Tag Archives: Ekaterina Yurlova

Susan Dunklee: The Interview!

Susan Dunklee is an American biathlete who was born on the 13th of February 1986. She enjoyed her best season to date in 2016/17. She finished 10th in the Total Score and more importantly won her first World Championship medal taking silver in the Mass Start in Hochfilzen. She is the first American women to win a medal at a major Championships and in doing so qualified to race for the US at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang this March. Her father Stan and her uncle Everett have both competed for America at the Olympics in cross country skiing.

Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanDunklee
Like her Facebook page: Susan Dunklee
Check out her blog: https://susandunklee.wordpress.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I didn’t want to give up ski racing after college. USBA offered a better training and living situation than any US xc ski club at the time, so I figured why not learn how to shoot?

The Mass Start in Hochfilzen. Talk us through your silver medal winning race and your emotions at the end.

I felt inspired after watching Lowell’s Individual. I remember thinking that I had got my first ever WC podium in 2014 the week after he got his first podium.
Despite that, I didn’t feel particularly good going into the race. By the end of the Championships you have raced so much that both your body and head feel fried. I had to remind myself that everyone else was exhausted too and that there is opportunity in that.
Much of that race felt surreal. Leading was an experience that I’m not very familiar with. I didn’t intend to lead because it’s usually not a smart tactical decision and it is harder to ski fast and efficiently by yourself. However, after every shooting stage I found myself alone out front. It seemed silly to just pull over for 5 seconds and let the pack catch up. So I skied my own pace, tried to stay relaxed and didn’t worry about what the pack did.
People ask me if the last shooting stage felt any different. In this case, no, it was more of a deja vu feeling. It felt just like the 3 stages before it. I remember thinking after the last shooting stage that now it was time to “get the hell out of there” because I knew some fast people would be chasing my tail. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to challenge Laura [Dahlmeier] when she caught me, but I was so psyched to hold onto second. It truly was a perfect race for me.

Apart from your medal you were also 10th in the Total Score. What was the key to your great season?

Shooting speed had been my biggest focus during training for a couple years and that work started to pay off last winter.

You had some good results at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Has that given you a lot of confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

It doesn’t matter if I like them or not. What matters is if I’m willing to make those tracks and that range “my own” so that I will feel strong and confident there.

What are your goals for next season for the World Cup as well as the Olympics?

To keep my focus on “performing well.” If I can do that, the results will take care of themselves.

Team USA is a really close team. What was it like watching Lowell win his gold medal at the World Champs?

Lowell put together an impressive performance which personified a tremendous effort on the part a whole host of people. For an achievement like that you need everything to go right such as ski fitness, shooting performance, and ski preparation. There are so many people who contributed to making that possible- coaches, teammates, ski techs, physios, managers, psychologists, sponsors, supportive friends and family back home…. Everyone in the USBA community felt some ownership of America’s first gold medal moment and that’s one of the reasons why I think the US Team is special.

Have you noticed any changes in the popularity of biathlon in the US after your recent success? Has it helped you with funding and sponsors?

Not as much as we had expected.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Same routine as usual- roller skiing, shooting, running, biking, lifting, etc. We did an on-snow camp in May in Bend, Oregon as well as a three week camp in Germany in September.

One of your hobbies is bee keeping. How did you get into that and why do you like it?

I already was interested in pollination systems after studying them in college. A few years ago I visited one of my ecologist friends who kept honey bees and I watched a barefoot “bee-whisperer” capture an escaped swarm. I was fascinated. Working with bees is a lot like shooting in a high pressure race situation. The consequences of making mistakes are high and you must conquer your fears and stay calm.

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

Nove Mesto has the best atmosphere with the biggest, friendliest crowds of spectators. I love racing there.

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

Michal Slesingr, Martin Fourcade and Lowell Bailey. They are phenomenal athletes and leaders who insist on fighting for the integrity of our sport.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sincere, hardworking, contemplative.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin’s dragon
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch. Honorable mention: Stefani Popova
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Toss up: Johanna Taliharm, Anais Bescond, and Katja Yurlova.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Recovery massages.

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Season Review 2015/16: Women

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The race for the Women’s Overall Title was great this season. It was much closer and more exciting than the Men’s and it went right down to the final World Cup round in Khanty Mansiysk.

