Tag Archives: Biathlon

Sebastian Stalder: The Interview!

Sebastian Stalder is a Swiss biathlete from Wald. The 22-year-old started biathlon in 2012 and made his debut on the World Cup in 2018. Last season he competed in the Junior Cup, the IBU Cup and the World Cup. His best result came at the Junior World Championships where he took the bronze medal in the individual race.

Follow Sebastian on Instagram: sebastianstalder

Why did you become a biathlete?

I was a cross country skier until I was 14, then I tried something new and I was talented in shooting. At 16 years old I had to decide, biathlon was way more interesting for me, so my decision was correct. Sometimes I miss racing in classic technique, but I’ve never regretted changing.

You won the bronze medal in Lenzerheide in the individual. Tell us about the race and what it was like to get a medal at your home track?

It was a very special day, there were so many people and it was freaking loud on the whole track. I never saw something like that before. In the last standing shooting I missed one shot, but the whole audience cheered for me on the last lap, so I got strength again for the last uphills until I was across the finish line. I was very happy about this third place and I finally won a medal at a junior world championships.

How do you assess the rest of last season? What was good and what was bad?

It was an up and down. There were some good races but also bad ones. My personal highlight of this season, was the WC relay in Nove Mesto. It was my first World Cup relay ever and I had to start on first position for team Switzerland. My prone shooting was one of the best I’ve ever done and for a few seconds I led the race. At the end the Swiss team finished in 9th position.

How do you feel about the IBU Cup now starting in January? Do you have to change your preparations/training for the season?

I won’t change my preparations. If I’m in good shape in November there is a chance to start in the World Cup. If not then there are some small competitions called “Alpencup”. I would start in this series until the IBU Cup starts.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My biggest strength is maybe my shooting, it’s not always perfect but mostly the targets get clean.

But sometimes the shooting is also my weakness, I want to do it much too fast and then you can see me in the penalty loop.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to be a part of the Swiss World Cup team, do some good races and catch some World Cup points.

Who is your roommate on tour and do they have any bad habits (eg. snoring) or good habits (eg. tidy)?

It’s different, sometimes I’m with Nico Salutt and the next time with Sandro Bovisi.

One of them can play guitar very good but he is talking at night. The other is snoring when we take an after lunch nap (only then), but for that he’s more orderly than the other.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

Many of us live in Lenzerheide, when there is enough time, we try to cook together once a week. So mostly we are about 6-8 persons. The menu is different, but often we eat Fajitas, because everyone likes it and it’s easy to serve.

What are your hobbies?

Trying new things on my rifle to get faster on the shooting range and netflix.

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

Of course Lenzerheide, the track includes everything. I like the shooting range and I did some good races there.

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

Johannes Thingnes Bø, he is simply a great sportsman on and off the track.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, but I built it myself.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, quiet, always motivated


Quick fire choices:

Choose one:

skiing or shooting? shooting

prone or standing? prone
against the clock or head to head racing? head to head
uphill or downhill? uphill
morning or night? morning
sun or snow? snow
roller skiing or cycling? cycling

alcohol or chocolate? chocolate

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Ch-Ch-Changes!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
There’s gonna have to be a different schedule!

Well I hate to say I told you so but I did warn you back in August that there could be big changes to the biathlon schedule this season and it has happened.

Firstly the Junior Cup has been cancelled almost entirely with just the Youth/Junior World Championships surviving in February 2021. These will be held in Obertilliach.

Next the IBU Cup rounds in December have been cancelled with the season starting in January in Arber. There will only be 5 rounds in the season, 2 in Arber, 2 in Brezno-Orsblie and 1 in Ridnaun, with the Open European Championships going ahead in Duszniki Zdroj in January.

The para-biathlon World Cup has also been moved and will now start in January too. Oestersund was due to host the first round in December but it has been moved to January and will become the second round after Planica in Slovenia. The World Championships are in Lillehammer in February and the final World Cup will be in Beijing on the 2020 Paralympic tracks in March.

The World Cup will now be the only biathlon to take place before Christmas. Oestersund has been cancelled and replaced by Kontiolahti which will host the ‘season opener’ and then World Cup 1. Annecy is cancelled and replaced by Hochfilzen which will now host World Cup 2 and 3.

