Tag Archives: Biathlete

Pokljuka 2018: The Relays!

So it has finally begun! The new biathlon season got underway on Sunday with both the mixed relays – the single and well the double I suppose! Normal service was resumed with Norway and France winning, or was it?

The Single Mixed relay went to the Norwegian pair of Thelka Brun-Lie and Lars Birkeland. They finished ahead of the Austrian team Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder in second. Ukraine took third. Not too many surprises there but there was some exceptional shooting from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Artem Tyshchenko who only used 1 spare in the whole race.

Canada were leading the race at one point and so were France but the shooting let those teams down a little. Japan were 10th and usually do well in this race.

It was the Mixed Relay where we got a surprise. France won with a strong team of Bescond, Braisaz, Martin Fourcade and Desthieux. However second place went to Switzerland with fantastic performances from the birthday girl Elisa Gasparin, Lena Hacki, Benni Weger and Jeremy Finello.

Third went to Italy, with the usual suspects, Vittozzi, Wierer, Windisch and Hofer despite a penalty loop.

Finland also had a great race with Eder(formerly Laukkanen) and Makarainen putting them in the lead but the men, Seppala and Hiidensalo, couldn’t hold it and eventually finished 5th which is still a great result.

The biggest excitement of the day however was reserved for Timofey Lapshin’s moustache. It’s amazing! Curled up at the ends and everything!

Racing continues on Wednesday with the Individual and goes right through until Sunday with the Pursuits.

Apologies to my regular readers as the blog coverage is going to be patchy before Christmas. It seems I am so busy writing about biathlon for other people that I don’t have a lot of time to do it for myself. Hopefully normal service will be resumed after Christmas!

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Johannes Kühn: The Interview!

Johannes Kühn is a German biathlete. He was born in Passau on the 19th of November 1991. His Junior career was pretty successful winning 4 gold medals and 2 silver. Last year was his best so far on the World Cup finishing 28th in the Total Score and achieving a personal best finish of 5th. He also qualified and competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Like his Facebook Page: Johannes Kühn – Biathlon https://www.facebook.com/johannes.kuhn.37/

Why did you become a biathlete?

When I was young I played soccer and started with cross-country skiing.
One year later I switched from cross-country to biathlon and stayed there. 😉 I played soccer for several years but I was never that good. 😉


You got your career best result of 5th in the Antholz Mass Start. What are your memories from that race and how did you feel at the end?

I was happy after the race, for sure. 🙂 It was the last chance to qualify for the Olympic Games, that made it even more special!
I remember very well the last lap with Benni (Doll) and great emotions at the finish!

Last year was your first full season racing on the World Cup and your results improved a lot. What made the difference last season?

It was also my first season after my last injury so I did not know what to expect from the season. I think I had a good start and my shooting was most of the time better than the previous years.

You also qualified for the Olympics for the first time. What was that experience like?

The experience was great there, the team was very successful and I could start in a race. That was great, on the other side compared to World Cup races the atmosphere was not that good in the stadium.

What is it like having Andi Stitzl at the side of the tracks when you are racing? Can you even understand what he is saying when he is shouting and running at the same time? 😉

It is motivating most of the time. 😉 If you feel bad and he tells you the start was too slow… then it is not good. 😀
Yes usually it is good to understand, just at some certain places like Birxstieg it is hard to understand someone.

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan up until December?

We have been on some camps, including one cycling camp which I have never done before, but it was nice in the south of France.
Then we had the German Championships and now the final preparation towards the winter is on. Soon we will go to Sjusjoen for our last camp before the races.

What are your goals for this season?

My goal is to ski like last year and improve my shooting.

Do you have any hobbies away from biathlon?

Soccer, Mountain Bike, Cinema.

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

My favourite track is Obertilliach, I like the atmosphere, the people and the village there.

