Tag Archives: biathlon yellow bib

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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Oestersund 2016: The Pursuits!

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Like a spoonful of Lingonberry jam the end of the weekend was surprisingly good! We ended a great start to the World Cup season in Oestersund with the Pursuit races and they didn’t disappoint.

First off was the women’s race with Marie Dorin Habert staring first. That only lasted until the first shoot however when she missed 2 shots and blew her chances of winning. Circling like sharks behind her were Makarainen, Koukalova and Dahlmeier. Only Laura and Gabi shot clear however and the win from then was between those two.

In the end it was the cool head of Koukalova who kept it together on the range. She missed only 1 target on the third shoot but never lost the lead. Surprisingly Dahlmeier missed two targets and so couldn’t fight for the win. She did have to fight for second though as Dorothea Wierer came from 19th place shooting the perfect 20/20 to finish third. They left the final shoot together but Dalmeier managed to pull away on the final lap. Makarainen came home in 5th missing 4 shots in total and Dorin Habert was 7th missing 6 targets after shooting so well in the Sprint the day before.

In fourth place was Switzerland’s Lena Haecki who had an outstanding race. She shot 20/20 and moved from 12th to 4th to get her personal best result on the World Cup.

Other great gains were made by Yuliia Dzhima who went from 21st to 9th, Veronika Vitkova from 35th to 18th, Anastasia Zagoruiko from 43rd to 29th and Clare Egan from 44th to 30th.

Unexpectedly the men’s race was even better. Thanks to Martin Fourcade missing 4 shots we got a new winner. The beneficiary was Russian’s Anton Babikov who got his first ever World Cup victory coming from 7th and missing just 1 shot. His teammate Maxim Tsvetkov moved from 11th into second with a perfect shoot. Fourcade still came third despite his misses.

Anton Shipulin made it 3 Russians in the top 10 finishing 8th and Simon Schempp finally turned up getting 9th place. Michal Krcmar had a fantastic racing starting in 38th he finished 7th, and Johannes Boe went from 30th to 10th. Jean Guillaume Beatrix went from 23rd to 11th, Henrik L’Abee Lund from 58th to 19th, Evgeniy Garanichev from 49th to 30th and Roman Rees from 57th to 36th.

So the first World Cup round in Oestersund is over already! Too quick! We move to Pokljuka next week with Martin Fourcade and Laura Dahlmeier in the yellow bibs leading the overall title race.

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Season Review 2015/16: Women

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The race for the Women’s Overall Title was great this season. It was much closer and more exciting than the Men’s and it went right down to the final World Cup round in Khanty Mansiysk.

It started way back in Oestersund where Kaisa Makarainen started as favourite to win in the absence of Darya Domracheva. It was not to be this season for Kaisa who wasn’t in her best form all year however it did give others the chance to shine. Gabriela Soukalova emerged from Oestersund with the yellow bib and held on to it all season. Her closest competitors were Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer. It was a shame that Laura Dahlmeier missed a few World Cup rounds through illness otherwise she would have been in with a shot of the title too.

Soukalova didn’t have a great World Championships in Oslo which meant that she took a lead of 69 points into the final three races in Russia. In the Sprint she was 4th and Dorin Habert was 10th which meant she secured the small Crystal Globe in that event. In the Pursuit she was 4th again to win another small globe but more importantly she won the Overall Title and the big Crystal Globe!

Dorothea Wierer won the small Crystal Globe in the Individual by winning 2 of the races in the season and coming 8th in the World Championships to beat Marie Dorin Habert, who won the World Championships race, by just 2 points.

The season’s Sprints were won by Gabriela Soukalova, Franziska Hildebrand, Marie Dorin Habert, Olga Pudchufarova, Olena Pidhrushna, Tiril Eckhoff and Kaisa Makarainen. The Pursuits went to Kaisa Makarainen, Laura Dahlmeier, Ekaterina Yurlova and Gabriela Soukalova.

Finally the Mass Starts went to Kaisa Makarainen, Laura Dahlmeier, Gabriela Soukalova, Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer. The small globe was won by Soukalova.

The five Women’s Relays through the season were won by five different nations. On the World Cup Italy, Ukraine, France and the Czech Republic all won and then Norway took the gold at the World Championships.

