Tag Archives: Benjamin Weger

Emma Lunder: The Interview!

Emma Lunder is a Canadian biathlete from North Vancouver. She was born on the 2nd of September 1991 and she made her World Cup debut in 2014. She has competed for Canada in two Junior World Championships and made her first appearance at the Senior World Championships last season in Hochfilzen. In Season 2014/15 she got a second place finish on the IBU Cup in the Sprint at her home race in Canmore and last season she achieved her personal best of 21st in Antholz on the World Cup.

Follow her on Twitter: @EmmaLunder
Take a look at her blog: http://emmalunder.blogspot.co.uk/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I followed my brother into biathlon through Sea Cadets, and once I graduated high-school I decided to give it a serious shot and see how far I could get. A huge part for biathlon for me now is the teammates I get to train with everyday, and the amazing biathlon community I’m so lucky to be a part of.

You got your best result so far last season in the Antholz Individual. What are your memories from that race and how did you feel at the end?

My result in Antholz was really special because it came as a total surprise, and it reignited my confidence and love for this sport. I was beyond happy to hit all but one target in the Individual, and at the end I felt so overwhelmed with support from our team, coaches and wax crew who knew what a big deal placing 21st was for me.

Last season was pretty big for you with a good run on the World Cup post Christmas and going to the World Championships. How do you assess the season overall?

I was quite happy with last season. I struggled a lot on the shooting range with prone, but I was really persistent with trying to fix my mistakes, and by the end of the season my shooting was on an upward trajectory. With a personal best, and my first time at World Championships last winter, it’s been really motivating for my training so far this season.

Like you said your shooting improved last season. Is that something you were specifically working on and if so what were you doing to make it better?

My standing shooting has been pretty solid for me, but it was nice last year to see even an improvement in that. I was making some really basic technical errors in my prone, so once my coaches and I figured out what I was doing, we started taking steps to get those few things under control.

You won “Testival” for the second year in a row. Can you explain what that is and why you are so good at it?

Testival is basically a week of test events that the national team does every year in the summer and fall. There are 3 uphill tests (running, double pole and skate) and then 2 shooting tests. I really love going uphills, so I usually do quite well in the fitness tests. The shooting tests are where I usually lose points, but with some more attention to a few technical shooting cues I was able to have way more consistent shooting tests this year. It helps that I got to wear the “Queen” bib to motivate me all through the testing, and I really didn’t want to let anyone else have it!

What else have you been doing for summer training?

This year our team lost all of its funding, so instead of the 3 training camps we usually do, we’ve been staying in Canmore and taking advantage of all the great opportunities we can find in the mountains. This year I’ve done a few more long run/hikes and adventure workouts with the girls, as well as just trying to keep things exciting in day-to-day training.

The Winter Olympics are coming up this season. What do you need to do to qualify to represent Canada?

We will be sending a team of 4 women to the Olympics, so I need to be in the top-4 by mid-January. We have some complicated criteria that will determine who the team is, and a lot of the benchmarks are top-30’s on the World Cup, so I’m looking to achieve a few more of those!

You are also a barista! Can you do that fancy art on top of the coffee? Some of your teammates are coffee obsessed! Is that all they talk to you about? 😉

Yes I’ve been working at Starbucks for 8 years! Sarah Beaudry and I are the two women on our team working for Starbucks, and we’re the only two on the team who don’t drink coffee on a regular basis 😉 I’m slowly working on my latte art… I leave the really fancy stuff up to Rosanna Crawford and Brendan Green who are our team’s true coffee connoisseurs.

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

My favorite race course is probably Kontiolahti. I like the ripping downhills and killer climbs.

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

Magdalena Neuner – she was the first female biathlete I started following, and meeting her in Vancouver in 2010 made me want to train harder and get onto the World Cup circuit.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope!

Describe yourself in three words.

Entertaining, emotional, mischievous.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway – for the brown cheese!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Aita Gasparin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy for the last 2 years
Favourite shooting range: Antholz
Lucky bib number: 39
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benjamin Weger
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anais Bescond
Best thing about being a biathlete: Getting to travel the world with my amazing team.

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2016/17!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Junior Biathlete of the Year:

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

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

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Biathlete23: Season Review 2016/17!

, IBU World Cup 1 ostersund single mix relay
Picture courtesy of photographer extraordinaire Ross Burton.

For anyone unfamiliar with Biathlete23 this blog follows the results of whichever biathlete happens to be in bib23 for each race. It treats them like one athlete and adds up the score to see how this biathlete would have performed over the year.

In the first year the total for the men and the women was 802 and in the second year the total was 948. Excellent a bit of progress! The third year was not as successful with a points total of 760.

