Tag Archives: biathlon world championships 2015

Lena Häcki: The Interview!

haecki16

Lena Häcki is a Swiss biathlete who was born in Engelberg on the 1st of July 1995. She recently took part in the Youth/Junior World Championships in Cheile Gradistei where she won 2 silver medals in the Sprint and Pursuit races. She also competes on the World Cup for Switzerland and her career best result so far was 12th in the Sprint race in Antholz in 2015. She competed in the Senior World Championships held in Kontiolahti in 2015 and her best result there was 28th in the Sprint.

You can like Lena’s Facebook page: Lena Häcki (Sportsperson)
You can look at her website: http://www.lenahaecki.ch/

You won 2 silver medals in Cheile Gradistei. Can you describe how it felt to win those medals?

It was an amazing and incredible feeling. For me it was like a miracle.

What do you remember about the races? Can you describe them?

I felt very good on the track, and the shooting was okay, I liked the track very much, it was a hard track.

Did you set any goals before you went to Romania and did you achieve them?

I hoped for a medal, but it wasn’t really a goal, I just hoped that I could give my best and I did that.

You already compete on the World Cup and you competed in Kontiolahti at the World Championships. What are the main differences between those events and the Junior World Championships?

There is not much difference between these both, the Junior World Champs are very well organized, there are just other people there.

What are you plans for the rest of the season? What are your goals for next year?

My plans are just to make some good races and to show that I deserved to win those medals. Next season I want to compete in the World Cup and get some good points.

Why did you become a biathlete and why do you like the sport?

My trainer asked me one day if I wanted to try biathlon and I tried it and loved it so much. I continued to do it and still love it so much. For me it’s an amazing sport and I like it a lot because everyone has a chance, anyone can win or lose.

Do you combine sport with your education or are you concentrating only on biathlon at the present?

At the moment I am a maths student, I try to study maths but it is very hard and not easy to do both.

Does your rifle have a name?

Yes, my rifle is called Giorgio.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, kind, strong-willed.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Antholz
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Ole Einar Björdalen
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint
Favourite/best race of your career so far?: My 12th place in the Sprint in Antholz 2015
Favourite food: Swiss food
Favourite film: A Walk to Remember
Favourite sports team: The Swiss biathlon team 😉
Favourite TV show: How I Met Your Mother

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Mari Laukkanen: The Interview!

luakannen

Mari Laukkanen was born on the 9th of November 1987 in Eno, Finland. She got her first podium at home in Kontiolahti in 2013-14 and she has also finished in the TOP 10 another 4 times. She has competed in 2 Winter Olympic Games and 7 World Championships. After an illness towards the end of last season she is looking forward to competing again starting in Oestersund.

You can like Mari’s Facebook page: Mari Laukkanen offical
Follow her on Twitter: @mari_laukkanen
She has a website (in Finnish): http://www.marilaukkanen.fi/etusivu/

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I started competing in cross-country skiing when I was nine years old. Afterwards I had a chance to try shooting and I loved that from the first time. I also always liked more skating than classic, the fastest way of skiing 🙂

Your personal best race was a 3rd place in Kontiolahti in 2013/14. What was it like to get on the podium at a home race?

That was great. Maybe the greatest place to make your first podium. Also the
price giving ceremony in the evening in the city was amazing !!

The World Championships didn’t go as well as you probably hoped. Was there a lot of pressure on you racing at home and have you learned anything that could help you for this year’s Championships in Oslo?

I was getting sick during the Oslo World Cup, so just before the World Championships. Afterwards we found out that this was a serious virus which I had then and even though I felt healthy after 10 days resting, my body was still fighting against it and that´s why my body got overloaded and got other problems. It was big disappointment for me that I couldn’t race at my best level there.

Last season you equaled your best finish in the Total Score of 36th. What are your goals for this season?

Definitely Top 25. I would like to run all the Mass Starts next winter.

What training have you done so far this summer and what’s the plan until the start of the season?

Now it is already October so most of the training has been done. Anyway one more important period is coming when we change to snow training. I had some problems especially at the beginning of the summer because of the virus which I talked about before. I wasn’t sick but my body was stressed and was still over working because of the damage after my sickness.

You took part in the Single Mixed Relay in Nove Mesto and finished 12th with Ahti Toivanen. Do you like the new format? Do you think Finland will be able to do well in the event?