As you can see from all the results above the Women’s World Cup is very competitive and there are a lot of great biathletes competing right now. Away from those at the very top it has also been a good season for Olena Pidhrushna who after her comeback from retirement has looked better than ever with a win and some podiums. Franziska Hildebrand took 2 Sprint victories and has had a good season and Olga Podchufarova got her first win too.

The Women have provided most of the entertainment this year due to the fact that no one is completely dominant like in the Men’s World Cup. Gabriela Soukalova won the yellow bib at the first round and held it all through the season and deservedly won the Total Score. She also took 3 of the 4 small globes but she did it through consistency rather than dominance. There is a lot to look forward to next season with the return of Domracheva and it will be great to see her up against Dorin Habert, Dahlmeier, Eckhoff, Soukalova and Wierer as well as old foe Kaisa Makarainen if she decides to race for another year. This season has been great but next season could be even better!

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Season Review 2015/16: Men

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Well the season is over for another year. It hasn’t been the thrilling season we might have hoped for on the Men’s side but it has been a good one all the same. Martin Fourcade won the Overall Title for the fifth season in a row. He also won all the small Crystal globes in the Sprint, Pursuit, Individual and Mass Start for the second time in his career. Did I mention that he also won 4 gold medals at the World Championships in Oslo and rumour has it he may also be able to walk on water. OK the last one maybe beyond him but nothing is out of his reach in biathlon.

It has been an incredible season for Martin. He has proved beyond a doubt that he is one of the greatest biathletes of all time and he is only 27. He still has time to win a lot more in the sport. He didn’t face much serious competition in the Total Score winning it in the end by an incredible 331 points from Johannes Boe in second.Anton Shipulin was third and Simon Schempp fourth. It’s hard to blame the other biathletes for this as he was on unstoppable form.

However an early Norwegian challenge came from Tarjei Boe who was pretty consistent through the season but didn’t win any races. Simon Schempp suffered a lot from illness and Anton Shipulin from a loss of form. Martin Fourcade would have won anyway but it would have been great to see him pushed a little bit more.

We did see some new winners on the World Cup this season which is always good. Jean Guillaume Beatrix won the Mass Start in Pokljuka and Dominik Windisch won it in Canmore and Erik Lesser in Ruhpolding. Julian Eberhard won the final Sprint race in Khanty-Mansiysk. Ole Einar won the first race of the season in Oestersund proving he is still a master of the sport and he backed it up with 4 medals at the World Championships.

Simon Eder had a good season winning a Pursuit race and a bronze medal in Oslo. The rest of the wins were shared between Fourcade, Simon Schempp, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Anton Shipulin.

Some biathletes also improved a lot over the season. Michal Krcmar of the Czech Republic had a terrific year with some great shooting and a 5th place in the World Championship Individual. Switzerland’s Serafin Wiestner has also made a step forward getting his first Top 5 finish on the World Cup. Quentin Fillon Maillet had a fantastic start to the season and had a lot of Top 10 finishes. Evgeniy Garanichev had his best season in a while finishing 7th in the Total Score and winning 2 gold medals at the European Championships in Tyumen.

The Men’s Relay’s on the World Cup were won by Russia and Norway.The USA also had good year with several Top 6 finishes.In Oslo at the World Championships Norway won gold and an amazing performance from Canada saw them win the bronze.

Overall the Men’s World Cup has been a good one but the dominance of Martin Fourcade means that it hasn’t been that exciting. I would love to see him really pushed for the title and hopefully if Simon Schempp can stay illness free, Anton Shipulin regains his form and Johannes Boe can improve his consistency it could happen next year. However that is easier said than done! If they can at least close the gap to Fourcade it will be better to watch because otherwise the Women’s World Cup is going to steal the show…again!

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WC9 Khanty Mansiysk: Review 2016

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No! It’s Khanty Mansiysk already which means it’s the final round of the World Cup. The Men’s titles were all decided before we arrived in Russia. To make a long story short Martin Fourcade won everything! The Women’s was not quite wrapped up however as it was still possible for Marie Dorin Habert to catch up with leader Gabriela Soukalova.

