Tag Archives: Biathlete

Shawna Pendry: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Shawna Pendry.

Shawna Pendry is a 17-year-old British biathlete who is based in France. She was born in England but moved to France aged four. She started cross country skiing when she was eight and biathlon at eleven in Font-Romeo where Simon and Martin Fourcade started. Last season was her first competing internationally on the IBU Junior Cup.

Check out her website: https://shawna-pendry.site123.me/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because my best friend cross country skied and it looked fun so I also joined the ski club, a few years later we started shooting and I loved it! Since then I have been doing biathlon.

How do you assess last season overall? Were you happy with it? Was there anything you were disappointed with?

Last season was my first season competing in international races so it was pretty scary but I also learned so much. I am happy because at each competition I had the impression that I was getting better and stronger but also because I reached one of my main goals that was to qualify for a pursuit race. I am not disappointed with anything because I know that with every mistake I made I also learned something.

How do you manage going to school with training and competing in biathlon?

It is hard to do both school and sport especially in winter because I am away so often on competitions but I am lucky to got to a “sporting school” were most of the students are like me so the teachers are very helpful, and then when I am away I have to try and work even if all I want to do is ski and sleep.

It’s not easy being a British biathlete. How are you funded and do you get support from the BBU or train with any of the British team?

I do receive financial support from the BBU who with the aid from their IBU funding cover the majority of my travel and accommodation costs during the race season. I still need to fund my equipment which I do with the aid of my parents and I am always looking for external help like crowdfunding or grants just like the ‘Vincent Budge Award’ from the British Skiers Trust that I am very proud to have just received.
Training wise I train with my local team and I will join the British team for an on snow training camp in the autumn, apart from that I do not do any training with them as I need to stay at school this season.

What is it like training where Martin and Simon Fourcade started? Have you ever met them?

It is really inspiring coming from where Martin and Simon started because I tell myself that they have become some of the best biathletes in the world so why could I not maybe some day? I have already met both of them and they’re really nice, I actually trained just next to Martin the other week when he came back home.

What are your plans for summer training?

For this summer I am training mostly at Font-Romeu and I have 3 training camps with my local team that I am looking forward to.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strengths are my motivation and determination and my weaknesses are being impatient and skiing up hills.

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal for the upcoming season is to represent Team GB at the Lausanne Youth Olympic games. I also want to qualify myself to as many pursuits as possible!

If you have any time after school and training what do you like to do in your free time?

I love cooking, especially cakes and cookies (they taste so good after a hard training!) and I also like reading.

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

Yes, my favorite track is at Sjusjøen in Norway because that is where I shot my first 10/10 in competition and qualified to my first pursuit race, and because Norway is so pretty!

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

My favorite biathlete would either be Tiril Eckhoff or Ingrid Tandrevold because they are both inspiring women and they make biathlon look fun.

Does your rifle have a name?

No it doesn’t but I think if it did it would be something like Gwendolyn or Bernadette!

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined / organized / impatient .

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): the one with unicorns
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Finland
Favourite shooting range: Sjusjøen
Lucky bib number: I don’t have one.
Funniest biathlete on the Junior Cup/Nicest biathlete on the Junior Cup: I don’t really know anyone because I’m shy, come and say hi next season if you’re reading this!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travelling to awesome places and missing school for it!

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Maddie Phaneuf: The Return!

Photo courtesy of Maddie Phaneuf.

This season I am revisiting some of the biathletes I have interviewed in the past to see what has changed for them. The first ever interview on this blog was with US biathlete Maddie Phaneuf so she was the obvious choice to start with!!! 🙂

Follow Maddie on Instagram.
Check out her website: https://www.maddiephaneuf.com/

We last spoke nearly 5 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

So much has changed! I think I may have still been living in Maine the last time we spoke, or had just recently moved to Lake Placid. Either way, since then I’ve mostly been training full time for biathlon, I took a mini break this past season (from August – March) and lived in Boulder, Colorado during that time and didn’t focus on training. Then this March I moved back to New York State and have been training again full time for biathlon. I’m back in Lake Placid, living on my own and training with the local ski club, NYSEF.

You have recently opened up about having PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) caused by the Olympics. What happened and why did you decide to about it publicly?

