Tag Archives: Elisa Gasparin

Tobias Torgersen: The Interview!

Tobias Torgersen is the new head coach of the Polish Women’s biathlon team. The Norwegian had a successful Junior career as a biathlete before moving into coaching working with clubs in Oslo and Lillehammer as well as in Switzerland. Before taking his new role the 34-year-old was coach of the Swedish Junior Team.

You can follow Tobias on Twitter: @tobiastorgersen

You competed in biathlon as a Junior. Why did you become a biathlete and why did you stop?

My godfather was national team coach in Norway in the 80`s. He was always an inspiration to me. Plus it appealed to me after watching it on TV like other sports could not.

I stopped after having various health and injury problems from 19-23 years of age, including asthma, heart problems and some serious cuts and broken bones.

When did you become a coach and why did you want to do it?

In the Spring of 2006, just after finishing my career and my studies to be a coach at the sports university in Oslo. I guess I felt that I had “unfinished business” in this sport. And I love the excitement that top-level sports bring.


Who were your coaches when you were a biathlete? What did you learn from them that you now use as a coach?

I had many different inspiring coaches. But Knut Tore Berland taught me a lot about taking responsibility for the goals you set.

You have a new job working with the Polish women’s team. How is that going so far? What have you already done with them and what are the plans for the rest of the summer?

In my eyes it is going really well! We have a lot of fun, and train really well and hard. We are now in Ramsau on our fourth camp (this was in July). Here we got some kilometres on the skis together with the normal summer training. We also had a cycling camp in Mallorca, shooting camp in Kracow, and a camp “at home” in Duszniki-Zdroj. Next on the plan is the Blink Festival in Norway before a camp in my home town of Oslo.

How much time do you spend with the biathletes? Do you send them a programme to work through alone or do you see/speak to them every day?

I see them on all the camps of course which is around two weeks every month. And then I follow up the athletes individual programs in the breaks between camps on email and the phone. How often varies a lot with the individuals, and what kind of training they are doing.


Are you excited about working on the World Cup and going to the Olympic Games? Are you feeling any extra pressure for this season?


Of course there is extra pressure in an Olympic season. This is also my first head-coaching job. But I always focus on the excitement part, and not the pressure.

Do you enjoy thinking up new ways of training and new drills? Is it hard to keep things fresh and interesting for the biathletes?

Of course! I think most coaches do. The important thing is to find the correct mix of new ideas, and doing what you know will give results.


Obviously you physically train the biathletes but do you do a lot of mental work with them too? If so what kind of things?

I would not call it specific mental-training, but we have a lot of talks about how to think and what to focus on at what time. I try to put my athletes in many competition simulations to make them comfortable with these situations.

What do you do before, during and after a race as a coach?

This totally varies depending on what kind of staff we have. I quite often join the wax-team for the ski test.
During the race I like to mix it up between being on the shooting range and on the track. You will hear me loud on the toughest sections of the track! 😉
After the race the main thing is to have a quick evaluation with the athletes and wax team. And then start planning the next race.

Did your rifle have a name?

Hehe, she did actually. Celina. After a childhood friend of mine. A fun coincidence that I would later coach Selina Gasparin. No connection.

Describe yourself in three words.

Enthusiastic, Genuine, Emotional

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation: (not your own) Now it is Poland. Not just because I work here now, but because of the great atmosphere we have in the team and the warm welcome I have received from the girls and the staff.
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Elisa Gasparin’s “Swiss Mountains”
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy. They always bring nice new designs. Especially the blue and white coaches clothes!
Favourite biathlon venue: Holmenkollen, I grew up 10 minutes from the arena. But Antholz is also amazing!
Favourite biathlete: Michael Rösch. We competed as juniors, and he has been a friend ever since. And you just have to respect a man who has been fighting so hard to get back like he has. He dares to be different, and wears his emotions on the outside.
Funniest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Jean-Pierre Amat of France. The most clever smile, and maybe the best shooting coach!
Nicest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: So many nice ones! But I loved working with Johan Hagström, Matias Nilsson and Anna Maria Nilsson of Sweden for the last three years! Also Anders Brun Hennum of Norway is a close personal friend!
Best thing about being a coach: To be a part of the development of an ambitious athlete that tries their hardest to reach their full potential.