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

Mh… I think Raphael Poiree or Emil Hegle Svendsen because I like their style of skiing.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Tall, funny, realistic.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): The blue Italian suit.
Favourite shooting range: Osrblie
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benni Doll
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Mario Dolder because of Bankso 2013.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Doing what you love and travelling around the world.

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My Big Biathlon Questions!

I have been thinking, which is both unusual and dangerous! I have come up with some questions about biathlon mainly because certain people have failed to respond to their biathlon23 interview request so I had to write something!

How will the Olympic quotas change for Beijing 2022?

You may have heard that the IOC are cutting 20 places from biathlon at the Olympics. This is supposed to be a cost cutting exercise to reduce the money spent by host cities. It will save about 10 pence! The big costs of hosting the Olympics is paying for new infrastructure like stadiums, venues and road and rail transport. Surely they should be increasing the number of athletes not decreasing it.

They are keen to increase gender equality which is a good thing but biathlon is probably one of the most gender equal sports with the same amount of races for men and women and a mixed event. So that makes no sense either!

Unfortunately for them it now falls to the IBU to decide where the cuts will have to be made. I don’t think it will be China that loses any athletes as they are the host nation. Will they cut biathletes from the top ranked nations like Norway, Germany and France? Will they cut biathletes from the smaller nations who only send one or two competitors like Great Britain?

My guess is the axe will probably fall in the middle somewhere. Who knows? I am glad I don’t have to decide.

Why did the IOC reject the Single Mixed Relay as a new Olympic event?

The IOC has approved new Mixed events in freestyle skiing, ski jumping, skating and snowboarding to promote gender balance in the Games. However they rejected the Single Mixed Relay. This is rubbish! It means the small nations will not get a chance to race in a Relay at all. It is an exciting race and shorter than the Mixed Relay and is good for TV.

I mean why do they even have other sports in the Olympics anyway. It should be a biathlon only event! ( Well I may also allow curling!) 😉

Why is the skiing distance different for men and women?

I am sure the eagle eyed among you have noticed that the male biathletes ski further than the women in every race. For example in the Sprint the men do 10km while the women do 7.5km. I have never understood this. The women can ski as far as the men. Sure it might take them longer but they are not racing each other. The women race the women so why the shorter distance? I imagine it’s because in olden times the poor ladies were not deemed strong enough to ski so far!!! In athletics everyone runs 10km or 5km, there is no difference. The men and women receive equal prize money so surely they should ski the same distances! It could either mean shortening the men’s races or lengthening the women’s races but it’s something to think about.

Why are the Mixed Relays always women first and then the men?

Again why do we have woman, woman, man, man (WWMM) in the Mixed Relay and woman, man (WM) in the Single Mixed? Why can’t the men start for a change? Or why don’t we have WMWM or MWMW or even MMWW? And like before why do they have to ski different distances?
In swimming they have Mixed Relays and each team selects when the men or the women race so you have situations where the men and women are racing each other. It’s really exciting and interesting. Imagine we could have Laura Dahlmeier racing Martin Fourcade! The differences would balance out as everyone has to race two men and two women but the teams decide the order independently of each other. Just think Johannes Boe versus Kaisa Makarainen!

I told you it was dangerous when I think! Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it nice please! And if you have any burning biathlon questions throw them out there too! 🙂

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Wojciech Janik: The Interview!

Wojciech Janik is a Polish biathlete. The 18-year-old was born in Wałbrzych and has competed on the Junior World Cup, at the Junior European Championships and also at the Youth World Championships. His best result to date is a 7th place in Otepaa, Estonia in the Youth Individual race from last season’s World Championships. His older brother Mateusz is also a biathlete and they are now the first brothers to have both done a Biathlon23 Interview! 🙂

Follow Wojtek on Twitter: @wojtekjaniks
Like his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/wojtekbiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I think that the adventure with biathlon began mainly from the big sporting traditions that my family has.

You finished 7th in the Individual at the Youth World Championships. Can you tell me about the race? How did you feel at the end?