It was the Women who raced first on Thursday in the Sprint. It was Kaisa Makarainen who won this one missing a target but skiing back to her best to win. In second and securing the small Crystal Globe in the Sprint event was Gabriela Soukalova. As Dorin Habert finished 10th it gave her a boost for the Overall Title. Third place went to Marte Olsbu who got her first ever podium and a career best result. Obviously the relay gold from Oslo has given her a lot of confidence. Justine Braisaz also got a personal best result in 4th.

The Men’s Sprint was won by Austria’s Julian Eberhard. He shot 10/10 and won by just 1.1 seconds. As predicted by this blog earlier in the season if he ever shot clean he would win and he has! It’s quite a surprise for him to shoot clean but it got him his first ever World Cup win. Second place went to Simon Schempp who must have though he had won as he wouldn’t have expected a clean shoot from Eberhard. Third place went to another German Arnd Peiffer. Erik Lesser was 5th and Benedikt Doll was 8th which means either the Germans love Khanty Mansiysk or they messed up their World Championship preparation and are in top form two weeks too late!!

There were personal best results in the Sprint for Ukraine’s Oleksander Zhyrnyi in 13th and Bulgaria’s Anton Sinapov in 16th who both shot 10/10. Martin Fourcade missed 4 shots and finished 40th and so decided not to start in the Pursuit.

The Women’s Pursuit was first on Saturday and Kaisa Makarainen did the double with another victory. She is hitting good form a bit too late in the season. She missed 2 shots but still won by 1.5 seconds. Title challenger Marie Dorin Habert was second with 1 missed target and Dorothea Wierer was third. It was a close finish for the final podium place with Gabriela Soukalova in fourth and Franziska Preuss in fifth less than a second behind. Soukalova’s 4th place meant that she won the small globe for the Pursuit and also secured the Overall Title.

There were other good results from Juliya Dzhyma who went from 26th to 9th, Laura Dahlmeier 36th to 16th, Ekaterina Yurlova 32nd to 18th, Iryna Kryuko 38th to 23rd, Monika Hojnisz 51st to 31st, Julia Ransom 54th to 34th and Ingela Andersson 56th to 38th.

The Men’s Sprint was won by Simon Schempp. He missed 3 targets but held off Johannes Thingnes Boe who was second. He only missed 1 target but started a minute behind Schempp and he only finished 8.5 seconds behind him. Third place went to Erik Lesser who missed 2 shots. Sprint winner Julian Eberhard missed 8 targets and went back to 18th!

There were other good performances by Simon Eder 38th to 11th, Tarjei Boe 35th to 12th, Michal Krcmar 39th to 17th, Anton Shipulin 45th to 20th and Dmitry Malyshko 55th to 33rd.

The final races of the 2015/16 season were the Mass Starts. Actually they weren’t! They were both cancelled due to strong, gusty wind conditions so the season ended with a bit of an anti-climax. This meant that Soukalova would also win the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Well that is all for the season 😦 try not to be too upset! Martin Fourcade won the Overall Title for the 5th season in a row and all 4 small globes for the second time in his career. You know I think he might be quite good at biathlon! Gabriela Soukalova won the Women’s Overall Title for the first time and 3 out of 4 of the small globes with Dorothea Wierer winning in the Individual. It has been another great biathlon season and thanks for following it with biathlon23!

Oh wait a minute, I’m not quite finished yet! Look out for my Men’s and Women’s Reviews and the outcome of a up and down season for Biathlete23! Plus the one thing all the biathletes want to win – The Biathlon 23 Awards are back! 🙂

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Global Success! Season 2014/15 Review: Women

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The Women’s season turned out as we had expected before a rifle was even fired. Kaisa Makarainen and Darya Domracheva would fight it out for the overall title and they did so right up until the end of the season. They both started well and in the first race, the Individual in Oestersund, Domracheva won from Makarainen in second. Both finished in the TOP 5 in the Sprint and Makarainen won the Pursuit with Domracheva in 4th. This meant that there wasn’t much to choose between them after Round 1.

We then headed to Hochfilzen where Kaisa really laid down a marker and won both races with Darya losing some ground. In Pokljuka they were neck and neck again with Darya beating Kaisa in both the Sprint and Pursuit but then came the first Mass Start of the season and it proved to be a disaster for Darya. She crashed into another biathlete when exiting the penalty loop and could not finish the race. Kaisa took full advantage and won the race giving her 60 points whilst Darya scored 0.

