Tag Archives: Biathlon World Cup

Franziska Hildebrand : The Interview!

Franziska Hildebrand is a German biathlete from Halle. She has won two races so far in her World Cup career both in Sprint races. She was victorious in her home race in Ruhpolding in 2015/16 and also in Hochfilzen in the same season. She has made the podium six times since her World Cup debut in 2011. With the German Women’s Relay team she has won two World Championship gold medals in Kontiolahti 2015 and Hochfilzen 2017. She was born on the 24th of March 1987 and has a twin sister called Stephanie.

Like her Facebook page: Franziska Hildebrand

Why did you become a biathlete?

This was accidental. First I tried various other sports like football and hockey. One day an article was published in the newspaper that the ski club of my hometown was looking for athletes. My parents took me to the training there and I liked it.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy about and what disappointed you?

The greatest moment for me was the moment I reached the line first for the German Relay team in PyeongChang with the German Flag. On the other hand I felt disappointed that I hadn’t reached a podium in the individual races.

You are part of the German Relay team that won gold in Hochfilzen and every relay on the World Cup. Why is the team so good?

We have a good atmosphere in the team, it is harmonious and we understand each other well. Everyone looks out for each other.

Do you have a favourite leg on the relay? Do you have any input into it or do the coaches make all the decisions?

My favourite leg is third. I also feel comfortable on the other legs but this is the one I like the most. Normally the coaches tell us the decision but they ask about the shape of the athletes.

Your shooting statistics are fantastic. Why are you so good at shooting? Is it natural talent, practice, hard work or a combination of things?

I think it`s a combination of natural talent and hard work. Talent is good but you still have to train again and again to keep this level.

You had some good results at the World Cup event in PyeongChang. Has that given you confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

I go with a positive feeling to Korea because of the good results I had there. I like the Asian culture and look forward to the Olympics. The tracks are nice and the range is good. I like it.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Recovery from an injury. In July I injured my ankle and it took time to heal. I did a lot of double polling and cycling because nothing else was possible. But it was nice to do something different from the other years.

Can you describe what it was like to win the Sprint race back in 2016 in Ruhpolding?

It was amazing. The victory there was a special moment for my career. To win in Germany in front of all the spectators was incredible.

You have your own fan club! What is that like and do they come and support you a lot?

It is a lot of fun. Every year we have a big fan club meeting where we all come together and meet each other. In my fan club are some very pleasant people who are crazy about biathlon and with whom I can have a lot of fun and who support me.

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

Katrin Apel. When I was watching Biathlon as a child she impressed me. She wasn’t the best all the time but she never gave up. And she was nice in her interviews.

Describe yourself in three words.

Persistent, colourful, freedom-loving.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): New Zealand
Favourite shooting range: Le Grand Bornard
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benedikt Doll
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Clare Egan
Best thing about being a biathlete: The best thing is that I get to do what I am talented in and I love to do!

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Susan Dunklee: The Interview!

Susan Dunklee is an American biathlete who was born on the 13th of February 1986. She enjoyed her best season to date in 2016/17. She finished 10th in the Total Score and more importantly won her first World Championship medal taking silver in the Mass Start in Hochfilzen. She is the first American women to win a medal at a major Championships and in doing so qualified to race for the US at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang this March. Her father Stan and her uncle Everett have both competed for America at the Olympics in cross country skiing.

Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanDunklee
Like her Facebook page: Susan Dunklee
Check out her blog: https://susandunklee.wordpress.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I didn’t want to give up ski racing after college. USBA offered a better training and living situation than any US xc ski club at the time, so I figured why not learn how to shoot?

The Mass Start in Hochfilzen. Talk us through your silver medal winning race and your emotions at the end.

