Tag Archives: Blink Festival

Tobias Torgersen: The Interview!

Tobias Torgersen is the new head coach of the Polish Women’s biathlon team. The Norwegian had a successful Junior career as a biathlete before moving into coaching working with clubs in Oslo and Lillehammer as well as in Switzerland. Before taking his new role the 34-year-old was coach of the Swedish Junior Team.

You can follow Tobias on Twitter: @tobiastorgersen

You competed in biathlon as a Junior. Why did you become a biathlete and why did you stop?

My godfather was national team coach in Norway in the 80`s. He was always an inspiration to me. Plus it appealed to me after watching it on TV like other sports could not.

I stopped after having various health and injury problems from 19-23 years of age, including asthma, heart problems and some serious cuts and broken bones.

When did you become a coach and why did you want to do it?

In the Spring of 2006, just after finishing my career and my studies to be a coach at the sports university in Oslo. I guess I felt that I had “unfinished business” in this sport. And I love the excitement that top-level sports bring.


Who were your coaches when you were a biathlete? What did you learn from them that you now use as a coach?

I had many different inspiring coaches. But Knut Tore Berland taught me a lot about taking responsibility for the goals you set.

You have a new job working with the Polish women’s team. How is that going so far? What have you already done with them and what are the plans for the rest of the summer?

In my eyes it is going really well! We have a lot of fun, and train really well and hard. We are now in Ramsau on our fourth camp (this was in July). Here we got some kilometres on the skis together with the normal summer training. We also had a cycling camp in Mallorca, shooting camp in Kracow, and a camp “at home” in Duszniki-Zdroj. Next on the plan is the Blink Festival in Norway before a camp in my home town of Oslo.

How much time do you spend with the biathletes? Do you send them a programme to work through alone or do you see/speak to them every day?

I see them on all the camps of course which is around two weeks every month. And then I follow up the athletes individual programs in the breaks between camps on email and the phone. How often varies a lot with the individuals, and what kind of training they are doing.


Are you excited about working on the World Cup and going to the Olympic Games? Are you feeling any extra pressure for this season?


Of course there is extra pressure in an Olympic season. This is also my first head-coaching job. But I always focus on the excitement part, and not the pressure.

Do you enjoy thinking up new ways of training and new drills? Is it hard to keep things fresh and interesting for the biathletes?

Of course! I think most coaches do. The important thing is to find the correct mix of new ideas, and doing what you know will give results.


Obviously you physically train the biathletes but do you do a lot of mental work with them too? If so what kind of things?

I would not call it specific mental-training, but we have a lot of talks about how to think and what to focus on at what time. I try to put my athletes in many competition simulations to make them comfortable with these situations.

What do you do before, during and after a race as a coach?

This totally varies depending on what kind of staff we have. I quite often join the wax-team for the ski test.
During the race I like to mix it up between being on the shooting range and on the track. You will hear me loud on the toughest sections of the track! 😉
After the race the main thing is to have a quick evaluation with the athletes and wax team. And then start planning the next race.

Did your rifle have a name?

Hehe, she did actually. Celina. After a childhood friend of mine. A fun coincidence that I would later coach Selina Gasparin. No connection.

Describe yourself in three words.

Enthusiastic, Genuine, Emotional

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation: (not your own) Now it is Poland. Not just because I work here now, but because of the great atmosphere we have in the team and the warm welcome I have received from the girls and the staff.
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Elisa Gasparin’s “Swiss Mountains”
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy. They always bring nice new designs. Especially the blue and white coaches clothes!
Favourite biathlon venue: Holmenkollen, I grew up 10 minutes from the arena. But Antholz is also amazing!
Favourite biathlete: Michael Rösch. We competed as juniors, and he has been a friend ever since. And you just have to respect a man who has been fighting so hard to get back like he has. He dares to be different, and wears his emotions on the outside.
Funniest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Jean-Pierre Amat of France. The most clever smile, and maybe the best shooting coach!
Nicest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: So many nice ones! But I loved working with Johan Hagström, Matias Nilsson and Anna Maria Nilsson of Sweden for the last three years! Also Anders Brun Hennum of Norway is a close personal friend!
Best thing about being a coach: To be a part of the development of an ambitious athlete that tries their hardest to reach their full potential.

