Tag Archives: Belgian Biathlon

Tom Lahaye-Goffart: The Return!

Next in my series of catch ups with former biathlon23 interviewees is Tom Lahaye-Goffart. His first interview was 4 years ago when he was still a Junior! Now at age 23 (which is an excellent age) he has been competing on the IBU Cup and also on the World Cup in the relay.

Follow Tom on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram!

We last spoke 4 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

A lot of things changed for me during those 4 years. On the studies side, I graduated with a bachelor degree in Marketing and Communication, which means I can take a pause in my studies to focus 100% on biathlon! That’s a really good thing because I can completely rest between my training now (even if I didn’t work that much when I studied, but psssst, secret!). I also moved home, once again! I came back to my previous home in the South Alps but I took a flat in Villard De Lans to get the best training possibilities in France!

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with and were there any disappointments?

I’m really happy about last season! My goal was to be “back on track” after a pretty bad previous season, I didn’t expect anything in terms of results, I just wanted to feel good in what I do and not be disappointed about my races. It actually worked pretty well! My ski speed came back to normal, my shooting statistics increased a lot, and I got a few good results!
I was pretty happy with my individual race in Obertilliach in the IBU Cup. I knew I was able to do some great stuff but I never found the way to put everything together earlier, and it worked on that day! That was definitely a morale boost for the rest of the season!
On the bad side I was a bit frustrated not to get my chance on one of the individual races in the World Cup. I showed good shooting statistics all season long and didn’t get my chance to prove myself on the superior circuit. That was frustrating but that’s part of athlete life, you have to be patient!

You are part of everyone’s favourite relay team – Belgium! What is it like racing in that team?

I’m definitely proud to be part of that relay! It’s crazy how people adopted us after Hochfilzen and Oberhof 2 years ago! Being in that relay is really awesome, we don’t have that much pressure, we just do our best and we see at the finish line, and it’s always a good feeling to bother some “big nations”!

That foggy Oberhof Relay in 2018- tell us about it!

Actually that foggy relay is my worst memory as a biathlete! I wasn’t confident at all after the Hochfilzen relay, my shape was also pretty bad that season! And when you’re 21-years-old, you get the relay in 4th place as the last racer, it’s a really huge pressure on your shoulders. According to my self confidence on that day it was way too much for me, I completely cracked, made all the bad choices and lost 9 places to finish 13th! The contrast was so big at the end, everybody was so happy about the race, we led more than halfway, we got so much TV time, and I was crying on the shoulders of my sister because I f***ed up everything on that day. It took me months to get over it and find confidence again. I had so many nightmares about it! But I can say now that it gave me so much experience!

Jean-Guillaume Beatrix is Belgium’s coach now. Have you had much chance to work with him yet?

I have the chance to live really close to him now in Vercors, so I’m probably the luckiest one of the team because he can coach me on my sessions outside of training camps! So we work quite a lot together and try to find the things that can help me in shooting!

What are your plans for summer training?

The same as every biathlete I guess, lots of volume training! We will go with the Belgian team to the Summer World Champs in Minsk at the end of August, otherwise we were in Obertilliach in a camp in July, and then went to Antholz for few days to the World Championship’s location.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think that my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. I actually always try to understand everything around me, to see how things work, how to do it better and so on. It’s also a weakness because sometimes you have to do things naturally without questioning everything all the time! But my strengths and weaknesses are definitely on the mental side!

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal this season is to get to the World Cup. We are 3 athletes for 2 places, which means one will stay in the IBU Cup. After several years on it, I feel that it’s time to take a step further and discover real racing with the “big boys”. I really wish to compete in Östersund and Le Grand-Bornand, because it’s at the beginning of the season, which is the best period for me, and I’ve special connections with those places!

Is Presque Isle still your favourite track and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen your favourite biathlete?

