Tag Archives: Biathlon Overall Title

Pokljuka 2016: The Pursuits!

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Like idrijski žlikrofi, Slovenian potato dumplings, the Pursuit races in Pokljuka were stuffed full of tasty stuff! The men’s race was in the morning and the Martin Fourcade bus keeps on rolling. With no wins in Pokljuka for years two come along at once. I ran out of words to describe this man a long time ago but his mental strength is astonishing. I think he is one of the toughest sports people in the world when it come to the mental side of the sport. He takes risks and I think he isn’t afraid to lose. He pushes himself and his opponents to their limits but he is usually the one who comes out on top.

It was the same today. Anton Shipulin gave him a good run for his money and watching them shoot clean side by side was fantastic. However on the final shoot Shipulin missed a target and denied us a great finish but Fourcade was imperious today. Second place went to Emil Hegle Svendsen, remember him? It’s great to see him back up the front shooting 20/20 and holding off Shipulin who was third. It was a great display of shooting all round at the front.

Taking sixth place was Michael Roesch of Belguim who also shot clean. Lars Birkeland came from 32nd to finish 13th, Julian Eberhard went from 47th to 21st and Ondrej Moravec from 31st to 14th.

The women raced later in the day and Laura Dahlmeier made it a double victory when she beat Kaisa Makarainen by around 17 seconds. They both missed 2 targets but Dahlmeier is very strong at the moment and hard to beat. In third was the Czech biathlete Eva Puskarcikova who made the podium for the first time on the World Cup missing just 1 shot and beating Marie Dorin Habert in a close finish.

Dorin Habert had a good race also missing one to move up from 17th to 4th. Susan Dunklee took 5th from Lisa Hauser in 6th who is continuing her great early season form. Yuliia Dzhima went from 28th to 11th, Galina Vishnevskaya from 25th to 13th, Veronika Vitkova from 30th to 15th, Iryna Kryuko from 33rd to 18th, Maren Hammerschmidt from 41st to 24th, Anna Magnusson from 47th to 28th and Mari Laukkanen from 56th to 35th.

We were treated to two good races from the men and women in Pokljuka and as there are Relays tomorrow it means that Laura Dahlmeier leads the women’s overall by 69 points from Kaisa Makarainen and Martin Fourcade leads Johannes Boe by 95 points.

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Season 2016/17 Preview: Women

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It’s almost time! Just a few days until the start of the brand new biathlon season and it’s time for the women’s preview!
Unlike the predictable Men’s World Cup the Women’s World Cup is really exciting! It’s very hard to choose a winner this season and it should be a great one to watch.

Last season saw Gabriela Soukalova win her first ever Overall Title but I’m sorry to say there is no chance of Soukalova winning this season. Why not? Only because she has changed her name to Koukalova!!! She has every chance of winning again but it will be far from easy.

This season they are lining up to win the big Crystal Globe. With Darya Domracheva missing the start of the season after giving birth to her first child in October the race for the title will be between five or six biathletes.

As defending champion Koukalova will be the favourite this season. However it is often said that retaining a title is more difficult than winning the first one. She will have a lot more expectation on her shoulders this time and that means added pressure. Her committments outside of training may also play a factor if she hasn’t had enough time to prepare properly for the races.

Challenging Gabi will be of course Kaisa Makarainen who happily decided to continue her biathlon career. She is the most experienced of all the contenders and has won the overall title twice before. However she was the favourite last season and she didn’t deliver struggling with her shooting. She is still the fastest skier though and that will give her a big chance.

After the experience of Kaisa we have the youth of Laura Dahlmeier. She had a great season last year on the World Cup and at the World Championships. She is a fantastic shot and copes well under pressure. The biggest barrier to Laura however is her health. She usually misses one or two World Cup rounds through illness and you can’t give away that many points if you want to win the overall.

Marie Dorin Habert was amazing last season and pushed Gabi all the way coming second in the Total Score just 46 points behind. If she repeats her success then she possibly has the best chance of winning the overall title. If she can add a little more consistency she could make it a double World Title for France alongside Fourcade.

