Tag Archives: Cheile Gradistei

Some Scheduling Suggestions!

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Some of my readers and I have been wondering lately why biathlon has a World Championships every year? We have the Olympic Games every four years and in the three years between there is always a World Championships in biathlon. I had not really considered it much before last season but with the IBU deciding to have two races in North America followed by the World Championships in Norway it got me thinking.

As you will know some biathletes chose to skip one or both of the World Cups in Canmore and Presque Isle to concentrate on the chances of doing well in Oslo at the World Championships. This wasn’t very good for the hosts of these World Cups as you want as many of the best biathletes competing to give the sport more coverage and a boost in popularity in other countries. It also wasn’t good for the biathletes whose minds would no doubt wander to thoughts of gold medals elsewhere and worry that all the long haul travel might affect their preparations.

So what could be done to resolve this? Well just in case I am ever in charge of the IBU (it could happen!) I thought about what I would do. Firstly I would make the World Championships every 2 years. For example for the next cycle you would have the Olympics in 2018, the World Champs in 2019, a break in 2020, a World Champs in 2021 and then the Olympics again in 2022. Not only that I would also change the World Cup schedule itself – that’s right I would be a sweeping reformer!!

Currently we start the season in Oestersund then go to Hochfilzen and Pokljuka before Christmas. Recent years have seen a lack of snow at the start of the season so I would start in Russia. Either Tyumen or Khanty Mansiysk could host the opening round as they are more likely to have snow. It also gets the longest journey out of the way when the biathletes are freshest. The second round can go to Antholz and the third remain in Pokljuka.

After Christmas we normally go to Oberhof and then Ruhpolding followed by Antholz. Sorry Germans I know biathlon is massive there but it is growing in many other places now so you would get one World Cup rotated between Oberhof one year and Ruhpolding the next. Round 5 would go to Nove Mesto which has to become a permanent fixture on the World Cup due to its huge popularity and amazing World Cup from the season before last. Round 6 switches to Hochfilzen. All three countries border each other therefore minimising travel time and costs.

The final three rounds would be a tour of Scandinavia with Round 7 in Kontiolahti, round 8 in Oestersund and the final round in Oslo. Again all counties that border each other. I know what you are thinking. What about Canmore, Presque Isle, Annecy and the other countries that can host biathlon like Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Poland to name a few? Fear not I have a cunning plan for that!

The year that there would be no World Championships in my schedule would be the year where we could boldly go where no biathlete has gone before, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations! Oh no, wait a minute, that’s the opening to Star Trek but Captain Kirk had the right idea!

In a season without a World Championships we could probably squeeze in 3 more World Cup rounds. So you could potentially have 3 World Cups across Canada and America or even further afield in Asia possibly Korea, Japan and China. You could also mix and match the established World Cup rounds with others in for example Annecy, Otepaa, Cheile Gradistei, Bansko or Brezno-Orsblie.

You could point out that usually there are only 3 or 4 people who are capable of winning the Overall biathlon title so if there is no World Championships what incentive is there for the other biathletes. Well there is also the possibility in the free year of having a “Tour de Biathlon”-I came up with that name and idea myself, I have not copied it from anywhere!!! 😉

You could take three or four venues that are not too far apart and hold a series of races across them with a nice cash incentive for the winners of each event and the overall tour. You could even throw in some classic ski races like in olden times biathlon and also some pure shooting knockout competitions as well as team events. These are just suggestions there could be many ways of doing it.

So there you have it, an alternative biathlon season. Obviously there are probably many reasons of money, sponsorships deals and logistics that might not make such ideas feasible but as I still don’t work for the IBU (but it really could happen!) they are not my problem!! If anyone from the IBU is reading this you can copy it if you like although you will have to use the name “The Tour de Biathlon23!!”

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Junior World Championships Review 2016!

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Doherty,Porshnev,Leitner

This year’s Youth and Junior World Championships were held in Cheile Gradistei in Romania. We got underway on Thursday with the Junior Individual race for both men and women. The Junior category is open to anyone aged between 18 and 21.

The Women went first and was won by Austria’s Susanna Kurtzhaler who shot clean to win by 8.6 seconds. Second place went to the Ukraine’s Anastasiya Merkushyna who missed 1 target which cost her the gold medal. Bronze also went to Austria with Julia Schwaiger shooting clean to claim the final podium position.