After Christmas in Oberhof we were expecting more of the same. In fact they had similar results again with Darya leaving with slightly more points. In Ruhpolding Darya came out firmly on top taking a first and second place finish and piling the pressure on Kaisa. Antholz again was a battle between the two with Darya taking both wins and Kaisa a second and a third place. Nove Mesto couldn’t really separate them either with both women in the Top 10 of the Sprint and Darya winning the Pursuit from Kaisa in second. It looked like the same story in Oslo too with Kaisa winning the Individual and Darya in second but in the Sprint Darya won and Kaisa could only finish in 24th place which meant the yellow bib changed hands just before the World Championships. Kaisa had been in yellow for most of the season but now Darya took over by just 10 points.

With the World Championships counting towards the overall title there was even more pressure on both of them to do well in Kontiolahti before the final round in Khanty Mansiysk. However the task of competing for the overall title and World titles was always going to be difficult. In fact only Kaisa took a medal and it was bronze. Darya did however manage to extend her lead to 21 points by finishing ahead in most of the races.

So it was left to Khanty Mansiysk and three races to decide the destination of the Overall Title. Kaisa drew first blood and won the Sprint closing the gap on Domracheva, who was third, down to just 9 points. Darya hit back hard though in the Pursuit finishing first with Kaisa back in fourth to virtually guarantee the Overall Title barring total disaster in the final Mass Start. Kaisa did manage to win the small Crystal globe for the Pursuit by just 1 point from Darya and Valj Semerenko who was third. The last race saw Darya take 4th place which was more than enough for her to win her first ever big Crystal Globe! It also saw Franziska Preuss win the small globe for the Mass Start.

Away from the two title contenders there were some excellent performances from some of the other ladies. Veronika Vitkova showed what a classy biathlete she is. She won her first ever race this season in the Oberhof Sprint and proved it was no matter of luck as she has been on the podium another five times. She has also played a vital role in both the Mixed and Women’s relay team for the Czech Republic along with Gabriela Soukalova who after a sluggish start had a good end to the season.

Laura Dahlmeier is another woman who has impressed greatly this season. She took her debut World Cup win in the Nove Mesto Sprint race and got another 6 podiums before winning the final race of the season in Khanty Mansiysk. She is probably the best shot of all the women and at the age of just 21 she will have a lot more success to look forward to. Her German teammates have all improved too especially Franziska Preuss and Vanessa Hinz. Together with Franziska Hildebrand they make a fearsome Relay team as we found out in Kontiolahti. They also won the Nation’s Cup and had 3 biathletes in the TOP 10 of the total score.

Making good strides forward this season was also the Italian Women’s team. Dorothea Wierer and Karin Oberhofer have enjoyed their best ever seasons and the likes of Nicole Gontier, Lisa Vittozzi and Federica Sanfilippo are there to back them up. Marie Dorin Habert had a shortened season after giving birth to her first daughter in September. She made a stunning return to the World Cup finishing on the podium and then went on to dominate the World Championships winning 2 gold medals. The French newcomers Justine Briasaz and Enora Latuilliere also look like becoming very good biathletes.

Valj Semerenko in the absence of her twin sister had a very consistent season. She made a lot of podiums and was excellent on the shooting range. She eventually finished third in the total score and won the Mass Start at the World Championships. Rosanna Crawford from Canada had a really strong season too getting her personal best result of 4th in the Pokljuka Sprint as well as 7 Top 20 finishes . America’s Susan Dunklee had a good year too and Hannah Dreissigacker achieved her personal best result of 14th at the final round in Russia.

It has been a great year for Women’s biathlon. The fight for the Overall Title went right down to the final round and at the World Championships the rest of the pack showed just how good they are. Next year should be even better with more women coming through to challenge. We don’t know if Makarainen will retire or not yet but Darya Domracheva will have plenty of competition either way. It will be a long summer waiting for the season to start again but Darya has a lot of time to enjoy her Global Success!

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Global Success!2014/15 Season Review:Men

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Season 2014/15 has come to an end and there is no surprise about who came out on top in the Men’s field. Yes for the fourth time in a row France’s Martin Fourcade has won the overall title and gets another big Crystal Globe to put on his already overcrowded mantlepiece. It didn’t start out that way though. We all got a bit excited in the first race of the season way back in Oestersund in the Individual 20km.

