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The Biathlon23 Awards 2015/16!!!

awards
It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their third year! And guess what Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won one!! Only joking biathlon is a lot harder than surviving a CGI bear attack! 😉 As usual they are not your typical awards and there are a few new categories too. Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Last year’s post that was read by the most people was about an American.This year it is a Brit. It’s great to see the growing interest in the smaller biathlon nations where most of the population haven’t heard of the sport let alone who competes in it. This lady especially deserves your support as she was all alone this season on the Women’s World Cup as Britain’s only female representative.
Winner: Amanda Lightfoot

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“Tarjei Boe Marine” : Someone has taken RamBoe too seriously!
“Simon Fourcade’s diet”: Snails and frogs legs mostly! 😉
“Johannes Boe why pink rifle”: My sentiments exactly!
“Benjamin Eder”, “Manuela Goessner”, “Galina Schwaiger”: My favourite biathletes!
“Martin and Simon Fourcade warfare”: I knew they didn’t like each other really!
“where is Laura Dahlmeier?”: I don’t know I haven’t seen her!
“funny welle strand horn”: I think there is a Norwegian biathlete in there somewhere!
” olgan of awesome race 2015″: erm ….!
Winner:”Emil Hegle Svendsen secret weapon”: It’s the amazing hair! It’s dandruff free you know. 😉

Best Facial hair:
I wanted to give this to the magnificent beard of Martin Johnsrud Sundby and then I remembered he isn’t a biathlete! Damn you Sundby! The biathlon beards seem to have been quite absent this season. Martin Fourcade was growing a beard for a bet, not shaving until he shot clean. He cheated and shaved it before he shot clean though and that kind of attitude does not win you awards Monsieur! The winner kept his beard all through the season and through dancing with Russian media and film making with the Norwegians!
Winner:Max Davies

Best earrings:
There were many contenders this year. Everyone seems to be wearing them now. They are probably trying to win this award! Kaisa Makarainen had nice ones as did Olena Pidhrushna and many others. This year however the winner is someone who has gone for patriotism, and has more than one pair, with earrings in red, white and green.
Winner: Dorothea Wierer

Nicest person in biathlon:
I was really tempted to give this to last year’s winner again Jean-Gui Beatrix because he was nice enough to do an interview for me although it took him ages!! However he failed to acknowledge the role of this interview in getting him his first ever World Cup win in Pokljuka! That’s not nice! The winner has in fact done 2 interviews for my blog already and I am sure he will do more if I ask. He always remains positive even in a team struggling for finance and did I mention the most important fact – he is Scottish!! 😉
Winner: Scott Dixon

Best Team Performance:
A difficult choice this season. France were strong contenders for their World Championship results. Norway won both Relay golds in Oslo. However I expect that kind of stuff from those teams. What I didn’t expect was a small biathlon nation to go and win a bronze medal in the Men’s Relay. An exceptional performance from all four biathletes when everything just went right on the day. Excellent shooting and cool heads from Brendan Green, Nathan Smith, Scott Gow and Christian Gow.
Winner: Canadian Men’s Relay Team

Biggest Improver:
This year’s award goes to someone who has made a big impression in Season 2015/16. He has gone under the radar until now possibly because of the strong results of his teammates. His best result last season on the World Cup was a 15th place. His best result this season was 5th. His best performance at a World Championships previously was 57th. This season is was also 5th. His shooting has been amazing this season and if he keeps improving it won’t be long until we see him on the podium. Arguably the strongest male biathlete on the Czech Team this season.
Winner:Michal Krcmar

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This year’s victor went all out to get this award. In Presque Isle he came to the bottom of a slope on a corner and went straight into a tree and got concussion. Raising the bar and proving that if you don’t go to hospital you won’t win this award!
Winner:Arnd Peiffer

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
One year this award won’t go to one of the Boe brothers but it won’t be this year! Tarjei strikes again winning this for the second year in a row. Commenting on younger brother Johannes winning two races and getting a second place in Presque Isle he said “I’m glad Fourcade beat him yesterday or he would be flying already over the Atlantic Ocean!”
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ_x4JT2W-Y
Winner:Tarjei Boe

Best biathlon video:
There are a lot of biathletes making videos of training and they are really good. The French do the most with Antonin Guigonnat, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Alexis Beouf all posting some good stuff. This inaugural award however doesn’t go to a biathlete at all. It goes to a TV station and reporter for his amazing explanation of biathlon in song with some help from the Norwegian biathletes!
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThZRndkxA-E
Winner:NRK and Nicolay Ramm

