Tag Archives: Franziska Preuss

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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Ruhpolding 2017: The Pursuits!

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Much like a German pretzel the Pursuit races in Ruhpolding had a few twists and turns in them but ultimately ended up where they started with the person who started first finishing first! This meant double victories this weekend for Kaisa Makarainen and Martin Fourcade.

The men raced in the morning with quite heavy snowfall which did seem to affect Fourcade a bit and he missed 3 targets in total, two in the second prone and one in the first stand. However he hit all five in the final shoot which gave him a comfortable win in the end.

Emil Svendsen was his closest challenger and at one point was only half a second behind him. Svendsen shot clean but couldn’t match Fourcade on the skis and when he made his break on the track before the final shoot no one could live with him. It’s great to see Svendsen back on such good form but there is nothing he can do at the moment to stop Fourcade.

Third place was where the best action of the day came when Michal Krcmar of the Czech Republic came from 29th place all the way to third. He shot clean and managed to pass Anton Shipulin in the final straight to claim his first ever podium on the World Cup. Shipulin also had a good race moving from 24th to 4th.

German’s Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp treated us to an early crash on the first loop when Peiffer seemed to slip on the flat and Schempp who was skiing close behind him couldn’t avoid hitting him. They both recovered well though to finish in 5th and 7th.

Daniel Mesotitsch rolled back the years with clean shooting to finish 9th. Erlend Bjoentegaard came from 21st to 8th, Dominik Windisch went from 43rd to 11th, Simon Fourcade went from 46th to 16th and Henrik L’Abee Lund from 54th to 21st.

The women had better conditions in the afternoon with no snow and even some blue skies above. Kaisa dominated the race from the start and won in the end by a minute just missing 1 target. Gabriela Koukalova held on to second missing 2 shots and Marie Dorin Habert recovered from an early fall to grab third with 3 misses. That meant Laura Dahlmeier was pushed down to 4th with 4 missed targets which is unusual for her.

Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg had another fantastic race finishing 5th with just 1 miss to improve her personal best again. Lisa Vittozzi shot clean to move from 27th to 10th, Franziska Preuss went from 31st to 14th, Maren Hammerschmidt from 39th to 17th, Iryna Varvynets from 52nd to 20th, Baiba Bendika from 47th to 25th and Selina Gasparin from 49th to 29th.

So we now head to Antholz with Gabriela Koukalova still in the yellow bib but only by 19 points from Kaisa Makarainen in second. The women’s World cup is so close and exciting which is great because the men’s isn’t! Martin has 730 points and Simon Schmepp in second has 446!

With another packed week of racing coming up in Antholz we really have to praise all the biathletes because it tires me out writing about all the races never mind actually doing them! There are Individuals, Mass Starts and Relays in Italy and then a small rest before the World Championships. I will need it never mind the biathletes!!! 🙂

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Ruhpolding 2017: The Relays!

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It seems the people of Ruhpolding like everything weiß. Weißbier, weißwurst and of course weiß snow! They also love an exciting finish in the Relay and that’s exactly what they got in the Men’s race on Wednesday.

We all know the Norwegian men love to win the Relay in Ruhpolding and they did so again for the third time in a row. For most of the race it didn’t look that likely until Emil Svendsen took over on the final leg and very much proved why he is called Super Svendsen – and it’s not because he wears his underpants over his trousers! No it’s because when he is on form he is an awesome biathlete.

Russia spent most of the race in the lead apart from the first lap where a great leg from Lukas Hofer, shooting 10/10, put Italy in the lead at the first changeover. The second two legs were dominated by Anton Shipulin who only used one spare and Matvey Eliseev who didn’t miss a target.

He handed over a 30 second lead to Anton Babikov who had Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen chasing him. Schempp was lucky to be there after Erik Lesser did a penalty loop on the first leg but some great work from Bendikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer put Germany back into contention.

