Tag Archives: Gabriela Koukalova

Oestersund 2017: The Individuals!

The first individual event of the 2017/18 season got underway on Wednesday with well… the Individual! The women raced first and in the the absence of Laura Dahlmeier (cold) and Gabi Koukalova (calf injury) there were podiums up for grabs!

We like the Individual because it is the one race when your skis can’t really get you out of trouble. You have to shoot well. That’s exactly what the winner did. In a very cold Oestersund (-11 degrees) Nadezhda Skardino shot 20/20 to win her first ever World Cup race. Not only that but she wore the coolest pair of gloves while doing it. Standard up to the fingers and then woolen! 🙂

Second place went to Norway’s Synnøve Solemdal. She also hit all the targets but finished 2.9 seconds behind Skardino. It was fantastic to see her on the podium after a tough few years last with illness. Third place went to Yuliia Dzhima who also shot clean but was 12 seconds behind the winner.

Valj Semerenko was 4th also hitting all 20 targets with Paulina Fialkova 5th and home favourite Mona Brorsson in 6th.

Canada’s Julia Ransom was 9th hitting all the targets to get her best ever finish on a World Cup. Linn Persson did the same in 15th for her personal best. Britain’s Amanda Lightfoot missed just one target on her way to her best ever World Cup finish in 31st.

Eleven women cleared all the targets in this race which is exceptional shooting from the ladies.

The men had slightly warmer conditions on Thursday with a balmy minus 5. The race was dominated by Johannes Boe who shot clean and fast to win the race by over 2 minutes. It was his speed and accuracy on the range that was particularly impressive. Quentin Fillon Maillet was second also hitting 20/20 but was a long way off Boe’s ski time.

Martin Fourcade was third missing 2 targets. He actually skied faster than Boe but even if he had hit 20/20 he wouldn’t have won. This is because he wasn’t fast enough on the range and lost a lot of time settling for his first shot.

Julian Eberhard was 4th with 1 miss, Anton Babikov was 5th with a perfect shoot and 6th place went to Lukas Hofer with 2 misses.

There were some really good performances today from the youngsters. Felix Leitner got his best World Cup result in 28th. Emilien Jacquelin finished 35th on his World Cup debut.

On his first World Cup start Latvia’s Oskars Muiznieks was 48th. His previous best was from the World Championships back in 2013 when he was 112th!

Six men shot the perfect 20/20 with Anton Pantov, Benjamin Weger and Jakov Fak hitting all the targets.


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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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The Biathlon23 Awards 2016/17!!!

awards
It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their fourth year! As usual they are not your typical awards. In fact they are even more la-la than LA-LA Land! Luckily I double checked all the envelopes as I discovered Gabi Koukalova’s name in the Best Facial Hair category – OOPS!!! 😉 Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Shockingly this award was almost won by a ski technician. Now I love the ski/wax techs but they are forbidden from winning awards! Andrew Chisholm is the culprit proving very popular among his fellow Canadians. This had to be stopped and there was only one way to it. Interview a German! Luckily for me one of them agreed to do it and since it’s biathlon a German can beat anyone! This one also went on to become World Champion in the Sprint in Hochfilzen! (That’s what biathlon23 interviews can do for you!)
Winner: Benedikt Doll

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“biathlon23”: This is happening more often! It’s a worry! 😉
“little bit too much girly habert dorin”: Outrageous behaviour from a girl!!!
“martin fourcade and final lap of relay. did he cheat?” Yes he cheats in every race by being faster on skis and better at shooting than everyone else – Damn him!
“is aiden miller one of the fastest people”: I think it’s still Usain Bolt!
“simon fourcade has child”: I don’t think he can!
“van damme biathlon”: Well Belgium are always looking for biathletes!
“tarjei bø party”: I want to go!
“tarjei bö shirtless”: The party just got better!
“lisa theresa hauser high heels”: Not when she is skiing I hope!

Winner:“anton panton biathlon”: It’s Pantov! Anton Pantov! It must be the rhyming here that made me cry laughing so that’s why it wins!

