Tag Archives: Biathlete

Simon Four-midable!

simon fourcade2

Biathlon23 tries not to show any favouritism because I really like all the biathletes but I am going to make an exception for Simon Fourcade. He has to be one of my favourite biathletes. Not because he is the fastest skier or the best shot or the most successful but because he is the most enthusiastic. Every time you see him in an interview talking about biathlon you can see the twinkle in his eye and the smile on his face and you can see how much he loves the sport. You can also tell what an incredible competitor he is when you see a very different look on his face if he performs badly. These are the type of sportsmen I like the most. Not the ones who do it for money or fame but for a genuine love of what they do.

Simon Fourcade was born in Perpignan on the 25th of April 1984. As a youngster his family moved to Céret and that is where he discovered his love of sport. He practised Judo and also ice hockey before discovering biathlon at the age of 10. He became a member of the French National team in 2001 and he is also a non-commissioned officer in the French Army.

His greatest biathlon successes to date must be winning the Chrystal Globe in the Individual event in the 2011/12 season along with a gold medal in the mixed relay in the 2009 World Championships, a silver in the Individual event in Ruhpolding and 2 silver medals in the men’s relay event at successive World Championships.

Last season was disrupted by an operation for compartmental syndrome on his leg and so we didn’t see his best results until the end of the season where he again got to share a podium with his younger brother Martin. 2013 also saw his acting debut playing James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Biathlon. He’s done a bit of modelling and showed off some of his dance moves at the end of season parties so he has plenty of options post biathlon!

But back to the present. This season we have the Olympics in Sochi but for someone who lists kebabs among his likes on his website I’m not sure how good Simon’s chances will be!!Joking aside his best chance of a medal may again come in the relays but I have a feeling he could do something in the Individual event too. Whatever happens next season the other biathletes will find him four-midable, Simon Four-midable!

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“Dash”ing through the snow!

dasha

It might feel like she has been around forever but Belarusian biathlete Darya “Dasha” Domracheva is still only 26 years old! She has been competing in the Biathlon World Cup since 2005 and is therefore one of the most experienced female biathletes currently competing.

She was born in Minsk in 1986 and when she was four Darya moved to Nyagan, in Siberia. In a newly created town there was little fun to be had apart from cross-country skiing, and so Darya took up the sport. Darya later changed sport to biathlon and has won an Olympic bronze medal in the Individual event, 2 gold medals, 3 silvers and 1 bronze in the World Championships including her victory in the Mass Start in Nove Mesto.

This has led to her becoming quite the celebrity in Belarus and this year she was given the honour of presenting the voting results in the Eurovision song contest. That’s when you know you have made it! Apart from presenting Dasha has also turned her hand to movie making. She documented all the biathletes from 2008 until after the 2010 Olympics showing them training, competing and relaxing which gave all the fans an amazing insight into the life of a professional biathlete. She also starred in “The Spy Who Loved Biathlon”, and as a self-confessed lover of dance, is there nothing this woman can’t do?!!!

This year Dasha will be competing in the Olympics in Sochi, Russia which I suppose will be the closest she can get to a home Olympics and I’m sure she will have a lot of Belarussian fans there to cheer her on. She produced a great performance there this year finishing first in the Individual event. She has a consistently good shooting record and she is a strong skier. Even though she seems like such a nice girl don’t be fooled as she is also a fierce competitor.

The main problem for Dasha and all the other female biathletes is of course Tora Berger. Darya has managed to finish second in the Total Score 2 years in a row. She was also second in both the Sprint and Mass Start standings last season. When she is on top form Darya is very difficult to beat but she needs to find some more consistency over the season if she is going to topple Tora from the top spot.

So will we see her dashing through the snow this season to Olympic glory? Well she has as good a chance as anybody and so hopefully we will see her dancing on the top step of the podium next season!