It was won by Fourcade’s main rival at the start of the season Emil Hegle Svendsen and with Martin having a total nightmare and finishing in 81st place we thought we might see the title go elsewhere. Of course we we entirely wrong because Fourcade popped up and won the very next race, the Sprint, by 28 seconds and went on to win the Pursuit too. After the first World Cup round it was business as usual with Fourcade and Svendsen setting the pace.

That didn’t last long though as two new contenders appeared to chase Fourcade. Germany’s Simon Schempp started putting in some fantastic performances with two second places in Hochfilzen. In Pokljuka Russia’s Anton Shipulin emerged as a real challenger for the overall with 2 wins and a second place. At this point Svendsen was still going along nicely picking up wins and podiums to stay in the hunt.

After Christmas we had the two German races in Oberhof and Ruhpolding. Oberhof went well for Fourcade where he won both races but in Ruhpolding he started to have some problems. Both Schempp and Shipulin gained points there with Schempp getting a win and a second place. Antholz was next and that’s where Schempp did even more damage. With Fourcade under the weather he won both races just as he did the year before to make a big dent in Fourcade’s lead in the yellow bib. It was around this time that Svendsen’s title challenge faded away as he failed to get on the podium or even into the Top 10. Schempp again beat Fourcade in Nove Mesto but not by much as he was second twice while Fourcade was third and fourth.

By now Shipulin’s charge was slowing and while he still made the podium and TOP 10 in Holmenkollen Fourcade’s win and second place gave him the advantage. Schempp didn’t have a great round in Norway either which left Fourcade with a lead of 78 points going into the World Championships where the results also counted towards the overall title. His rivals didn’t fare too well in the points department but Shipulin and Schempp did medal. Martin won the Individual and was competitive enough in all the other races to give him a lead of 111 points to take into the final round.

We found ourselves in Khanty-Mansiysk for round 9 and in the first race, the Sprint, Martin won convincingly and also won the small Crystal globe. Shipulin was second but it left a deficit of 117 points going into the final 2 races. He was also second in the Sprint standings ahead of Simon Schempp in third. In the Pursuit race Martin did enough to win the Overall Title finishing fourth just one place behind Shipulin. This means he has won the total score for 4 years in a row the first person to do so. The final race saw Shipulin claiming the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Outside of these guys there have been other impressive performances. Ukraine’s Sergey Semenov won the Individual 20km competition with some great shooting and consistent results and did enough in Kontiolahti to hang on to beat Fourcade and Svendsen to the title. Jakov Fak put up a late charge coming into great ski form towards the end of the year winning World Championship gold as well as 3 other races. This put him into third place in the overall standings.

Johannes Thingnes Boe didn’t get as many World Cup wins as last year but he is the World Champion in the Sprint. He is also relatively inexperienced on the World Cup which is obviously a worry for all the other biathletes! His big brother Tarjei made up for a slow start to the season troubled by illness to win 5 medals in Kontiolahti. The German team were stronger than they have been in a while with Schempp but Arnd Peiffer also got back to winning ways in Holmenkollen and with Lesser becoming Pursuit World Champion and Andi Birnbacher getting back to his old form they are a formidable team. They also have Daniel Boehm and Benedikt Doll who collected his first 2 podiums in Khanty Mansiysk.

Simon Fourcade enjoyed a better season than last year finishing 4th in every race!!;-) The French team also have a new star in Quentin Fillon Maillet. He has finished in the TOP 10 nine times with his best result of second place coming in the Ruhpolding Mass Start in a photo finish. Benjamin Weger has shown more consistency this season and has had 4 Top 10 finishes. The Czech team had a good season too with Michal Slesingr in great form and Ondrej Moravec performing well at the World Championships. Evgeniy Garanichev did well too for Russia and finished 6th in the total score.

The Canadians have done really well with Nathan Smith winning silver in the World Championship Sprint, taking 6 TOP 10 finishes and his first ever win in Khanty Mansiysk to finish the season on a high. Brendan Green got a personal best result of 5th too. For the Americans Leif Nordgren outshone his better known colleagues Burke and Bailey with 4 TOP 30 results and a personal best of 16th in the Nove Mesto Sprint. The Bulgarians Krasimir Anev and Vladimir Iliev have been a breath of fresh air this season both shooting really well and getting 14 Top 20 finishes between them, 9 for Iliev and 5 for Anev. Anev achieved a PB of 4th and Iliev 6th.

