Tag Archives: Biathlon siblings

Selina: On a “Swiss roll”!

selina

Switzerland’s Selina Gasparin has had the best season of her career so far. She has claimed the first ever victory for her country and followed it up with the second just for good measure.Both of these victories came in the Sprint event, the first historic win in Hochfilzen and hot on it’s heels the second win in Annecy just one week later.

Selina was born in Samedan, Switzerland on the third of April 1984. She is the eldest of the Gasparin sisters who all compete together in the relay team. She is also part of the Swiss Border Police. Coming from an alpine county she lists her hobbies as mountaineering and the slightly less dangerous knitting. Useful if you need a jumper to keep you warm on the mountain! She speaks 5 languages, German, English, Italian, Romansh as you would expect but also Norwegian! Now the last time I looked Norwegian isn’t an official language of Switzerland!

There is a very good reason for this however. Switzerland is much more famous for alpine skiing than other winter sports and so there coaching and facilities are not as developed as in countries. For this reason Selina decided to move to Norway where she immersed herself in the world of biathlon and cross country skiing. She then returned home with this knowledge to pass on to her fellow athletes. It was a great move for her but also a brave one as it’s not easy to leave your country and family to go to a foreign place and it shows what a strong character she has.

Prior to this season her best result was a fourth place in the Individual race in Oestersund in 2012. To make the jump onto the podium is not as easy as you might think and Selina has proved what a great biathlete she is by doing it. Especially considering the competition around in female biathlon with the likes of Berger, Domracheva,Soukalova and Makarainen and a host of others to compete with. By backing it up with another win straight away she proved it was no fluke. Where she might be disappointed is with her subsequent performances in the Pursuits. Unused to the pressure of being chased down in the lead was probably an explanation for this but she can only improve by using these experiences to learn and grow as a biathlete.

She has also helped the Women’s Relay team qualify to compete in Sochi which is a huge achievement both for Swiss biathlon and the Gasparin family. As it makes up 75% of the team Mr and Mrs. Gasparin must be so proud of Selina along with her sisters Aita and Elisa. Their chances of a medal in the games are slim with extremely strong competition at the front but you never know. A Top 6 finish I think would be like a medal for them(ok maybe not exactly like a medal but you know what I mean!!). Individually however Selina has a great chance of getting a medal especially in the Sprint event which seems to be her best. Being in great form going into the Olympics is always a good thing and she is certainly on a Swiss roll!

Good luck Selina!

You can follow Selina on Facebook and Twitter and she has her own website:
http://www.selinagasparin.ch/

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Dutch courage!*

chardine

It’s flat. It doesn’t have a lot of snow. It’s more famous for windmills, tulips and clogs and a liberal attitude to just about everything. The Netherlands is not a place you would readily associate with biathlon. You would however be wrong! Not only do they have biathletes, they have a whole family of them!

All born in Waddinxveen the Sloof family comprising of brothers Joël and Luciën and sister Chardine are taking the biathlon siblings thing to a whole new level! Especially as their coach just happens to be their dad, Eddy! Despite being the youngest, the most successful and probably best known of the three is Chardine. She burst onto the scene in 2012 at the Junior World Championships in Kontiolahti winning two gold medals in the Individual and the Pursuit. In doing so she made history by becoming the first Dutch athlete to win a World Championship.

JoelSloof

Moving to Sweden in 1999 obviously helped all of the Sloofs in biathlon as The Netherlands neither has the weather conditions or facilities to support professional biathletes. Torsby is the location the family chose and it has paid off as all three children have done well in biathlon. The eldest brother Joël born on the 15th of November 1988 has had most experience on the IBU and World Cup. He has had some good results in the past year finishing from around 50th to 95th on the World Cup and a 51st place in the World Championship Individual in Nove Mesto was a great achievement. Luciën born on the 7th of June 1990 is obviously slightly less experienced but has produced some good Top 50 results in the Junior World Championships and also in the European Championships.

luciensloof

However the Sloof family don’t have the monopoly on Dutch biathlon. The recently retired and brilliantly named Herbert Cool had a good career and there is another up and coming biathlete Jarl Hengstmengel, who placed a credible 48th and 68th in the Individual and Sprint respectively in the Junior World Championships in Obertilliach this year. He trains in Germany and has set a goal of becoming one of the Top 50 in the World. As an 18 year old he has great ambition and also the time to try and achieve it. He is aiming high and there is nothing wrong with that unless you are on the shooting range of course!

jarl

So there you have it, The Netherlands has quite a few good young biathletes coming through. It just shows you that you don’t need hills or snow to be good at winter sports. A little help is required of course in these cases from Sweden and Germany but a bit of Dutch courage can take you a long way.