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Biathlon at the Movies!

popcorn

We all need something to fill in the time between Christmas and New Year when there is no biathlon. Last year I brought you an exclusive interview with biathlon rifle Reginald P.Rifle and this year I was hoping to talk to ski poles Marek and Justyna but they were too busy! So instead I bring you some reviews of “biathlon” related films so you can fill in the time before the next event in Ruhpolding! It’s biathlon so all ratings are in Crystal Globes not stars. Get your popcorn ready people!!!

Top Gun:

Martin Fourcade stars as Maverick who gets his chance in the top rifle school in California ‘Top Gun’. His main rival is Iceman played by Emil Hegle Svendsen. Unfortunately in target practice Martin accidentally kills a goose and loses his confidence. However after a slow motion game of volleyball he seems to recover and in the final scene manages to team up with Emil to shoot at baddies. They become best of friends and in fact go on a date together in a helicopter!

Biathlon 23: “Top entertainment!” Rating: 5 Globes

Hot Shots:

A documentary about biathletes and their shooting skills. Highlights include biathletes shooting in the prone position and the standing position. They shoot at targets 50 metres away on what is known as “a range”. Sometimes they hit these targets and sometimes they miss. Watch out for some reloading action and cartridges falling onto the mats. There is also a great behind the scenes feature about cleaning a rifle, choosing a fancy design for the stock and placement of stickers.

Biathlon23: “Unmissable” Rating: 5 targets – sorry I mean Globes!

Hot Shots Part Deux:

You might think that this is the sequel to Hot Shots but it is in fact a remake. It turns out that the French biathlon team thought they were not featured enough in the original and decided to make their own version. A more avant-garde piece in black and white. In French with French subtitles. An Antonin Guigonnat production. Director: Quentin “Tarantino” Maillet.

Biathlon 23: “Magnifique!” Rating:Cinq Globes

The Man with the Golden Gun:

Simon Fourcade makes his second appearance as James Bond in this spy thriller. The villain is played by Johannes Thingnes Bø who with his golden rifle is terrorising the world of biathlon. His obsession with all things gold means he is out to steal all the gold medals from the biathletes. There is a car chase, a martini, a few ladies and some gadgets! What else do you want?!!! (Set in Season 2014/15 before “someone” changed their rifle from gold to shocking pink!!!)

Biathlon23: “Great action” Daniel Craig: “Better than Spectre!”
Rating: After 5 martinis 5 Globes

Mad Maxes: Fury Range

In a post nuclear holocaust future Maxim Braun, Maxim Tsvetkov, Maksim Ramanouski, Maksim Varabei, Maxim Savitsky, Maksym Ivko, Max Durtschi and Macx Davies have to find all the bullets left on Earth (well in the desert somewhere!). When they have found them all they must return to the shooting range and hit all the targets to save the world!

Biathlon23: “Max-imum fun!” Rating: 5 Globes

RamBø:

Norwegian veteran and drifter Tarjei Bø wanders into a small Washington town in search of an old friend Tora Berger, but is met with intolerance and brutality by the local sheriff. When he and his deputies restrain and shave RamBø, he flashes back to season 2011/12 when he suffered from Twar virus and unleashes his fury on the officers. He narrowly escapes the manhunt, but it will take his former commander Lars Berger to save the hunters from the hunted.

Biathlon23: “UnBølievable!” Rating: 5 Globes

Harry Potter and the Wax Cabin of Secrets:

Nathan Smith makes his debut in the first film about the boy who grows up to be a wizard at biathlon. Here he teams up with his uncle Sirius Fak to try and defeat the master of the dark arts Beatrix Lestrange. Beatrix has stolen the secret wax formula from Potter and threatens to use it to win all the biathlon races beginning with the Mass Start in Pokljuka. Will Potts be able to stop him?

Biathlon23: “It’s magic!” Rating: 5 Globes

There’s Something About Marie:

A biography of French star Marie Dorin Habert. From her childhood to the present dealing with biathlon, marriage, having a child, playing the piano, horse riding and cherries. Everything you need to know about Marie. And the one thing you really need to know…please never offer her any “hair gel”!!!

Biathlon23: “A-dor-able!” Rating: 5 Globes

No Cross Country for Old Men:

While out cross country skiing, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finds the grisly aftermath of a drug deal. Though he knows better, he cannot resist the cash left behind and takes it with him possibly to buy an even bigger motor home with. The hunter becomes the hunted when a merciless killer picks up his trail. Also looking for Bjoerndalen is Sheriff Daniel Mesotitsch, an aging lawman who reflects on a changing world and a dark secret of his own, as he tries to find and protect Bjoerndalen.

