Tag Archives: Crystal Globe

Tyrolean Triumphs!

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Hurrah for Antholz! Real snow and lots of it and amazing scenery to enjoy on the way around the tracks. In unchivalrous style it was gentlemen first as we began round 6 with the Men’s Sprint. After winning last year’s sprint here in a tie with home boy Lukas Hofer, Simon Schempp decided that he was sick of sharing and decided to win the race for himself! A fantastic display by the German saw him shoot clean and with the second fastest ski time he wrapped up victory in some style. Behind him came Evgeniy Garanichev who replaced Anton Shipulin as top Russian for the day and after him came Jakov Fak in third. Fak did have the opportunity to win this race but missed his last shot in the standing and so had to settle for the bottom step of the podium. Benjamin Weger continued his fine form with his best result of the season and Brendan Green got his best result ever coming in fifth.

The women got underway on Friday and there was no stopping Darya Domracheva who shot clean and took another victory from second place Kaisa Makarainen. In third was Laura Dahlmeier who stood on the podium for the first time on the World Cup. There were also career bests for Lena Haecki in 12th and another German Luise Kummer in 13th.

Next came the Pursuit races and the men’s was quite a treat! The lead changed several times due to missed shots but in the end it came down to another close finish and Simon Schempp came out on top again. This time he just pipped Simon Eder and Garanichev in second and third. That made it a double double for Schempp in Antholz as he repeated his Sprint and Pursuit victories from last season. The women’s race saw Darya Domracheva sweep majestically round the tracks as she won easily. The other podium positions however was were all the excitement was at. A highly impressive Daria Virolaynen was second and Kaisa Makarainen was third despite missing 5 targets! She out skied Hildebrand on the last loop to prevent the German getting on the podium. It was incredible skiing from Kaisa once again.

Others who made a big impression in the Pursuit races were Martin Fourcade who made up 20 places from 25th to 5th. Erik Lesser came from 19th to 6th, Daniel Boehm went from 30th to 12th and Austria’s Sven Grossegger started 54th and finished 27th. On the women’s side the amazing Marie Dorin Habert went from 19th to 5th and Yana Romanova also did well coming from 42nd to 27th.

On the final day we had the Relays. The men started us off and Norway had a pretty comfortable journey to victory shooting and skiing really well. Simon Schempp anchored the Germans to second capping off a great couple of weeks for himself and France minus Martin Fourcade completed the podium in third. The women went in the afternoon and were unlucky with the conditions as they suffered from strong winds which affected the shooting range. The German ladies coped best and a very composed final leg from Laura Dalmeier secured them the win. In second came the ever impressive Czech Republic and Ukraine won the battle with Russia to come in third.

So the World Cup now moves on to Nove Mesto and begins again on the 6th of February. The race for the men’s overall title is heating up with Schempp moving up to second and closing in on Martin Fourcade. Domracheva has also closed the gap on Makarainen after a fruitful weekend of racing for the chasers. The season is getting exciting again after what looked like a procession for Fourcade and Makarainen. Both now have serious challengers for the big Crystal globes. Domracheva and Schempp are looking in good form and will take a lot of confidence from their Tyrolean Triumphs!

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Gunning for Glory Part 2: Men

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Well the start of the season is not far away now so it’s time to look at the main contenders for the Overall title. There is of course one outstanding candidate – Martin Fourcade. He is aiming to win the title for the fourth year in a row and continue to stamp his dominance on male biathlon. Normally I would say that no one can beat him but this time round there may just be a few chinks in his armour that might give someone else the opportunity to win the Total Score.

Two reasons leap out as to why Martin may find his title more difficult than normal to defend. The first is his bout of mononucleosis or glandular fever as it’s more commonly known. He had to scale back his training in the summer and this is bound to affect his fitness. It will probably catch up to him around mid-season as I expect him to make his usual good start in Oestersund. He will also find it hard going as he is considering competing in Falun in the cross country World Championships and so he might do some races on the FIS calendar to prepare for this. So an extra work load along with his summer illness just opens a crack in the door that might be big enough for one of the other guys to sneak through and take victory.

Ah a chance then for Emil Svendsen to regain the title he won for the only time in 2009/10 and put an end to his 4 second places in a row! Well maybe but reports out of Norway suggest that Svendsen is struggling for motivation after last year’s Olympics and is considering his retirement before the next Games in 2018. He definitely has the talent and experience to win but does he have the mental fortitude and motivation to do it. Well only he can answer that.

