Tag Archives: Biathlete

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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Scott Dixon…The Third!!!

Like a boomerang, or slightly cooler ‘The Terminator’, Scott Dixon is back! In his third interview for Biathlon23 I have discovered that as well as being a biathlete Scott is now the author of a children’s book. He also dabbles in witchcraft which he claims is “card magic” but I am not so sure! He is currently trying to raise funds to help pay for the season. If you can help you can find the details here:
https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/biathlete-olympic-dream/

Like his Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete

Last season-discuss! Not a great start due to illness but you got your World Cup PB in Oslo at the end. Talk us through the main points of last season.

The start of the season went about as badly as it could have as I was having heart problems. I had shot well in the Individual in Oestersund on a very windy day (16/20) but on the last lap, having already exerted myself for four agonising laps before, my heart decided to go into hyper drive and shot up to 199 bpm whilst standing still shooting my last five stand shots.

Despite my form taking such a hit, I still skied quickly relative to my ski speed last year in both Slovenia and Nove Mesto. I had a good training phase over Christmas and was ready to go full speed into the next trimester with a positive attitude. We arrived in Germany and drove to Oberhof. Two days later I contracted the Noro virus, which I’m sure many people are familiar with… sixteen hours of being sick every hour. Nasty.

I was bed bound for four days, but still raced. This was silly, but I was still in disbelief my luck had taken such a turn and too stubborn to let the race go. It took some time to recover physically, and mentally from this bout of bad luck. But I did!


You are doing some training camps with the Swedish team. What’s it like working with Wolfgang Pichler? What differences do you think he has made for your biathlon?

Hard. Wolfgang is an incredible coach. He knows how to bring a team together, and he involves intense psychological elements in his training that are incredibly challenging. It is rare to meet someone so genuinely passionate about doing an excellent job. He’s punctual and has high expectations. What an opportunity it’s been training along side his athletes.

I feel my body developing all the time. I’m able to maintain higher speeds for longer, which I measure frequently on repeatable sessions.


You are back living and training in Lillehammer. What training have you been doing there and do you ever train with the British Nordic team there?

I live with Callum Smith who’s on the British Nordic team! However, we don’t get to train much together, usually the odd run here or there because our training differs a lot. We do eat together and compete to see who can make the best lasagna. Me of course, but his last one was pretty snazzy, I admit..

I don’t spend that much time in Lillehammer unfortunately because of the training camps. I’m usually recharging my batteries when I finally get back there. Although the training continues!

You are 23 this year and as everyone knows that is an important number in biathlon! What are your goals for this season?

Indeed it is!
Pursuits! The Olympic qualification is tough since we lost our top 25 spot on the nation cup score, so in order to qualify I need to make a couple of pursuit races.

British Biathlon is, as usual, going through a tough time but probably the worst in your career. You and Amanda Lightfoot have had to hand some of your funding back. What is going on and how else has it affected you?

It’s not the first time I’ve been told that it’s all doom and gloom by my National Governing Body (NGB), but it is the first time Amanda and I have had to financially bail them out. Of all the years this could happen, it was the Olympic season. However, it’s important that I focus on preparing my body to be the best it can be come the winter, and not allow these distractions to negatively influence my training.

You have launched a crowd funding campaign to help you with your costs this season. Tell us about it. What will the money go towards?

Our governing body is run by volunteers and they are unable to invest huge amounts of time in the search for sponsors or even planning the race season for example. Amanda and I have been assigned the job of sorting out travel arrangements in the season. Thankfully, Amanda is a guru when it comes to planning, and has come up with some very practical solutions to tough logistical issues. We’ve got a plan that works and brings us to the Olympic Games. But even with a plan in place, our governing body doesn’t have the funds to implement the plan. I set up a pledge sports campaign because I couldn’t afford the season, and if I missed a race I’d almost certainly miss the opportunity to compete at the Games.

So I set up a pledge for those who were interested in supporting me to the Olympic Games, and used it as an opportunity to expose my book to supporters.

You are now an author! Tell us about your children’s book ‘Pup the Brave’. Will you be writing anymore?

To some extent I am! It’s funny hearing that since it’s just a hobby. The idea originated from Katie, my girlfriend, when I asked her to tell me a story. She doesn’t like it so much when I randomly ask her to do that, but I persisted. I asked her to name a subject, or something, and she said “Puppy.”
“What’s the puppy doing?”
“Trying to cross a river.”
“Why?”
“There’s a bear chasing him.”
“Can he swim?”
“Do we have to do this?”
“Yes, can he swim?”
“No.”
“How does he cross?”
“Beaver builds him a dam…”

And so forth.

