Tag Archives: Erik Lesser

Antholz 2020: The Relays!

I don’t know about you biathlon fans but I am worn out after two amazing relays at the world championships and we were just watching!

The women were first to race and what a dramatic relay they produced! As biathlon law dictates it was Lisa Vittozzi who put Italy into the lead after the first leg. (Can you remember a time when she didn’t put them in first place?!!)

She only used 1 spare on the prone and handed over to Dorothea Wierer with a healthy margin of almost 30 seconds over the Polish team with Kinga Zyblut and the Russians with Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht.

Wierer would extend that lead to almost a minute. She just used one spare in the prone and her standing shoot was unbelievable! Rapid and accurate – I suggest you watch it for yourself!

At the second exchange she handed over to Federica Sanfilippo. Behind her came Monika Hojnisz-Starega then Irina Starykh. San filippo did well in the prone using just 2 spares but the stand let her down. In the end she incurred 2 penalty loops and Italy were out of the running. Kamila Zuk on the other hand was fantastic using just one spare to put Poland into the lead at the final exchange.

Tiril Eckhoff was trying to make up time for Norway after two solid legs from Synnoeve Solemdal and Ingrid Tandrevold had left them in 5th but over a minute back. She just avoided the penalty loop in the prone using 3 spares but couldn’t avoid it in the stand.

However she skied so strongly on the final loop that she handed over to Marte Olsbu Roeiseland in third place just behind the Czech Republic. Sweden and Germany were closing in with great legs from Linn Persson and Franziska Preuss bringing them back into contention.

Magdalena Gwizdon took over for Poland at the front and she used 2 spares in the prone. Roeiseland and Oeberg cleaned to take over the lead together. Herrmann used 2 spares.

At the final shoot it Roeiseland was spectacular. With the pressure of a gold medal in her hands she shot clean and left the range by herself for a simple ski to victory and a 4th gold medal for her. Hanna Oeberg was the opposite. Unfortunately she ended up on the penalty loop and lost the chance of a medal.

Moving into the medal spots were the Ukraine with Olena Pihrushna and the Czechs with Eva Kristejn Puskarcikova. Unluckily for them they were being chased by Denise Herrmann who needed 2 spares in the stand but skis so fast that she caught and passed both of them on the tracks to secure the silver medal for Germany. Ukraine hung on for the bronze.

The Czech Republic were 4th, Sweden 5th and Switzerland 6th. Poland were 7th in the end after a fabulous team performance and Italy were 10th at the finish.

Next up were the men and it was another close race. The first leg went to Erik Lesser shooting perfectly to give Germany an early lead. It wasn’t a big lead though with Emilien Jacquelin right behind him!

Norway had to take an early penalty loop with Vetle Christiansen having trouble in the standing shoot. That left Italy and Ukraine in 3rd and 4th.

Martin Fourcade took leg two for France up against Philipp Horn. Both cleaned in the prone and despite using 1 spare to Fourcade’s perfect shoot in the stand it was Horn who handed over first but there was very little between France and Germany.

On the third leg Arnd Peiffer and Simon Desthieux went head to head. Remarkably they shot exactly the same score both needing a spare in the stand. It was Peiffer who was stronger on the tracks giving Benedikt Doll a 12 second lead for the final leg. Tarjei Boe meanwhile was moving Norway back up into third.

At the first prone Doll needed all 3 spares to just avoid a penalty loop. Quentin Fillon Maillet hit 5/5 to move into the lead. The final stand decided it with just 2 spares for Fillon Maillet versus a penalty loop for Doll. Johannes Boe used 1 spare for his final standing and was just 5 seconds behind Doll.

On the last loop Boe overtook Doll to take the silver for Norway with Germany settling for bronze. France’s gold medal was the first in the men’s relay at World Championship for Martin Fourcade which completed his set of wins in each event.

Russia were 4th, Slovenia 5th and Austria 6th.

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Antholz 2020: The Single Mixed Relay!

It wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to predict the winner of the single mixed relay! When Norway name Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Johannes Thingnes Boe as their team you know they were after the win and another gold medal.

And that’s exactly what happened – the won and got the gold medal! However it wasn’t the procession that you may have expected, they had to work for this one.

With a tricky wind again in the range it was Hanna Oeberg and Franziska Preuss who took an early lead both hitting 5/5 in the first prone. Roeiseland needed 1 spare which put her behind. She caught up the front two by the stand though and cleaned to tag Norway in the lead. The Swiss were second with Lena Haecki, Sweden third and France fourth with Anais Bescond.

Boe skied away from the chasers but then quickly lost all his lead needing a spare on the prone. That meant Benjamin Weger and Erik Lesser could catch up and leave the range together with Boe. At the stand Boe used 2 spares while Weger and Lesser cleaned. That left the Swiss and Germans ahead with Norway playing catch up.