Trying to stop all of these ladies will be Dorothea Wierer. She won the small Crystal Globe for the Individual last season and was third overall on the World Cup. She was however over 100 points behind the winner. This means she needs to improve her points scoring over the whole season. Even if she doesn’t win the races she has to finish ahead of her main rivals as often as possible. The Mass Start was probably her weakest event last season but if she can improve her head to head racing she will have an opportunity to take the title.

There are others who we expect to do well like Tiril Eckhoff. She didn’t have a great World Cup last time and finished 11th overall. She will need to work on her shooting to move forward as we know she is a great skier. Franziska Hildebrand will be hoping to better her 5th place in the Overall and if she has a similar season this year she just might do it.

Further down the field Susan Dunklee will be hoping to win her first World Cup race after coming second in Presque Isle last time. Rosanna Crawford will be doing her best to get that elusive first podium finish to improve her personal best of 4th.

Looking to see a big improvement in results will be the Russian women’s team who had a hard time last season. Teja Gregorin and Valj Semerenko will also be hoping for better results this season.

Keep an eye out for the youngsters doing well this season. Galina Vishnevskaya, Lucie Charvatova, Julia Schwaiger, Paulina Fialkova, Ingrid Tandrevold and Lisa Vittozzi will all be out to impress.

There are a lot of others biathletes who will want to have a good season like Karin Oberhofer, Julia Dzhyma, Krystyna Guzik, Olena Pidhrushna, Veronika Vitkova, Anais Bescond and Franziska Preuss and others who will be missing like Weronika Nowakowska and Vita Semerenko but it should be a really exciting season for the women and I can’t wait for it to start!

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Season 2016/17 Preview: Men

Oestersund, Pokljuka, Nove Mesto, Oberhof, Ruhpolding, Antholz, PyeongChang, Tyumen and Olso! Are you ready? It’s almost time for the new biathlon season to begin! That means it must be time for a season preview too so here it is!

Looking back over previous previews they all read more or less like this. Martin Fourcade is the red hot favourite. If he stays fit and healthy all season he will win the Overall Title for the 6th year in a row. Potential challengers are Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Simon Schempp and Anton Shipulin. They are all capable of beating Fourcade in a single race but don’t seem to have the consistency over a whole season to win the big Crystal globe.

Preview finished!

Only joking! As the top places are nearly always the same for the men I decided that this year’s preview should move away from the elite and see what’s happening a little bit behind them. Who are the up and coming biathletes to look out for? Who could get their first win or first podium? Who should be doing better? That’s what I am going to look at before season 2016/17 gets under way.

It’s sometimes hard to believe but there are some well established biathletes who have yet to win a race on the World Cup. The most famous is probably Simon Fourcade. He has achieved many podium results but never higher than second. Surely this season he will get to the top step. Fellow Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet has also come within a toenail of winning but again second place is his best result. Germany’s Benedikt Doll will be hoping to grab his first win. Tim Burke is another who will want to come first instead of second place as will Sergey Semenov and Benjamin Weger.

Expect a strong season from the Austrian team. Simon Eder was 5th last season in the overall title and Dominik Landertinger was 9th. With Julian Eberhard getting his first win and Sven Grossegger achieving a personal best of 5th they will be a dangerous squad this year.

Hoping to get their first taste of the podium are Andrejs Rastorgujevs who has a few 4th positions to his name already. Klemen Bauer also has a personal best of fourth as does Simon Desthieux and Krasimir Anev.

Scoring points on a more consistent basis will be the goal for biathletes like Mario Dolder, Leif Nordgren, Macx Davies, Kalev Ermits and Martin Otcenas.

Make sure you look out for some of the younger biathletes this season who will be trying their best to impress their coaches and the fans. Watch out for Sean Doherty to continue his rise to the top. The likes of Rene Zahkna, Rok Trsan and Fabien Claude will be pushing hard to do well. Keep an eye out too for Sebastian Samuelsson who has been picked for the Swedish team to make his debut in Oestersund and Felix Leitner who will start his first World Cup race for Austria.

On the other hand it’s about time Freddie Lindstrom had a better season. We haven’t seen him on the podium since 2013. Lukas Hofer didn’t have a great season individually either and it would be good to see him back on form. Jakov Fak will be hoping to improve as will Ondrej Moravec.