I still like Presque Isle’s track, but my favourite track is definitely Oslo now! Skiing with a view of the Fjord is breathtaking, and reinforced by the feeling of skiing on an historical ski place!
OEB is still my favourite biathlete, he’s such a legend that I don’t even need to find arguments to justify that!

You put effort into your rifle design which is great! Have got a new design for this season or are you sticking with last year’s? Where do you get your ideas from for the designs?

I still don’t know if I will change my rifle’s design this year, I would like to but I don’t think I’ll have enough time for that! I usually have a few colors in mind and then ask around what would be the best. I always try to be original with a design that no one has. The fact is that since I chose silver, a few other athletes chose it too, so I guess I’ll change again. I hate to be in the norm!

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Still not!!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Michal Krcmar’s lions!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): USA
Favourite shooting range: Not Oberhof!
Lucky bib number: 9
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Too hard to chose between Michael Rösch/ Emilien Jacquelin and the Claude brothers!
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup/IBU Cup: I’ll get problems if I name a girl.. So… The womanizer Florent Claude, of course!
Best thing about being a biathlete: The purpose is easy, you have to push as hard as you’re dumb, and shoot the black!

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Thierry Langer: The Interview!

Thierry Langer is a Belgian biathlete who was born in Malmedy on the 24th of October 1991. He is regular on the IBU Cup and last season raced on the World Cup for the Belgian Men’s Relay Team. Not only is he a biathlete but he also competes in cross-country skiing and is studying chemistry. It’s safe to say he is quite busy!

Like his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thierrylangerbiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

When I was 14 years old a small group practised the sport already for a couple of years. I took part in the cross country events in Belgium every year so they suddenly invited me to try biathlon. That was when I tried it in a summer camp in Winterberg (Germany) for the first time. I liked the sport better than cross country skiing, athletics or football which I was practising back then. I stuck to it until now after I saw some progression and received a lot of support from my parents.

Unusually for the Belgian team you are actually Belgian! How have things changed for you with Roesch and Claude joining the team?

For me personally this is probably why I am still doing biathlon. I got new motivation to become as good as them or probably beat them one day. But also with them joining the whole Biathlon Federation became more professional every year and so did I. I learned a lot in this time and had my first professional winter season last year which was exciting.

The Relays were amazing to watch last season. What were they like from your perspective?

In Hochfilzen I was pretty nervous watching them on the warm up lap when I saw us in front. When I started my race all of this was gone. I was so focused on skiing that the crowd wasn’t really bothering me. In Oberhof it was easier. It wasn’t a new situation, so I knew what to do and I think it also worked out better for me with only one penalty loop in those special conditions.

You made the Belgian Olympic Team but for cross country skiing! How was your experience in PyeongChang?

It was amazing. I already had the chance to take part in every big event in biathlon and cross country skiing, but the Olympics were something special having every nation and almost every winter sport around. I really enjoyed the month in PyeongChang. I hope to qualify in 2022 again, but this time for the biathlon competitions.

How do you manage your season between competing on the IBU Cup, the World Cup and in cross country?

The last season was indeed a hard season. I had several weekends racing in different places which isn’t very ideal, but it was necessary to qualify for the Olympic Games. I raced for example in Campra, Switzerland, travelled seven hours after the race to start the day after in the relay in Oberhof. In the end it all worked out fine, I was fit when I had to be and I also had my best season ever but this is not for every year.

Do you think you will always do both biathlon and cross country or will you concentrate on just one sport in the future?

I will concentrate on biathlon for sure, but this doesn’t mean that I won’t compete at cross country races anymore. If there are some free weeks that I can fill with cross country races I will definitely do that.

What are you doing for summer training?

I like running, roller skiing or mountain biking. Otherwise the usual visits to the gym and the shooting range.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to get some good shooting results again this season. This is something which suffered a bit with all the cross country races. I want to repeat my 15th place at the IBU Cup again and probably get the chance to do some more World Cups beside the relay races. But in general repeating the good results of last season should be my main goal.