The World Team Challenge which is held in Gelsenkirchen at the Schalke football stadium will not take place over the Christmas break this season.

In January there will be two visits to Oberhof for World Cups 4 and 5 with no Ruhpolding this season. Antholz will host World Cup 6 as scheduled.

The World Championships in Pokljuka will go ahead in February.

The rest of the calendar will be confirmed in November. We should be going to Beijing for the Olympic test event followed by Nove Mesto and then Holmenkollen.

I imagine that Beijing will have to stay on the calendar as the facilities and tracks have to be tested before 2022 and the athletes need to try the course and range.

However anything could happen with Nove Mesto and Holmenkollen. I suspect like the other decisions they will choose one to host 2 races to reduce travel and as Holmenkollen didn’t go ahead last season it would be the likely choice.

However it does depend if the venues are available to hold two events in a row. Apparently they sometimes use them for other sports – outrageous!

There was a lot of surprise when Oberhof was announced as hosting 2 World Cups as it is becoming known as ‘No-snowberhof’ but as it is the venue for the 2023 World Championships it would be difficult to skip it.

As for spectators at the World Cup it is basically out of the IBU’s hands. It will depend on the national governments rules in each country. Even if crowds are allowed I would imagine it would be at a reduced capacity not a full house.

So December is going to be dismal with only the World Cup to watch. I love the World Cup but it’s just not enough biathlon! However it is 2020 so we should probably just be grateful that there is any biathlon at all!

All of the above is still subject to possible ch-changes!

(I must credit David Bowie for helping with the opening paragraph!)

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Denis Serban: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Denis Serban.

Denis Serban is a Romanian biathlete from Sinaia. He was born on the 5th of August 1991 and made his World Cup debut in 2014. His personal best result on the World Cup is 60th from the Oestersund individual in 2017 and on the IBU Cup his top finish is 21st. He has represented Romania at two World Championships in Oestersund 2019 and Antholz 2020.


Follow Denis on Instagram: Serban Denis Georgian

Why did you become a biathlete?

I think my father (Nicolae Serban) has a key role in “me becoming a biathlete” . He was a great athlete who competed in the 92′ Olympic Games and after a trainer and since I was a child I used to go with him to training and I liked it and I easily started to fall in love with biathlon.

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

Last season was quite difficult for me because my value to the team was like 3rd, 4th guy in the team and the first two stages I was competing more only in relays. When you are staying a lot of time in WC and do not compete too much it is hard to train and keep in shape. Looking at the training program I think we did a little bit too much training in October, during the first training camp on snow and the second mistake was before the World Championships when we want too much and just trained too hard.


A positive thing was the feeling from the relay in Oberhof when for the first time we competed equally with all the big names. I was 3rd leg and keeping the team in the top 10 was crazy. And we stayed in the top ten until 400m before the finish. We missed that for a little bit. And the second one it was the last IBU Cup in Raubichi when I totally relaxed my mind and in the last race (mass start 60) I shot and skied very fast, ending in 21st place. It was a personal best for me in the IBU Cup.

How do you feel about the IBU Cup now starting in January? Do you have to change your preparations/training for the season?

Starting in January does not change my training program, but this season it will be one with many questions and it will be hard to keep all together because changes can happen all the time and we need to be prepared.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My big strength is shooting of course and strong upper body if we talk about what can help me straight into the race. But, I like a lot to read, learn and improve everything about biathlon and sports in general.


My biggest weakness is that I stress too much and I have this thing that I overthink a lot about everything that stresses me. I try to keep it under control, but sometimes it is just impossible.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for this season. Hmm I don’t even know what to tell you about, because right now I’m not sure I am part of the Romanian Team, but let’s say my main goal is to have more races than last year and try to focus on individual races and of course I want to be top 3 at all National Events.

How popular is biathlon in Romania? Is it difficult to get funding and sponsorship?

Biathlon in Romania is that sport when people ask all the time ” what are those guys doing there?”. So it is not popular at all. Only local people around Azuga, Predeal, Rasnov and Bran cities know something about it. The choices now in Romania for senior level is to be part of the Army sport club or Police sport club. They and the federation pay for everything. We don’t have any sponsors and it is super hard to get one for so many reasons (too much paperwork, no popularity, no help from government for reducing taxes for companies and a lot more).