I felt inspired after watching Lowell’s Individual. I remember thinking that I had got my first ever WC podium in 2014 the week after he got his first podium.
Despite that, I didn’t feel particularly good going into the race. By the end of the Championships you have raced so much that both your body and head feel fried. I had to remind myself that everyone else was exhausted too and that there is opportunity in that.
Much of that race felt surreal. Leading was an experience that I’m not very familiar with. I didn’t intend to lead because it’s usually not a smart tactical decision and it is harder to ski fast and efficiently by yourself. However, after every shooting stage I found myself alone out front. It seemed silly to just pull over for 5 seconds and let the pack catch up. So I skied my own pace, tried to stay relaxed and didn’t worry about what the pack did.
People ask me if the last shooting stage felt any different. In this case, no, it was more of a deja vu feeling. It felt just like the 3 stages before it. I remember thinking after the last shooting stage that now it was time to “get the hell out of there” because I knew some fast people would be chasing my tail. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to challenge Laura [Dahlmeier] when she caught me, but I was so psyched to hold onto second. It truly was a perfect race for me.

Apart from your medal you were also 10th in the Total Score. What was the key to your great season?

Shooting speed had been my biggest focus during training for a couple years and that work started to pay off last winter.

You had some good results at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Has that given you a lot of confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

It doesn’t matter if I like them or not. What matters is if I’m willing to make those tracks and that range “my own” so that I will feel strong and confident there.

What are your goals for next season for the World Cup as well as the Olympics?

To keep my focus on “performing well.” If I can do that, the results will take care of themselves.

Team USA is a really close team. What was it like watching Lowell win his gold medal at the World Champs?

Lowell put together an impressive performance which personified a tremendous effort on the part a whole host of people. For an achievement like that you need everything to go right such as ski fitness, shooting performance, and ski preparation. There are so many people who contributed to making that possible- coaches, teammates, ski techs, physios, managers, psychologists, sponsors, supportive friends and family back home…. Everyone in the USBA community felt some ownership of America’s first gold medal moment and that’s one of the reasons why I think the US Team is special.

Have you noticed any changes in the popularity of biathlon in the US after your recent success? Has it helped you with funding and sponsors?

Not as much as we had expected.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Same routine as usual- roller skiing, shooting, running, biking, lifting, etc. We did an on-snow camp in May in Bend, Oregon as well as a three week camp in Germany in September.

One of your hobbies is bee keeping. How did you get into that and why do you like it?

I already was interested in pollination systems after studying them in college. A few years ago I visited one of my ecologist friends who kept honey bees and I watched a barefoot “bee-whisperer” capture an escaped swarm. I was fascinated. Working with bees is a lot like shooting in a high pressure race situation. The consequences of making mistakes are high and you must conquer your fears and stay calm.

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

Nove Mesto has the best atmosphere with the biggest, friendliest crowds of spectators. I love racing there.

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

Michal Slesingr, Martin Fourcade and Lowell Bailey. They are phenomenal athletes and leaders who insist on fighting for the integrity of our sport.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sincere, hardworking, contemplative.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin’s dragon
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch. Honorable mention: Stefani Popova
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Toss up: Johanna Taliharm, Anais Bescond, and Katja Yurlova.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Recovery massages.

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Scott Dixon…The Third!!!

Like a boomerang, or slightly cooler ‘The Terminator’, Scott Dixon is back! In his third interview for Biathlon23 I have discovered that as well as being a biathlete Scott is now the author of a children’s book. He also dabbles in witchcraft which he claims is “card magic” but I am not so sure! He is currently trying to raise funds to help pay for the season. If you can help you can find the details here:
https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/biathlete-olympic-dream/

Like his Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete

Last season-discuss! Not a great start due to illness but you got your World Cup PB in Oslo at the end. Talk us through the main points of last season.

The start of the season went about as badly as it could have as I was having heart problems. I had shot well in the Individual in Oestersund on a very windy day (16/20) but on the last lap, having already exerted myself for four agonising laps before, my heart decided to go into hyper drive and shot up to 199 bpm whilst standing still shooting my last five stand shots.