Best World Cup Round:
The World Cup was a bit different this season as we missed Oberhof for lack of snow and had 2 rounds in Ruhpolding. In Khanty Mansiysk 2 races were cancelled due to strong winds and there were problems with snow elsewhere. One place that had no problems with snow or weather and hosted a great World Cup round with good organisation and the beautiful backdrop of the Three Sisters (the mountains not the Gasparins!). We haven’t been there for a while but hopefully we will go back soon!
Winner: Canmore

Best rifle design:
Another tough category this year but it comes down to two. Selina Gasparin with her rifle of flames which was designed in a competition and Anton Shipulin’s dragon rifle. Both are very cool and any other season Gasparin would have had this award but come on his rifle is carved like a dragon!A DRAGON!!!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Some advice for you Johannes, pink and ginger clash my friend. The gold was good last season but pink! It ‘s not even a nice shade of pink! What were you thinking?
Winner: Johannes Thingnes Boe

Best ski suit:
There were actually very few contenders for this award but Great Britain put out a good design as usual and I do like Estonia’s too. The Norwegians have finally taken my advice and added some extra colour to the red with their excellent World Championships suit. However the winner I think represents their country well. Classic white and blue with a swirling pattern within the blue sections which I hope depicts the many lakes of the country in question.
Winner:Finland

Worst ski suit:
On my God! Where do I even start with this one. It was like the designers had a competition to see who could come up with the worst suit. This is such a difficult decision but let’s look at the “offenders”. First Russia with the weird pixelated trousers. Followed by Sweden and the Ukraine with the weird pixelated trousers. Then came America with the weird pixelated trousers and also the colours of orange and purple which on TV made them look like Russia! The cold war begins again! Canada didn’t want to miss out either with their tribute to “Where’s Wally (Waldo)? So I didn’t like a lot of the suits this season but for my initial reaction to the this one (“what the hell is it that?”) and contrasting it with the greatness of their previous suit I chose the winner – or more appropriately the loser. Blue with what looks like a red, white and yellow attack by an out of control marker pen!
Winner:France

Best vocal performance:
There weren’t many to choose from this season! Maybe Gabi was too busy winning the Overall Title to do any singing. However we did get some nice seasonal songs at Christmas from someone that I didn’t even know could sing.
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ_x4JT2W-Y
Winner:Clare Egan

Rising star:
This young lady is, at 19-years-old, an up and coming talent in the French Team and that is a pretty difficult thing to do as they have a lot of very good biathletes. Her previous best result on the World Cup was 14th place and this season she improved that to 4th. She won a silver medal with the Women’s Relay Team at the World Championships and has achieved 8 Top 20 finishes on the World Cup. She is an excellent shot and I expect her to get her first World Cup podium next season.
Winner:Justine Braisaz

Best biathlete23:
A straight fight between two Frenchmen! Quentin Fillon Maillet and Martin Fourcade. QFM was the first biathlete in bib23 this season and provided a photo of the bib which I stole for my profile picture! He was also 4th which was the best result until the World Championships where Fourcade won gold in bib23 in the Individual. A difficult choice but – I love gold!!!
Winner: Martin Fourcade

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
Another impossible task to choose a winner. Martin Fourcade’s Individual at the World Championships, Johannes Boe’s Mass Start gold medal, Ole Einar and Marie Dorin Habert in Oslo are just a few. We also had great races in the Mass Starts from Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Dominik Windisch and especially Erik Lesser in Ruhpolding. The award is going to a woman who didn’t have a great season but when under maximum pressure she delivered. At her home World Championships in front of the King she shot 10/10 and won the gold medal in the Sprint. She is brave and never gives up and is amazing at handling huge pressure.
Winner:Tiril Eckhoff

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
This award should go to Martin Fourcade. He won the Overall Title for the 5th time in a row and 4 gold medals at the World Championships. But then you have 42-year-old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who won a race on the World Cup and 4 World Championship medals. The award is not going to either of them though. It’s going to a woman who worked hard all season, was very consistent and raced in a more competitive field. She won the Overall Title for the first time for herself and her country and also took 3 of the 4 small globes. Most importantly she did it all with a smile on her face!
Winner:Gabriela Soukalova

IPC biathlete of the Year:
The Russian’s won every single category on the World Cup in biathlon this season so it’s no surprise that the award goes to a Russian. The men’s standing category is very competitive just now and the winner was pushed all the way by a rapidly improving Benjamin Daviet of France and only won the title in the final race of the season in Vuokatti in Finland.
Winner:Vladislav Lekomtsev

Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year:
Yet another tough decision. At World Juniors Felix Leitner and Hannah Oberg both took double gold. Viktar Kryuko did the same in the European Juniors. In the Youth category Harald Oeygard won 2 gold and 1 bronze medal. Igor Malinovskii and Viacheslav Maleev won a gold medal and 2 silvers each. Karoline Erdal won medals as did Emilie Kalkenberg, Alina Pantova and Marina Sauter. However I have to give this award to someone who won bronze, silver and gold at the World Junior Championships taking his total up to an historic 10 Youth/Junior titles. He has also been competing and doing very well on the World Cup all season with a top finish of 13th in his home World Cup in Presque Isle.
Winner:Sean Doherty

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The Rifle Fires Back!

rifle2

Hi everyone my name is Reginald P. Rifle but you can call me Reggie if you like. I am a professional biathlon rifle and as we are sorely neglected in comparison to our carriers I have decided to redress the balance and tell you all what it’s like to be me.

I am a short bore rifle and like most of my colleagues I am an Anschütz Fortner. I have a fore sight and a rear sight and I can hold 4 magazines containing five .22 calibre cartridges. I also have an annoying harness attached to me so my carriers can hold me on their back. My minimum weight is 3.5kg which is around 8 pounds but it is cold in winter and sometimes you put on a few extra pounds to keep warm. Don’t judge me! I also have a snazzy little snow cover over my muzzle to stop the snow getting in.

You might think it’s an easy life being a professional rifle but you are wrong. When you are a young rifle you think “I will be in biathlon and see the world”. See the inside of a bag or case more like! That’s where I spend a lot of time. I have seen the inside of many airports and airplane holds but not a lot else! My Summer Olympic cousins the pistol and shotgun have it easy. All they have to do is aim and fire, aim and fire but not me. No I have to get carried around on someone’s back for up to 20 kilometres. It’s not much fun let me tell you. You get jostled and bumped side to side and up and down and then there is always the danger of my carrier falling. Do they fall face first to save me? –no! They fall backwards and can break my stock or give my barrel a nasty bruise. When they do fire me I have to put up with heavy breathing and all the shaking from a high pulse rate. It’s no walk in the park believe me!

At least that is in the heat of competition. Don’t get me started on dry firing. Off the back, fire, on the back, over and over again! Do these people not realise how dizzy that can make a rifle. Also I fire bullets not little puffs of air! That’s not the worst of it though. Sometimes…sorry this is difficult to talk about…sometimes they take me to pieces and clean me!! The horror! You don’t see their precious skis and poles treated like that oh no! They get technicians and a wax truck! Worse still after all the hard work we put in and all the hours we spend together they don’t even give us a name! I am one of the lucky ones but many of my colleagues are nameless. They do however like to colour us in ridiculous colours like gold, red, orange and pink without even consulting us beforehand. We prefer the classic black by the way.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not all bad. If it was I wouldn’t be doing it! I get to spend a lot of time outdoors and see a lot of nice scenery out on the tracks. The best bit though is the races. I love competition. There is nothing better than entering the stadium with the crowd cheering and all eyes on me to see how I will perform. Once I am settled and ready to fire it’s just me versus my eternal nemesis –the targets! Just fifty metres down range there they are, 5 black circles 11.5cm in diameter for the standing and 4.5cm for the prone.

There is no better feeling than knocking those 5 down in quick succession. Actually that’s not true the best feeling is when my neighbour shooting beside me misses the last one and I hit it. I enjoy looking over and winking at them and letting out a little triumphant chuckle as my biathlete swings me onto their back and skis off to victory. I live for the roar of the crowd every time a target goes down that’s why I do what I do. I also enjoy the trip to the podium especially if it’s on the top step where I can bask in the glory and adoration from the crowd!

So next time you are watching biathlon I hope you will have a bit more appreciation for me and my friends the other rifles. If it wasn’t for us you would be just be watching boring cross-country skiing! We play a big part in the sport and deserve more recognition from both biathletes and fans. Please look out for us and cheer and maybe even give us a name like Reginald P. Rifle or else you might be shocked when one day the rifle fires back!

Reggie’s opinions are not necessarily those of biathlon23. All views are his own.

He doesn’t use social media himself but recommends that you follow @biathlon23 on Twitter and like biathlon23 on Facebook.