Tag Archives: Erik Lesser

The Biathlon23 Awards 2016/17!!!

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It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their fourth year! As usual they are not your typical awards. In fact they are even more la-la than LA-LA Land! Luckily I double checked all the envelopes as I discovered Gabi Koukalova’s name in the Best Facial Hair category – OOPS!!! 😉 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):
Shockingly this award was almost won by a ski technician. Now I love the ski/wax techs but they are forbidden from winning awards! Andrew Chisholm is the culprit proving very popular among his fellow Canadians. This had to be stopped and there was only one way to it. Interview a German! Luckily for me one of them agreed to do it and since it’s biathlon a German can beat anyone! This one also went on to become World Champion in the Sprint in Hochfilzen! (That’s what biathlon23 interviews can do for you!)
Winner: Benedikt Doll

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:

“biathlon23”: This is happening more often! It’s a worry! 😉
“little bit too much girly habert dorin”: Outrageous behaviour from a girl!!!
“martin fourcade and final lap of relay. did he cheat?” Yes he cheats in every race by being faster on skis and better at shooting than everyone else – Damn him!
“is aiden miller one of the fastest people”: I think it’s still Usain Bolt!
“simon fourcade has child”: I don’t think he can!
“van damme biathlon”: Well Belgium are always looking for biathletes!
“tarjei bø party”: I want to go!
“tarjei bö shirtless”: The party just got better!
“lisa theresa hauser high heels”: Not when she is skiing I hope!

Winner:“anton panton biathlon”: It’s Pantov! Anton Pantov! It must be the rhyming here that made me cry laughing so that’s why it wins!

Best Facial Hair:
Talk about famine to feast. Last season there was obviously some sort of offer on shaving items as there was hardly a whisker to be seen but this year the beard is back! It’s not just the biathletes either some of the coaches have beards and even the new IBU TV guy. Well sorry gents but this is a biathlete only award. The French put up a good fight this season with Simon Fourcade and also Antonin Guigonnat trying to become an extra on “Vikings”. The Canadians have Macx Davies trying to defend his title and a hidden gem in the IBU Cup with Matthew Neumann’s wonderful effort. The Germans tried but I’m sorry to say failed with Erik Lesser and Arnd Peiffer attempting the goatie but with little success. Klemen Bauer always has a great beard. Benni Weger was a strong candidate but the winner has a great beard to go with a great personality and also some great form!
Winner:Michael Roesch

Best earrings:
A strong category this season. There are a lot of ladies wearing earrings to compete and so it was a tough decision. Kaisa Makarainen has her snowflakes as does Tiril Eckhoff. There were a lot of ladies choosing long earrings this year. They are brave, I mean imagine if they got caught in your harness – AHH!!! The ones I liked best however were small blue earrings that actually looked like real flowers.
Winner:Nicole Gontier

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 year’s award has to be shared for a magnificent two person effort. Picture the scene. The Men’s Relay in Pokljuka, the first lap, a herd of biathletes hurtling down the hill. Sergey Bocharnikov of Belarus falls and Tuomas Gronman of Finland skis into him and goes flying through the air and lands on his face! Fortunately both were OK but it was a spectacular crash to watch.
Winner: Thomas Gronman and Sergey Bocharnikov

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
Again this has to go to a Boe! This year it’s Johannes but he does have to share it with Gabi! Asked at a press conference in Hochfilzen about Valentine’s Day he put his arm round Gabi and said he had everything he needed for Valentine’s Day. To which she replied that he would have to wait a few days because her husband was there! So funny and very cheeky as usual! (actually Gabi saying that Laura Dahlmeier ‘runs like a horse’ was also in contention!)
See the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLI4rZgjECE
Winner: Johannes Boe and Gabriela Koukalova

Best biathlon video:
There is only one possibility. Filmed in a bathroom at the World Championships (no it’s not that get your mind out of the gutter!) by the American team. Please feel free to ignore most of it except of course the part where Maddie Phaneuf talks about this blog! Fame at last! It’s all about 23! 🙂
(Actually you should watch all the videos they did as it’s a great behind the scenes view with some raw emotions too.)
see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UdHH16RR8c&feature=youtu.be
Winner: US biathlon women’s team