It didn’t take long for Roeiseland to make up for Boe’s errors and she was with Haecki and Oeberg after the prone shoot. They had been joined by golden girl Dorothea Wierer but not for long. In the stand she would take a penalty loop while Roeiseland, Preuss and Haecki cleaned. Oeberg needed two spares.

Lesser took over in the lead and in the prone both he and Boe cleaned but Weger needed two spares. This meant that clean shooting Sebastian Samuelsson moved into third.

Boe put the pressure on Lesser skiing hard and opening up a gap before the final shoot. He hit all five while Lesser used 1 spare. That was enough to give him a comfortable ski to take the victory. Behind them Samuelsson had to use two spares and that gave Emilien Jacquelin a chance. He hit all five and went on to secure the bronze medal for France behind Germany in silver and Norway in bronze.

Sweden were 4th, Switzerland 5th and Austria 6th.

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Oestersund 2019: The Relays!

Norway’s men won the battle in the sprints and the French men won the battle in the individual! Saturday’s men’s relay would decide who won the war of Oestersund!

OK that might be a little dramatic but we love a bit of drama and that’s what we got in the relay! The first leg was won by Germany with a great start from Erik Lesser. He shot well to hand over ahead of Italy’s Lukas Hofer and France’s Emilien Jacquelin. Norway were 5th with Johannes Dale having a solid first leg using just 2 spares.

Sweden came out on top in the second leg thanks to Jesper Nelin. He coped best in the conditions to give Martin Ponsiluoma a 10 second lead. Behind Nelin came Norway and Italy after good legs from Erlend Bjoentegaard and Thomas Bormolini. Quentin Fillon Maillet went on the penalty loop but skied very fast to make it into third at the exchange ahead of Bormolini.

Tarjei Boe took over for Norway and caught Ponsiluoma before the first prone. Boe needed just one spare which put him into the lead. Simon Desthieux was chasing after Sweden went on the penalty loop and 22-year-old Daniele Cappellari had a great leg for Italy putting them in third.

Tarjei handed over an 11 second lead to his brother Johannes and it was all he needed to take the win for Norway. Fourcade did his best to chase him down with a faultless shoot to Boe’s 2 spares but it wasn’t enough. Dominik Windisch held on to third place for Italy after a fight with Russia.

Russia were 4th, Sweden 5th and Ukraine 6th.

So Norway won the war then? No of course not the wind always wins in Oestersund!

On Sunday it was the women’s turn to race and it was another great relay.

The first leg was once again dominated by Lisa Vittozzi. She cleaned the prone and used 1 spare in the stand to give Italy a 15 second lead at the first exchange. Behind her were Norway with Karoline Kntten and Sweden’s Linn Persson.

Nicole Gontier took the second leg for Italy but she incurred a penalty loop on the prone and put them out of contention. Elvira Oeberg took over the lead for Sweden and held it to the second exchange despite the close attention of Justine Braisaz. Norway came next with Ingrid Tandrevold and then Selina Gasparin for Switzerland and Germany’s Denise Herrmann.

Mona Brorsson took the third leg for the home team but was caught by Tiril Eckhoff and they came into the range together. They both shot 5/5 as did Aita Gasparin. In the stand the Swede cleaned while Eckhoff needed 2 spares. Gasparin cleaned again for the perfect leg.

By the exchange Brorsson had a three second lead to hand to Hanna Oeberg who was closely followed by Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Next came Franziska Preuss and Lena Haecki. The three chasers all cleaned the prone but Oeberg needed all 3 of her spares.

Roeiseland took the lead on the track but had to use 2 spares in the final stand. However it was enough to secure the lead and take Norway to victory again matching the men’s relay team.

The battle was on for second with Oeberg storming back with a clean stand and Haecki using a single spare. They were neck and neck until Haecki made a decisive break and Oeberg just couldn’t catch her. It was an historic second place for the Swiss women’s team with the three Gasparin sisters and Haecki getting their country’s first podium in the women’s relay needing just 4 spare rounds to do it!

Sweden were third with another good result. Germany were 4th, Russia 5th and France 6th.

The action now moves to Hochfilzen for round 2 of the World Cup.

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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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Oestersund 2019: The Relays!

Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg would have been very happy with today’s rallies…..what I am talking about!!! It was the relays and they won’t be happy at all since they were both won by their neighbours and great rivals Norway!

The women raced first and it was Italy as usual who handed over first at the exchange. Lisa Vittozzi is a first leg legend! She did use 3 spares today unusually for her but she still skied herself into the lead!