It has been a very enjoyable season watching the men’s races. I would like to have seen a closer challenge to Fourcade but it sets up next season very nicely. It’s not a two horse race anymore between Fourcade and Svendsen. There are other opponents who can stop Fourcade achieving 5 in a row! However they will find it very tough. It was nice to see the small globes shared around too with Semenov taking the Individual title, Shipulin the Mass Start and the Sprint and Pursuit going to Fourcade. The Nation’s Cup went to Norway. Well we have a long summer ahead of us to digest this season and look forward to the next one. One thing is certain for Monsieur Fourcade season 2014/15 has been a Global Success!

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I Khanty believe it!

Can you believe it?! The last World Cup round has finished and the season is over already! Khanty-Mansiysk was the venue for round 9 of the biathlon World Cup and there were still a lot of things to settle. The deficit between Fourcade and Shipulin was 111 points coming into this round but much more exciting was the race for the overall title between the women with just 21 points separating Domracheva and Makarainen.

The first race was the Men’s Sprint and an outstanding performance from Martin Fouracde saw him secure the small Crystal Globe for the Sprint title and an almost unassailable lead in the total score of 117 points with 2 races remaining. He shot clean and fast to finish 13 seconds ahead of his season long rival Anton Shipulin. In third place was Benedikt Doll. He has had a really impressive season and got his first ever podium on the World Cup. In fact if he hadn’t missed on his standing shoot he possibly could have taken his first win. In fourth was Andrejs Rastorgujevs who just missed his first podium by 0.3 of a second! Another German Johannes Kuehn also got his personal best result in 10th.

The Women’s Sprint came next and with the Overall Title still up for grabs it was a tense affair. Kaisa Makarainen came out on top winning by 14.2 seconds from Laura Dahlmeier in second. They both missed 1 target but Domracheva missed 2 which proved costly and left her in third. This closed the gap between Dasha and Kaisa to just 9 points with the Pursuit and Mass Start remaining. Elsewhere the Germans had a good day with Dahlmeier’s podium, a 6th place for Preuss and 8th for Kummer. America’s Hannah Dreissigacker racked up another personal best result with 14th.

The next race was the Men’s Pursuit and we were treated to a brand new winner on the World Cup! Canada’s Nathan Smith took his first ever win at the age of 29 and capped off a fantastic season. He has worked really hard in the past few years to improve his skiing and it has paid off. In second was Benedikt Doll taking his second podium in a row and showing just what a great young talent he is. Third went to Anton Shipulin who finished ahead of Fourcade in fourth which meant that the Crystal Globe went to Martin for the 4th year in a row. A quite incredible achievement! “Chapeau” as they say in France!

The Women’s race was another nerve wracking event. Domracheva won and put herself in a great position to win the Overall Title. However she did almost throw it all away by going to shoot in the standing position on the second shoot when it should have been prone. Thankfully the shouts from the crowd helped her discover her error before it was too late. Too many errors was the problem for Makarainen though as she missed 3 shots to finish third. She did clinch the small globe for the Pursuit but just by 1 point. The rest of the podium was all German with Laura Dahlmeier edging out her teammate Franziska Preuss on the line to get another second place finish.

The final races of the season were the Mass Starts. In the Men’s race Jakov Fak proved why he is World Champion in this event by winning with clean shooting and a 10 second margin from Anton Shipulin. Poor Anton he was on the podium in every race here in Russia but couldn’t quite reach the top step. Nevermind he can console himself with the small Crystal Globe for coming first in the Mass Start standings. In third was Tarjei Boe continuing his good late season form. Martin Fourcade finished his season in 20th but the cause may have been too much champagne!;-)

The Women’s race went to Laura Dahlmeier who has had an incredible season and was her second win on the World Cup. Somehow she found the energy to beat Gabriela Soukalova to the line and Marie Dorin Habert was third. Franziska Preuss managed to finish ahead of Valj Semerenko to win the Mass Start globe. Darya Domracheva was fourth but it didn’t matter as she had done enough to win her first ever overall title.