Who is your roommate on tour and do they have any bad habits (eg. snoring) or good habits (eg. tidy)?

Usually my roommate is Cornel Puchianu. He is in my opinion the most talented biathlete that Romania have of all time. He is one of my best friends and he is a great guy in all ways. Bad habits we can say he stays too much on the toilet 🤣.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why?

First I will invite Doro Wierer obviously because it is everyone’s dream to have dinner with her. Second one will be her teammate Lisa Vittozzi and third my mate Cornel because all the time he says Lisa is as beautiful as Doro.


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

My favourite track is in Rupholding. I just like the profile of the track and the shooting range because the spectators are so close to the athletes and you can feel the vibe.

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

As a child I liked so much Raphael Poiree. He had a personalised style in the uphill and jumped on the skis and I like to think I did it the same in my competitions as a child.


Now my favourite biathlete is Martin Fourcade, even though he stopped his career. I admire his style and head strength. I don’t know how he can stay so relaxed and focused and do all that games before, in and after the race and stay with his brain together. Sometimes he looks like he is from a different planet. His balance in everything is incredible.

Does your rifle have a name?

No. I never think to give my rifle a name, but I think I have feelings for her. At least for the wood part.

Describe yourself in three words.

Meticulous, modest, ambitious

Quick fire choices:
Choose one:

skiing or shooting? Skiing, even if I’m better at shooting.
prone or standing? Definitely prone
against the clock or head to head racing? Head to head racing. I like when you feel the man near you.
uphill or downhill? Depends on the sport but uphill.
morning or night? Night
sun or snow? Snow for sure
roller skiing or cycling? Cycling, because we live in Romania and only have tracks with 3 km loop.
alcohol or chocolate? Definitely chocolate. Sweets are my addiction!

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Kadri Lehtla: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Kadri Lehtla.

Kadri Lehtla is an Estonian biathlete from Tallinn. She was born on the 3rd of May 1985 and started biathlon in 2006. She made her World Cup debut in 2007 and achieved her career best result in the Oestersund individual in 2013 when she finished 14th. She has represented Estonia at two Olympic Games in Vancouver and Sochi as well as at nine World Championships.

Follow Kadri on Instagram: kadrilehtla

Why did you become a biathlete?

I used to be a cross country skier until the age of 21. I was in a bit of a difficult situation. A friend of mine insisted that I try biathlon because there are much more opportunities. Best decision ever!

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

Since I haven’t had any good results in a long time (there are reasons why) and my last season didn’t seem different, I noticed the difference. I enjoyed racing again and gained back my confidence. Also my shooting was pretty nice.

What have you been doing for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

Actually my summer has gone very well. Quite possibly my best summer ever. So far the virus situation hasn’t affected my plans much. Not sure about the next months. I hope I will have the possibility to train in the Alps as well.

What are your goals for this season?

My goal is to come back strong and healthy again. I wish to reach at least those results I made a long time ago.

How has biathlon in Estonia changed since you started competing?

Biathlon is much more popular now. When I started, nobody really knew what was going on there. Cross country was number 1 and nobody cared about the rifles. Now it’s the opposite. The World Cup races are on national TV and the interest is very high. Love to see that. Sadly our winters are getting worse and worse and kids don’t want to ski on mud, so the future is fragile.

You have had a long career in biathlon. How long do you think you will continue and do you have any plans for afterwards like coaching for example?

I think it has been a long career. But to me it doesn’t seem so. Time flies so fast, it’s terrifying. I would love to do one more Olympics. To be honest I have never planned my career ending. I never set the exact date. It comes when it’s time.
I have some plans for afterwards. Coaching might be one of them. Also I’m into photography. And I would like to try Ironman!

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why?

I would invite Kaisa Mäkeräinen, because she is one of my favourites since the beginning. Susan Dunklee, it’s always nice to talk to her. And last, if it would be possible, Halvard Hanevold. His humour would make the dinner party fabulous. May he rest in peace. There’s going to be a “design your own pizza party” with some good wine. 😉

What song would you add to the stadium playlist and what song would you remove?

I don’t think I would remove anything. But I would add Rudimental ft. John Newman – ‘Not giving in’ and Kanye West – ‘Stronger’.