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SUPER SPRINT!

Disclaimer: It’s possible that none of the following information is correct!

Well, well, well the IBU have decided to surprise us once again by trialling a new competition. Over the last few years we have been getting used to the Single Mixed Relay and now we have the Super Sprint!

“What is that?” I hear you cry! Well it is a Sprint that is Super. That explains that! It doesn’t of course but it not that easy to find any information about it. It just appeared as if by magic on the new race calendar for 2017/18. If you look up the dates for the IBU Cup you will find on the 13th of March in Khanty-Mansisyk ‘Super Sprint Men’ and ‘Super Sprint Women’ scheduled for that day.

In true detective style (that’s in the style of a true detective rather than the style of the detectives from the TV Show of the same name) I have done some undercover work and here’s what I found out.

The Super Sprint comes in two parts. The first is like the regular sprint race with a few changes and instead of using it as a qualification for the Pursuit it will be qualification for a Mass Start.

So the first part will be like a time trial with 15 seconds between each biathlete instead of the 30 in the normal sprint. There will still be three skiing legs with both a prone and standing shoot. However the ski distance will be shortened to between 800-1200 metres for each leg.

The biathlete will have 3 extra rounds, like in the relays, to hit the 5 targets. If they fail to hit all 5 targets with all their bullets they will be out of the race.

Those left will be ranked, I presume according to their speed in finishing the sprint, and will go on to contest the Mass Start. The Mass Start will be like the regular Mass Start with 5 ski legs and 4 shoots but will also be over a shorter distance. The only difference is if you don’t clear all the targets with all your bullets, again including spares, you are out of the race. Although if everyone misses I don’t know what happens! Probably just chaos! 😉

Hopefully this new format will allow some different biathletes to qualify for a Mass Start race. Normally it is just the Top 25 in the Total Score and 5 others who have performed the best at each World or IBU Cup round who qualify for it. This means that there are many biathletes who have never raced a Mass Start.

If they can do well in the Sprint qualifying they can get a chance. Since you are out of the race if you don’t hit all the targets it will also be a good thing for the better shooters among the biathletes. There won’t be an opportunity to ski yourself out of trouble. The usual suspects will probably still be on the podium but if others get a chance to show what they can do it would be a good thing.

I believe they do already have this type of race at the Blink Festival and I think in Puttlingen and the Race of Champions but they are just exhibition events rather than official IBU races.

It is not yet clear how many biathletes will qualify for the Mass Start but I think it will be the normal 30. There are many questions still to be answered on the exact details of the race but I am sure they will be cleared up nearer the time.

The question I would like to ask is why are they doing it at all? Does biathlon need another type of race? Can they fit them all into the schedule?

Currently on the World Cup we have around 3 or 4 Individual races and 2 Single Mixed Relays. The schedule is dominated by the Sprint races and Pursuits. Will they reduce the number of Pursuits to accommodate the Super Sprints? Or will they replace the Mass Starts with these new two part races?

Who knows! It’s just a trial for now. However biathlon does need to move with the times and it is a growing sport. People like the action packed races more and so maybe the time trials will be less and less frequent in the future.

There is a lot of competition from other winter sports for audiences. Cross country has brought in the Sprint races and they are very popular(even I like them!). Alpine now has the parallel slalom that can take place in the city. Biathlon has to keep evolving and try to win over new fans so this new concept is worth a try.

It will be interesting to watch and see what happens.

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Nathan Smith: The Interview!

smith

Season 2014/15 was a historic one for Canada’s Nathan Smith. He became the first Canadian to win a World Championship medal when he took silver in the Sprint in Kontiolahti. He then went on to win his first race in the Pursuit in Khanty Mansiysk at the last round of the World Cup. Nathan was born in Calgary on the 25th of December 1985. This season he has the chance to race at a home World Cup in Canmore in February the town where he currently lives.

