Tag Archives: Dorothea Wierer

Oestersund 2019: The Individuals!

Mon Dieu, Zut alors, tres bien, restaurant and other French words!!! What a race in the Oestersund Individual for the French Men’s team! They took the top four places in one race which hasn’t been done since 2009.

Leading them was Martin Fourcade who took his first win of the season shooting 19/20. He looks in much better shape than last year thank goodness! Second place went to Simon Desthieux who also shot 19/20 but was 12.7 seconds behind Fourcade. Skiing like the wind in third was Quentin Fillon Maillet who missed 3 targets!

Fourth went to Emilien Jacquelin which is also his personal best with 2 misses. In fact 5 of the the top 7 were French with Fabien Claude coming home in 7th place with 18/20. We won’t mention the 6th member of the team though! We will mention the wax team however who prepared some excellent skis which worked really well in warming conditions.

Benjamin Weger had an excellent race in 5th and Tarjei Boe was 6th. Johannes Boe looked tired today but still finished 10th shooting 18/20. I hope he hasn’t got what Martin had last season!

There were only two men who shot clean and they were Anton Babikov in 14th and Krasimir Anev in 15th. China’s Fangmeng Cheng got a huge personal best in 22nd improving by around 60 places!!! I wonder if it has anything to do with his new coach! 😉

Jakub Stvrtecky was 32nd getting a personal best with 3 misses. Junior Champion Alex Cisar from Slovenia made his World Cup debut at 19 years old and was 92nd.

Unluckily for me I used up all my french words for the men but I should have saved some as the Women’s Individual also went to France. Justine Braisaz who had an awful sprint race on Sunday was fantastic missing 2 shots but still winning by just over 11 seconds. She came from nowhere to take her second World Cup win.

The only woman in the whole field to shoot 20/20 was Yuliia Dzhima and it was good enough for second place. Julia Simon got another podium for France and a personal best for herself in third with 2 misses.

Ingrid Tandrevold was 4th, Larisa Kuklina 5th with her personal best and Lena Haecki was 6th despite 3 misses.

Dorothea Wierer finished 7th, two places ahead of teammate and rival Lisa Vittozzi who was 9th.

There were also personal bests for Tamara Voronina in 14th, Grete Gaim in 27th and Anastassiya Kondratyeva in 34th.

Next races in Oestersund are the men’s relay on Saturday and the women’s relay on Sunday. Man the Swedes must really love a relay as they are getting 4 this week! 🙂


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Season Preview 2019/20: The Women!

The women’s World Cup is the best, isn’t it?! Year after year it has been producing the best racing and the closest title fights of any sport around. The last two seasons have both gone down to the final races and this season could well be the same.

Maybe the fact that it is so tough is why our ladies keep retiring! This year we will be without Anastasiya Kuzmina and Laura Dahlmeier who leave a big gap in the field. Luckily there are plenty of people to fill it!

Last year it was Dorothea Wierer who came out on top of an epic battle with fellow Italian Liza Vittozzi. Vittozzi faded at the end of last season but that experience will have made her stronger and more dangerous this time around. This season seems to be on course for another Italian head to head but for one thing – the World Championships! They are being held in Antholz and of course both women would dearly love to do well there. It could take their focus off the big crystal globe and on to home gold medals.

Looking to take advantage of this will be Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Since adding a new surname she has gone from strength to strength having the best season of her career last year. She finished in fourth place but only 69 points behind the winner.

Hanna Oberg and Paulina Fialkova were fifth and sixth and will also be hoping to move up the ranking although they lack the consistency of the Italians for now. A good season for Fialkova would be taking her first World Cup win.

Obviously we have to mention Kaisa Makarainen. A three time champion she has the experience and the skiing ability to win the overall once more but she wasn’t at her best last season finishing seventh. Denise Herrmann is the surprise package. We knew she could ski fast but she has picked up the shooting very quickly and is a fierce competitor. Whether she can put it together over the course of an entire season remains to be seen.

There is a lot of talent in the women’s side just now so here are some biathletes to look out for as potential first time race winners or podium finishers.

Ingrid Tandrevold got two second places last season including a silver medal at the World Championships so could this be the year she makes it into first place? Monika Hojnisz’s best finish is a second place and she also came 4th twice so could she improve to get her first taste of victory? She married in the summer and is now Monika Hojnisz-Starega so maybe she can emulate Marte Olsbu by having extra surname success! Clare Egan had the season of her life last year getting her first podium finish in the Mass Start in Oslo and three top ten finishes in total. Hopefully she can make it to the top of the podium this year.