Best Facial Hair:
Talk about famine to feast. Last season there was obviously some sort of offer on shaving items as there was hardly a whisker to be seen but this year the beard is back! It’s not just the biathletes either some of the coaches have beards and even the new IBU TV guy. Well sorry gents but this is a biathlete only award. The French put up a good fight this season with Simon Fourcade and also Antonin Guigonnat trying to become an extra on “Vikings”. The Canadians have Macx Davies trying to defend his title and a hidden gem in the IBU Cup with Matthew Neumann’s wonderful effort. The Germans tried but I’m sorry to say failed with Erik Lesser and Arnd Peiffer attempting the goatie but with little success. Klemen Bauer always has a great beard. Benni Weger was a strong candidate but the winner has a great beard to go with a great personality and also some great form!
Winner:Michael Roesch

Best earrings:
A strong category this season. There are a lot of ladies wearing earrings to compete and so it was a tough decision. Kaisa Makarainen has her snowflakes as does Tiril Eckhoff. There were a lot of ladies choosing long earrings this year. They are brave, I mean imagine if they got caught in your harness – AHH!!! The ones I liked best however were small blue earrings that actually looked like real flowers.
Winner:Nicole Gontier

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This year’s award has to be shared for a magnificent two person effort. Picture the scene. The Men’s Relay in Pokljuka, the first lap, a herd of biathletes hurtling down the hill. Sergey Bocharnikov of Belarus falls and Tuomas Gronman of Finland skis into him and goes flying through the air and lands on his face! Fortunately both were OK but it was a spectacular crash to watch.
Winner: Thomas Gronman and Sergey Bocharnikov

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
Again this has to go to a Boe! This year it’s Johannes but he does have to share it with Gabi! Asked at a press conference in Hochfilzen about Valentine’s Day he put his arm round Gabi and said he had everything he needed for Valentine’s Day. To which she replied that he would have to wait a few days because her husband was there! So funny and very cheeky as usual! (actually Gabi saying that Laura Dahlmeier ‘runs like a horse’ was also in contention!)
See the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLI4rZgjECE
Winner: Johannes Boe and Gabriela Koukalova

Best biathlon video:
There is only one possibility. Filmed in a bathroom at the World Championships (no it’s not that get your mind out of the gutter!) by the American team. Please feel free to ignore most of it except of course the part where Maddie Phaneuf talks about this blog! Fame at last! It’s all about 23! 🙂
(Actually you should watch all the videos they did as it’s a great behind the scenes view with some raw emotions too.)
see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UdHH16RR8c&feature=youtu.be
Winner: US biathlon women’s team

Best rifle design:
It’s been a lean year for rifle design. I mean biathletes have all summer to come up with a idea and then we get a blue,black or red rifle or a wooden stock. Come on people! We have a few saviours thankfully. Erik Lesser has a design that I think is miners. Joanne Reid has a naked lady! (Don’t look kids!). Andrejs Rastorgujevs has his like a zebra in case we do safari biathlon! Anastasiya Kuzmina has gone a bit psychedelic. Jaroslav Soukup has his kids on there (AWW!). Shipulin and Gasparin still have their cool rifles from last season but the winner is a lady who has a cat’s face on her stock. You can just see the eyes staring at you when she shoots. It’s PURR-fect! 😉
Winner: Darya Usanova

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Well it’s not technically ridiculous and not even that bad but as almost everyone has gone boring this season someone has to win. I don’t want to be too harsh, she may be short of money and that’s why she used her grandmother’s flowery wallpaper to cover her rifle including the barrel!
Winner: Veronika Vitkova

Best ski suit:
There has been a noticeable improvement in this years ski suits. I particularly like Estonia, Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic. The Norwegians and Great Britain have done well too. The winner was actually hard to choose for a change but I went with this country because I like the design and the colours and they deserve praise for getting rid of those pixelated trousers from last season!
Winner: Austria

Worst ski suit:
Well there is a clear winner this year but first I must commend some previous winners for improving their suits. Not France of course because theirs still sucks! Lithuania however have made major improvements in colour abandoning the yellow/green horror for a lovely shade of red. China came close to getting this award but avoided it by at least using the colours of their flag. However the winners was an easy choice. They have chosen the colour of the phlegm you cough up when you have a chest infection and matched it with silvery grey. None of these colours are on the country’s flag and hopefully it will never been seen again!
Winner: Romania

Best range decoration:
Oestersund got us started with range decoration this season by throwing some shells (the wrong size by the way) on to a pile of snow! Creativity at it’s best! PyeongChang got in on the action with a rabbit watching the shooting (FYI rabbits don’t like rifles!). The clear winner however is the digger and the penguin. Not that much to do with biathlon to be fair but good work nonetheless.
Winner:Ruhpolding