You also study chemistry. How difficult is it to balance studying and training? Can you make your own gunpowder? 😉

I better not tell that to anyone 😉 … but I’m more interested in waxing and the skis. This is also the topic of my Masters thesis.
After several years at the University I got used to the rhythm and how I can get free time for the sport. A huge factor is also the German system which makes it a lot easier to be flexible. After all I’m far from training like the pro’s but that’s why every training has to be effective and I think this works quite well so far.


Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Duszniki Zdroj, Poland. I enjoyed the track a lot during the ECH.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Raphael Poiree, he was my favourite when I was young for no reason.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined , quiet and clumsy.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Germany
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: None
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Erik Lesser / Arnd Peiffer
Best thing about being a biathlete: Unforgettable moments during this time.

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Michael Rösch: The Interview!

Michael Rösch is a Belgian biathlete who used to be a German biathlete that now trains with the Swiss Team. When he isn’t confused about who he is he does a bit of shooting and skiing. He was born in Pirna on the 4th of May 1983 and his father Eberhard Rösch was also a successful biathlete. Michael has an Olympic gold medal from Turin 2006 when he competed for Germany in the Men’s Relay, and 3 bronze medals from the World Championships also from the Men’s Relay. He has won two World Cup races, the Khanty-Mansiysk Sprint in 2005/06 and the Ruhpolding Pursuitin 2006/07. He has had a difficult couple of years but came back on good form as a Belgian last season! Current holder of the Biathlon23 Best Facial Hair award, he loves his beard and also the exclamation mark!!!!! 😉

Michael is currently crowd funding to help him get to the Olympics and to pay for the season. You can get some really cool things from him if you are able to donate. You can find the page here (in German):
https://www.ibelieveinyou.ch/ibiy/src/#!/projectdetail/12326/fotobomb-fuer-pyeong-chang

Like his Facebook Page: Michael “Ebs” Rösch
Check out his website: http://www.michael-roesch.de/

Why did you become a biathlete? Did your Dad make you do it?! 😉

Of course my Dad was my idol and I started at 6 years old to do biathlon! Early on we saw that there was a talent and we focused on competing in biathlon until I was 16, then I was lucky to finish school and started in the police school of sport and could do my education and training together! At 19 I finished police school and trained 100%!
And of course I liked it as a kid to ski and shoot!!!

Last season was great for you with two 6th place finishes. The first in Pokljuka was emotional, the second in Nove Mesto was impressive going from 30th to 6th! What are your memories from those two races?

Yes two different races with the same result. In Pokljuka I was not so confident after bad results in Östersund so I started without pressure and the key was a good Sprint the day before! 16th and only 1.15min (or so) behind. I knew this range suited me and in Pokljuka I had my first time 0-0-0-0 in 2007 I guess. So everything was perfect that day. Good skiing and good shooting. I actually started to believe I could make the top 10 and in the last loop I was crying in the last kilometers because I thought of Klaus Siebert and my rifle man who had both died just before that 😦 but that pushed me so hard and I was fighting like hell!!!
In Nove Mesto it was more crazy, because in the Sprint I was with the same gap (1.15min or so) 30th. The level was amazingly high but I could make it and I was so proud to beat Rastorgujevs on the last loop! My dad was on the loop and it pushed me to make it!!!!

Why did you decide to compete for Belgium? What is the process of changing nationality? Did it involve eating a lot of chocolates and watching Tintin? 😉

After the cut with the German Federation I decided to change and start for Belgium! For me the first priority was to find a federation where I could get a passport and permission to start in the World Cup! Afterwards it was a disaster to get the passport, I needed to wait almost 2.5 years and the process took such a long time and I couldn’t race. I missed the Olympics in Sochi, I lost my job as a police officer and I lost almost all my sponsors! So the situation was difficult, I had no money but big motivation to show myself to show those who didn’t believe in me and especially those who supported me in this hard time that I could come back!
The process is pretty normal, I sent my files and data to Belgium and then I needed to wait until the process was finished.
OK it took a long time but anyway now I’m happy that I can show my potential on the World Cup!!!!!!
Biathlon is not as important in Belgium as chocolate or beer or fries. 😉