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

It’s glorious Antholz-Anterselva. Fell in love with that place the very first time I got there back in 2008.

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

Kaisa Mäkeräinen as I mentioned before. Always root for your neighbours. I have a strong connection with Finland.


Does your rifle have a name?

Unfortunately no. But Mustang would be cool name. Maybe I will start calling him that.

Describe yourself in three words.

Strong headed, Calm, Positive

Quick fire choices:
Choose one:

skiing or shooting? Both. You can’t do biathlon with just one.
prone or standing? Standing.
against the clock or head to head racing? Head to head.
uphill or downhill? Yay! Downhill it is!
mixed relay or women’s relay? Mixed.
morning or night? Morning.
sun or snow? Both. Sun is where you get the energy. On snow you use the energy.
roller skiing or cycling? Roller skiing. Actually I like mountainbiking too but not road.
alcohol or chocolate? Umm, I’m not much into chocolate. So I’d say a bottle of cold beer after tough week is good.

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Karolina Dusilova: The Interview!

Karolina (Kaja) Dusilova is a Czech biathlete who was born in Jablonec nad Nisou on the 1st of August 2000. She started biathlon in 2013 has competed on the IBU Cup as well as the IBU Junior Cup. She has represented the Czech Republic at the Youth and Junior World Championships and last season achieved her best result so far finishing 6th in the sprint at the Junior Open European Championships in Hochfilzen.

Follow Karolina on Twitter: @kajadus
and instagram: kaja_dusilova

Why did you become a biathlete?

I saw biathlon on TV when I was 12-years-old when I was sick, I had a fever(39-40degrees), but when biathlon was on TV it was like I was healthy. It was love at first sight. And I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

Last season was very weird for me. For 2 years I had many problems with my health and I returned after one year’s long pause, when I couldn’t do anything. Last spring was a new strart. Training was good, but in August I had an injury during one training. I got a plaster cast on my leg and I couldn’t train. In September I had the graduation from the Gymnasium (high school) so this two months were very hard for my psyche. So the start of the winter season was very bad, and after the second IBU J.C. I thought I was done. But after Christmas I felt better and I qualified for the JWCH in Lenzerheide. And good results came in Italy (Martell) on the IBU cup, where I was 21st and I got my first points. The next competion was in Arber, where I got my first points in the IBU J.C. And the best result came in Hochfilzen, where I was 6th place in the sprint. But after came the bad news with COVID-19 and we had to go home.

What was your best or favourite race from last season and why?

Certainly in Martell on the IBU CUP. I was there for the first time this season and I really like this place. There are good tracks, hard hills and hard downhills and a good shooting range and beautiful mountains. And there was my break in results when I got my first points.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

I have 3 weeks per month together with the team. So when we spend time together, we have to be careful. We use disinfectant and don’t go to public places. And we train only in the Czech Republic, we don’t go abroad yet.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My biggest problem is my head. I speculate during the training about technique on skis, about me and my problems in normal life, why is this squirrel watching me etc. And I don’t concentrate and I have bad shooting or somwhere fall on skis or bike or I stumble into a tree. It’s very hard to train me, I think. Because I’m not communicative but my feelings show on my face (so seeing me, often isn’t nice!) 😃, and when some problem comes (with health or some misunderstanding) it’s worse. I don’t speak for example for 3 days. And often I want to train more and it’s difficult to stop me.

But on the other side I’m very competitive, purposeful, courageous, and know what I want to do. When I have support from trainers and people around me, I can do big things. So if I stay healthy and stop thinking about everything it will be good and top results will come.

What are your goals for this season?

I want more stability in results during the season, top 10 on JWCH and to be a member of the relay on JWCH and JEWCH.

Who is your roommate on tour and do they have any bad habits (eg.snoring) or good habits (eg.tidy)?

I’m very adaptable but I’m often with Terka Vinklárková and Klárka Polednová or I’m alone. But I haven’t got problem to be with anybody in the room. And I don’t know 😄 if i have some good habits. Maybe I’m quiet but often I speak in my sleep.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

I would invite Terka Vinklárková, because she is my soulmate, she plays beautifully on guitar and she is my sun, with her I have a better day 😊. The second is Klarka Polednová, she is my best friend with Terka and she is a very good dancer, she has a good choice of songs and with her there will be a party, a really big party 😃. And the last one will be Péťa Suchá, because she is a good singer, she plays guitar too and she is really a party girl. We will have meat, vegetable, etc. The best could be some grill party 😄!