Svendsen proved to be the best of the three, shooting 10/10 when the other two both needed a spare and had a great ski to catch and then pass Babikov to win the race by 5 seconds. He has teammates Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Vetle Christiansen and Henrik L’Abee Lund to thank for putting him in such a good position and also his ski technicians for some incredible skis. With Norway winning without a Boe in sight they could be hard to beat for the rest of the season.

Back in the pack Sweden came all the way from 23rd to finish 6th using 8 spares, Bulgaria finished an impressive 8th including a penalty loop and the Ukraine showed how good a team they have maintaining 4th place with Vitaliy Kilchytskyy completing his standing shoot in 17 seconds hitting all the targets. France came 9th unable to recover from a poor first leg from Simon Fourcade who is back after an illness.

So then the Women’s race on Thursday had a lot to live up to and it did just that! Kaisa Makarainen got us off to a great start by leading the race up to the first exchange. However Finnish hopes were short lived as the bigger teams took over from there. Maren Hammerschmidt took the second leg for home team Germany taking over from Vanessa Hinz. She managed to hand over the lead to Franziska Preuss despite the close attentions of Italy, Ukraine, Norway and France.

In the third leg it was Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who went into the lead missing just one shot in the prone. In fact that was the only spare round the Norwegian team used in the race! She handed Marte Oslbu a 4.5 second lead but she had some tough competition in the form of Olena Pidhrushna, Laura Dahlmeier and Celia Aymonier.

In the end it was Laura Dahlmeier who was victorious giving the crowd something to cheer! She used 1 spare but was too strong on the skis for the others making up a 10 second deficit on Olsbu. Second place went to France with Celia Aymonier also beating Olsbu to the line after they both hit every target. Aymonier, who used to be on the dark side of cross-country, seems to have found some Jedi powers on the shooting range and is becoming a fantastic biathlete. The French team were without Marie Dorin Habert today but with Anais Chevalier, Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz and Aymonier they look a formidable team even without her.

Norway had a great race in third. Their women’s team hasn’t been as strong this season but Kaia Nicolaisen, Hilde Fenne, Eckhoff and Olsbu put that right today. Hopefully they can carry this success into the individual races.

Norway were the top team on the range followed by Ukraine and Canada who used only 3 spares and finished 4th and 10th respectively and Sweden used only 4 finishing 7th. Russia had a bad day at the range using 11 spares and incurring 2 penalty loops.

The Relays were both really good races to watch with exciting finishes. Hopefully the rest of the round will be the same with the Sprints on Friday and Saturday and the Pursuits on Sunday.

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Oestersund 2016: The Relays.

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Finally! You wait ages for a biathlon race and two come along at once! That’s right biathlon is back and the season got under way in Oestersund, Sweden. The Mixed Relay started us off and that was followed a little later by the Single Mixed Relay just to ease everyone in gently.

What I thought might be an appetizer followed by a main course actually turned out to be a main course followed by the cheeseboard instead of the dessert platter. What I am trying to say is that the Mixed Relay was better than the Single Mixed Relay (unless you prefer French cheese!).

The Mixed Relay got off to a good start with the women fighting for the lead. In the end it was the USA’s Susan Dunklee who made the hand over in first place but with less than 7 seconds covering the Top 5 teams. The second leg saw Dorothea Wierer hit the front and she handed over a lead of around 5 seconds from Birkeland and Dahlmeier.

Lukas Hofer maintained Italy’s lead up until his standing shoot which was heartbreaking. Having cleared the first 4 targets he thought the 5th was down and almost had his rifle back on his back when he saw taht it wasn’t! He then had to reset his position and preceded to miss all three spares and go on the penalty loop. Taking advantage was the evergreen Bjoerndalen who gave Norway a 17 second cushion over Doll of Germany.

Johannes Boe wouldn’t give up that lead with some fast shooting and skiing. Second place went to Germany with a bearded Arnd Peiffer. (Do you think he is after some kind of award!) In third place came Italy after a great leg by Dominik Windisch who beat Anton Shipulin in a sprint to the line to save teammate Hofer from a bad evening! France were 5th, Sweden 6th, Czech Republic 7th, USA 8th, Switzerland 9th and Ukraine 10th.

