Tag Archives: Franziska Hildebrand

PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Women’s Relay!

WOW! Just when you thought the biathlon races couldn’t get any better! The Women’s Relay was incredible! So much tension with so many ups and downs!

It started with snow! Unusual for the winter, I know! The wind was the big problem however with some horrible gusts hitting the range in different directions!

The first leg was again a good one for Italy. Lisa Vittozzi had another great start just using a single spare in the prone to hand over at the first exchange in the lead. She was followed by Susan Dunklee giving the USA a great start just needing 1 spare in the stand. Paulina Fialkova redeemed herself after a horrible Mixed Relay, when she shot on the wrong target, with just 1 spare required.

The first big casualty was Germany. Franziska Preuss went on the penalty loop after struggling terribly on the standing shoot. That left the door wide open for all the other teams.

Dorothea Wierer was on the second leg for Italy but she also had a nightmare this time in the prone incurring 2 penalty loops. At the second stand mayhem ensued! The wind was awful and caused almost everyone big problems. Kuzmina, Eckhoff, Herrmann and Vita Semerenko all ended up on the penalty loop and many others lost a lot of time shooting slowly. The best shoot however came from Dorothea Wierer! She cleaned the stand and left the range in the lead. A small biathlon miracle!

Kaisa Makarainen, with 2 spares needed, caught Wierer on the tracks and exchanged in the lead for Finland. The third leg was madness too with Poland’s Krystyna Guzik coming out on top. She did a penalty loop on the prone but used 1 spare in the stand to lead after leg three! Behind there were still many nations in the mix like Belarus, Slovakia, Switzerland and France. Germany couldn’t make up any ground with Franziska Hildebrand on the penalty loop as was Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold.

Some fantastic shooting from Nadezhda Skardino (2 spares), Iryna Kryuko (1 spare) and Dzinara Alimbekava (3 spares) had put Darya Domracheva in fourth place starting the last leg. She had Weronika Nowakowska in front of her as well as Anais Bescond and Federica Sanfilippo. Dasha cleaned the prone to take the lead while the others all needed spares.

That meant everything came down to the final shoot. With immense pressure on her Domracheva needed all three of her spares but when the last target went down the gold belonged to Belarus. Bescond came out after her but a stunning performance from Hanna Oberg hitting 10/10 left her in third.

She was able to pass the Frenchwomen to secure sliver for her teammates Linn Persson, Mona Brorsson and Anna Magnusson. The Swedes used 12 spares and the bronze medallists France with Anais Chevalier, Marie Dorin Habert, Justine Braisaz and Bescond used 14.

Norway finished 4th after a good leg from Marte Olsbu, Slovakia were fantastic in 5th and Switzerland also did really well finishing 6th.

It was a crazy race but an amazing spectacle and another great advert for biathlon. The men’s race tomorrow is the final event here in PyeongChang. Let’s hope they produce something similar!

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Ruhpolding 2018: The Relays!

Wow relays are boring without any fog, aren’t they! 😉 It’s Ruhpolding so of course Norway won the men’s relay. They have won 4 in a row here and 8 out of the last 11.

The Norwegian team, which looks like the Olympic team, of Lars Birkeland, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen and Johannes Boe were always near the front for the whole race. Birkeland on the first leg was just beaten to the first exchange by Erik Lesser. Lesser shot 10/10 while Birkeland needed 1 spare.

I know what you are thinking -“Where was Belgium?” It was not their day today with Michael Roesch doing 2 penalty loops. Apparently he shoots better when he can’t see the targets!

Matej Kazar and Lowell Bailey both had great legs handing over in 3rd and 4th.

Tarjei headed out fast on the second leg, a little too fast as he needed all his spares on the prone to avoid the penalty loop. That meant Lukas Hofer overtook him as did Tomas Hasilla and Benedikt Doll. Boe made up for it on the stand and cleared while the others needed spares. Simon Eder made great progress for Austria hitting 10/10 very fast so it was Italy in first, Norway second and Austria third at the next exchange.

