Tag Archives: Fabien Claude

Season 2016/17 Preview: Men

Oestersund, Pokljuka, Nove Mesto, Oberhof, Ruhpolding, Antholz, PyeongChang, Tyumen and Olso! Are you ready? It’s almost time for the new biathlon season to begin! That means it must be time for a season preview too so here it is!

Looking back over previous previews they all read more or less 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. Potential challengers are Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Simon Schempp and Anton Shipulin. They are all capable of beating Fourcade in a single race but don’t seem to have the consistency over a whole season to win the big Crystal globe.

Preview finished!

Only joking! As the top places are nearly always the same for the men I decided that this year’s preview should move away from the elite and see what’s happening a little bit behind them. Who are the up and coming biathletes to look out for? Who could get their first win or first podium? Who should be doing better? That’s what I am going to look at before season 2016/17 gets under way.

It’s sometimes hard to believe but there are some well established biathletes who have yet to win a race on the World Cup. The most famous is probably Simon Fourcade. He has achieved many podium results but never higher than second. Surely this season he will get to the top step. Fellow Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet has also come within a toenail of winning but again second place is his best result. Germany’s Benedikt Doll will be hoping to grab his first win. Tim Burke is another who will want to come first instead of second place as will Sergey Semenov and Benjamin Weger.

Expect a strong season from the Austrian team. Simon Eder was 5th last season in the overall title and Dominik Landertinger was 9th. With Julian Eberhard getting his first win and Sven Grossegger achieving a personal best of 5th they will be a dangerous squad this year.

Hoping to get their first taste of the podium are Andrejs Rastorgujevs who has a few 4th positions to his name already. Klemen Bauer also has a personal best of fourth as does Simon Desthieux and Krasimir Anev.

Scoring points on a more consistent basis will be the goal for biathletes like Mario Dolder, Leif Nordgren, Macx Davies, Kalev Ermits and Martin Otcenas.

Make sure you look out for some of the younger biathletes this season who will be trying their best to impress their coaches and the fans. Watch out for Sean Doherty to continue his rise to the top. The likes of Rene Zahkna, Rok Trsan and Fabien Claude will be pushing hard to do well. Keep an eye out too for Sebastian Samuelsson who has been picked for the Swedish team to make his debut in Oestersund and Felix Leitner who will start his first World Cup race for Austria.

On the other hand it’s about time Freddie Lindstrom had a better season. We haven’t seen him on the podium since 2013. Lukas Hofer didn’t have a great season individually either and it would be good to see him back on form. Jakov Fak will be hoping to improve as will Ondrej Moravec.

There are many more biathletes to watch out for but too many to mention here. The Germans are always dangerous with Peiffer and Lesser showing some good form in patches last time.

Last but not least expect new dad Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to pop up with a few podium finishes and don’t be surprised if he adds more World Championships medals to his vast collection in Hochfilzen. That’s if he can cope with the sleepless nights of course!

Hopefully it will a great season with some more first time winners and some great races. The title race might not be close but we can look forward to some great battles in individual races. Bring it on boys!!!

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Scott Dixon: The Interview 2!!!

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Back by popular demand -well he is popular so I demanded it – it’s Scott Dixon! The 21-year-old Brit has made a few changes over the summer in his residence and his coaches and is looking forward to the new season. He kindly took some time before the season gets under way to tell us all about his training and his goals for the World Cup.

You can follow Scott’s progress on his Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete.

First and most importantly you turned 21 over the summer. Did you get any good presents? Did you celebrate with a wild party?

Well, I have never been much of a crazy party animal, but I was lucky enough to move to a beautiful location in France (Aix-Les-Bains) with my girlfriend. We are both able to train in the area as Katie competes in Figure Skating and there are good facilities in Annecy. I am able to train in La Féclaz which is a relatively new development and the set up there is of a very high standard.

You have 3 new coaches in France one of whom is Alexis Boeuf. What are they like as coaches and what have you learned from them?

I really like all of my coaches. They are all very helpful and have a lot of knowledge to share. It has been interesting for me to see how differently two great Biathlon nations operate and learn how two different approaches to training can be so effective.

You went to Corsica for the French Summer Roller Ski Championships. How did that go? I believe you were caught up in an accident there also – what happened?

I was training on the beautiful island of Corsica with my team and unfortunately, I was caught up in an accident. I was there to compete at the French National Summer Roller Ski championships. The Island is criss-crossed with great roads to explore on roller skis, and about 40 minutes into a 55km loop, a group of over 8 of us came quickly upon a very hard corner at 45kmph. The man who cycled the course the previous day had forgotten that the corner was that soon in the skate. There was no time to react and about six of us piled into the debris at the side of the road, including rocks. I lost a lot of skin! Two athletes were taken to hospital by ambulance and I was taken back to our accommodation to be bandaged up. I didn’t sleep much that night and racing was a nightmare two days later with a lot less skin left on my left leg!