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Four-gone conclusion?

fourcade

Martin Fourcade is arguably one of the best biathletes ever. He won the overall title last year and all of the individual Chrystal globes. Born 14 September 1988 in Céret, Martin is a French biathlete and non-commissioned officer in the French Army. He has won several medals at the World Championships including four golds. He is also an Olympic silver medalist and winner of the 2011–12 World Cup as well as last season’s title.

As a child he took part in many sports like judo, swimming, athletics and mountain biking. In the end he followed his big brother Simon into Nordic skiing and biathlon. (So for all the other biathletes – you know who to blame!)Meeting Thierry Dusserre was a big moment for Martin. It was he who focused his attention on biathlon and instilled the necessary discipline and importance of training well. (You can blame Thierry too!)

Last season was amazing for Martin. To wear the yellow bib from start to finish and win all the individual events is an outstanding feat especially when you consider the competition he was facing. Great consistency coupled with some of the fastest skiing I have ever seen meant he thoroughly deserved all the titles and all the plaudits he received. However the World Championships in Nove Mesto didn’t go quite to plan mainly thanks to some missed targets and a certain Mr. Svendsen. He still won a gold and 4 silvers which for most biathletes would be a dream result but I can’t help feeling that Martin was disappointed that he didn’t take home more golds.

If he has a weakness it has to be his shooting. He tends to be slower than some of his main rivals to settle on the mat before he takes his first shot and has missed a few targets when the pressure is on. However he is still a great shot! And his ski speed is so good he can usually make up for it but I wouldn’t want to rely on that in the big races. The great competitor that he is I am sure it’s something he will be working on over the summer. Like the other biathletes he was back in full training by May for next season and I am sure he will be totally focused on making sure what happened in Nove Mesto doesn’t happen again in Sochi. The Olympics only come round every 4 years so it’s crucial to be able to peak at the right time as well as maintaining form for the World Cup.

Being one of the top performers in biathlon it is nice to see the good relationship he seems to have with his closest rivals. Housing hunting with Tarjei Bø and the now obligatory hugs at the end of races with Svendsen is very good to see. His relationship with his brother Simon also seems to help Martin. I’m sure having him as a roommate and teammate is both great support and motivation and maybe Simon can give him some shooting tips too!

So is it a four-gone conclusion that Martin Fourcade will win the World Cup again and Olympic gold next season? Nothing is ever certain in biathlon, there is a lot of competition but he has a fantastic chance of doing it. The one thing that I do know is he will give it his best shot!!!
Allez Martin!

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It’s all relative!

brothers

Biathlon is unique in the numbers of siblings who compete in the sport. You can find examples of other brothers and sisters competing in the same sport like the Williams sisters and Murray brothers in tennis, the Marquez and Espargaro brothers in Moto GP and the Ferdinand and Neville brothers in football and in cross-country skiing we have the Cologna and Northug brothers too.

However for the sheer volume of siblings competing together I don’t think any other sport can compete with biathlon. Currently we have the Fourcade brothers, the Windisch brothers, the 3 Gasparin sisters, the Bø brothers, Shipulin and Kuzmina, and even the Semerenko twins from the Ukraine to name but a few. Not forgetting top brother and sister combination Lars and Tora Berger.

gasparin

Why is this? Several reasons come to mind. Firstly the family. If you grow up in family who enjoy winter sports or in an area where winter sports are popular then of course the chances of all the children taking part are greater. Secondly if you have an older sibling who is good at a sport then maybe the younger child would like to copy them or maybe it’s just easier to take all the kids to the same training lessons. Another reason is that if for example if the children are twins or very similar in physique or character it may be that they are all suited to excelling in the same sport. Whatever the reasons are biathlon seems to have benefited from the amount of siblings taking part in the sport. The Fourcades and Bergers in particular have been very successful.

But what is it like competing against your brother or sister? On the plus side you have someone you know very well who you can train and travel with. Biathletes spend a lot of time away from home and it’s nice to take your family with you. You have a great support system on hand, someone who knows when to help you or to leave you alone. There is also an increased sense of competition as everyone loves to beat their brother or sister at something so it can be a great motivator. The relays provide an opportunity to compete together and I can imagine it would be an amazing feeling to win a gold medal with a member of your family.