She gave Nicole Gontier a five second lead over the Ukraine, the USA and home team Sweden after 10/10 shoots from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Linn Persson and just the 1 spare from Susan Dunklee. Germany with Vanessa Hinz went on the penalty loop but Norway were not too far off with a solid leg from Synnoeve Solemdal with 2 spares used.

Gontier had a great leg hitting all 10 targets as did Clare Egan for the USA leaving them neck and neck at the exchange. They were followed by Vita Semerenko, Mona Brorsson and Ingrid Tandrevold who hit 10/10 for Norway.

The third leg saw Joanne Reid hold the lead for the USA after the prone ahead of Alexia Runggaldier, Anna Magnusson, Yuliia Dzhima and Tiril Eckhoff.

Magnusson cleaned the stand to put Sweden in the lead, Reid needed 1 spare, Dzhima 2 and Eckhoff and Runggaldier went on the penalty loop!

That gave Hanna Oberg a 17 second lead at the final exchange. She was followed out by Emily Dreissigacker, Valj Semerenko and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Oberg needed 2 spares in the prone, the USA were clean and Ukraine and Norway took 1 spare each.

Roeiseland and Semerenko passed Dreissigacker on the tracks to move into second and third place for the final crucial shoot. Oberg was first in but needed all her spares. Roeiseland threw caution to the wind and went for it hitting all 5 and skiing to the gold medal for Norway. Sweden took silver and Semerenko needed 1 spare to safely claim the bronze medal. Unfortunately Dreissigacker went on the penalty loop twice and eventually finished in 9th but it was an amazing race from the US ladies.

Germany were 4th, Russia 5th and Slovakia 6th.

The day was tinged with sadness however as it was Rosanna Crawford’s final race for Canada who finished 14th. She will be greatly missed on the World Cup. 😦

The men raced later and victory again went to Norway who have won gold in every single relay at the World Championships!

The first leg was very close between a lot of the teams with some good shooting on the range. It was Matvey Eliseev who handed over first though for Russia with Lukas Hofer and Antonin Guigonnat close behind. The top ten teams were all within around 10 seconds of each other with Erik Lesser and Lars Birkeland keeping Germany and Norway in the mix.

The gaps stared to appear after leg 2 with France taking the lead thanks to Quentin Fillon Maillet. However he was followed closely by Vetle Christiansen in second and Jesper Nelin in third. Roman Rees for Germany (3 spares) and newcomer Nikita Porshnev for Russia (2 spares) both had solid legs.

On the third leg Tarjei Boe did really well using just 2 spares in the stand to give his brother a 43 second lead for the last lap. Simon Desthieux went on the penalty loop but still managed to tag Martin Fourcade in second place. He left at the same time as Bendikt Doll after a great leg from Arnd Peiffer moved Germany into third. Martin Ponsiluoma used 2 spares to put Sweden in fourth. Dmitry Malyshko kept Russia in the hunt also with 3 spares.

Johannes Boe shot clean on the prone to extend his lead. Fourcade cleaned and Doll needed 1 spare but they were still locked together in the podium positions. Samuelsson used 3 spares and was passed by Rok Trsan who put Slovenia into 4th!

Boe used all 3 spares in the stand but it was enough to seal victory and yet another gold for Norway. Doll used 1 spare but Fourcade ended up with 2 penalty loops. That left Germany in a comfortable silver medal position. Bronze was still up for grabs and with a perfect leg from Alexander Loginov it went to Russia.

The Czech Republic moved up to 4th, Slovenia were 5th and France 6th.

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Oestersund 2019: Single Mixed Relay!

As explosive as experiment day in Alfred Nobel’s laboratory, the first ever Single Mixed Relay at the World Championships went off with a bang!

It was Norway (surprise, surprise) that were the history makers today in Oestersund taking the first gold medal in this event at a major Championships. Johannes Boe and Marte Olbsu Roeiseland proved a great combination mainly of ski speed and sometimes of shooting.

The action was non stop and left everyone breathless as team after team took the lead and then lost the lead and then regained the lead again!!

After the first lap Italy were in first place with Dorothea Wierer using only 1 spare. There was nothing in it though with Austria and Ukraine right behind and by the first prone for the men there were 7 teams together on the range.

There were quite a few spares required by the boys including 3 for Johannes Boe on the stand, 2 for Lukas Hofer and 3 altogether from Sebastian Samuelsson. Dmytro Pidruchnyi cleaned the stand, as did Antonin Guigonnat, Simon Eder and Erik Lesser.

They exchanged to the women in that order but it soon changed with Denise Herrmann taking the lead out on the tracks. Wierer, Hauser and Merkushyna cleaned the prone but Herrmann, Oberg and Roeiseland needed 1 spare each.

Herrmann again passed on the tracks to lead into the stand but needed 2 spares as did Hauser, Wierer used 1 but crucially Roeiseland and Oberg cleaned.