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

Certainly snowboarding during the winter but because we spend so much time on races I haven’t got time for it. But when I can, I am somewhere on a downhill. During the summer I like to go to by bike. I love adrenaline sports, I haven’t got any fear so it’s ideal for me. And I really like to learn, I like finding new information and learning it.

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

Yes, three tracks are my top. In Martell, Lenzerheide and Obertilliach. Maybe because there are the best views of mountains 😄.

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

I don’t know. Every athlete is unique. And I can never have the same results like Gabina Koukalova or someone like her. I find the best things what they do and things which are good for me and I try them. When it functions, I continue with it. When it isn’t for me I find something new.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, I tried it. But we aren’t friends. So when I shoot bad, I put it in the corner of the room and we don’t speak together.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, quiet, tough 😄.

Quick fire choices:
Choose one:

skiing or shooting? Both of them, that’s why I do biathlon 😄.
prone or standing? Certainly standing!
uphill or downhill? Downhill, of course 😎.
mixed relay or women’s relay? Women’s relay. With my team girls.
morning or night? Beautiful sunny morning.
sun or snow? Sunny winter day. It’s the best skiing in shorts, sunglasses and t-shirt.
roller skiing or cycling? It’s difficult. Maybe it’s the same.😊
alcohol or chocolate? Neither. 😁 A big steak please!

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Dzmitry Lazouski: The Interview!

Dzmitry Lazouski is a biathlete from Belarus. He was born on the 9th of September 1998 in Minsk. His best finish to date on the World Cup came in the sprint in Nove Mesto in 2018/19 when he was 47th. Last season he won the bronze medal in the sprint at the Junior World Championships in Lenzerheide and was 4th in the pursuit. At the Summer World Championships held at his home track in Raubichi in 2019 he won both the junior sprint and pursuit titles.

Follow Dzmitry on Instagram: laza41

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete by accident, I went with friends for the company and I liked it.

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

I can rate the last season as 7 out of 10. It turned out that I came up to the main start in good shape, and only sometimes my skis were bad.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

The virus did not affect the training plan, but prevented us from going to the mountains.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

It is difficult to say which side is my weak and which is my strong side. There are still many aspects to work on.

Who is your roommate on tour and do they have any bad habits (eg. snoring) or good habits (eg. tidy)?

We live permanently with Anton Smolski. He has no bad sides 😅.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

I would call the guys with whom I communicate well. On the menu would be: Draniki (potato pancakes), Margarita pizza and fish steaks.

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

Emil Svendsen was my childhood idol. He looks very funny in life and is very collected at the races.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, my rifle does not have a specific name.

Describe yourself in three words.

Kind, sympathetic and probably crazy about sports.

Quick fire choices:

skiing or shooting? Skiing.
prone or standing? Prone
uphill or downhill? Uphill.
morning or night? Morning.
roller skiing or cycling? Bicycle
alcohol or chocolate? Better chocolate 😅.

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Suvi Minkkinen: The Interview!

Suvi Minkkinen is a Finnish biathlete born on the 8th of December 1994 in Joutsa. She made her debut on the World Cup in 2017 but last season was her most successful so far. Her best result came in the Ruhpolding when she broke into in the Top 30 for the first time after finishing 29th in the pursuit following a 31st place finish in the sprint.

Follow her on Instagram: suviminkkinen

Check out her website: https://www.suviminkkinen.fi/

Why did you become a biathlete?

My younger brother started biathlon first and I followed him. I was watching some of his summer competitions and after that I asked my Dad if I could also come to the training. Before that I was a cross country skier but quickly I realised that biathlon is much more interesting.

How do you assess last season? What was good and what was bad?