There are many more biathletes to watch out for but too many to mention here. The Germans are always dangerous with Peiffer and Lesser showing some good form in patches last time.

Last but not least expect new dad Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to pop up with a few podium finishes and don’t be surprised if he adds more World Championships medals to his vast collection in Hochfilzen. That’s if he can cope with the sleepless nights of course!

Hopefully it will a great season with some more first time winners and some great races. The title race might not be close but we can look forward to some great battles in individual races. Bring it on boys!!!

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Aiming for the Top: Season Preview Women 2015/16

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After the news that last season’s champion Darya Domracheva has decided to take the season off to recover from mononucleosis we have been denied the chance to see her go head to head again with Kaisa Makarainen. Bad news for us but good news for Kaisa as she is the now the clear favourite to regain the Overall Title. It will be difficult for the other female biathletes to challenge her due to her superior ski speed but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be trying their best to beat her.

The main competition to Kaisa will come from the Ukraine, Germany, The Czech Republic, Italy, France and hopefully Norway. Last season’s third place biathlete in the Total Score was Valj Semerenko. It was her best season to date and it seems she did better without her twin sister Vita who might miss another season due to injury.

The biggest challenge to Kaisa could come from Germany and not just from 1 biathlete but possibly from 3. Franziska Hildebrand was 5th in the Total Score last season, Laura Dahlmeier was 8th and Franziska Preuss was 9th. They are all young, hungry biathletes and if they can produce their form from last season and put some more consistent points scoring races together they will be a real threat. Dahlmeier looks the most dangerous as she has shown she is capable of winning races but her inexperience may count against her.

Veronika Vitkova and Gabriela Soukalova were 4th and 6th respectively last season and both have the talent to improve their positions. If Soukalova has a better start to the season we could see her on the podium much more often and hopefully she has concentrated more on her summer training this year than her commercial deals. Vitkova will be looking for more wins and more podiums and could end up on the Overall podium at the end of the year although I’m not sure it will be on the top step.

Dorothea Wierer, 7th last season, and Karin Oberhofer,10th, constitute the danger from Italy. Both had fantastic seasons and with a few more good results they could both move up the rankings. They can challenge Makarainen in individual races but I am not sure if they can sustain it over an entire season.

Someone with possibly the best chance of stealing the crystal globe from the clutches of Makarainen is France’s Marie Dorin Habert. She finished 15th in the Total Score but didn’t compete in all the races after having her first child. However when she did turn up she was on the best form of her life. Strangely she won her first race just last season so it may be a bit premature to call her a title contender but she has what it takes to outscore Kaisa if she maintains last season’s form and can consistently be on and around the podium.

Another first time mum is making her way back into biathlon and Selina Gasparin will be hoping to copy the success of Habert. You may also note that the Russian biathletes are completely absent from the Top 10 with Ekaterina Glazyrina their best biathlete in 13th. I can’t really see any of the Russian women in the hunt for the crystal globe this season either.

Tiril Eckhoff is Norway’s big hope in the Total Score. She was 11th last year and she will be under pressure to perform this season. She has the talent to win races and be very competitive but seems to lack the consistency required to compete for the Overall Title. She may also be focussing her season on her home World Championships.

It will also be a big year for the North American ladies. They get to race at home this season with World Cups in Canmore and Presque Isle. The likes of Rosanna Crawford, Megan Tandy, Susan Dunklee and Hannah Dreissigacker will be desperate to do well in front of their home crowd.

Away from the Overall winner there is some young talent to keep an eye on. Ukraine’s Iryna Varvynets looks like a good prospect along with the French pair Enora Latuilliere and Justine Braisaz. Germany’s Luise Kummer and Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser were impressive last season and Elisa Gasparin will be looking to build on her good form as will Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi.

It’s hard to see past Makarainen for the Overall Title but it is biathlon and anything can happen. It should be an exciting season in the women’s races with lots of new young talent coming through who will be trying to get a podium or break into the Top 10 or Top 20. We can look forward to a lot of fantastic women Aiming for the Top!

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Tomas: Yes, he Kau’KAN’as!!!