So that’s it! The season is over. We have Martin Fourcade taking his fourth overall title and Darya Domracheva winning her first. What a season it has been with some great new talent coming through and great title fights especially from the women. What are we going to do until November? The season is finished already – I Khanty believe it!

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Östersund: Swede Emotions!

swede emotions

It’s back! Biathlon came back with a bang in Östersund! Wow and what a Mixed Relay they delivered for us to get the new season underway. They kept us guessing right until the end but as usual “the shark” Martin Fourcade waited until the last moment to seize his prey(you can almost hear the music from Jaws as he sneaks up behind people!!!). Norway came in second despite a penalty loop and the German team were third. A great win for France and a great opening race. Well OK so it wasn’t great for everyone just ask Ondrej Moravec and Jakov Fak among others but everyone has their bad days even the best.

Which is exactly what happened to Fourcade himself in the Individual Race! Another Östersund meltdown on the shooting range to add to his collection. It’s how he likes to start the season! At the opposite end of the scale was Emil! Wow one of the best shooting performances I have seen from Svendsen and he was the only man to shoot 0. Second was a surprising yet brilliant display from Serhiy Semenov and it was great to see Michal Slesingr back on the podium after a rough year last season. Italian youngster Thomas Bormolini made a rather impressive World Cup debut finishing 19th.

Unfortunately for the other women in the Individual race star of last year’s Olympics Darya Domracheva seems to be continuing her amazing form into this season. Her ski speed is great as usual but she is shooting really well too. She took the win and was followed by Kaisa Makarainen who is also in great form and this race will probably set the tone for an ongoing battle between these two over the season. Valj Semerenko produced a clear shoot to come in third. Home girl Elisabeth Hoegberg gave the crowd something to cheer about finishing 9th and two World Cup debutants made it look easy by finishing in the TOP 20, France’s Enora Latuilliere in 13th and Luise Kummer of Germany in 18th.

Everyone had Friday off for good behaviour and so we had to wait until Saturday to see the first Sprints of the season. The men started things off and the real Martin Fourcade showed up again after his 81st place in the Individual and won easily with 28 seconds to spare! I was also happy to see Moravec and Fak recovering from their Relay nightmare on the range to both shoot clean and come home second and third. The women’s Sprint saw Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff storm home to win her first ever World Cup race. I am sure her brother and coach Stian will be trying to take all the credit – you know what brother’s are like! The Czech Republic’s Veronika Vitkova took second further adding to the her teams fantastic start to the season and third was Kaisa Makarainen. Latuilliere again showed what a great young talent she is by coming 10th.

So that left us with just the Pursuit races to go and the men’s looked like it was going to be an easy win for Fourcade. Bless him though he missed his first two shots to make it exciting for us to watch but inevitably he still won. Anton Shipulin produced a very calm and collected race to get second and Emil Svendsen came home third to keep the yellow bib on his back. Canada’s Nathan Smith ran a great race until the final shoot when I think the exertions of keeping up with Svendsen caused him to miss 3 shots and he ended up 16th. Back down the field a little there were some tremendous performances from Dominik Landertinger 30th-5th, Andi Birnbacher 22nd-7th, Klemen Bauer 26th-12th, Freddie Lindstrom 36th-13th and Vetle Christiansen 45th -15th!

The women’s race was won in great style by Kaisa Makarainen. On the third shoot when everyone around her was missing targets she took her time and used all her valuable experience to shoot clear and ski to victory. Valj Semerenko continued her good form by beating Dorothea Wierer into second although the Italian is just coming back from illness. Other impressive moves came from Ekaterina Glazyrina 20th-9th, Franziska Preuss 22nd-9th, Susan Dunklee 41st-19th and Elise Ringen 55th-23rd!

Östersund proved to be a bit of a roller coaster ride throughout the week with people performing well one day and terribly the next but that’s the first races of the season for you! We are now off to Hochfilzen where there is currently no snow but luckily in Austria you can just go up a mountain and get some! Kaisa and Emil have come out best from the weekend and will wear the yellow bibs but it’s still very early in the season. After all the ups and downs in Sweden the others will be hoping for a bit more consistency. It has been quite the week in Östersund and with all the drama on the range it has been full of Swede Emotions!

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