Best TV turn:
You may have noticed at the start of Sprint and Individual races the biathletes pop up with a TV turn at the left bottom corner of your screen. Most of them either cross their arms or put their arms on their hips. Luckily we have 2 creative rebels to entertain us. Vladimir Semakov of Ukraine does the 2 thumbs up and the winner who is 100% biathlon at all times makes a gun with his fingers for shooting!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Best Biathlete23:
Difficult this season without a win for bib23. We have had 3 podiums. Susan Dunklee was third and Anton Shipulin and Justine Braisaz were both second. How do you choose between them? You don’t! I have gone left field for this one. A biathlete who contacts the blog to say they are in bib23 in the first race of the season and then goes on to achieve their personal best wearing it deserves the title! It doesn’t matter if it’s World Cup, IBU Cup or the Junior World Cup. In this case 14th in the Junior Men’s Individual in Lenzerheide!
Winner: Tom Lahaye-Goffart

Biggest Improver:
One person in particular has had an amazing season. This season she has progressed from an athlete who would move between the IBU and World Cup to a regular on the World Cup. She got her first ever World Cup podium in Nove Mesto where she came second in the Sprint. She won her first ever race in the Pursuit a day later. She was also on the podium in Antholz coming second in the Individual and again in PyeongChang when she was 3rd in the Sprint. She won a bronze medal in the Sprint at the World Championships. Last season she was 39th in the Total Score and this season she was 7th. You can see the clear improvement!
Winner: Anais Chevalier

Best Team Performance:
There can only be one winner in this category. Winning every Women’s Relay of the season and the World Championships is a remarkable achievement. I mean it helps to have Laura Dahlmeier on the anchor leg but they can even win without her as was proved in PyeongChang.
Winner: German Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This one comes from the World Championships. Dominik Landertinger’s final lap in the Men’s Relay was a strong contender but there could only be one winner for me. Winning the Individual race for the USA was an outstanding achievement. A perfect shooting performance and a excellent ski meant he deserved all the accolades he got. However this award is actually for the whole Championships. He was also 4th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the Mass Start. After being overtaken in these races and losing positions his win in the Individual showed some amazing mental fortitude as well as his obvious talent.
Winner: Lowell Bailey

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
So it has to come down to Martin Fourcade vs. Laura Dahlmeier. That’s a race I would love to see! Martin now has 6 Overall Titles in a row and won an amazing 14 races this season. Dahlmeier won the Overall Title for the first time and won 5 gold and 1 silver medal at the World Championships. She also won 10 races this season and was a fantasic anchor in the Women’s Relay team. Basically I think it comes down to the more competitive nature of the women’s field as to why I chose this winner and that the first World Title is often the hardest.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

IPC biathlete of the Year:
I think this is the hardest award of all to choose with 3 categories of men and women there are a lot of possibilities. This year I have chosen someone who dramatically claimed his first ever biathlon World Title at the final World Cup round in Japan in the final race. He also won two gold medals at his home World Championships in Finsterau in the sitting category. Also he likes biathlon better than cross-country which is very important!
Winner: Martin Fleig

Junior Biathlete of the Year:

A very tough category especially as there is now a Junior World Cup as well as World Championships. I chose this guy because of his consistency over the season as well as his obvious talent in skiing and shooting. He won the Overall Title on the Junior World Cup and silver at the European Junior Championships in the Individual. He also won silver in the Sprint at the World Championships and helped his team to Relay gold.
Winner: Kirill Streltsov

Youth Biathlete of the Year:
This was a duel between two biathletes again. Irene Lardschneider and Claude 3 or Emilien as he is also known. They have both competed on the Junior World Cup. They both won 2 gold medals at the Youth World Championships in the Sprint and Pursuit. One of them also won a bronze medal with their team in the Relay so for that and the fact that they have a great surname here is the winner.
Winner: Irene Lardschneider

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World Cup 2016/17: Women’s Review!

As is becoming more and more common the women’s World Cup was again more exciting and more closely fought than the men’s. The eventual winner was Laura Dahlmeier. She won a total of 10 races and has been the outstanding biathlete on the Women’s World Cup.

She didn’t have it all her own way though. In the Total Score Dahlmeier finished with 1211 points. Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova with 1089 points and Kaisa Makarainen was third with 971 points.

Laura won the small crystal globe in the Pursuit and the Individual but despite leading in the Sprint and Mass Start standings she lost them both to Koukalova at the final World Cup round. Gabi won the Sprint Title by 5 points and the Mass Start Title by 9 so you can see how close the competitions were.