It started way back in Oestersund where Kaisa Makarainen started as favourite to win in the absence of Darya Domracheva. It was not to be this season for Kaisa who wasn’t in her best form all year however it did give others the chance to shine. Gabriela Soukalova emerged from Oestersund with the yellow bib and held on to it all season. Her closest competitors were Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer. It was a shame that Laura Dahlmeier missed a few World Cup rounds through illness otherwise she would have been in with a shot of the title too.

Soukalova didn’t have a great World Championships in Oslo which meant that she took a lead of 69 points into the final three races in Russia. In the Sprint she was 4th and Dorin Habert was 10th which meant she secured the small Crystal Globe in that event. In the Pursuit she was 4th again to win another small globe but more importantly she won the Overall Title and the big Crystal Globe!

Dorothea Wierer won the small Crystal Globe in the Individual by winning 2 of the races in the season and coming 8th in the World Championships to beat Marie Dorin Habert, who won the World Championships race, by just 2 points.

The season’s Sprints were won by Gabriela Soukalova, Franziska Hildebrand, Marie Dorin Habert, Olga Pudchufarova, Olena Pidhrushna, Tiril Eckhoff and Kaisa Makarainen. The Pursuits went to Kaisa Makarainen, Laura Dahlmeier, Ekaterina Yurlova and Gabriela Soukalova.

Finally the Mass Starts went to Kaisa Makarainen, Laura Dahlmeier, Gabriela Soukalova, Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer. The small globe was won by Soukalova.

The five Women’s Relays through the season were won by five different nations. On the World Cup Italy, Ukraine, France and the Czech Republic all won and then Norway took the gold at the World Championships.

As you can see from all the results above the Women’s World Cup is very competitive and there are a lot of great biathletes competing right now. Away from those at the very top it has also been a good season for Olena Pidhrushna who after her comeback from retirement has looked better than ever with a win and some podiums. Franziska Hildebrand took 2 Sprint victories and has had a good season and Olga Podchufarova got her first win too.

The Women have provided most of the entertainment this year due to the fact that no one is completely dominant like in the Men’s World Cup. Gabriela Soukalova won the yellow bib at the first round and held it all through the season and deservedly won the Total Score. She also took 3 of the 4 small globes but she did it through consistency rather than dominance. There is a lot to look forward to next season with the return of Domracheva and it will be great to see her up against Dorin Habert, Dahlmeier, Eckhoff, Soukalova and Wierer as well as old foe Kaisa Makarainen if she decides to race for another year. This season has been great but next season could be even better!

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WC9 Khanty Mansiysk: Review 2016

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No! It’s Khanty Mansiysk already which means it’s the final round of the World Cup. The Men’s titles were all decided before we arrived in Russia. To make a long story short Martin Fourcade won everything! The Women’s was not quite wrapped up however as it was still possible for Marie Dorin Habert to catch up with leader Gabriela Soukalova.

It was the Women who raced first on Thursday in the Sprint. It was Kaisa Makarainen who won this one missing a target but skiing back to her best to win. In second and securing the small Crystal Globe in the Sprint event was Gabriela Soukalova. As Dorin Habert finished 10th it gave her a boost for the Overall Title. Third place went to Marte Olsbu who got her first ever podium and a career best result. Obviously the relay gold from Oslo has given her a lot of confidence. Justine Braisaz also got a personal best result in 4th.

The Men’s Sprint was won by Austria’s Julian Eberhard. He shot 10/10 and won by just 1.1 seconds. As predicted by this blog earlier in the season if he ever shot clean he would win and he has! It’s quite a surprise for him to shoot clean but it got him his first ever World Cup win. Second place went to Simon Schempp who must have though he had won as he wouldn’t have expected a clean shoot from Eberhard. Third place went to another German Arnd Peiffer. Erik Lesser was 5th and Benedikt Doll was 8th which means either the Germans love Khanty Mansiysk or they messed up their World Championship preparation and are in top form two weeks too late!!

There were personal best results in the Sprint for Ukraine’s Oleksander Zhyrnyi in 13th and Bulgaria’s Anton Sinapov in 16th who both shot 10/10. Martin Fourcade missed 4 shots and finished 40th and so decided not to start in the Pursuit.

The Women’s Pursuit was first on Saturday and Kaisa Makarainen did the double with another victory. She is hitting good form a bit too late in the season. She missed 2 shots but still won by 1.5 seconds. Title challenger Marie Dorin Habert was second with 1 missed target and Dorothea Wierer was third. It was a close finish for the final podium place with Gabriela Soukalova in fourth and Franziska Preuss in fifth less than a second behind. Soukalova’s 4th place meant that she won the small globe for the Pursuit and also secured the Overall Title.