Best rifle design:
It’s been a lean year for rifle design. I mean biathletes have all summer to come up with a idea and then we get a blue,black or red rifle or a wooden stock. Come on people! We have a few saviours thankfully. Erik Lesser has a design that I think is miners. Joanne Reid has a naked lady! (Don’t look kids!). Andrejs Rastorgujevs has his like a zebra in case we do safari biathlon! Anastasiya Kuzmina has gone a bit psychedelic. Jaroslav Soukup has his kids on there (AWW!). Shipulin and Gasparin still have their cool rifles from last season but the winner is a lady who has a cat’s face on her stock. You can just see the eyes staring at you when she shoots. It’s PURR-fect! 😉
Winner: Darya Usanova

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Well it’s not technically ridiculous and not even that bad but as almost everyone has gone boring this season someone has to win. I don’t want to be too harsh, she may be short of money and that’s why she used her grandmother’s flowery wallpaper to cover her rifle including the barrel!
Winner: Veronika Vitkova

Best ski suit:
There has been a noticeable improvement in this years ski suits. I particularly like Estonia, Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic. The Norwegians and Great Britain have done well too. The winner was actually hard to choose for a change but I went with this country because I like the design and the colours and they deserve praise for getting rid of those pixelated trousers from last season!
Winner: Austria

Worst ski suit:
Well there is a clear winner this year but first I must commend some previous winners for improving their suits. Not France of course because theirs still sucks! Lithuania however have made major improvements in colour abandoning the yellow/green horror for a lovely shade of red. China came close to getting this award but avoided it by at least using the colours of their flag. However the winners was an easy choice. They have chosen the colour of the phlegm you cough up when you have a chest infection and matched it with silvery grey. None of these colours are on the country’s flag and hopefully it will never been seen again!
Winner: Romania

Best range decoration:
Oestersund got us started with range decoration this season by throwing some shells (the wrong size by the way) on to a pile of snow! Creativity at it’s best! PyeongChang got in on the action with a rabbit watching the shooting (FYI rabbits don’t like rifles!). The clear winner however is the digger and the penguin. Not that much to do with biathlon to be fair but good work nonetheless.
Winner:Ruhpolding

Best TV turn:
You may have noticed at the start of Sprint and Individual races the biathletes pop up with a TV turn at the left bottom corner of your screen. Most of them either cross their arms or put their arms on their hips. Luckily we have 2 creative rebels to entertain us. Vladimir Semakov of Ukraine does the 2 thumbs up and the winner who is 100% biathlon at all times makes a gun with his fingers for shooting!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Best Biathlete23:
Difficult this season without a win for bib23. We have had 3 podiums. Susan Dunklee was third and Anton Shipulin and Justine Braisaz were both second. How do you choose between them? You don’t! I have gone left field for this one. A biathlete who contacts the blog to say they are in bib23 in the first race of the season and then goes on to achieve their personal best wearing it deserves the title! It doesn’t matter if it’s World Cup, IBU Cup or the Junior World Cup. In this case 14th in the Junior Men’s Individual in Lenzerheide!
Winner: Tom Lahaye-Goffart

Biggest Improver:
One person in particular has had an amazing season. This season she has progressed from an athlete who would move between the IBU and World Cup to a regular on the World Cup. She got her first ever World Cup podium in Nove Mesto where she came second in the Sprint. She won her first ever race in the Pursuit a day later. She was also on the podium in Antholz coming second in the Individual and again in PyeongChang when she was 3rd in the Sprint. She won a bronze medal in the Sprint at the World Championships. Last season she was 39th in the Total Score and this season she was 7th. You can see the clear improvement!
Winner: Anais Chevalier

Best Team Performance:
There can only be one winner in this category. Winning every Women’s Relay of the season and the World Championships is a remarkable achievement. I mean it helps to have Laura Dahlmeier on the anchor leg but they can even win without her as was proved in PyeongChang.
Winner: German Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This one comes from the World Championships. Dominik Landertinger’s final lap in the Men’s Relay was a strong contender but there could only be one winner for me. Winning the Individual race for the USA was an outstanding achievement. A perfect shooting performance and a excellent ski meant he deserved all the accolades he got. However this award is actually for the whole Championships. He was also 4th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the Mass Start. After being overtaken in these races and losing positions his win in the Individual showed some amazing mental fortitude as well as his obvious talent.
Winner: Lowell Bailey