This season there was great improvement with a total score of 921 points! The men scored most points with 482. This would put biathlete23 in 19th place in the Men’s Total score sandwiched between Evgeniy Garanichev on 495 and Maxim Tsvetkov on 469. The women scored 439 points which amazingly enough would put biathlete23 19th on the Women’s Total Score too between Nadezha Skardino on 440 and Vanessa Hinz on 436.

There were 3 podiums this season from Anton Shipulin, Justine Braisaz and Susan Dunklee. Biathlete23 achieved 13 Top 10 finishes on the World Cup and 1 Top 10 finish at the World Championships. According to Biathlon Addict on Twitter “it’s statistically usual for #23 this season to claim around the 5th or 6th place!!” It’s great when others do the stats for you and that they too believe in 23!

All in all it was a season much like that of Emil Hegle Svendsen. No wins, some podiums and not a great World Championships but importantly all done with great hair!

Biathlete23’s season started in Oestersund with a Swedish lady. Unfortunately Linn Persson finished 65th in the Individual and outside the points but her photo (kindly taken by Ross Burton) is now used as the picture for this page! In the Men’s race Ondrej Moravec came home in 17th. Darya Yurkevich was 59th in the Sprint for the women but Julian Eberhard was 5th for the men. In the Pursuits Iryna Varvynets was 52nd and Jean-Guillaume Beatrix was 11th. This meant the ladies had 0 points leaving Sweden but the men had 94! Well done chaps!

Pokljuka was next up and Brendan Green was in bib23 for the Sprint. He finished 52nd but in the Women’s Sprint Justine Braisaz was 2nd! The first podium of the season! Allez Justine! There were no points from the Pursuits with Scott Gow 48th and Federica Sanfilippo 52nd. That meant a total of 54 points from Slovenia.

Nove Mesto was a great round for biathlete23 with everyone scoring points. In the Sprint Michael Roesch was 11th and Susan Dunklee was 3rd! Another podium woo-hoo! Artem Pryma was 27th in the Pursuit and Marte Olsbu was 18th. In the Mass Start Jean-Guillaune Beatrix was 13th and Vanessa Hinz was 4th! Pilsner all round for a reward! 😉 The men left with 53 points but the women with 114.

After Christmas it was time to head to Germany with the first stop in Oberhof. It was another good round with Martin Fourcade finishing 8th in the Sprint (great time to miss the podium Martin, thanks!) and Anais Chevalier was 4th. In the Pursuit Vitaliy Kilchytskyy was 48th but Jana Gerekova was 26th. In the Mass Starts Benjamin Weger was 10th and Maren Hammerschmidt was 20th. That meant 65 points from the men and 79 from the women.

Ruhpolding wasn’t the best round. Dmytro Pidruchnyi started well in the Sprint finishing 7th but then Lena Haecki was 74th. In the Pursuit Anton Babikov didn’t start the race but Anastasiya Merkushyna showed great dedication to bib23 by finishing 23rd! That gave a total of 36 points from the men and 18 from the women.

The last round before the World Championships was in Antholz where Joanne Reid was 60th in the Individual and Martin Otcenas was 84th -no points! However in the Mass Starts Anna Magnusson was 7th and Lars Birkeland was 11th. So that meant 30 points for the men and 36 for the women.

The World Championships started well for biathlon23, were a bit rubbish in the middle and picked up at the end. Alas there was no gold medal this year. 😦

Anastasiya Merkushyna was back in 23 for the Sprint and she was 10th. Anton Pantov was 68th in the Men’s Sprint. In the Pursuits Lisa Hauser was 26th and Remus Faur was 42nd. The Americans in the Individuals were Maddie Phaneuf who was 87th and Sean Doherty who was 58th. The Mass Starts were better with Nadezhda Skardino in 16th and Dominik Windisch in 24th. Biathlete23 left Hochfilzen with 17 points for the men and 71 for the women.

Then we went to PyeongChang for the Olympic test event and World Cup 7. Julia Ransom was 41st in the Sprint and Vegard Gjermundshaug was 40th. In the Pursuits Lisa Vittozzi was 43rd but then Anton Shipulin came from 23rd to 2nd to grab some valuable points. That meant 55 points for the men and 0 for the women.

Kontiolahti was the venue for round 8 replacing Tyumen. In the Men’s Sprint the legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen brought home the points in 8th! For the women Eva Puskarcivkova was 63rd. Getting a Russian in the Men’s Pursuit is always good and this time it was Evgeniy Garanichev’s turn to make up lots of places. He finished 12th but fellow Russian Ekaterina Shimulova was outside the points in 42nd. The men got 64 (check) points and the women 0.