This continued for a little while and I liked the little story we created. We left it be, and one long bike ride in the hills, I thought about it again and for the next two weeks I didn’t let it rest, and had the poem completed, and had started sketching the images.

When I spend hours on end cycling and skiing, it can be advantageous to take my mind away from the discomfort. So I daydream about stories, plots and concepts and such like. Since I rarely get to see my little baby brother and sister, one and three years old, I decided I ought to write and illustrate a story for them. I used the Pup story as a template and set to daydreaming it into a plot and a story.

I do this all the time, and it’s definitely a direction I’d like to take after my Biathlon career. I have two more books planned for my little brother and sister, then I hope to publish the fiction material I spend even more time writing and thinking about.

You will be appearing on an episode of Sky 1’s ‘A League of Their Own’. Can you tell us anything about that or is it top secret?

Shh! who told you that?

Nah, it’s no secret! I am and I can’t wait to see it. I think I was a bit funky on camera, but I can guarantee that you’ll love the show when you watch it, which as biathlon fans you must! It was a surreal experience but thoroughly enjoyable. I hope it raises the profile of biathlon in the UK.

Have you got a name for your rifle yet?

I’m afraid not. I may have to for our next interview! What next interview?!! No name no chance!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Fillon Maillet. He made it himself!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Germany. It’s very German, and I like suits that represent the flag well.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 106 (since I often get the last bib, I might as well make it my lucky one!)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup:Tiio Söderhielm. He’s in his thirties, but you’d think he was only twenty.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Erik Lesser is always extremely friendly. He always says hello when most other people don’t notice us little guys. A special mention to all the Swedes. I couldn’t pick any one of them over the rest, and you asked for only one, but they all mutually win that title (future in diplomacy?).
Best thing about being a biathlete: In a race, the order people enter the shooting range for the final time is so vastly different to the order everyone finishes in. So much can change in the closing stages of the competition by pulling the trigger at the wrong 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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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 Road to PyeongChang? Seriously?

Apparently there is something going on next year in February and March. Not sure what it is but maybe it’s one of those new reality TV shows about survival. People keep talking about the road to PyeongChang. I don’t know about you but the only road I know that goes to PyeongChang runs through North Korea so maybe I am right!

Of course not! It’s the Winter Olympics and Paralympics! If nuclear war hasn’t broken out by then the eyes of the biathlon world will turn to South Korea. There are other ‘so-called’ sports taking place too but none of interest to us! 😉

PyeongChang is a county in the Gwangwon province of South Korea. It is located in the Taebaek mountain region and is around 180km east of the capital Seoul. Happy 700 PyeongChang is the slogan of the area. The average height of the region is 700 metres above sea level and apparently this is the optimal elevation to live at. Expect lots of elderly spectators at the biathlon then.

The biathlon races will take place at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre which will also be used for sports such as cross country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. Or as I call them biathlon’s annoying little cousins! 😉

The arena has 4500 seats and room for 3000 people to stand giving an official capacity of 7500. The altitude difference for the tracks is from 749 to 796 metres. They weren’t joking about the height of the area!

There will be 11 biathlon events taking place. On the 10th of February is the Women’s Sprint followed by the Men’s Sprint on the 11th. Both Pursuit races take place on the 12th. The 14th and 15th are for the Women’s and Men’s Individuals respectively. The Mass Starts are on the 17th and 18th. The Relays are all at the end of the programme with the Mixed Relay on the 20th, the Women’s Relay on the 22nd and excitingly the Men’s Relay on the 23rd!!! An auspicious day indeed! 😉

The races will all be held in the evening local time which means if you are watching in Europe they will be on mid-morning or early afternoon when everyone is at work. If you are watching in North America they will be on very early morning when you are asleep! Great news!

Defending their title (because let’s face it no one remembers who won in Sochi!) will be Anastasiya Kuzmina and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in the Sprints, Darya Domracheva and Martin Fourcade in the Pursuits and the Individuals and Domracheva and Emil Hegle Svendsen in the Mass Starts. Hoping to hang on to the Relay titles will be Norway in the Mixed Relay, Ukraine in the Women’s Relay and Russia in the Men’s Relay.

It should be a great Olympic Games and it will be followed in March from the 9th to the 18th by the Paralympics. There will be 18 biathlon events over 3 categories. Men and women compete in the visually impaired races, the standing races or the sitting races depending on their impairment.

They will race over 3 distances which are the short, middle and lndividual. The short distance is 6km for the women and 7.5 for the men. The middle distance is 10km or 12.5km and the Indvidual is 12.5km or 15km.

