Tag Archives: Celia Aymonier

Kontiolahti 2017: The Sprints!

The Wall is back! And there are going to be some tired biathletes climbing it! To be fair it wasn’t scheduled this season but with Kontiolahti replacing Tyumen as host of World Cup 8 they get to spend all weekend going up and up and up!

It started with the Sprint races and in the Men’s race Martin Fourcade did it again. He won yet another Sprint to make it 13 wins this season breaking the record of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. He did by just 0.6 of a second however stealing the glory from poor Ondrej Moravec. The Czech shot clean while Fourcade missed a target in the stand but he still managed to win. What a great biathlete he is but not very generous! 😉

Third place went to Emil Svendsen who also shot clean finishing 9 seconds behind the winner. Johannes Boe was fourth hitting 10/10 and Arnd Peiffer in 5th did the same. Fellow Germans Roman Rees and Philipp Nawrath both got personal bests. Rees finished 12th and Nawrath 34th. Olli Hiidensalo sneaked into the points in 39th in his home race.

Continuing her great form from PyeongChang Tiril Eckhoff finally got the better of Laura Dalmeier to win her first race of the season. She shot 10/10 to win by 18 seconds from Dahlmeier who missed 1 standing target. Third place went to Darya Domracheva with clean shooting continuing her excellent comeback after having her first child.

In fourth was Russia’s Daria Virolaynen also hitting 10/10. Susan Dunklee missed a target to come 5th for the third race in a row! Lisa Vittozzi hit 10 to finish 6th.

Celia Aymonier grabbed a personal best in 7th. Darya Usanova also got a personal best shooing 10/10 in 14th. Denise Hermann got her best result on the World Cup missing 2 but finishing 18th.

Gabriela Koukalova finished in 13th and Kaisa Makarainen was 49th after missing 4 targets. Mari Laukkanen was the top Finn in 19th with 2 misses.

Tomorrow we have both the Pursuit races and they should be exciting with the time gaps between biathletes pretty close!

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PyeongChang 2017: The Relays!

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It was the final day of racing in PyeongChang and also the final men’s and women’s relays of the season. There are reports going around that after his record equaling 6 Overall Titles in a row and 12 wins in a season that Martin Fourcade was using his big crystal globe to drink soju from! Soju is like the Korean version of sake. We thought he might miss the Relay but as these reports were from an American source it’s possible that it was fake news! 😉

Laura Dahlmeier did miss the women’s relay which is real news! The German’s lined up with their ‘H’ team (like the A team but further down the alphabet) of Horchler, Hammerschmidt, Hermann and Hildebrand! The absence of Dahlmeier didn’t prevent them from winning their fifth relay in a row and every relay this season. A fantastic achievement.

At one point it looked like it wasn’t going to happen though. Nadine Horchler had a solid first leg with just one spare needed handing over to Hammerschmidt in third place behind Chevalier of France and Crawford of Canada.

Hammerschmidt moved Germany into the lead after her leg using 2 spares but staying ahead of France’s Anais Bescond and Canada’s Julia Ransom. Ransom had an amazing leg shooting 10/10 and handing over to Megan Tandy still in contention for the lead.

Denise Hermann was confident on the prone hitting all five. However in the standing shoot she had a lot of trouble and ending up on the penalty loop. This meant that Justine Braisaz of France could take the lead handing over in front of Hermann. Then came Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who had a stunning leg making up for Hilde Fenne’s penalty loop on leg 2. Megan Tandy was brilliant in 4th using just 1 spare.

Celia Aymonier took over for France and was up against Franziska Hildebrand, Marte Olsbu and Emma Lunder. After a solid prone she had a horrible stand ending up with 2 penalty loops and so France were out of the picture. Hildebrand was excellent with just one spare meaning she had a comfortable final loop to victory.

