The Swedish women’s team have had a pretty hard time of late. They didn’t perform well on the World Cup and they didn’t even take a team to Sochi for the Winter Olympics. Since the retirements of Helena Ekholm and Magdalena Forsberg they have been struggling to bring through new talent of the same calibre. It wasn’t all doom and gloom however as we saw in the European Championships in Nove Mesto.
Mona Brorsson took gold in the Pursuit race to put a smile back on Swedish faces. She did in in some style too coming from a 12th place start to beat Victoria Padial into second place. It was the highlight of a fine season for Mona on the IBU Cup and she also claimed her first ever World Cup point back in her home race in Oestersund taking 40th place in the Individual. She was able to build on her success from the previous winter when she enjoyed a great IBU Cup season, made her debut in the World Cup and also won a bronze medal in the CISM World Military Winter Games in the patrol.
Born on the 28th of March 1990 Mona comes from Koppomsvägen in Värmland, Sweden. She studied at biathlon college in Torsby and then went on university in Oestersund where she still lives and trains. She currently competes for Finnskoga IF after spending 12 years with her local club Beteds SKF. Mona started out as a cross country skier like many biathletes but saw sense and picked up a rifle at age 10 to begin her road to becoming a professional biathlete.
Mona has had a great couple of years as her results show. There will probably be a bit more pressure on her shoulders in the coming season however as Sweden looks to improve the performance of its women’s team. The whole team will be under scrutiny with the retirements of Bjorn Ferry and Carl Johan Bergman and the wish of national coach Johan Hagstrom to deliver at least one medal at each of the World Championships leading up to Pyeongyang 2018. The main target being for the team to win medals there and obviously for the women’s team to prove they are deemed good enough to go next time.
As a member of the development team geared toward winning medals in Pyeongyang Mona still has a lot of work to do but fortunately she also has time on her side. At 24 she still has 4 years until the next games and can gain a lot of valuable experience from the World Cup and World Championships. She has been named in the A team for this year along with Hanna Öberg, Sofia Myhr and Anna Magnusson. As the eldest member of the team a lot will be expected of her.
So what can we hope for from Mona come December and the start of the new season? Well adding to her 1 World Cup point should be her first target. Some good solid TOP 40 finishes would be a great way to build her confidence on a bigger stage. Forming a good relay team with the other Swedish women is of great importance too and also getting into the Mixed Relay team with the likes of Freddie Lindstroem and Tobias Arwidson can only help her improve. Most importantly she needs to continue to enjoy biathlon and help the Swedish ladies get back on track! You can do it! C’Mon-a Brorsson!
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Winner of the Sprint race in Sochi last season Magdalena Gwizdoń laid down a marker for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games. She followed that up with a 5th place in the Individual the same weekend. She obviously liked the track and was good form around the time the Games will take place next year.
Magdalena Gwizdoń was born in Cieszyn, Poland on the 4th of August 1979. She has already represented her country in two Olympic Games with her best result coming in 2006 when she finished 7th in the relay. Last year was probably her best season in biathlon since 2006/7. During that season she appeared 3 times on the podium winning her first World Cup race, the Sprint event, in Oestersund and performed admirably in her debut Olympics.
Last season she achieved four Top 6 finishes including those great results in Sochi and meant that she finished 15th in the Total Score just one place behind her compatriot Krystyna Palka. She finished just outside the Top Ten in 11th place in the Sprint standing which judging by past results is her best event. A 12th place finish in the Individual,16th in the Pursuit and 21st in the Mass Start standing helped Poland to a 7th place finish in the Nation’s Cup.
As a member of the Polish military she was also eligible to take part in the CISM World Winter Games in Annecy at the end of the World Cup season. The Polish ladies sprint team finished 5th with Magdalena finishing 25th individually. Overall the Polish women’s team performed very well last season winning 2 medals at the World Championships in Nove Mesto. Unfortunately Magdalena didn’t win one but her vast experience is bound to have played a part in helping Palka and Monika Hojnisz in their success.
At the age of 34 Gwizdon is coming towards the end of her career. Like many of the other women competitors in biathlon she seems to have saved her best form for last. It was over 6 years between her 2 World Cup victories and she is producing some of the best performances of her career now. Hopefully she will continue this form into the new season and I would love her to see her in Pole position to get a medal in Sochi as just reward for all her hard work and dedication over her long career.
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Lukas Hofer is an Italian biathlete. Born in Brunico on the 30th of September 1989, the 24 year old is a member of the Italian military. With a bronze medal to his name from the 2011 World championships in the mass start, I would argue that he is one of the best biathletes never to have won an individual race on the World Cup.
2nd Sprint 2012/13 Khanty-Mansiysk (RUS)
7th Pursuit 2012/13 Khanty-Mansiysk (RUS)
7th Individual 2012/13 Nove Mesto (CZE)
4th Sprint 2011/12 Oberhof (GER)
6th Sprint 2010/11 Pokljuka (SLO)
3rd Mass Start 2010/11 Khanty-Mansiysk (RUS)
However I don’t think that assertion will last very long. Finishing the season well with a win and a second place in the Military Championships in Annecy and a second in the last round of the World Cup, Lukas had a very positive end to the season. His ski speed is up there with the best of them and his prone shooting has always been good.
Where he sometimes frustrates is in the standing shoot. He has lost some opportunities at victory from good positions by missing one or two targets in the last standing shoot. Fortunately for Lukas he still young and I am sure these experiences will prove to make him a stronger athlete. Also shooting is arguably an easier skill to improve than ski speed so it’s something that is possible to resolve.
It is not easy for most of the current crop of biathletes to compete in an era with so many outstanding competitors. It is probably more difficult than ever to win a World Cup race. If you manage to beat Fourcade, you still have Svendsen ,Boe, Fak, Birnbacher and an assortment of Russians to get past. Difficult however is not the same as impossible. For Lukas and the other biathletes it’s a chance to test themselves against the very best and easy motivation to push themselves on to great achievements.
However as a member of the Carabinieri, Lukas could also use the tactic of arresting a few of those mentioned above when they compete in Italy giving himself a much easier chance of victory! Such underhand tactics aside I am hoping for a great season and Olympic Games for Lukas. With an improvement in his shooting stats I see no reason why he can’t give the others a run for their money.
He’s young, he’s talented and I for one think he has a lot to Hofer!!!
Also check out his website in Italian and German. It has a very cool opening page!