Tag Archives: Benjamin Weger

Ober and out!

oberhof 2015

Unlike last year when there was no snow-berhof this time we were lucky enough to have the first real snow of the season in Germany. The races got underway on Wednesday with the Women’s Relay. It was a great race which saw the Czech Republic win for the first time in 17 years. Well worth the wait though as Veronika Vitkova beat a determined Anais Bescond and the French team into second. Darya Domracheva made sure that Belarus would come third holding off valiant attempts from Norway, Italy and the Ukraine to snatch the last place on the podium. Unfortunately for the hosts they had a penalty loop on the very first shoot which put them out of contention immediately. Maybe I shouldn’t mention it but they were also beaten at home by rivals Austria!

The Men’s Relay on Thursday was horrible! Not the race but the weather. It was delayed due to fog and when it did start it was wet,windy and foggy – no fun for biathletes or spectators. The racing itself was good although marred by a large number of falls the worst coming from the Czech Republic’s Michal Krcmar who couldn’t finish his leg. In the end Russia came through to win their third relay in a row. In a close finish Anton Shipulin continued his great pre-Christmas form by sprinting away from Bjoernadalen leaving Norway in second. France took the last place on the podium showing they don’t even need Martin Fourcade as Quentin Fillon Maillet was an excellent replacement. Home team Germany were fourth and Finland were exceptional coming in 9th from a start position of 24th. Sweden were disqualified when Tobias Arwidson only shot 9 times instead of 10!

On Friday we had the Women’s Sprint. After a great race in tough conditions the Czech Republic’s Veronika Vitkova crossed the line first for the second race in a row and took her first ever World Cup win. She had to ski really well to secure the victory over Italian pair Dorothea Wierer and Nicole Gontier who were second and third respectively. In fact the Italians had five finishers inside the TOP 60. The Ukraine’s Natalya Burdyga is also worthy of a mention as the only other women apart from Gontier to shoot clean. On the other hand favourites Makarainen and Domracheva had days to forget on the range.

The Men’s race suffered again from difficult conditions with heavy overnight rain making most of the snow disappear and windy conditions affecting the shooting. In fact the race was delayed until the afternoon so they could work on the tracks and the loop was also shortened. This didn’t stop Martin Fourcade however who took the win after an extended Christmas break. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was second getting his 170th podium and Timofey Lapshin was third making it three times on the podium for him! Benedikt Doll gave the crowd something to shout about by being the best German in 8th. Benjamin Weger was 5th and Estonia’s Roland Lessing was excellent in 7th. Switzerland’s Serafin Weistner got his best career finish coming in 28th.

On Sunday we managed to get two races in one day – hurrah! They were of course the total chaos that is the Mass Start! People missing targets, others falling, great recoveries and total meltdowns! Out of the madness however emerged Martin Fourcade and Darya Domracheva to claim victory. Fourcade was followed home by Russian pair Shipulin and Malyshko and Vitkova capped of a fantastic week with second place beating Tiril Eckhoff in third. The wind played a big part in the Men’s race and Martin kept very calm especially on the final shoot and went clear. Jana Gerekova did the same in the Women’s race but didn’t have the ski speed to compete at the front. She eventually finished fifth but if there was any justice in the world she would have come first!! Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria also had the best race of his career in fourth place and Franziska Preuss 6th, Benedikt Doll 8th and Simon Schempp 10th finally gave the huge crowdd something to cheer about.

There has been a lot of criticism about Oberhof this week from the biathletes. However you can’t predict the snow conditions and all the venues have been struggling this season. The wind is always a big factor in Oberhof and they have known that for many years so they just need to get on with it. I understand that sometimes it’s just a matter of luck there who wins and loses but that’s the nature of the place. The fans love to see how the conditions can turn races on their head and give others a chance to do well. It makes it all the more exciting and as paying customers they are the most important people in biathlon. If it wasn’t for fantastic fans turning up in big numbers and in horrible weather there wouldn’t be any biathlon! So that’s all from the first installment of the German races. It’s straight off to Ruhpolding for the next World Cup round. Biathlon 23 Ober and out!

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Weger: The Beni-fit of experience!

weger

Benjamin Weger is a bit of a biathlon conundrum. Considering his age and where he is from he has had a fantastic career so far on the World Cup which is just missing a first win. He has a better record than many other biathletes who are older and from bigger biathlon countries. So what is the conundrum then? Well he hasn’t been able to translate that World Cup success over to the World Championships or Olympic Games – yet!

Benjamin is a Swiss biathlete who was born in Brig on the 5th of October 1989. He is a keen mountaineer (shocking behaviour from a Swiss person!) and enjoys fly fishing. He is also lucky enough to have his own supporters group called Fanclub “WÄGi” based in Geschinen where he lives.

Benjamin’s best result on the World Cup came back in season 2010/11 when he finished 2nd in the Individual race in Pokljuka. That was the first of 4 podiums that he has achieved so far in his career. The other 3 all came in season 2011/12 which saw him finish third in Kontiolahti in the Sprint and also in the Sprint and Pursuit in Hochfilzen. In fact that season has been his best to date with an overall result in the Total Score of 18th.

His best result last season was a 5th place in Annecy in the Pursuit and he also came 8th in Oberhof in the same event. It wasn’t the season that he might have been expecting coming 37th in the Total Score with his best individual result being unsurprisingly in the Pursuit standings where he was 32nd overall.