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
So it has to come down to Martin Fourcade vs. Laura Dahlmeier. That’s a race I would love to see! Martin now has 6 Overall Titles in a row and won an amazing 14 races this season. Dahlmeier won the Overall Title for the first time and won 5 gold and 1 silver medal at the World Championships. She also won 10 races this season and was a fantasic anchor in the Women’s Relay team. Basically I think it comes down to the more competitive nature of the women’s field as to why I chose this winner and that the first World Title is often the hardest.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

IPC biathlete of the Year:
I think this is the hardest award of all to choose with 3 categories of men and women there are a lot of possibilities. This year I have chosen someone who dramatically claimed his first ever biathlon World Title at the final World Cup round in Japan in the final race. He also won two gold medals at his home World Championships in Finsterau in the sitting category. Also he likes biathlon better than cross-country which is very important!
Winner: Martin Fleig

Junior Biathlete of the Year:

A very tough category especially as there is now a Junior World Cup as well as World Championships. I chose this guy because of his consistency over the season as well as his obvious talent in skiing and shooting. He won the Overall Title on the Junior World Cup and silver at the European Junior Championships in the Individual. He also won silver in the Sprint at the World Championships and helped his team to Relay gold.
Winner: Kirill Streltsov

Youth Biathlete of the Year:
This was a duel between two biathletes again. Irene Lardschneider and Claude 3 or Emilien as he is also known. They have both competed on the Junior World Cup. They both won 2 gold medals at the Youth World Championships in the Sprint and Pursuit. One of them also won a bronze medal with their team in the Relay so for that and the fact that they have a great surname here is the winner.
Winner: Irene Lardschneider

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World Cup 2016/17: Men’s Review!

Well my season preview for the men started like this:

“Martin Fourcade is the red hot favourite. If he stays fit and healthy all season he will win the Overall Title for the 6th year in a row.”

My season review starts like this:

“Unsurprisingly I was right!”

Yes Monsieur Fourcade has done it again! He won his sixth Overall Title this season and he clinched it in Korea at World Cup 7. In an extraordinary season for Martin he won 14 races out of 26, finished on the podium 22 times and won all the small crystal globes in the Sprint, Pursuit, Individual and Mass Start. I ran out of words to describe his achievements a long time ago but what he has done this season is absolutely incredible and may never be repeated – unless he does it again next season! 😉

Fourcade ended the Total Score with 1322 points ahead of Anton Shipulin in second with 918 points and Johannes Boe in third with 812.

Rookie of the year went to Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson who was 43rd in the Total Score with 169 points in his first full World Cup season aged 19.

The season started way back in Oestersund at the end of November. The first race was the Individual and Martin Fourcade won that. (Just a word of warning this will be something of a theme throughout the review!) Second went to Johannes Boe and a surprise third to Vladimir Chepelin. The Sprint was next and another win for Fourcade with home favourite Freddie Lindstroem taking second and Arnd Peiffer third. Lastly was the Pursuit which Fourcade DIDN’T win! It went to Anton Babikov and was his first World Cup victory. Maxim Tsvetkov was second and Fourcade was third.

Next we went to Pokljuka where Martin Fourcade won the Sprint with Johannes Boe second and Anton Shipulin third. The Pursuit also went to Fourcade with Emil Hegle Svendsen second with his first podium in a while and Shipulin was again third.

Nove Mesto was next and guess what Martin Fourcade won the Sprint. Shipulin was second and Svendsen third this time. Fourcade also won the Pursuit with Shipulin staying in second and Quentin Fillon Maillet moving from 16th to 3rd. We had the first Mass Start of the season here which was also won by Fourcade. Simon Schempp got his first podium of the season in second and Anton Babikov was third.

After Christmas we headed to Germany and Oberhof. Here was when Martin Fourcade failed to get on the podium for the first time finishing 8th in the Sprint. He did have bib 23 so I think maybe he doesn’t like me! 😉 Julian Eberhard won the race with Michal Slesingr in second and Dominik Windisch third. It was so nice to have some different biathletes on the podium for a change. The Pursuit of course went to Fourcade and Arnd Peiffer went from 15th to second with Windisch staying in third. The final race was another Mass Start this time won by Simon Schempp with teammate Erik Lesser in second and Fourcade third.