Next up came the Single Mixed Relay. France put in their top team of Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin-Habert and they really dominated the race. They were never out of the top three teams in any leg. They won by 16 seconds and it could have been more with a few more hits from Dorin Habert. In second place was a strong Austrian team of Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder who both shot really quickly and well just using 2 spares between them.

Third went to Germany with Preuss and Lesser. The race for the minor places was actually better with Sweden eventually taking 4th, Kazakhkstan taking 5th, Switzerland came from 18th place to 6th, Canada were 7th, Russia 8th, Ukraine 9th and Belarus 10th. If you are wondering what happened to Norway, Ingrid Tandrevold fell on the first of her loops and they never recovered and came home 11th.

So that concludes the first days racing of World Cup 1 in Oestersund. The next race is on Wednesday and it’s the Women’s Individual followed by the Men’s race on Thursday!

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Season 2016/17 Preview: Women

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It’s almost time! Just a few days until the start of the brand new biathlon season and it’s time for the women’s preview!
Unlike the predictable Men’s World Cup the Women’s World Cup is really exciting! It’s very hard to choose a winner this season and it should be a great one to watch.

Last season saw Gabriela Soukalova win her first ever Overall Title but I’m sorry to say there is no chance of Soukalova winning this season. Why not? Only because she has changed her name to Koukalova!!! She has every chance of winning again but it will be far from easy.

This season they are lining up to win the big Crystal Globe. With Darya Domracheva missing the start of the season after giving birth to her first child in October the race for the title will be between five or six biathletes.

As defending champion Koukalova will be the favourite this season. However it is often said that retaining a title is more difficult than winning the first one. She will have a lot more expectation on her shoulders this time and that means added pressure. Her committments outside of training may also play a factor if she hasn’t had enough time to prepare properly for the races.

Challenging Gabi will be of course Kaisa Makarainen who happily decided to continue her biathlon career. She is the most experienced of all the contenders and has won the overall title twice before. However she was the favourite last season and she didn’t deliver struggling with her shooting. She is still the fastest skier though and that will give her a big chance.

After the experience of Kaisa we have the youth of Laura Dahlmeier. She had a great season last year on the World Cup and at the World Championships. She is a fantastic shot and copes well under pressure. The biggest barrier to Laura however is her health. She usually misses one or two World Cup rounds through illness and you can’t give away that many points if you want to win the overall.

Marie Dorin Habert was amazing last season and pushed Gabi all the way coming second in the Total Score just 46 points behind. If she repeats her success then she possibly has the best chance of winning the overall title. If she can add a little more consistency she could make it a double World Title for France alongside Fourcade.

Trying to stop all of these ladies will be Dorothea Wierer. She won the small Crystal Globe for the Individual last season and was third overall on the World Cup. She was however over 100 points behind the winner. This means she needs to improve her points scoring over the whole season. Even if she doesn’t win the races she has to finish ahead of her main rivals as often as possible. The Mass Start was probably her weakest event last season but if she can improve her head to head racing she will have an opportunity to take the title.

There are others who we expect to do well like Tiril Eckhoff. She didn’t have a great World Cup last time and finished 11th overall. She will need to work on her shooting to move forward as we know she is a great skier. Franziska Hildebrand will be hoping to better her 5th place in the Overall and if she has a similar season this year she just might do it.

Further down the field Susan Dunklee will be hoping to win her first World Cup race after coming second in Presque Isle last time. Rosanna Crawford will be doing her best to get that elusive first podium finish to improve her personal best of 4th.

Looking to see a big improvement in results will be the Russian women’s team who had a hard time last season. Teja Gregorin and Valj Semerenko will also be hoping for better results this season.

Keep an eye out for the youngsters doing well this season. Galina Vishnevskaya, Lucie Charvatova, Julia Schwaiger, Paulina Fialkova, Ingrid Tandrevold and Lisa Vittozzi will all be out to impress.