There were other good results from Juliya Dzhyma who went from 26th to 9th, Laura Dahlmeier 36th to 16th, Ekaterina Yurlova 32nd to 18th, Iryna Kryuko 38th to 23rd, Monika Hojnisz 51st to 31st, Julia Ransom 54th to 34th and Ingela Andersson 56th to 38th.

The Men’s Sprint was won by Simon Schempp. He missed 3 targets but held off Johannes Thingnes Boe who was second. He only missed 1 target but started a minute behind Schempp and he only finished 8.5 seconds behind him. Third place went to Erik Lesser who missed 2 shots. Sprint winner Julian Eberhard missed 8 targets and went back to 18th!

There were other good performances by Simon Eder 38th to 11th, Tarjei Boe 35th to 12th, Michal Krcmar 39th to 17th, Anton Shipulin 45th to 20th and Dmitry Malyshko 55th to 33rd.

The final races of the 2015/16 season were the Mass Starts. Actually they weren’t! They were both cancelled due to strong, gusty wind conditions so the season ended with a bit of an anti-climax. This meant that Soukalova would also win the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Well that is all for the season 😦 try not to be too upset! Martin Fourcade won the Overall Title for the 5th season in a row and all 4 small globes for the second time in his career. You know I think he might be quite good at biathlon! Gabriela Soukalova won the Women’s Overall Title for the first time and 3 out of 4 of the small globes with Dorothea Wierer winning in the Individual. It has been another great biathlon season and thanks for following it with biathlon23!

Oh wait a minute, I’m not quite finished yet! Look out for my Men’s and Women’s Reviews and the outcome of a up and down season for Biathlete23! Plus the one thing all the biathletes want to win – The Biathlon 23 Awards are back! 🙂

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World Championships 2016: Preview!

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It’s World Championships time! It’s Oslo! It’s Holmenkollen! It’s the end of the King’s reign! That’s right it’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen’s final World Championships before he retires from biathlon. Although he did say that about the Olympics in Sochi so we can’t really trust him! Let’s believe him for now anyway. Will he go out on a high or will his grand exit be ruined by the princes of biathlon who are fighting to take his crown?

Well he has been planning for this event all season and he also did that in Sochi and we all know what happened there. So the chances are good that he will win a medal of some sort but he faces some very tough competition from people who really don’t care if they ruin the party and some of them are even his teammates!!!

We will return to Ole later but let’s go through the races as they are scheduled. First up is the Mixed Relay on Thursday the 3rd of March at 15.30 CET. The races so far this season have been won by Norway in Oestersund and Germany in Canmore. There are a lot of strong teams however so this race could be won by anyone. France have a good chance as do Italy, the Czech Republic and Russia. It will be interesting to see who races and whether or not the teams will use their strongest four biathletes in the first race. The defending champions are the Czech Republic.

After a day off come the Sprint races on Saturday the 5th of March. The Men start at 11.30 CET and the Women go at 14.30 CET. This season’s Men’s Sprint winners so far have been Martin Fourcade, Johannes Thingnes Boe and Simon Schempp. The Women’s races were won by Gabriela Soukalova, Franziska Hildebrand, Marie Dorin Habert, Olga Pudchufarova and Olena Pidhrushna. Obviously the Women’s race is a lot more open but in the Men’s it is very likely one of the three above will win it. The defending champions are Johannes Thingnes Boe and Marie Dorin Habert.

Both Pursuit races are on Sunday the 6th at 13.30 CET for the Men and 15.45 CET for the Women. The Men’s Pursuit races from the World Cup were won by Martin Fourcade, Simon Schempp, Anton Shipulin and Simon Eder. The women’s winners were Kaisa Makarainen, Laura Dahlmeier, Ekaterina Yurlova and Gabriela Soukalova. The defending champions are Erik Lesser and Marie Dorin Habert.

The Individual races are on Wednesday the 9th at 15.30 CET for the Women and the Men’s race is on Thursday the 10th also at 15.30 CET. The World Cup winners are Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Martin Fourcade and Dorothea Wierer. The defending champions are Ekaterina Yurlova and Martin Fourcade.

The Women’s Relay is on Friday the 11th at 15.30 CET and the Men’s is on Saturday the 12th at 15.30 CET. Winners so far for the Women were Italy, Ukraine, France and the Czech Republic.All the Men’s relays were won by either Russia or Norway. The defending champions are Germany for both the men and women.