Svendsen was on leg three up against Windisch and Daniel Mesotisch. They all has pretty solid legs using a few spares but unfortunaley for them Martin Fourcade was on leg three for France and shot fast and clean to move France into the lead heading into the final leg. Italy were in second and Norway third. Russia were up to 4th after 10/10 from Anton Babikov.

The tables turned again with Johannes Boe on the final leg for Norway. He flew off into the distance leaving Antonin Guigonnat and Thierry Chenal for dust! He used 2 spares on the stand but took the win comfortably. Guigonnat did well staying in second for France and Anton Shipulin moved Russia into third with a good final leg using just 1 spare.

Germany finished 4th, Austria 5th and Sweden 6th. The mysterious penalty for the USA was explained as Sean Doherty cross fired on the final leg.

Kazakstan who seem to love Ruhpolding as much as Norway does moved from 19th to 11th. They got a string of personal bests in the Individual and used only 5 spares between the four guys in the relay!

The women’s relay treated us to a really close finish. This time it was the home team Germany who took the victory. After their little slip up coming second in Oberhof they moved back up to first to the delight of the crowd.

However it was Italy who got off to the best start with Lisa Vittozzi having a great first leg hitting 10/10 and handing over in first place. She was just ahead of Franziska Preuss. Many other teams were close behind with France, Switzerland, Belarus, Austria, USA, Sweden, Norway and Poland all chasing the leaders.

Denise Herrmann and Dorothea Wierer battled it out on the second leg with Wierer shooting better(10/10) and Herrmann skiing faster which meant Germany took the lead into leg three. Norway came out the best from the chasing pack with Tiril Eckhoff skiing well.

It was now time for Franziska Hildebrand and Nicole Gontier to go head to head. However after the first prone it was Sweden who came out in the lead with Anna Magnusson shooting quickly. By the stand it was Chloe Chevalier with a clean shoot who left the range first but by the exchange Selina Gasparin was in the lead! Madness! Leg three was a good one!

She had Sweden, France and Germany behind her heading to the handover. Aita Gasparin was now up against Laura Dahlmeier, Federica Sanfilippo and Hanna Oberg. The German and the Swede both needed 1 spare and left the range together after the prone with Italy, Switzerland, Norway, France and Poland all within 30 seconds of the top two.

At the final shoot Sanfilippo cleared, Oberg used 1 spare and Dahlmeier needed 2. It was a ski race from there between Italy and Germany and with just 600 metres left Dahmeier passed the Italian and snatched the win. Oberg held on for third and Sweden’s second podium finish in a row in this event.

Norway were fourth a great result for them considering they have had a terrible season so far in the women’s relay. Poland were 5th and the Czech Republic moved up to take 6th. Switzerland dropped to 8th after 1 penalty loop on the final stand and France were 9th after 2 penalty loops on the same shoot.

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Oberhof 2018: The Pursuits!

No rain and no wind! Those were the unusual conditions facing the biathletes in the Oberhof Pursuits!

The women started first and it was a starightforward race for Anastasiya Kuzmina. She had a 35 second start on the field and she never gave it up. Clean shooting on the first prone settled any nerves and she stayed in control for the rest of the race. She missed 2 targets, on the second and third shoots, but she had time to complete her penalty loops before the others had started shooting.

It has been an amazing season so far for Kuzmina. She has 4 wins and a nice lead in the total score. Hopefully she can sustain her form right up until the Olympics where she will attempt to win her third Sprint gold in a row.

Behind her we had a race. Kaisa Makarainen and Veronika Vitkova missed in the first prone and so allowed the others to come through. These included Laura Dahlmeier and Darya Domracheva. However misses on the third and fourth shoots took them away from the podium.

Franziska Hildebrand had a great chance to get second place but she missed in the final stand. Not missing a single target however was Dorothea Wierer. She hit 20/20 to move from 16th to 2nd. She loves a pursuit! The same happened to Vita Semerenko. Perfect shooting put her in 3rd place moving up from 22nd.

Weronika Nowakowska moved in to 4th from 6th htiing 20/20, Kaisa Makarainen hung in for 5th and Darya Domracheva was 6th beating Dahlmeier on the line.

