Tag Archives: Biathlon Single Mixed Relay

Oestersund 2019: Single Mixed Relay!

As explosive as experiment day in Alfred Nobel’s laboratory, the first ever Single Mixed Relay at the World Championships went off with a bang!

It was Norway (surprise, surprise) that were the history makers today in Oestersund taking the first gold medal in this event at a major Championships. Johannes Boe and Marte Olbsu Roeiseland proved a great combination mainly of ski speed and sometimes of shooting.

The action was non stop and left everyone breathless as team after team took the lead and then lost the lead and then regained the lead again!!

After the first lap Italy were in first place with Dorothea Wierer using only 1 spare. There was nothing in it though with Austria and Ukraine right behind and by the first prone for the men there were 7 teams together on the range.

There were quite a few spares required by the boys including 3 for Johannes Boe on the stand, 2 for Lukas Hofer and 3 altogether from Sebastian Samuelsson. Dmytro Pidruchnyi cleaned the stand, as did Antonin Guigonnat, Simon Eder and Erik Lesser.

They exchanged to the women in that order but it soon changed with Denise Herrmann taking the lead out on the tracks. Wierer, Hauser and Merkushyna cleaned the prone but Herrmann, Oberg and Roeiseland needed 1 spare each.

Herrmann again passed on the tracks to lead into the stand but needed 2 spares as did Hauser, Wierer used 1 but crucially Roeiseland and Oberg cleaned.

That left Italy in the lead at the last exchange but just 1 second ahead of Norway and 6 ahead of Sweden. All three cleaned the prone and so it would come down to the stand to decide the medals. Boe, who has had problems in the stand here in Oestersund, hit all 5 and skied off to take the gold. Hofer needed 1 spare but was safe in second place.

Sweden took the bronze with Samuelsson also needing just the 1 spare to hold off the charging Erik Lesser who hit 10/10 in his leg and 20/20 overall.

It was an action packed race all the way to the final shoot and a great addition to the World Championships. Germany were 4th, Ukraine 5th and Russia 6th.

Poor Austria who have never finished off the podium in this race on the World Cup were 8th.

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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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I(BU) got new rules, I count’em!

New things are happening in biathlon this season. They had one of those congress things back in September and the powers that be have made some changes. Even though in general we fear change, some of these aren’t so scary!

Firstly they have introduced a new event! OK so it’s not exactly new it’s just a bigger Mass Start. It means there will be 60 starters instead of 30. That’s madness I hear you cry – they will never all fit on the range! And you would be right but actually they don’t have to.

There is a sneaky way around this problem and it’s this – everyone skis the first lap together with the inevitable falls and pole breakages, but then only the first 30 stop to shoot and the second 30 keep skiing. At the end of the second lap the second 30 stop to shoot and the first 30 continue to ski. If all goes to plan most of the biathletes will have missed targets and we won’t have 60 biathletes descending on shoot two altogether! After the first two shoots are over (basically everyone’s first prone) then the race continues like a normal one and they all shoot the other prone and two stands together. Or more simply:

Bib 1-30 = lap-shoot1-lap-lap-shoot2-lap-shoot3-lap-shoot4-lap.
Bib 31-60 = lap-lap-shoot1-lap-shoot2-lap-shoot3-lap-shoot4-lap.

This will only be held on the IBU Cup this season and only in Martell at the final round. It won’t be replacing the 30 person mass start ….yet! Also it will be formally known at the Massive Start – well by biathlon23 anyway! 😉

The IBU have also made a small change to the Individual. If the conditions are bad, like rubbish weather or rubbish snow, they will have the option of shortening the races. For the men it will be 15km instead of 20km and the penalty for a miss will be 45 seconds instead of a minute. For the women it will be 12.5km and a 45 second penalty. This will make the person with the calculator at the side of the tracks job much harder when trying to work out the times! 😉

There are a few rule changes too. It seems that someone high up must read my blog as one of my Big Biathlon questions has been answered already. In the Mixed and Single Mixed Relay there is now the option of the men starting first instead of the women always starting on leg 1.

Weirdly the Juniors have all got older! The Juniors will have their own Nations Cup this season and you can be a Junior and a Youth for a year longer which means Olympic gold medallist Sebastian Samuelsson can still be a Junior. Get him on the Junior Cup Sweden!

Electronic targets are now allowed at IBU events. So exciting! 😉

Finally there has been some changes to the start quotas and wild cards for the World Cups, one of which I don’t really understand but here goes…

The Total Score winners from the IBU Cup will now get a start at the first round of the World Cup in the next season. The best Junior athletes at the Junior World Championships will get a start in the IBU World Cup finals in the same season.