The race was still on for the podium and it came down to a sprint finish on the line between Marte Olsbu, Gabriela Koukalova and Anna Magnusson. Some excellent shooting from these three put them all in with a chance but on the line Olsbu took second by 0.1 of a second with Koukalova in third just in front of Magnusson.

Emma Lunder needed 2 spares and in the end Canada finished 8th but it was a great race from ever member of their team racing in the top 4 for much of the relay.

The men’s race was a little less dramatic but still entertaining. Lukas Hofer set off very fast and led the first loop for Italy before having to do 3 penalty loops on the prone! Norway were up at the front after a great leg from Vetle Christiansen shooting 10/10. The USA were in seconds thanks to Lowell Bailey’s clean shoot and the Ukraine were in 3rd with Artem Pryma.

Bjoerndalen held on to the lead for Norway in the second leg with 3 spares. France’s Simon Fourcade moved them up from 7th, where Beatrix handed over, using just 1 spare. Ukraine were still in third after Sergiy Semenov’s leg.

The third leg saw France move into the lead and they wouldn’t give it up. Simon Desthieux was steady on the range unlike his competitor Vergard Gjermandshaug who incurred a penalty loop for Norway. Austria moved into second with two great legs from Simon Eder and then Julian Eberhard and Norway were still in third.

That’s how the race would end with legs from Martin Fourcade, Dominik Landertinger and Henrik L’Abee Lund. They were all good enough on the range to stop any others catching or passing them.

That is the end of the pre-Olympic event here in PyeongChang and now it’s back to Kontiolahti for World Cup 8!

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Women’s Relay!

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Winter is back! Which is lucky as biathlon is a winter sport and it is February. There were snowy and windy conditions for the Women’s Relay today and it was another fantastic race. I think we have been spoiled in Hochfilzen by the standard and excitement of the races.

In the Women’s Relay France got off to the best start with Anais Chevalier on leg 1 using just 1 spare and handing over to Celia Aymonier in the lead. She was followed closely by Lisa Vittozzi with 1 spare and Vanessa Hinz with 2 spares needed. Poland with Magdalena Gwizdon were in 4th and Nadezhda Skardino had Belarus in 5th. Russia were in 6th and Iryna Varvynets was in 7th for Ukraine.

The second leg started well for Aymonier but on the stand she needed 3 spares and just avoided the penalty loop. This gave Italy the chance to take the lead with Federica Sanfilippo needing just 1 spare to hand over in first. In second were Germany with Maren Hammerschmidt followed by Yuliia Dzhima and Aymonier.

The third leg was where the race turned. Franziska Hildebrand who hasn’t had the best Championships so far hit 10/10 to put Germany in a commanding position. She was followed by Anastasiya Merkushyna who used 1 spare putting the Ukraine into second, France went into third thanks to Justine Braisaz and Irina Starykh moved Russia up to 4th with the Czech Republic going into 5th with a good leg from Veronika Vitkova and Italy were 6th after Alexia Runggaldier’s leg.

Hildebrand handed over the lead to Laura Dahlmeier, which is the last thing you want if you aren’t on the Germany team! She was being chased by Olena Pidhrushna, Marie Dorin Habert, Gabriela Koukalova and Tatiana Akimova. Amazing!

Akimova dropped out early after having a nightmare on the first prone and taking a penalty loop. Dahlmeier used 1 spare and the others all shot clear to bring them all closer to the leader. It was a very tense final shoot and Dahlmeier needed 2 spare rounds but still managed to get away in the lead. Pidhrushna , Dorin Habert and Koukalova all went clear, Wierer missed 1 but shot so fast you hardly noticed so it came down to a ski race.

Koukalova was in silver position but she looked tired or myabe her skis weren’t good but she never loooked like she could hold on. So it came down to Dorin Habert and Pidhrushna to decide the medals. Unfortunately for them Dahlmeier was too strong to catch in first so they fought it out for silver and bronze.