Looking to get on any step of the podium this season will be Mona Brorsson. She was so close to winning a gold medal in Oestersund at the World Championships and hopefully she now knows it is possible if she executes a race perfectly. Celia Aymonier was close to a first podium last season coming 4th in the Oslo Sprint. She has a home World Cup in Annecy to look forward too and it would be a great place to break into the top three. Lena Haecki achieved two fifth place finished last season so she is not far from claiming a podium either.

However as we know with the Women’s World Cup anything could happen and anyone could win or get a podium! That’s why it is so exciting.

The ladies start the season on the 1st of December with the Sprint race in Oestersund. The World Cup opens on the 30th of November with the single and mixed relays.

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Nicole Gontier: The Interview!

Nicole Gontier is an Italian biathlete from the Aosta Valley. The 27-year-old made her World Cup debut in 2012 and achieved her personal best result in 2015 when she finished third in the Oberhof Sprint. She has 2 bronze medals from the World Championships in 2013 and 2015 as a member of the Women’s relay team. She has represented Italy twice at the Olympics in Sochi and PyeongChang.

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Why did you become a biathlete?

I started to do biathlon thanks to my father and my grandfather who were in charge of the Aosta valley biathlon and also thanks to the atmosphere and training of the coaches of Aosta valley biathlon.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season I was happy about my shape on skis, I had good feelings but I have to improve my shooting on the range.

The World Championships are in Antholz! How excited are you about that?

I’m really happy that the World Championships will be in Antholz. I really like there and I hope that it will be sunny and it will be perfect. The Italian ambience is the best.

The Italian women have a really strong team at the moment. What are your expectations for the World Championships in particular the women’s relay?

Yes the Italian women are really strong but for the moment I expect nothing. I prefer to concentrate on training and then I will see my shape with the first races!

What have you been doing for summer training?

In summer we train on the shooting range and with the roller ski,running,hiking and with the bike.

What are your goals for this season on the World Cup?

Like I said before I don’t have any goals. My goal is to improve myself and I work for this, then I will see in winter where I am.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is that my head is really hard to break so I continue to work hard also in the worst moments because I love what I do. My weakness is that I don’t really trust in me! I will have to trust more in my abilities.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read, to study, to knit and to stay with my dog! The best is to stay on the sofa with him watching the TV. I like to travel in Italy and to discover new little places and eat the special dish and drink the local wine.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I really like Antholz, it is a hard track but I had good feelings with it.

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

I really respect Martin Fourcade, he always has the situation under control and he does what he wants. I like so much Doro(Wierer) and Lisa (Vittozzi)! They are really strong.

Does your rifle have a name?

Ahah.. no for the moment no, we have a relationship of love and hate.

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling,stubborn,sweet.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): French
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Lukas Hofer – last year’s rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy’s suits of last year’s Championship
Lucky bib number: Mmm… I don’t have one.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade (but he stopped).
Best thing about being a biathlete: We never get bored!

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Spring Things 2019!

It’s summer! Not a biathlon fans favourite season is it? But it means there is only autumn between now and winter! Before the biathlon23 summer season of interviews starts it’s time to remind you what things happened in spring. That’s right -it’s Spring Things!!!

Retirements:

Well we all got a shock in May when Laura Dahlmeier announced her retirement at the age of 25! (How dare she!!) It was pretty well known that she wouldn’t be a Bjoerndalen and carry on forever but we thought we could get another Olympics out of her at least! Gabriela Koukalova who hasn’t raced for 2 seasons confirmed that she won’t be coming back and so is another biathlon pensioner!

Other retirements in spring included Henrik L’Abee Lund who joins Bjoerndalen and Svendsen in putting his feet up on the Norwegian sofa. Canada’s Erin Yungblut also ended her career as did Finland’s Laura Toivanen.

Relationships:

It was a spring of weddings this year with Eva Puskarcikova tying the knot. Russian pair Nikita Porshnev and Anastasiia Morozova also got married to each other. Monika Hojnisz married another Polish nordic star cross-country skier Maciej Starega.

Anais Chevalier will miss the season after she announced that she is pregnant with her first child. Congratulations to all of them!