It was interesting. But it is so much about fast shooting that maybe this is not the best race for us. Ahti is a pretty fast shooter but this is a big challenge for me. But I like this short distance, that fits for me because I think I am pretty fast.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

I am fast. That´s my biggest strength. I can also handle high intensity and high lactate (acid) very well. I have been working for years on my endurance and it is nice to see progress. I have a lot of things to do in shooting and I have big goals for this training season. We have made big steps but I still have some problems which I want to solve before winter.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

No. I don’t believe in luck in sport.

You are a teammate of Kaisa Makarainen. What have you learned from her and do you think she can win the Overall Title this season?

She is definitely the biggest favourite to win the Overall Title next season and it will be difficult for everybody to beat her. I have learned that every day matters. She asks a lot from herself and people around her.

What hobbies do you have when you aren’t training for biathlon?

I don’t have time for hobbies. But every now and then I try to find time for something which helps me to turn my brain away from biathlon. I have seen that this is important for me.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Empathetic, bubbly, passionate.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: All of them
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Kontiolahti sprint 2014 (3rd place) or Ruhpolding sprint 2015 (5th place)
Favourite food: good steak.
Favourite singer/band:too many!
Favourite sports team: Finnish ice hockey team!
Favourite TV show: maybe one of my favorites right now! Siskonpeti (YLE, Finland)

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Johanna Talihärm: The Interview!

Talihärm

Johanna Talihärm is an Estonian biathlete who was born on the 27th of June 1993 in Tallinn. She is a part of the Estonian Women’s Relay Team and last season she broke into the TOP 40 on the World Cup. She has a brother who is also a biathlete. Next season she will be trying to get into that TOP 40 more often and score some more points if she can sort out her prone shooting!

Blog:http://www.johannablogi.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: @johannataliharm
Facebook: Estonian Fantastic Four in the biathlon world

How popular is biathlon in Estonia?

Biathlon used to be in the shadow of cross county skiing which is “the national sport” in Estonia, but we are gaining popularity now.
You can help too by following Estonian fantastic four on Facebook!

You achieved your best career result last season at the World Championships in Kontiolahti coming 39th in the Sprint in difficult conditions. How good did that feel and how much confidence has it given you for next season?

I had a rough start for the 2014/15 season. Then I started to feel better, gained energy and confidence during the season and was finally prepared to give my best in the World Championships. After 3 penalties in prone I thought the race is over, but I got myself together again and pushed as hard as I could and cleaned the standing. I never thought I had a chance for points with 3(!!!) penalties, I was super happy that I finally reached the top 40 goal I had had for so long. It showed me how much more is possible with clean shooting.

The Estonian Women’s Team seem to be very good friends. How nice is it to travel and compete in such a good atmosphere?

I don’t even want to imagine how hard and boring it would be if we didn’t get along so well. I feel so lucky to be able to call my teammates my best friends. It is great to share the emotions, no matter if they are good or bad with them immediately. To explore the world with them! And of course to race in the same relay team!

What are your plans for summer training?

We have a new team coach with whom I personally have worked since last August. We’re mostly training in Otepää, where we have an amazing center with a 6km rollerski track with two shooting ranges.

What are your goals for next season?

To improve technique and balance, to hit more targets and shoot faster.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.

It depends on what time the race starts. Usually our races are in the afternoon so I like to sleep longer, have breakfast, then go for a run and have an light lunch and get ready to go to the stadium. I eat “normal food” but avoid milk products because they don’t suit my stomach.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

I am quite a slow shooter, and also much worse in prone than standing. Ski wise I want to improve balance and technique.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

I usually wear my favorite pieces of clothing, but just because they are the most comfortable. Also I have a routine of warm up exercises, which I do every time before the start.

How difficult is it to keep up with the WADA rules for doping? Is it hard to keep track of all your food, supplements and medicines etc?

It comes with time, and now we have a database made by the Estonian anti-doping where we can search for all the medicines sold in Estonia to see if they are allowed or not.

I don’t want to criticize but you are Johanna and your brother is called Johan which shows a lack of imagination by your parents!!!;-) Does this ever cause any confusion because your names are so similar?

You are not the first one to ask this question. Both Johan and Johanna are very common names in Estonia and Scandinavia so usually there is no problem. Our parents just wanted them to be similar for both siblings and international.

Does your rifle have a name?

