Tag Archives: Erik Lesser

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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Soldier Hollow 2019: The Relays!

The final day’s racing in America was relay day! Really? Yes, relay! (try not to groan too much!)

It was the first time in the World Cup that the men raced the first legs and the women the second which is awesome! It made for great relays too so it’s a change that should stay with alternate starts M-W and W-M.

The single mixed relay was first. There were some strong teams in this one and it was the strongest who won. Lukas Hofer and Dorothea Wierer took gold for Italy with some great shooting with only 6 spares needed.

The first leg was tight with no one breaking away for the men. The second leg saw Wierer take the lead ahead of Julia Simon and Regina Oja.

The men’s leg was close once again with Lukas Hofer, Simon Eder and Rene Zakhna all together. Hofer needed a spare while the other two shot clean but at the exchange it was Eder ahead by a few seconds from Italy and Estonia.

The final leg came down to Wierer and Hauser who are both excellent shots. Hauser cleaned all 10 and Wierer needed a spare but her superior ski speed and super fast standing shoot meant she could give Italy the victory. Austria were second using just 2 spares (amazing!) and France were third despite a penalty loop from Antonin Guigonnat.

Germany were 4th, Norway 5th and Ukraine 6th.

The mixed relay was a battle between Norway, France and Germany the whole way. The men started first and Germany took an early lead with Erik Lesser shooting clean along with Quentin Fillon Maillet. Vetle Christiansen needed 2 spares for Norway. Luckily he had Johannes Boe on the second leg who made up all the time and shot clean to turn the race in Norway’s favour.

Simon Desthieux used 2 spares to keep France in touch and Bendikt Doll needed 3. Boe handed a good lead over to Tiril Eckhoff who managed to lose it all at her first shoot using all three spares letting a clean shooting Celia Aymonier catch her. The stand was even worse for Eckhoff who went on the penalty loop. Aymonier used 2 spares but Franziska Hildebrand shot clean to make up time for Germany.

The final leg saw Anais Chevalier shoot perfectly and ski home for a French victory. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland did all she could to catch up but after skiing too hard she also had a penalty loop to complete. Vanessa Hinz who was a late replacement held her nerve using only 2 spares to take second for Germany leaving Norway in third.

Switzerland were 4th, Sweden 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.

That concludes the North American World Cups. The next competition is the European Championships in Minsk which start on the 20th of February and then there is the small matter of the World Championships in Oestersund on the 7th of March!!!

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Soldier Hollow 2019: The Pursuits!

It’s the penultimate round of the World Cup here in the USA and it was the turn of the pursuit races on Saturday.

The women were first up and what a race it was! At the first prone Marte Olsbu Roeiseland missed and so did Kaisa Makarainen! That let Anastasiya Kuzmina take the lead.

At the second prone Kuzmina missed 2 but Franziska Hildebrand and Monika Hojnisz cleaned and left the range together. They both hit 10/10 in the prone as did Denise Herrmann who found herself in third.

At the first stand it was Hojnisz who missed 2 but Hildebrand cleaned to take the lead by herself. Herrmann missed 1 but Lisa Vittozzi cleaned for 15/15.

At the final shoot Hildebrand missed 1, then Herrmann missed 1 and Vittozzi missed 2! It was then a ski race to the finish with Herrmann making up 12 seconds from the range to the finish line to pass her teammate to take her first win this season. Hildebrand took second. The final shoot saw Makarainen, Kuzmina and Roeiseland all shoot clean so we had three of the fastest skiers all going for third place. It was Makarainen who took it and Roeiseland just pipped Kuzmina on the line for 4th.

Lisa Vittozzi was 6th and with Wierer missing 8 and finishing 20th it means Vittozzi is the new Overall leader and takes the yellow bib to the World Championships next month.

There were some big moves behind the top 6 with Marketa Davidova going from 32nd to 12th hitting 20/20, Nicole Gontier went from 39th to 18th and home favourite Susan Dunklee went from 45th to 26th.

The men’s race was more straight forward. At the first shoot Vetle Christiansen and Simon Desthieux shot clean but Roman Rees missed. Erik Lesser, Johannes Boe and Quentin Fillon Maillet also cleaned as did a lot of the field in fact.

At the second shoot it was Christiansen and Desthieux who both missed 1 but Boe, Fillon Maillet and Lesser hit all five.

Shoot three was pivotal with Fillon Maillet the only one to clear the targets with Boe and Lesser both missing 2. That gave Christiansen and Desthieux the chance to get back into the race.

Fillon Maillet was perfect today hitting his final five targets to go 20/20 to take his second win of the season by 26 seconds. Christiansen also hit his last five to take second comfortably from Desthieux who missed another but kept third place with Boe missing 3 and Lesser 2 on the final stand.

In the end Johannes Boe was 4th, Erik Lesser 5th and Benjamin Weger 6th.

Christian Gow was amazing going from 44th to 8th hitting 20/20 to get a PB and Sean Doherty got his PB in 10th at home in the US.

The final races here are the Single Mixed and Mixed Relays on Sunday and the men will be starting first with the women finishing the race!

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Soldier Hollow 2019: The Sprints!

I know what you are thinking. Soldier Hollow – that is such a cool name for a venue! It must have some interesting history from the days of the old west where soldiers maybe made their last stand in a hollow or something like that. Well no – they just made it up for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics! Still a cool name though!

In fact biathlon hasn’t been back here since 2002! But now it is and we kicked off with the women’s sprint on Thursday – Valentine’s Day! So who would feel the love? It was Marte Olsbu Roeiseland which is appropriate as she just got married last year.

It was her third win of the season and she shot clean and skied really well to win by 11.5 seconds. Behind her in second place was Kaisa Makarainen who missed one shot but also skied super fast. It was a surprise after her huge journey to get from Canmore to Utah which took her via Toronto and Atlanta after her initial flight to Seattle was cancelled.

Third place went to biathlete23!!! It was Franziska Hildebrand who got on the podium shooting clean for a great result. Flowers for bib23 on Valentine’s Day – how romantic! 😉

4th place went to Monika Hojnisz, 5th to Anastasiya Kuzmina and 6th to Kamila Zuk which was her best World Cup result to date shooting 10/10.

There were also personal bests for Tuuli Tomingas in 14th and Thelka Brun-Lie in 26th.

Dorothea Wierer stretched her lead in the Overall finishing 8th with teammate and rival Lisa Vittozzi in 12th.

The men’s sprint on Friday was also won by a Norwegian! No not him! It was Vetle Christiansen! After his second place finish in the Canmore Individual he went one better here taking his first ever World Cup win. He shot clean and won the race by just 1.3 seconds.

Simon Desthieux finally got on the podium after being in great form all season. He missed 1 but skied really well to get so close but it wasn’t enough to get the win. Third place went to Roman Rees with his first podium on the World Cup also missing 1.

Erik Lesser was 4th hitting 10/10, Johannes Boe was 5th after missing 4 on the standing shoot and Quentin Fillon Maillet was 6th with 9/10. Boe skied super fast as usual to get 5th and it was enough to give him the small crystal globe in the sprint.

There were some more great performances in the field from Johannes Dale in 10th getting his PB, Scott Gow in 14th equalled his PB from the Olympics, Fabien Claude was 16th his best result so far and Aidan Miller hit 10/10 to move his PB from 81st to 20th!!! Thierry Chenal was 31st for his top World Cup finish.

I don’t know what it is about Norway and North America but they have won all the races here apart from the women’s relay in Canmore when they were second! Maybe because they both start with NOR? 😉

Both pursuit races are on Saturday! Can Norway win them both too?

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