There are a lot of others biathletes who will want to have a good season like Karin Oberhofer, Julia Dzhyma, Krystyna Guzik, Olena Pidhrushna, Veronika Vitkova, Anais Bescond and Franziska Preuss and others who will be missing like Weronika Nowakowska and Vita Semerenko but it should be a really exciting season for the women and I can’t wait for it to start!

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WC9 Khanty Mansiysk: Review 2016

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No! It’s Khanty Mansiysk already which means it’s the final round of the World Cup. The Men’s titles were all decided before we arrived in Russia. To make a long story short Martin Fourcade won everything! The Women’s was not quite wrapped up however as it was still possible for Marie Dorin Habert to catch up with leader Gabriela Soukalova.

It was the Women who raced first on Thursday in the Sprint. It was Kaisa Makarainen who won this one missing a target but skiing back to her best to win. In second and securing the small Crystal Globe in the Sprint event was Gabriela Soukalova. As Dorin Habert finished 10th it gave her a boost for the Overall Title. Third place went to Marte Olsbu who got her first ever podium and a career best result. Obviously the relay gold from Oslo has given her a lot of confidence. Justine Braisaz also got a personal best result in 4th.

The Men’s Sprint was won by Austria’s Julian Eberhard. He shot 10/10 and won by just 1.1 seconds. As predicted by this blog earlier in the season if he ever shot clean he would win and he has! It’s quite a surprise for him to shoot clean but it got him his first ever World Cup win. Second place went to Simon Schempp who must have though he had won as he wouldn’t have expected a clean shoot from Eberhard. Third place went to another German Arnd Peiffer. Erik Lesser was 5th and Benedikt Doll was 8th which means either the Germans love Khanty Mansiysk or they messed up their World Championship preparation and are in top form two weeks too late!!

There were personal best results in the Sprint for Ukraine’s Oleksander Zhyrnyi in 13th and Bulgaria’s Anton Sinapov in 16th who both shot 10/10. Martin Fourcade missed 4 shots and finished 40th and so decided not to start in the Pursuit.

The Women’s Pursuit was first on Saturday and Kaisa Makarainen did the double with another victory. She is hitting good form a bit too late in the season. She missed 2 shots but still won by 1.5 seconds. Title challenger Marie Dorin Habert was second with 1 missed target and Dorothea Wierer was third. It was a close finish for the final podium place with Gabriela Soukalova in fourth and Franziska Preuss in fifth less than a second behind. Soukalova’s 4th place meant that she won the small globe for the Pursuit and also secured the Overall Title.

There were other good results from Juliya Dzhyma who went from 26th to 9th, Laura Dahlmeier 36th to 16th, Ekaterina Yurlova 32nd to 18th, Iryna Kryuko 38th to 23rd, Monika Hojnisz 51st to 31st, Julia Ransom 54th to 34th and Ingela Andersson 56th to 38th.

The Men’s Sprint was won by Simon Schempp. He missed 3 targets but held off Johannes Thingnes Boe who was second. He only missed 1 target but started a minute behind Schempp and he only finished 8.5 seconds behind him. Third place went to Erik Lesser who missed 2 shots. Sprint winner Julian Eberhard missed 8 targets and went back to 18th!

There were other good performances by Simon Eder 38th to 11th, Tarjei Boe 35th to 12th, Michal Krcmar 39th to 17th, Anton Shipulin 45th to 20th and Dmitry Malyshko 55th to 33rd.

The final races of the 2015/16 season were the Mass Starts. Actually they weren’t! They were both cancelled due to strong, gusty wind conditions so the season ended with a bit of an anti-climax. This meant that Soukalova would also win the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Well that is all for the season 😦 try not to be too upset! Martin Fourcade won the Overall Title for the 5th season in a row and all 4 small globes for the second time in his career. You know I think he might be quite good at biathlon! Gabriela Soukalova won the Women’s Overall Title for the first time and 3 out of 4 of the small globes with Dorothea Wierer winning in the Individual. It has been another great biathlon season and thanks for following it with biathlon23!