Despite my form taking such a hit, I still skied quickly relative to my ski speed last year in both Slovenia and Nove Mesto. I had a good training phase over Christmas and was ready to go full speed into the next trimester with a positive attitude. We arrived in Germany and drove to Oberhof. Two days later I contracted the Noro virus, which I’m sure many people are familiar with… sixteen hours of being sick every hour. Nasty.

I was bed bound for four days, but still raced. This was silly, but I was still in disbelief my luck had taken such a turn and too stubborn to let the race go. It took some time to recover physically, and mentally from this bout of bad luck. But I did!


You are doing some training camps with the Swedish team. What’s it like working with Wolfgang Pichler? What differences do you think he has made for your biathlon?

Hard. Wolfgang is an incredible coach. He knows how to bring a team together, and he involves intense psychological elements in his training that are incredibly challenging. It is rare to meet someone so genuinely passionate about doing an excellent job. He’s punctual and has high expectations. What an opportunity it’s been training along side his athletes.

I feel my body developing all the time. I’m able to maintain higher speeds for longer, which I measure frequently on repeatable sessions.


You are back living and training in Lillehammer. What training have you been doing there and do you ever train with the British Nordic team there?

I live with Callum Smith who’s on the British Nordic team! However, we don’t get to train much together, usually the odd run here or there because our training differs a lot. We do eat together and compete to see who can make the best lasagna. Me of course, but his last one was pretty snazzy, I admit..

I don’t spend that much time in Lillehammer unfortunately because of the training camps. I’m usually recharging my batteries when I finally get back there. Although the training continues!

You are 23 this year and as everyone knows that is an important number in biathlon! What are your goals for this season?

Indeed it is!
Pursuits! The Olympic qualification is tough since we lost our top 25 spot on the nation cup score, so in order to qualify I need to make a couple of pursuit races.

British Biathlon is, as usual, going through a tough time but probably the worst in your career. You and Amanda Lightfoot have had to hand some of your funding back. What is going on and how else has it affected you?

It’s not the first time I’ve been told that it’s all doom and gloom by my National Governing Body (NGB), but it is the first time Amanda and I have had to financially bail them out. Of all the years this could happen, it was the Olympic season. However, it’s important that I focus on preparing my body to be the best it can be come the winter, and not allow these distractions to negatively influence my training.

You have launched a crowd funding campaign to help you with your costs this season. Tell us about it. What will the money go towards?

Our governing body is run by volunteers and they are unable to invest huge amounts of time in the search for sponsors or even planning the race season for example. Amanda and I have been assigned the job of sorting out travel arrangements in the season. Thankfully, Amanda is a guru when it comes to planning, and has come up with some very practical solutions to tough logistical issues. We’ve got a plan that works and brings us to the Olympic Games. But even with a plan in place, our governing body doesn’t have the funds to implement the plan. I set up a pledge sports campaign because I couldn’t afford the season, and if I missed a race I’d almost certainly miss the opportunity to compete at the Games.

So I set up a pledge for those who were interested in supporting me to the Olympic Games, and used it as an opportunity to expose my book to supporters.

You are now an author! Tell us about your children’s book ‘Pup the Brave’. Will you be writing anymore?

To some extent I am! It’s funny hearing that since it’s just a hobby. The idea originated from Katie, my girlfriend, when I asked her to tell me a story. She doesn’t like it so much when I randomly ask her to do that, but I persisted. I asked her to name a subject, or something, and she said “Puppy.”
“What’s the puppy doing?”
“Trying to cross a river.”
“Why?”
“There’s a bear chasing him.”
“Can he swim?”
“Do we have to do this?”
“Yes, can he swim?”
“No.”
“How does he cross?”
“Beaver builds him a dam…”

And so forth.

This continued for a little while and I liked the little story we created. We left it be, and one long bike ride in the hills, I thought about it again and for the next two weeks I didn’t let it rest, and had the poem completed, and had started sketching the images.