The final races are the Mass Starts which both take place on Sunday the 13th at 13.00 CET for the Women and 16.00 CET for the Men. Winners on the World Cup so far have been Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Martin Fourcade, Erik Lesser, Dominik Windisch, Kaisa Makarainen, Laura Dahlmeier, Gabriela Soukalova and Dorothea Wierer. The defending champions are Jakov Fak and Valj Semerenko.

So that’s all the information you need but who will win the medals? Well if I knew that I would be rich but I can have a guess at least! In the Men’s race the favourite for all of them has to be Martin Fourcade but he only won one individual medal at the last World Championships. The Norwegians have a good chance of stopping him as do Schempp and Shipulin. On the Women’s side I think the medals will be shared between Soukalova, Wierer, Dorin Habert, Makarainen and Dahlmeier.

There are always a few surprises though and big event specialist Erik Lesser can’t be overlooked and neither can sharp shooter Simon Eder. Watch out too for Valj Semerenko and Olga Pochufarova to do well. To be honest with you it’s biathlon so anything could happen and anyone could win that’s why it’s such a great sport!

And the big question – will Bjoerndalen win a medal?! Of course he will! He always pulls it off doesn’t he? Although it will probably be as part of the Men’s Relay team that he does it, you can never discount him for an individual medal. I for one hope he does it.He definitely deserves to go out on a high. It will be really strange when he is not on the start lists anymore – he will be greatly missed.

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WC6: Antholz Review 2016!

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The sun is shining, there is snow all around, we have beautiful scenery and the temperature is getting down to -20 degrees. It must be Antholz-Anterselva! That’s right we are back in the South Tyrol and it actually looks and feels like winter!

The first race in Italy was on Thursday and we began with the Women’s Sprint. We had a couple of firsts in this event as Olga Podchufarova won her first ever race and she is also the first Russian women to make the podium on the World Cup this season. As with buses, after waiting ages for 1 podium the Russians actually got 2 with Ekaterina Yurlova taking 3rd place. Both the Russians shot clean but second place went to home favourite Dorothea Wierer who made the podium despite missing 1 shot. There was another great performance in the shape of Linn Persson from Sweden who shot clean and finished in 17th which is her career best individual finish by a big margin.

On Friday we had the Men’s Sprint. In the 2 previous years it has been won by Simon Schempp so it wasn’t such a big surprise that he won it again! That made it 5 races unbeaten in Antholz as he also won the previous 2 Pursuits. I think it’s safe to say he enjoys racing in Antholz! In second place was Maxim Tsvetkov with his best ever finish and his first time on the podium. He is fast becoming a star of the Russian Team mainly thanks to his incredible shooting. It is now rare for him to miss more than one shot and he was clean again today. In third came “Mr Consistent” Tarjei Boe who has finished in the Top 10 more often than not this season and is climbing his way up the overall rankings.

The women had a day off on Friday but no such luck for the men who were back in action on Saturday. The Women’s Pursuit was first and yet again Russia took the win (remember what I said about buses). This time Ekaterina Yurlova was victorious coming from third to first. In second was a remarkable performance from Selina Gasparin, who is continuing her great form, making up 14 places from a start position of 16th. She out skied Dorothea Wierer on the final lap but the Italian still got her second podium at home in third.

Canada’s Julia Ransom went from 46th to 19th to record her best ever finish on the World Cup. Other big moves in the Pursuit came from Tiril Echhoff 20th to 4t, Krystyna Guzik 26th to 5th, Daria Virolaynen 32nd to 12th, Susan Dunklee 37th to 17th, Karolin Horchler 50th to 24th and Anastasia Zagoruiko 59th to 33rd.

The Men’s Pursuit started later in the day and you will never guess – another Russian won! This time it was Anton Shipulin claiming his first victory of the season. It’s not so much of a surprise though as he loves Antholz and this blog knows him as ANT-holz Shipulin! Second place went to Simon Schemmp who continued his amazing run of results in Antholz too. Third went to Johannes Boe who did consider letting Fourcade pass him to keep his record of only being on the podium in first place but decided third wasn’t so bad after all!!!