I am really looking forward to seeing what young Johannes Bø has got to offer this season. He was remarkable last year and a real breath of fresh air on the World Cup and with his confidence and fast shooting he is great to watch. He finished third last time, a long way behind Fourcade but only 5 points behind Svendsen who was second. He got five wins in the previous season and I can see him exceeding that this year and it will put him in a great position to win. I hope his big brother Tarjei can also return to his old form which saw him win the Overall title in 2010/11. There is nothing like a bit of “friendly” inter-family competition!!!

Three top Norwegians there for Fourcade to contend with but he better watch his back for the Austrians as well. Fourth and fifth in the Total Score last year were Dominik Landertinger and Simon Eder. Both of them are good enough to win and have a lot of experience. If either of them can put together a really consistent season they will be in with a chance. They have to start taking podiums from the beginning though to be able to challenge for the top spot. Austria’s neighbours also boast a couple of potential winners. Germany had Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp in the Top 10 last season and it’s about time we had another German winner of the big Crystal Globe. Peiffer did well to come back from an abysmal season two years ago and Schempp has finally got the victories his talent had promised.

Russia have Anton Shipulin to look to for victory. Like the others he can be great on his day but has been lacking the consistency to really push for overall glory. There are also many other top male biathletes who can take points off the top guys and make their chances of winning really difficult. Jakov Fak, Lukas Hofer, Ondrej Moravec, Jean-Guillaume Beatrix, Tim Burke and Freddie Lindstrom are all capable of winning races and taking podiums and will hopefully get more involved in the Total Score, if not right at the top then at least to shake up the TOP 5.

Watch out this year for Nathan Smith, Andrejs Rastorgujevs and Simon Desthieux to start mixing with the top men for podiums and victories. Have I forgotten anyone? Oh yes there is a guy called Ole Einar Bjørndalen that you may have heard of. I hear he is quite good at biathlon! Keep an eye out for him and his fancy new ski poles! He was meant to retire last season along with Bjorn Ferry, Carl Johan Bergman and Cristoph Sumann but changed his mind after Sochi. Quite right too! There are still wins left in the old legs yet!

It will be an intriguing season for the men to see if any of them can beat Fourcade to the title although possibly not as unpredictable and exciting as the women’s side. However I look forward to seeing how Martin copes with the aftermath of his illness and his possible extra commitments in cross county. We will just have to watch and see what happens with so many great men Gunning for Glory!!!

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Season Review 2013/14: Men

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Before starting to write this I thought I would take a look back at my season preview and maybe just remove the “P” and so save myself a lot of time writing another! Alas it is not so as somewhat surprisingly not all of my predictions were right! 😉

Well it didn’t take a genius to predict Martin Fourcade being at the sharp end again and he duly delivered winning 4 out of the 5 Crystal Globes including the Overall title for the third year in a row. He was only prevented from another clean sweep by Emil Hegle Svendsen who won the globe for the Individual 20km. He also took 3 medals at the Olympics in Sochi. He won gold in the Pursuit and Individual and silver in the Mass Start once again being denied by, you guessed it, that pesky Emil Svendsen!

The other big winner in Sochi was of course Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who became the greatest ever Winter Olympian by winning the Sprint title and the Mixed Relay. Obviously enough to change his mind about retiring and in the process ruin my post about his last ever season! Thanks Ole Einar! The Russian men’s team brought the Olympics to a fine end winning the relay in their home Games.

Back on the World Cup tour a young and confident(slight understatement there!) Johannes Thingnes Boe was winning 5 World Cup races. He won 2 in Annecy and then all 3 in Kontiolahti.
Simon Schempp and Lukas Hofer shared their first ever wins in Antholz and Jakov Fak kept us waiting to the end to grab his win in Holmenkollen. Way back in November Martin Fourcade won both races in Oestersund recovering from his first day breakdown on the range in the Mixed Relay. Lars Berger came from nowhere in Hochfilzen to win the Sprint but Fourcade was again victorious in the Pursuit. Svendsen took 2 wins in Oberhof and in Ruhpolding. Bjorn Ferry surprised everyone after the Olympics by winning twice in Pokljuka and Anton Shipulin took his only victory of the season there too. In the last 2 races the spoils went to Simon Eder finally winning another race and Martin Fourcade who I think likes to win the first and last race of the season!