Basically I got really sick during the Olympics right when I was told I would finally be racing. I was beating myself up about it for months following the Olympics, and chose to go to therapy to get better. I decided to speak up about it because I know a lot of fellow athletes struggle with mental health issues, but not a lot of people actually talk about it publicly. I hope that speaking out gives others the courage to seek help.

How have you been dealing with it?

Mostly therapy. Also realizing what I need in my everyday life to keep a good balance between sport and life. For me that looks like having my own space (a house) where there’s no sign of professional sport, and I can mentally check out from training. I also have a lot of friends who aren’t teammates. Overall, just having a good balance between training and everyday life.

What advice would you give to other athletes who might have similar issues?

The biggest advice would be: You’re not weak if you ask for help. Honestly, I should’ve been going to therapy since high school, it just took me until my absolute breaking point to finally seek help. Also, know that it’s not your fault if you feel depressed/anxiety/any other mental health issue – mental health is an illness.

The US women’s team was fantastic last season. Does that inspire you to get back out training and racing to be part of it?

DEFINITELY!! I watched every race this winter when I was away from the sport, and I missed racing so much. Watching them crush it at World Championships, and leading the Women’s Relay for 3/4 of the race was so inspiring. I was so happy and proud of my teammates this season, and I’m very excited to be back on the training grind and can’t wait to race alongside them in the coming seasons.

What are your plans for summer training?

So I’m back in Lake Placid, NY training full-time with NYSEF. I’ve been training since the last week of April, and have been having a lot of fun and have been feeling great so far! I’ll be doing a lot of rollerskiing, shooting, trail running, strength training, mountain biking, and everything in between! I’ll be traveling down to North Carolina for a week in August to spend time with my family for vacation, which I’m very excited about because there are beautiful beaches down there! But yeah, nothing too crazy for me this summer, just training in New York.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think strengths would be shooting well under pressure, fast shooting speed, and being able to move past bad races. My weaknesses are usually slower ski speed, balance, and wanting to go mountain biking or rock climbing during my rest days!

What are your goals for this season?

To have fun and be happy. Also to race internationally on the IBU Cup and World Cup. I’d love to see myself racing at World Championships this winter, but I have no expectations for my first season back since taking last winter off 😉

Is Canmore still your favourite track and Franziska Hildebrand your favourite biathlete?

I still love Canmore, but I think Antholz may be my current favorite. My favorite biathlete to watch race is Hanna Oberg because she’s so strong on the range.

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Haha not yet! I need suggestions…

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova’s unicorn rifle!!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway’s always looks classy
Favourite shooting range: Martell, ITA
Lucky bib number: I don’t have one!
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Regina Oja – she gave me her clothes when my luggage didn’t arrive in Estonia!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Traveling the world and meeting new people from other countries.

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Aidan Millar: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Aidan Millar.

Aidan Millar is a Canadian biathlete from Canmore. He was born on the 1st of December 1995. His career best result came last season in Soldier Hollow where he finished 20th in the Sprint in his first season as a World Cup athlete.

You can follow Aidan on Instagram.

Why did you become a biathlete?

I grew up skiing from a young age and when I was 9 I got to try biathlon for the first time. At the beginning I definitely liked the shooting way more but now I would say I prefer the skiing.

Your best result came last season, 20th place in the Men’s Sprint in Soldier Hollow. Tell us about the race.

Having raced three World Cups and not been able to put together a great race I was just focusing on executing what I could and not worrying about the result. I just paced my skiing well which was important with the altitude and a challenging course. With it being a windy day hitting targets was very important and I was very focused and was able to knock them all down. Up until the last shooting I knew I was having a good one but didn’t know how good until one of our techs told me I was close to a top ten. The last lap I gave everything I had, unfortunately I slipped down the order a bit but was still stoked with the result.

What was it like getting to compete at a home World Cup in Canmore?

It was an amazing experience. At the start of the season I didn’t think at all that I would get that chance. So to somewhat unexpectedly get the chance to race at home in front of friends and family was very special.

How do you assess last season overall? Were you happy with it? Was there anything you were disappointed with?

Last season went really well. I saw big improvements in both skiing and shooting and an improvement in consistency. Most of my goals were around the IBU Cup so to be able to accomplish those and get a chance on the World Cup was sweet. Initially I was disappointed with my shooting on the World Cup so I’d like to see that improve for this coming season.

There have been big changes in the men’s team this season with retirements and a change of coach. How has that affected you?