At the final round in Holmenkollen home favourite Tiril Eckhoff was in bib23 in the Sprint and she finished 12th. For the men Maxim Tsvetkov didn’t start the Sprint race. The Pursuits went well with Anna Magnusson in 21st and Andrejs Rastorgujevs 10th. In the Mass Starts Anna Magnusson was again in bib23 and finished 23rd! She has been in bib23 three times this season and always scored points! Well done Anna Mag! Michal Slesingr was 6th making it 69 points for the men and 67 for the women.

For full results and points see the Biathlete23 page.
Biathlete23 will return! 🙂

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Men’s Individual!

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What can I say about the Men’s Individual in Hochfilzen! What a fantastic race and an even better result! Another fine day at the World Championships and history was made!

Lowell Bailey won the Men’s Individual! He became the first ever American to win a biathlon World title. In fact biathlon is the only winter sport that America has never won a World Title in. Not anymore! Thanks to outstanding shooting from Bailey he will go down in the history books and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. He has been unlucky this week finishing 4th in the Sprint and 6th in the Pursuit but finally in the Individual no one could beat him. It’s his first ever win having a previous best of second.

He managed to out ski Ondrej Moravec, who took the silver, by 3.3 seconds. Moravec also shot 20/20 but had started earlier than Bailey. In fact Bailey was bib 100 and so kept us hanging on right until the end.

Bronze went to Martin Fourcade who couldn’t make it 4 Individual World Titles in a row. He missed 2 shots but still did really well to finish in third place. He has a medal in every race so far.

Fourth went to Erik Lesser with 1 miss, 5th to Sergey Semenov also with 1 miss. In 6th place was Michal Krcmar who shot 20/20, 7th went to Anton Shipulin with 2 misses and in 8th was Johannes Boe also with 2 misses. In 9th was another Norwegian Lars Birkeland with a single miss and 10th went to Benjamin Weger also with 19/20.

Home team Austria finished with Eder in 12th, Eberhard in 14th and Mesotitsch in 15th. They will be desperate to do well in the Relay and the Mass Start to win Austria a medal.

Emil Svendsen was back in action after collapsing at the end of the Sprint race and he finished 27th. Further back Great Britain’s Scott Dixon grabbed a personal best in 69th with 2 missed targets.

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Season 2016/17 Preview: Men

Oestersund, Pokljuka, Nove Mesto, Oberhof, Ruhpolding, Antholz, PyeongChang, Tyumen and Olso! Are you ready? It’s almost time for the new biathlon season to begin! That means it must be time for a season preview too so here it is!

Looking back over previous previews they all read more or less like this. Martin Fourcade is the red hot favourite. If he stays fit and healthy all season he will win the Overall Title for the 6th year in a row. Potential challengers are Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Simon Schempp and Anton Shipulin. They are all capable of beating Fourcade in a single race but don’t seem to have the consistency over a whole season to win the big Crystal globe.

Preview finished!

Only joking! As the top places are nearly always the same for the men I decided that this year’s preview should move away from the elite and see what’s happening a little bit behind them. Who are the up and coming biathletes to look out for? Who could get their first win or first podium? Who should be doing better? That’s what I am going to look at before season 2016/17 gets under way.

It’s sometimes hard to believe but there are some well established biathletes who have yet to win a race on the World Cup. The most famous is probably Simon Fourcade. He has achieved many podium results but never higher than second. Surely this season he will get to the top step. Fellow Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet has also come within a toenail of winning but again second place is his best result. Germany’s Benedikt Doll will be hoping to grab his first win. Tim Burke is another who will want to come first instead of second place as will Sergey Semenov and Benjamin Weger.

Expect a strong season from the Austrian team. Simon Eder was 5th last season in the overall title and Dominik Landertinger was 9th. With Julian Eberhard getting his first win and Sven Grossegger achieving a personal best of 5th they will be a dangerous squad this year.

Hoping to get their first taste of the podium are Andrejs Rastorgujevs who has a few 4th positions to his name already. Klemen Bauer also has a personal best of fourth as does Simon Desthieux and Krasimir Anev.

Scoring points on a more consistent basis will be the goal for biathletes like Mario Dolder, Leif Nordgren, Macx Davies, Kalev Ermits and Martin Otcenas.

Make sure you look out for some of the younger biathletes this season who will be trying their best to impress their coaches and the fans. Watch out for Sean Doherty to continue his rise to the top. The likes of Rene Zahkna, Rok Trsan and Fabien Claude will be pushing hard to do well. Keep an eye out too for Sebastian Samuelsson who has been picked for the Swedish team to make his debut in Oestersund and Felix Leitner who will start his first World Cup race for Austria.

