Tag Archives: Czech biathlon

Lucie Charvátová: The Interview!

charvatova

Lucie Charvátová is a Czech biathlete who was born on the 1st of February 1993 in Hradec Kralove. She made her international debut in biathlon in 2013 and competed at the World Junior Championships in 2014 and the World Championships in 2016. Her personal best result came last season in Hochfilzen when she finished 5th in the Sprint and ended the season in 31st place overall.

Like her Facebook page: Lucie Charvátová (Sportsperson)

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

When I was about 10 years old I started to do cross country skiing. I was quite good at it, I took part in the World Junior Championships in the youth and junior categories and I even raced during the World Championships in Val di Fiemme in 2013 as a junior. Furthermore, I also won the biathlon race during the “Children’s Winter Olympic Games” in the Czech Republic and a lot of people told me that I had a talent for shooting. When the situation became worse in cross country skiing in the Czech Republic and one of the most popular winter sports started to rise, I decided to change to biathlon in the Spring of 2013. Spectators love biathlon due to its popularity, variety and attractiveness. Good training conditions for the biathlon team in the Czech Republic support the fact that I am happy to be a biathlete. The start of my biathlon training was hard – I had to learn how to shoot and on top of that, all the training lasts much longer than in cross country skiing. But my third biathlon competition was in the World Cup, so I am confident that I chose the right sport for me.

Your personal best result is 5th from the Sprint race in Hochfilzen last season. Can you describe the race and how you did you feel at the end?

I often used to hear the sentence… “ once if you hit..” And that was that day. My success depends on shooting, because my legs are usually fast. On the prone shooting I missed once, but the standing shooting was clear. Before the last lap, I really hoped to be in 10th place, but in the last uphill our coach shouted at me that I could reach the medals! But my legs couldn’t work more… I finished in 5th place, 3 seconds from the bronze medal. I was happy, before the start nobody had expected such a good result and people around me were as delighted as I was! Now that it is over, I remember the race in Hochfilzen as one of the best days of the whole season.
The most bizarre recollection, which I will never forget is that before the whole World Cup season (before the competitions in Östersund) I cut part of my shooting finger and up until Hochfilzen I had stitches in my finger and I almost had no feeling in it.

You had an amazing season in 2015/16. Did you change anything before the season? Why do you think you did so well?

That’s true. In fact, I took part in all the World Cup starts and my overall result was 31st place. But I think the main reason is that it was my third season in biathlon. In the first two years, I had to learn everything from the beginning so I believe that I have made good use of all my training. However, I am still not as good a shooter as those who started with shooting when they were young. My greatest weakness is still in shooting and I think that further improvements won’t come so fast as during the first two years. Every race in season 15/16 was a new experience, I met new people and I saw new places. The winter season ran away so fast and I can’t wait for the new season to start now.

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

We had some hard summer training camps with our team, the first part of summer in the Czech Republic and in August, we were in France in Prémanon. I have focused on my shooting. However, my weakness of unbalanced shooting, which appeared during the winter season, is probably in my head so I also try to solve this problem with my psyche. But this is “a long distance run”… I am really looking forward to winter preparation before the season because it will be a bit closer to the first competitions. I hope that snow conditions will be good and final training is going to start well.

What are your goals for this season?

I would be happy to reach at least the same result as last year and to gain some World Cup points. I am not overambitious, but rather quite pessimistic, and I accept the situation as it is. The World Championship is in my favourite place, Hochfilzen, so I hope that I can achieve some good results there.

Are you excited to compete in Nove Mesto this season?

I have to admit that the shooting range in Nove Mesto is not my favourite one (it is quite windy), but on the other hand I like the tracks there. I hope that the upcoming winter will be severe and freezing and Nove Mesto will have enough snow to organize an unforgettable competition. Fans in the Czech Republic are amazing and they love biathlon so I think that in Nove Mesto, there will be a great atmosphere. My grandma and parents who will cheer me on the track are surely more excited than I am.

Gabriela won the Overall last season. What is she like as a teammate? Does she give you advice? Do you feel some pressure to be really successful like her?

