Johanna Talihärm is an Estonian biathlete who was born on the 27th of June 1993 in Tallinn. She is a part of the Estonian Women’s Relay Team and last season she broke into the TOP 40 on the World Cup. She has a brother who is also a biathlete. Next season she will be trying to get into that TOP 40 more often and score some more points if she can sort out her prone shooting!
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How popular is biathlon in Estonia?
Biathlon used to be in the shadow of cross county skiing which is “the national sport” in Estonia, but we are gaining popularity now.
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You achieved your best career result last season at the World Championships in Kontiolahti coming 39th in the Sprint in difficult conditions. How good did that feel and how much confidence has it given you for next season?
I had a rough start for the 2014/15 season. Then I started to feel better, gained energy and confidence during the season and was finally prepared to give my best in the World Championships. After 3 penalties in prone I thought the race is over, but I got myself together again and pushed as hard as I could and cleaned the standing. I never thought I had a chance for points with 3(!!!) penalties, I was super happy that I finally reached the top 40 goal I had had for so long. It showed me how much more is possible with clean shooting.
The Estonian Women’s Team seem to be very good friends. How nice is it to travel and compete in such a good atmosphere?
I don’t even want to imagine how hard and boring it would be if we didn’t get along so well. I feel so lucky to be able to call my teammates my best friends. It is great to share the emotions, no matter if they are good or bad with them immediately. To explore the world with them! And of course to race in the same relay team!
What are your plans for summer training?
We have a new team coach with whom I personally have worked since last August. We’re mostly training in Otepää, where we have an amazing center with a 6km rollerski track with two shooting ranges.
What are your goals for next season?
To improve technique and balance, to hit more targets and shoot faster.
Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.
It depends on what time the race starts. Usually our races are in the afternoon so I like to sleep longer, have breakfast, then go for a run and have an light lunch and get ready to go to the stadium. I eat “normal food” but avoid milk products because they don’t suit my stomach.
What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?
I am quite a slow shooter, and also much worse in prone than standing. Ski wise I want to improve balance and technique.
Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!
I usually wear my favorite pieces of clothing, but just because they are the most comfortable. Also I have a routine of warm up exercises, which I do every time before the start.
How difficult is it to keep up with the WADA rules for doping? Is it hard to keep track of all your food, supplements and medicines etc?
It comes with time, and now we have a database made by the Estonian anti-doping where we can search for all the medicines sold in Estonia to see if they are allowed or not.
I don’t want to criticize but you are Johanna and your brother is called Johan which shows a lack of imagination by your parents!!!;-) Does this ever cause any confusion because your names are so similar?
You are not the first one to ask this question. Both Johan and Johanna are very common names in Estonia and Scandinavia so usually there is no problem. Our parents just wanted them to be similar for both siblings and international.
Does your rifle have a name?
I usually call it “rifle” or “gun” 🙂
Describe yourself in three words.
Smiling, independent, lively.
Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon track: Oslo
Favourite biathlete (past or present):The whole biathlon family is super friendly and fun, it would be a shame to pick just one.
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit and relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? First ever clean shooting at the Sochi Olympics
Favourite food: chocolate
Favourite singer/band: can change daily
Favourite film: 1+1 (The Intouchables)
Favourite TV show: news or any other show that is not read in some language that I can’t understand.
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