When I spend hours on end cycling and skiing, it can be advantageous to take my mind away from the discomfort. So I daydream about stories, plots and concepts and such like. Since I rarely get to see my little baby brother and sister, one and three years old, I decided I ought to write and illustrate a story for them. I used the Pup story as a template and set to daydreaming it into a plot and a story.

I do this all the time, and it’s definitely a direction I’d like to take after my Biathlon career. I have two more books planned for my little brother and sister, then I hope to publish the fiction material I spend even more time writing and thinking about.

You will be appearing on an episode of Sky 1’s ‘A League of Their Own’. Can you tell us anything about that or is it top secret?

Shh! who told you that?

Nah, it’s no secret! I am and I can’t wait to see it. I think I was a bit funky on camera, but I can guarantee that you’ll love the show when you watch it, which as biathlon fans you must! It was a surreal experience but thoroughly enjoyable. I hope it raises the profile of biathlon in the UK.

Have you got a name for your rifle yet?

I’m afraid not. I may have to for our next interview! What next interview?!! No name no chance!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Fillon Maillet. He made it himself!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Germany. It’s very German, and I like suits that represent the flag well.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 106 (since I often get the last bib, I might as well make it my lucky one!)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup:Tiio Söderhielm. He’s in his thirties, but you’d think he was only twenty.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Erik Lesser is always extremely friendly. He always says hello when most other people don’t notice us little guys. A special mention to all the Swedes. I couldn’t pick any one of them over the rest, and you asked for only one, but they all mutually win that title (future in diplomacy?).
Best thing about being a biathlete: In a race, the order people enter the shooting range for the final time is so vastly different to the order everyone finishes in. So much can change in the closing stages of the competition by pulling the trigger at the wrong time.

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World Cup 2016/17: Women’s Review!

As is becoming more and more common the women’s World Cup was again more exciting and more closely fought than the men’s. The eventual winner was Laura Dahlmeier. She won a total of 10 races and has been the outstanding biathlete on the Women’s World Cup.

She didn’t have it all her own way though. In the Total Score Dahlmeier finished with 1211 points. Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova with 1089 points and Kaisa Makarainen was third with 971 points.

Laura won the small crystal globe in the Pursuit and the Individual but despite leading in the Sprint and Mass Start standings she lost them both to Koukalova at the final World Cup round. Gabi won the Sprint Title by 5 points and the Mass Start Title by 9 so you can see how close the competitions were.

Rookie of the year went to Sweden’s Hanna Öberg who was 47th in the Total Score with 128 points and had three Top 10 finishes.

It was not an easy task for Dahlmeier to win the big crystal globe and that started back at the end of November in Oestersund. The Individual was the first race and was won by Dahlmeier with Anais Bescond in second and a surprise in third with Darya Yurkevich getting her first ever podium. The Sprint was next and this time Marie Dorin Habert took first place from Kaisa Makarainen in second and Gabriela Koukalova in third. The Pursuit race went to Koukalova with Dahlmeier in second and Dorothea Wierer in third. With all the big guns looking in good form it was an exciting start to the season.

We then headed to Pokljuka where this time Dahlmeier won the Sprint from Justine Braisaz in second and Marte Olsbu in third. Dahlmeier made it a double in the Pursuit followed by Kaisa Makarainen and Eva Puskarcikova who took her first ever podium finish in third.

Next came Nove Mesto and we had a brand new winner of the Sprint with Tatiana Akimova winning her first race. Anais Chevalier came second to get her first podium finish and Susan Dunklee was third. In the Pursuit Chevalier moved up a place to win the first race of her career. Wierer was second and Akimova third. Two new winners that weekend was great for the Women’s World Cup. The Mass Start belonged to Koukalova in front of her home crowd with Dahlmeier second and Wierer third.