We work as a team together and share advice. Gabi has more work in the background of the sport – with sponsors etc. and in this way she loses a lot of energy necessary for training. It is in the background of all successful sportsmen lives, but everybody has to set their own limits. I don’t feel any pressure, I want to work on my own, and we will see how it goes.

Do you have a favourite biathlon race (sprint, pursuit, etc.)? Which is it and why?

I really like the Sprint because there are only two shootings. You know, when the race has four shootings, there is a bigger probability to spoil it – in my case. But I also got some good results in the Pursuit. It is a contact race which requires tactics and I really enjoy fighting face to face on the track.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

I’ve never had any sport idol. I think that it isn’t necessary to have some “model” and to do exactly the same things as him/her. Everybody is a unique personality and they should do what they think is the best for them.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, it doesn’t. Sometimes when I shoot bad I call it by some swear words…

Describe yourself in three words.
 
Dutiful, intelligent, pessimistic, home loving, nature lover…

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Ondřej Moravec – he has the Czech lion as the national emblem
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Austria
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: every odd number
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: All of the Norwegian men’s team.
Best thing about being a biathlete: When you are the owner of a rifle, others can think that you could kill them!

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Ondřej: We want More-avec!

moravec

The Czech Republic are having a great time in biathlon at the moment. Not only are the team doing fantastically well but the crowds that went to watch the races in Nove Mesto last season were huge. The two things are probably related as the better the team does the more people want to watch but there has been a very big increase in interest there.

One of the reasons for the success of the team is Ondřej Moravec. Over the last few seasons he has made some amazing progress that has turned him into a medal winner. Born in Ústí nad Orlicí on the 9th of June 1984 he made his debut on the World Cup back in Season 2005/06. He has taken part in 3 Olympic Games and 6 World Championships.

His first and only win to date on the World Cup came in Oslo Holmenkollen in 2013 when he took victory in the Mass Start. He has finished on the podium many times but probably the most significant of these was in Sochi. He won silver at the 2014 Olympic Games in the Pursuit coming from a start position of 8th. That wasn’t enough for Ondřej however as he also finished third in the Mass Start to take bronze and then won another bronze in the Mixed Relay alongside Jaroslav Soukup, Veronika Vítková and Gabriela Soukalová.

That was just the beginning of his personal medal haul however as at the World Championships in Kontiolahti he added more to his collection. He won the silver medal in the Mass Start and also bronze in the Individual after helping the Czech Mixed Relay team to gold.

Season 2014/15 was also his best ever on the World Cup. He finished 6th in the Total Score improving from 14th the season before. As well as looking to win more medals at this year’s World Championships in Oslo, Ondřej will be trying to get some more wins on the World Cup. As his only win so far came in Holmenkollen his bid to win more medals there could turn out to be a good one.

On the World Cup however he needs to continue the consistency that got him such a good place on the Total Score. We know he is capable of excellent results but he has to put them together more often. If his form from last season continues it could be another good year for the Czech Team and for him. Ondřej, we want More-avec!

You can like Ondřej’s Facebook Page: Ondřej Moravec (Sportsperson)

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Veronika Vikt-ory!

vitkova

Fresh from her best ever season on the Biathlon World Cup and winning a silver medal at the Sochi Olympics Veronika Vítková is making a name for herself in the world of biathlon. Born on the 9th of December 1988 in Vrchlabí she is part of a golden era for Czech biathlon.

With teammates Ondřej Moravec, Jaroslav Soukup and Gabriela Soukalová she won silver in the Mixed Relay in Sochi to add to the bronze medal from her home World Championships in Nove Mesto in the same event. In total Czech biathletes brought home 5 medals from the Olympics in biathlon which is an amazing total for a small country up against the likes of Russia, Germany, France and Norway.

Veronika enjoyed a very successful Youth/Junior career so it shouldn’t be a surprise that she is doing so well now. She took her first gold back in 2006 winning the Individual in Presque Isle in the Youth World Championships before claiming silver 2 years later in 2008 in Ruhpolding in the World Junior Pursuit. In 2009 she won gold in the relay before going on to finish 5th in the Senior World Championships in the Pyeongchang Individual event in the same year.