I usually call it “rifle” or “gun” 🙂

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling, independent, lively.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Oslo
Favourite biathlete (past or present):The whole biathlon family is super friendly and fun, it would be a shame to pick just one.
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit and relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? First ever clean shooting at the Sochi Olympics
Favourite food: chocolate
Favourite singer/band: can change daily
Favourite film: 1+1 (The Intouchables)
Favourite TV show: news or any other show that is not read in some language that I can’t understand.

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World Champs 2015 Review: Women

dorin wc

After many days of anticipation and then the opening ceremony, action finally got underway in the 2015 Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti. The first race took place on Thursday afternoon and saw 26 teams take part in the Mixed Relay.The conditions were really tough with warm temperatures making the snow wet and it looked like it was up to the biathletes knees!!!

The race got off to a great start with Fuyuko Suzuki taking the lead after 2 shoots for Japan. Veronika Vitkova took the Czech Republic into the lead however in the first exchange and it was then Soukalova and Domracheva who were in contention in the second leg. Domracheva handed over to Chepelin for Belarus and he managed to hold on to the lead in his leg to send Liadov out first for the final leg. Unfortunately for him he only had an 11 second lead and couldn’t hold off Moravec from the Czech Republic who came home first to win gold for his country. He was followed by Martin Fourcade who made up a lot of time to bring France home for silver and Tarjei Boe continued his brother Johannes’ good work by hanging on for bronze despite a penalty loop from Eckhoff. Belarus were fourth by an agonizing 4 seconds. The Finnish team put in a great display for the home crowd and were in with a podium shot going into leg 3. They ended in 9th which was a 7 place improvement on their start of 16th.

Saturday was the first single competition and we began as usual with the Sprint. It was tough conditions for the ladies and it was a hard race. France took gold with a fabulous performance from Marie Dorin Habert. A good time to get her first ever win! She gave birth to her daughter in September and then became a World Champion in March! Little Adele has a very inspirational mum! In second place came Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska-Zemniak. Another great performance and the only biathlete to shoot clean. Bronze medal went to the ever consistent Valj Semerenko who has had a fantastic season. There were 3 Polish ladies in the TOP 10 with Guzik in 5th and Gwizdon in 7th and 2 Germans with Dahlmeier in 4th and Hildebrand in 10th. The favourites for the race did not have such a good day however with Domracheva in 25th and Makarainen in 35th both missing 5 targets.

The Pursuit came on Sunday and had similar outcome to the Sprint. Marie Dorin Habert again skied herself to victory. She missed 3 shots but had enough time to win in front of Laura Dahlmeier by 15 seconds. Coming out of the range after the final shoot the Russian Ekaterina Shumilova was in third position after hitting 20/20. Heartbreakingly for her she fell on the downhill and Weronika Nowakowska swept past her to take her second medal of the Championships in bronze. Makarainen and Domracheva put up a better show finishing in 12th and 7th respectively.

The women had two days off to recover and it really did them the world of good as they produced one of the beat Individual races for a long time. Gabriela Soukalova set the pace and moved into first position with 1 miss. Dorothea Wierer put in a strong challenge also missing 1 and was 1.6 seconds behind Soukalova and went into second. Then came Kaisa Makarainen who put in the ski of her life in the last loop to make up for her 2 misses and just pipped Wierer to go into second, just 1.2 seconds behind Soukalova. She made up over 30 seconds from the range to the line which was absolutely remarkable. So we though that is our podium Soukalova, Makarainen and Wierer. Someone however had other ideas! Starting from bib number 93 and shooting clear Ekaterina Yurlova came through to win the race by 23 seconds. An outstanding performance by the Russian and her first ever win! What a race it was! You have to feel sorry for Wierer missing out on a medal by 0.4 seconds but it was also great to see Makarainen taking a medal at home.

From the Individual race we moved to the team race and the Women’s Relay. After a competitive start with a few changes of the lead it was on the third leg that the tables were turned in favour of one team. That team was Germany and Vanessa Hinz was fantastic shooting quickly and accurately when the others around her, The Czech Republic and Italy, missed. She gave Laura Dahlmeier a lead and she held on to it. It’s a strong young team from Germany and after a lot of criticism from their own country they did a great job. With Franziska Hildebrand and Franziska Preuss they could go on to win many more relays. In second was a valiant France adding another medal to Marie Dorin Habert’s haul! Justine Braisaz had a tough leg going on the penatly loop after her first shoot but stormed back to give the team a chance. With Anais Bescond and Enora Latuilliere they are also a team for the future. In bronze were Italy and they really deserved a medal as Dorothea Wierer, Karin Oberhofer, Nicole Gontier and Lisa Vittozzi have all had great seasons.