You can like Nathan’s Facebook Page: Nathan Smith Fanpage

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I didn’t know anything about biathlon when I started. I already cross country skied with Foothills Nordic, and of course as a 10 year old boy, when I found out that there was a similar sport with guns…

Has last season sunk in yet? You won World Championship silver in Kontiolahti and your first World Cup race in Khanty! Does that put more pressure on you to win and get podiums or is it just more motivation to do better? And do you like places that start with “K”?

Yeah I’d say it took a while but after a good month of training I felt pretty settled by the beginning of June. No one has been putting pressure on me, but I would obviously like to continue the success with more podiums. I also understand that results at World Championships are vitally important for my team’s funding. I never thought of that before, but yes, I guess I have had quite a bit of luck in places starting with K.

As a native of Calgary there must have been a Stampede of media and journalists wanting a piece of your time after the World Champs! (see what I did there!) What is it like suddenly getting more attention than normal?

I did get a little more attention than normal, but to me honest it was pretty underwhelming. They are only interested for a day or two and then move onto the next story. Most sports journalists in Calgary unfortunately haven’t really gotten exposed much to biathlon and therefore don’t go out of their way to get a story.

Your win means some more funding for Canadian biathlon and gave you the chance to go to Norway for the Blink Festival. You must be really proud that your medal can also help your teammates but do you remind them of it occasionally and get them to make your breakfast etc? 😉

My team mates actually remind ME of it way more than necessary. Whenever I’m doing something well, or different, there are always teasing comments. Maybe I should start swinging my weight around more to get breakfast made. I’ll try that at the next camp.

What training have you done so far and what is the plan for the rest of the break?

So far I’ve done training camps in Jasper, Norway, and Vermont. Both the Jasper and Norway camps were new settings for me. Jasper was focused on volume, altitude, and exploring a new place close to home. Norway was awesome for training with athletes from other countries, and racing under high pressure in Blink Festival. We have our last camp of the year starting in about 3 weeks in Utah. I always enjoy training there on the long, empty roads and mountain passes.

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

Usually we race in the afternoon or evening so I don’t have to wake up too early. A leisurely sleep until maybe 830 or 9, then head down to breakfast which is usually buffet style. I always go for eggs and oatmeal, as well as bacon if it’s there. Before leaving to the race site I grab a quick light lunch, usually a little pasta but not too much meat.

I always try to fit in a short 10 minute dry fire session at the hotel where I can visualize the race with shooting. Its also important for me to go for a little 20 minute jog and stretching session to make sure my back won’t start hurting during the race later.

You won a biathlon23 Award for best improver last season! A great honour! What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season so you have a chance of winning the award again?

I think my biggest strength is shooting speed. I can pretty consistently be one of the fastest on a given day. I’ve been working really hard on my uphill climbing over the last couple years and its been paying off. A couple of my team mates are really strong at that so they push me.

You are lucky to be able to train in a great place like Canmore. How excited are you that there will be a World Cup round there this season? Does it give you an advantage knowing the tracks so well?

I’m really excited for it. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase our sport and race in front of all our family and friends. I don’t think knowing the tracks will be much of an advantage, but it will definitely be an advantage to sleep in my own bed, eat normal food, and have no travel.

Canada has some really great biathletes at the moment. What are your goals for the season personally and what do think the team can achieve in terms of relay performances?

Personally, I’m hoping for a couple more medals next year, with a special emphasis on World Championships and the Canmore races. Our team showed consistent results of 5-9th most of the season in relays, so I think with another year of experience we can regularly get into the prize ceremony. I’d also really like to team up with Rosanna and try a single-mixed relay. I think we could do pretty well.

I recently saw a photo of you standing next to a big pick up truck that had your name on it!! What’s that all about?

Yeah, I’ve been super lucky to be supported by Canmore Chrysler, who are lending me a Ram 1500. Its a lot bigger than my old car and I’m still getting used to parking it in tight spaces.