We stayed in Germany with round 5 in Ruhpolding. Fourcade took yet another Sprint victory and he was joined on the podium by Eberhard in second and Svendsen in third. The Pursuit also went to Fourcade with Svendsen in second and Michal Krcmar getting his first ever podium finish in third.

By now it was pretty obvious who would win the Overall Title but apparently you still have to hold the rest of the races so we went to Antholz! This time Fourcade didn’t win a race! What a shock! Anton Shipulin who always does well here won the Individual with Fourcade in second and Serghiy Semenov third with his first podium of the season. We also had a Mass Start which Johannes Boe won giving him his first win of the season. Quentin Fillon Maillet was second and Anton Shipulin third.

In February came the World Championships in Hochfilzen. Really we would have expected Fourcade to dominate this but he didn’t. The Sprint race went to Benedikt Doll by just 0.7 seconds in front of Johannes Boe and Fourcade was third. He did win the Pursuit race with Boe taking another silver and the legend that is Ole Einar Bjoerndalen winning yet another medal taking the bronze. The Individual went to an amazing performance from Lowell Bailey who took gold in front of Ondrej Moravec in silver and Fourcade took another bronze. The Mass Start was won by Simon Schempp with Johannes Boe in silver again and Simon Eder taking bronze for the home nation.

I know Fourcade came away with a gold and 2 bronze medals from the individual races but considering how many races he has won on the World Cu we were expecting better. Especially if you compare him to Laura Dahlmeier who got 3 golds and a silver. He says he just wanted to win one gold at the event which he did but I think he may have left a little disappointed.

Next we moved to PyeongChang and to the Olympic track. Here Julian Eberhard took his second win of the season in the Sprint race with Lowell Bailey in second continuing his good form. Fourcade was third which meant that he clinched the Overall Crystal globe for the 6th time. To celebrate he went on to win the Pursuit race with Anton Shipulin coming from 23rd to second and Julian Eberhard holding on for third.

Kontiolahti replaced Tyumen for round 8. A new venue but the same winner. Martin Fourcade won the Sprint by 0.6 seconds from Ondrej Moravec in second. It was Fourcade’s 13th victory breaking the record in the men’s field for most races won in a season. Emil Hegle Svendsen came third. The Pursuit race went to Arnd Peiffer with Simon Eder in second and Svendsen taking third again.

The final round of the World Cup was in Holmenkollen, Oslo. The Sprint was won by home favourite Johannes Boe with Martin Fourcade second and Anton Shipulin third. The pursuit went to Shipulin with Fourcade second and Johannes Boe third. The final race of the season was of course won by Martin Fourcadejust like the first one! Andrejs Rastorgujevs was second getting his first podium finish on the World Cup and Simon Eder was third.

With the individual races not being very competitive as we might like the Relays provided some different results. They were won by France, Norway, Germany and France again on the World Cup and by Russia at the World Championships.

The Single Mixed Relays went to France in Oestersund with a team of Fourcade and Dorin Habert, and to Austria in Kontiolahti with Simon Eder and Lisa Hauser.


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Hochfilzen 2017: The Men’s Relay!

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It was back to sunshine for the Men’s Relay at the Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen. We had a field of 26 starting the race and it was another great one.

The first leg went very well for all the top teams. Erik Lesser had a great leg shooting 10/10 and handing over in the lead. He was followed by Jean Guillaume Beatrix who also hit 10/10. Lowell Bailey continued his good form with just 1 spare needed, Bjoerndalen needed 2 spares as did Hofer and Volkov. Pyrma and Mesotitsch used 1 each so it was all pretty close at the first exchange. Andrejs Rastorgujevs went out very fast on the first leg for Latvia and was leading up until the standing when he ended up on the penalty loop!

Benedikt Doll took over for Germany and although he used 1 spare on the prone he used 3 on the stand and risked a penalty loop. Quentin Fillon Maillet had a much better leg than in the Mixed Relay and used only 1 spare. Maxim Tsvetkov, Dominik Windisch and Sergey Semenov were all brilliant shooing 10/10. Emil Svendsen used 1 spare as did Leif Nordgren but Julian Eberhard needed 4. All of that left France just in the lead in front of the chasing pack.