The final race for the Women was the Mass Start. It was a good one too with Valj Semerenko coming out on top with excellent shooting hitting 20/20 to win gold for the Ukraine. Behind her in silver came an ecstatic Franziska Preuss with her first solo medal and in third was Karin Oberhofer who ran out an exhausted Darya Domracheva for the bronze.

That’s all from Kontiolahti where the big surprise was that Domracheva failed to win a medal and Kaisa Makarainen only got 1. It just shows that competing for the Crystal Globe and trying to win World Championships is extremely difficult. It was really Marie Dorin Habert’s Championships winning 2 golds and a silver and a breakthrough moment for the young German girls. However we are not finished yet! It’s on to Khanty Mansiysk for the final World Cup round. There are globes yet to be won!

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World Champs 2015 Review: Men

boe wc

After many days of anticipation and then the opening ceremony, action finally got underway in the 2015 Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti. The first race took place on Thursday afternoon and saw 26 teams take part in the Mixed Relay. The conditions were really tough with warm temperatures making the snow wet and it looked like it was up to the biathletes knees!!!

The race got off to a great start with Fuyuko Suzuki taking the lead after 2 shoots for Japan. Veronika Vitkova took the Czech Republic into the lead however in the first exchange and it was then Soukalova and Domracheva who were in contention in the second leg. Domracheva handed over to Chepelin for Belarus and he managed to hold on to the lead in his leg to send Liadov out first for the final leg. Unfortunately for him he only had an 11 second lead and couldn’t hold off Moravec from the Czech Republic who came home first to win gold for his country. He was followed by Martin Fourcade who made up a lot of time to bring France home for silver and Tarjei Boe continued his brother Johannes’ good work by hanging on for bronze despite a penalty loop from Eckhoff. Belarus were fourth by an agonizing 4 seconds. The Finnish team put in a great display for the home crowd and were in with a podium shot going into leg 3. They ended in 9th which was a 7 place improvement on their start of 16th.

On Saturday we had the Sprint competition. Conditions were better but still far from ideal for the 129 biathletes. This didn’t seem to bother Johannes Thingnes Boe however as he went out and won! It easy to forget that this is his first ever start in an individual event in a Senior World Championships and he couldn’t have done any better on his debut. There was more good news for the Boe family as big brother Tarjei shot clean to come home to win bronze. It was guaranteed to be a good night out in Styrn, the boys home town, on Saturday! Splitting up the family however was the history making Nathan Smith. He took the silver and is the first Canadian man to win a World Championship medal. He has been getting closer and closer to the podium all year and timed his best ever result to perfection. It wasn’t a great day for some of the big favourites with Martin Fourcade in 12th, Anton Shipulin in 18th, Emil Svendsen in 36th and Simon Schempp in 77th!

Johannes went into the Pursuit as favourite but he had a total nightmare missing 8 shots and finished 31st. On the other hand Germany’s Erik Lesser had a magnificent race. He shot clear and he controlled the pace from the front after the first shoot. He showed remarkable mental strength to hold his nerve shooting not only the perfect 20/20 but he shot fast as well. He always performs well on the big occasion and can now add World Championship gold to his Olympic silver. In second was Anton Shipulin who paced the race well and shot 19/20. At the final shoot when the guys in contention for the final two places missed around him he and Tarjei Boe kept their cool and fought it out on the track for the remaining medals. It was obvious that Shipulin had the upper hand on the skis but it might have been different if Boe had been on his top ski form. Even so he won his third bronze in three races. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen produced a good race to finish in 5th as did Vladimir Iliev who was 6th.

The men had three days of rest before they had the Individual 20km. Normal service was resumed with Martin Fourcade winning yet again! He is very hard to beat at this race. Emil Hegle Svendsen tried his best to do that but he just doesn’t have the ski speed this season. Martin skied 1 minute 20 seconds faster than him as he missed 1 shot but still won comfortably. What was joy for one Fourcade was anguish for the other. Simon took the lead early in the race and shot clear to suggest a podium place would be his. It wasn’t to be however as Ondrej Moravec with 1 missed shot out skied him to take the bronze medal by five seconds. It is the second time Simon Fourcade has finished 4th at this World Championships which must be horribly frustrating for him but on the bright side this is his best season for a long while. Sergey Semenov finished 5th to secure the small Crystal Globe in the Individual for Ukraine. There were also good performances from Lee Jackson of Great Britain in 39th and Alex Almoukov of Australia in 43rd. It was also good to see Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi rolling back the years in 12th adding to his other 2 TOP 30 finishes here.