Everything is new to me as this is my first year on the team but so far things have been going well. We have good team dynamics with everyone getting along well. The coaches are great and already I’ve seen some good improvements.

I read that you have had some issues with concussions. Has that affected your biathlon career?

There was a period of about 4 years where I missed 1-3 months a year of training due to concussions. I was never really able to build a good base for training so my ski speed and stamina suffered. Now with 2 really good years of training I feel like I’m back on track and heading towards where I want to be.

What are your plans for summer training?

This summer we will be mostly training in Canmore taking advantage of all the great training opportunities in the area. At some point in August we will have an intensity block at lower altitude and mostly likely a fall camp in Whistler.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I would say my biggest strength would be my downhill technique. I find I can usually make up time there. My biggest weakness is probably the consistency in my shooting.

What are your goals for this season?

This year I’d like to be consistently in the top 40 on the World Cup with maybe another top 20.

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

My favourite track would probably be Antholz. The downhills are twisty and not just straight, the climbs aren’t ridiculously steep and the views aren’t too bad either.

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

When I was younger I watched Emil Hegle Svendsen and Simon Schempp a lot. They were both at the top so I tried to learn from what they were doing.

Does your rifle have a name?

Unfortunately not.

Describe yourself in three words.

Disciplined, Introverted, Jokester

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Aita Gasparin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Russia World Championships
Favourite shooting range: Obertilliach
Lucky bib number: Don’t have one
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Scott Gow
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anais Bescond
Best thing about being a biathlete: You get to do what you love while travelling the world.

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Bruna De Moura: The Interview!

Bruna de Moura is a biathlete from Brazil! The 25-year old comes from Caraguatatuba which is a city in the eastern part of the state of São Paulo. She competes on the IBU Cup and is a regular member of Brazil’s mixed and single mixed relay teams.

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started my athletic career as a mountain biker, but I had to stop because of a serious heart condition. After a long time I had the opportunity to undergo a surgery, after which I couldn’t practice sports for two years according to the doctors. During this time, my MTB-coach got me in touch with the Brazilian snow sports federation (CBDN), and I tried rollerskiing for the first time. Long story short: once I was allowed to practice sports again, I tried mountain biking and quickly gave it up in exchange for cross-country skiing and biathlon.

How do you assess last season overall? Were you happy with it? Was there anything you were disappointed with?

In terms of overall feeling, last season was my worst ever: all kinds of personal problems led to a lot of stress, because of which I decided to end my season as soon as the second trimester of the IBU Cup had finished. On the other hand: purely looking at my results, last season was more than excellent.
I’m happy that despite my problems, I saw significant improvements in my results. A small disappointment was my ability to deal with the stress during the season, but that’s something to learn from and improve in the next few years.

What was your best or favourite race from last season and why?

The Obertilliach Supersprint qualifying because it was a lot of fun and on the track I actually managed to overtake quite a few athletes who I’m normally behind. Apart from that, I managed to shoot well despite competing with a half-broken rifle the entire season. Last, but not least, we were told this race would not count towards the IBU Qualifying Points Ranking, but turns out…it did, and I had my best ever result!

What are your plans for summer training?

Eat a lot and gain some weight for my training period, so once the season starts I can lose the extra weight and in the competitions I feel faster 😉
On a more serious note: I want to improve my skiing technique. I’m running a lot, including a half marathon, and apart from that I recently started practicing judo. This both helps in gaining strength and it’s simply a lot of fun, which helps me to stay motivated.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: I’m good at uphill sections, because I’m strong which for me helps more than having a good technique, specifically on the climbs.
Weaknesses: My overall technique needs a lot of improvement. Shooting is not exactly my strong suit either (yet), mostly because I can basically not train shooting at all before the season starts, meaning I can’t touch my rifle for more than half the year.

What are your goals for this season?

To reach the criteria of the Brazilian federation, so I can get some support from them. If I reach these criteria this season, I can get some basic support for the road to the Olympics.

How are you funded? Do you get any help from Brazilian sports bodies or do you have to fund yourself?

That depends on reaching the criteria. If I reach them, my season is mostly paid for by CBDN, the national snow sports federation. If I don’t, I have to pay pretty much every single euro by myself. I’m trying to find some very much needed sponsors, but especially in a country like Brazil – not known for its cold and snowy winters – that’s not the easiest task.

