 2003. There are several different reasons why it has now been included as an event. The first is simply that it adds something new for the spectators and is a short and exciting race. The World Team Challenge has always been very entertaining to watch and now we can enjoy that excitement on the World Cup too. The second reason was, to quote IBU Race Director for the World Cup Borut Nunar, “to present one more team event where nations with only one good male and female athlete could have a strong chance for top rankings”. In other words to give some of the smaller teams a chance to get more Nation’s Cup points.

The first event was held in Nove Mesto and was won by Russia with a team of Volkov and Romanova. Second was Norway with Olsbu and L’Abee Lund and in third came the Ukraine with Dzhyma and Tyshchenko. The smaller teams had mixed fortunes. Japan did really well finishing 10th but Lithuania were 19th and Great Britain were 20th. Estonia didn’t enter a team, neither did Italy or The Netherlands.

Why was this? Well mainly because the event was scheduled on the same day as the Mixed Relay! The small teams don’t have enough biathletes to compete in both relays on the same day and in fact Nerys Jones and Kevin Kane of Great Britain and Fuyuko Suzuki of Japan were forced to compete in both events. So instead of being an event to help the smaller nations it actually became a hindrance! The teams prioritised the Mixed Relay and so couldn’t use the opportunity to gain any extra ranking points.

In the end it seemed to be more of a useful event for the top nations. It gave their biathletes that couldn’t get into the Mixed Relay team the chance to have a race and get even more ranking points for the Nation’s Cup. As we saw Russia won and Norway who were second went on to win the Mixed Relay later in the day. The problem lies in the scheduling of the event. If you can’t have it on the same day as the other relays though, when can you have it?

Well it wouldn’t be possible on the same day as the Sprint or the Individual as nearly all of the biathletes compete in these. That leaves the same day as a Pursuit or a Mass Start where just the TOP 60 or 30 biathletes take part. That would seem to be a better solution but then you have the issue of the tracks. That would mean 3 races in one day on the tracks and as we have seen in the last couple of years the venues are having difficulty providing good tracks because of the lack of snow and 3 races in a short space of time wouldn’t help the skiing conditions. Ideally the Single Mixed Relay would take place on a day with no other races but then it doesn’t last as long as the other relays and so might not be value for money for the spectators.

Overall the Single Mixed Relay serves the first purpose very well. It is new and exciting and something a bit different for fans and biathletes. The second purpose of helping countries gain more ranking points has yet to be seen. We have 2 Single Mixed Relays on the calendar this season in Oestersund and Canmore which are both scheduled on the same day as the Mixed Relays again. The strength of the big teams and scheduling problems mean that it won’t help the smaller teams much to improve their ranking. It is the same with all sports though. The bigger, richer teams will always have more money and be more successful than the smaller ones. Having said all of this we have only had one official race so far!! There is plenty of time to see just how well the event progresses over the next few seasons. We like new things in biathlon but in regards to this relay the reaction is Mixed!

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Juliya Dzhyma: Uk’raining’ Talent!

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Do you remember when you were young and your father made you do biathlon and it made you cry? No? Well that’s why you are not an Olympic gold medallist and Juliya Dzyhma is! In fact both her parents were biathletes and her father, Valentin Dzyhma, competed briefly on the World Cup for the USSR so she had the correct genes for it but she did need some encouragement to take up the sport. After a few days of tears she eventually liked biathlon!

She was also sent to try many different activities when she was a child. At dance lessons her teacher told her she danced like bear! She wasn’t good at singing or gymnastics either but a pottery class led her on to her other passion away from biathlon which is painting. In fact Juliya has even won some national competitions in her home country of Ukraine!

Her father won though as she decided to concentrate on biathlon and although she was a talented shot from early on she did have more trouble learning to ski. However that is all in the past. Nowadays Juliya is a top biathlete. Born in Kiev on the 19th of September 1990 she has been competing on the World Cup since season 2011/12 but really made her mark in 2013.

