Tag Archives: Forni Avoltri

Marcel Laponder: The Interview!

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Marcel Laponder was born in Pretoria, South Africa on the 23rd of May 1978. He competed for Great Britain after he moved to the UK when he was 21 and joined the British Army. It was through the army that he discovered biathlon and took up the sport in 2005. He made his World Cup debut in 2008 and his best result was 57th place which came in the Sprint race in Khanty-Mansiysk in season 2010/11. Unfortunately he has had to announce his retirement from the sport due to commitments with the army.

You can like Marcel’s Facebook Page: Marcel Laponder Biathlete


What was your best or favourite race from your biathlon career?

2011 Altenberg IBU Cup Pursuit race where I shot 0 0 0 0 going from 51st to 35th place and a then still active German Athlete said ”how did you do that dude!” That athlete was Daniel Graf who later was to become my coach.


What is your best memory from your biathlon career?

Too many… every race is special and is a honour and privilege to start in. One of those memories would be qualifying for the World Championships pursuit race in Khanty Mansiysk. This year getting my first chance to start the Relay as the first leg in the relay mass starts. The past season’s team atmosphere and camaraderie was memorable.

What advice would you give to young people who would like to become a professional biathlete?


The difference between making it and not is having the correct mind set. Biathlon is brutal not only physically but also full of disappointments which is over come by being mentally strong and having the confidence to believe you can achieve it. What you think will have a huge affect as this translates in to not only shooting reaction but also how you approach training and racing. Of course this alone is no guarantee and the correct smart hard training comes with it and of course a little bit of talent and luck.

You know Scott Dixon and Amanda Lightfoot very well. How do you think they will do this season?

Scott is still young and still has a bright future ahead of him, his strength in the past like his father has been his shooting. As long as Scott can keep securing sponsorship then he is the future of British Biathlon. His focus this season will be to qualify for the next OWG.

Amanda has the hunger for Biathlon. Her training program is brutal and for this she needs to be a tough cookie which she achieves by being mentally strong which also shows in her aggressive racing style. As long as Amanda keeps competing for a bit longer then she has it in her to one day to potentially achieve a top 30 or better. It is not a question if rather a question of when she will achieve it. This past season alone there was at least one opportunity where she nearly achieved this. Don’t forget she started really late in the sport, compared to other athletes who started when they were kids and compared to Amanda who would still be in their teens in terms of training years, then what she has achieved is pretty impressive.

What’s the situation in the Men’s Team this year? Will there be enough guys for the Relay team? What about for the IBU Cup?

Last year we were not able to enter all the relay events due to Jacko and Kevin who retired, also funding was limited for the far flung events in America. This has meant that as a nation we have dropped a start slot in the World Cup. One of the usual World Cup men will probably also be racing on IBU Cup due to the start slot this year. If there is enough qualified athletes then GBR could potentially enter the Relay on the World Cup although the priority this year is OWG. For IBU Cup we have upcoming athletes who are being trained by ex Olympian athlete Lee Jackson (Jacko). So his athletes will most likely fill the available IBU Cup spots.


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

Hochfilzen. I love the course with the fast technical corners and the short up and downs. It has a hard range approach which makes things interesting, I feel at home there and generally have always had descent results in Hocky. Also Forni Avoltri is a track which I love, it is an IBU Cup course. A small venue which has a hard track tucked away in the mountains with stunning scenery.

Perhaps not really a track but location. Frassinoro, Italy, which hosts the Frassinoro Summer biathlon festival, super friendly biathlon loving town and a great event with Italian flair.


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

Marie Dorin Habert and Tim Burke must be some of the humblest athletes and this I respect. Simon Fourcade I also like and is an athlete that I would really like to see do well.

Does your rifle have a name?

Hmm no

Describe yourself in three words.

Hmm I didn’t know so I asked three people:
my wife says: chilled out
Scott says: reliable
Amanda says: honest

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): I need to mention two, Canada and Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Quentin Fillon Maillet has a sweet rifle stock.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): I really like the suit of Finland this year.
Favourite shooting range: Hochfilzen
Lucky bib number: 23 🙂
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Ha easy… Scott Dixon…watching him attempting to pack his bag to travel to the next event is entertainment for hours.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Karoly Gombos from Hungry always easy to talk to and approachable. The Japanese coaches are probably some of the friendliest on circuit.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Hard question to pin point, so many small things that add up. Being able to train in beautiful locations, the people and places that I meet and see. The race atmosphere created by the crowds. Its a hard sport with so many variables and just being given the chance to see if I can do it makes it worth it.