Martin Fourcade came from 28th to get 4th after shaving his beard. He had a bet that he couldn’t shave it until he shot clean but he shaved it before the race and then shot clean! Which I believe is cheating! 😉

Elsewhere Anton Babikov went from 31st to 7th to record his career best result, Andi Birnbacher from 41st to 14th, Benjamin Weger from 34th to 16th and Brendan Green from 45th to 31st.

The final day in Antholz was reserved for the relays. The Women’s race was won by France with some great shooting from the whole team of Justine Braisaz, Anais Bescond, Anais Chevalier and Marie Dorin Habert. The Czech Republic were second with Gabriela Soukalova back in the team and in third were the Russians capping off a fantastic World Cup round for themselves.

The Men’s race went right down to the wire with a repeat of the Sochi race with Anton Shipulin and Simon Schempp battling for the victory. The outcome was the same as the Olympics with Russia winning and Germany in second. Norway, without Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tarjei Boe, were third.

It has been a great World Cup in Antholz especially for the Russians with 3 individual wins and a relay victory and podium. The Russian women will be sad to have a break as they have just hit good form but everyone else is looking forward to a well-earned rest. Next time we are off over the pond to North America with rounds in Canmore and Preque Isle to look forward too. I can’t wait for those!

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WC1: Oestersund 2015 Review!

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AT LAST! Winter is here and the withdrawal symptoms have gone – biathlon is back! As usual we kicked off the season in Oestersund, Sweden and this year we started with the Single Mixed Relay.

This time around it was poor Simon who suffered from the “Oestersund Curse of the Fourcades” when he failed to fire all his bullets and missed a penalty loop which cost the French team a victory. Simon and Marie Dorin Habert were winning by a margin but after a 3 minute time penalty they ended up 21st. This left the way clear for Norway to win with a team of Kaia Nicolaisen and Lars Birkeland. In second and taking their first ever relay podium was the Canadian pair of Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith and third were the German team of Maren Hammerschmidt and Daniel Boehm.

Next came the Mixed Relay which Norway controlled and won by a margin big enough for Tarjei Boe to pose in front of a car advert pleasing the sponsors immensely. Second came Germany and in third was the Czech Republic. It wasn’t the most exciting relay apart from the first takeover where Franziska Hildebrand, Vanessa Hinz and Ekaterina Yurlova managed to play skittles with each other and Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Freddie Lindstrom treated us to a sprint finish for 4th place.

On Wednesday the first individual race of the season got underway and coincidentally it was the Men’s Individual 20km! It was won by Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who had a great race shooting 20/20 to win his 95th race. He profited slightly from calmer conditions on the shooting range but that doesn’t take anything away from his victory. In second was Overall Title contender Simon Schempp and third was Alexey Volkov who also shot clear. Windy and snowy conditions made it a difficult day on the range with Martin Fourcade missing 5 shots to finish in 21st, Tarjei Boe missing 4 in 22nd and Anton Shipulin missing 3 to finish 16th. Svendsen came joint 4th with Quentin Fillon Maillet who was France’s top finisher in the race.

In contrast to Bjoerndalen the winner of the Women’s race collected her first ever win on the World Cup. Italy’s Dorothea Wierer shot clear to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time. Marie Dorin Habert put in a great skiing performance to come second and Olena Pidhrushna was third after coming out of retirement. Overall title hopefuls Tiril Eckhoff and Gabriela Soukalova finished 4th and 5th. Also in the Top 10 was Lisa Hauser getting her best finish of 8th on the World Cup.

On Saturday came the Sprints and they were held in windy conditions which meant shooting was very difficult. Fortunately for winner Martin Fourcade he can miss some targets and still win. This time everyone missed targets except one.In second was Arnd Peiffer and third was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. The wind threw some new names into the TOP 20 with Macx Davies of Canada finishing 10th shooting 10/10. Raman Yaliotnau from Belarus was 15th and Jesper Nelin of Sweden was 16th.

In the Women’s race Gabriela Soukalova hit 10/10 to take the win denying Italy’s Federica Sanfilippo her first World Cup victory. Second is still an amazing result for her finishing ahead of a resurgent Olena Pidhrushna who was third for the second race in succession.

The Sprint result meant that Martin Fourcade would start the Pursuit 52 seconds before Peiffer and it would be very difficult to beat him, and so it proved as he won comfortably. Peiffer maintained his second place and Quentin Fillon Maillet finally got on the podium in third after two 4th place finishes.