My last season was a bit weird. The first half was really bad especially in the shooting range. It was mentally hard to process because I always think that shooting is my strength in biathlon. In the second half I did many career best results which I also expected from myself from the beginning of the season. After all I’m happy with last season because I had so many good races since the week in Ruhpolding. I think my skiing improved a lot and I also got my normal shooting level back during the season.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

We have quite a good situation in Finland and I have been able to train almost normally. Due to corona we haven’t been able to travel for high altitude camps but other than that it has been nice to stay home more than normally. But other than that summer training has gone well and as planned.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think my strengths are fast and good shooting. I also like to sprint fast on the skis but I still have a lot to improve in longer distance skiing.

What are your goals for this season?

My goal is to be better than last year. I think if I would get most results between 20-30 places it would be a good step for me. And the perfect race could be top 15 or even top 10 I would be very happy.

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

I think I must say Ruhpolding is my favourite track. I have done good races there and I like the track profile. I also like many other tracks but this is probably the favourite.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle doesn’t have a name but I think it is a she 💁🏼‍♀️

Quick fire choices:
prone or standing? At the moment I would say standing but it depends, sometimes one position goes well and the other doesn’t and it’s frustrating.
against the clock or head to head racing? Head to head
uphill or downhill? Downhill. I hope someday I’m in such good shape that I could say uphill.
mixed relay or women’s relay? Both. I haven’t done so many mixed relays yet probably none🤔 but I like relays, also the single mixed relay is one of the favourites.
morning or night? Night. I’m not a morning person really 😂
sun or snow? Sun and snow?😎☀️❄ best combination
roller skiing or cycling? Roller skiing
alcohol or chocolate? Chocolate

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Vinny Fountain: The Interview!

Vinny Fountain is a British biathlete and also a serving member of the British Army in the Royal Artillery (16 Regt RA). He was born on the 12th of October 1991 and his hometown is Nottingham. Vinny first raced on the IBU Cup in the 2015/16 season and last season he competed for GB at the World Championships in Antholz as well as the Open European Championships in Minsk.

Follow Vinny on Instagram: vinnyfountain12

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because I really enjoyed alpining when I was at school so I wanted a new challenge therefore took on biathlon. And what a challenge it is.

How much of your time is split between being a biathlete and being a soldier? What duties do you still have in the army?

I would say my time split between being a biathlete and being a soldier is 80/20. I’m only ever in work after the winter season or to carry out a career course. Apart from that I’m training. The duties I currently have is to help the regimental team throughout the winter nordic and biathlon season where possible.

What was your best or favourite race from last season and why?

My favourite race from last season would be the single mixed relay in Minsk. Even though the conditions weren’t great, it was so fun and exciting and we (TeamGB) didn’t do too bad either.

What are your plans for summer training? How have they been affected by corona virus?

Summer training is the same as last year apart from a few months of delay. I’m currently training in Ruhpolding and will remain here until the winter season. During covid, unfortunately I had to train back at camp where it is flat and only at sea level but this was my only option. I just have some catching up to do ha.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for this season are to improve my shooting accuracy to at least 75% or even 80% and gain a World Cup start place.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths – maintain discipline, motivated and I feel like my skiing is getting better.
Weaknesses – I can still improve on my running, shooting needs a little more work and I should be doing more stretching than I am to recover.

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

I would invite Johannes Boe, not only is he a very funny guy, but last year at the World Champs in Antholz, he was kind enough to give me a can of coke so I would like to repay the favour with some good food.
Martin Fourcade – he’s a legend in himself and it would be comedy to watch Johannes and Martin debate who the better biathlete was 😂
Lisa Vittozzi – I’ve heard some good things about Lisa so I’d use this opportunity to get to know her and she is also nice to look at ha.

The menu – it has to be good or they won’t want to come back haha. I think I’ll spice things up with a Mexican night. Cheesey nachos with salsa dip/sour cream/guacamole for starters. The main is make your own fajitas with as many or as little fillings as you want and for dessert, warm chocolate fudge cake with some potential shots of tequila on the side.

What song would you add to the stadium playlist and what song would you remove?

I don’t think I’d remove a song from the stadium play list however if I could add one, it would either be Eminem – Collapse, or Welshly Arms – Legendary. Both very good songs. Gets you pumped for racing ha.

On your IBU profile one of your hobbies is tattoos! What have you got and where? What is your next tattoo going to be?