The third leg is usually where things can be decided. Anton Babikov didn’t put a foot wrong shooting 10/10 and put Russia firmly in control of the race. Behind him Simon Eder, Arnd Peiffer, Simon Desthieux and Vladimir Semakov all needed to use 3 spares. Tarjei Boe ended Norway’s chances by going on the penalty loop on his standing shoot. Italy’s Guiseppe Montello had a fine leg using just 1 spare.

That left us with the final leg to go and Anton Shupulin in the lead. He was chased by Martin Fourcade and after him came Dominik Landertinger and Simon Schempp. Italy and Ukraine were left fighting for the minor placings with Thomas Bormolini and Dmytro Pidruchnyi racing for 5th and 6th.

Shipulin was comfortable on the prone hitting all 5 to maintain his lead. Fourcade also hit them all but Landertinger and Schempp both needed 1 spare. So that left one fight for gold and silver and another for bronze. Shipulin missed a target in the stand but hit quickly with his spare to keep a gap over Fourcade who again shot clean. Landertinger needed a spare but Schempp didn’t and they were together leaving the range.

Shipulin went out hard and Fourade couldn’t catch him giving Russia their first gold of these Championships. France took silver but there was a great fight for bronze.

It looked like Schemmp was going to sit in behind Landertinger and use his sprint finish to beat him. Landi had other ideas and when they got to the final climb he threw everything at it going up like a rocket. He managed to break Schempp and held the gap all the way to the line and gave Austria their first medal at their home World Championships. It was great and the hosts deserved a medal for putting on a great show here in Hochfilzen. Plus Germany have got loads of medals already -it’s time to share!

Fourth place went to Germany, Italy were amazing to get 5th, Ukraine were 6th, the USA were excellent in 7th inspired by Lowell Bailey, Norway were 8th, Bulgaria took 9th and the Czech Republic 10th.

11th Sweden
12th Slovakia
13th Canada
14th Kazakhstan
15th Japan
16th Switzerland
17th Romania
18th Slovenia
19th Belarus
20th Finland
21st Estonia
22nd Latvia
23rd Korea
24th Poland
25th Lithuania
26th Great Britain

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Men’s Individual!

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What can I say about the Men’s Individual in Hochfilzen! What a fantastic race and an even better result! Another fine day at the World Championships and history was made!

Lowell Bailey won the Men’s Individual! He became the first ever American to win a biathlon World title. In fact biathlon is the only winter sport that America has never won a World Title in. Not anymore! Thanks to outstanding shooting from Bailey he will go down in the history books and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. He has been unlucky this week finishing 4th in the Sprint and 6th in the Pursuit but finally in the Individual no one could beat him. It’s his first ever win having a previous best of second.

He managed to out ski Ondrej Moravec, who took the silver, by 3.3 seconds. Moravec also shot 20/20 but had started earlier than Bailey. In fact Bailey was bib 100 and so kept us hanging on right until the end.

Bronze went to Martin Fourcade who couldn’t make it 4 Individual World Titles in a row. He missed 2 shots but still did really well to finish in third place. He has a medal in every race so far.

Fourth went to Erik Lesser with 1 miss, 5th to Sergey Semenov also with 1 miss. In 6th place was Michal Krcmar who shot 20/20, 7th went to Anton Shipulin with 2 misses and in 8th was Johannes Boe also with 2 misses. In 9th was another Norwegian Lars Birkeland with a single miss and 10th went to Benjamin Weger also with 19/20.

Home team Austria finished with Eder in 12th, Eberhard in 14th and Mesotitsch in 15th. They will be desperate to do well in the Relay and the Mass Start to win Austria a medal.

Emil Svendsen was back in action after collapsing at the end of the Sprint race and he finished 27th. Further back Great Britain’s Scott Dixon grabbed a personal best in 69th with 2 missed targets.

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Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 2!

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Well that was a good finish to a fun weekend in Antholz! We had a new winner in the women’s races with Nadine Horchler and a first podium at home for Alexia Runggaldier and Martin Fourcade didn’t win a race! Surprises everywhere!

The men raced first this morning in the Mass Start and it was another cracker. They attacked it from the start with Emil Svendsen pushing the pace on the first loop. It didn’t work out too well for him though as he was the one who missed a target.

At the second prone it was Shipulin’s turn to miss which left Johannes Boe, Martin Fourcade, Lars Birkeland and Erik Lesser in the lead.