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It’s fair to say that last season wasn’t the greatest for Tomas Kaukenas. The Lithuanian biathlete from Ignalina didn’t manage to score a single point on the World Cup which means he never got inside the TOP 40 in any of the races. He’s not the only one you are thinking and that’s correct but it is not a true indication of his talents.

Tomas was born on the 1st of May 1990 and made his World Cup debut at age 18 in 2009. At only 25 he has been to 4 World Championships and also to the Olympics in Sochi. In fact he performed really well in Sochi and managed a trio of respectable results. He finished 47th in the Sprint and improved that to 40th in the Pursuit. It was in the the Individual that he produced his best result however finishing in 23rd place.

His personal best on the World Cup was a 22nd place finish in the Pursuit race in Kontiolahti in season 2013/14. That year he finished 58th in the Total Score with 62 points. Strangely enough that was exactly the same score as he got when finishing in 63rd position overall the year before. His personal best finish from the World Championships just happens to be a 22nd place in the Sprint from Nove Mesto in 2013.

So as you can see apart from being a numerical oddity he is also a very good biathlete which makes his performances last year a bit of an enigma. Lithuania is not one of the biggest biathlon nations and so therefore doesn’t have the money to compete with some of the other teams when trying to identify and bring through young talent. However they seem to have done that with Kaukenas and so hopefully last year was just a little slip from him and he will come back stronger next season.

With the addition of the Single Mixed Relay to the biathlon schedule hopefully he will have a chance to showcase his talents and maybe get a few points for the Lithuanian team. He has the skill to break into the TOP 20 if he can regain his form. If he can recreate his performances from 2013 and 2014 he will easily make the TOP 40 and maybe even score more than the 62 points he got in those 2 seasons!

You could also argue that the colour of last year’s Lithuanian ski suit may have mean that Tomas didn’t want to be seen and that could be the reason for his disappearance from the TOP 40 last season!! Joking aside it would be great to see him get back to his best as it’s always good to see biathletes from different countries doing well. Their neighbour’s Latvia have Andrejs Rastorgujevs to inspire them and it would be nice of Tomas could do the same sort of thing for Lithuania. Can he do that this coming season? Yes he Kau’KAN’as!!

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Global Success! Season 2014/15 Review: Women

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The Women’s season turned out as we had expected before a rifle was even fired. Kaisa Makarainen and Darya Domracheva would fight it out for the overall title and they did so right up until the end of the season. They both started well and in the first race, the Individual in Oestersund, Domracheva won from Makarainen in second. Both finished in the TOP 5 in the Sprint and Makarainen won the Pursuit with Domracheva in 4th. This meant that there wasn’t much to choose between them after Round 1.

We then headed to Hochfilzen where Kaisa really laid down a marker and won both races with Darya losing some ground. In Pokljuka they were neck and neck again with Darya beating Kaisa in both the Sprint and Pursuit but then came the first Mass Start of the season and it proved to be a disaster for Darya. She crashed into another biathlete when exiting the penalty loop and could not finish the race. Kaisa took full advantage and won the race giving her 60 points whilst Darya scored 0.

After Christmas in Oberhof we were expecting more of the same. In fact they had similar results again with Darya leaving with slightly more points. In Ruhpolding Darya came out firmly on top taking a first and second place finish and piling the pressure on Kaisa. Antholz again was a battle between the two with Darya taking both wins and Kaisa a second and a third place. Nove Mesto couldn’t really separate them either with both women in the Top 10 of the Sprint and Darya winning the Pursuit from Kaisa in second. It looked like the same story in Oslo too with Kaisa winning the Individual and Darya in second but in the Sprint Darya won and Kaisa could only finish in 24th place which meant the yellow bib changed hands just before the World Championships. Kaisa had been in yellow for most of the season but now Darya took over by just 10 points.

With the World Championships counting towards the overall title there was even more pressure on both of them to do well in Kontiolahti before the final round in Khanty Mansiysk. However the task of competing for the overall title and World titles was always going to be difficult. In fact only Kaisa took a medal and it was bronze. Darya did however manage to extend her lead to 21 points by finishing ahead in most of the races.