It was an amazing race for me, at the last shooting I missed the first shot which buried my dreams for a medal, but I came to the World Championships with the intention to enter the Top 10. At the finish when I saw the results I could not believe that so many were missing the medals, I gave everything on the track but it was not enough. I know that I still have to train a lot and return to the World Cup next year even stronger.

You competed on the Junior World Cup last season. Was it a good experience for you?

It was a very big and good experience for me because it was my debut in the international arena.

Your brother Mateusz is also a biathlete. Do you train together? Does he give you any advice?

We always train together when we’re at home between national assemblies. When I was little, Mateusz was my idol and I wanted to do everything that he did and thanks to him I became a biathlete. Mateusz so far has given me tips that I try to use in every situation.

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?

I am a person who puts 100% into sports and nothing else matters to me. My family and friends understand it and support me in it.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strong point is definitely to endure a high training load. When it is really hard to train, I start to enjoy it and give it more. My weakness is the pressure which I sometimes do not handle as well as I could and I know I still have to work a lot on that.


What are your goals for this season?


My goal for this season, of course, is to compete for Youth World Championships medals, but my main goal is to get to the Olympic Games in 2022 in Beijing.

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

It is Ondrej Moravec. I am impressed with his running technique, his character as an athlete and of course his results.

Describe yourself in three words.
Determined, Strong, Hopeful

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Czech Republic
Favourite shooting range: Nové Město na Moravě
Lucky bib number: 23
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Kuba štvrtecký
Best thing about being a biathlete: Satisfaction with sports results.

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Junior European Championships: Pokljuka 2018!

This year’s Junior European Championships took place in Pokljuka. The opposite to the senior Championships last week we started with the Relays.

The Single Mixed was first and made it’s debut in this competition. The gold medal winners were Finland! The team of Jenni Keranen and Jaakko Ranta saw off all the challengers using just 8 spares between them. The silver medal went to home team Slovenia with Urska Poje and Anton Vidmar needing 11 spares. The bronze medal went to Belarus even though Volka Haurylkina and Dzmitry Lazouski went on the penalty loop twice! The favourites France were disqualified for using too many spares on the final shoot.

The Mixed Relay was later and the gold medal went to Russia. They had a strong team of Polina Shevnina, Valeriia Vasnetcova, Vasilii Tomshin and Igor Malinovskii. They only used 7 spares to win by over 2 minutes. The silver went to Italy whose team of Irene Lardschneider, Eleonora Fauner, Patrick Braunhofer and Daniele Cappellari needed only 5 spares. The bronze was taken by Poland with Natalia Tomaszewska, Joanna Jakiela, Przemyslaw Pancerz and Marchin Szwajnos who used 8 spares altogether.

The snow arrived on Thursday for the Individual races. The men raced first and Russia continued their success with gold and silver. Said Khalili took the gold by over a minute from teammate Vasilli Tomshin even though both missed just 1 target each. The bronze medal went to Vitezslav Hornig from the Czech Republic who shot 20/20.

The women’s race was won by Austria’s Tamara Steiner who shot the perfect score. Silver went to Switzerland’s Amy Baserga who also hit all 20 and bronze went to Valeriia Vasnetcova of Russia despite missing 4 targets.

The Sprint races were rescheduled for Saturday because of, wait for it, too much snow!!! Pokljuka has had a lot and it also continued on race day but they were able to go ahead. The men went first and Russia’s Igor Malinovskii took the win shooting 9/10. The silver medal went to his teammate Said Khalili who also shot 9/10 but was 3.7 seconds behind the winner. The bronze medal went to Bogdan Tsymbal from the Ukraine with clean shooting.

The women’s race also went to Russia, surprise surprise! Valeriia Vasnetcova took the gold with 1 miss. Her teammate Polina Shevnina got the silver also with 9/10 but was 20 seconds back. The bronze was won by France’s Sophie Chauveau who missed twice but skied well to grab the final podium position.