You train with the Swiss team. What have you been doing with them for summer training? What is it like having your old teammate Jörn Wollschläger as your coach? Is he nicer to you than the Swiss guys?! 😉

The Swiss team was one of the major keys in my progress! The team took me with open arms and I felt like I had found my second family there! We push each other to higher limits and we are all good friends! I am 100% with the team (Hotel, Camps, Competition , ski service etc.) so that’s the most important thing for me to know I am safe and can focus 100 percent on sport!!!
Actually it’s funny that Jörn is my coach now because we were teammates and roommates in 2005/06 🙂
I follow his plan 100% and he has helped me a lot!!!!!
Of course his main priority is the Swiss team but we have known each other so long and he supports me like everybody else!!!!
The summer training is mostly long easy trips and hard intervals! I changed my training methods to the Swiss plan and it worked very well!!!!
The camps are mostly in Switzerland so I am often away from home and it’s very expensive there but that’s what I need to do to be successful 😉

At the last Olympics you competed in you won a gold medal in the relay in Turin. 12 years later what are your goals for PyeongChang?

First of all my goal is to start in Korea!!! Not everybody would survive that path which I had to take. So I am proud to have kept my spirit and now my dream will come true with my second Olympics 12 years later with pain and suffering I reach my goal !!!
I don’t know if a medal is realistic but you never know what can happen in sport and especially in Olympic races!!!

You are one of the more experienced biathletes. Do you think the sport has changed much over the years (good or bad) and what changes would you like to see in the future?

I have seen a lot in my career, athletes have come and gone. Some of my generation are still there some are retired. I think sport in general is in a change! I still want to stand for the attributes like fighting, social connection, fairness etc. I would like to see that sport is not only about money and cheating . Sport is the biggest good we have and we should respect this!

Why are you known as “Ebs“?

My Dad’s name is Eberhard and his nickname is EBS so they called my Dad Ebs and I am little Ebs 🙂

Let’s talk beards. You won the Biathlon23 Award for best Facial Hair last season. Will the beard stay for next season? Do you want to retain your title? Is there beard competition with you and Benjamin Weger?

Of course I will keep my beard!!!!!!!!!! If I make a podium I will maybe shave it! (So I hope I only get 4th hahahahahaha).
No it’s nice that people recognise me with my beard and I like that Benjamin has one too so we can talk about beard balm and stuff like girls 😉 I actually found an awesome barber shop nearby in Dresden and I have an appointment to make my beard nice!!!
It’s not a competition it’s a lifestyle!!!!!!!!!

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Oberhof (best fans), Ruhpolding (first World Cup victory ), Antholz (best atmosphere), Oslo (best location), Tyumen (best of Russia).

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Sven Fischer (he taught me a lot when we were roommates).

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny, respectful, ambitious

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Switzerland
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 13
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Me 😉
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Me 😉
Best thing about being a biathlete: You ski in tights in the forest in circles and shoot at black targets… and people love it and cheer for it????? That’s cool …

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Tom Lahaye-Goffart: The Interview!

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We are off to Belgium for this week’s young biathlete interview. Tom Lahaye-Goffart was born on the 4th of April 1996 in Liège. He has already competed in 2 Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle and Obertilliach and achieved his best result of 16th in the Pursuit race last year. He currently lives in France.

Find Tom on Twitter: @TomLahaye
Like his Facebook Page: ‘Tom Lahaye-Goffart Biathlon’
Have a look at his website (in French): http://tomlahayegoffart.jimdo.com/

How does a Belgian become a biathlete? It’s not a very popular sport in Belgium. How did you discover it and why did you want to be a biathlete?