The third shoot saw Fourcade miss but Boe, Lesser and Birkeland all cleared. Behind them Beatrix, Schempp, Fillon Maillet and Svendsen were all closing back in on the leaders.

The final shoot as usual was the crucial one. Lesser missed 1 and Fourcade missed 2 which left Boe and Fillon Maillet fighting it out on the tracks for the victory with Shipulin just behind. The last person you want to ski the final loop of a race with is Martin Fourcade but the second last is Johannes Boe!

Fillon Maillet just couldn’t hang on to him in the closing stages and was denied a first victory. However Johannes more than deserved the win for his powerful skiing as well as shooting 20/20. He was the only man to shoot clean today and gave Fourcade a gentle reminder that he won’t have it all his own way in Hochfilzen.

We had 3 Frenchmen in the top six with Fourcade in 5th and Beatrix in 6th. Svendsen came back to finish 4th and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was 10th.

The Women’s Relay was not as close as the men’s race yesterday and there was no surprise who won this one. It was the German women who made it a Deutsch eins-zwei in the Relays.

They fielded a strong team of Laura Dahlmeier, Franziska Hildebrand, Maren Hammerschmidt and Vanessa Hinz and if they all perform well it’s a very hard group to beat. The French team of Chevalier, Braisaz , Bescond and Dorin Habert gave it a good try leading the first leg but from there the Germans took over and never looked back winning by 24 seconds. They did use 12 spares to France’s 8 so they are not perfect.

Third place went to Italy whose women rounded off a good weekend for the team. Vitozzi, Sanfilippo, Runggaldier and Wierer put in a great performance to move from 7th to third with 9 spares.

Finland had a great Relay too coming 8th from a start position of 16th with Toivanen, Markkanen, Laukkanen and Makarainen. The USA also did well finishing 13th after starting in bib 22 with Dunklee, Egan, Reid and Phaneuf.

So that is the end of the World Cup races for a little while. We have a short break before the World Championships in Hochfilzen on the 9th of February. Martin Fourcade will wear the yellow bib for the men and Laura Dahlemier is in yellow for the women.

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Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 1!

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Saturday was a different day on the biathlon calendar with the women racing the Mass Start and the men racing the Relay. Maybe they should do it more often as they were two fantastic races!

With calm wind conditions and a lovely sunny day it was a great day to race. The Women’s Mass Start was won by a clean shooting German…and it wasn’t Laura Dahlmeier! Giving the German selectors a massive headache before the World Championships was Nadine Horchler. She normally competes more on the IBU Cup and goes up and down to the World Cup but that may not be the case anymore after taking her first ever win.

She started with bib 30 which meant she was the last person to qualify to race today and she overtook the whole field to win with an outstanding performance. She shot clean and then on the final loop she skied past Gabriela Koukalova to take the win by just over 3 seconds. Second place went to teammate Dahlmeier who also passed Koukalova on the final lap but the Czech held on to third. She had a tough race having to take 3 different poles and missing 2 targets.

It was also unlike Dahlmeier to miss 3 shots but I think Horchler was quite pleased she did!

Tatiana Akimova had the early lead in this race after the first two prone shoots but her standing shoots let her down. That left Koukalova to take her time and clean the standing shoots to put her into the lead but she couldn’t hold on to it and a brave final lap from Horchler gave her the win.

Elsewhere Sweden’s Anna Magnusson came 7th getting her personal best missing just one target, Kaia Nicolaisen shot clean and took 9th and Alexia Runggaldier continued her fine form at home finishing 6th with 1 miss.

The Men’s Relay was next and gave us a fantastic sprint to line and a photo finish to decide the winner! Of course if there is a sprint finish there can only be two people involved. The two who are always in sprint finishes and in fact are two of the best at doing it – Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen.

This time Schempp came out on top and led team German to the victory. They were separated by just 0.1 of a second at the end. The early stages of this race had Russia in control after the first two laps with Tsvetkov and Garanichev racing really well.

The third loop began with Malyshko, Johannes Boe and Peiffer all together but by the end it was Boe who passed a 17 second lead to Svendsen. Boe and Peiffer missed just 1 shot each and Malyshko needed 4 spares which put Russia out of contention for the win.