That left Italy in the lead at the last exchange but just 1 second ahead of Norway and 6 ahead of Sweden. All three cleaned the prone and so it would come down to the stand to decide the medals. Boe, who has had problems in the stand here in Oestersund, hit all 5 and skied off to take the gold. Hofer needed 1 spare but was safe in second place.

Sweden took the bronze with Samuelsson also needing just the 1 spare to hold off the charging Erik Lesser who hit 10/10 in his leg and 20/20 overall.

It was an action packed race all the way to the final shoot and a great addition to the World Championships. Germany were 4th, Ukraine 5th and Russia 6th.

Poor Austria who have never finished off the podium in this race on the World Cup were 8th.

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Oestersund 2019: The Pursuits!

“The winner takes it all
The loser’s standing small”

A perfect summary of today’s women’s pursuit by ABBA. It was absolute joy for one and utter heartbreak for another!

We started off in nice conditions then the wind got up and a snow storm blew in. It was Anastasiya Kuzmina who went off first after her sprint win but her lead only lasted until the first shoot when she missed 2 in the prone.

That left Denise Herrmann and Mona Brorsson out ahead with Laura Dahlmeier and Tiril Eckhoff just behind after all four hit 5/5.

It was a similar story after the second prone with all four hitting 5/5 again. Denise Herrmann pulled put a lead on the tracks from Brorsson in second and arrived in the range first for the standing shoot. Herrmann missed 2 and Brorsson cleaned to leave her out in the lead by over half a minute. Behind them Dahlmeier missed 1 and Eckhoff missed 2.

At the final stand it was not to be for home favourite Brorsson. She missed her first shot and couldn’t recover eventually missing 4 targets in all. It was horrible to watch her fall apart at her home World Championships but it is the first time she has been in this position and there was a lot of pressure on her. I think leading the penultimate loop by herself gave her too much thinking time about the consequences of the last shoot and it got to her.

She is such a nice person and deserved better but hopefully this experience will help her in the future to win races and get podiums. Fingers crossed it is in the next two races!

Back on the range Denise Herrmann was cleaning her five targets and heading off for her first ever World Championship gold medal after just three seasons in biathlon. Quite an amazing feat.

There was a big battle on the tracks for silver and bronze with Dahlmeier and Eckhoff also hitting all 5 on the final shoot. The German was just ahead but Eckhoff was strong on the skis and caught up to her heading to the finish line. Eckhoff was clever and took a tight line into the home straight to make sure Dahlmeier couldn’t get ahead and she took the silver medal for Norway. Dahlmeier got her second bronze in a row.

Marte Olsbu Roeiseland was 4th coming from 25th even with 4 misses! Hanna Oberg was 5th and Kuzmina 6th.

Anna Magnusson went from 43rd to 11th and Lena Haecki from 53rd to 14th.

The men’s pursuit showed exactly why we love biathlon. The main man who has been winning all season and had a big lead coming into the final shoot looked unbeatable, and then he was beaten! And he was beaten by someone who has never won a race before, in fact he has never made the podium before today!

Johannes Thingnes Boe almost had the gold medal around his neck for most of this pursuit. He cleaned the first prone and set about building on his lead. Martin Fourcade also cleaned and was joined by Alexander Loginov despite his 1 miss for the second loop.

Boe missed 1 on his second prone but had a big margin and held the lead. Fourcade and Loginov also hit 5/5 as did Erik Lesser and Benajmin Weger who were on their tails.

At the third shoot Johannes missed another but again kept out in front. Behind him Fourcade, Loginov, Lesser and Weger all missed 2 and Boe’s lead was maintained. However next in the range were Tarjei Boe, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Dmytro Pidruchnyi, Antonin Guigonnat and Evgeniy Garanichev who all cleaned and found themselves fighting for the silver and bronze.

At the final shoot it all went wrong for Boe missing 3 targets. Even if he had missed just 2 he probably would have won but not 3. Pidruchnyi was the only one of the chase group who held his nerve and cleaned while the others all missed 1.

By this time Pidruchnyi was gone and Johannes was off the penalty loop into second but third was still up for grabs. It went down to a ski race between Fillon Maillet and Tarjei Boe with the Frenchman just that bit faster claiming his second bronze medal in two days.

It was an unbelievable race from Pidruchnyi who is probably not so upset about missing the bronze in the sprint by 0.3 of a second now that he is the pursuit World Champion!!!

Martin Fourcade finished 5th and Andrejs Rastorgujevs was 6th.

Elsewhere Michal Krcmar went from 44th to 25th,Thomas Bormolini from 43rd to 27th and Matvey Eliseev from 51st to 35th.

Tomorrow is a rest day which is lucky as there are a few biathletes who won’t be getting much sleep tonight for very different reasons!!!

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