On the other hand it’s about time Freddie Lindstrom had a better season. We haven’t seen him on the podium since 2013. Lukas Hofer didn’t have a great season individually either and it would be good to see him back on form. Jakov Fak will be hoping to improve as will Ondrej Moravec.

There are many more biathletes to watch out for but too many to mention here. The Germans are always dangerous with Peiffer and Lesser showing some good form in patches last time.

Last but not least expect new dad Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to pop up with a few podium finishes and don’t be surprised if he adds more World Championships medals to his vast collection in Hochfilzen. That’s if he can cope with the sleepless nights of course!

Hopefully it will a great season with some more first time winners and some great races. The title race might not be close but we can look forward to some great battles in individual races. Bring it on boys!!!

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WC8: Presque Isle Review 2016!

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Scarily it’s World Cup Round 8 already – the final one before the World Championships! We were in Presque Isle in Maine, USA for this one and the conditions were great for the first races that took place on Thursday.

The Men’s Sprint came first and was won by a refreshed Johannes Thingnes Boe.He skipped the last round in Canmore and flew out with big brother Tarjei for this one. That was a good decision! He won by over 27 seconds shooting clean. In second was Anton Shipulin who beat Martin Fourcade into third by only 1 second. However Anton shot clean and Martin missed a target. The Swiss team had a great race with a personal best for Serafin Weistner in fifth and teammate Benjamin Weger was sixth with by far his best result of the season. Thirteen may be unlucky for some but not Sean Doherty who got his career best result on the World Cup at home fresh from winning 3 medals at the World Junior Championships.

The Women’s race was up next and was won by Total Score leader Gabriela Soukalova which obviously means she extended her lead in the race for the Overall Title. She is a very popular biathlete but possibly not in Preque Isle as she beat home favourite Susan Dunklee into second place. The fans can’t be too upset though as that is Susan’s best ever result and she saved it for them. Third place went to Krystyna Guzik who is having a great time in North America taking 2 podiums in 2 weeks. Kaia Nicolaisen got a personal best in 9th as did Celia Aymonier in 11th.

Friday saw both the Pursuit race and again the men raced first. The weather conditions were much more difficult for this one with some wind and a lot of cold around -16. Martin Fourcade was again victorious beating Johannes Boe into second and Anton Shipulin remained in third. Fourcade missed 2 shots and the others missed three but the big difference was when they missed. Martin cleared the final shoot and the others didn’t which is so often how he wins. Erlend Bjoentegaard raced into 5th for a personal best. Estonia’s Kalev Ermits came from 19th to 11th to earn his career best result.

Other impressive Pursuit races were had by Tim Burke who went from 20th to 7th, Vladimir Iliev 21st to 8th, Alexander Polvarnitsyn 28th to 10th, Oleksander Zhyrnyi 31st to 16th, Dmytro Rusinov 49th to 33rd and Daniel Boehm 54th to 37th. It wasn’t a good race however for Arnd Peiffer who came off the tracks at a corner and hit a tree. He was taken to hospital with suspected concussion.

In the Women’s race, despite being critical of holding the round in Presque Isle, Gabriela Soukalova made it a double victory! Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who moved up from 5th and in third place was Marie Dorin Habert despite missing 5 targets. Mona Brorsson achieved a peronal best finishing in 17th as did Tatiana Akimova who was 19th.

Other women with good Pursuit results were Lisa Hauser who went from 28th to 12th, Franziska Preuss 36th to 14th, Ekaterina Shumilova 39th to 16th, Anais Chevalier 50th to 21st, Lisa Vittozzi 46th to 29th and Dunja Zdouc 52nd to 30th

Both the Men’s and Women’s Relays were held on Saturday. Originally the Women’s Relay was scheduled for Sunday but low temperatures below -20 degrees were forecast and the races cannot take place below that temperature. The Men’s race was full of excellent shooting. Norway were the winners using only 7 spares with Lars Helge Birkeland, Erlend Bjoentegaard and the Boe brothers. France were second using only 2 spares rounds but even with Desthieux and Beatrix shooting clean in legs 3 and 4 they couldn’t match the Norwegians. Third place went to Germany who used 11 spares to beat Russia for the final podium place by 6 seconds. The USA were 5th in their home race their best Relay result of the season.

The Women’s race started 2 hours after the Men and consequently finished in the dark! Maybe they should have pushed the schedule forward as the only light seemed to be a torch across the finish line! The winners of the race were the Czech Republic who even with a penalty loop crossed the beam of light first. The team of Eva Puskarcikova, Lucie Charvatova, Gabriela Soukalova and Veronika Vitkova will get a good confidence boost ahead of the World Championships. The race for the remaining podium places was really tight. In a Sprint finish Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine lunged over the line 0.2 of a second ahead of Germany’s Karoline Horchler to grab second. Poland had to settle for fourth with Krystyna Guzik just half a second behind.