After the Christmas break it was on to Oberhof and Koukalova took another victory this time in the Sprint with Makarainen second and Dorin Habert third. Dahlmeier chose to miss the first two races here and the Pursuit went to Dorin Habert with Koukalova second and Makarainen third. Koukalova won the Mass Start with Dahlmeier returning to race coming second and Eva Puskarcikova coming third for the second time this season.

We remained in Germany but moved to Ruhpolding for round 5. Makarainen took her first win of the season in the Sprint from Koukalova in second and Dahlmeier in third. Kaisa made it a double by winning the Pursuit with Koukalova second again and Dorin Habert in third.

The last World Cup before the World Championships was in Antholz where Dahlmeier won the Individual with Chevalier in second and Alexia Runggaldier taking her first ever podium finish in front of her home crowd. The Mass Start saw Nadine Horchler win her first ever race on the World Cup coming from 30th to 1st. Dahlmeier finished second and Koukalova third.

The World Championships were dominated by Dahlmeier. The first race was the Sprint and it was the only race she didn’t win! Gabriela Koukalova took this one winning her first gold medal at a World Championships. Dahlmeier got the silver with Anais Chevalier taking bronze. In the Pursuit it was gold for Dahlmeier and Darya Domracheva surprised everyone by winning the silver coming from 27th to 2nd. The bronze went to Koukalova. The Individual was Dahlmeier’s too this time with silver going to Koukalova and bronze to Alexia Runggaldier. The Mass Start was Laura’s 3rd individual gold medal, Susan Dunklee got the silver and Kaisa Makarainen the bronze. Dahlmeier also won 2 more gold in the relays and so from six races she won 5 gold medals and 1 silver. Amazing!

She was to continue her great form at the Olympic test event in PyeongChang winning the Sprint and the Pursuit. Tiril Eckhoff got her first podium of the season coming second in the Sprint with Anais Chevalier in third. Makarainen was second in the Pursuit with Anais Bescond in third.

Kontiolahti was next for World Cup 8. This time it was Eckhoff who won the Sprint finishing ahead of Dahlmeier to win her first race of the season. Dahlmeier did enough however to win her first ever Overall Title and the big crystal globe. Darya Domracheva was third. The Pursuit was won by Dahlmeier with Marie Dorin Habert in second and Lisa Vittozzi getting her first podium on the World Cup in third.

The final round was held in Holmenkollen, Oslo. We had a new winner in the Sprint race with Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever World Cup race. Second place went to Justine Braisaz and teammate Anais Bescond was third. Laukkanen did the double winning the Pursuit too with Koukalova in second and Braisaz third. The final race of the season was the Mass Start which home favourite Tiril Eckhoff won. Koukalova took second to secure the Mass Start Title and Kaisa Makarainen was third.

Strangely with such a competitive women’s field all the Women’s Relays were won by one team and that was Germany. The Mixed Relays went to Norway and France on the World Cup and Germany at the World Championships.

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Holmenkollen 2017: The Mass Starts!

Say it isn’t so! The final races of the 2016/17 biathlon World Cup season! I’m afraid it is so. Hopefully you can all read this through the river of tears but it’s over again for another year! 😦

We ended the season in Holmenkollen with the two Mass Start races. They were exciting and full of incident. You know it’s the last day of biathlon when a squirrel and an asterisk take centre stage!

The Women raced first and it was another great race to finish of a fantastic season on the Women’s World Cup. First we had a faller. Celia Aymonier fell on the fast downhill and basically ruined her rifle and her chances of doing well in the race. We had Susan Dunklee in the lead after the first prone. She also came out of the range first after the second prone. Unfortunately she missed 3 in the first standing.

Between shoot 2 and 3 we had a squirrel run across the tracks at the start of the uphill and it almost took out Justine Braisaz. It’s lucky she didn’t take her rifle off and shoot it after the shock she got! The squirrel will now be known as Squirrel Eckhoff after the eventual winner! 😉

Franziska Hildebrand took over in the lead after the third shoot going clear. The final shoot decided the race with Hildebrand missing 1 and Eckhoff going clean. She took off in front of Gabriela Koukalova who also hit the final 5 targets. Eckhoff went fast until the end so Gabi had to settle for second but she did win the small crystal globe for the Mass Start after Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 9th.