Early that season in Hochfilzen she achieved her best result to date with a second place finish in the Pursuit race after finishing 5th in the Sprint. She followed that up with another 4 TOP 10 finishes. Obviously her biggest success came at the end of the season in Sochi at the Olympic Games. She was part of the Ukrainian Women’s Team along with Vita and Valj Semerenko and Olena Pidhrushna who won the gold medal in the Relay. It was a great team performance and a thoroughly deserved win. Juliya actually has quite a few medals from Relay competitions. She won silver in the World Championships in 2013, 3 golds and a bronze from the European Championships in 2011,2012, 2013 and 2015. Her only individual medal to date was a silver in the Sprint at the European Championships in Bansko 2013.

Last season she made a little bit of history too by being on the podium in the first ever Single Mixed Relay in Nove Mesto. She finished third alongside teammate Artem Tyshchenko. That was her only podium but she did finish in the TOP 10 another 3 times and ended the total score in 24th place. She didn’t have a good World Championships however just racing in 2 events.

On the other hand she is the only biathlete to have worn bib23 on 4 separate occasions and has gained many points for biathlete23!! Better than Olympic gold? Maybe not but it has to be a close second! She says that her hero is Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and that when she first met him she got his autograph and had a photo taken with him. If you are going to choose a role model in biathlon he is a good one to pick! Could she perhaps emulate some of his success?

Statistically she is one of the best shots on the Women’s tour. Her ski speed is not as good as the very best women but it is around the TOP 20. This means that if she can shoot well when others don’t she can get more podiums and also win races. The best chance of a maiden victory for her could come in the Individual race. Her shooting skill gives her a great chance of winning if the other fast skiers miss targets.

This season she will face some stiff competition from her own teammates. With Vita Semerenko back from injury and Olena Pidrushna coming out of retirement she will have to fight for her place in the Relay team with them and also the good young biathletes coming through like Iryna Varvynets and Yuliya Zhuravok. Hopefully Juliya can find some consistency in her performances for the coming season and she will be aiming to get into the TOP 10 on a more regular basis. She will be trying hard to get some more podiums and to take her first World Cup victory as well as looking to do well in Oslo in the World Championships. Dzhyma is lucky to be part of such a strong team where she can get experience from the older members as well as being an integral part of the team herfelf in a country that is Uk’raining’ talent!

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Biathlete23: Season 2014/15 Review!

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After the excitement of a debut season your next full year on the World Cup can be difficult. There are no excuses you know what it’s all about now. Mostly you just want to improve your performances and results from the season before. It’s been an up and down year for biathlete23 but thankfully no one suspended for doping which is always good news. In case you don’t know this blog follows the fortunes of whoever is lucky enough to be drawn in bib 23 throughout the season and calculates the points to see how they compare to the real biathletes. Last year there were 2 wins from the bib from Selina Gasparin and Johannes Thingnes Boe which were coincidentally on the same day and were also their debut wins!

This year got off to a slow start no doubt due to the pressure that biathletes suffer when they learn they are in bib 23 and have to represent the blog. It may also be from fear of repraisals from me. If you think the Norwegian coaches are tough you haven’t seen anything yet! In Oestersund the biathletes in 23 were Diana Rasimoviciute, Simon Desthieux, Dmitry Malyshko,Juliya Dzhyma, Jitka Landova and Lowell Bailey which yielded a total of 64 points. Not the best results ever but it was still early days.

On to Hochfilzen and happy days! Kaisa Makarainen was drawn in bib 23 and went on to win the Sprint! The first win of the season is always sweet. It was backed up by a solid 17th place for Krasimir Anev. In the Pursuits Luise Kummer failed to score any points but Maxim Tsvetkov was 21st and meant a total of 104 points from the round.

The last races before Christmas came in Pokljuka and I was lucky enough to get home favourite Teja Gregorin into bib 23! She didn’t disappoint coming home in 7th and for the men Simon Eder took 11th place. Fredrik Lindstrom finished 12th in the Pursuit but bad luck struck when Tiril Eckhoff pulled out of the race. In the Mass Start Quentin Fillon Maillet got 12th and Fanny Horn 21st which meant leaving Slovenia with 115 points.

