Tag Archives: Dzinara Alimbekava

Spring Things 2018!

Spring was depressing, wasn’t it! It started off with the raid at IBU HQ in Salzburg. The President of the IBU Anders Besseburg and the General Secretary Nicole Resch are both under investigation by the Austrian police for covering up positive doping samples from Russian biathletes. At the time of writing no charges have been brought against either party but both stepped down from their positions while the investigation is on going. Both deny any wrong doing.

Then we had all the retirements to deal with! The legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finally called it a day although I think he made the decision at rifle point as he seemed a bit reluctant to retire! We won’t get rid off him though, he will be coaching or commentating next season I am sure. 🙂

It was not a surprise when his teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen also gave up the sport. He made no secret of the fact that he would go after the Olympics. I know what you are thinking – whose hair will I admire now? Well I take a keen interest in Sebastian Samuelsson’s coiffure but actually I have found someone with even better hair than Emil! Step forward German para- biathlete Steffen Lehmker! 🙂

Jean Guillaume Beatrix has gone too. Very sad to see a biathlon23 interviewee finish their career mainly because it is not allowed! Americans Tim Burke and Lowell Bailey also hung up their rifles along with Russell Currier leaving a lot of space to fill on the men’s team. Jaroslav Soukup and Daniel Mesotitsch retired too. Florian Graf quit and in a bit of a shock so did Canada’s Macx Davies! No!

On the women’s side we said goodbye to a lot of mums! Marie Dorin Habert, Karin Oberhofer and Weronika Nowakowska all stopped racing. All three women have young children so that may have come into their decisions. Then at the end of June Darya Domracheva decided that she would also retire wanting to focus on her child too. This followed the announcement from Nadezhda Skardino at the start of June that she was ending her career thus decimating the Belarus Olympic gold medal Relay team!

Eva Tofalvi, Hilde Fenne, Coline Varcin and Olga Podchufarova also gave up biathlon. And we lost another biathlon23 interviewee in Julia Ransom. 😦

Miriam Goessner has changed sports to go to cross country skiing. Her back problems meant she had trouble carrying the rifle and her aim meant she had trouble hitting the targets! 😉 Good luck Miri!

Gabriela Koukalova will not race again this season and possibly not ever again. She seems to have fallen out of love with biathlon! How could she?!! She also has an autobiography out which has already caused a bit of controversy. Think the fame may have gone to her head a bit! 😉

In other news Mario Dolder got married and Selina Gasparin is pregnant with her second child in exciting times for the Swiss. Not with each other though just to be clear!

Jakov Fak got married too and Ondrej Moravec had a little boy called Ondrej. Again not with each other!

Nadezhda Pisareva also married Russian ski technician Andrey Shatokin. Johannes Boe will be married on the 30th of June and Marte Olsbu and Mari Laukkanen will also get married this summer. You guessed it – not to each other! 😉

My postman assures me that he didn’t lose my wedding invitations so I have no idea what has happened to them!!!

In less exciting news Simon Schempp broke his shoulder in a bike accident and Dzinara Alimbakava had surgery on her shoulder. Florent Claude had a operation for compartment syndrome in his shins and Anton Shipulin has mononucleosis.

Finally we had the coaching merry-go-round! I don’t think so many changes have been made in the Spring before! Take a deep breath, possibly grab a snack and a drink – follow this if you can!

USA:
The Americans lost both their coaches this Spring. The women’s coach Jonne Kähkönen went back to the Finnish women’s team and the men’s coach Jonas Johansson went back to Sweden as Development Coach. They were replaced by Michael Greis (Men) and Armin Auchentaller (Women). They now have Tim Burke as athlete development manager. He didn’t stay away for long, did he!!!

France:
The French team made big changes with the appointments of Vincent Vittoz, a former cross-country skier, and Patrick Favre from the Italian team taking over as the men’s coaches. Coaching the French women will be Fredric Jean and Vincent Porret.