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Raubichi: Give Youth a Chance!

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For this year’s Youth/Junior World Championships all eyes will be turning to Belarus. The home of Darya Domracheva will be hosting this year’s Championships in Raubichi, a purpose built winter sports complex just 20km North East of Minsk. The Junior WC was first held in 1997 in Forni Avoltri Italy followed by the Youth WC in 2002 in Ridnaun also in Italy. You might recognise some of the former winners. If you are good enough to get a medal here you are joining some illustrious company.

Medalists from the YJWC’s include Andrea Henkel, Olga Vilhukina, Darya Domracheva, Magdalena Neuner and Dorothea Wierer. Some former male champions include Simon Fourcade, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Anton Shipulin, Lukas Hofer, Simon Eder and Jean Guillaume Beatrix to name but a few! This year’s races start with the Youth Men and Women’s Individual on the 18th of February and end on the 24th with the Men’s and Women’s Junior Relays.

The Youth section of the championships is open to athletes who are under 18. To qualify as a Junior you must be between the ages of 19 and 21 by the 31st of December which is the cut-off date for the age ranges. Each country has their own selection criteria by which they select the eligible athletes. Last year’s competition took place in Presque Isle, USA and showcased some great young talent that is coming through in biathlon.

The two biathletes who stood out in the Youth category were American Sean Doherty and Italian Lisa Vittozzi. Curiously they both achieved exactly the same results with both winning gold in the Sprint and Pursuit and silver in the Individual. Other impressive performers were Julia Schwaiger of Austria who won the Individual and Germany’s Anna Weidel who was second in the Sprint and Pursuit behind Vittozzi. France sent a strong team and reaped the rewards with two individual medals, one each for Julia Simon (bronze in the Sprint) and Estelle Mougel (bronze in the Pursuit) and team gold in the Youth Relay. Stand outs among the young men were Germany’s Marco Gross and Russia’s Dmitrii Shamaev who were 2nd and 3rd respectively in both the Sprint and Pursuit. Another young Russian, Yaroslav Kostyukov, won the Individual and Russia also won the relay ahead of Canada and Finland.

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There were equally good performances from people just outside the medals who will be pushing to get on the podium this time around. America’s Maddie Phaneuf, Estonia’s Tuuli Tomingas and Russian pair Liliya Davletshina and Maria Ivanova will all be hoping to medal in the Women’s competition although some will be making the move to Junior level. The young Canadian guys will be looking for some individual medals to add to a very impressive Relay silver as will the young Finns who were third.

Last year’s Junior competitions were a little more evenly spread in terms of medalists. On the Womens side a Russian, Evgeniya Pavlova, won the Sprint, a Kazakh Galina Vishnevskaya won the Pursuit and Luise Kummer a German won the Individual. Austria and Canada also had success with Lisa Hauser and Sarah Beaudry. As for the junior men Russia’s Alexander Povarnitsyn won Sprint gold and Pursuit silver. The French team won gold with Fabien Claude in the Pursuit and silver and bronze in the Individual from Aristide Begue and Dany Chavoutier. Norway also turned up at this point with Tore Leren taking Individual gold and Sprint silver with Jarle Midthjell Gjoerven adding Pursuit bronze. The Junior Relays were dominated by the German Team who won both the men’s and women’s races.

Some of these biathletes will be competing again in Raubichi and some are now too old and will be hoping to move to the IBU Cup and hopefully the World Cup for their respective countries. One thing is for sure there is a lot of good young talent in biathlon at the moment and there will surely be new names that come to the fore in Raubichi especially in the Youth Category.

What is important to remember though is that it’s not all about medals and success. For the majority of the biathletes that take part it is great experience for them and hopefully a stepping stone to greater things. You don’t have to win at this level to be a great biathlete just ask Martin Fourcade. For many of the youngsters taking part it is not only a challenge to be selected but just to be able to get to the venue. Many are partly funded or not funded at all and have to raise their own money just to pay for flights, accomodation and food. They all deserve your support and so keep an eye out for all the results not just the TOP 3. So if you don’t normally pay much attention to the Youth and Junior biathletes now is your chance. You never know you could be watching future World and Olympic champions in the making. What are you waiting for – Give Youth a Chance!

I have to say a huge thank you and good luck to Maddie Phaneuf, Robert Sircus, Martin Femsteinivik, Brian Halligan and Mateusz Janik who were all kind enough to do interviews for me in the build up to these Championships! I know you will all do your best and I will be behind you all the way! Tom Lahaye-Goffart and Jarl Hengstmengel won’t make it but better luck for next time!

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