So it was left to Khanty Mansiysk and three races to decide the destination of the Overall Title. Kaisa drew first blood and won the Sprint closing the gap on Domracheva, who was third, down to just 9 points. Darya hit back hard though in the Pursuit finishing first with Kaisa back in fourth to virtually guarantee the Overall Title barring total disaster in the final Mass Start. Kaisa did manage to win the small Crystal globe for the Pursuit by just 1 point from Darya and Valj Semerenko who was third. The last race saw Darya take 4th place which was more than enough for her to win her first ever big Crystal Globe! It also saw Franziska Preuss win the small globe for the Mass Start.

Away from the two title contenders there were some excellent performances from some of the other ladies. Veronika Vitkova showed what a classy biathlete she is. She won her first ever race this season in the Oberhof Sprint and proved it was no matter of luck as she has been on the podium another five times. She has also played a vital role in both the Mixed and Women’s relay team for the Czech Republic along with Gabriela Soukalova who after a sluggish start had a good end to the season.

Laura Dahlmeier is another woman who has impressed greatly this season. She took her debut World Cup win in the Nove Mesto Sprint race and got another 6 podiums before winning the final race of the season in Khanty Mansiysk. She is probably the best shot of all the women and at the age of just 21 she will have a lot more success to look forward to. Her German teammates have all improved too especially Franziska Preuss and Vanessa Hinz. Together with Franziska Hildebrand they make a fearsome Relay team as we found out in Kontiolahti. They also won the Nation’s Cup and had 3 biathletes in the TOP 10 of the total score.

Making good strides forward this season was also the Italian Women’s team. Dorothea Wierer and Karin Oberhofer have enjoyed their best ever seasons and the likes of Nicole Gontier, Lisa Vittozzi and Federica Sanfilippo are there to back them up. Marie Dorin Habert had a shortened season after giving birth to her first daughter in September. She made a stunning return to the World Cup finishing on the podium and then went on to dominate the World Championships winning 2 gold medals. The French newcomers Justine Briasaz and Enora Latuilliere also look like becoming very good biathletes.

Valj Semerenko in the absence of her twin sister had a very consistent season. She made a lot of podiums and was excellent on the shooting range. She eventually finished third in the total score and won the Mass Start at the World Championships. Rosanna Crawford from Canada had a really strong season too getting her personal best result of 4th in the Pokljuka Sprint as well as 7 Top 20 finishes . America’s Susan Dunklee had a good year too and Hannah Dreissigacker achieved her personal best result of 14th at the final round in Russia.

It has been a great year for Women’s biathlon. The fight for the Overall Title went right down to the final round and at the World Championships the rest of the pack showed just how good they are. Next year should be even better with more women coming through to challenge. We don’t know if Makarainen will retire or not yet but Darya Domracheva will have plenty of competition either way. It will be a long summer waiting for the season to start again but Darya has a lot of time to enjoy her Global Success!

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Global Success!2014/15 Season Review:Men

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Season 2014/15 has come to an end and there is no surprise about who came out on top in the Men’s field. Yes for the fourth time in a row France’s Martin Fourcade has won the overall title and gets another big Crystal Globe to put on his already overcrowded mantlepiece. It didn’t start out that way though. We all got a bit excited in the first race of the season way back in Oestersund in the Individual 20km.

It was won by Fourcade’s main rival at the start of the season Emil Hegle Svendsen and with Martin having a total nightmare and finishing in 81st place we thought we might see the title go elsewhere. Of course we we entirely wrong because Fourcade popped up and won the very next race, the Sprint, by 28 seconds and went on to win the Pursuit too. After the first World Cup round it was business as usual with Fourcade and Svendsen setting the pace.

That didn’t last long though as two new contenders appeared to chase Fourcade. Germany’s Simon Schempp started putting in some fantastic performances with two second places in Hochfilzen. In Pokljuka Russia’s Anton Shipulin emerged as a real challenger for the overall with 2 wins and a second place. At this point Svendsen was still going along nicely picking up wins and podiums to stay in the hunt.