Who has been the biggest inspiration or supporter of your biathlon career and why?

My biggest inspiration (and supporter) is my boyfriend, Pascal, because if not for him I would probably have stopped a while ago. He helps me a lot to find motivation when I think about giving up and his own change of routines – going from absolutely no exercise to running a half marathon recently, for example – helps me to find inspiration for my own career.

Is biathlon becoming more popular in Brazil? Are more people trying winter sports there in general?

I would not say biathlon itself is getting more popular, but winter sports in general definitely are and with it, slowly, biathlon. The number of people familiar with these sports is of course not big, but it’s certainly bigger than 10 years ago. For example thanks to Leandro Ribela’s ‘Ski na Rua’ (roller ski) project a ton of children are starting to get familiar with rollerskiing. Personally I’m coaching a small group of athletes with physical disabilities in my hometown of Caraguatatuba (say that name 10 times quickly), something I could not even have imagined 5 years ago.

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

The Obertilliach sprint track. It’s a sprint track and so it’s shorter, that helps. The uphill sections are pretty hard, but the downhill sections are not very technical, which is perfect for my abilities. A nice bonus is the end of the last downhill in Obertilliach, which finishes with two slightly banked curves: a lot of fun as long as your speed is high enough.

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

Laura Dahlmeier was both my favourite biathlete and my biggest biathlon specific inspiration, because she is my age and size, but is so much better than me. Her jumping technique is awesome, specifically on the uphill sections, and her last laps when in her best shape are magical.

Does your rifle have a name?

I don’t even have my own rifle, sadly. If I did, I would probably like to give it a name, although I’m not sure about the exact name yet.

Describe yourself in three words.

Honest, perfectionist*, hungry**
*a little too much, sometimes
**way too much, all the time

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden, first nation with which we worked together.
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin’s dragon
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): USA
Favourite shooting range: Obertilliach, Austria
Lucky bib number: No lucky number, but 24 (sorry) is my favourite What? THAT’S MY NEMESIS!!!
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Lucas Luquinhas Martins (Brazil), more people should know him.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anna Weidel (Germany, World Cup), Gabriela Gabi Neres (Brazil, IBU Cup)
Best thing about being a biathlete: Being allowed to lay down once or twice during a race.

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Oberhof 2019: The Sprints!

We are back in Oberhof! Or are we? Snowy,calm conditions – are you sure we are in Oberhof? Yes we are and we should enjoy winter now that it has arrived!

The first race after the Christmas break was the women’s sprint and I am sure Lisa Vittozzi didn’t mind her late gift. She won comfortably on Thursday shooting clean and leading the field by five seconds to take her first ever win on the World Cup. It has been on the cards for a while now and she deserves to make it on to the top step of the podium.

Second place went to Anais Chevalier following up her third place in the final race of 2018 the mass start in Nove Mesto. She also shot clean and managed to stay ten seconds clear of the third place finisher Hanna Oberg. She also shot clean as did Iryna Kryuko in 5th and Vita Semerenko in 6th. It was only 4th placed Marte Olsbu Roeiseland who spoiled the top six all shooting clean by missing 1 target.

The USA had a great day with Susan Dunklee in 10th and Clare Egan in 13th. Dzinara Alimbekava got her personal best finish in 25th as did Susanna Meinen in 39th, Tuuli Tomingas in 42nd and Karoline Knotten in 50th. It wasn’t the best day for our leaders with Paulina Fialkova in 21st, Dorothea Wierer in 24th and Kaisa Makarainen in 44th.

Oberhof was back to normal on Friday for the men’s sprint with some fog and wind! We knew it wouldn’t last! From last to first (great segue!) – it was a day of firsts for the guys. Alexander Loginov won the race to get his first ever World Cup win and Sebastian Samuelsson was third for his first World Cup podium. I think Johannes has been on the podium before though! 😉

Loginov shot clean to win by 25 seconds. A costly miss in the stand put Boe in second and Samuelsson also hit 10/10 in third. Benni Doll was 4th, Arnd Peiffer 5th and Julian Eberhard 6th all hitting 9/10.

Austria’s Felix Leitner got his personal best result in 12th shooting clean as did Anton Smolski in 26th and Simon Bartko in 50th.

Martin Fourcade missed 1 shot to finish 7th and will start 22 seconds behind Johannes Boe in the pursuit. That should be fun! 😉


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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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