I have a full right arm sleeve, wings and a crown on my chest, writing on my ribs and a cool little palm tree just below my left calf. I’m thinking hard about my next one and I think its either going to be the face of a lion or a wolf. Not sure where yet. I would also like the Olympic rings but we’ll have to wait and see about that one.

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

My favourite biathlon track would have to be Sjusjoen, Norway. It was my first ever official track I’d trained and raced on and I think for the amount of effort you put in, you get back. By this I mean, you work hard uphill and then you get a nice downhill rest after.

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

Don’t tell him I said this but it is the one and only Lee Steven Jackson. Former Team GB athlete and good friend. The reason for this is because when I first started biathlon he was the best we had and I wanted to get to the places and venues he had already been. He showed great determination and his work ethic was immense. Everything you’d expect from a role model.

Does your rifle have a name?

Rita

Describe yourself in three words.

Spontaneous, easy going and sociable.

Quick fire choices:

prone or standing? Prone
against the clock or head to head racing? Head to head
uphill or downhill? Definitely downhill
mixed relay or men’s relay? mixed relay
morning or night? morning
sun or snow? sun
roller skiing or cycling? roller skiing
alcohol or chocolate? erm….alcohol

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Rise of the Sprinter?

No it is not the next Terminator film but it could spell the end for some! You may have noticed that recently the IBU have been testing some new race formats. The only one to reach World Cup level so far is the single mixed relay but there are races currently on the IBU Cup that could be gracing our TV screens soon at the top level.

The super sprint is one of them and it involves a short 3km sprint race followed by a short 5km mass start for the top 30 finishers. Note the entire race distance is 8km which is shorter than the 10km men’s sprint and only half a kilometre longer than the 7.5km women’s sprint.

The single mixed relay is raced over a distance of 13.5km in total with each leg being just 1.5 km. The mixed relay is 27km long, the women’s relay 24km and the men’s relay 30km.

So what am I getting at here? – biathlon races are getting shorter!

Why are they getting shorter? Well a few reasons really I suppose. The first is that these shortened events tend to be more exciting and better for the TV schedules. They are also a reaction to the fact that nowadays the modern viewer has a shorter attention span and there is a culture of wanting instant gratification.

And of course the shorter the race the closer the finish is likely to be! Less distance to race means that the faster skiers can’t build up as much of a lead and so any mistakes on the range from the front runners are more likely to be punished. It makes for great drama and compelling viewing.

So what does this mean for the sport?

Well firstly it could spell the end for some of the current races and the most likely casualty is the individual. It’s the longest race on the World Cup. It is 20km for the men and 15km for the women. It is against the clock so there isn’t the excitement and action that the head to head races bring and if there is a big field of competitiors it can take quite a long time from start to finish. However it is also the oldest event in biathlon and probably the best test of a biathletes skill. Incidentally the IBU have also introduced a shorter verion of the individual with a 45 second penalty and a 12.5km distance for women and 15km for men.

Another way that this race shortening could change the sport is with the athletes themselves. Will they need to change how they train? The newer events look more like a series of intervals rather than pure stamina events. Will they have to adjust to become sprinters rather than long distance racers? Could we see the end of training such as the bike rides up the mountains of Europe and roller skiing great distances around the countryside? Will the slow-twitch muscles have to be replaced by the fast-twitch muscles for these short speedy events?

On the other hand another of the new races is the mass start 60 which is a big version of the current mass start with 60 racers instead of the usual 30. There is no change in distance but it is reflective of the fact that head to head races are more popular with the fans. Let’s face it they are more entertaining!

What will happen in the future?

Interestingly the super sprint was on the schedule for the World Cup in Holmenkollen this season but the IBU recently announced that it would not go ahead and the traditional sprint and pursuit would be held instead. After a recent evaluation meeting involving the Technical and Athletes Committees several rule changes have been proposed and so further tests will be carried out on the IBU Cup. Despite this delay it looks like it will be heading to the World Cup at some point in the future.

So could we see a big change to the biathlon events in the next few years? Will the individual disappear? Will the sprint be replaced by the super sprint? Could they change the super sprint to a sprint + pursuit (instead of a mass start) and lose the pursuit race itself? Could the relays all be cut so that we have the single mixed relay, a short men’s and a short women’s relay instead of the long ones?