Biathlon23: “Great but a bit “old” fashioned!” Rating: 5 Globes

The Shooter:

Tobias Arwidson reluctantly leaves a self-imposed exile from his isolated mountain home in Sweden at the request of the IBU, who appeal to him to help track down an assassin who is planning to shoot the IBU president. He is set up by the IBU (saw that coming!) and is chased around a bit before he takes his revenge and returns to Lima to fish and take some photographs.

Biathlon23:”Definitely a hit!” Rating: 5 Globes

Sister Act:

When 3 young sisters witness a mafia hit(by someone who looks suspiciously like Dominik Windisch!) they are sent to a convent where they are to be disguised as nuns. Starting Selina, Elisa and Aita Gasparin, the sisters fit in by teaching the nuns how to do biathlon. They take part in a competition at the end with all the nuns and so they can defend themselves from the mafia!

Biathlon23: “N-unmissable!” Rating: 5 Globes

The Usual Suspects:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world she wasn’t going to win the Crystal Globe.” The film starts with the retelling of the 2014/15 Women’s biathlon season. It stars Darya Domracheva, Valj Semerenko, Veronika Vitkova and Franziska Hildebrand. They each explain how they got caught up in the race for the Overall Title by a mysterious Kaisa Söze. No one knows who this Kaisa is but some say she had won the Crystal Globe in the past. None of them has met her before but everyone thinks she is going to win the Total Score! I don’t want to spoil the end but it turns out that it was Darya Domracheva the whole time!!!

Biathlon23: “I didn’t understand it either!” Rating: 5 confusing Globes!

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Aiming for the Top: Season Preview Women 2015/16

woprev

After the news that last season’s champion Darya Domracheva has decided to take the season off to recover from mononucleosis we have been denied the chance to see her go head to head again with Kaisa Makarainen. Bad news for us but good news for Kaisa as she is the now the clear favourite to regain the Overall Title. It will be difficult for the other female biathletes to challenge her due to her superior ski speed but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be trying their best to beat her.

The main competition to Kaisa will come from the Ukraine, Germany, The Czech Republic, Italy, France and hopefully Norway. Last season’s third place biathlete in the Total Score was Valj Semerenko. It was her best season to date and it seems she did better without her twin sister Vita who might miss another season due to injury.

The biggest challenge to Kaisa could come from Germany and not just from 1 biathlete but possibly from 3. Franziska Hildebrand was 5th in the Total Score last season, Laura Dahlmeier was 8th and Franziska Preuss was 9th. They are all young, hungry biathletes and if they can produce their form from last season and put some more consistent points scoring races together they will be a real threat. Dahlmeier looks the most dangerous as she has shown she is capable of winning races but her inexperience may count against her.

Veronika Vitkova and Gabriela Soukalova were 4th and 6th respectively last season and both have the talent to improve their positions. If Soukalova has a better start to the season we could see her on the podium much more often and hopefully she has concentrated more on her summer training this year than her commercial deals. Vitkova will be looking for more wins and more podiums and could end up on the Overall podium at the end of the year although I’m not sure it will be on the top step.

Dorothea Wierer, 7th last season, and Karin Oberhofer,10th, constitute the danger from Italy. Both had fantastic seasons and with a few more good results they could both move up the rankings. They can challenge Makarainen in individual races but I am not sure if they can sustain it over an entire season.

Someone with possibly the best chance of stealing the crystal globe from the clutches of Makarainen is France’s Marie Dorin Habert. She finished 15th in the Total Score but didn’t compete in all the races after having her first child. However when she did turn up she was on the best form of her life. Strangely she won her first race just last season so it may be a bit premature to call her a title contender but she has what it takes to outscore Kaisa if she maintains last season’s form and can consistently be on and around the podium.

Another first time mum is making her way back into biathlon and Selina Gasparin will be hoping to copy the success of Habert. You may also note that the Russian biathletes are completely absent from the Top 10 with Ekaterina Glazyrina their best biathlete in 13th. I can’t really see any of the Russian women in the hunt for the crystal globe this season either.

Tiril Eckhoff is Norway’s big hope in the Total Score. She was 11th last year and she will be under pressure to perform this season. She has the talent to win races and be very competitive but seems to lack the consistency required to compete for the Overall Title. She may also be focussing her season on her home World Championships.

It will also be a big year for the North American ladies. They get to race at home this season with World Cups in Canmore and Presque Isle. The likes of Rosanna Crawford, Megan Tandy, Susan Dunklee and Hannah Dreissigacker will be desperate to do well in front of their home crowd.