The final day of races were the Pursuits on Sunday. For the men Igor Malinovskii held on to his lead from the Sprint to take gold again. Despite missing 3 targets he pipped Bogdan Tsymbal by just over a second. Tsymbal took the silver shooting 19/20 and third place went to France’s Martin Perrillat Bottonet who missed 2 shots but moved up from 7th to win bronze.

In the women’s race the leader Vasnetcova missed 8 targets leaving the door wide open for the others. Shevnina took full advantage and shooting 17/20 was enough for her to take the gold medal. Silver went to Sweden’s Elvira Oberg who came from 9th missing 1 shot to grab second place. Sophie Chauveau maintained third place and took the bronze again despite missing 4 targets.

That concludes the Championships. The next races for the Juniors is the Youth/Junior World Championships in Otepaa, Estonia on the 26th of February.

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Franziska Hildebrand : The Interview!

Franziska Hildebrand is a German biathlete from Halle. She has won two races so far in her World Cup career both in Sprint races. She was victorious in her home race in Ruhpolding in 2015/16 and also in Hochfilzen in the same season. She has made the podium six times since her World Cup debut in 2011. With the German Women’s Relay team she has won two World Championship gold medals in Kontiolahti 2015 and Hochfilzen 2017. She was born on the 24th of March 1987 and has a twin sister called Stephanie.

Like her Facebook page: Franziska Hildebrand

Why did you become a biathlete?

This was accidental. First I tried various other sports like football and hockey. One day an article was published in the newspaper that the ski club of my hometown was looking for athletes. My parents took me to the training there and I liked it.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy about and what disappointed you?

The greatest moment for me was the moment I reached the line first for the German Relay team in PyeongChang with the German Flag. On the other hand I felt disappointed that I hadn’t reached a podium in the individual races.

You are part of the German Relay team that won gold in Hochfilzen and every relay on the World Cup. Why is the team so good?

We have a good atmosphere in the team, it is harmonious and we understand each other well. Everyone looks out for each other.

Do you have a favourite leg on the relay? Do you have any input into it or do the coaches make all the decisions?

My favourite leg is third. I also feel comfortable on the other legs but this is the one I like the most. Normally the coaches tell us the decision but they ask about the shape of the athletes.

Your shooting statistics are fantastic. Why are you so good at shooting? Is it natural talent, practice, hard work or a combination of things?

I think it`s a combination of natural talent and hard work. Talent is good but you still have to train again and again to keep this level.

You had some good results at the World Cup event in PyeongChang. Has that given you confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

I go with a positive feeling to Korea because of the good results I had there. I like the Asian culture and look forward to the Olympics. The tracks are nice and the range is good. I like it.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Recovery from an injury. In July I injured my ankle and it took time to heal. I did a lot of double polling and cycling because nothing else was possible. But it was nice to do something different from the other years.

Can you describe what it was like to win the Sprint race back in 2016 in Ruhpolding?

It was amazing. The victory there was a special moment for my career. To win in Germany in front of all the spectators was incredible.

You have your own fan club! What is that like and do they come and support you a lot?

It is a lot of fun. Every year we have a big fan club meeting where we all come together and meet each other. In my fan club are some very pleasant people who are crazy about biathlon and with whom I can have a lot of fun and who support me.

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

Katrin Apel. When I was watching Biathlon as a child she impressed me. She wasn’t the best all the time but she never gave up. And she was nice in her interviews.

Describe yourself in three words.

Persistent, colourful, freedom-loving.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): New Zealand
Favourite shooting range: Le Grand Bornard
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benedikt Doll
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Clare Egan
Best thing about being a biathlete: The best thing is that I get to do what I am talented in and I love to do!

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Susan Dunklee: The Interview!