Norway:
The coaches for the women’s team have changed. Patrick Oberegger moves from the Italian team and ex-cross country skier Sverre Kaas will take care of the skiing.

Germany:
Germany have gone for youth with their new coaches all in their 30’s. Mark Kirchner is now head of the German men and women with Gerald Honig as German national shooting coach. Kristian Mehringer is the Senior Women’s coach with Florian Steirer as his assistant. Isidor Scheurl is the new men’s assistant coach.

Poland:
Nadija Belova is the new Polish women’s head coach taking over from Tobias Torgersen.

Italy:
Andreas Zingerle is the new World Cup and Elite Team coach. He will be assisted by Andrea Zattoni while Klaus Hoellrigl and Nicola Pozzi will coach the A team. Olympic gold medallist in shooting without skiing (apparently that’s a thing!) Niccolò Campriani will be shooting coach for all the Italian biathletes.

Russia:

New RBU president Vladimir Drachev has appointed Anatoly Khovantsev as the new head coach. He will take the men’s team with Sergei Idinov assisting him. Vitaly Noritsyn is the women’s coach with assistant Sergei Bashkirov.

Czech Republic:
Norwegian Egil Gjelland is the new coach of the women’s team. The former coach of Norway’s men will be joined by Jiří Holubec and Tomáš Kašpar. Zdeněk Vitek moves from the women’s team to coach the men with another Norwegian Anders Bratli assisting him as well as Aleš Ligaun.

Austria:
The Austrian men’s team will be coached by Ricco Gross after he left his job with the Russian men’s team.

Ukraine:
Andrei Prokunin will take over as the new Women’s Coach for Ukraine. Uros Velepec will most likely return to coach Slovenia.

Switzerland:
The new women’s head coach is Austrian Sandra Flunger who happens to be Simon Eder’s cousin!

If you have made it this far I congratulate you and encourage you to consider climbing Everest – it’s a similar feat! 😉

I imagine I have forgotten some retirements, events or coaching changes but there is a lot going on!


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Season Review 2017/18: Women

Well the women have done it again! Providing some of the best racing of the season and taking the Overall Title down to the very last race! Amazing!

Victory in the end went to Kaisa Makarainen after a quite astonishing final race in Tyumen. It came down to a head to head between herself and Anastasiya Kuzmina in the Mass Start. They were together after the final shoot but Kaisa was stronger on the tracks eventually finishing 6th and taking the title by just 3 points. It is Kaisa’s third overall title and definitely the hardest!

It was also a fantastic season for Anastasiya Kuzmina. Her best ever. She won 5 World Cup races and also a gold medal in the Olympic Mass Start race. She also won the small crystal globes for the Sprint and Pursuit and was second overall on the World Cup.

Nadezhda Skardino won the Individual title taking her first crystal globe. Kaisa Makarainen won the small globe for the Mass Start to add to the big one.

Darya Domracheva finished the season in third place in the Overall after a great season winning 6 races on the World Cup. Last year’s champion Laura Dahlmeier had to settle for fourth. Dorothea Wierer finished fifth overall and young teammate Lisa Vittozzi was in sixth with 3 podium finishes to her name.

Other women who won races this season were of course Skardino, Denise Hermann, Justine Braisaz, Dorothea Wierer, Tiril Eckhoff and Vanessa Hinz.

At the Olympic Games Laura Dahlmeier won the Sprint and the Pursuit gold medals. Hanna Oberg surprised everyone with a magnificent performance to win the Individual and Kuzmina took gold in the Mass Start. The Women’s Relay went to Belarus with Domracheva, Skardino, Dzinara Alimbekava and Iryna Kryuko. The Mixed Relay gold went to the French team of Marie Dorin Habert, Anais Bescond, Simon Desthieux and Martin Fourcade.