The champions from Sochi in the short distance for the women were Russia’a Mikhalina Lysova (VI), Alena Kaufman (standing) and Germany’s Andrea Eskau (sitting). For the men it was the Ukraine’s Vitaliy Lukyanenko (VI),Russia’s Vladislav Lekomtsev (standing) and Russia’s Roman Petushkov (sitting).

The middle distance gold medals were won by Lysova and Kaufman and Germany’s Anja Wicker in the sitting race. The men’s were won by Lukayenko, Russia’s Azat Karachurin and Petushkov. The Individual titles went to Russia’s Iuliia Budaleeva, Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova and Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova. Winning for the men were Russia’s Nikolai Polukhin, Ukraine’s Gyrgorii Vovchynskyi and Petushkov completeing his clean sweep in the sitting races.

At the time of writing it is unknown whether the Russian team will be allowed to compete in PyeongChang as they are currently banned after the McLaren Report findings. The decision will be made in September by the International Paralympic Committee and will be an important one as you can see where a lot of the medals tend to go!

There are less than six months to go before the Games get underway. The biathletes are already quite far along the road to PyeongChang. However I would recommend booking a flight. Seriously!!! 😉

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Spring Things!


(Introducing the new target for 2017/18- ONLY JOKING!)

Shut up! I know it’s Summer but I have been on Spring Break – WOO HOO! NO, not the American college one, the one where I have a biathlon rest to prepare for the new season. As it’s an Olympic and Paralympic season I had an extra month of rest! The fingers needed a scribbling break! 😉

So this is where I catch you up on some of the things that happened in the Spring – the Spring Things! In true Spring style we started with a birth. Martin Fourcade welcomed his second daughter, Ines, at the end of last season. Then Miriam Goessner announced her pregnancy. Of course the Fourcade brothers are very competitive and Simon announced the birth of his first child, a boy called Adam, at the end of May.

At the opposite end of biathlon we had some retirements. Switzerland’s Ivan Joller, Romania’s Eva Tofalvi and Slovakia’s Jana Gerekova all announced the end of their biathlon careers. Gerekova’s was the most unexpected but she said her knees couldn’t take another year. On the bright side though she got married.

Italy’s Lukas Hofer got a nose job. It’s about time I hear you all thinking! How dare you! It was an operation to help with breathing difficulties not for cosmetic purposes! Behave yourselves! 😉

Training got underway at the start of May. The Polish ladies with new coach Tobias Torgersen went to Mallorca to train as did Spain’s Victoria Padial. It was Tenerife for the Ukrainian women and Cyprus for the Swedish team. The Canadian and American teams stayed at home as it’s they only time they get to spend there! The German men went to the Italian Alps. The Italians went to France and France stayed in France! The next time biathletes tell you how hard the sport is don’t believe them. It’s just one long holiday! 😉

Unless of course you decide to train on a bike. First Teja Gregorin had a small fall and scraped her knee which isn’t so bad but then Anais Chevalier got hit by a car and broke her collarbone. Simon Fourcade also had his now annual issue with drivers threatening him. It’s a dangerous business training on the roads!

Speaking of training there are rumours of Ole Einar and Martin Fourcade having a camp together. That won’t be competitive at all! Not content with equalling and beating some of Ole’s records in biathlon Martin is trying to win the family battle with 2 daughters to Ole’s 1! He might get some free samples from Darya’s new clothing range but there is no way he will be allowed in the motor home!

Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen did their first orienteering race. The Norwegian Team stood next to some cars – they seem to do that a lot!

I am sad to report the apparent break up of the biathlon band. We saw nothing of them last season and now that Gabi is married and Lowell has a young daughter it seems Jean-Gui has found himself a new band with Baptiste Jouty on drums!

Oh and Freddie Lindstrom got a cat!

There were many other biathletes doing many other things too but I couldn’t cover everything!

Finally there has been no news about the McLaren Report and if anything will happen to the Russian Biathlon Union or their biathletes. You may remember they handed back the World Cup round in Tyumen and the Youth Junior World Championships but it looks like the Summer World Championships will go ahead in Chaykovskiy, Russia in August.

You will be pleased to know that July sees the return of the infamous biathlon23 interviews. Since I neglected them a bit last season and will do so again in this Olympic season it is only fair that I start with some of the young biathletes. Since nearly everyone is going to retire after PyeongChang it’s good to meet them early! 😉

Hopefully I will be catching up with some para biathletes each month too as it is also the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang in March!

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