Tag Archives: Finland

Hiiden talent!

hiidensalo

Kimi Räikkönen, Mika Häkkinen and Valtteri Bottas are all very fast Finns. As we know however they are cheating because they have a motor to make them go quick. The real fast Finns are the ones on skis – cross country skis! The cross country scene in Finland is really strong right now with the likes of Iivo and Kerttu Niskanen, Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Krista Parmakosi, Anne Kylloenen and Sami Jauhojaervi. The biathletes are getting better too with the likes of Kaisa Mäkäräinen and Mari Laukkanen for inspiration. They also have some young talent coming through on the men’s side like today’s subject Olli Hiidensalo.

After greatly improving his hair style from his IBU Profile picture Olli has now become a biathlete worth taking notice of! He comes from Nummi-Pusula and was born on the 2nd of February 1991. He now lives in Tampere where he studies Industrial Management at the University of Technology. He includes among his hobbies fishing, hunting and orienteering (can you tell he is Finnish!) and the most important one ‘nap’.

He had quite a good Junior career where his best place was a 12th in the Individual in Kontiolahti 2012 and he came 4th in the relay back in 2010 in Torsby. Last season he finished a career high 30th in the Oestersund Individual race scoring his first ever World Cup points so we can safely conclude that he likes racing in Scandinavia. He also managed another 3 TOP 60 finishes in the season, 2 coming in Pokljuka and another in Kontiolahti.

Lucky then for a Finn who races well in Finland that the World Championships are in Kontiolahti this season! It is asking far too much of him to get an Individual medal there but a good result in the relays is not out of the question. It will be a valuable experience for him to race a Championships at home and he will receive great support from the home crowd. They can help a lot and don’t be surprised if Olli produces some of his career best results there. As for the rest of the season he needs to try and make that push into the TOP 40 on a more regular basis and score some more World Cup points.

It’s not easy for the Finns though as although they may get lumped in with their Scandinavian neighbours they are not a biathlon powerhouse like Norway and Sweden. They have issues with funding like many other biathletes and so it’s not easy for them to compete at the very top. They are lucky enough to have a venue that can host a World Cup round and World Championships so that is an advantage. With guys like Olli improving all the time hopefully the situation for the Finnish team will get better.

As for Olli himself well I hope his love of orienteering will help him ‘find his way’ into the TOP 40 more often! 😉 A home World Championship will be good motivation for him this season. He can cement his place in the Men’s Relay team and try to break into the Mixed Relay team too. So if you want to see really fast Finns stick to watching cross country and biathlon and look out for Olli because he won’t be a Hiiden talent for much longer!

Check out his website: http://ollihiidensalo.com/
Follow Olli on Twitter: @OlliHiidensalo
Like his FB page: ‘Olli Hiidensalo’


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FIN-spirational ladies!

kontio

I always like to see home biathletes do well in their home races. It’s not an easy thing to do as there is more pressure to do well in front of your home crowd and also your friends and family. However both Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen managed just that in Thursday’s first Sprint race. Kaisa came home in first and Mari was third with Russia’s Olga Zaitseva separating them in second. Kaisa skied amazingly well as she missed a shot while the others were clear. Elsewhere Magdalena Gwizdon appeared in the TOP 10 where we haven’t seen her for a while finishing ninth and a double Slovak attack saw Paulina Fialkova and Jana Gerekova finish tenth and eleventh.

In the Men’s Sprint Johannes Boe claimed his third win of an extremely impressive debut season on the World Cup although skiing two legs just behind second placed Martin Fourcade surely helped his cause a little. Having said that he shot incredibly fast and clean and seems to like the tracks. One to watch out for in next year’s World Championships in Kontiolahti. In third place was Arnd Peiffer who will be rueing his 1 missed shot as a clear shoot would have seen him win comfortably. His fellow countryman Benedikt Doll looked really good finishing in ninth and Serafin Weistner scored his first World Cup points by coming 29th.

Saturdays Sprints ended up the same as Thursday with Johannes and Kaisa winning again! The rest of the podiums were different though with Alexander Loginov and Lowell Bailey on the men’s side and Tora Berger and Gabriela Soukalova on the women’s. For Loginov and Bailey it was their career best results with Loginov taking significantly less time than Bailey! I was really happy to see Lowell finally get up on the podium and now he has broken his duck I hope we will see him there again soon.