Is your nickname really Harry Potter? Personally I don’t think you look like him but maybe it’s because you are a wizard at biathlon? 😉

It’s true. That got started when I was probably 15 years old. Maybe I looked more like him back then. Its also been apparently abbreviated to Potts, which the wax techs label my skis with.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Deliberate, Relaxed, Patient

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:Canmore or Kontiolahti
Favourite biathlete (past or present):Ole Einar Bjørndalen
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc):Mass Start
Favourite/best race of your career so far? World Champs silver
Favourite food: Wraps and Root Beer
Favourite sports team: Calgary Stampeders
Favourite TV show: Castle

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Mateusz Janik: The Interview

janik

This week’s young biathlete is Poland’s Mateusz Janik. He was born on the 20th of November 1995 and has already taken part in 3 Youth/Junior World Championships. His best result came last year in Presque Isle where he finished 11th in the pursuit race. He also made his World Cup debut last season and I am looking forward to seeing what he can do in Raubichi.

You can follow Mateusz on Twitter: @mateuszjnk

As a Polish sportsman did you ever want to be like Adam Malysz and become a ski jumper? Why did you become a biathlete?

Not really, of course I admire Adam Malysz for his achievements, but I never wanted to be a ski jumper. When I was 10 years old, I started skiing, but the first time when I had the opportunity to shoot, I was 13 years old. My coach took me to train with a group of biathletes and gave me a rifle. To be able to shoot it was a very cool experience, but then I didn’t expect that this would begin my adventure with biathlon. Later, I went to train with a group of biathletes and so it remained.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Of course, it is difficult to reconcile study to training, but I have my priorities: first, training, and then the rest of the things. Then I don’t have too many problems with it. Between the camps, when I have some free time, I spend it with family and friends. Of course, like anyone my age, I would like to party, but as I said earlier, “first, training, and then the rest of the things,” so after the season, I find the time for the parties with my friends.

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

Junior World Championships in Raubichi is for me the most important race of the season, and I am mainly preparing for them. Because of the results of the previous year, I do not have to qualify for this event and for the European Championships. In Poland, about who would go to these events, depends on the qualification of the Polish Cup in biathlon, and the decision of the junior team coach.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

The Polish Biathlon Association finance entirely the camps, traveling and all equipment (skis, boots, poles etc.) for the Polish Junior Team, so I don’t have any problems with it.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

The best thing is the ability to stand on the podium. This is an incredible feeling that I can’t describe, and the worst thing is the long stays away from home, but it is not a big problem for me because I really like to stay in the camps.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

I really want to have the self-confidence like Martin Fourcade. At each start he is always confident and knows what he can do. It is this characteristic which I am often missing from the competition.

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

I really like biathlon as it is and I don’t want anything changed, however I like the competition such as in Moscow or summer Blink Festival and it would be cool if such competitions were organized more and for more biathletes.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

I admire Michael Jordan for his achievements and his lifestyle.

What’s your typical day like?

I get up at 7 in the morning, I do gymnastics, then eat breakfast, short break and I go to the first training. I go back, quick shower, dinner, after-dinner nap and then a second training. When I come back I take a shower, then I eat supper and after supper I have free time for surfing the internet and other things. And about 22 I go to sleep.

Do you have any hobbies outside of sport?

I play the violin in my family folk band. I also really like to listen to music.

Does your rifle have a name?

No. I think that it is not necessary.

Describe yourself in three words.

Nervous, determined and stubborn

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Oslo-Holmenkollen

Favourite biathlete (past or present): Emil Hegle Svendsen

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint

Favourite/best race of your career so far?: Summer Junior World Championships Tyumen 2014 Sprint race: 2nd place

Favourite food: Spaghetti Bolognese

Favourite singer/band: I like all kinds of music

Favourite film:
The Expendables

Favourite sports team: Miami Heat

Favourite TV show: I don’t like and I don’t watch tv shows