Tag Archives: Franziska Hildebrand

Hochfilzen 2017: The Relays!

Holy s**t! How are you supposed to summarise the Men’s Relay in Hochfilzen?! I went with absolute madness!

Here goes; it didn’t snow but it was very windy and it caused chaos in the range, 8 teams were lapped including the hosts Austria, of the 18 teams that finished the Czech Republic were last, Belgium were leading after the first leg and there were about 103 penalty loops!!!

The Norwegians emerged from the chaos in the best position with Bjoerndalen shooting well to keep the at the front after the first leg. Michael Roesch of Belgium was amazing and passed Ole Einar to hand over in the lead. Belgium that were team 26 were now up to 1st.

Florent Claude continued Belgium’s good start but Henrik L’Abee Lund put Norway into a lead they would not give up. Germany were pretty consisted and came home second with no penalties. Third went to France who did 2 penalty loops with Jean Guillaume Beatrix on the first loop but great legs from Emilien Jacquelin and Quentin Fillon Maillet brought them back to the podium.

Sweden were great in 4th despite Peppe Femling being mowed down by Beatrix on the first leg! Italy were fourth and their best performer was Thierry Chenal on his World Cup debut weekend showing Windisch and Hofer how to shoot. Ukraine were 6th.

There were also some issues in the range with some very slow reactions by the range officials. Maksim Varabei and Matvey Eliseev both needed assistance and didn’t get it very quickly.

In the end the Belgian team finished 16th with Tom Lahaye Goffart and Thierry Langer doing 3 penaltyy loops each but both are inexperienced at this level and actually performed really well in tough conditions especially when finding themselves at the sharp end of a World Cup race.

The women still had windy conditions to contend with but their shooting was better and the wind maybe not quite as strong. The Germans led after the first leg with a solid performance from Vanessa Hinz. Franziska Hildebrand made it more interesting needing 4 spares and letting the others back into the race.

The Swiss were up at the front along with the Ukraine, Sweden, Belarus and Russia but Marie Dorin Habert went on the penalty loop twice in the first lap to put France well behind and Hilde Fenne did 3 to put Norway out of contention.

Coming into the final lap it was Germany with Maren Hammerschmidt and Switzerland with Lena Haecki along with Ukraine’s Valj Semerenko who looked like the podium finishers. Laura Dahlmeier on the last lap was steady and brought her team home in first for their sixth relay win in a row.

The Swiss dropped back with Irene Cadurisch doing 2 penalty loops. Olena Pidhrushna took Ukraine to second place and unbelievably the French got third doing exactly what the men did coming back from 2 penalty loops on the first lap to get on the podium!

Russia were 4th, Switzerland were 5th which is still a great result for them and the Czech Republic were 6th.

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Season Preview 2017/18: Women

It’s almost time for the Women’s biathlon season to start. The first race is the Women’s Individual in Oestersund on the 29th of November. Last season was more or less a straight fight between Laura Dahlmeier and Gabriela Koukalova with Dahlmeier coming out on top winning the Overall Title for the first time.

It could be a similar situation this season but with the Olympics Games on the horizon the World Cup will not be the main focus for the majority of the biathletes. They will be concentrating on peaking for PyeongChang in February and we could even see some of them skipping World Cup races preferring to train for the Olympics.

It also means we could be losing a few of our favourites at the end of the season as the end of an Olympic cycle is a favoured time among sportspeople to retire.

Last season’s Total Scored ended like this:
1.Dahlmeier
2.Koukalova
3.Makarainen
4.Dorin Habert
5.Wierer
6.Braisaz
7.A.Chevalier
8.Dzhima
9.Hildebrand
10.Dunklee

Dahlmeier was impressive all year and crucially managed to stay fit and healthy for the entire season. She was a deserved winner of the big crystal globe and will start as favourite this season. However she didn’t have it easy.

At some points last season the top four were very close and Gabriela Koukalova pushed Dahlmeier the hardest. She is also a contender again this season but I fear she will be aiming solely for the Olympic medals and she has some health problems that could see her miss the first round in Sweden and possibly more.

It could be Kaisa Makarainen’s final season. She has spoken about retiring in the past and this may be the one she chooses to call it a day. Hopefully not but she also has a chance at the overall if she gets back some of her old consistency. Last season wasn’t her best but if she can sort out her shooting then it’s tough to beat her on the skis.

Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer are very talented biathletes but I am not sure either can put together enough consistent performances to win the World Cup.

The French women’s team in particular had a great season with Justine Braisaz and Anais Chevalier also in the Top 10. They can’t win it yet but look for them to continue moving up the standings.

None of the other ladies have produced enough points scoring finishes over the whole season to win the overall but the likes of Yuliia Dzhima, Franziska Hildebrand and Susan Dunklee can certainly win races and take podiums when they are on form.

Outside the Top 10 we found Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu in 11th and 12th place. Eckhoff has been pretty disappointing since she won the Sprint gold at the Oslo World Championships. She has struggled to put together a good season but she is still young and can hopefully make the Top 10 this year.

I would expect improvement from Anais Bescond and now also Mari Laukkanen after her great end to last season. Selina Gasparin has shown glimpses of getting back to her best and we should look to see her moving up the rankings.

Franziska Preuss had a season disrupted by injury and she will also be in the mix for podiums if she returns on good form. The Italian women like Lisa Vittozzi and Alexia Runggaldier will also be hoping to build on their successful seasons last year.

There is of course a dark horse in the women’s side. A certain Darya Domracheva. She was 24th in the Total Score but missed a lot of the season after having her baby. If she regains her form from the Sochi Olympic year she will be a massive challenger to Dahlmeier and the others.

One nation that has had a terrible time lately is Russia. Their women’s team is not nearly as good as it has been and their top performer last season was Tatiana Akimova in 16th. They will be hoping to step up their game in this very important season.

One person who will be missing from the start line in Sweden is Teja Gregorin. The Slovenian has been suspended by the IBU after retesting of her samples from the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 came back as positive for a banned substance. A growth hormone was discovered in her blood and there will be a hearing at the end of this month to deal with it.

However we will concentrate on those who are racing and the action gets underway very soon. If this season is anything like last year on the women’s World Cup you will not want to miss a single race!

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Franziska Hildebrand : The Interview!

Franziska Hildebrand is a German biathlete from Halle. She has won two races so far in her World Cup career both in Sprint races. She was victorious in her home race in Ruhpolding in 2015/16 and also in Hochfilzen in the same season. She has made the podium six times since her World Cup debut in 2011. With the German Women’s Relay team she has won two World Championship gold medals in Kontiolahti 2015 and Hochfilzen 2017. She was born on the 24th of March 1987 and has a twin sister called Stephanie.

Like her Facebook page: Franziska Hildebrand

Why did you become a biathlete?

This was accidental. First I tried various other sports like football and hockey. One day an article was published in the newspaper that the ski club of my hometown was looking for athletes. My parents took me to the training there and I liked it.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy about and what disappointed you?

The greatest moment for me was the moment I reached the line first for the German Relay team in PyeongChang with the German Flag. On the other hand I felt disappointed that I hadn’t reached a podium in the individual races.

You are part of the German Relay team that won gold in Hochfilzen and every relay on the World Cup. Why is the team so good?

We have a good atmosphere in the team, it is harmonious and we understand each other well. Everyone looks out for each other.

Do you have a favourite leg on the relay? Do you have any input into it or do the coaches make all the decisions?

My favourite leg is third. I also feel comfortable on the other legs but this is the one I like the most. Normally the coaches tell us the decision but they ask about the shape of the athletes.

Your shooting statistics are fantastic. Why are you so good at shooting? Is it natural talent, practice, hard work or a combination of things?

I think it`s a combination of natural talent and hard work. Talent is good but you still have to train again and again to keep this level.

You had some good results at the World Cup event in PyeongChang. Has that given you confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

I go with a positive feeling to Korea because of the good results I had there. I like the Asian culture and look forward to the Olympics. The tracks are nice and the range is good. I like it.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Recovery from an injury. In July I injured my ankle and it took time to heal. I did a lot of double polling and cycling because nothing else was possible. But it was nice to do something different from the other years.

Can you describe what it was like to win the Sprint race back in 2016 in Ruhpolding?

It was amazing. The victory there was a special moment for my career. To win in Germany in front of all the spectators was incredible.

You have your own fan club! What is that like and do they come and support you a lot?

It is a lot of fun. Every year we have a big fan club meeting where we all come together and meet each other. In my fan club are some very pleasant people who are crazy about biathlon and with whom I can have a lot of fun and who support me.