The Relay was next up and it was won by a dominant German team to match the gold from their Women’s team. They only used 3 spare rounds and were always in the TOP 3. After Arnd Peiffer’s excellent third leg they controlled the race and no one else could catch them. The team of Erik Lesser, Daniel Boehm, Peiffer and Simon Schempp meant a very happy medal ceremony for Germany. In silver medal position came Norway with Emil Hegle Svendsen, Tarjei and Johannes Boe helping Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to his 40th World Championship medal. He was the only one of them not to use a spare round and led after his leg so he is still showing those youngsters how it’s done! I am happy to report that France were third finally getting Simon Fourcade onto the podium and preventing his nervous breakdown after finishing 4th twice already. Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Quentin Fillon Maillet and little brother Martin did a good job!

To finish we had the Mass Start which proved to be a very good race to end with. Jakov Fak took gold in a great race which went all the way to the finish line. In second came Ondrej Moravec to add silver to his gold and bronze to complete the set. Third place went to surprise, surprise Mr. Bronze himself Tarjei Boe who leaves with 5 medals. He beat teammate Bjoerndalen who was fourth but he had an excellent race shooting clean and always up at the front.

So that’s all from Kontiolahti. It has been a great World Championships and France came out on top of the medal table in front of Germany and Norway. I am sure the biathletes are glad to see the back of the “Wall” as they have been up it about a million times now but they can’t rest yet! It’s on to Khanty Mansisyk for the last World Cup of the season!


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The Countdown to Kontiolahti!

kontiolahti

It’s not long to go until the World Championship in Kontiolahti, Finland. The fifth of March will see the first event take place which is the Mixed Relay and continue for two weeks until the last race on the fifteenth. It has been 16 years since Kontiolahti last held the World Championships which was watched by over 40 million people on TV. They are very excited to be hosting the event and have made a lot of improvements to the facilities since the last time.

The stadium is located 15km North of Joensuu which is in Eastern Finland in the North Karelia region. It has played host to many top class events both in biathlon and cross country skiing. To update the facility they had a budget of 3.7 million euros to spend over a period from 2011 to 2014 to be ready in time for the World Championships. In that time they have implemented a new lighting system in order for TV to broadcast in the evening and they have extended both the Main Building and Media Centre.

Kontiolahti is probably most famous for its track. It is a one of the toughest that the biathletes race on all year and the painful part comes when you reach the now infamous Kontiolahti wall. The steep hill comes cruelly near the end of each circuit just before you get to the finish line. Some athletes love it like Johannes Boe who won all three races there last season and Darya Domracheva who won her first World Cup race there and also 2 Junior WC gold medals. Others find it really hard to pace themselves over the course to leave them enough energy at the end to get up the hill. The shooting range also comes at the highest point on the course and so can be affected a lot by the wind. You can be sure that this World Championships is going to be a tough one!

The Finnish team have some chances of getting some medals at their home Championships. Kaisa Makarainen will be a big favourite to take a medal if not multiple medals. It’s her home track and she won all three races there last season on the World Cup. They also have Mari Laukkanen who came an impressive third in the Sprint behind Makarainen in Kontiolahti and will also benefit from home advantage. There are also opportunities in the Relays but it will probably require mistakes from other nations to let the Finns have a chance of a medal. With the home tracks and home crowd though anything can happen.

Back in 1999 when Kontiolahti last held the World Championships the German team dominated proceeding and won 6 golds including two for Sven Fischer. For the women the Ukraine’s Olena Zubrilova won 3 golds. In the Men’s Mass Start a certain Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won bronze and I bet he didn’t think he would be back 16 years later with a chance of winning yet another medal to add to his enormous tally.

I am really looking forward to the Championships. It will be interesting to see who can handle the pressure and if any of the home heroes can step up and deliver medals for the home crowd. Hopefully it won’t be as cold as the last time either when temperatures ranged from -29 to -37 degrees Celsius! After Oslo everyone will be heading out to Finland to start their preparations. It’s time to start the Countdown to Kontiolahti!

For more information on Kontiolahti and the World Championships see:
http://www.kontiolahtibiathlon.com/
Follow @KlahtiBiathlon on Twitter.

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