You might have noticed I haven’t mentioned Kaisa Makarainen yet. She got off to an inauspicious start by her standards with a 24th and 10th place finish. She showed her class in the Pursuit though with a stunning final shoot and last lap to claim victory. Second was Dorothea Wierer and third was Franziska Hildebrand who couldn’t hold off Kaisa and her amazing skiing.

Others who did well in the Pursuits were Tarjei Boe who went from 29th to 4th, Dmitry Malyshko 34th to 7th, Evgeniy Garanichev 27th to 8th, Simon Fourcade 49th to 14th and Lars Birkeland 58th to 25th. For the women Marte Olsbu went from 26th to 7th, Eva Tofalvi from 60th to 19th, Megan Tandy from 46th to 25th and Nadezhda Skardino from 26th to 7th.

All in all it was a great start to the new season and we now head to Austria and Hochfilzen for round 2 with Martin Fourcade in the yellow bib for the men and Gabriela Soukalova for the women. It promises to be a great World Cup round!

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2014/15!!!

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It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their second year! It has now taken over from the Oscars as the best awards around! As usual they are not your typical awards and there are a few new categories too. Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Who says the Americans don’t know what biathlon is?! A lot of them read the winning interview. There was strong competition from fellow American Susan Dunklee and Great Britain’s Scott Dixon but there is only one winner this year. We just can’t get Phaneuf!
Winner: Maddie Phaneuf

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:
Why does Vita Semerenko like biathlon?” ..erm I don’t know ask her!
Martin Olsbu” – sorry about that MARTE!
Emil Svendsen prince” – news to King Harald!
biathlon Musgrave” – we live in hope!
Julia Soukalova” – maybe Gabriela’s sister?!!!
feet Darya Domracheva” – I can confirm that yes she has them, 2 in fact!
Jakov Fak beard” It’s lovely but what do you need to know about it?!
Winner: “What does Tiril Eckhoff mean?” Good question!

Best Facial hair:
A hotly contested award this year. We had season long beards from the likes of Jakov Fak, Klemen Bauer and Daniel Mesotitsch and the part time beard appearance from last year’s winner Simon Fourcade. However in Oestersund we had 2 normally clean shaven contenders, in full beard Lowell Bailey and Zorro/Don Juan style from Tobias Arwidson. Just for the concept, growing and sculpting efforts and more importantly making me laugh out loud!
Winner: Tobias Arwidson.

Best earrings:
Again there were many contenders in this category. Veronika Vitkova brought the pink earrings, Gabriela Soukalova had some pretty heart shaped ones too but the winner has to be snowflakes for snowsports!
Winner: Darya Domracheva.

Nicest person in biathlon:
There are many reason why this person wins. He helps out biathlonworld.tv with all their songs and appears in almost every video (taking advantage of his kind nature obviously!), he helps the French team win relay medals, he eats Cheerios for breakfast. Most of all though he didn’t even try to punch Anton Shipulin in the face when he ruined his chances of a first win in Pokljuka! He was philosophical with a “shit happens” response! Well done!
Winner: Jean Guillaume Beatrix

Best Team Performance:

There were some great team performances this year. The amazing shooting from the Ukrainians and the fantastic Czech Women’s relay team were in contention. However after the World Championships there can only be one winner with both the Men’s and Women’s Relay teams winning gold. That is true teamwork!
Winner: Germany

Biggest improver:
His previous best result was an 8th place last year but this year he has been in the TOP 10 on six occasions and saved his best for the World Championships where he won a silver medal on his first ever trip to the podium. He then went on to Khanty Mansiysk where he won his first ever World Cup race in the Pursuit. We knew he could shoot but it turns out he can also ski as well. Obviously he has put a lot of effort into improving his skiing and it’s paid off with this award!!!
Winner: Nathan Smith

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This guy did get hurt but thankfully not too badly. He had concussion and scrapped much of his handsome face off but made a full recovery to take part in his home World Championships.For the fall on the downhill in Pokljuka the award has to go to the greatest face plant in biathlon history.
Winner: Olli Hiidensalo

Best quote in a press conference:
Erik Lesser was asked after winning the Pursuit in the World Championships what he would do with the special lock he was awarded. He couldn’t think of an answer but someone else kindly obliged saying “Erik has seen 50 Shades of Grey, he knows exactly what to do with the lock!” Ha, ha it was brilliant! Thanks.
Winner: Tarjei Boe