She has also been quite successful on the World Cup. Her best ever result is second place which she has now achieved twice. The first time in season 2012/13 in the Oberhof Pursuit and then again last season in the Sprint race in Hochfilzen. She also finished on the podium in Ruhpolding in the Individual to take her tally to six TOP 10 finishes for the season. She came twice in the TOP 10 in Sochi, 6th in the Individual and 8th in the Mass Start, to cap off an excellent season.

All these great results meant that Veronika ended the season on 9th place in the Total Score. This was mainly down to her finishing 7th in both the Sprint and Pursuit standings and meant that she improved her Overall position from 16th the previous year to 9th.

With a new season coming up Veronika will be keen to get an excellent summer of training behind her and to improve on last season’s fantastic performances. A big target will be the World Championships in Kontiolahti where the Czech Mixed Relay team have a great chance of taking a medal if not the gold. She will also be looking to grab some individual glory there to emulate the results of her teammates from Sochi. Something she will be very eager to achieve is a first ever win on the World Cup. She has the ability to do it and she just needs to put everything together on the day and with a bit of luck she will be celebrating a Veronika Vikt-ory!

Follow Veronika on Twitter: @Verca_Vitkova
Like her Facebook page: Veronika Vítková
Check out her website: http://www.veronikavitkova.cz/

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Is it a bird?Is it a plane?No,it’s Michal Šlesingr!!!

slesingr

If you look up an see something hurtling towards you out of the sky it’s probably this guy!Full time adrenaline junkie,skydiver,and biathlete Michal Šlesingr is one of the Czech Republic’s best known winter sports stars. Born on the 3rd of February 1983 in Ústí nad Orlicí he started training in biathlon at the age of ten. He graduated in 2004 by which time he had already won medals at Junior World and European level.

He has taken part in the World Cup since 2002/03 where he finished 78th overall in his first season and his highest overall position came in the 2010/11 season where he finished 9th. His only World Cup victory came in 2007 in Holmenkollen in the Mass Start and is one of eight podium finishes in his career so far. He enjoyed a successful World Championships in Antholz, Italy in 2007 winning a silver medal in the 10 km Sprint and bronze medal in the 20 km Individual. He didn’t have the best individual performances at his home World Championships in Nove Mesto. The mixed relay team won bronze but unfortunately he wasn’t in it.

This season has been disrupted by illness for Michal. He got the flu and then a bacterial infection which meant he only just came back to the World Cup in Oberhof.It was a great return though as he took 12th place in the Sprint, 5th in the Pursuit and 19th in the Mass Start. Some training in Pokljuka and Obertilliach probably helped with the first 2 results and lack of competition would account for the third. Coming back to race 3 hard races in 3 days is not easy for anyone let alone someone who is just back from illness.

As a baby Michal was described as “a little hyperactive”. A huge understatement if ever there was one! He has continued this hyperactivity into adulthood and includes among his many passions skydiving, scuba diving, climbing, white water kayaking and base jumping. Some quiet little sports there to fill in the time when he isn’t doing biathlon or looking after his daughter! In fact I think biathlon may be a bit tame and boring for Mr.Šlesingr.

What he needs to do is start a bit of extreme biathlon! Skydive out of a plane, land on the top of a ski slope, ski down to a river, kayak down over the rapids, get out at the biathlon track,hit the targets and head for the finish line!!! That would liven up his weekend a bit! Actually biathlonworld tv missed a trick not using him as a stuntman in their “Bond adventure”. Remember that scene from “The Spy Who Loved Me” when Bond skies of the cliff and parachutes down. See the clip here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvv2lv2s_gM
Michal could have done that easily! He might have used a Czech flag though!

So after his biathlon career he has plenty of things to keep him busy but we are a long way from that I hope. With another Olympics coming up Michal will be hoping the Czech team can reproduce their form from Nove Mesto and hopefully he will be able to beat his best Olympic performance of 16th in the Mass Start in Vancouver and 6th and 7th place in the relays. Having missed the start of the season he may be fresher than the others and has a good shot at an individual medal in one of the events at least. I really hope he can do it but he always has his adrenaline fuelled sports to keep him busy. So next time you see something in the sky and it’s not a bird or a plane,it’s probably Michal Šlesingr!!!