Away from the Overall winner there is some young talent to keep an eye on. Ukraine’s Iryna Varvynets looks like a good prospect along with the French pair Enora Latuilliere and Justine Braisaz. Germany’s Luise Kummer and Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser were impressive last season and Elisa Gasparin will be looking to build on her good form as will Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi.

It’s hard to see past Makarainen for the Overall Title but it is biathlon and anything can happen. It should be an exciting season in the women’s races with lots of new young talent coming through who will be trying to get a podium or break into the Top 10 or Top 20. We can look forward to a lot of fantastic women Aiming for the Top!

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Elite Elisa!

egasparin

With big sister Selina taking a year off to have a baby, Elisa Gasparin really stepped up for Switzerland and enjoyed her best season so far in 2014/15. The 23-year-old got some of her top results on the World Cup as well as impressing at the World Championships in Kontiolahti.

Elisa was born on the 2nd of December 1991 in Samedan. She is the younger sister of Olympic silver medallist and World Cup winner Selina, and the older sister of Aita. In fact the sisters made history together back in 2012 at the Hochfilzen World Cup by becoming the first three siblings to take part in a Relay together.

Elisa first showed us her potential back in Sochi at the Winter Olympics in 2014 where she finished an excellent 8th in the Sprint race. She even finished ahead of her older sister in the race as Selina was 13th. That was her only TOP 10 finish to date but a great confidence boost for her.

Last season was very impressive from the young Swiss biathlete. She achieved her personal best result of 11th on the World Cup in the Sprint in Khanty Mansiysk. This, added to another seven Top 20 finishes meant that she ended the season in 23rd place in the Total Score. A remarkable improvement of 31 places from the year before.

She also had a good World Championships in Kontiolahti. She finished every race in the Top 25 coming 25th in the Mass Start, 22nd in the Individual, 13th in the Sprint and 15th in the Pursuit. Most of her good results from last season came in the Sprint races which suggests that she prefers the shorter distance and racing against the clock.

This season she will be looking forward to the return of Selina and being able to race in Relays with both her sisters once again. If she continues her good form we might see some improved results from both the Swiss Women’s and Mixed Relay teams. Her main goal for this season must be to break into the Top 10 on the World Cup and put together a string of consistent results in the TOP 20. She is capable of doing this and in the Sprint especially she could even be pushing for a place on the podium.

It must be nice for Elisa to have both her sisters racing with her and travelling together in periods away from home. The three Gasparins have also done some great things to help develop biathlon in Switerland. They have built two shooting targets near their childhood home and also established three more ranges around Switzerland.

Elisa will be excited for the start of the new season to see how much she has progressed over the summer. She is still young and has plenty of time to improve but this season is a good opportunity to take a step forward and try and make Top 10 finishes her regular result. It won’t be easy but she has more experience now and has a good chance of doing it. It won’t be too long before Elisa joins the elite!

Elisa has her own website: http://www.gasparin.ch/
You can like her Facebook Page : Elisa Gasparin (Community Page)

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Sochi so far: Biathlon Royalty!

sprintsochi

Phew! A rest day for biathlon today and just in time for me to calm down a bit from my ridiculous over excitement and keep you up to date with what’s been happening. We have had 4 races so far – 2 Sprints and 2 Pursuits. Unless you have been on a trip to the moon or deep under the ocean you will have heard by now that the King of Biathlon Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won the Men’s Sprint race on Saturday. His highness claimed his 12th Olympic medal and equalled the record of his fellow countryman Bjorn Daehlie. The Women’s Sprint was won by Queen Kuzmina who successfully defended her Olympic title from Vancouver.

The Prince and Princess of Pursuit were Martin Fourcade and Darya Domracheva who both showed amazing ski speed and backed it up with highly accurate marksmanship to take their first ever gold medals. The other medallists so far have been Dominik Landertinger and Jaroslav Soukup who took silver and bronze in the Sprint. Soukup’s achievement was all the more amazing after recovering from an arm injury that doctor’s thought might mean he would never ski competitively again. Well he showed them!

In the Women’s Sprint silver and bronze went to Olga Vilukhina, who pleased the home crowd, and Vita Semerenko. The other Pursuit medals went to Ondrej Moravec and Jean Guilliame Beatrix and for the women Tora Berger and Teja Gregorin who won Slovenia’s first ever medal in Olympic biathlon.