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

Katrin Apel. When I was watching Biathlon as a child she impressed me. She wasn’t the best all the time but she never gave up. And she was nice in her interviews.

Describe yourself in three words.

Persistent, colourful, freedom-loving.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): New Zealand
Favourite shooting range: Le Grand Bornard
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benedikt Doll
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Clare Egan
Best thing about being a biathlete: The best thing is that I get to do what I am talented in and I love to do!

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Holmenkollen 2017: The Mass Starts!

Say it isn’t so! The final races of the 2016/17 biathlon World Cup season! I’m afraid it is so. Hopefully you can all read this through the river of tears but it’s over again for another year! 😦

We ended the season in Holmenkollen with the two Mass Start races. They were exciting and full of incident. You know it’s the last day of biathlon when a squirrel and an asterisk take centre stage!

The Women raced first and it was another great race to finish of a fantastic season on the Women’s World Cup. First we had a faller. Celia Aymonier fell on the fast downhill and basically ruined her rifle and her chances of doing well in the race. We had Susan Dunklee in the lead after the first prone. She also came out of the range first after the second prone. Unfortunately she missed 3 in the first standing.

Between shoot 2 and 3 we had a squirrel run across the tracks at the start of the uphill and it almost took out Justine Braisaz. It’s lucky she didn’t take her rifle off and shoot it after the shock she got! The squirrel will now be known as Squirrel Eckhoff after the eventual winner! 😉

Franziska Hildebrand took over in the lead after the third shoot going clear. The final shoot decided the race with Hildebrand missing 1 and Eckhoff going clean. She took off in front of Gabriela Koukalova who also hit the final 5 targets. Eckhoff went fast until the end so Gabi had to settle for second but she did win the small crystal globe for the Mass Start after Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 9th.

Third place went to Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen was 6th to wrap up a difficult weekend for the Finnish team after the death of their shooting coach. They have honoured his memory in great style this weekend.

Veronika Vitkova was 4th with her best result this season and Hildebrand was 5th.

The Men’s race in the afternoon was a bit confusing! We got to the first prone shoot and up went Martin Fourcade’s hand. He had forgotten to reload his magazines! How in the world do you win 14 races, get 22 podiums from 26 races, win 6 World Titles in a row and forget that!!! Anyway his coach threw him a new one and he cleared the targets with amazing mental fortitude.

Eighteen other biathletes also shot clean at the first prone. Even though he lost time on the range the first time around Fourcade was first in for the second prone. This time there was an official waiting to give him new magazines. He again hit all the targets.

We were now down to 13 people who shot clean including Lowell Bailey and Anton Shipulin who were at the front. The third shoot was were Fourcade made his break. He shot clean along with Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Michal Slesingr and left those three in the podium positions.

In the meantime the asterisk had appeared next to Fourcade’s name for all the range problems. No one knew what was going on though. However Fourcade shot the perfect 20/20 despite all the problems and easily won the race. Or did he? Well yes he did after some discussion between the officials. They decided that his coach throwing him the magazine in the first prone, although against the rules, was the coach’s mistake and not Fourcade’s.

Second place went to Andrejs Rastorgujevs who shot clean at the final shoot and skied past Simon Eder on the tracks to get his first ever podium on the World Cup. Simon Eder held on to third with Emil Svendsen in 4th, Arnd Peiffer 5th and Michal Slesingr 6th.

With Simon Schempp finishing down in 20th it meant that Martin Fourcade also won the crystal globe for the Mass Start.

That concludes all the races for season 2016/17 with Martin Fourcade champion for the men and Laura Dahlmeier for the women.

There are still 3 season reviews and a certain awards ceremony to come from biathlon23 this week so it’s not all over yet!

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PyeongChang 2017: The Relays!

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It was the final day of racing in PyeongChang and also the final men’s and women’s relays of the season. There are reports going around that after his record equaling 6 Overall Titles in a row and 12 wins in a season that Martin Fourcade was using his big crystal globe to drink soju from! Soju is like the Korean version of sake. We thought he might miss the Relay but as these reports were from an American source it’s possible that it was fake news! 😉

Laura Dahlmeier did miss the women’s relay which is real news! The German’s lined up with their ‘H’ team (like the A team but further down the alphabet) of Horchler, Hammerschmidt, Hermann and Hildebrand! The absence of Dahlmeier didn’t prevent them from winning their fifth relay in a row and every relay this season. A fantastic achievement.