Olena Pidrushna had a fantastic leg. I think she saved something on her first 2 loops and skied so well that Dorin Habert couldn’t get passed her.

It was a great race with Germany taking gold and Dahlmeier winning her 4th gold medal in Hochfilzen and her 10th World Championship medal in a row. Silver went to a terrific Ukrainian team with the best shooting score using just 4 spares altogether and bronze went to France.

The Czech Republic were 4th, Italy 5th, Sweden 6th, Poland 7th, Slovakia 8th, Belarus 9th and Russia 10th.

11th Norway
12th Kazakhstan
13th Switzerland
14th USA
15th Finland
16th Canada
17th Slovenia
18th Korea
19th Estonia
20th Japan
21st Lithuania
22nd Bulgaria
Austria were disqualified.

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Pursuits!

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Now I warned you not to the miss the Pursuit races, didn’t I! That turned out to be good advice! We were treated to two races at the World Championships in Hochfilzen today and they were both great.

First we had the Women’s Pursuit in the morning and we had drama from the first shoot. Dahlmeier and Koukalova settled down on the mats together but Gabi had some trouble with her rifle and took a long time to fire her shots. It looked like the shells were not ejecting properly and so this affected her focus and in the end she missed 2 targets and it looked like her medal chances were over.

Dahlmeier also missed a target but still managed to complete her penalty loop to stay in the lead and that’s where she remained for the whole race not missing another shot. It means from three races she has 2 gold medals and 1 silver!

Sneaking up from 27th was Darya Domracheva. After having her first child in October and returning to action in January she has had some trouble with her standing shooting. Not today however! She hit 20/20 to win the silver medal and did what is known in biathlon as a ‘Dorin Habert’!

Third place unbelievably went to Koukalova! After her terrible first shoot she also missed another at the first standing but came back to claim bronze. She was helped a bit by the others missing especially Makarainen who was in with a medal chance until she missed on the final shoot.

Russia’s Irina Starykh, back from her drugs ban, was 4th hitting 20/20, Justine Braisaz was 5th from 28th, Marie Dorin Habert took 6th, Makarainen was 7th, Anastasiya Merkushyna hit another 20/20 in 8th, Celia Aymonier was 9th and Dorothea Wierer came from 21st to finish 10th.

Other good performances came from Pualina Fialkova who went from 31st to 13th, Alexia Runggaldier from 43rd to 15th hitting 20/20 and Baiba Bendika hit another perfect score coming from 50th to finish 27th.

The men’s race started in the afternoon and saw Martin Fourcade win his first race here at the World Championships. He missed just 1 target and controlled the race to win by 22 seconds. Johannes Boe held on to his second place despite missing 3 targets, but skiing incredibly well, giving him 2 silver medals.

Third place went to Ole Einar Bjoerndalen! Starting from 8th and no doubt inspired by his wife’s fantastic performance in the women’s race he missed just 1 target to win the bronze medal. He is incredible! I have run out of words for that man! That is his 45th World Championship medal! Let’s just say that there will be a party at the Bjoerndalen’s tonight!

Anton Shipulin had a very good race coming from 21st to finish 4th, Ondrej Moravec kept his 5th place position from the Sprint, Lowell Bailey was 6th ahead of Krasimir Anev in 7th. Completing the Top 10 were Julian Eberhard in 8th, Tarjei Boe in 9th and Simon Schempp in 10th.

Sergey Semenov did really well starting 41st and finishing 15th, Quentin Fillon Maillet went from 43rd to 22nd and Martin Otcenas from 47th to 24th.

Well we now have 2 days off to recover before the next race on Wednesday which is the Women’s Individual followed by the Men’s on Thursday. Will Dahlmeier get another medal? Can anyone beat Martin Fourcade in that event? There is lots to look forward too!

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Women’s Sprint!

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Friday was Women’s Sprint day at the Hochfilzen World Championships. Another day of calm sunny weather produced a lot of good shooting from the ladies and it was a very close race in the end.