You can like Michal’s Facebook page or get more info on him from his website in Czech and English:

http://www.slesingr.com

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HO HO HOchfilzen!

hochfilzen

It’s close enough to Christmas to get away with that title,right? Well either way we got a few pre-Christmas treats from the biathletes this weekend in Hochfilzen. It all kicked off with the women in the Sprint which saw Selina Gasparin taking her and Swizerland’s first win on the World Cup with a great skiing and shooting performance. Some great shooting also saw Veronika Vitkova match her best result so far in second and Irina Starykh taking her top result finishing third. I was especially pleased about Irina Starykh as she just happened to be wearing bib 23!

It was followed by the men and Lars Berger stormed back onto the World Cup by winning the Sprint with an amazing skiing performance after starting out on the IBU Cup.He managed to beat Martin Fourcade into second and a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into third. It’s great to see Berger doing well again for his fun personality if nothing else. I would also like someone to check Bjoerndalen’s birth certificate to make sure he really will be 40 next month.I don’t know how he does it! Whatever his parents fed him when he was young I want some of it!

On Saturday we had the first men’s and women’s relays of the season. The Ukrainian women’s team put in a stellar performance to win. All of their athletes did a great job but Julia Dzhyma stands out for her overall performance over the weekend. They were followed by Germany and France but Norway were noticeably absent from the podium. Over on the men’s side however the Norwegian men won with a dominant display and a characteristically great last leg from Svendsen. Sweden took a great second place with Bergman striking like a cobra into the stadium to fight off the Russian charge and leave them in third.

On to Sunday and the Pursuit. A great race from Solemdal gave her a second victory in Hochfilzen and made up for another difficult day on the shooting range for Tora Berger. Dzhyma took a fantastic second place thanks to some great shooting and Poland’s Palka made up 8 places to finish third. Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade won the men’s race followed by Svendsen and Boe. Just a little tip for the Norwegians you can’t give Fourcade a 40 second lead in a Pursuit if you want a chance of winning it! Having said that both the Norwegian guys have stepped up a gear from Oestersund and it’s just a pity they won’t be competing in France this coming weekend.

For the home crowd Cristoph Sumann gave them something to cheer about getting 5th in the Sprint and 7th in the Pursuit. They got 4th in the men’s relay too but unfortunately Simon Eder couldn’t carry on his form from last week in Oestersund and Dominik Landertinger didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped at home. The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews.

Standouts for me from Hochfilzen have to be Simon Schempp and the German team in general. Schempp finished 8th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the relay. Daniel Boehm and Arnd Peiffer got 2 TOP 20 finishes and the women were second in the relay. Julia Dhzyma as I mentioned before had a good weekend all round finishing first in the relay, second in the Pursuit and fifth in the Sprint. The big movers in the Pursuit were Alexis Boeuf and Benjamin (Darth) Weger gaining 20 and 34 places respectively and the Semerenko twins and Gabriela Soukalova(Bib23) who started 22,23 and 24 and finished 7,8,9.

So after HO HO Hochfilzen now all thoughts turn to France and a first visit to Annecy. None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy!

P.S Has anyone else noticed the interviewer in the IBU official Press Conference always asks a question with the word “surprise” in it. I can’t watch them properly because it makes me laugh everytime I hear it! Listen out for it in Annecy!

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The Swede Smell of Success!

oestersund

Well that’s Oestersund over for another year. A disrupted calendar due to high winds but pretty interesting all the same. It began what feels like about 10 years ago with the mixed relay. The Czech Republic won with a very solid performance from all 4 athletes and with a little help from Martin Fourcade who proved he is in fact human and not just a lean, mean, biathlon machine.

He soon put all that behind him though by winning the Individual by over 2 minutes with an “in your face doubters” kind of display. What’s most remarkable about this guy is that after a disaster in the relay and 4 days to sit and dwell on it he comes out and shoots clear. His mental strength is unbelievable and you can’t help but be impressed by the way he handled the situation. We know his physical ability but to have that mental toughness is why he will be so hard to beat this season. Many people would have crumbled after the relay but he comes out even stronger and wins the Sprint too just for good measure. Four-midable!