His performances in the Olympic Games in Sochi were not that great unfortunately. His best position there was 48th in the Individual. In fact many of his championship performances have been a bit disappointing which is where the conundrum kicks in. In fact his best Championship performance came in his Junior career. He won silver in the Sprint in the 2009 Junior World Championships in Canada behind Lukas Hofer. His top result so far in the Senior ranks was a 19th place last time round in Nove Mesto in the Individual.

This must be something he is desperate to rectify and this year’s competition in Kontiolahti will give him the chance to do just that. He has had some good results there finishing twice in the Top 10 so that should give him confidence. He knows from World Cup results that he is good enough to get on the podium and will probably get his best chance in the Individual. The Swiss Mixed Relay team has some potential too with the Gasparin sisters leading it off so they should be able to get a solid result. It could be a good year for Weger now he has the Beni-fit of experience!

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HO HO HOchfilzen!

hochfilzen

It’s close enough to Christmas to get away with that title,right? Well either way we got a few pre-Christmas treats from the biathletes this weekend in Hochfilzen. It all kicked off with the women in the Sprint which saw Selina Gasparin taking her and Swizerland’s first win on the World Cup with a great skiing and shooting performance. Some great shooting also saw Veronika Vitkova match her best result so far in second and Irina Starykh taking her top result finishing third. I was especially pleased about Irina Starykh as she just happened to be wearing bib 23!

It was followed by the men and Lars Berger stormed back onto the World Cup by winning the Sprint with an amazing skiing performance after starting out on the IBU Cup.He managed to beat Martin Fourcade into second and a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into third. It’s great to see Berger doing well again for his fun personality if nothing else. I would also like someone to check Bjoerndalen’s birth certificate to make sure he really will be 40 next month.I don’t know how he does it! Whatever his parents fed him when he was young I want some of it!

On Saturday we had the first men’s and women’s relays of the season. The Ukrainian women’s team put in a stellar performance to win. All of their athletes did a great job but Julia Dzhyma stands out for her overall performance over the weekend. They were followed by Germany and France but Norway were noticeably absent from the podium. Over on the men’s side however the Norwegian men won with a dominant display and a characteristically great last leg from Svendsen. Sweden took a great second place with Bergman striking like a cobra into the stadium to fight off the Russian charge and leave them in third.

On to Sunday and the Pursuit. A great race from Solemdal gave her a second victory in Hochfilzen and made up for another difficult day on the shooting range for Tora Berger. Dzhyma took a fantastic second place thanks to some great shooting and Poland’s Palka made up 8 places to finish third. Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade won the men’s race followed by Svendsen and Boe. Just a little tip for the Norwegians you can’t give Fourcade a 40 second lead in a Pursuit if you want a chance of winning it! Having said that both the Norwegian guys have stepped up a gear from Oestersund and it’s just a pity they won’t be competing in France this coming weekend.

For the home crowd Cristoph Sumann gave them something to cheer about getting 5th in the Sprint and 7th in the Pursuit. They got 4th in the men’s relay too but unfortunately Simon Eder couldn’t carry on his form from last week in Oestersund and Dominik Landertinger didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped at home. The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews.

Standouts for me from Hochfilzen have to be Simon Schempp and the German team in general. Schempp finished 8th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the relay. Daniel Boehm and Arnd Peiffer got 2 TOP 20 finishes and the women were second in the relay. Julia Dhzyma as I mentioned before had a good weekend all round finishing first in the relay, second in the Pursuit and fifth in the Sprint. The big movers in the Pursuit were Alexis Boeuf and Benjamin (Darth) Weger gaining 20 and 34 places respectively and the Semerenko twins and Gabriela Soukalova(Bib23) who started 22,23 and 24 and finished 7,8,9.

So after HO HO Hochfilzen now all thoughts turn to France and a first visit to Annecy. None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy!

P.S Has anyone else noticed the interviewer in the IBU official Press Conference always asks a question with the word “surprise” in it. I can’t watch them properly because it makes me laugh everytime I hear it! Listen out for it in Annecy!

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See you in Annecy!

annecy

December 9th to 15th this year sees the first ever World Cup stage to be held in France. It will take place at Le Grand Bornand in Annecy. Good timing then when the men’s overall World Cup winner with his five Chrystal globes just happens to be French! It’s also a great chance for the French athletes to perform in front of their home crowd.

It’s great to see the IBU World Cup moving around a bit. Fantastic as the other venues are, like Ruhpolding and Holmenkollen, it’s nice for the fans that can’t necessarily travel to have the opportunity to see these great athletes close up.

And for those who can travel it’s an excellent place to combine a bit of skiing while watching the biathlon. Annecy, in the far west corner of France, is just 50 minutes from Geneva and is home to the resorts of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigold and St-Jean de Sixt. As a bidder (unfortunately unsuccessful) for the 2018 Winter Olympics it boasts exciting ski zones and excellent facilities. It also has the largest Nordic ski area in Haute-Savoie with more than 50 miles of trails across the Confins Plateau and the Beauregard Plateau.

The biathlon stadium, opened in February 2011, is named after local double world champion and Olympic medallist Sylvie Beceart. A World Cup stage was due to take place here the same year but was cancelled due to a lack of snow. However measures have been taken to stock pile last winter’s excess snow to ensure that the event will go ahead this winter.

Recently used for the 2013 Military World Winter Games, it has already held a biathlon event with a lot of the top names attending including the Fourcade brothers, Hofer, Landertinger and Weger, Gwizdon and Palka to name but a few.

So if you are thinking of an early Christmas holiday with a bit of biathlon and skiing thrown in maybe we will see you in Annecy!

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