The winner and gold medalist was Gabriela Koukalova from the Czech Republic who shot clean and won with a time of 19 minutes and 12 seconds. This is Koukalova’s first ever gold medal at a World Championships. It was a great performance and she was skiing as well as she was shooting as she beat Laura Dahlmeier into second by 4 seconds. Koukalova did have the advantage of starting later that Laura and so knew exactly what she had to do to win. That doesn’t automatically mean you can do it though so Gabi showed some great strength both physically and mentally today.

Third place was also very close. In fact there was only 0.2 of a second between getting a medal and finishing in the worst place fourth! Happily for France’s Anais Chevalier she was the one who just skied a tiny fraction faster than Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi and claimed the bronze medal.

It was the other way around this time with Vittozzi getting the time checks which shows you just how hard it is even if you know what you have to do. It was Vittozzi’s personal best result and she should be very proud of her performance. Both women also shot clean and it means that Vittozzi hasn’t missed a target yet after clearing in yesterday’s Mixed Relay too.

The top six finishers all shot clean with another Italian Federica Sanfilippo in 5th and Vanessa Hinz in 6th. Marie Dorin Habert was 7th with 1 miss, Sprint specialist Anastasiya Kuzmina was 8th, Celia Aymonier 9th and Anastasiya Merkushyna did bib23 proud finishing in 10th.

Another biathlete who achieved a personal best today was Russia’s Irina Uslugina. Home favourite Lisa Hauser was 23rd.

The Pursuit race is on Sunday and it is shaping up to be a great one with 12 biathletes starting within a minute of the leader! Don’t miss that race!

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Ruhpolding 2017: The Relays!

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It seems the people of Ruhpolding like everything weiß. Weißbier, weißwurst and of course weiß snow! They also love an exciting finish in the Relay and that’s exactly what they got in the Men’s race on Wednesday.

We all know the Norwegian men love to win the Relay in Ruhpolding and they did so again for the third time in a row. For most of the race it didn’t look that likely until Emil Svendsen took over on the final leg and very much proved why he is called Super Svendsen – and it’s not because he wears his underpants over his trousers! No it’s because when he is on form he is an awesome biathlete.

Russia spent most of the race in the lead apart from the first lap where a great leg from Lukas Hofer, shooting 10/10, put Italy in the lead at the first changeover. The second two legs were dominated by Anton Shipulin who only used one spare and Matvey Eliseev who didn’t miss a target.

He handed over a 30 second lead to Anton Babikov who had Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen chasing him. Schempp was lucky to be there after Erik Lesser did a penalty loop on the first leg but some great work from Bendikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer put Germany back into contention.

Svendsen proved to be the best of the three, shooting 10/10 when the other two both needed a spare and had a great ski to catch and then pass Babikov to win the race by 5 seconds. He has teammates Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Vetle Christiansen and Henrik L’Abee Lund to thank for putting him in such a good position and also his ski technicians for some incredible skis. With Norway winning without a Boe in sight they could be hard to beat for the rest of the season.

Back in the pack Sweden came all the way from 23rd to finish 6th using 8 spares, Bulgaria finished an impressive 8th including a penalty loop and the Ukraine showed how good a team they have maintaining 4th place with Vitaliy Kilchytskyy completing his standing shoot in 17 seconds hitting all the targets. France came 9th unable to recover from a poor first leg from Simon Fourcade who is back after an illness.

So then the Women’s race on Thursday had a lot to live up to and it did just that! Kaisa Makarainen got us off to a great start by leading the race up to the first exchange. However Finnish hopes were short lived as the bigger teams took over from there. Maren Hammerschmidt took the second leg for home team Germany taking over from Vanessa Hinz. She managed to hand over the lead to Franziska Preuss despite the close attentions of Italy, Ukraine, Norway and France.