Luckily for her Tiril Eckhoff got to make up for her DNS in Pokljuka by finishing 13th in the Sprint in Oberhof. Backing her up in 10th was Artem Tyshchenko. Fanny Horn did the business again getting 29th in the Mass Start and Vladimir Iliev kept up the points scoring with 19th in the men’s race which gave a points total of 93. It was then on to Ruhpolding where we started with the women’s Sprint and a fourth place from Valj Semerenko! In the men’s race it was over to legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who was 15th. It’s always a pleasure to see Ole Einar in bib 23! On to the Mass Starts with Lisa Hauser taking 21st and Vladimir Iliev, in his second appearance in 23, coming home 30th. Biathlete 23 left Germany with 100 points from round 5.

Antholz came next and it wasn’t the highest scoring round. Daniel Mesotitsch failed to score any points coming 45th in the Sprint. Juliya Dzhyma did better in 30th for the women. The Pursuit saw 2 Czech biathletes race with Gabriela Soukalova in 21st and Michal Krcmar in 24th. That only meant a total of 48 points for bib 23.

Just like after Hochfilzen biathlete23 doesn’t take disappointing results lying down -oh no! Laura Dahlmeier stepped up in Nove Mesto and won her first World Cup race and 60 points! Woo hoo second win of the season. It was Emil Hegle Svendsen’s turn next but he failed to get any points finishing 43rd in the men’s race. We can rely on the Czechs though and another one Eva Puskarcikova got 14th in the Pursuit and Simon Fourcade went one better and came home 13th. Another 115 points gained.

In Oslo we saw Juliya Dzyhma in bib 23 for the third time this season and she used the occasion to perform well. She came in 6th in the Individual to earn some vital points to make up for Ondrej Moravec who was 70th staining the Czechs good form in the bib. In the Sprint Kadri Lehtla was 28th and another appearance for Vladimir Iliev saw him finish 27th. 65 points was the total from that weekend.

So it was on to Kontiolahti and as the result counted towards World Cup total score it was important to have some biathletes in the points here too. The Sprint races were first and Daria Virolaynen came in 21st and Dominik Windisch was 35th. In the Pursuit we had Ondrej Moravec, making up for Oslo, who was 9th and Megan Heinicke in 28th. For the Individual Anna Magnussen was 72nd and Tim Burke 31st. Lastly we had the Mass Start and Jana Gerekova was 12th for the women and in the men’s race my old pal Brendan Green was in bib23 once again. That’s the Olympics and now the World Championships where he found himself in bib 23! That’s why he is the unofficial ambassador for bib23 (unpaid position!). He finished 21st and meant total points from Kontiolahti were 130.

On to the final round and Khanty Mansisyk. The last chance to score points and see where biathlete 23 would have finished in comparison to the other biathletes in the total score. The first races were the Sprints and for the men Simon Fourcade was 8th. Why he chose this one occasion not to come 4th I don’t know!!! For for the women Elise Ringen was 47th which meant no points. In the Pursuit race Tiril Eckhoff was back and got 17th while Florian Graf got 18th place. The final races were the Mass Starts and biathlete 23 regular Juliya Dzhyma finished in 18th and Sergey Semenov was 26th. The final points total from Russia was 119.

So where did that leave us at the end of the season. Well like the real biathletes you have to deduct your two worst finishes from your total but as biathlete 23 had more than 2 non points scoring finishes it wasn’t necessary!!! The final total for the men was 467 which would have put them in equal 20th place in the overall with the exact same score as Jean Guillaume Beatrix! The women’s total was 481 and left them between Daria Virolaynen in 16th and Susan Dunklee in 17th in the overall. The big question however was did they do better than last year?

Last year’s total score for the men and women combined was 754 points. This year it is 948! An improvement of 194 points. Although last year the Olympics didn’t count towards the overall so that will account for some of the difference but even if you deduct the World Championship points of 130 the score would be 818 points so it is still a better year than the first! The women’s score last year was 407 and the men’s was 347. Good news the results improved! The coach is very happy!!!

Special thanks goes to all the biathletes who are lucky enough to be drawn in bib23 and that have scored points for biathlete 23! Juliya Dzhyma has been in bib23 a record 4 times this year! A great team player! Obviously the biggest thanks has to go to the two athletes who won in bib 23 Kaisa Makarainen and with her debut win Laura Dahlmeier! Biathlete 23 will return next year and who knows maybe we can win 3 races and sneak into the TOP 10! 🙂

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Nove Mesto: Czech it out!

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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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