Best Tweeter:
There are a few candidates for this award. Tobias Arwidson is a regular tweeter of funny stuff but lately has become far too obsessed with food!;-) Martin Fourcade tweets a lot of pictures of himself and I mean A LOT! Nerys Jones likes to show everyone just how much she loves coffee. Chardine Sloof and Amanda Lightfoot often appear in each others photos on Twitter. The winner though keeps us up to date on everything. Training, eating, her sponsors, her van and sometimes even biathlon! And just about anything else you can think of!
Winner: Victoria Padial

Best Facebooker:
So again Martin Fourcade is great at keeping us up to date with everything on social media with posts almost everyday but here at Biathlon23 we think he has won enough already this year!!! The award goes to one of his fellow countrymen however. Not only do we get updates from this guy but also a short video recap complete with awesome soundtrack! I don’t know where he finds the tunes but they are always good ones!
Winner: Antonin Guigonnat

Best rifle design:
So most rifles go for the design on the stock. There are a range of fancy colours and stickers and things but one lady has taken it further. In an audacious move she has decorated the barrel with white to get a nice black and white design. We like your style!
Winner: Eva Puskarčíková

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
There are some very odd choices of rifle colour but none more so than a kind of “pea” green.
Winner: Nicole Gontier

Best ski suit:
A few options here. The Norwegians followed my advice and added a splash of colour to their suit. Great Britain had another good one. I liked the look of Finland’s too. I like that Slovenia have put some blue and white in to counteract the neon yellow. For design and colour combination which is similar in style to Slovenia but with more blue and less yellow.
Winner: Estonia

Worst ski suit:
Well France and Sweden didn’t seem to change theirs at all! Italy went from blue to red but they are all still good designs. For the colour alone which is a horribly suspicious shade of yellow.
Winner: Lithuania

Rising star:
I had to give this one to a youngster who has made a huge breakthrough this year. She broke her foot in the summer and started the season late but still got her first 2 wins on the World Cup as well as grabbing 4 podiums in a row! She also helped her relay team to World Championship gold and won Pursuit silver for herself. She is one of the best shots on the whole tour and at only 21 there is a lot more to come from her.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

Best vocal performance:
Well this category was won last year by Bjorn Ferry with his retirement tune “Breaking the Law”. As there seems to have been no raucous singing caught on camera this year it has to be a straight battle between Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Or does it? I suddenly remembered the Christmas video when they were joined by Lukas Hofer and Darya Domracheva singing some Christmas songs. For awkward hand placement as well as his lovely singing voice there is only one victor!
Winner: Lukas Hofer

Biggest disappointment:
Well unfortunately it’s the same as last year!
Winner: More doping scandals.

Best biathlete blog:
There is one reason and one reason only why this blog is the winner. The section known as Pepp-talk! It’s a Swedish blog but when you translate it into English the title changes to Pepper-talc and totally ruins the awesome play on words. Biathlon 23 loves nothing better than a good play on words!
Winner: Peppe Femling – femling.se

Best biathlete website:
A clear winner here for 2 reasons. The first is the picture of the cowboy leaning against the biathlon targets. Cool! Secondly there is a shop and regular readers will know of my obsession with the pencil case!!Check it out yourself! http://www.edersam.com
Winner: Simon Eder

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This was a hard one to choose. There were many outstanding performances this year. I had to choose one and so I went for probably the biggest surprise and against the odds win. After not even making her country’s team for the Sprint at the World Championships she was drawn in bib 93 for the Individual and was given no chance of winning. No one told her that of course and she produced the performance of her life shooting 20/20 and skiing well to take the gold medal.
Winner: Ekaterina Yurlova

IPC biathlete of the Year:
America’s Andy Soule (sitting)was a contender for this with 2 silver medals in the IPC World Championship at home in Cable. The Russian pair of Nikolay Polukhin and Andrey Tokarev (visually impaired) won 3 gold medals at the World Championships but the worthy winner also winning 3 golds in biathlon and 3 golds in cross country is Ukraine’s remarkable athlete in the standing category.
Winner: Oleksandra Kononova

Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year:
A really difficult decision this one as we had some stellar performances from the Juniors this year. Aristide Begue dominated the Individual races, Galina Vishnevskaya had a great year, Alexsandr Dediukhin really impressed as did Lena Arnaud. The Youth category was also really strong with Kirill Streltsov, Darya Blashko, Julia Schwaiger and Felix Leitner all having great World Championships. However I am awarding it to a young lady from Norway who won 4 medals in 4 races in Raubichi in the Youth category, a gold, silver and 2 bronze.
Winner: Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold.

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