In the third leg it was Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who went into the lead missing just one shot in the prone. In fact that was the only spare round the Norwegian team used in the race! She handed Marte Oslbu a 4.5 second lead but she had some tough competition in the form of Olena Pidhrushna, Laura Dahlmeier and Celia Aymonier.

In the end it was Laura Dahlmeier who was victorious giving the crowd something to cheer! She used 1 spare but was too strong on the skis for the others making up a 10 second deficit on Olsbu. Second place went to France with Celia Aymonier also beating Olsbu to the line after they both hit every target. Aymonier, who used to be on the dark side of cross-country, seems to have found some Jedi powers on the shooting range and is becoming a fantastic biathlete. The French team were without Marie Dorin Habert today but with Anais Chevalier, Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz and Aymonier they look a formidable team even without her.

Norway had a great race in third. Their women’s team hasn’t been as strong this season but Kaia Nicolaisen, Hilde Fenne, Eckhoff and Olsbu put that right today. Hopefully they can carry this success into the individual races.

Norway were the top team on the range followed by Ukraine and Canada who used only 3 spares and finished 4th and 10th respectively and Sweden used only 4 finishing 7th. Russia had a bad day at the range using 11 spares and incurring 2 penalty loops.

The Relays were both really good races to watch with exciting finishes. Hopefully the rest of the round will be the same with the Sprints on Friday and Saturday and the Pursuits on Sunday.

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Nove Mesto 2016: The Sprints!

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Hurray! The World Cup is bock in Nove Mesto Na Morave and it’s about time too. With the stands packed with around 30,000 fantastic fans it’s a great place to go racing. We started on Thursday with the Men’s Sprint and Martin Fourcade won again! That’s all three Sprint races he has won so far this season, 5 out of 6 victories in individual races and he has been on the podium in every single race! Unbelievable! The only race he didn’t win was the won I predicted he would definitely win so for the sake of biathlon I am absolutely sure he will win the Pursuit! 😉

In second place was Anton Shipulin who shot clean but was still beaten by Fourcade by 1.6 seconds and Martin missed a target. A more encouraging result however was Emil Hegle Svendsen in third who also missed 1 target but was only 6.5 seconds back. It seems having Fourcade’s old coach and the same skis is paying off. If he eats a few plates of svíčková (sirlion with vegetables) in Nove Mesto he will surely be able to beat him! It should make an interesting Pursuit race.

Johannes Boe was 4th and Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev had a fantastic race finishing 5th. Home hero Ondrej Moravec was 8th giving the crowd more reason to shout and Julian Eberhard missed 3 targets but was still 9th only 28.6 seconds behind the winner. In 13th place was young Swede Sebastian Samuelsson who missed 1 target and was 38.2 seconds behind Fourcade. He will be 20 in March!

The Women’s race took place on Friday and much like some řízek (triple coated schnitzel) there was a triple surprise on the podium. Taking her first ever win was Russia’s Tatiana Akimova. She shot clean and won the race by 4.3 seconds. In second place with her career best finish on the World Cup was France’s Anais Chevalier who also shot clean just beating the USA’s Susan Dunklee into third by 0.8 of a second. Dunklee also shot clean and grabbed her first podium of the season (the power of bib23!).

The French women’s team was really impressive as they had five biathletes in the Top 12 with Braisaz in 6th, Bescond in 8th, Dorin Habert in 11th and Aymonier in 12th. The top Czech was Gabriela Koukalova who was 13th but she missed 3 targets in the standing shoot. With 29,000 fans cheering every shot there is a lot of pressure on her to perform well and I think she will improve on that in the Pursuit.

Speaking of the Pursuit I think both races should be very exciting with only a few seconds separating the top biathletes in both the men’s and women’s races. Don’t miss them!

I now have a strange desire to buy a pair of bright orange trousers but I am not sure why! 😉 So while I pop to the shops you can enjoy the rest of the weekend in Nove Mesto!

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