Tag Archives: Estonian biathlon

Rene Zahkna: The Interview!

zahkna

Rene Zahkna is an Estonian biathlete who was born on the 2nd of October 1994 in Võru. He made his World Cup debut in 2014 and achieved his first Top 40 result last season. He had a successful junior career winning medals at the Youth Olympics in 2012, the Junior World Championships in 2013 and in the Junior European Championships in 2014 and 2015. He also loves emojis! 😉

You can like his Facebook page: Rene Zahkna (Sportsperson)

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

When I was about 8 years old and my father was the head coach of the national biathlon team, I got to shoot other biathletes’ rifles and I was instantly hooked by shooting. In my hometown I actually tried many different sports from judo to volleyball but I got the first taste of biathlon competition when I was 12 years old. I wasn’t good at shooting but I could ski fast and when I got my fifth place medal (for kids, the top 6 got medals), I told myself that this is what I’m going to be good at.

What was it like competing at home in the Summer World Championships? Were you pleased with your performances?

I was really happy that the SBWCH was in Estonia and I had no problems with motivation. But what I did have, was huge problems with my new rifle stock. I got a new French rifle stock but I just couldn’t hit the prone targets with a high pulse. Sprint 2+0, pursuit 3+3+0+1. Then I realised, there is no chance I’m going to compete with this stock in winter. So now I’m back to my old stock which is working perfectly and I even had camouflage printed on it.

You got your best finish on the World Cup in the Ruhpolding Individual last season. Can you describe the race? How did it feel getting your first points finish?

Skiing wise I got lucky because it stopped snowing at the end of the race, so the snow conditions got really good for me, most of the top athletes started at the front. To be honest, I really was planning to shoot clean and I was bit frustrated when I missed the last shot of the second shooting. 34th place with 2 penalties, I was really happy and pumped up. I continued racing well in Antholz, where I got a point from the pursuit.

How do you assess last season overall? Were you happy with your results?

Last season competition-wise went well, I wasn’t expecting points after my military service and 2 injuries. But I gained weight 😐 when in service, so I’m also working on that.

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

I have done everything our coach has planned plus extra body strengthening but health-wise, everything is not going according to plan. I’ve been sick🤒😷 in all three training camps in Obertilliach 😩

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is precise and fast shooting and my weakness is the other quite important thing, skiing 😅

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I can’t tell you yet where my ultimate favourite track is because there are still places I haven’t been to but so far Antholz is very cool because of the wide and fast track, there are no huge hills where you just want to stop and die 😵

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Emil Hegle Svendsen because of his skiing style, he can glide perfectly.

Does your rifle have a name?

Does anyone have a name for a rifle? 😂 (Of course they do!)

Describe yourself in three words.

I LOVE football.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): France 2013
Favourite shooting range: Otepää
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Kauri Kõiv
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Kaisa Mäkäräinen
Best thing about being a biathlete: Freedom

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Johanna Talihärm: The Interview!

Talihärm

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!

Blog:http://www.johannablogi.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: @johannataliharm
Facebook: Estonian Fantastic Four in the biathlon world

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.
You can help too by following Estonian fantastic four on Facebook!

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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LEHT’s go KADRI!

lehtla

Estonia has only been a country in its current form since 1993. It has a population of around 1.3 million, one of the least-populous in the EU, and yet it is producing some quality biathletes. Kadri Lehtla is one of these.

Born in Tallinn on the 3rd of May 1985 she has been competing in biathlon since 2006. She has managed to break into the TOP 30 at least once every single year since 2007 which is an amazing feat in itself and she finished 18th in the Pursuit in Kontiolahti in the 2011/12 season. Already an Olympic athlete she achieved some respectable results in Vancouver finishing 18th in the 4×6 km relay, 45th in the 15 km individual and 64th in the 7.5 km sprint.

This summer she has spent time training in Estonia, Finland and Austria. She trained alone away from the rest of the Estonian team in Obertilliach to help her prepare for Sochi. Estonia is not a very mountainous country, it can be described as hilly at best, so it is important to do some training at higher altitudes. Kadri suffered a minor setback with her rifle this summer when she got it caught under her rollerskis and snapped a piece off. Fortunately she has a very handy brother who stuck it back on with glue and tape so she could carry on shooting!

Kadri’s big goal for this season is to break into the TOP 10 and obviously to perform well in Sochi. She needs to improve by around 10-15 places to achieve this and it will be difficult considering the competition but she definitely has the potential to do it. If she can remain illness free for a whole season there is no reason why she can’t be up there with the top biathletes. In biathlon if you can shoot clear anything is possible.

At 28 Kadri is probably now getting to her peak years. With plenty of experience behind her now is the perfect time to try and push on and attain the high goals she has set for herself. She has started this season well with a career best 15th place in the Individual in Oestersund shooting clear. If she does break into the TOP 10 it will be a massive boost both for herself and Estonian biathlon. If she can keep her rifle in one piece she has a great chance – LEHT’s go KADRI!

Kadri’s website: http://www.kadrilehtla.com
You can find her on Facebook too.

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