Yulia Dzhima had a fantasic pursuit race going from 42nd to 13th, Denise Herrmann went from 45th to 16th and Vanessa Hinz from 55th to 18th. The only other woman to shoot clean was Olga Poltoranina in 41st.

The men’s race was more competitive but with the same outcome of bib number 1 winning. Martin Fourcade had three Norwegians chasing him but kept calm and in control of the race despite some pressure from the viking lads!

It was Svendsen who took the lead after the first prone with misses from Martin and Johannes. Martin caught up with him on the third loop and in the last shooting Svendsen made a mistake and Fourcade took the victory hitting 19/20 overall.

Johannes still finished second despite missing 3 targets. Big brother Tarjei was third hitting 20/20. Svendven was 4th in the end with 19/20.

Dmytro Pidruchnyi went from 10th to 5th with 1 miss and Lukas Hofer maintained 6th with 2 misses.

Further back in the pack Antonin Guiggonat moved from 46th to 27th, Alexey Volkov went from 55th to 28th shooting 20/20. Freddie Linstrom was the only other man to hit all 20 in 15th.

The final races are relays so that leaves Kuzmina with a lead of 47 points over Makarainen in the women’s overall and Martin Fourcade 38 points ahead of Johannes Boe as we head to Ruhpolding.

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Oberhof 2018: The Sprints!

Now that I have managed to write 2018 in the title and not 2017 we can get on with the Women’s Sprint from Oberhof!

The year may have changed but the form of Anastasiya Kuzmina has not! She took her third victory of the season in the Sprint and again by a big margin.

The conditions were not too bad after heavy snow on Tuesday and then rain storms on Wednesday. The only issue today was the wind in the range, a common problem in Oberhof, and it ruined a lot of standing shoots for the ladies.

In the end Kuzmina won by 35 seconds. She missed 1 target in the prone and looked very impressive. She has never had a season like this before with such consistent success. Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who also had 1 miss in the stand for her. It’s not many people who can take that much time from Kaisa with the same shooting score!

Third place went to Veronika Vitkova with her first podium since the 2014/15 season. It’s not such a surprise that she did it here as she now has a win, two seconds and a third place finish in Oberhof. She loves the place!

Franziska Hildebrand was 4th with 9/10, Justine Braisaz was 5th with 8/10 and Weronika Nowakowska was 6th with her best finish since having twins.

There were some personal bests today too with Linn Persson coming home 8th shooting 10/10. Sarah Beaudry was 23rd also hitting all 10. Japan’s Sari Furuya was 29th with 2 misses and Mun Ji Hee of Korea was 30th with 1 miss. The only other person to hit the perfect 10 was Julia Ransom who equalled her personal best of 9th.

Spare a thought for poor Julia Simon of France who had a nasty trip and looked like she suffered an injury.

The men raced on Friday and well it was wet. A bit of a miserable day in Oberhof with some gusts of wind thrown in for good measure. Surprise, surprise Martin Fourcade won this one. It is however just his third victory this season in the 4th World Cup. His overall rival Johannes Boe could have won this too but he missed two shots on the prone when Fourcade hit 10/10 but was just 10 seconds behind. That only left him in third however as teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen took second. He shot clean to finish 8 seconds behind Fourcade.

It’s only Svendsen’s second World Cup this season after missing Hochfilzen and Annecy. Also shooting clean in 4th was Tim Burke! Yes finally Tim is back at the sharp end with a great performance at his home away from home in Oberhof. Tarjei Boe was 5th with 1 miss and Lukas Hofer was 6th also with 9/10.

It will be a tough day for Fourcade in the Pursuit on Saturday with 3 Norwegians chasing him down!

Jakov Fak shot clen today in 7th as did Matvey Eliseev in 21st. Jeremy Finello hit all the targets in 27th, Tuomas Gronman did the same in 45th and Scott Dixon also hit 10/10 in 87th place.

Poor Edin Hodic of Serbia had a problem when his harness came off his rifle after a fall and he couldn’t finish the race.

The Pursuit races on Saturday should be very interesting with a lot of people having trouble shooting in the Oberhof range and with wet tracks it could be a great watch!

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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:
4.Dorin Habert

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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