Third place went to Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen was 6th to wrap up a difficult weekend for the Finnish team after the death of their shooting coach. They have honoured his memory in great style this weekend.

Veronika Vitkova was 4th with her best result this season and Hildebrand was 5th.

The Men’s race in the afternoon was a bit confusing! We got to the first prone shoot and up went Martin Fourcade’s hand. He had forgotten to reload his magazines! How in the world do you win 14 races, get 22 podiums from 26 races, win 6 World Titles in a row and forget that!!! Anyway his coach threw him a new one and he cleared the targets with amazing mental fortitude.

Eighteen other biathletes also shot clean at the first prone. Even though he lost time on the range the first time around Fourcade was first in for the second prone. This time there was an official waiting to give him new magazines. He again hit all the targets.

We were now down to 13 people who shot clean including Lowell Bailey and Anton Shipulin who were at the front. The third shoot was were Fourcade made his break. He shot clean along with Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Michal Slesingr and left those three in the podium positions.

In the meantime the asterisk had appeared next to Fourcade’s name for all the range problems. No one knew what was going on though. However Fourcade shot the perfect 20/20 despite all the problems and easily won the race. Or did he? Well yes he did after some discussion between the officials. They decided that his coach throwing him the magazine in the first prone, although against the rules, was the coach’s mistake and not Fourcade’s.

Second place went to Andrejs Rastorgujevs who shot clean at the final shoot and skied past Simon Eder on the tracks to get his first ever podium on the World Cup. Simon Eder held on to third with Emil Svendsen in 4th, Arnd Peiffer 5th and Michal Slesingr 6th.

With Simon Schempp finishing down in 20th it meant that Martin Fourcade also won the crystal globe for the Mass Start.

That concludes all the races for season 2016/17 with Martin Fourcade champion for the men and Laura Dahlmeier for the women.

There are still 3 season reviews and a certain awards ceremony to come from biathlon23 this week so it’s not all over yet!

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Holmenkollen 2017: The Sprints!

It is the final World Cup round in Holmenkollen and it’s just like school before you break up for the holidays. With most of the big prizes already decided there is a bit of craziness in the air. We had Serafin Wiestner with underwear over his ski suit (like Superman) in training after losing a bet with his coach. Anton Babikov trying to throw snowballs at a Russian TV interview and Michal Krcmar falling out of his hotel window (it was very low to the ground).

Finally on Friday we got a little more serious for the Sprint races. The Women’s Sprint threw up a lot of surprises. We had another brand new winner with Finland’s Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever race on the World Cup. She shot clean to win by almost 8 seconds. Second place went to Justine Braisaz getting her second podium of the season also hitting 10/10. Her teammate Anais Bescond had a good race hitting the perfect score finishing in third.

The big surprise was that Gabriela Kouklava won the Sprint Title. She finished 4th with 1 miss but rival Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 31st with 3 misses all in the prone. Those results meant that Gabi won the small crystal globe by just 5 points!

Some of the younger women coming up from the IBU Cup also had a good day. There were personal bests for Austria’s Julia Schwaiger in 14th, France’s Julia Simon in 25th and Russia’s Victoria Slivko in 30th.

The Men’s race was less surprising! Johannnes Boe shot 10/10 and skied really well to win the race by over 13 seconds. Second place went to Martin Fourcade who has chosen to race this weekend despite the imminent arrival of his second child. He missed his last standing target but skied his way to the podium.

Third place went to Anton Shipulin who at one point was ahead of Fourcade but lost a lot of time on the tracks possibly because of his late start bib giving him trickier conditions. He hit 10/10 but was 8 seconds behind Fourcade in the end. He was also just 0.2 of a second ahead of Dominik Landertinger in 4th so he did well to stay on the podium!