At one point it looked like it wasn’t going to happen though. Nadine Horchler had a solid first leg with just one spare needed handing over to Hammerschmidt in third place behind Chevalier of France and Crawford of Canada.

Hammerschmidt moved Germany into the lead after her leg using 2 spares but staying ahead of France’s Anais Bescond and Canada’s Julia Ransom. Ransom had an amazing leg shooting 10/10 and handing over to Megan Tandy still in contention for the lead.

Denise Hermann was confident on the prone hitting all five. However in the standing shoot she had a lot of trouble and ending up on the penalty loop. This meant that Justine Braisaz of France could take the lead handing over in front of Hermann. Then came Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who had a stunning leg making up for Hilde Fenne’s penalty loop on leg 2. Megan Tandy was brilliant in 4th using just 1 spare.

Celia Aymonier took over for France and was up against Franziska Hildebrand, Marte Olsbu and Emma Lunder. After a solid prone she had a horrible stand ending up with 2 penalty loops and so France were out of the picture. Hildebrand was excellent with just one spare meaning she had a comfortable final loop to victory.

The race was still on for the podium and it came down to a sprint finish on the line between Marte Olsbu, Gabriela Koukalova and Anna Magnusson. Some excellent shooting from these three put them all in with a chance but on the line Olsbu took second by 0.1 of a second with Koukalova in third just in front of Magnusson.

Emma Lunder needed 2 spares and in the end Canada finished 8th but it was a great race from ever member of their team racing in the top 4 for much of the relay.

The men’s race was a little less dramatic but still entertaining. Lukas Hofer set off very fast and led the first loop for Italy before having to do 3 penalty loops on the prone! Norway were up at the front after a great leg from Vetle Christiansen shooting 10/10. The USA were in seconds thanks to Lowell Bailey’s clean shoot and the Ukraine were in 3rd with Artem Pryma.

Bjoerndalen held on to the lead for Norway in the second leg with 3 spares. France’s Simon Fourcade moved them up from 7th, where Beatrix handed over, using just 1 spare. Ukraine were still in third after Sergiy Semenov’s leg.

The third leg saw France move into the lead and they wouldn’t give it up. Simon Desthieux was steady on the range unlike his competitor Vergard Gjermandshaug who incurred a penalty loop for Norway. Austria moved into second with two great legs from Simon Eder and then Julian Eberhard and Norway were still in third.

That’s how the race would end with legs from Martin Fourcade, Dominik Landertinger and Henrik L’Abee Lund. They were all good enough on the range to stop any others catching or passing them.

That is the end of the pre-Olympic event here in PyeongChang and now it’s back to Kontiolahti for World Cup 8!

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Women’s Relay!

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Winter is back! Which is lucky as biathlon is a winter sport and it is February. There were snowy and windy conditions for the Women’s Relay today and it was another fantastic race. I think we have been spoiled in Hochfilzen by the standard and excitement of the races.

In the Women’s Relay France got off to the best start with Anais Chevalier on leg 1 using just 1 spare and handing over to Celia Aymonier in the lead. She was followed closely by Lisa Vittozzi with 1 spare and Vanessa Hinz with 2 spares needed. Poland with Magdalena Gwizdon were in 4th and Nadezhda Skardino had Belarus in 5th. Russia were in 6th and Iryna Varvynets was in 7th for Ukraine.

The second leg started well for Aymonier but on the stand she needed 3 spares and just avoided the penalty loop. This gave Italy the chance to take the lead with Federica Sanfilippo needing just 1 spare to hand over in first. In second were Germany with Maren Hammerschmidt followed by Yuliia Dzhima and Aymonier.

The third leg was where the race turned. Franziska Hildebrand who hasn’t had the best Championships so far hit 10/10 to put Germany in a commanding position. She was followed by Anastasiya Merkushyna who used 1 spare putting the Ukraine into second, France went into third thanks to Justine Braisaz and Irina Starykh moved Russia up to 4th with the Czech Republic going into 5th with a good leg from Veronika Vitkova and Italy were 6th after Alexia Runggaldier’s leg.

