Tag Archives: Biathlon Total Score

Oberhof 2017: The Mass Starts!

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Just like a plate of Thüringer Klöße (potato dumplings) or Thüringer Rostbratwurst we were treated to a very tasty final day in Oberhof! The Mass Starts are generally great to watch and these were no exception. It also gave the home fans a lot to cheer about.

The men raced first and thankfully the foggy conditions were not bad enough to have an effect on the race. The first part of the race was very close with most of the top biathletes hitting 10/10 in the prone position. It was in the first standing shoot were we saw most of the action with only Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Erik Lesser shooting clear to leave them in the lead.

Surprisingly Martin Fourcade missed 2 shots and Simon Schemmp missed 1 to leave them in a chasing group along with Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Emil Svendsen. Fourcade put it a great lap on the skis to catch up however and the tables were turned on the final shoot. This time Lesser and Bjoerndalen both missed 1 shot while Fourcade, Schempp and Beatrix shot clean. So there was a group of five heading into the fianl lap and Fouracde tried to break them on the first uphill.

His plan didn’t work however as Schempp kept pace with him all the way and with one less penalty loop in his legs looked the fresher of the two. He overtook Fourcade in the finishing straight to grab the victory in front of his home fans and Erik Lesser made up a lot of ground in the final kilometre to ski past Beatrix and then beat Fourcade on the line in a sprint finish. They were awarded the same time but Lesser will be pleased he didn’t cut his toenails as that’s the distance he took second by! Fourcade doesn’t have much luck in sprint finishes but possibly because he usually wins by a big margin and doesn’t get to practice them much! 😉

Beatrix was 4th after a good race although he tired at the end trying to keep pace with Fourcade. Ole Einar came home 5th ahead of another German in 6th Benedikt Doll.

The women’s race was less exciting but with some high quality performances especially from the eventual winner Gabriela Koukalova. She shot the perfect score 20/20 to win the race by more than 30 seconds. Laura Dahlmeier returned to racing after missing the sprint and pursuit and took second which was the best result she could hope for after missing 1 target. Third place went to Eva Puskarcikova who followed her teammate Koukalova by hitting all 20 targets. Kaisa Makarianen missed 4 targets on the first prone shoot and 7 in total but still finished 8th.

Marie Dorin Habert also missed 7 targets and was 14th. Susan Dunklee had a good race finishing 9th and Rosanna Crawford was 25th meaning she had 3 Top 25 results in Oberhof after a difficult start to the season. Chardine Sloof proved her Sprint result was no fluke by finishing 15th which means she was in the Top 15 in all three races.

These results mean a change at the top of the standings in the women’s overall. With Dahlmeier missing 2 races and Koukalova grabbing 174 points in the three races it means she is now at the top and takes the yellow bib to Ruhpolding. Makarainen is third and Dorin Habert 4th but there are only 53 points separating the top 4! Very exciting! Martin Fourcade still holds a comfortable lead in the men’s overall but he only won one of the three races here in Oberhof! He is rubbish! 😉

Take a little rest while you can as World Cup 5 starts in Ruhpolding on Wednesday with the Men’s Relay!!!

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Nove Mesto 2016: The Mass Starts!

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Well that was an amazing end to a fantastic few days in Nove Mesto. Gabriela Koukalova winning the Mass Start in front of her home crowd was great! She couldn’t have thought of a better way to say thank you to all the super Czech fans who turned out in huge numbers to support their team.

The Mass Start races can only be described in the form of a palachinky (Czech style filled crepe). The men’s race was the savoury version- tasty but not quite satisfying , the women’s was the sweet version filled with strawberries and covered in cream – absolutely delicious!

Martin Fourcade won again! Missed 1 prone target, won by over 8 seconds, has 56 wins and 101 podium finishes, is 158 points ahead in the Total Score. Nothing else to say.

Second place went to Simon Schempp who out skied Anton Babikov who was third. Jean Guillaume Beatrix probably should have finished on the podium but in the last shoot he apparently though he had missed a target but he hadn’t and so did an unnecessary penalty loop. He was in bib23 so this blog is not pleased with Jean-Gui!!!

Further back Johannes Boe had a fall when he was fighting to reach the podium on the final loop finishing 9th. Ondrej Moravec fixed his rifle that he broke in a fall in the Pursuit and came home in 4th.

The Women’s race was great to watch and Gabriela Koukalova was outstanding. With huge pressure on her from both the other biathletes and the noisy crowd she held her nerve on the shooting range only missing 1 target to claim victory. It wasn’t easy however as Laura Dahlmeier came storming back after 2 misses on her first prone shoot. If the race had been a bit longer she might have won. Saying that only a fool would have overtaken Gabi in Nove Mesto. They wouldn’t have left the stadium alive if they had! In third was Dorothea Wierer who thawed out her trigger finger overnight. She missed 1 but couldn’t match the ski speed of the first two. Vanessa Hinz was very impressive in 4th (I am sure wearing bib23 helped!)

All in all it has been a great World Cup round with good racing and great crowds. The IBU need to make Nove Mesto Na Morave a permanent stop on the World Cup!

It has all gone too fast though, don’t you think?! Three World Cups are finished already! Fourcade continues in yellow as does Dahlmeier who has a 98 point lead over Kaisa Makarainen.

The next round starts in Oberhof on the 5th of January. Don’t forget to look out for a treat from Biathlon23 between Christmas and New Year. Hope you all have a great time over the holidays! I know Martin Fourcade definitely will!

Big thanks to Czech Biathlon Fan @BiathlonFanCZ, Jonas Oškinis and Jára Vykoukles Doležal for the Czech cuisine assistance!

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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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Pidhrushna: The second coming!

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Olena Pidhrushna is only 29! It feels like she has been around for ages! We even thought she had retired at the end of season 2013/14 but it turns out she was just on a break. She came back at the beginning of last season looking better than ever.

Pidhrusha was born in Poland on the 9th of January 1987 but obviously competes for Ukraine. Her debut season on the World Cup was back in 2008/09 where she finished 52nd in the Total Score. Last season was her best ever as she finished 7th in the Overall and won her first World Cup race taking the victory in the Sprint race in Canmore. She also finished on the podium twice with two third places in the Oestersund Individual and the Sprint.

Taking a year off where she worked for a time as Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports and had a baby seems to have worked wonders for Pidhrushna. She looked to be back to the form that helped her to win a World Championship title in Nove Mesto in 2013. There she won the gold medal in the Sprint and that same season finished 8th in the Total score by claiming another four Top 4 finishes on the World Cup.

Of course she is probably best known for her part in the Ukrainian Women’s Relay team who won the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. She took the final leg in the race and used all her experience using only 1 spare round to beat the Russian team by 26 seconds. At the start of a time of political turmoil between the two countries it had a lot of significance beyond that of just sport.

So will she be able to repeat her success next season? She is up against some very strong competition but she has the chance to move up the rankings if she continues last season’s form. Her best events seem to be those against the clock rather than head to head racing as many of her best results come in the Sprint races. This is where she has picked up most of her points, in fact she was 5th in the Sprint standing last season but dropped to 7th in the Pursuit and Mass Start rankings.

If she can improve her results in those events it will give her a good chance of getting into the Top 5 overall. She also has opportunities to add to her World Championship medal in Hochfilzen. She has a great chance of a medal in the Sprint of course and also in the Relays as Ukraine has a strong Women’s team and may also contend in the Mixed Relay. It seems that taking a year off from competing has done Pidhrushna a lot of good and she actually looks like a better biathlete in her second coming!

Like Olena’s Facebook page: Olena Pidhrushna – Fanpage

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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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