Tag Archives: France

Magic BéaTRIX!

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You could say that last season was magic for Jean Guillaume Béatrix! He won bronze in the Pursuit race in the Sochi Olympics and finished on the podium for the first time ever on the World Cup. He has been threatening to do this for a while now and has finally lived up to the promise that he showed in his Junior career. I didn’t want to say it’s about time Jean-Guillaume, but it’s about time!!

I am not suggesting he is old though. In fact Jean Guillaume is just 26 years old. He was born on the 24th of March 1988 in Saint Priest, France and he is the same age as Martin Fourcade, Simon Schempp and Tarjei Boe to name a few. In fact competing with these guys goes some way to explaining why it has taken a while for him to reach the podium. It is extremely difficult to make it into the TOP 3 nowadays with the vast amount of talent in men’s biathlon both old and new.

Between learning to play the piano and the guitar(show off!) Jean Guillaume had a successful career at Youth and Junior level. He won 2 bronze medals in the 2007 Youth World Championships in the Individual and the Relay before going on to win gold in the Individual the next year in the Junior World Championships. Like a lot of biathletes he found the transition to the Senior level more demanding and it is in the last few years that he has really shown what a classy biathlete he is.

He helped the French Men’s Relay team to consecutive silver medals in the World Championships in 2012 and 2013 before claiming individual glory in the Olympic Games. He came from 14th place to win his bronze medal and also did well in the Individual race finishing 6th. He arrived at the Olympics fresh from his first appearance on a World Cup podium in Antholz where he came second in the Pursuit. Not a bad couple of months!

In fact his whole season was pretty good. He matched his position the Total Score from the previous season finishing 13th overall. His best result came in the Mass Start standings where he came 6th which is a good indication of someone who can compete under pressure. He has improved his shooting a lot and I think this has been the real difference in his results. He has always been a fast skier and can compete with the top guys but his shooting has sometimes let him down. If he can continue his progress I am sure a trip to the top step of the podium is not far away.

Of course Jean Guillaume is also known for his musical skills as well as biathlon. He is part of the “biathlon band” that includes Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Former member JP Le Guellec has now retired so there is a place up for grabs. They were joined for their version of Venus by Larisa Nedbaeva on violin but I do play a pretty mean triangle and tambourine myself if required!:-)

So I am sure that Jean Guillaume will be performing another song next season with the band but what can we expect from his performances on the track? Well he has to be targeting a first win on the World Cup and I am pretty confident he will get it. Improving on 13th in the Total Score should also be achievable. The World Championships could provide him with more chances for medals and of course France are guaranteed silver in the Men’s Relay because that’s where they always finish but he could also take an individual medal or two. Great skiing and shooting are obviously the key to success but if he can add some Magic BéaTRIX it could see him ski away with a gold!

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Antholtz: Ital never be forgotten!

antholz

Wow what a World Cup round we had in Antholz-Anterselva! Round six on the tour did not disappoint and we saw 3 new winners and a host of other biathletes recording their best ever results. Not a bad time to do it seeing as the Olympics are coming up and some places in the teams are still up for grabs.

This round started with the Women’s Sprint event which was won by Anais Bescond of France. Her first ever win on the World Cup came in front of Andrea Henkel and Darya Domracheva. It was a great boost for French women’s biathlon especially with the injury to Dorin Habert and a loss of shooting form for Brunet. Fourth place was taken by a fantastic Susan Dunklee who recorded her best finish ever too and was really close to getting on the podium herself.

The pressure of such good results and leading the Pursuit was too much for Bescond and Dunklee as they didn’t continue their form in the Pursuit race. Instead it was the cool head and experience of Andrea Henkel who got the win. It was her 22nd win on the World Cup her first one coming in 1998. What an amazing biathlete she is!Second place went to another biathlete getting a career best result Nadezhda Skardino of Belarus who performed really well and beat Tora Berger into third position. Tora produced a storming last lap to overtake her own teammate Tiril Echhoff who also put in a great performance moving from 14th to 4th but couldn’t match Berger’s skiing on the final leg.

Other movers in the Pursuit race were Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier who started bib 21 and finished 7th, China’s Chaoquig Song who stared 30th and made up 20 places with some immaculate shooting to finish 10th.Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska also did well finishing 15th from a starting bib of 36. The women’s races overall where great to watch in Antholz and have definitely wet the appetite for Sochi as anyone could win there!

The men’s races were no less exciting! In the Sprint Simon Schempp and Lukas Hofer shared the win after some initial confusion with the timing. A first win for both of them but sweeter for Hofer as it was his home race. They beat Arnd Peiffer into third and it’s great to see him back on the podium after a tough season last year. Bjorn Ferry returned to the Top 10 finishing in 6th and Krasimir Anev also got back in there with a season’s best result to take 7th and followed up with 5th in the Pursuit. Canada’s Brendan Green produced an amazing result to finish 8th his best ever finish in the World Cup.