The title of Rookie of the Year was won by Russia’s Svetlana Mironova with her highlights being a 9th place in the Hochfilzen Sprint, 18th in the Tyumen Sprint and 24th in the Tyumen Pursuit.

There were two victories each in the Relays for Germany and France but the Germans won the Relay title overall. France were second and Italy third.

The nations cup also went to the German team.

The Mixed Relay title was won by Italy with Wierer and Vittozzi in the team alongside Lukas Hofer and Dominik Windisch.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Marie Dorin Habert, Julia Ransom, Weronika Nowakowska and Hilde Fenne who have all decided to end their biathlon careers.

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PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Women’s Relay!

WOW! Just when you thought the biathlon races couldn’t get any better! The Women’s Relay was incredible! So much tension with so many ups and downs!

It started with snow! Unusual for the winter, I know! The wind was the big problem however with some horrible gusts hitting the range in different directions!

The first leg was again a good one for Italy. Lisa Vittozzi had another great start just using a single spare in the prone to hand over at the first exchange in the lead. She was followed by Susan Dunklee giving the USA a great start just needing 1 spare in the stand. Paulina Fialkova redeemed herself after a horrible Mixed Relay, when she shot on the wrong target, with just 1 spare required.

The first big casualty was Germany. Franziska Preuss went on the penalty loop after struggling terribly on the standing shoot. That left the door wide open for all the other teams.

Dorothea Wierer was on the second leg for Italy but she also had a nightmare this time in the prone incurring 2 penalty loops. At the second stand mayhem ensued! The wind was awful and caused almost everyone big problems. Kuzmina, Eckhoff, Herrmann and Vita Semerenko all ended up on the penalty loop and many others lost a lot of time shooting slowly. The best shoot however came from Dorothea Wierer! She cleaned the stand and left the range in the lead. A small biathlon miracle!

Kaisa Makarainen, with 2 spares needed, caught Wierer on the tracks and exchanged in the lead for Finland. The third leg was madness too with Poland’s Krystyna Guzik coming out on top. She did a penalty loop on the prone but used 1 spare in the stand to lead after leg three! Behind there were still many nations in the mix like Belarus, Slovakia, Switzerland and France. Germany couldn’t make up any ground with Franziska Hildebrand on the penalty loop as was Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold.

Some fantastic shooting from Nadezhda Skardino (2 spares), Iryna Kryuko (1 spare) and Dzinara Alimbekava (3 spares) had put Darya Domracheva in fourth place starting the last leg. She had Weronika Nowakowska in front of her as well as Anais Bescond and Federica Sanfilippo. Dasha cleaned the prone to take the lead while the others all needed spares.

That meant everything came down to the final shoot. With immense pressure on her Domracheva needed all three of her spares but when the last target went down the gold belonged to Belarus. Bescond came out after her but a stunning performance from Hanna Oberg hitting 10/10 left her in third.

She was able to pass the Frenchwomen to secure sliver for her teammates Linn Persson, Mona Brorsson and Anna Magnusson. The Swedes used 12 spares and the bronze medallists France with Anais Chevalier, Marie Dorin Habert, Justine Braisaz and Bescond used 14.

Norway finished 4th after a good leg from Marte Olsbu, Slovakia were fantastic in 5th and Switzerland also did really well finishing 6th.

It was a crazy race but an amazing spectacle and another great advert for biathlon. The men’s race tomorrow is the final event here in PyeongChang. Let’s hope they produce something similar!

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Annecy 2017: The Sprints!

Annecy Le Grand Bornand is great isn’t it? Probably the greatest ever World Cup venue! We should just base the whole World Cup season, all the World Championships and the Olympics there! 😉

Why do I like it so much? Well the last time we were there Selina Gasparin and Johannes Boe both got their debut wins on the World Cup in the Sprint races. Both were wearing bib 23!