So that’s it for our journey to North America. Fourcade and Soukalova continue in yellow (as usual!!). It has been an enjoyable 2 weeks and Presque Isle did a good job of hosting and brought the cold that has been missing this winter as well as a penalty loop that goes around a building! Now everyone heads back to Europe for 2 weeks of recovery and preparation for the World Championships with the first race on the 3rd of March. Don’t miss it!

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WC6: Antholz Review 2016!

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The sun is shining, there is snow all around, we have beautiful scenery and the temperature is getting down to -20 degrees. It must be Antholz-Anterselva! That’s right we are back in the South Tyrol and it actually looks and feels like winter!

The first race in Italy was on Thursday and we began with the Women’s Sprint. We had a couple of firsts in this event as Olga Podchufarova won her first ever race and she is also the first Russian women to make the podium on the World Cup this season. As with buses, after waiting ages for 1 podium the Russians actually got 2 with Ekaterina Yurlova taking 3rd place. Both the Russians shot clean but second place went to home favourite Dorothea Wierer who made the podium despite missing 1 shot. There was another great performance in the shape of Linn Persson from Sweden who shot clean and finished in 17th which is her career best individual finish by a big margin.

On Friday we had the Men’s Sprint. In the 2 previous years it has been won by Simon Schempp so it wasn’t such a big surprise that he won it again! That made it 5 races unbeaten in Antholz as he also won the previous 2 Pursuits. I think it’s safe to say he enjoys racing in Antholz! In second place was Maxim Tsvetkov with his best ever finish and his first time on the podium. He is fast becoming a star of the Russian Team mainly thanks to his incredible shooting. It is now rare for him to miss more than one shot and he was clean again today. In third came “Mr Consistent” Tarjei Boe who has finished in the Top 10 more often than not this season and is climbing his way up the overall rankings.

The women had a day off on Friday but no such luck for the men who were back in action on Saturday. The Women’s Pursuit was first and yet again Russia took the win (remember what I said about buses). This time Ekaterina Yurlova was victorious coming from third to first. In second was a remarkable performance from Selina Gasparin, who is continuing her great form, making up 14 places from a start position of 16th. She out skied Dorothea Wierer on the final lap but the Italian still got her second podium at home in third.

Canada’s Julia Ransom went from 46th to 19th to record her best ever finish on the World Cup. Other big moves in the Pursuit came from Tiril Echhoff 20th to 4t, Krystyna Guzik 26th to 5th, Daria Virolaynen 32nd to 12th, Susan Dunklee 37th to 17th, Karolin Horchler 50th to 24th and Anastasia Zagoruiko 59th to 33rd.

The Men’s Pursuit started later in the day and you will never guess – another Russian won! This time it was Anton Shipulin claiming his first victory of the season. It’s not so much of a surprise though as he loves Antholz and this blog knows him as ANT-holz Shipulin! Second place went to Simon Schemmp who continued his amazing run of results in Antholz too. Third went to Johannes Boe who did consider letting Fourcade pass him to keep his record of only being on the podium in first place but decided third wasn’t so bad after all!!!

Martin Fourcade came from 28th to get 4th after shaving his beard. He had a bet that he couldn’t shave it until he shot clean but he shaved it before the race and then shot clean! Which I believe is cheating! 😉

Elsewhere Anton Babikov went from 31st to 7th to record his career best result, Andi Birnbacher from 41st to 14th, Benjamin Weger from 34th to 16th and Brendan Green from 45th to 31st.

The final day in Antholz was reserved for the relays. The Women’s race was won by France with some great shooting from the whole team of Justine Braisaz, Anais Bescond, Anais Chevalier and Marie Dorin Habert. The Czech Republic were second with Gabriela Soukalova back in the team and in third were the Russians capping off a fantastic World Cup round for themselves.

The Men’s race went right down to the wire with a repeat of the Sochi race with Anton Shipulin and Simon Schempp battling for the victory. The outcome was the same as the Olympics with Russia winning and Germany in second. Norway, without Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tarjei Boe, were third.

It has been a great World Cup in Antholz especially for the Russians with 3 individual wins and a relay victory and podium. The Russian women will be sad to have a break as they have just hit good form but everyone else is looking forward to a well-earned rest. Next time we are off over the pond to North America with rounds in Canmore and Preque Isle to look forward too. I can’t wait for those!

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