In the Pursuit Schempp held his nerve and made it two wins out of two with an impressive display of physical, and particularly mental, toughness. Hofer was not able to match this and dropped down to 20th.Second place saw Jean-Guilliame Beatrix of France achieve his best result ever and he could have taken the win but for a missed target on the last shoot. Third went to Norways Henrik L’Abee-Lund who produced his best finish this season. I just hope it’s not too late for Olympic selection. Fourth place went to Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who made up 16 places from a start number of 20 in a terrific display.Other noteworthy performers were France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet who moved up from 32nd to 14th and Norway’s Martin Eng who started 53rd and finished 34th.

Unfortunately on Sunday the Women’s Relay was cancelled on the second shoot due to thick fog, that appeared as if from nowhere, with the Russian team in the lead. It’s a shame as there were still some decisions to be made and places to be won on the Olympic teams but the coaches will just have to decide based on previous races. It is the third cancelled race this year. The men were luckier and faced only a 30 minute delay before the start. France took the victory with a strong team and Sweden finished second improving from 4th last time out. Germany were third, a penalty loop from Andi Birnbacher of all people cost them any chance of victory. Canada finished a very impressive sixth rightly described as “frickin awesome” by JP Le Guellec! Belarus finished 7th from a ranking of 21st and had a great race too.

So that concludes all the World Cup rounds before the Olympics.The next races will be in Sochi! Antholz-Anterselva was again a fantastic round with great crowds and great tracks if not the great weather we usually expect there. This top venue provided some unforgettable moments for all the biathletes who achieved their career best finishes. For Simom Schempp, Anais Bescond and especially Lukas Hofer it means this season’s Antholz : Ital never be forgotten!!!

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See you in Annecy!

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December 9th to 15th this year sees the first ever World Cup stage to be held in France. It will take place at Le Grand Bornand in Annecy. Good timing then when the men’s overall World Cup winner with his five Chrystal globes just happens to be French! It’s also a great chance for the French athletes to perform in front of their home crowd.

It’s great to see the IBU World Cup moving around a bit. Fantastic as the other venues are, like Ruhpolding and Holmenkollen, it’s nice for the fans that can’t necessarily travel to have the opportunity to see these great athletes close up.

And for those who can travel it’s an excellent place to combine a bit of skiing while watching the biathlon. Annecy, in the far west corner of France, is just 50 minutes from Geneva and is home to the resorts of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigold and St-Jean de Sixt. As a bidder (unfortunately unsuccessful) for the 2018 Winter Olympics it boasts exciting ski zones and excellent facilities. It also has the largest Nordic ski area in Haute-Savoie with more than 50 miles of trails across the Confins Plateau and the Beauregard Plateau.

The biathlon stadium, opened in February 2011, is named after local double world champion and Olympic medallist Sylvie Beceart. A World Cup stage was due to take place here the same year but was cancelled due to a lack of snow. However measures have been taken to stock pile last winter’s excess snow to ensure that the event will go ahead this winter.

Recently used for the 2013 Military World Winter Games, it has already held a biathlon event with a lot of the top names attending including the Fourcade brothers, Hofer, Landertinger and Weger, Gwizdon and Palka to name but a few.

So if you are thinking of an early Christmas holiday with a bit of biathlon and skiing thrown in maybe we will see you in Annecy!

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Biathletes vs. Bikes

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The bicycle: You may think it’s just an object used to keep fit and enjoy yourself but to biathletes they are becoming an increasing danger. Unfortunately in the battle of biathletes vs. bikes it seems as though the bikes are winning!

Many biathletes turn to the bike as an integral part of their summer training. It is great for improving fitness and stamina and it doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the hips or knees. However some of them seem to have forgotten that they are not Chris Froome and are succumbing to more and more accidents.

One of the worst bike accidents was probably that of Czech biathlete Jaroslav Soukop last year. Whilst training with his teammates he went over the handlebars of his bike and hit his right shoulder, head and arm. This resulted in cerebral concussion and lumbar spine injuries and also required an operation to reset two breaks in his right arm. It was feared he would miss the whole of last season but made a miraculous recovery and returned mid-season. He was able to compete in his home World Championships in Nove Mesto where he won a bronze medal in the Mixed Relay.

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This summer’s training has also seen a spate of biking accidents. Miriam Gössner had an accident while training in Norway in which she fractured four lumbar vertebrae and will miss a good deal of training and possibly the beginning of the season. Selina Gasparin injured her foot in Greece and spent a few weeks in a removable cast but thankfully it was not too serious.

So are any of our intrepid athletes fighting back? Well I would like to put forward Alexis Boeuf as a champion for the biathletes. To be honest he looks like he could be a professional bike racer. He can often be seen cycling up very high mountains and seems to really love cycling rather than just doing it as a means of training. Actually the French are doing pretty well with their bikes as Simon Fourcade is now sponsored by a bike company (well they are giving him a load of free stuff anyway). Martin also uses a bike regularly in his summer training.