It was a good day for Austria as they also won the Men’s Individual with Felix Leitner winning gold with a fantastic performance. Despite missing a target he won the race by 1 minute 50 seconds. Taking silver for Italy was Andrea Baretto who shot clean and with 2 misses in bronze was the USA’s Sean Doherty.

On Saturday we had the Sprint races with the women going first and we had a really close finish. Gold went to Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg who shot clean but won by just 0.6 of a second. Silver was won by Switzerland’s Lena Haecki who missed 2 shots but had a great ski. Bronze also went to Sweden with Anna Magnusson 12 seconds behind the winner with 1 missed target. France’s Lena Arnaud was 4th for the second race in a row.

The Men’s Sprint race came next and was won again by Felix Leitner. The young Austrian was on fantastic form winning by 11.5 seconds with 1 miss. The silver medal went to Sean Doherty with 2 misses and in bronze was Germany’s David Zobel who was 39 seconds behind with 1 miss.

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Oeberg, Haecki, Magnusson

On Sunday we had all 4 Pursuit races for the Youths and Juniors. The Junior women’s race went to Hanna Oeberg who held on to first place from the Sprint shooting clean. Lena Haecki held on to silver despite missing 6 targets and bronze went to Chloe Chevalier of France who came up from 5th to get onto the podium in 3rd.

The men’s race was won by over 30 seconds by American Sean Doherty. After winning bronze then silver he added the missing gold to his collection. That medal means he has won 10 medals at the Youth/Junior World Championships which is a record. Silver went to Russian Nikita Porshnev and double gold medallist Felix Leitner took bronze.

The final day of competition on Tuesday saw both the Women’s and Men’s Relays. The women were first in the morning and the 3×6.km race was won by Norway with a team of Anne Marit Bredalen, Turi Storstroem Thoresen and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold. The silver medal went to the Swedish Team of Hanna Oeberg, Sophia Myhr and Anna Magnusson who finished 15.6 seconds behind but only used 4 spare rounds to Norway’s 5. Finally bronze went to the Austrian Team made up of Susanna Kurtzhaler, Julia Schwaiger and Simone Kupfner.

The Men’s 4×7.5km Relay was the last race of the entire competition and the final gold medal went to Russia. Their team of Dmitrii Shamaev, Viktor Plitcev, Nikita Porshnev and Kiril Streltsov won by almost 2 minutes using just 2 spares. Silver medal went to the German team of Marco Gross, David Zobel, Lars-Erik Weick and Dominik Reiter. The final podium place was taken by the Czech team of David Tolar, Milan Zemlicka, Ondrej Hosek and Jan Burian to win the bronze medal.

That concludes all the races for the Juniors in what has been an exciting competition which has seen double gold medals for Hanna Oeberg and Felix Leitner. Sean Doherty made history by becoming the most decorated biathlete at the Youth/Junior level. His tally of gold, silver and bronze here in Romania takes his total up to a record breaking 10 medals. It will be very interesting to see what all our medal winners go on to achieve in the future. Some of them already have World Cup experience and others are just making their way in the IBU Cup. It is reassuring to see that there is lot of talented biathletes to look out for in the coming years.


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Youth World Championships Review 2016!

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Erdal,Kalkenberg, Kryvonos

This year’s Youth and Junior World Championships was held in Cheile Gradistei in Romania. We got underway on Wednesday with the Youth’s Individual race for both men and women. The Youth category is open to anyone aged under 18.

The women went first in the morning and the race was a very close one. In fact it was won by only 2 seconds in the end by Germany’s Marina Sauter. She missed 2 targets as did Myrtille Begue of France, the younger sister of Aristide Begue, to win the race. Begue took second and in third was the Czech Republic’s Marketa Davidova.

The men were next and this race was dominated by Norway’s Harald Oeygard. He won by 40 seconds from compatriot Aleksander Fjeld Andersen. They both missed one target and in third place shooting clean was Italy’s Michael Durand.

The Sprint races came on Friday and the women started first with victory going to Norway’s Karoline Erdal who won by 25.5 seconds. The silver medal also went to Norway with Emilie Aagheim Kalkenberg beating Ukraine’s Anna Kryvonos for second place. All three of the podium finishers missed one target.