The Top 8 athletes on the IBU qualifying points list who are not from a country that already has a World Cup quota will get a National Federation wildcard. A maximum of two wildcards per federation can be given in a single trimester. Got that? Yep, me neither!

Oh and they appointed a new President, Olle Dahlin from Sweden. But seeing as I was overlooked yet again it is not of interest to me!!! 😉

P.S Thanks to Dua Lipa for inspiring the title! 😉

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My Big Biathlon Questions!

I have been thinking, which is both unusual and dangerous! I have come up with some questions about biathlon mainly because certain people have failed to respond to their biathlon23 interview request so I had to write something!

How will the Olympic quotas change for Beijing 2022?

You may have heard that the IOC are cutting 20 places from biathlon at the Olympics. This is supposed to be a cost cutting exercise to reduce the money spent by host cities. It will save about 10 pence! The big costs of hosting the Olympics is paying for new infrastructure like stadiums, venues and road and rail transport. Surely they should be increasing the number of athletes not decreasing it.

They are keen to increase gender equality which is a good thing but biathlon is probably one of the most gender equal sports with the same amount of races for men and women and a mixed event. So that makes no sense either!

Unfortunately for them it now falls to the IBU to decide where the cuts will have to be made. I don’t think it will be China that loses any athletes as they are the host nation. Will they cut biathletes from the top ranked nations like Norway, Germany and France? Will they cut biathletes from the smaller nations who only send one or two competitors like Great Britain?

My guess is the axe will probably fall in the middle somewhere. Who knows? I am glad I don’t have to decide.

Why did the IOC reject the Single Mixed Relay as a new Olympic event?

The IOC has approved new Mixed events in freestyle skiing, ski jumping, skating and snowboarding to promote gender balance in the Games. However they rejected the Single Mixed Relay. This is rubbish! It means the small nations will not get a chance to race in a Relay at all. It is an exciting race and shorter than the Mixed Relay and is good for TV.

I mean why do they even have other sports in the Olympics anyway. It should be a biathlon only event! ( Well I may also allow curling!) 😉

Why is the skiing distance different for men and women?

I am sure the eagle eyed among you have noticed that the male biathletes ski further than the women in every race. For example in the Sprint the men do 10km while the women do 7.5km. I have never understood this. The women can ski as far as the men. Sure it might take them longer but they are not racing each other. The women race the women so why the shorter distance? I imagine it’s because in olden times the poor ladies were not deemed strong enough to ski so far!!! In athletics everyone runs 10km or 5km, there is no difference. The men and women receive equal prize money so surely they should ski the same distances! It could either mean shortening the men’s races or lengthening the women’s races but it’s something to think about.

Why are the Mixed Relays always women first and then the men?

Again why do we have woman, woman, man, man (WWMM) in the Mixed Relay and woman, man (WM) in the Single Mixed? Why can’t the men start for a change? Or why don’t we have WMWM or MWMW or even MMWW? And like before why do they have to ski different distances?
In swimming they have Mixed Relays and each team selects when the men or the women race so you have situations where the men and women are racing each other. It’s really exciting and interesting. Imagine we could have Laura Dahlmeier racing Martin Fourcade! The differences would balance out as everyone has to race two men and two women but the teams decide the order independently of each other. Just think Johannes Boe versus Kaisa Makarainen!

I told you it was dangerous when I think! Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it nice please! And if you have any burning biathlon questions throw them out there too! 🙂

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Mario Dolder: The Interview!

dolder

Mario Dolder is a Swiss biathlete who was born on the 22nd of June 1990. He won a Youth/Junior World Championships bronze medal in the Sprint race in Canmore in 2009. His best result on the World Cup is 16th place from the Sprint race in Holmenkollen in 2015. He has taken part in 4 World Championships and his best overall finish in the Total Score is 46th which he achieved in Season 2014/15. He missed the first part of last season with an injury but came back to finish the season well.

Check out his website: http://www.mariodolder.ch/
You can like his Facebook page: Dolder Mario
He’s got his own Fan club too: http://www.mariodolder-fanclub.ch/

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I love to be active in nature and doing sports. My parents taught me cross-country skiing. I did some races and once I tried biathlon. I had a lot of fun and decided to start a biathlon career.

How do you assess last season? Were you pleased with your results?

In summer 2015 I had two knee injuries and lost a lot of power. Therefore my first race was in Ruhpolding in January. My shape wasn’t good and the races were bad. In February my shape was much better and I was 24th two times in Presque Isle…pretty good results for me.

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

We have had a good summer of training with the Swiss-Team. We trained a lot in Andermatt, our training base, but also in Crete, Antholz, Obertilliach, Ruhpolding and Oberhof.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: Prone Shooting, Sprint races

Weakness: My inconsistency

What are your goals for this season?