On the other hand you have to spend a lot of time together and depending on how good your relationship is that could be a strain. It’s also a lot easier to take out feelings of frustration on your family rather than your teammates which could cause problems both for your family and the team. There is always one sibling who will do better than the other one. For a brother and sister this wouldn’t cause too many problems as they are not competing directly against each other. But what about brothers or sisters? Martin Fourcade is more successful than Simon but whenever they are on the podium together Simon has always finished ahead of his brother. Something he seems extremely happy about! It cannot be easy to see a sibling, especially a younger one, outperform you in a sport that you did first.

Personally I like the fact that there are so many siblings in Biathlon. It gives the sport a family feel and whether you are successful or not it’s all relative – brothers and sisters are for life not just for biathlon!

How SUPER is SVENDSEN?

svendsen

When he is not at the forefront of dandruff prevention in Norway, exposing himself to Tora Berger in the freezing cold of Khanty or messing about with Tarjei Bø , Emil Hegle Svendsen sometimes does a bit of biathlon.

Born on the 12th of July 1985 in Trondheim, Norway Emil has been competing in biathlon since 1997.

He has his own website http://www.supersvendsen.com , but what I want to know is can he justify calling himself “super”? Other biathletes haven’t got similar monikers like” Brilliant” Bjorndalen ,”Fantastic Fourcade”, or “Terrific Tora”!

The Collins English Dictionary defines super as:

Adjective:
(informal) outstanding; exceptionally fine

And its synonyms include:
= excellent, wonderful, marvellous, outstanding, smashing, superb, magnificent, glorious, terrific, sensational, awesome, incomparable, out of this world, peerless, matchless.

When I hear the word “super” I immediately think about Superman, a normal guy who puts on a red and blue suit and does extraordinary things. The same could be said about Svendsen. He seems like a pretty normal 27 year old but when he puts on that red ski suit he is capable of producing some phenomenal performances.

For example last season 2012/13, he won 5 medals at the World Championships in Nove Mesto. They included 4 gold in the Sprint, Pursuit and both relays and a bronze in the Mass Start. He was the only athlete to really challenge Fourcade’s dominance over the World Cup season. In a season shortened by illness, Svendsen was second in the Total Score, sprint, pursuit and mass start standings behind Fourcade.In the Vancouver Olympics he won 2 gold and 1 silver medal and in total he has 11 World Championship gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals. He has 31 wins and 65 podiums to his name and one overall World Cup title which he won in 2009/10.

Quite a compelling case then to be able to use the word “super”. However he is not the most successful biathlete ever. That title goes to Ole Einar Bjorndalen. Nor has he won successive World Cups like Bjorndalen, Poiree, Ullrich, Roetsch or Fourcade. He currently appears 9th on the Olympic biathlon medal table.Saying that he is competing at time when there are a lot of outstanding biathletes and it is never easy to win a race never mind a Chrystal Globe. Plus he is still competing so his titles and medal count has not finished yet.

So maybe he isn’t the best biathlete of all time or even of the present but he is an amazing biathlete. His performances and achievements in the sport can more than adequately be described using adjectives like excellent, wonderful, superb and magnificent. What I don’t think we could use is peerless, matchless or incomparable which I am sure he wouldn’t either.

So how super is Svendsen? Well considering all the things he has achieved already and the huge potential he has for more success I would say he is very super. He can deservedly call himself SUPERSVENDEN and I am not going to tell him otherwise – he is also a supershot afterall!

Magic Miri!

gossner

 

Not only is she a biathlete but 22 year old Miriam Gössner is also a cross-country skier. One of few people who choose to compete in both events she has won an Olympic silver medal in cross-country skiing and two biathlon world championship titles all in relay events.

Miriam was born in the German alpine resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria. Her father is German and her mother Norwegian. Could there be a better combination for producing a top biathlete! However this wasn’t her original choice of winter sport. She aimed for a career in alpine skiing, but following an accident during slalom training she changed disciplines to biathlon at the age of 14. Let’s just say alpine’s loss is biathlon’s gain.