On Thursday in the Women’s Sprint Anastasiya Kuzmina won the Women’s Sprint also in bib 23. Basically Annecy is my spiritual biathlon home! 🙂

It was an impressive win for Kuzmina. She is a bit of a Sprint specialist as you know but she beat the rest of the field by nearly 40 seconds. She shot clean on a kind day in the range with a small breeze and little snow.

Laura Dahlmeier got her first individual podium of the season in second also hitting 10/10. Vita Semerenko was third with another perfect shoot. It was her first return to the podium in an individual race too after the birth of her son.

Lisa Vittozzi was fourth again with no misses continuing her great early season form. Fifth went to Denise Herrmann with 1 miss and Selina Gasparin proved she likes Annecy as much as me by coming in 6th with 1 miss.

Susan Dunklee had her best race of the season in 10th after struggling in the first two World Cups. Jessica Jislova got her personal best in 24th as did Anja Erzen in 31st. Dzinara Alimbekava got her career best result in 33rd as did Thelka Brun-Lie in 38th. Home girl Chloe Chevalier finished in her best World Cup position in 57th and qualified for the Pursuit after moving up from the IBU Cup. Japan’s Sari Furuya also did well finishing in 40th and grabbing a World Cup point.

The men had similar conditions on Friday and there was a lot of good shooting which meant the race came down to the skiing. Johannes Boe (in bib24- so close!) won his 4th race of the season with fast shooting and skiing. He beat Martin Fourcade into second by 21 seconds! The Frenchman also shot clean but couldn’t match Johannes on the tracks.

Third place went to Antonin Guigonnat! He shot clear and from bib 88 swooped in and took his first ever World Cup podium. He has been on great form on the IBU Cup winning his last two races and it’s a fantastic result for him at his home race.

Simon Schempp was 4th shooting clean as did Simon Desthieux in 5th. Anton Shipulin was 6th despite 1 miss.

Frederik Gjesbakk got his best ever result on the World Cup in 7th. He has also been doing well on the IBU Cup. Timofey Lapshin gave Korea a Top Ten finish in 8th and Florent Claude got his personal best in 36th in his first individual start for Belgium.

On Saturday we have both Pursuit races which should be a lot of fun especially if the conditions get tougher!

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Summer World Championships!

The Nut Cracker, Swan Lake…wait a minute….sorry, sorry wrong Tchiakovsky!

It’s the Russian town of Chaykovskiy that we are interested in as the biathlon Summer World Championships took place there over the weekend of the 25th to the 27th of August. There were 26 nations putting on their roller skis including biathletes from Greenland, Uzbekistan and Mongolia.

The Mixed Relays for the Juniors and Seniors took place on Friday followed by the Sprint races on Saturday and the Pursuits on Sunday.

The Russians dominated the Relays winning both the Junior and Senior titles. The Junior team did it the hard way with Kristina Reztsova doing two penalty loops and Valeriia Vasnetcova also doing one. The men fared better with Nikita Porschnev needing 3 spares and Igor Malinovskii using 5 to win the race by 57.9 seconds.

It was decided on ski speed as Russia with 3 penalty loops won the gold from the Ukraine who only used 6 spares in total! Khrystyna Dmytrenko used 2 on the first leg, Anna Kryvonos shot clean on her leg and the men, Vitaliy Trush and Taras Lesiuk needed two spares each. They finished well ahead of Belarus in third with a team of Anastasiya Anifryieva, Dzinara Alimbekova, Ihor Karpiuk and Anton Smolski incurring 2 penalty loops, one the first leg and one on the final leg.

Turkey finished in fourth, Kazakhstan were fifth, Romania sixth and Slovakia were seventh.

The Senior mixed relay was won by a strong Russian team. Uliana Kaisheva took the first leg using 3 spares. Sveltana Sleptsova was second using 2 spares. She handed over to Alexey Volkov who also used 2 spares and then Anton Shipulin led the team home to victory using 3 spares. They finished almost 30 seconds ahead of Slovakia who took the silver medal.