On the women’s side Tora Berger didn’t get off to a great start either. She also had a bit of a shocker in the relay. Like Fourcade she worked her way back on to the podium finishing 3rd in the Sprint.Elsewhere Gabriela Soukalova started where she finished last season with an impressive performance in the Individual and Ann Kristin Flatland had a great race to win the Sprint. It was great to see Marie-Laure Brunet get the podium that her amazing shooting deserves and Olga Zaitseva making it in there too after a rocky start for Team Russia. Slovakia also earned a podium through Kuzmina.

Special mentions have to go to the French men’s team especially Jean-Guillame Beatrix for his 4th place in the Sprint and Baptiste Jouty for an amazing 13th place in the same race.In fact the French men had 5 finishers in the TOP 40. Also to Fredrik Lindstrom for restoring some home pride in a tough meet for the Swedes. What might have been if he hadn’t fallen we will never know but I like to think he would have won. Tim Burke also hit some early season form in the Sprint and his fellow North American JP Le Guellec proved that he must really like Oestersund by getting a 4th place in the Individual to follow his Sprint win last year. The Austrian men also performed very well in the Individual with Eder in second, and Mesotitsch in third after competing in Idre in the IBU Cup.

The Italians also had some great results from both the men and women. Oberhofer and Weirer both finished in the TOP 10 -a first for Italy and Hofer and De Lorenzi repeated the feat for the men. Kadri Lehtla was the only woman to shoot clear in the Individual and earned her a career best 15th place. Andorra’s Laurie Soulie was also having the race of her life in that event right up until the final shoot.If she hadn’t missed 3 targets she could have made the TOP 5.

On the other hand it was a bit of a disappointing weekend for the big guns from Norway and Russia especially on the men’s side with no podiums for either team.If you are a fan of theirs though you shouldn’t worry too much. I think they both have a master plan that involves peaking in time for the Olympics and if last season’s World Championships are anything to go by the Norwegians at least will be bang on form for Sochi.

It was unfortunate that both the Pursuits were cancelled. It seems my powers of weather forecasting are brilliant as I did predict a hurricane in my last post! Not to worry though the fun starts again in Hochfilzen on Friday. Fourcade, Soukalova, Flatland and the Czech relay team leave Oestersund with the Swede smell of success but can they repeat it in Austria? You’ll have to wait and see!

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Soukalová: Sing when you’re winning!

soukalova

Singing sensation and biathlete, Gabriela Soukalová proved what a great competitor she is and the excellent progress she is making in her career by winning all 3 events on the final stop of the World Cup last season. Taking top spot in the Sprint, Pursuit and Mass Start in Khanty-Mansiysk really put Soukalová in the spotlight for next year’s World Cup and Olympic Games.

Her results earlier in the season were an indicator of what was to come. Three podiums in Pokljuka, a win in the Sprint, 2nd in the Pursuit and a 3rd in the Mass Start, mean that when she is on form there is no stopping her. It also means these must be her 3 favourite events!

Gabriela Soukalová was born on the 1st of November 1989 in Jablonec in the Czech Republic. She started to compete in biathlon in 2005. She topped of a great season last year by helping the home nation to a mixed relay bronze medal in Nove Mesto at the World Championships. Having recovered from illness last summer and again around Christmas it is not surprising that her best form came towards the end of the season.

She is becoming increasingly known for her singing as well as biathlon. She provided the soundtrack for biathlonworld TV’s ‘The Spy Who Loved Biathlon’ with her version of ‘For Your Eyes Only’. She has also sung at press conferences –‘summertime’ being one example from last year. She also performed at the Closing Ceremony in Nove Mesto with her version of No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’. A video also exists of her wandering through a forest singing ‘Scarborough Fair’.

A beautiful girl with a beautiful voice but what can we expect of her on the World Cup this season and for the Sochi Games? If she can produce the same form she showed in Pokljuka and Khanty she is a serious contender for a medal in one or more of the individual events. As football fans often say ‘you only sing when you’re winning’ I get the feeling we will be hearing many more songs from Gabriela both next year and well into the future.

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