Hildebrand handed over the lead to Laura Dahlmeier, which is the last thing you want if you aren’t on the Germany team! She was being chased by Olena Pidhrushna, Marie Dorin Habert, Gabriela Koukalova and Tatiana Akimova. Amazing!

Akimova dropped out early after having a nightmare on the first prone and taking a penalty loop. Dahlmeier used 1 spare and the others all shot clear to bring them all closer to the leader. It was a very tense final shoot and Dahlmeier needed 2 spare rounds but still managed to get away in the lead. Pidhrushna , Dorin Habert and Koukalova all went clear, Wierer missed 1 but shot so fast you hardly noticed so it came down to a ski race.

Koukalova was in silver position but she looked tired or myabe her skis weren’t good but she never loooked like she could hold on. So it came down to Dorin Habert and Pidhrushna to decide the medals. Unfortunately for them Dahlmeier was too strong to catch in first so they fought it out for silver and bronze.

Olena Pidrushna had a fantastic leg. I think she saved something on her first 2 loops and skied so well that Dorin Habert couldn’t get passed her.

It was a great race with Germany taking gold and Dahlmeier winning her 4th gold medal in Hochfilzen and her 10th World Championship medal in a row. Silver went to a terrific Ukrainian team with the best shooting score using just 4 spares altogether and bronze went to France.

The Czech Republic were 4th, Italy 5th, Sweden 6th, Poland 7th, Slovakia 8th, Belarus 9th and Russia 10th.

11th Norway
12th Kazakhstan
13th Switzerland
14th USA
15th Finland
16th Canada
17th Slovenia
18th Korea
19th Estonia
20th Japan
21st Lithuania
22nd Bulgaria
Austria were disqualified.

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Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 2!

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Well that was a good finish to a fun weekend in Antholz! We had a new winner in the women’s races with Nadine Horchler and a first podium at home for Alexia Runggaldier and Martin Fourcade didn’t win a race! Surprises everywhere!

The men raced first this morning in the Mass Start and it was another cracker. They attacked it from the start with Emil Svendsen pushing the pace on the first loop. It didn’t work out too well for him though as he was the one who missed a target.

At the second prone it was Shipulin’s turn to miss which left Johannes Boe, Martin Fourcade, Lars Birkeland and Erik Lesser in the lead.

The third shoot saw Fourcade miss but Boe, Lesser and Birkeland all cleared. Behind them Beatrix, Schempp, Fillon Maillet and Svendsen were all closing back in on the leaders.

The final shoot as usual was the crucial one. Lesser missed 1 and Fourcade missed 2 which left Boe and Fillon Maillet fighting it out on the tracks for the victory with Shipulin just behind. The last person you want to ski the final loop of a race with is Martin Fourcade but the second last is Johannes Boe!

Fillon Maillet just couldn’t hang on to him in the closing stages and was denied a first victory. However Johannes more than deserved the win for his powerful skiing as well as shooting 20/20. He was the only man to shoot clean today and gave Fourcade a gentle reminder that he won’t have it all his own way in Hochfilzen.

We had 3 Frenchmen in the top six with Fourcade in 5th and Beatrix in 6th. Svendsen came back to finish 4th and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was 10th.

The Women’s Relay was not as close as the men’s race yesterday and there was no surprise who won this one. It was the German women who made it a Deutsch eins-zwei in the Relays.

They fielded a strong team of Laura Dahlmeier, Franziska Hildebrand, Maren Hammerschmidt and Vanessa Hinz and if they all perform well it’s a very hard group to beat. The French team of Chevalier, Braisaz , Bescond and Dorin Habert gave it a good try leading the first leg but from there the Germans took over and never looked back winning by 24 seconds. They did use 12 spares to France’s 8 so they are not perfect.

Third place went to Italy whose women rounded off a good weekend for the team. Vitozzi, Sanfilippo, Runggaldier and Wierer put in a great performance to move from 7th to third with 9 spares.

Finland had a great Relay too coming 8th from a start position of 16th with Toivanen, Markkanen, Laukkanen and Makarainen. The USA also did well finishing 13th after starting in bib 22 with Dunklee, Egan, Reid and Phaneuf.

So that is the end of the World Cup races for a little while. We have a short break before the World Championships in Hochfilzen on the 9th of February. Martin Fourcade will wear the yellow bib for the men and Laura Dahlemier is in yellow for the women.

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