The year also saw some great improvement from a lot of men. Lowell Bailey achieved his first ever podium in Kontiolahti. Andrejs Rastorgujevs has been threatening the podium for most of the season but his shooting keeps letting him down. Canadians Nathan Smith and Brendan Green have being showing that life after Jean-Philippe Le Guellec won’t be so bad with their excellent performances. France’s Jean-Guilliame Beatrix has really stepped up his game winning Olympic bronze and Simon Desthieux looks a real talent making up for disappointing seasons for Simon Fourcade and Alexis Beouf. The Czech guys have been amazing this year with Jaroslav Soukup and Ondrej Moravec both winning multiple Olympic medals. Dominik Landertinger for Austria had a successful if quiet season. He won silver and bronze in Sochi and was solid on the World Cup without really setting the world on fire.

On the other had it was a season to forget for the likes of Tarjei Boe who never really got going and Andi Birnbacher who finished early due to his lack of form. Fredrik Lindstroem stared well in Oestersund with a second place but couldn’t better it during the rest of the season. The Russian team have been in and around the Top 10 but have only taken one win on the World Cup, although young Alexander Loginov looks like he could help them improve that statistic next season.

So that’s it for another season and next year will hopefully see some more new faces on the podium and more first time winners. It should be intriguing to see if Fourcade can make it 4 in a row or if the likes of Johannes Boe can give him a real run for his money. Whatever happens I hope that the Globes and titles can get spread out a little more. Don’t get me wrong I am a great admirer of Martin Fourcade but it can get a bit boring having to write his name all the time!!!(I can type it in my sleep!) Help me out guys! We want to see an epic battle for the Overall next season now that there are no Olympic Games to distract everyone. Enjoy your (short!)rest, put in a great Spring/Summer training and we will see you in November!

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“Going Holm”-enkollen!

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Well that’s it! The end of the World Cup season. Not only is it sad that there are no more World Cup races this season but for some biathletes there are no World Cup races ever again. This weekend saw Tora Berger,Ann Kristin Flatland, Andrea Henkel, Sara Studebaker, Bjorn Ferry,Carl Johan Bergman and Christoph Sumann hang up their rifles for good 😦

On a happier note we had a great last round of racing which began on Thursday with the Women’s Sprint. Darya Domracheva glided over the tricky snow conditions to take first place with home favourite Tora Berger in second. In third place was a mightily impressive Susan Dunklee who reached the podium for the first time ever emulating her American teammate Lowell Bailey from last week. Other top results came from Rosanna Crawford who came home in 11th and Andreja Mali who finished 8th. Kaisa Makarainen needed to finish no worse than 23rd to secure the Sprint title and she did just that! She finished 23rd (who says it’s not lucky!) to finish ahead of Tora Berger.

In the Men’s Sprint Jakov Fak won the race quite easily with an outstanding ski. He had a little scare late on from Evgeniy Garanichev but he couldn’t match the ski speed of Fak and was second.In third came Bjorn Ferry again, putting together one of the best runs of his career just before he retires. Others who performed well were basically all the French team having 4 men in the Top 15. Simon Desthieux was 7th beating Martin Fourcade 11th, Quentin Fillon Maillet 13th and Jean-Guilliame Beatrix 14th. Their World Cup debutant Antonin Guigonnat also did well finishing 44th and qualifying for the Pursuit. Another man who got his best ever result by some margin was David Komatz who was 16th.

The Pursuit races on Saturday saw Martin and Kaisa wrap up the Crystal globes in that event. Kaisa finished 4th in bib 23(YEAH!) and Martin came home in 5th. The winner of the Women’s race was Anastasiya Kuzmina who won her first World Cup race of the season and she was joined on the podium by Tora Berger and Olga Vilukhina. The big movers in the race were Marie Dorin Habert who went from 33rd to 7th,Vita Semerenko 34th to 8th,Andrea Henkel 31st to 12th and Jana Gerekova 36th to 13th.

Simon Eder won the Men’s race and achieved his second career win after taking the Mass Start in Khanty in the 2008/09 season! It’s been a long wait to get back on the top step but he shot clear and it was a well deserved victory. In second place was Alexander Loginov and in third Bjorn Ferry. More good performances came from Carl Johan Bergman who moved from 17th to 4th,Alexey Volkov 24th to 6th,Arnd Peiffer 20th to 7th,Fredrik Lindstroem 32nd to 13th,Lars Helge Birkeland 34th to 15th and Julian Eberhard 39th to 17th.