Oh wait a minute, I’m not quite finished yet! Look out for my Men’s and Women’s Reviews and the outcome of a up and down season for Biathlete23! Plus the one thing all the biathletes want to win – The Biathlon 23 Awards are back! 🙂

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World Champs 2016: The Relays!

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Friday at the World Championships was Women’s Relay day. It was a fantastic day! What a great race the women put on. It was exciting from start to finish.

The Norwegian team of Synnoeve Solemdal, Fanny Horn Birkeland, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu took the gold medal and sent the crowd wild. They also made sure those gold jackets made by the Norwegian Biathlon Team didn’t go to waste! It was such a good performance by the home team and a thoroughly deserved victory. These ladies haven’t had the easiest time over the last few years for various reasons and I was happy to see them pick up the gold.

It was far from simple for them however. In a close race Finland handed over at the first exchange in the the lead thanks to Kaisa Makarainien’s opening leg. At the second exchange Rosanna Crawford handed over in first place for Canada followed closely by many teams. The third leg would prove to be pretty decisive as Tiril Eckhoff shot clean again and handed over a 23 second lead to Olsbu. Unfortunately for Marte she was being chased by Laura Dahlmeier and Marie Dorin Habert!

Oslbu had to use 2 spare rounds in both her shoots and came out of the range for the final time just 5 seconds in front of Dorin Habert who had skied fast and shot clean in the stand to overtake Dahlmeier. In a heroic ski Olsbu held off the Frenchwoman and crossed the line to the acclaim of the crowd and her teammates.

Silver went to the French team of Justine Braisaz, Anais Bescond, Anais Chevalier and Dorin Habert. The German team of Franziska Preuss, Franziska Hildebrand, Maren Hammerschmidt and Laura Dahlmeier took the bronze.

In 4th were Poland, 5th Ukraine, 6th Czech Republic, 7th Italy, 8th Kazakhstan, 9th Slovenia, 10th Sweden, 11th Russia, 12th Austria, 13th USA, 14th Slovakia, 15th Canada, 16th Switzerland, 17th Finland, 18th Belarus, 19th Japan, 20th Bulgaria, 21st Romania, 22nd China, 23rd Korea.

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The Men’s race wasn’t as close as the Women’s but the results were very exciting! Ole Einar Bjoerndalen got his gold medal as part of the Norwegian team alongside Tarjei Boe, Johannes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen. Emil also managed to vanquish the Relay from Sochi where he lost the gold medal and King Harald looked pleased with the Relay double.

The silver medal went to Germany with Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll, Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp. The bronze medal went to Canada, that’s right I said Canada! In a quite magnificent display they took third place with Scott and Christian Gow, Nathan Smith and Brendan Green. I can’t overstate how amazing an achievement that is for the Canadian Team and very well deserved.

At the first exchange it looked like Germany were in control with a great leg from Erik Lesser. However Tarjei Boe on the second leg for Norway and his brother Johannes on the third left Svendsen with a comfortable lead of 30 seconds. All he had to do was shoot well and he did to secure gold. The Germans used 5 spares but couldn’t fight the Norwegians on the tracks. Christian Gow and Brendan Green shot clean in legs 1 and 4 and the team only used 5 spares in total.

The French and Russians were never really in the race and the penalty loop for Austria didn’t help their chances. They finished 4th with the Czech Republic in 5th, 6th Russia, 7th Sweden, 8th USA, 9th France, 10th Switzerland, 11th Italy, 12th Slovakia, 13th Bulgaria, 14th Estonia, 15th Belarus, 16th Ukraine, 17th Slovenia, 18th Romania, 19th Finland, 20th Kazakhstan, 21st Poland, 22nd Japan, 23rd Lithuania, 24th Belgium, 25th Latvia.

So the Relays are done and the locals go home happy with 2 gold medals. Tomorrow is the last day of these World Championships 😦 but they end with the Mass Starts 🙂

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