Rookie of the year went to Sweden’s Hanna Öberg who was 47th in the Total Score with 128 points and had three Top 10 finishes.

It was not an easy task for Dahlmeier to win the big crystal globe and that started back at the end of November in Oestersund. The Individual was the first race and was won by Dahlmeier with Anais Bescond in second and a surprise in third with Darya Yurkevich getting her first ever podium. The Sprint was next and this time Marie Dorin Habert took first place from Kaisa Makarainen in second and Gabriela Koukalova in third. The Pursuit race went to Koukalova with Dahlmeier in second and Dorothea Wierer in third. With all the big guns looking in good form it was an exciting start to the season.

We then headed to Pokljuka where this time Dahlmeier won the Sprint from Justine Braisaz in second and Marte Olsbu in third. Dahlmeier made it a double in the Pursuit followed by Kaisa Makarainen and Eva Puskarcikova who took her first ever podium finish in third.

Next came Nove Mesto and we had a brand new winner of the Sprint with Tatiana Akimova winning her first race. Anais Chevalier came second to get her first podium finish and Susan Dunklee was third. In the Pursuit Chevalier moved up a place to win the first race of her career. Wierer was second and Akimova third. Two new winners that weekend was great for the Women’s World Cup. The Mass Start belonged to Koukalova in front of her home crowd with Dahlmeier second and Wierer third.

After the Christmas break it was on to Oberhof and Koukalova took another victory this time in the Sprint with Makarainen second and Dorin Habert third. Dahlmeier chose to miss the first two races here and the Pursuit went to Dorin Habert with Koukalova second and Makarainen third. Koukalova won the Mass Start with Dahlmeier returning to race coming second and Eva Puskarcikova coming third for the second time this season.

We remained in Germany but moved to Ruhpolding for round 5. Makarainen took her first win of the season in the Sprint from Koukalova in second and Dahlmeier in third. Kaisa made it a double by winning the Pursuit with Koukalova second again and Dorin Habert in third.

The last World Cup before the World Championships was in Antholz where Dahlmeier won the Individual with Chevalier in second and Alexia Runggaldier taking her first ever podium finish in front of her home crowd. The Mass Start saw Nadine Horchler win her first ever race on the World Cup coming from 30th to 1st. Dahlmeier finished second and Koukalova third.

The World Championships were dominated by Dahlmeier. The first race was the Sprint and it was the only race she didn’t win! Gabriela Koukalova took this one winning her first gold medal at a World Championships. Dahlmeier got the silver with Anais Chevalier taking bronze. In the Pursuit it was gold for Dahlmeier and Darya Domracheva surprised everyone by winning the silver coming from 27th to 2nd. The bronze went to Koukalova. The Individual was Dahlmeier’s too this time with silver going to Koukalova and bronze to Alexia Runggaldier. The Mass Start was Laura’s 3rd individual gold medal, Susan Dunklee got the silver and Kaisa Makarainen the bronze. Dahlmeier also won 2 more gold in the relays and so from six races she won 5 gold medals and 1 silver. Amazing!

She was to continue her great form at the Olympic test event in PyeongChang winning the Sprint and the Pursuit. Tiril Eckhoff got her first podium of the season coming second in the Sprint with Anais Chevalier in third. Makarainen was second in the Pursuit with Anais Bescond in third.

Kontiolahti was next for World Cup 8. This time it was Eckhoff who won the Sprint finishing ahead of Dahlmeier to win her first race of the season. Dahlmeier did enough however to win her first ever Overall Title and the big crystal globe. Darya Domracheva was third. The Pursuit was won by Dahlmeier with Marie Dorin Habert in second and Lisa Vittozzi getting her first podium on the World Cup in third.

The final round was held in Holmenkollen, Oslo. We had a new winner in the Sprint race with Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever World Cup race. Second place went to Justine Braisaz and teammate Anais Bescond was third. Laukkanen did the double winning the Pursuit too with Koukalova in second and Braisaz third. The final race of the season was the Mass Start which home favourite Tiril Eckhoff won. Koukalova took second to secure the Mass Start Title and Kaisa Makarainen was third.

Strangely with such a competitive women’s field all the Women’s Relays were won by one team and that was Germany. The Mixed Relays went to Norway and France on the World Cup and Germany at the World Championships.

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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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Holmenkollen 2017: The Pursuits!

We had the final Pursuits of the season in Holmenkollen on Saturday. It was still windy but sunny and the conditions caused a little difficulty like they did in the Sprint.