In tragic news young Russian biathlete Artemii Khasankaev passed away.

Coaching carousel:

As usual we had the annual swapping of biathlon coaches. Sometimes I think they just put all the names in a hat and then the countries pick them out like a raffle!

Michael Greis left the US men’s team and is now coaching the Polish women’s team after Nadiya Bilova stepped down for health reasons. Norwegian Vegard Bitnes takes over the US men’s team.

Also in North America Mathias Ahrens is no longer coaching the Canadian national team but will coach for Biathlon Alberta.

Wolfgang Pichler retired from Sweden and was replaced by Anders Byström who will be the National Team Manager and Johannes Lukas who takes over the position of National Team Coach.

Russia have added another coach with the appointment of Maxim Maksimov as assistant to the head coach.

Simon Fourcade is the new coach of the French Junior team.

And if you have followed all that you deserve a medal! Not an Olympic one of course maybe just a bronze from a World Cup round! 😉

Injuries:

The bike strikes again this time with Erik Lesser falling off and breaking his collarbone. Vetle Christiansen had surgery to correct an issue with his left knee. Anna Magnusson also had an operation on a ligament in her left hand. Tiril Eckhoff had a rollerski accident ending with an enormous lump on her hip.

Other things of spring:

Martin Fourcade announced that he will be hosting a nordic festival over the weekend of the 31st of August in Annecy. He has ingeniously called it the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival! How did he come up with that! 😉
Most of the big stars in biathlon will be there including Johannes Boe! Imagine if he beats Fourcade in his own competition!!!

Kaisa Makarainen, Liza Vittozzi and Dorothea Wierer will be competing along with many of the French biathletes amongst others.

We also had the excitement of the Giro d’Italia finishing a stage in the Antholz biathlon arena watched on by all the Italian biathletes. It was nice to see but we don’t really want to encourage other sports that are not as good as biathlon, do we!

Dorothea Wierer also put in an appearance at the Moto GP race in Mugello getting a photo with some guy called Marquez. Better still she also got a photo with Herbert Cool the former Dutch biathlete and now biathlon commentator who is moonlighting at the Moto GP in the summer!

The IBU announced a few changes with prize money now being awarded to the top 20 finishers instead of the top 15. Why stop there? Shouldn’t it be the Top 40 – if you get a point, you get a prize!

They have also introduced a “season opening” to open the 2020/21 season in Kontiolahti. (They get their naming ideas from Martin Fourcade!) I think this is basically just an extra World Cup round that they can’t call World Cup 1 as Oestersund was already given the title!

The IBU also held a gender equality conference in Poland which is an excellent initiative. Biathlon is one of the most gender equal sports when it comes to the athletes but has a long way to go with a lack of female coaches and women in leadership positions.

Last but certainly not least the IPC have announced that Para-biathlon will have it’s own World Championship this season for the first time! They will take place in Oestersund from the 11th to 15th March 2020 without a cross-country skier in sight!!!
(Up until now cross-country and biathlon have had combined World Championships.)

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Season Review 2018/19: The Women!

WOW! What a year we had on the women’s World Cup! We had 12 different winners, 6 brand new winners and an amazing battle between Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi which kept us hooked all season. For the second year in row the title was won in the very last race of the season!

In the end it was Dorothea Wierer who won the Overall Title but it was far from easy! She finished the season with 904 points. Vittozzi was second with 882 points and Anastasiya Kuzmina was third with 870 points.

The season began in Pokljuka with the Individual and Yuliia Dzhima got the season rolling with her first win on the World Cup. Last year’s champion Kaisa Makarainen looked really good at the opening round winning the following two races; the sprint and pursuit.

Wierer got her fantastic season underway with her first win of the new campaign in the Hochfilzen sprint. Makarainen took the pursuit and was at the top of the standings.

However in Nove Mesto Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, got her first World Cup win in the sprint and then her second in the pursuit. It would be the foundation for her best ever season. Anastasiya Kuzmina won the mass start.

In Oberhof we got another first time winner and this time it was Lisa Vittozzi who did the sprint and pursuit double. She had been in and around the top 5 all season up until then when she finally made her big breakthrough and was well on her way to a shot at the big crystal globe.

Ruhpolding was the venue for Kuzmina’s second win of the season in the sprint. Home favourite Franziska Preuss won the mass start taking her first gold medal on the World Cup.