Last year you had the very uncommon compartmental syndrome in the abdominal muscles and this summer a double pole machine fell on your head! Why do these things happen to you?!

Well the list of unfortunate things doesn’t stop at compartmental syndrome and hostile gym machines.

My list is disturbingly long. It has come to a point in my process as an athlete when I have to ask myself if these incidents have come around due to my own stupidity or lack of restraint in certain situations. I think there is an element of that, I must admit, but I also think I have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time a few times. On the other hand a lot of luck has come my way, and I tend to forget that in the face of all my bad luck. It’s generally how I confuse ‘sod’s law’ for just life as it comes in general.

You were also competing in Arcon against all the French Biathletes recently. How was that experience?

Arcon was interesting. I shot 80% which was slightly disappointing and I skied very slowly compared to my expectations. It was very soon after my injury so I was told not to see it as a negative and more as an experience. However, I couldn’t help feeling I had let myself down somehow. Any athlete can relate to this I am sure.

What are your goals for this season?

I am now hoping to maintain my World Cup qualifier by competing well on World cup instead of having to re-qualify on the IBU cup. I know I am capable of this as I did so twice at last year’s World Championships. The qualification points are harder to achieve with the new IBU points system, but I am hoping that with good improvement from last year I will be ready to achieve this goal.

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?

My main strength is my shooting. Last year I finished the season with an overall hit rate of 85% and managed to clear 20/20 and the next day 10/10 which is a clear personal best for me. My ski speed however is a big weakness. With so many setbacks, my progress is not where I hoped to see it at this point. If everything goes to plan in the coming months, I will see improvements in my ski speed. I will be working extremely hard to improve this aspect of my performance.

British Biathlon is looking for new sponsorship again. How will it affect you if it doesn’t get the funds it needs? Will you be able to go to the North American rounds for example?

I try to keep the issue out of my mind because there is very little I can do to affect it. I will not attend the races in North America due to this funding issue which is a shame, but it may also mean more time to get in good shape for the World Championships. So despite the clear negative there is a very clear positive I can take from it. I also believe with the passionate team that is the BBU that sponsorship will be found soon.

Lee Jackson and Kevin Kane have both retired. What affect will that have on the team and on you personally?


I was sad to see them both retire. Kevin was somewhat of a mentor for me in my first few years, keeping me under control and trying to pare down some of my typical teenage bad habits. So now at 21 I feel a bit old for my age, when new guys are selected for the team and I find myself pointing out things that I was guilty of not so long ago (mainly Biathlon related as I am still an ”admin case” around the house). Jackson is now working closely with the IBU cup team and is still very much in the system. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him race again. That applies for both of them in fact, as we don’t have enough people qualified for a relay without them.

Will we see you and Amanda Lightfoot in the Single Mixed Relay this season? They are on the same day as the Mixed Relays again but you two could do really well in it I think.

Sadly not this season, unless attending North America becomes an option, as that is the only remaining Single mixed relay this season. However, I believe that this is the event of the future for Amanda and me. Is a podium possible in the future? I don’t see why not!

We know you are a bit of a biathlon geek! Do you have any predictions for who you think will do well this season and maybe a younger biathlete we should be keeping our eye on?

Of course I am, like everyone I know who started watching casually and fell in love with the sport. I have a strong suspicion that Simon Schempp will be the Overall World Cup winner this year. I believe that Jean-Guillaume Beatrix will win a pursuit or mass start competition this season, and hopefully more than one. Andrejs Rastorgujevs will be one of the fastest on the track over the whole season with a podium finish and Tarjei Bø will be top three in the Overall World Cup rankings at the end of the season. Keep an eye on Fabien Claude, he is extremely fast, just a bit older than me and more consistent in his shooting. He will be one of the top names on World Cup in the coming years. Look out for Justine Braisaz (also French) for the women. With several World Cup starts already she has a big future ahead of her I think.

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Aristide Bègue: The Interview!

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This week I was lucky enough to interview France’s Aristide Bègue. Born on the 16th of August 1994 in Beauvais he has just returned from the Junior World Championships in Raubichi where he won gold in the Individual 15km and bronze in the Junior Men’s Relay. Earlier in the season he also won gold in the Junior Individual 15km race at the Open European Championships in Otepaa as well as silver in the Mixed Relay.
Those medals are added to his already impressive collection of 2 silver medals from Presque Isle 2014 (Individual and Relay), his gold and bronze (Individual and Relay) from the Youth World Championships in Obertilliach 2013 and another 2 gold medals (Individual and Relay) from Kontiolahti 2012. It is safe to say that he is really good at the Individual and the Relay!