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Oeygard,Andersen,Durand

The men’s race went to Russia with Igor Malinovskii claiming gold by 26.3 seconds. Norway were second with Endre Stroemsheim taking silver by just over a second from another Russian Viacheslav Maleev.

On Sunday we had all the Pursuit races for the Youths and Juniors. The Youth Women’s race was won by Arina Pantova of Kazakhstan by just 3.4 seconds from Anna Kryvonos who took silver. Third place went to Marina Sauter who made up 11 places coming from 14th to take the bronze medal.

In the men’s race Viacheslav Maleev moved up from 3rd to take gold ahead of countryman Mailinovskii who missed 7 shots but still managed to hold on to the silver medal. Bronze went to Harald Oeygard who came from 8th to grab 3rd place.

The final day of competition for the young biathletes was the Relays on Monday. The Women’s 3x6km Relay was won by Russia with a team of Iaroslava Pervakova, Valeriia Vasnetcova and Polina Shevnina. They used 8 spare rounds in total and finished almost 25 seconds ahead of the second placed team the Czech Republic. Their team of Natalie Jurcova, Marketa Davidova and Tereza Vinlarkova used only 6 spares to claim silver. The bronze medal went to the Norwegian team of Kristina Skjevdal, Emilie Kalkenberg and Karoline Erdal who had 1 penalty loop but made up for it with fast skiing.

The Men’s 3x 7.5km Relay was the last race of the Youth competition and the gold medal went to the Norwegian team of Endre Stroemsheim, Aleksander Andersen and Harald Oeygard. It wasn’t really a surprise as each member of the team had already won individual medals. The silver medal went to the Russian team of Egor Tutmin, Viacheslav Maleev and Igor Malinovskii. The bronze was won by Italy who have had a good men’s competition. Michael Durand, Peter Tumler and Daniele Cappellari needed only 6 spares to make the podium.

That concludes this seasons Youth World Championships and has given us a few names to look out for in the future. The Norwegians and Russians have strong teams as you would expect but Italy also did well and so did Kazakhstan. Harald Oeygard had an impressive competition winning 2 gold and 1 bronze medal. The Russian pair of Malinovskii and Maleev also took home a gold medal and 2 silvers each. Erdal and Kalkenberg did well for the women as did Alina Pantova and Marina Sauter. Keep an eye out for them going forward because as you can see the future of biathlon is in good hands!

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Otčenáš: A Slovak Attack!

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Martin Otčenáš has gone under the radar a bit in biathlon outside of Slovakia. He has always been a solid competitor finishing around 40th to 50th in most races. That is all about to change however. With 2 points scoring positions behind him from last season and an excellent summer Martin is ready to move up in the biathlon world.

He was born in Poprad, Slovakia on the 25th of August 1987. He made his debut on the World Cup in Antholz in Season 2008/09 after spending a year on the IBU Cup. Last season he finally scored some points by finishing in the TOP 40 in 2 races.

He achieved his personal best result in Pokljuka in the Sprint race coming in 21st place and improving from his previous best finish of 45th. In the Pursuit race he managed to hold on for 40th place ensuring another points scoring finish. This is a really noteworthy improvement. It’s quite normal for the top athletes to get points in nearly every round but for others making it into the TOP 40 is a really important step.

Over the summer Martin also attended the Summer World Championships which were held in Cheile Gradistei in Romania. In the Men’s Sprint race he came third and won the bronze medal. In the Pursuit race he did even better and won the race to take home the gold medal.

Some might argue that it doesn’t mean much to win at the Summer World Championships as most of the big names do not attend and that it is raced on roller skis and not on snow. I do not agree. To win any form of race in biathlon is extremely difficult and the confidence of winning medals is a massive boost to any biathlete. For example the Bulgarian duo Anev and Iliev did well in summer 2014 and went on to have fantastic seasons on snow.

I am not getting carried away and saying that he will challenge at the top next season but I am expecting a big improvement for him personally. I think he will be able to get more points scoring positions and I expect him to break into the Top 20.

It will be an important year for Martin. At 28 he is probably in his prime as a biathlete in terms of fitness and experience. He needs to continue to improve and he must try and make himself a regular in the TOP 40. It won’t be easy for him but he will do his best both individually and for the Slovakian Relay teams. Look forward next season to a Slovak Attack!

You can like Martin’s Facebook Page: Martin Otcenas (Sportsperson)

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