Antholz was next up and there was yet another debut World Cup victory this time from Marketa Davidova in the sprint. Wierer took her second win at home in the pursuit.

Canmore saw races cancelled but Tiril Eckhoff managed to win the shortened individual race. In Soldier Hollow Roeiseland took her third win of the season in the sprint throwing her into the mix for the yellow bib with the two Italians. Denise Herrmann got her third career victory in the pursuit.

The World Championships in Oestersund gave us four different winners in the four individual competitions and all debut winners of a World title! The sprint went to Anastasiya Kuzmina despite being unwell. Denise Herrmann won the pursuit, Hanna Oberg won the individual on home soil and Dorothea Wierer took the mass start.

Everything came down to Holmenkollen. There were still 3 women in serious contention to win the big crystal globe; Wierer and Vittozzi, who started the round on equal points, and Kuzmina. In the sprint it was Anastasiya Kuzmina who came out all guns blazing to take the win.

Lisa Vittozzi had a terrible race failing to score any points and she didn’t qualify for the pursuit either. Wierer took the overall lead after finishing 11th. Kuzmina also won the pursuit while Wierer was 12th so everything went down to the mass start.

All three women struggled after a long hard season. It was Hanna Oberg who won the race taking her first win on the World Cup. Kuzmina was 10th, Vittozzi 11th and Wierer 12th and that meant the overall title belonged to Wierer and the big crystal globe was on it’s way to Italy for the first time!

The small globes were shared around with Vittozzi taking the individual title, Kuzmina winning the sprint, Wierer the pursuit and Oberg the mass start.

Rookie of the season was Evgeniya Pavlova.

Relays
The women’s relays were much like the rest of the women’s season with four different winners in the first four races. Italy won in Hochfilzen, Russia in Oberhof, France in Ruhpolding and Germany in Canmore. However at World Championships it was Norway who came out on top with a team of Synnoeve Solemdal, Ingrid Tandrevold, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Roeiseland.

There were only two single mixed relays on the World Cup which France won in Pokljuka, and Italy in Soldier Hollow. The first ever World title in the event went to Norway with a team of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Johannes Boe.

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Holmenkollen 2019: The Mass Starts!

It wasn’t really the epic battle we hoped for between Dorothea Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi and Anastasiya Kuzmina to decide the winner of the overall title in the mass start. All three looked physically and mentally drained after a tough season. They finished with Kuzmina in 10th missing 6 targets, Vittozzi in 11th missing 5 and Wierer in 12th also missing 5!

It was more than enough though for Wierer to claim her and Italy’s first ever big crystal globe in the women’s event. It was very well deserved by Wierer as she has been in the fight from the start fighting with Kaisa Makarainen in the earlier part of the season, then against Vittozzi and then finally Kuzmina.

Back to the race and it was close after the first prone with Hanna Oberg, Dorothea Wierer, Paulina Fialkova, Kaisa Makarainen, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Tiril Eckhoff all shooting clean and getting themselves a small lead over the others.

At the second prone it was again Oberg who led out of the shooting range hit 5/5. The leading group was halved however with just Eckhoff and Fialkova matching Oberg with no misses.

The three arrived at the first standing and all three missed! Oberg and Fialkova missed 1, Eckhoff missed 2. That gave the chasers a chance to close the gap and that’s just what Clare Egan with 15/15 and Denise Herrmann with
13/15 did.

At the final stand Oberg missed one again but so did her rivals Egan and Eckhoff. Herrmann missed 2 and Fialkova 3. That left Oberg out in front but being pursued by Eckhoff and Egan. Egan caught and passed Eckhoff but possibly used too much energy doing so and the Norwegian repassed her and even had a go a catching Oberg for the win but she ran out of track.

It was Oberg’s first win on the World Cup and also saw her win the mass start crystal globe. It was a personal best and first ever podium for Egan in third.

Herrmann was 4th, Lisa Hauser 5th and Fialkova 6th.

Evgeniya Pavlova was crowned rookie of the year.