You can follow Aristide on Twitter: @Aribeguu
He is on Facebook: facebook.com/AristideBegue
He has his own website: http://www.aristidebegue-font-romeu.fr/

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I wanted to become a biathlete because I had seen the races of biathlon when I was a child and Simon Fourcade inspired me.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Thanks to my faculty (STAPS of Font-Romeu) I can study and train every day.
The high-level sport asks for a seriousness in our life (I do not often party with friends) but I succeed in doing things which I enjoy. Furthermore, sport is a passion so I do something I like every day.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

I have the chance to have institutions which help me in my financing (my city Font-Romeu, my region, my department). So, thanks to my good results, I have several sponsors who give me money to live and do my sport (Colas, Altiservice ..)

You have had a really great season winning medals at the Junior Open European Championships and at Junior World Championships. Explain why you are so good at the Individual please! Do you have a favourite race from this season and why?

I had the opportunity to get good results this season. During the Championships of Europe and the World, I managed to make perfect races and perfect shooting (20/20) and thanks to that I have won gold medals. I have no secret to making a success of the Individual but I know how to excel during these races because they are long and difficult and it pleases me. Furthermore, as I am not skiing fast enough to win sprints, I give everything to the Individual because it is the race which favors me because I fire well.

Did you set specific goals for the Junior World Championships in Raubichi? Did you achieve them all?

I wanted to make a success of my last championships in the Junior category and it is what I did. My objectives are filled because I progressed in skiing and I got closer to the best.

What did you learn about yourself, you technique, your shooting etc. from the Championships and what are you plans going forward to improve?

I exceeded my expectations because I learnt to fire faster and to ski faster. It confirms to me that the work I have done was good quality and that it is necessary to continue like that.

The competition in the French team is really high. How difficult do you think it will be to progress to World Cup level and do you have a long term plan on how to get into the World Cup team?

The competition is rough but it is rewarding. I am going to work on the race of the 10km sprint because it is the most important race in Seniors. I am going to work to go to the IBU Cup and perform well enough to go to the World Cup as quickly as possible.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

To be a biathlete is cool because our job is to train every day, so if you are passionate about sport like me it’s the perfect job.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

As that is not possible, I am going to work with my characteristics and work to improve my weak points while keeping my key strong points. I admit to admiring the ski speed of my friend Fabien Claude.

What’s your typical day like?

One day of training begins by waking up at 7 am, eating a sportsman’s breakfast then first training (ski and shooting) between 9 am and 11 am. Then I eat, I have a nap to be on form and go to training again between 3 pm and 5 pm. Then I can visit the physio then eat food by 7 pm and sleep at 9 pm.

Do you get the opportunity to train with Martin Fourcade and the World Cup team? Have they given you any good tips or advice? Is Martin worried that you could be better at the Individual than him? 😉

I have good feeling with the athletes of the World Cup but we don’t see each other often but when we make do train together I can ask some advice but the best advice, it is from the experienced staff. I won the Individual but it was in the Junior category so Martin Fourcade does not have to fear. He even congratulated me and I think that he is happy to see the young French biathletes winning medals.

Does your rifle have a name?

LOL! No, it’s not a person, I like using it in my sport but that’s all.

Describe yourself in three words.

Little, Determined, Attached to my family and friends.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:Raubichi

Favourite biathlete (past or present):Martin Fourcade

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc):The relay

Favourite/best race of your career so far? Individual race of World Junior Championships 2015 in Raubichi.

Favourite sports team:USAP (rugby team of Perpignan)

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Raubichi 2015: The Joy of Juniors!

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The Junior Men and Women had to wait a day longer than the Youths to start their competition in Raubichi and it was lucky for them as the conditions were better than the first days racing. The Women got us underway in the Individual with an early start and it was the Ukraine who came out on top. Yuliya Zhurakov shot the perfect score and took gold but only by 0.2 of a second from Poland’s Kinga Mitoraj. She also shot clear to take silver and was maybe at a disadvantage starting bib 3 so that Zhurakov could get her timings having started later and knew she had to push hard. In third was Kazakhstan’s Galina Vishnevskaya who missed 1 shot. If she had shot clean she would have won as she was only 30 second behind the winner. Two Swedish women made it into the Top 15 with Linn Persson in 12th and Hanna Öberg in 13th which is a good boost for the team.