With Svendsen requiring 2 spares to Schempp’s 1 it made the final loop into an exciting ski race. Schempp who can claim to be one of the best sprinters around grabbed the win on the line to give his team of Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer the perfect end to the day.

Norway’s team of Svendsen, Boe, Lars Birkeland and L’Abee Lund now have a first and second place in the last 2 Relays with arguably not their strongest team. Russia with Tsvetkov, Garanichev, Malyshko and Anton Babikov stayed in third place.

The American team of Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Leif Nordgren and Sean Doherty had a great race finishing in 6th from bib 24 and the Swedes with Stenersen, Nelin, Samuelsson and Lindstrom were 9th from bib 22.

Tomorrow the races are the opposite way around with the Men’s Mass Start and the Women’s Relay so let’s hope they are just as exciting as today!

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Ruhpolding 2017: The Relays!

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It seems the people of Ruhpolding like everything weiß. Weißbier, weißwurst and of course weiß snow! They also love an exciting finish in the Relay and that’s exactly what they got in the Men’s race on Wednesday.

We all know the Norwegian men love to win the Relay in Ruhpolding and they did so again for the third time in a row. For most of the race it didn’t look that likely until Emil Svendsen took over on the final leg and very much proved why he is called Super Svendsen – and it’s not because he wears his underpants over his trousers! No it’s because when he is on form he is an awesome biathlete.

Russia spent most of the race in the lead apart from the first lap where a great leg from Lukas Hofer, shooting 10/10, put Italy in the lead at the first changeover. The second two legs were dominated by Anton Shipulin who only used one spare and Matvey Eliseev who didn’t miss a target.

He handed over a 30 second lead to Anton Babikov who had Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen chasing him. Schempp was lucky to be there after Erik Lesser did a penalty loop on the first leg but some great work from Bendikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer put Germany back into contention.

Svendsen proved to be the best of the three, shooting 10/10 when the other two both needed a spare and had a great ski to catch and then pass Babikov to win the race by 5 seconds. He has teammates Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Vetle Christiansen and Henrik L’Abee Lund to thank for putting him in such a good position and also his ski technicians for some incredible skis. With Norway winning without a Boe in sight they could be hard to beat for the rest of the season.

Back in the pack Sweden came all the way from 23rd to finish 6th using 8 spares, Bulgaria finished an impressive 8th including a penalty loop and the Ukraine showed how good a team they have maintaining 4th place with Vitaliy Kilchytskyy completing his standing shoot in 17 seconds hitting all the targets. France came 9th unable to recover from a poor first leg from Simon Fourcade who is back after an illness.

So then the Women’s race on Thursday had a lot to live up to and it did just that! Kaisa Makarainen got us off to a great start by leading the race up to the first exchange. However Finnish hopes were short lived as the bigger teams took over from there. Maren Hammerschmidt took the second leg for home team Germany taking over from Vanessa Hinz. She managed to hand over the lead to Franziska Preuss despite the close attentions of Italy, Ukraine, Norway and France.

In the third leg it was Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who went into the lead missing just one shot in the prone. In fact that was the only spare round the Norwegian team used in the race! She handed Marte Oslbu a 4.5 second lead but she had some tough competition in the form of Olena Pidhrushna, Laura Dahlmeier and Celia Aymonier.

In the end it was Laura Dahlmeier who was victorious giving the crowd something to cheer! She used 1 spare but was too strong on the skis for the others making up a 10 second deficit on Olsbu. Second place went to France with Celia Aymonier also beating Olsbu to the line after they both hit every target. Aymonier, who used to be on the dark side of cross-country, seems to have found some Jedi powers on the shooting range and is becoming a fantastic biathlete. The French team were without Marie Dorin Habert today but with Anais Chevalier, Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz and Aymonier they look a formidable team even without her.

Norway had a great race in third. Their women’s team hasn’t been as strong this season but Kaia Nicolaisen, Hilde Fenne, Eckhoff and Olsbu put that right today. Hopefully they can carry this success into the individual races.

Norway were the top team on the range followed by Ukraine and Canada who used only 3 spares and finished 4th and 10th respectively and Sweden used only 4 finishing 7th. Russia had a bad day at the range using 11 spares and incurring 2 penalty loops.

The Relays were both really good races to watch with exciting finishes. Hopefully the rest of the round will be the same with the Sprints on Friday and Saturday and the Pursuits on Sunday.

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