After Christmas we had the two German races in Oberhof and Ruhpolding. Oberhof went well for Fourcade where he won both races but in Ruhpolding he started to have some problems. Both Schempp and Shipulin gained points there with Schempp getting a win and a second place. Antholz was next and that’s where Schempp did even more damage. With Fourcade under the weather he won both races just as he did the year before to make a big dent in Fourcade’s lead in the yellow bib. It was around this time that Svendsen’s title challenge faded away as he failed to get on the podium or even into the Top 10. Schempp again beat Fourcade in Nove Mesto but not by much as he was second twice while Fourcade was third and fourth.

By now Shipulin’s charge was slowing and while he still made the podium and TOP 10 in Holmenkollen Fourcade’s win and second place gave him the advantage. Schempp didn’t have a great round in Norway either which left Fourcade with a lead of 78 points going into the World Championships where the results also counted towards the overall title. His rivals didn’t fare too well in the points department but Shipulin and Schempp did medal. Martin won the Individual and was competitive enough in all the other races to give him a lead of 111 points to take into the final round.

We found ourselves in Khanty-Mansiysk for round 9 and in the first race, the Sprint, Martin won convincingly and also won the small Crystal globe. Shipulin was second but it left a deficit of 117 points going into the final 2 races. He was also second in the Sprint standings ahead of Simon Schempp in third. In the Pursuit race Martin did enough to win the Overall Title finishing fourth just one place behind Shipulin. This means he has won the total score for 4 years in a row the first person to do so. The final race saw Shipulin claiming the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Outside of these guys there have been other impressive performances. Ukraine’s Sergey Semenov won the Individual 20km competition with some great shooting and consistent results and did enough in Kontiolahti to hang on to beat Fourcade and Svendsen to the title. Jakov Fak put up a late charge coming into great ski form towards the end of the year winning World Championship gold as well as 3 other races. This put him into third place in the overall standings.

Johannes Thingnes Boe didn’t get as many World Cup wins as last year but he is the World Champion in the Sprint. He is also relatively inexperienced on the World Cup which is obviously a worry for all the other biathletes! His big brother Tarjei made up for a slow start to the season troubled by illness to win 5 medals in Kontiolahti. The German team were stronger than they have been in a while with Schempp but Arnd Peiffer also got back to winning ways in Holmenkollen and with Lesser becoming Pursuit World Champion and Andi Birnbacher getting back to his old form they are a formidable team. They also have Daniel Boehm and Benedikt Doll who collected his first 2 podiums in Khanty Mansiysk.

Simon Fourcade enjoyed a better season than last year finishing 4th in every race!!;-) The French team also have a new star in Quentin Fillon Maillet. He has finished in the TOP 10 nine times with his best result of second place coming in the Ruhpolding Mass Start in a photo finish. Benjamin Weger has shown more consistency this season and has had 4 Top 10 finishes. The Czech team had a good season too with Michal Slesingr in great form and Ondrej Moravec performing well at the World Championships. Evgeniy Garanichev did well too for Russia and finished 6th in the total score.

The Canadians have done really well with Nathan Smith winning silver in the World Championship Sprint, taking 6 TOP 10 finishes and his first ever win in Khanty Mansiysk to finish the season on a high. Brendan Green got a personal best result of 5th too. For the Americans Leif Nordgren outshone his better known colleagues Burke and Bailey with 4 TOP 30 results and a personal best of 16th in the Nove Mesto Sprint. The Bulgarians Krasimir Anev and Vladimir Iliev have been a breath of fresh air this season both shooting really well and getting 14 Top 20 finishes between them, 9 for Iliev and 5 for Anev. Anev achieved a PB of 4th and Iliev 6th.

It has been a very enjoyable season watching the men’s races. I would like to have seen a closer challenge to Fourcade but it sets up next season very nicely. It’s not a two horse race anymore between Fourcade and Svendsen. There are other opponents who can stop Fourcade achieving 5 in a row! However they will find it very tough. It was nice to see the small globes shared around too with Semenov taking the Individual title, Shipulin the Mass Start and the Sprint and Pursuit going to Fourcade. The Nation’s Cup went to Norway. Well we have a long summer ahead of us to digest this season and look forward to the next one. One thing is certain for Monsieur Fourcade season 2014/15 has been a Global Success!

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