In the Men’s race France’s pocket rocket Aristide Begue won the Individual again! He loves this race! His shooting was outstanding with 20/20 and he managed to hold off the challenge from Russia’s Alexsandr Dediukhin by 3 seconds. In third was Norway’s Vemund Gurigard who also shot zero. Begue’s teammate Emilien Jacquelin was 4th missing one shot which prevented him making the podium. Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also just missed the one target finishing 18th in a high quality field. In fact the level of the biathletes in the Men’s Junior field is quite incredible. Some of the shooting in the race was fantastic not just for the accuracy but also the speed under real pressure. I thought Johannes Boe was a top shooter when it came to speed but looking at Begue, Dediukhin, Jacquelin and Gurigard I think he still has work to do!;-)

It was over to the Junior French Women on Saturday to continue their country’s success. Lena Arnaud won the Sprint race by 2.4 seconds from Galina Vishnevskaya who added silver to her bronze from the Individual. Chloe Chevalier added to France’s medals by winning bronze. The race was characterised by excellent shooting as the Top 6 all shot 10/10. It then came down to ski speed with Arnaud proving the fastest on the day. In the Men’s Sprint Alexsandr Dediukhin recovered very well from his exertions in the Individual to come home in first and claim the gold medal. Unlike in the women’s race he was the only one in the Top 20 to shoot the perfect score and so was a deserving winner. In second came France again but this time it was Fabien Claude who won silver. Taking the bronze was America’s Sean Doherty who got his first medal after moving up from the Youth category. Canada’s Aiden Miller impressed by getting his best finish of 8th and it was also good to see a Croatian biathlete doing well when Kresimir Crnkovic finished in 12th position.

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Both of the Pursuits took place on Sunday and we got our first German medal of the Championships. Marie Heinrich shot clean to win her first gold ahead of Vishnevskaya who took silver and has won a medal in every race. In bronze position was Yulila Zhuravok who added to her Individual gold. In the Men’s Pursuit Russia got back on the top step of the podium with Eduard Latypov taking gold ahead of Vemund Gurigard in silver and teammate Alexander Povarnitsyn who won bronze.

The final day of competition on Tuesday morning was for the Relays. The Junior Women were first and a very impressive French team won the gold medal. Chloe Chevalier, Julia Simon and Lena Arnaud only needed 6 spare rounds to win and finished 27 seconds ahead of second placed Russia. The Russian team of Victoria Slivko, Natalia Gerbulova and Uliana Kaisheva only used 7 spares themselves but couldn’t make up the time on the tracks. In bronze medal position were Germany whose team of Anna Weidel, Helene Terese Hendel and Marie Heinrich finished over 1 minute 30 seconds down on France who led from start to finish. The Swedish team came fourth with a penalty loop meaning they couldn’t reach the podium. The Norwegian team in 8th only used 7 spares like the teams in second and third but were over 3 minutes off the pace which must be a worry for their selectors.

The Men’s race was won by a really strong Russian team of Dediukhin, Viktor Tretiakov, Latypov and Povarnitsyn. Silver medal went to Norway who had a team of Andreas Kvam, Henrik Sagosen Smeby, Aslak Nenseter and Vemund Gurigard. They used 5 spare rounds to the Russians 4 but where still 1 minute 12 off the time of the winners. In third was France with Aristide Begue, Felix Cottet Puinel, Emilien Jacquelin and Fabien Claude. They used a total of 8 spares and finished 10 seconds behind the Norwegians.

What are the conclusions from the Junior World Championships? Firstly France are in really good shape and have an impressive Junior squad. They come away from Raubichi with 6 medals,three from the men and three from the women. Russia also have a strong squad and a star in the making in Dediukhin who is a fast skier and an excellent shot. The Norwegian men’s team look promising but the women’s side have a lot of work in front of them to match the high standards expected by their country. On the other hand it was great to see the Swedish women do well. They just missed out on the medals but after the criticism they have had in recent years it’s good to see some improvement from them. Individually it was a good Championships for Galina Vishnevskaya who won two silvers and a bronze, Lena Arnaud with 2 golds and obviously Dediukhin who won two golds and a silver.

There will be many happy biathletes leaving Raubichi having achieved their targets or even exceeded them. Equally there will be those who are disappointed and frustrated at their performances. The Junior category has an amazingly high standard of competitor this year especially in the men’s field. Some of the biathletes know just how hard it is to compete at this level and others will have gotten a massive shock at just how good the guys and girls are at Junior level. They will all be taking something away from these Championships whether it be medals or just the drive and motivation to train harder and practise more to come back stronger next year. That is the Joy of Juniors!

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