Who wins 16 races in one season? Johannes Thingnes Boe that’s who! What an unbelievable season it has been for the Norwegian and he capped it off with a hattrick of wins at home and shooting 20/20 in the mass start to secure the small crystal globe. He made a clean sweep of all the globes this year and he has been outstanding. Unlike his celebratory viking helmet!!! Not only historically inaccurate but not very well fitting either! 😉

In the race itself it was Antonin Guigonnat who took the lead after the first prone but he was followed very closely by Julian Eberhard, Vetle Christainsen, Boe, Sebastian Samuelsson and Arnd Peiffer.

At the second prone it was Christiansen who took on the lead with Boe, Peiffer, Phillip Nawrath and Fabien Claude behind him after they all shot 5/5.

Christiansen missed 2 on the first standing but Boe, Peiffer and Nawrath cleaned as did Bendikt Doll who was making up ground fast after an early mistake.

It was Boe who pulled out a lead before the 4th and final shoot of the season. He seems to have solved all his standing issues and cleaned and cruised off to victory. On the range Peiffer cleaned also hitting 20/20 to take second place. Christiansen made no mistakes this time leaving in third. Doll had 1 miss but came off the penalty loop right behind the Norwegian.

Christiansen couldn’t hold off the charging Doll however and he was passed on the tracks. Doll took the last place on the podium and Julian Eberhard came back to take 4th with Christiansen having to settle for 5th. Lukas Hofer took 6th but he and Simon Desthieux got tangled up on the small hill before the finishing straight and both fell. It was the Italian who recovered fastest to take the final flowers of the season!

Fabien Claude got his personal best in 12th and Lucas Fratzscher pushed his up to 13th.

Johannes Dale won rookie of the season.

And just like that the season was finished! It has been a historic and memorable one but more about that in my season reviews and there is the small matter of some awards to hand out too! 🙂

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Holmenkollen 2019: The Pursuits!

Well, well, well someone knows how to finish their career in style! Anastasiya Kuzmina was untouchable in the pursuit making it look easy!!! What a performance! She shot 20/20 and won the race by 1 minute and 42 seconds. She has one race left, the mass start, and who would bet against her winning that one too.

Luckily we had a bit of action behind Kuzmina. It was Franziska Pruess and Celia Aymonier who were chasing her after the first prone but teammate Paulina Fialkova missed 2 to put her out of the running.

However on the second prone both Preuss and Aymonier missed and so it was left to the Swedes Elisabeth Hoegberg and Linn Persson to take up the chase in second and third after going 10/10 in the prone. They were followed closely by Tiril Eckhoff, Denise Herrmann and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland.

Herrmann and Persson celaned on the first stand to take second and third. Another Swede Hanna Oberg moved into 4th just ahead of Clare Egan, Eckhoff and Hoegberg.

As usual it was shoot 4 that decided the places. Herrmann, Persson and Oberg all missed 1 while Egan and Eckhoff missed 2 and Hoegberg missed 3. Roeiseland cleaned.

In the end it was Herrmann who kept second place with Hanna Oberg third. Persson was beaten in a sprint finish by Roeiseland who took 4th but it was still a personal best for Persson in 5th. Eckhoff was 6th.

Elsewhere Kaisa Makarainen went from 32nd to 8th and Anais Bescond from 52nd to 25th. Thelka Brun-Lie got a PB in 23rd as did Janina Hettich in 32nd.

Dorothea Wierer was 12th and so won the crystal globe for the pursuit and further extended her lead in the total score.

LEGEND ALERT! History was made in the men’s race with Johannes Thingnes Boe winning his 15th race of the season! He broke the previous record of 14 for most wins in a single season. It also won him the pursuit crystal globe. Amazing!

He started the race well cleaning the first prone and looked comfortable out front. He was followed by Lukas Hofer, Bendikt Doll and big brother Tarjei. To make it exciting Johannes missed 2 in the second prone but Tarjei and Hofer cleaned and so reduced his lead significantly. Behind them came Arnd Peiffer, Vetle Christiansen and Felix Leitner.

At the first standing shoot Johannes cleaned and so did Tarjei. Leitner moved into third after hitting 15/15. At the final shoot both brothers missed 1 and went on to finish in first and second for another Boe-dium! Leitner and Peiffer cleaned.

Unfortunately Peiffer was stronger on the tracks than Leitner and he took third but it was still a personal best for the Austrian youngster in 4th. Christiansen was 5th and Hofer 6th.

Sean Doherty went from 32nd to 11th, Lucas Fratzscher went from 31st to 15th for a PB and Andrejs Rastogujevs went from 49th to 21st.

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