Good luck to all of them!

You can follow all The Sloofs and Jarl on Twitter and Chardine, Luciën and Jarl on Facebook. I strongly recommend you do so – they need your support!

You can find out more info at: http://www.sloofbiathlon.com
(It’s in Dutch but you can translate it easily with an online translator.)

*just so we’re clear I mean Dutch courage as in brave people who are Dutch. I am not advocating drinking alcohol for courage(as the saying means in English) before doing biathlon!Although……


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Semerenko twins: Double trouble!

vita

Unsurprisingly born on the same day, the 18th of January 1986, Ukrainian twins Valentyna Oleksandrivna Semerenko and Viktoriya Oleksandrivna Semerenko have been on the World Cup for over 8 years. Better known as Valj and Vita the ladies from Sumy have confused many of us over the years. Sometimes they have different coloured hair but dressed in the Ukrainian biathlon suits and hats it’s hard to tell them apart.

However as results show they are not exactly the same in terms of biathlon. They have the same results in the relay competition (obviously!) where they compete together but what about their individual performances? Vita has three bronze medals in individual events to Valj’s one. She has also finished second on the podium three times whereas her sister has only managed third place as her best result. Having said that it was Valj who won an individual bronze in last year’s World Championships in Nove Mesto in the 15km.

valj

It must be a bit strange racing against your own twin. There are many examples of siblings who compete against each other in biathlon but twins have a different kind of bond. Normally you want to give all the support you can to your family members but then you have to turn around and hope that you beat them. That’s not so easy for a twin. They may have different personalities but I imagine physically they are very similar so out skiing each other could be a problem. Looking at the shooting results Vita seems to have the edge which may explain her slightly greater success. However I am sure they enjoy having each other around for support and training.

The Olympics are close to home for the girls and so I am sure they will enjoy great support there. There is no reason why they should not perform well in Sochi and come away with a few medals. The relay is probably their best shot at gold having finished second so many times but the Norwegian and Russian teams will be particularly difficult to beat. They are both capable of collecting some medals in the individual events too.

Of course what they should have done at the beginning of their career was not to tell anyone they were twins and one could do the Sprint event and next day the other could have done the Pursuit. Or they could have swapped over half way through the race when there are fewer cameras out on the forest tracks! Only I have such an unscrupulous mind however so the other biathletes will have to watch out for double trouble this season!

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Johannes: The next big Thing!

johannes bo

Things to knøw about Johannes Thingnes Bø :
He was born on the 16th of May 1993.
He was born in Styrn, Norway.
His big brother is Tarjei Bø.
He is the youngest Norwegian to appear in the National Team.
He is a three time Junior World Champion.
In 2 Junior World Championships he has won 5 gold and 2 silver medals.
He won a gold and silver medal in the World Junior Olympics.
He won the Super Sprint at this year’s Blink Festival.

Sø we have yet another young and very talented Norwegian breaking onto the World Cup. Where do they get them all? Well Johannes isn’t exactly an unknown quantity. He has been setting the biathlon world alight now for a good few years in the Junior ranks and last year saw his debut on the Senior tour. He competed in the final three events of the season in Holmenkollen, Sochi and Khanty-Mansiysk. Two 20th place finishes in the Sprint and Pursuit made for a very promising debut for the 20 year old.

He is a fast and accurate shooter and he is also a good skier which will be worrying to some of the senior members of the Norwegian Team. With the Olympics coming up there are probably 2 spots available on the relay team and Johannes has a good chance of getting one. If he can perform well on the World Cup he will give the Norwegian selectors a big headache for Sochi. If he can replicate what Tarjei did in his debut season it will be a great start to his Senior career.

Some might argue that Sochi may be a bit too soon for Johannes but if he is good enough then he is old enough. He managed to beat the likes of Svendsen, Fourcade and his brother in this year’s Blink Festival in the Super Sprint event. Obviously this takes places in the summer on roller-skis and isn’t a huge indicator of form for the season but it will definitely give him confidence and is great experience for the youngster.

It will be very interesting to see what Johannes can achieve this season. He has the talent to get some Top 10 finishes on the World Cup tour and possibly even a podium but we have to remember it will be his first proper season and it’s a steep learning curve. Whatever he does I am sure he will be good to watch and I love it when a new biathlete comes up to the Senior tour and gives the big boys a run for their money. We may have to wait until the 2014 season to see him at his best with a year’s experience under his belt but I am really looking forward to seeing Bø versus Bø* and watching the progress of biathlon’s next big Thing!

*if anyone from NRK is reading this it would make a fantastic biathlon based gameshøw! Possibly presented by Emil Hegle Svendsen!;-)

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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!