A Top 15 finish on the World Cup.
To finish in the Top 40 on the World Cup overall.

The Swiss men’s team is improving. Do you think you can do well in the relays next season?

We are looking forward to the relays. Especially in the relay at the World Championships in Hochfilzen. We will try to beat our best result from Kontiolahti (7th).

You took part in the Single Mixed Relay in Canada. Do you like this new event?

For me it is a fun competition for entertainment, but not needed on the World Cup.

You have your own fan club! Do they come to a lot of races? Can you hear them on the tracks?

Normally they visit two or three races each season. The support is very good! For sure…they are the loudest of all. 😉

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

Antholz. I love the profile and the landscape.

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

Berni Leitinger (AUT)- he had a really serious illness two years ago. But he fought like a lion, and now he is back on the track! RESPECT!!!

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Focused, calm, good-humoured.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Belgium
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: 22
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Kauri Koiv
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Alexia Runggaldier
Best thing about being a biathlete: Season-End Party in Khanty 😉

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Vladimir Chepelin!

chepelin

The Belarus Team has been getting stronger and stronger over the last few years. It is mainly the women who have been grabbing all the headlines with fantastic results from Darya Domracheva and Nadezhda Skardino in particular but the men’s team are doing well too.

Vladimir Chepelin is one of those who has stepped up his performances. He was born on the 15th of July 1988 and made his biathlon debut in 2011. Last season was one of his best so far.

On the World Cup he started the season well by coming 23rd in the opening round in Oestersund in the Individual. Overall he finished in 47th place in the Total Score. However it was in Oslo Holmenkollen at the World Championships where he really showed what a good biathlete he is.

In the Sprint race he finished in a fantastic 13th place which is his highest finish in a biathlon race to date. He dropped 10 places in the Pursuit to 23rd but another Top 25 finish is impressive. The Indiviual wasn’t as successful and he ended the race in 56th but in the Mass Start which is one of the toughest races he came back to take 13th place again equaling the personal best he set earlier in the week. Considering his top result in Kontiolahti at the last World Championships was 38th you can see he has made a significant step forward.

The coming season could be a good one for Chepelin. It would be great to see him take part in the Single Mixed Relay possibly with Skardino to see what they could do. However last season they were both in the Mixed Relay but without Domracheva they might do better in the Single as they are very capable of getting a podium. It’s much harder in the Mixed Relay to do well against the bigger nations but in the Single Mixed Relay the smaller nations have a better chance of success especially with a strong pair.

Individually Chepelin will be hoping to get his first Top Ten finish on the World Cup. He needs more consistency if he wants to improve his overall standing but I think he could break into the Top 30 overall this season. His shooting can be a bit erratic but if he can reduce the number of missed targets and stay healthy throughout the season it could be his best one yet.

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Mikito Tachizaki: The Man from Japan!

MTAchi

Mikito Tachizaki is a Japanese biathlete who was born in Towada on the 17th of May 1988. He is also the reason why Fuyuko Suzuki disappeared last season and Fuyuko Tachizaki appeared on the World Cup. Well done to the detectives among you – that’s right they got married!

Originally like many biathletes he began his career as a cross-country skier competing for Japan on the FIS World Cup and at the Universiade. Realising that biathlon is much better he changed disciplines in 2011 and made his debut on the IBU Cup and then a year later moved on to the World Cup.

Unusually for a former cross-country athlete he is actually a fantastic shooter. Many athletes who make the switch between the sports rely on the ski speed to help them in biathlon and can struggle on the shooting range. Not so for Mikito, he is a great shot. The best result of his career so far came last year in the Oestersund Pursuit race where he came 51st and broke into the Top 60 for the first time. He improved 9 places from his Sprint result of 60th missing only two targets. Marriage must agree with him.

In fact it’s not only in a relationship will you find the Tachizakis. They also make a formidable Single Mixed Relay team. In the two races that were held last season they finished 10th in both of them. The first race in Oestersund saw them miss 7 targets but in the other race in Canmore they only missed 3. Both shoot really well and should improve that result next season. Unfortunately the Single Mixed Relay and the Mixed Relay are usually scheduled for the same day and so one or both of them have to take part in two races within a few hours which doesn’t help their chances in either.

Next season will be another chance to see continued improvement from Mikito. He beat his previous best result by 24 places last season and if he can repeat that feat he will be in the Top 40 and score his first World Cup points. His shooting is great but he needs to improve his ski speed if he wants to do it. His best chance of success will be alongside his wife in the Single Mixed Relay and with a bit of luck a podium in that event is not out of the question. With the next two Winter Olympics in Asia he will be trying his best to do well in those competition as they are so close to home. Watch out for the Man from Japan!

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