The Czech Republic are having a great games so far with 2 medals for the men in 2 races and are looking very good to win more in the relays. Gabriela Soukalova looks back on form in the Pursuit coming from 29th to finish 4th. France have also done well again with 2 medals from 2 races and a very good Pursuit performance from young Simon Destheiux who went from 46th to 21st. They will be difficult to beat in the Men’s Relay.

On the other hand Norway’s Crown Princes, Svendsen and the Boe brothers, have been a little bit off the pace. They haven’t raced competitively since Ruhpolding but will no doubt come in to form for the latter races. The German team haven’t performed very well either with the exception of Schempp but will still be in with a chance especially in the relays.

The Olympics can bring out the best in people. Even thought they might not win a medal for it some of the biathletes have been performing really well. JP Le Guellec finished 5th in the Sprint an improvement on 6th place in Vancouver and he was leading the Pursuit race up until his unfortunate fall on that treacherous corner. Tobias Arwidson of Sweden outperformed his much more experienced countrymen Ferry and Bergman by being one of only two men to shoot clear in the Pursuit – the other being silver medallist Moravec. You also have to feel for Anton Shipulin who came so close to a medal in the Sprint at his home games. Hopefully he will get something from the remaining races.

For the women Karin Oberhofer and Dorothea Weirer of Italy did exceptionally well in the Sprint finishing 4th and 6th. Anais Bescond had a great race finishing in 5th and Switzerland’s Elisa Gasparin finished 8th beating her big sister Selina. In the Pursuit Ann Kristin Flatland made up a lot of places finishing 9th from a start bib of 24 and Olga Zaitseva showed some encouraging form coming from 28th to finish 11th. Sunsan Dunklee has also been breaking all kinds of US records finishing 14th in the Sprint and 18th in the Pursuit.

Tomorrow is the Men’s Individual and then it’s the Women’s turn on Friday. I am not even going to try and predict any medallists as it’s a difficult one to call with the 1 minute penalty per missed target. The gold medals in Sochi so far have been dominated by biathlon’s royalty but can anyone beat them in the next races? You will just have to watch and see!

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Selina: On a “Swiss roll”!

selina

Switzerland’s Selina Gasparin has had the best season of her career so far. She has claimed the first ever victory for her country and followed it up with the second just for good measure.Both of these victories came in the Sprint event, the first historic win in Hochfilzen and hot on it’s heels the second win in Annecy just one week later.

Selina was born in Samedan, Switzerland on the third of April 1984. She is the eldest of the Gasparin sisters who all compete together in the relay team. She is also part of the Swiss Border Police. Coming from an alpine county she lists her hobbies as mountaineering and the slightly less dangerous knitting. Useful if you need a jumper to keep you warm on the mountain! She speaks 5 languages, German, English, Italian, Romansh as you would expect but also Norwegian! Now the last time I looked Norwegian isn’t an official language of Switzerland!

There is a very good reason for this however. Switzerland is much more famous for alpine skiing than other winter sports and so there coaching and facilities are not as developed as in countries. For this reason Selina decided to move to Norway where she immersed herself in the world of biathlon and cross country skiing. She then returned home with this knowledge to pass on to her fellow athletes. It was a great move for her but also a brave one as it’s not easy to leave your country and family to go to a foreign place and it shows what a strong character she has.

Prior to this season her best result was a fourth place in the Individual race in Oestersund in 2012. To make the jump onto the podium is not as easy as you might think and Selina has proved what a great biathlete she is by doing it. Especially considering the competition around in female biathlon with the likes of Berger, Domracheva,Soukalova and Makarainen and a host of others to compete with. By backing it up with another win straight away she proved it was no fluke. Where she might be disappointed is with her subsequent performances in the Pursuits. Unused to the pressure of being chased down in the lead was probably an explanation for this but she can only improve by using these experiences to learn and grow as a biathlete.

She has also helped the Women’s Relay team qualify to compete in Sochi which is a huge achievement both for Swiss biathlon and the Gasparin family. As it makes up 75% of the team Mr and Mrs. Gasparin must be so proud of Selina along with her sisters Aita and Elisa. Their chances of a medal in the games are slim with extremely strong competition at the front but you never know. A Top 6 finish I think would be like a medal for them(ok maybe not exactly like a medal but you know what I mean!!). Individually however Selina has a great chance of getting a medal especially in the Sprint event which seems to be her best. Being in great form going into the Olympics is always a good thing and she is certainly on a Swiss roll!

Good luck Selina!

You can follow Selina on Facebook and Twitter and she has her own website:
http://www.selinagasparin.ch/

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