The bicycle: A great way to train but also an easy way to get a serious injury. My advice to the biathletes would be to get some training about descending from hills and mountains. Not a lot of people get injured cycling uphill but coming down at high speed is not an easy skill. Maybe if they ask their” local” cycling professionals for a bit of help things might go better. Soukop can have a word with Roman Kreuziger, Gössner with Marcel Kittel, Gasparin with Fabian Cancellara and Alexis Boeuf can challenge Cristophe Riblon and Pierre Roland to a race up Alpe D’ Huez! 😉

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Simon Four-midable!

simon fourcade2

Biathlon23 tries not to show any favouritism because I really like all the biathletes but I am going to make an exception for Simon Fourcade. He has to be one of my favourite biathletes. Not because he is the fastest skier or the best shot or the most successful but because he is the most enthusiastic. Every time you see him in an interview talking about biathlon you can see the twinkle in his eye and the smile on his face and you can see how much he loves the sport. You can also tell what an incredible competitor he is when you see a very different look on his face if he performs badly. These are the type of sportsmen I like the most. Not the ones who do it for money or fame but for a genuine love of what they do.

Simon Fourcade was born in Perpignan on the 25th of April 1984. As a youngster his family moved to Céret and that is where he discovered his love of sport. He practised Judo and also ice hockey before discovering biathlon at the age of 10. He became a member of the French National team in 2001 and he is also a non-commissioned officer in the French Army.

His greatest biathlon successes to date must be winning the Chrystal Globe in the Individual event in the 2011/12 season along with a gold medal in the mixed relay in the 2009 World Championships, a silver in the Individual event in Ruhpolding and 2 silver medals in the men’s relay event at successive World Championships.

Last season was disrupted by an operation for compartmental syndrome on his leg and so we didn’t see his best results until the end of the season where he again got to share a podium with his younger brother Martin. 2013 also saw his acting debut playing James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Biathlon. He’s done a bit of modelling and showed off some of his dance moves at the end of season parties so he has plenty of options post biathlon!

But back to the present. This season we have the Olympics in Sochi but for someone who lists kebabs among his likes on his website I’m not sure how good Simon’s chances will be!!Joking aside his best chance of a medal may again come in the relays but I have a feeling he could do something in the Individual event too. Whatever happens next season the other biathletes will find him four-midable, Simon Four-midable!

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Four-gone conclusion?

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Martin Fourcade is arguably one of the best biathletes ever. He won the overall title last year and all of the individual Chrystal globes. Born 14 September 1988 in Céret, Martin is a French biathlete and non-commissioned officer in the French Army. He has won several medals at the World Championships including four golds. He is also an Olympic silver medalist and winner of the 2011–12 World Cup as well as last season’s title.

As a child he took part in many sports like judo, swimming, athletics and mountain biking. In the end he followed his big brother Simon into Nordic skiing and biathlon. (So for all the other biathletes – you know who to blame!)Meeting Thierry Dusserre was a big moment for Martin. It was he who focused his attention on biathlon and instilled the necessary discipline and importance of training well. (You can blame Thierry too!)

Last season was amazing for Martin. To wear the yellow bib from start to finish and win all the individual events is an outstanding feat especially when you consider the competition he was facing. Great consistency coupled with some of the fastest skiing I have ever seen meant he thoroughly deserved all the titles and all the plaudits he received. However the World Championships in Nove Mesto didn’t go quite to plan mainly thanks to some missed targets and a certain Mr. Svendsen. He still won a gold and 4 silvers which for most biathletes would be a dream result but I can’t help feeling that Martin was disappointed that he didn’t take home more golds.

If he has a weakness it has to be his shooting. He tends to be slower than some of his main rivals to settle on the mat before he takes his first shot and has missed a few targets when the pressure is on. However he is still a great shot! And his ski speed is so good he can usually make up for it but I wouldn’t want to rely on that in the big races. The great competitor that he is I am sure it’s something he will be working on over the summer. Like the other biathletes he was back in full training by May for next season and I am sure he will be totally focused on making sure what happened in Nove Mesto doesn’t happen again in Sochi. The Olympics only come round every 4 years so it’s crucial to be able to peak at the right time as well as maintaining form for the World Cup.

Being one of the top performers in biathlon it is nice to see the good relationship he seems to have with his closest rivals. Housing hunting with Tarjei Bø and the now obligatory hugs at the end of races with Svendsen is very good to see. His relationship with his brother Simon also seems to help Martin. I’m sure having him as a roommate and teammate is both great support and motivation and maybe Simon can give him some shooting tips too!

So is it a four-gone conclusion that Martin Fourcade will win the World Cup again and Olympic gold next season? Nothing is ever certain in biathlon, there is a lot of competition but he has a fantastic chance of doing it. The one thing that I do know is he will give it his best shot!!!
Allez Martin!

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