My father introduced biathlon in Belgium in 1999 so when I was a baby I travelled a lot with him because he went to lot of World Cups. So I have been in the “biathlon family” for many years. I have been on skis since I was 2 years old, I skied a lot when I lived in Belgium and when we went to France I had the opportunity to try biathlon, I really liked to shoot so I decided to do biathlon. Of course it’s not a famous sport in Belgium but never mind, it’s not so important!

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?

First of all you have to know that I’m in a special school in France, there is a mix between Sport and Studies, we do our baccalaureat (The french final exam) in 4 years when a normal student does it in 3 years, in return we have free weeks to train during the winter (Approximately 15 weeks) so we aren’t often at school during winter. Moreover, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we have the afternoon free for training.

It’s quite hard to have a social life outside of biathlon because we don’t have the same life as others guys, some of them don’t understand why we make so many sacrifices just to be at the Olympics Games or on a podium.. But we have a social life in biathlon, I have some friends in Norway, Netherlands, Russia etc…

Of course we would like to party sometimes but we can’t because of training but it’s a choice, a way of life. Nobody forces us to do that but we know that if we party we can’t be strong on skis.

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

I don’t receive any funding but I’m searching for that, I need financial help because now, with international races, it’s very expensive, of course the Belgian federation pays for travelling for International races but at national level I have to pay my club affiliation, training, munitions and lot of other things.. So if anyone is interested in helping a young Belgian athlete, contact me!

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

Yes of course, I’ll take part in the Youth World Championships in Raubichi, actually it’s my main goal of the season, I focused my training to be the best there.

I don’t have any criteria to be selected for the races, that’s one of the advantages to being Belgian. I see my French teammates who must be very good in selection races and have to be focused on 2 goals (selections and championships) when I just have to be focused on Championships, that’s a chance for me!

Unfortunately for Tom after this interview took place he suffered an injury. He has compartment syndrome in his leg and his season is over so he won’t be competing in Raubichi. 😦

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

Hmmmm that’s hard to answer.. I think that I want the mental strength of Emil Svendsen. He has the ability to improve his level during important races, that’s amazing!

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

One of my wishes is to avoid rifle weight control, I don’t like the 3.5 kgs rule, I don’t know why they made this rule. I think it’s an obstacle to development..

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

I have really liked Ole Einar Bjoerndalen since I was young, his longevity, his skiing style, he is very charismatic and it’s a very good example for young athletes!

What is your typical day like?

I have 2 types of days, the first is the school day: We have courses from 8h to 13h and we have training during the afternoon, we come back at 17h, then we eat at 18h40, and finally we must study 1h before going to sleep.

The second example is the training day: I wake up at 8h, I eat, and I go to the stadium near my home at 9h, I do biathlon training. I come back home, I eat and I have a little sleep to recover. Near 15h30 I go to the second training, it’s often a low pace training, like classic skiing or running. Then I come back home, eat and sleep.

Michael Roesch has recently become Belgian! How big a difference does this make to the sport in Belgium and how do you think it will help you?

Yeah it’s a very good thing for us, he came with some sponsors (One Way, Fischer,…) and a new lifestyle, more professional. He has lot of experience and it’s really good for us, I often text with him and I like his way of thinking. I hope that he will take part in the Olympics Games because he made lot of sacrifices to be back in World Cup, it shows his love for biathlon and he’s a good example for us! So I hope the best for him!

Does your rifle have a name?

Ahaha good question! No, my rifle doesn’t have a name yet, maybe later..

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: I didn’t race on lot of tracks but I liked Presque Isle’s track

Favourite biathlete (past or present): Ole Einar Bjoerndalen

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Mass Start

Favourite/best race of your career so far? Pursuit in Presque Isle, and City Biathlon in Püttlingen

Favourite film: Shutter island, Inception, Limitless

Favourite sports team: Oméga Pharma Quick-Step Cycling Team

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