Mari Laukkanen was amazing today. She won the Pursuit comfortably and was never troubled by anyone else for the lead. Her only mistake was missing a target on her final standing shoot but she had enough of a gap to second not to bother her too much. She is on fantastic ski form and her shooting is the best it’s ever been. After winning the Sprint, her first ever victory yesterday, she was full of confidence starting the Pursuit.

If you listened to a certain commentary team however you may have thought differently. They gave her no chance at the start and didn’t see her winning even after she hit 15/15 on the first 3 shoots. Please remember biathletes are not just their statistics! It’s not a case of ski stats + shooting stats = result. There is a lot more to it as Mari showed today.

Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova who shot the perfect 20/20 to move from 4th onto the podium. Third place went to Justine Braisaz who missed 4 shots and gave her no chance of fighting for the win. Teja Gregorin finished 4th, her best performance of the season, missing just 1 target. Lisa Hauser came from 22nd to 5th hitting 20/20 and Marte Olsbu was top Norwegian in 6th.

Kaisa Makarainen moved from 27th to 7th, Laura Dhalmeier went from 31st to 9th to win the Pursuit title and Lisa Vittozzi went from 46th to 16th.

The Men’s race was just between the top three from the Sprint. Johannes Boe, Martin Fourcade and Anton Shipulin. They were pretty closely matched right up to the final shoot. Fourcade and Boe both missed 1 in the first prone, then Shipulin missed in the first stand so it all came down to the final shoot!

This was where Mr. Pursuit showed just how good he is in this event. Shipulin shot clean and the other two both missed a target. Shipulin won by 5 seconds but Fouracde and Boe had to fight it out on the tracks for second. Fourcade attacked on the uphill and Boe didn’t have the energy to match him. That makes 21 podiums for Fourcade this season.

Freddie Lindstrom moved from 15th to 4th shooting 20/20, Lukas Hofer went from 21st to 5th and Julian Eberhard went from 10th to 6th.

Andrejs Rastorgujevs had a good race going from 23rd to 10th (YEAH!), Michal Krcmar from 28th to 13th, Dominik Windisch from 40th to 15th, Artem Pryma from 39th to 21st, Lowell Bailey from 44th to 23rd, Vladimir Iliev from 58th to 29th and Vetle Christiansen from 53rd to 30th.

Don’t cry but tomorrow is the final day of the World Cup season! It’s the Mass Starts though so it should be a good one!

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Holmenkollen 2017: The Sprints!

It is the final World Cup round in Holmenkollen and it’s just like school before you break up for the holidays. With most of the big prizes already decided there is a bit of craziness in the air. We had Serafin Wiestner with underwear over his ski suit (like Superman) in training after losing a bet with his coach. Anton Babikov trying to throw snowballs at a Russian TV interview and Michal Krcmar falling out of his hotel window (it was very low to the ground).

Finally on Friday we got a little more serious for the Sprint races. The Women’s Sprint threw up a lot of surprises. We had another brand new winner with Finland’s Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever race on the World Cup. She shot clean to win by almost 8 seconds. Second place went to Justine Braisaz getting her second podium of the season also hitting 10/10. Her teammate Anais Bescond had a good race hitting the perfect score finishing in third.

The big surprise was that Gabriela Kouklava won the Sprint Title. She finished 4th with 1 miss but rival Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 31st with 3 misses all in the prone. Those results meant that Gabi won the small crystal globe by just 5 points!

Some of the younger women coming up from the IBU Cup also had a good day. There were personal bests for Austria’s Julia Schwaiger in 14th, France’s Julia Simon in 25th and Russia’s Victoria Slivko in 30th.

The Men’s race was less surprising! Johannnes Boe shot 10/10 and skied really well to win the race by over 13 seconds. Second place went to Martin Fourcade who has chosen to race this weekend despite the imminent arrival of his second child. He missed his last standing target but skied his way to the podium.

Third place went to Anton Shipulin who at one point was ahead of Fourcade but lost a lot of time on the tracks possibly because of his late start bib giving him trickier conditions. He hit 10/10 but was 8 seconds behind Fourcade in the end. He was also just 0.2 of a second ahead of Dominik Landertinger in 4th so he did well to stay on the podium!

Fredrik Gjesbakk got his personal best on the World Cup in 25th as did Slovenia’s Miha Dovzan in 34th. In his final race of the season Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also improved his best result to 65th!

Tomorrow we have the final Pursuit races and we will see if Laura Dahlmeier can hang on to that title!

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