An eleventh place finish from Martin Fourcade was enough to win him the crystal globe for the Sprint. That man must have a huge mantelpiece to fit all his globes on!! Carl Johann Bergman got into the TOP 5 and Lars Helge Birkeland finished in the TOP 10. Another great race from Susan Dunklee saw her finish in eighth and Anna-Karin Stroemstedt came in 19th.

I am getting slightly bored of writing this but on Sunday in the Pursuits Johannes Boe and Kaisa Makarainen won again! To be fair young Johannes tried his best to worry us by missing 4 targets in the final shoot but he had enough time in hand and mistakes from others meant that victory would be his. These two have been far and away the best biathletes in Kontiolahti and thoroughly deserve their massive points haul.

Second was sufficient for Martin Fourcade to take the Overall title for the third year in a row which is quite outstanding. Bjorn Ferry was third and must be wondering why he is retiring at the end of the year. All other biathletes take note-announce you are retiring at the end of next season and you will win lots of races! Look what it did for Bjoerndalen. Now he isn’t retiring his results are getting worse.(Although that could also be a tough season and he is no spring chicken!)

The women’s podium was completed by Darya Domracheva and Olga Zaitseva. Domracheva came from 20th to second but looked too tired to try and outski Kaisa. Other performances of note in the Pursuits came from Anais Chevalier 30th to 8th, Marte Olsbu 43rd to 11th, Magdalena Gwizdon 36th to 12th and Yana Romanova 33rd to 13th. For the men it was Andrejs Rastorgujevs 41st to 6th, Christoph Sumann 45th to 11th, Freddie Lindstrom 29th to 13th, Benedikt Doll 22nd to 7th and Simon Schempp 21st to 9th.

Now we are going to Norway for the last three races of the season 😦 The men’s titles are pretty well wrapped up but the women’s are all to play for. The races in Kontiolahti were great and well attended, a good sign for the World Champs next year and hopefully we will see more home glory there for the FIN-spirational ladies!

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Kaisa:So close to the Finnish!

kaisa

Will they ever let Kaisa Mäkäräinen retire from biathlon? She has been trying but with the Winter Olympics tantalisingly close and the World Championships in Finland next time round she is being tempted to continue again and again.

Born January 11, 1983 in Ristijärvi, Finland Kaisa-Leena Mäkäräinen has been competing internationally since 2005. She was a cross-country skier up until the age of 20 when she changed disciplines to biathlon. She has won 3 World Championship medals; gold and silver in 2011 and a bronze in 2012. In fact the 2010/11 season has been Kaisa’s best so far as she also won the Overall World Cup and Pursuit Chrystal Globes. This success led to her being named Finnish athlete of the year in 2011.

She currently has 5 World Cup wins to her name and as 3 of them came in the Pursuit it’s no wonder that she considers this her favourite event along with the Mass Start. With 8 years of experience competing at the top level Kaisa has to one of the favourites to medal in Sochi and after an unsuccessful Olympics in Vancouver ( her best result was 45th in the Pursuit) she will be more determined than ever to make this a reality.

Unusually for biathletes these days Kaisa can normally be found training alone rather than with her teammates. This summer she spent her time training between Italy, Austria and her home in Joensuu, Finland. However this doesn’t seem to have bothered her one bit as she has been training like this for many years and it has done her no harm. In fact it has resulted in her becoming one of Finland’s best ever biathletes and this summer she has already won the race up the Lysebotn Opp and the Mass Start event at the Blinkfestival in Norway.

Kaisa has always had a pretty good shooting record and her ski speed is also up there with the other top female biathletes. She finished inside the Top Ten in both events in this year’s World Cup round in Sochi and has generally performed well on her other visits to Russia in Khanty- Mansisk. Hopefully Kaisa can maintain her form throughout the coming season and the next and take home some medals from the Winter Olympics and the World Championships in Finland and go happily in to her retirement now that she is so close to the Finnish!

We will miss you when you go! Good luck Kaisa!

Kaisa’s website : http://www.kaisaleena.com/main/

Watch Kaisa at the Blinkfestival : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAeoNCOEmZI

Update: This year Kaisa has said she will take each year as it comes and will retire when she is ready. Maybe she is not so close to the Finnish afterall!:-)

As of April 2015 Kaisa has decided to compete for 1 more season at least! Hurrah!

Mass Start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2azqxvxSCE

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