Their team of Paulina Fialkova (4 spares), her sister Ivona Fialkova (4 spares), Tomas Hasilla (5 spares) and Matek Kazar (3 spares) crossed the line nearly a minute in front of bronze medallists Ukraine.

As usual they shot really well with Yuliya Zhurakov shooting clean on the first leg, Mariya Panfilova using 2 spares, Anton Myhda with 1 spare and Maksom Ivko with 3. Fourth place went to Belarus, fifth to Kazakhstan, sixth to Moldova and seventh to Mongolia.

There were some familiar faces on the podiums for the Sprint races on Saturday. The Junior Women’s Sprint was won by Russia’s Kristina Reztsova. She missed just one shot in the standing shoot to finish 32.7 seconds ahead of the second placed athlete. That went to Dzinara Alimbekova from Belarus who missed one in the stand. Valeriia Vasnetcova was third but she missed 3 shots, two in the prone and one in the stand.

There was more home success in the Junior Men’s Sprint with a clean sweep of the podium from Russia. Igor Malinovskii won the race missing a single target in the prone. He was wearing bib23 which undoubted helped him win! The silver went to Vasilii Tomshin who missed 1 in the standing and finished 12.6 seconds behind the winner. Third went to Nikita Porshnev who missed 3 targets but was only 28.3 seconds back from the leader.

The Women’s Sprint also went to Russia. Svetlana Sleptsova won the gold shooting clean and then promptly announced her retirement! Maybe all she ever wanted was that gold! Second place went to Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova with two misses in the stand and third went again to Russia with Olga Dmitrieva missing two shots and the silver medal by just under a second.

Finally in the Men’s Sprint we got a winner who wasn’t Russian! That’s right Vladimir Chepelin from Belarus took the gold with one miss in the prone. Russia got the silver with Alexey Volkov shooting clean but finishing 3.4 seconds behind Chepelin. Slovakia took another medal with Tomas Hasilla claiming bronze.

The final day of the Championships was on Sunday and we had 4 Pursuit races to look forward to. The Junior Women’s race went to Natalia Ushkina who came from 4th to grab the win ahead of Reztova and Vasnetcova. She shot the best of the three with just 1 miss while the others missed 7 and 6 shots. It was a comfortable victory in the end for Ushkina who led a Russian clean sweep of the medals.

The Junior Men’s race went to Taras Lesiuk and Ukraine. He came from 4th to take the win by nearly 18 seconds from the two Russians Igor Malinovskii and Stepan Parfenov. Again the shooting was crucial with just 3 targets missed by Lesiuk compared to 5 and 6 from the Russians.

The Women’s Pursuit was won by Sleptsova giving her 3 golds from 3 races. Not a bad way to retire! Ukraine got another medal with Nadiia Bielkina coming from 5th with just 2 misses to get silver. The bronze went to Paulina Fialkova who dropped one spot from the Sprint.

The Men’s race went to Russia too with Alexey Volkov taking the gold by 43.7 seconds from teammate Anton Shipulin who started 6th. Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria came from 5th to 3rd and another Russian Sergey Klyachin went from 18th to 4th despite four missed targets. Let’s just say across all the races the shooting wasn’t the best. Luckily there is still time to improve before the snow comes!

It was a very successful home Championships for the Russian team leading the medal table with 18 medals, 8 of which were gold. The Ukraine were second and Belarus third. Slovakia and Bulgaria were the only other teams to win medals.

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Raubichi 2015: Bela-Youth!

tranevold

The 2015 Youth/Junior World Championships in Raubichi started off with an explosion of fireworks in the opening ceremony on the 17th of February. The next day competition got underway with a different kind of bang. The bang from the biathlon rifles as 170 competitors got underway in the Youth Women’s and Men’s Individual races and at 20 rounds each that is a lot of bang!