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Finally on Sunday we had the last races of the season. The Women’s Mass Start was a tense affair as it was the showdown for the Overall title between Makarainen and Berger. The first shoot didn’t go well for Kaisa but she came through in the end and won the Crystal Globe. Kuzmina took her second race in a row and Teja Gregorin got second with Marie Dorin Habert in third. It was a remarkable race from Marie as she has just announced she is 3 months pregnant.Rosanna Crawford also deserves a mention as 8th place was her best ever result. In the Men’s race Martin Fourcade finished the season where he started – first! He was followed home by Dominik Landertinger and Jakov Fak. In 4th was Simon Desthieux who recorded his best career result too. David Komatz also managed to improve his result from the Sprint by finishing 12th.

So after all the excitement it’s time to hang up the skis and the rifles. Actually it’s not as there are some National Championships and the Moscow City biathlon left but for the World Cup everything is finished. Congratulations to Martin and Kaisa and all the biathletes who made this a great season. It’s been long and hard but amazing to watch. They all deserve a rest and I’m sure they are glad to be Going “Holm”enkollen!

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FIN-spirational ladies!

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I always like to see home biathletes do well in their home races. It’s not an easy thing to do as there is more pressure to do well in front of your home crowd and also your friends and family. However both Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen managed just that in Thursday’s first Sprint race. Kaisa came home in first and Mari was third with Russia’s Olga Zaitseva separating them in second. Kaisa skied amazingly well as she missed a shot while the others were clear. Elsewhere Magdalena Gwizdon appeared in the TOP 10 where we haven’t seen her for a while finishing ninth and a double Slovak attack saw Paulina Fialkova and Jana Gerekova finish tenth and eleventh.

In the Men’s Sprint Johannes Boe claimed his third win of an extremely impressive debut season on the World Cup although skiing two legs just behind second placed Martin Fourcade surely helped his cause a little. Having said that he shot incredibly fast and clean and seems to like the tracks. One to watch out for in next year’s World Championships in Kontiolahti. In third place was Arnd Peiffer who will be rueing his 1 missed shot as a clear shoot would have seen him win comfortably. His fellow countryman Benedikt Doll looked really good finishing in ninth and Serafin Weistner scored his first World Cup points by coming 29th.

Saturdays Sprints ended up the same as Thursday with Johannes and Kaisa winning again! The rest of the podiums were different though with Alexander Loginov and Lowell Bailey on the men’s side and Tora Berger and Gabriela Soukalova on the women’s. For Loginov and Bailey it was their career best results with Loginov taking significantly less time than Bailey! I was really happy to see Lowell finally get up on the podium and now he has broken his duck I hope we will see him there again soon.

An eleventh place finish from Martin Fourcade was enough to win him the crystal globe for the Sprint. That man must have a huge mantelpiece to fit all his globes on!! Carl Johann Bergman got into the TOP 5 and Lars Helge Birkeland finished in the TOP 10. Another great race from Susan Dunklee saw her finish in eighth and Anna-Karin Stroemstedt came in 19th.

I am getting slightly bored of writing this but on Sunday in the Pursuits Johannes Boe and Kaisa Makarainen won again! To be fair young Johannes tried his best to worry us by missing 4 targets in the final shoot but he had enough time in hand and mistakes from others meant that victory would be his. These two have been far and away the best biathletes in Kontiolahti and thoroughly deserve their massive points haul.

Second was sufficient for Martin Fourcade to take the Overall title for the third year in a row which is quite outstanding. Bjorn Ferry was third and must be wondering why he is retiring at the end of the year. All other biathletes take note-announce you are retiring at the end of next season and you will win lots of races! Look what it did for Bjoerndalen. Now he isn’t retiring his results are getting worse.(Although that could also be a tough season and he is no spring chicken!)

The women’s podium was completed by Darya Domracheva and Olga Zaitseva. Domracheva came from 20th to second but looked too tired to try and outski Kaisa. Other performances of note in the Pursuits came from Anais Chevalier 30th to 8th, Marte Olsbu 43rd to 11th, Magdalena Gwizdon 36th to 12th and Yana Romanova 33rd to 13th. For the men it was Andrejs Rastorgujevs 41st to 6th, Christoph Sumann 45th to 11th, Freddie Lindstrom 29th to 13th, Benedikt Doll 22nd to 7th and Simon Schempp 21st to 9th.

Now we are going to Norway for the last three races of the season 😦 The men’s titles are pretty well wrapped up but the women’s are all to play for. The races in Kontiolahti were great and well attended, a good sign for the World Champs next year and hopefully we will see more home glory there for the FIN-spirational ladies!

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