Fredrik Gjesbakk got his personal best on the World Cup in 25th as did Slovenia’s Miha Dovzan in 34th. In his final race of the season Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also improved his best result to 65th!

Tomorrow we have the final Pursuit races and we will see if Laura Dahlmeier can hang on to that title!

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Kontiolahti 2017: The Mixed Relays!

The final races in Kontiolahti were the Single Mixed and the Mixed Relay. Martin Fourcade decided to have a day off and would not compete in either race. To be fair he deserves a bit of a rest!

The Single Mixed Relay contained some strong teams and the team with the top shooters would prove to be the best. It was Italy who took the lead after the first leg with Lisa Vittozzi on great form using just 1 spare. However Lukas Hofer went on the penalty loop 3 times on the prone leaving them no chance. He was great yesterday finishing 6th in the Pursuit and terrible today! He also did a similar thing in PyeongChang. He is possibly the most inconsistent biathlete ever!

That left the USA and Austria in contention for victory with some great shooting from Lisa Hauser, Simon Eder, Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey. Dunklee actually had a fall on the downhill but didn’t injury herself or her equipment.

Germany were also in the mix with Laura Dahlmeier and Roman Rees as were France with Anais Chevalier and Jean-Guillaume Beatrix.

In the end it was Eder’s fast and accurate shooting on the last leg that won it for Austria. He hit 10/10 in lightning speed to win by 32 second in the end. The race for second and third came down to a sprint finish with Roman Rees leaving the range in second after a clean shoot in his final stand. Lowell Bailey needed 1 spare and was just behind the German. Bailey stayed behind until the last few metres when he managed to get his ski ahead and take the second place for the USA. Germany were third and France finished 4th. The two top teams both needed just 5 spares with Germany using 6 and France 8.

The Mixed Relay was later in the evening. France got a great start with Marie Dorin Habert taking the first leg. She used 1 spare but handed over in the lead. She was 4 seconds in front of Iryna Varvynets of the Ukraine and 7 seconds ahead of Italy’s Dorothea Wierer. Japan were in 4th with Fuyuko Tachizaki and Austria 5th with Dunja Zdouc. Norway went on the penalty loop twice with Marte Olsbu.

France also controlled the second leg. Germany moved into second with another fantastic relay leg from Maren Hammerschmidt. She needed 2 spares to hand over in front of Slovakia in third after two great legs from Paulina and Ivona Fialkova. The Ukraine were in 4th with Olga Abramova and Russia in 5th with Irina Starykh. After the first prone the USA with Joanne Reid were up to 3rd but after her stand they dropped back to 9th.

The men took over in the third leg. Simon Desthieux for France needed 4 spares and finished with a lead of 25 seconds. He was chased by Benedikt Doll who needed 3 spares. Sergiy Semenov for Ukraine moved into third but Matvey Eliseev for Russia and Tomas Hasilla for Slovakia had bad standing shoots to allow Michal Slesingr to move the Czech Republic up to 4th.

Quentin Fillon Maillet took the final leg for France and he was followed by Arnd Peiffer for Germany, Dmytro Pidruchnyi for the Ukriane, Michal Krcmar for the Czechs and Evgeniy Garanichev for Russia. The top 3 teams all needed 1 spare on the prone. Russia shot clean but the Czech Republic went on the penalty loop.

It all came down to the final standing shoot. Just the way we like it to! France and Germany both missed two shots and Fillon Maillet had some trouble loading his spare rounds. He did really well to keep cool and hit the remaining targets to give France the win. Germany were second. Ukraine needed 1 spare but Russia just avoided going on the penalty loop with the last spare round. Ukraine were third showing they are a great relay team. Russia were 4th ahead of Norway who came back to finish in 5th.

Well that concludes some great racing from Kontiolahti and we only have 1 more World Cup left before the end of the season in Holmenkollen! NO say it’s not true!!! 😦

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