The women were first to compete and the first medal was won by the Ukraine. Anna Kryvonos hit 19/20 and that extra hit was crucial to give her a 18 second margin of victory over Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold. She missed two shots as did Russia’s Elizaveta Kaplina who was third which meant they had to settle for silver and bronze. France’s Emily Battendier was impressive in 6th place as was South Korea’s Ko Eun Jung who was 9th.

In the men’s race Russia proved the strongest by winning gold and bronze. Fast skiing by Kirill Streltsov allowed him to make up for his two shooting errors to win ahead of Denmark’s Anders Emil Schiellerup who was second shooting 20/20. He made a little bit of biathlon history by becoming the first Danish biathlete ever to win a medal at a World Championships. Igor Shetko took bronze knocking Poland’s Bartolmiej Filip and Norway’s Andreas Kjeverud Eggen off the podium after they posted the same time in fourth. Home favourite Raman Shynkevich gave the crowd something to cheer coming home in 8th.

The home crowd really got something to cheer about in the Sprint race on Friday! Darya Blashko took gold and the first medal for Belarus of these championships. It is always nice to see the home nation doing well. Behind her in second came Austria’s Julia Schwaiger and Ingrid Tandrevold grabbed her second medal with bronze to add to her Individual silver. In the men’s race Norway won their first gold of the competition with Jonas Uglem Mobakken winning the Sprint from Felix Leitner of Austria who made it two medals for his country adding to the silver of Schwaiger. In third was another Norwegian Mattis Haug.

The Pursuit races both took place on Sunday morning and Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold finally got the gold medal that her excellent form deserved and meant she got the full collection of gold, silver and bronze from these Championships. Julia Schwaiger maintained her position from the Sprint and got her second silver and her teammate Simone Kupfner made it another medal for Austria clinching the bronze. In fact Austria’s day got even better in the Youth Men’s Pursuit when Felix Leitner converted his Sprint silver into gold. He was followed by Kirill Streltsov who won silver and Mattis Haug who stayed in third to get his second bronze medal.

streltsov

The last day of competition in the Youth category was the Relay. The Women’s Relay was first and consisted of a team of 3 who have to ski 6km each. The home nation did themselves proud and raced to another gold medal. Dzinara Alimbekava, Hanna Sola and Darya Blashko gave the crowd a lot to cheer about beating Russia into second and Norway into third. The Russian team of Elizaveta Kaplina, Natalia Ushkina and Kristina Reztsova took home silver giving Kaplina a second medal and the Norwegian team of Kristin Vaagaa Floettum, Eline Grue and Ingrid Tandrevold won bronze which meant Tandrevold took home 4 medals from Raubichi. In the Men’s 3 x 7.5km race there was no surprise when the Russia team won with Igor Shetko, Nikita Porshnev and Kirill Streltsov. In second were the Ukrainian team of Vitaliy Trush, Nazarii Tsebrynskyi and Dmytro Ivasenko and in third were the Norwegian team of Jonas Mobakken, Andreas Eggen and Mattis Haug.

So what have we learned from these World Championships? Well thankfully biathlon is in pretty good shape in the Youth category with some strong youngsters coming through. The Russians as usual have strength in depth on both the Men’s and Women’s side. In particular Kirill Streltsov is one to keep an eye on after winning two golds and a silver and it was great to see a Danish biathlete win a medal too. For the women Ingrid Tandevold took home gold, silver and two bronze medals and she looks like an exciting talent and is consistent too. The Ukraine seem to have a good Youth programme going as do the Austrians. Belarus are producing some good young talent too and it seems to help you win gold if you are called Darya!

For the other biathletes who maybe weren’t as successful as they had hoped it’s good to remember that World Championships are a big learning curve and if you came away from Raubichi having learned something from the experience whether it was good or bad you will be a better biathlete for it and so really everyone’s a winner! What we have all learned is that from Raubichi 2015 there is definitely some Bela-Youth!

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