Who knows? This is all speculation but it does seem to be the way the sport is heading. Is it the right thing to do? Will the fans like it? I don’t know but it’s will be interesting to see how biathlon changes in the coming years.

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Credit to ex-biathlete Brian Halligan (USA) for the inspiration for this article. 🙂

Wax on, Wax off?

There is big news in the world of wax – Mr Miyagi has been appointed head wax technician for the Japanese team! Of course he hasn’t! He was waxing cars and also more importantly he is a fictional character! No the real big news in the wax world is the banning of fluorinated wax from this season!

What is it and why I can hear you all thinking. Well let me take you back in time to explain all……

A wax miracle

Back in a time called “the eighties” when people wore shoulder pads and wondered ‘Who shot JR?’ (It wasn’t a biathlete by the way!) fluorinated wax was introduced in both in cross country and alpine skiing. It was a game changer in terms of increasing the speed of the skis. Fluorinated wax basically creates a barrier between the ski and the snow which repels both moisture and dirt therefore reducing the friction and increasing speed. It can take minutes off a skiers time especially in cross country skiing over longer distances.

The science bit

The wax is known by a few different names – fluorocarbon, fluorinated or just plain fluoro. From there it gets a bit complicated unless you are a scientist!

The chemical found in the wax is made from raw perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) compounds. Although not found in large quantities in the wax they are more commonly used to coat frying pans (Teflon), raincoats and even pizza boxes.

In the USA many of the compounds found in fluorinated wax products contain ingredients listed in the American Toxic Substances Control Act. The acid has been found to cause liver and kidney damage as well lung problems. In 2010 a study showed that ski technicians had on average 45 times more fluorocarbon in their blood as nonskiers. While it is unlikely to have a big impact on recreational skiers or indeed the athletes it could have a negative impact on the technicians. This however has long been known and it’s why you see the wax techs wearing masks so they don’t breathe in any harmful fumes.

There are two types of ski wax that contain PFOA. The C8 wax contains eight fully fluorinated carbon molecules and C6 which contains six. The C6 is said to be less toxic than the C8 although the C6 has not been as intensively studied as yet.


The legal bit

Fluorinated wax has already been banned in the USA in high school and college nordic skiing and also in the youth and amateur leagues in Europe for some time. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), a policymaking branch of the European Union, will begin enforcing its ban on the sale, manufacture, and import of all “nonessential” C8 products in Europe from July. Hence the reason it can no longer be used in biathlon.

The biathlon bit

There are two big problems that banning the wax is going to create. The first is for the wax teams. They have to find an alternative to fluorinated wax that does a similar job. It won’t be easy. The wax manufacturers are working furiously to come up with alternatives to replace it but no one knows yet how good they will be. I’m sure the wax techs are already busy experimenting with other solutions and could be testing things like candle, turtle and even ear to replace the miracle wax! 😉

The second problem is a big one. Unfortunately biathlon is not immune from cheating as we have already seen with doping. Now however we are facing another form of doping – ski doping! There will be a big temptation to use the fluorinated wax even after it is banned as it does offer a competitive advantage and can take minutes off an athletes ski time.

This means that skis are going to have to be tested for traces of the banned wax which brings up all kinds of questions. Firstly an accurate test has to be found which will show the presence of the wax and one that will do it quickly. Next it will have to be decided when to test the ski – before or after the race. Remember most athletes have multiple pairs of skis so it could be possible to send one pair to get tested and then swap them for a pair with the wax on before the race begins or even after.

Who do you test? Will it be like the drugs testing? Maybe the podium finishers and then a random selection from the rest of the field. Will they target people based on changes in their ski times? If they ski around the same speed as the previous year will that arouse suspicion?

There is also the issue of those athletes who are using skis from last season which may still have traces of the wax on them. Will there be a limit on acceptable traces in the first year it is banned and what is that limit? Not all teams can afford sets of new skis every season for all their athletes so it is going to be an issue.

If you do catch anyone using the banned wax what is the punishment going to be? Will it be like doping and see athletes face a ban? Or will they have time added to their race time to mitigate the advantage gained? Will they receive a warning and a second chance if they are caught once?

It’s a bit of a minefield but luckily that is the job of the wax teams and IBU to sort out and not me! Good luck to them!It will be a very interesting season in the wax trucks that is for sure!

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