Susan Dunklee is an American biathlete who was born on the 13th of February 1986. She enjoyed her best season to date in 2016/17. She finished 10th in the Total Score and more importantly won her first World Championship medal taking silver in the Mass Start in Hochfilzen. She is the first American women to win a medal at a major Championships and in doing so qualified to race for the US at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang this March. Her father Stan and her uncle Everett have both competed for America at the Olympics in cross country skiing.

Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanDunklee
Like her Facebook page: Susan Dunklee
Check out her blog: https://susandunklee.wordpress.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I didn’t want to give up ski racing after college. USBA offered a better training and living situation than any US xc ski club at the time, so I figured why not learn how to shoot?

The Mass Start in Hochfilzen. Talk us through your silver medal winning race and your emotions at the end.

I felt inspired after watching Lowell’s Individual. I remember thinking that I had got my first ever WC podium in 2014 the week after he got his first podium.
Despite that, I didn’t feel particularly good going into the race. By the end of the Championships you have raced so much that both your body and head feel fried. I had to remind myself that everyone else was exhausted too and that there is opportunity in that.
Much of that race felt surreal. Leading was an experience that I’m not very familiar with. I didn’t intend to lead because it’s usually not a smart tactical decision and it is harder to ski fast and efficiently by yourself. However, after every shooting stage I found myself alone out front. It seemed silly to just pull over for 5 seconds and let the pack catch up. So I skied my own pace, tried to stay relaxed and didn’t worry about what the pack did.
People ask me if the last shooting stage felt any different. In this case, no, it was more of a deja vu feeling. It felt just like the 3 stages before it. I remember thinking after the last shooting stage that now it was time to “get the hell out of there” because I knew some fast people would be chasing my tail. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to challenge Laura [Dahlmeier] when she caught me, but I was so psyched to hold onto second. It truly was a perfect race for me.

Apart from your medal you were also 10th in the Total Score. What was the key to your great season?

Shooting speed had been my biggest focus during training for a couple years and that work started to pay off last winter.

You had some good results at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Has that given you a lot of confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

It doesn’t matter if I like them or not. What matters is if I’m willing to make those tracks and that range “my own” so that I will feel strong and confident there.

What are your goals for next season for the World Cup as well as the Olympics?

To keep my focus on “performing well.” If I can do that, the results will take care of themselves.

Team USA is a really close team. What was it like watching Lowell win his gold medal at the World Champs?

Lowell put together an impressive performance which personified a tremendous effort on the part a whole host of people. For an achievement like that you need everything to go right such as ski fitness, shooting performance, and ski preparation. There are so many people who contributed to making that possible- coaches, teammates, ski techs, physios, managers, psychologists, sponsors, supportive friends and family back home…. Everyone in the USBA community felt some ownership of America’s first gold medal moment and that’s one of the reasons why I think the US Team is special.

Have you noticed any changes in the popularity of biathlon in the US after your recent success? Has it helped you with funding and sponsors?

Not as much as we had expected.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Same routine as usual- roller skiing, shooting, running, biking, lifting, etc. We did an on-snow camp in May in Bend, Oregon as well as a three week camp in Germany in September.

One of your hobbies is bee keeping. How did you get into that and why do you like it?

I already was interested in pollination systems after studying them in college. A few years ago I visited one of my ecologist friends who kept honey bees and I watched a barefoot “bee-whisperer” capture an escaped swarm. I was fascinated. Working with bees is a lot like shooting in a high pressure race situation. The consequences of making mistakes are high and you must conquer your fears and stay calm.

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

Nove Mesto has the best atmosphere with the biggest, friendliest crowds of spectators. I love racing there.

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

Michal Slesingr, Martin Fourcade and Lowell Bailey. They are phenomenal athletes and leaders who insist on fighting for the integrity of our sport.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sincere, hardworking, contemplative.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin’s dragon
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch. Honorable mention: Stefani Popova
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Toss up: Johanna Taliharm, Anais Bescond, and Katja Yurlova.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Recovery massages.

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