Being German, a very fast skier and blonde, she is inevitably compared to Magdalena Neuner. This is a lot of pressure to heap on a young athlete. They are quite similar in that they are both better at skiing than shooting but Miri has plenty of time to improve. And she will have to improve because no matter how fast you ski you can’t make up for missing too many targets. However she is her own person and although comparisons to Neuner may be flattering they may not be helpful. She should be judged on her own performances and against her own expectations rather than other peoples. Too much pressure on young shoulders can sometimes have a negative effect, but Miri seems to be the kind of athlete who can handle it and use it to her advantage.

Next season could be a huge one for Miriam. She has the Olympics to come as well as the regular World Cup season. She also has the option of competing in two disciplines in Sochi. Will she be tempted to enter any cross-country events as well as the biathlon programme? I think it comes down to how well she shoots. If she can improve her shooting statistics to over 80% for both disciplines then she will have a great chance of winning medals next February especially in the sprint which has so far been her best event. However if she doesn’t maybe she could consider giving the cross-country a go.

One motto of hers is to “live the life you love”. A great philosophy to have and it seems as though she is doing it. You can see how much she enjoys competing and the skiing in particular. I am really looking forward to following her progress next season and I’m expecting a bit of Miri magic in the Olympics too.

Selected results:

1st Sprint 2012/13 Ruhpolding (GER)
1st Sprint 2012/13 Oberhof (GER)
1st Pursuit 2012/13 Pokljuka (SLO)
2nd Mass Start 2012/13 Pokljuka (SLO)
2nd Sprint 2012/13 Pokljuka (SLO)
2nd Sprint 2010/11 Fort Kent, ME (USA)

Lukas: A lot to Hofer!

hofer

 

Lukas Hofer is an Italian biathlete. Born in Brunico on the 30th of September 1989, the 24 year old is a member of the Italian military. With a bronze medal to his name from the 2011 World championships in the mass start, I would argue that he is one of the best biathletes never to have won an individual race on the World Cup.

Selected results:
2nd Sprint 2012/13 Khanty-Mansiysk (RUS)
7th Pursuit 2012/13 Khanty-Mansiysk (RUS)
7th Individual 2012/13 Nove Mesto (CZE)
4th Sprint 2011/12 Oberhof (GER)
6th Sprint 2010/11 Pokljuka (SLO)
3rd Mass Start 2010/11 Khanty-Mansiysk (RUS)

However I don’t think that assertion will last very long. Finishing the season well with a win and a second place in the Military Championships in Annecy and a second in the last round of the World Cup, Lukas had a very positive end to the season. His ski speed is up there with the best of them and his prone shooting has always been good.

Where he sometimes frustrates is in the standing shoot. He has lost some opportunities at victory from good positions by missing one or two targets in the last standing shoot. Fortunately for Lukas he still young and I am sure these experiences will prove to make him a stronger athlete. Also shooting is arguably an easier skill to improve than ski speed so it’s something that is possible to resolve.

It is not easy for most of the current crop of biathletes to compete in an era with so many outstanding competitors. It is probably more difficult than ever to win a World Cup race. If you manage to beat Fourcade, you still have Svendsen ,Boe, Fak, Birnbacher and an assortment of Russians to get past. Difficult however is not the same as impossible. For Lukas and the other biathletes it’s a chance to test themselves against the very best and easy motivation to push themselves on to great achievements.

However as a member of the Carabinieri, Lukas could also use the tactic of arresting a few of those mentioned above when they compete in Italy giving himself a much easier chance of victory! Such underhand tactics aside I am hoping for a great season and Olympic Games for Lukas. With an improvement in his shooting stats I see no reason why he can’t give the others a run for their money.

He’s young, he’s talented and I for one think he has a lot to Hofer!!!

Also check out his website in Italian and German. It has a very cool opening page!
http://www.lukas-hofer.com/