Tag Archives: Gabriela Soukalova

Oestersund 2016: The Pursuits!

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Like a spoonful of Lingonberry jam the end of the weekend was surprisingly good! We ended a great start to the World Cup season in Oestersund with the Pursuit races and they didn’t disappoint.

First off was the women’s race with Marie Dorin Habert staring first. That only lasted until the first shoot however when she missed 2 shots and blew her chances of winning. Circling like sharks behind her were Makarainen, Koukalova and Dahlmeier. Only Laura and Gabi shot clear however and the win from then was between those two.

In the end it was the cool head of Koukalova who kept it together on the range. She missed only 1 target on the third shoot but never lost the lead. Surprisingly Dahlmeier missed two targets and so couldn’t fight for the win. She did have to fight for second though as Dorothea Wierer came from 19th place shooting the perfect 20/20 to finish third. They left the final shoot together but Dalmeier managed to pull away on the final lap. Makarainen came home in 5th missing 4 shots in total and Dorin Habert was 7th missing 6 targets after shooting so well in the Sprint the day before.

In fourth place was Switzerland’s Lena Haecki who had an outstanding race. She shot 20/20 and moved from 12th to 4th to get her personal best result on the World Cup.

Other great gains were made by Yuliia Dzhima who went from 21st to 9th, Veronika Vitkova from 35th to 18th, Anastasia Zagoruiko from 43rd to 29th and Clare Egan from 44th to 30th.

Unexpectedly the men’s race was even better. Thanks to Martin Fourcade missing 4 shots we got a new winner. The beneficiary was Russian’s Anton Babikov who got his first ever World Cup victory coming from 7th and missing just 1 shot. His teammate Maxim Tsvetkov moved from 11th into second with a perfect shoot. Fourcade still came third despite his misses.

Anton Shipulin made it 3 Russians in the top 10 finishing 8th and Simon Schempp finally turned up getting 9th place. Michal Krcmar had a fantastic racing starting in 38th he finished 7th, and Johannes Boe went from 30th to 10th. Jean Guillaume Beatrix went from 23rd to 11th, Henrik L’Abee Lund from 58th to 19th, Evgeniy Garanichev from 49th to 30th and Roman Rees from 57th to 36th.

So the first World Cup round in Oestersund is over already! Too quick! We move to Pokljuka next week with Martin Fourcade and Laura Dahlmeier in the yellow bibs leading the overall title race.

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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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Lucie Charvátová: The Interview!

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Lucie Charvátová is a Czech biathlete who was born on the 1st of February 1993 in Hradec Kralove. She made her international debut in biathlon in 2013 and competed at the World Junior Championships in 2014 and the World Championships in 2016. Her personal best result came last season in Hochfilzen when she finished 5th in the Sprint and ended the season in 31st place overall.

Like her Facebook page: Lucie Charvátová (Sportsperson)

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

When I was about 10 years old I started to do cross country skiing. I was quite good at it, I took part in the World Junior Championships in the youth and junior categories and I even raced during the World Championships in Val di Fiemme in 2013 as a junior. Furthermore, I also won the biathlon race during the “Children’s Winter Olympic Games” in the Czech Republic and a lot of people told me that I had a talent for shooting. When the situation became worse in cross country skiing in the Czech Republic and one of the most popular winter sports started to rise, I decided to change to biathlon in the Spring of 2013. Spectators love biathlon due to its popularity, variety and attractiveness. Good training conditions for the biathlon team in the Czech Republic support the fact that I am happy to be a biathlete. The start of my biathlon training was hard – I had to learn how to shoot and on top of that, all the training lasts much longer than in cross country skiing. But my third biathlon competition was in the World Cup, so I am confident that I chose the right sport for me.

Your personal best result is 5th from the Sprint race in Hochfilzen last season. Can you describe the race and how you did you feel at the end?

I often used to hear the sentence… “ once if you hit..” And that was that day. My success depends on shooting, because my legs are usually fast. On the prone shooting I missed once, but the standing shooting was clear. Before the last lap, I really hoped to be in 10th place, but in the last uphill our coach shouted at me that I could reach the medals! But my legs couldn’t work more… I finished in 5th place, 3 seconds from the bronze medal. I was happy, before the start nobody had expected such a good result and people around me were as delighted as I was! Now that it is over, I remember the race in Hochfilzen as one of the best days of the whole season.
The most bizarre recollection, which I will never forget is that before the whole World Cup season (before the competitions in Östersund) I cut part of my shooting finger and up until Hochfilzen I had stitches in my finger and I almost had no feeling in it.

You had an amazing season in 2015/16. Did you change anything before the season? Why do you think you did so well?

That’s true. In fact, I took part in all the World Cup starts and my overall result was 31st place. But I think the main reason is that it was my third season in biathlon. In the first two years, I had to learn everything from the beginning so I believe that I have made good use of all my training. However, I am still not as good a shooter as those who started with shooting when they were young. My greatest weakness is still in shooting and I think that further improvements won’t come so fast as during the first two years. Every race in season 15/16 was a new experience, I met new people and I saw new places. The winter season ran away so fast and I can’t wait for the new season to start now.

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

We had some hard summer training camps with our team, the first part of summer in the Czech Republic and in August, we were in France in Prémanon. I have focused on my shooting. However, my weakness of unbalanced shooting, which appeared during the winter season, is probably in my head so I also try to solve this problem with my psyche. But this is “a long distance run”… I am really looking forward to winter preparation before the season because it will be a bit closer to the first competitions. I hope that snow conditions will be good and final training is going to start well.

What are your goals for this season?

I would be happy to reach at least the same result as last year and to gain some World Cup points. I am not overambitious, but rather quite pessimistic, and I accept the situation as it is. The World Championship is in my favourite place, Hochfilzen, so I hope that I can achieve some good results there.

Are you excited to compete in Nove Mesto this season?

I have to admit that the shooting range in Nove Mesto is not my favourite one (it is quite windy), but on the other hand I like the tracks there. I hope that the upcoming winter will be severe and freezing and Nove Mesto will have enough snow to organize an unforgettable competition. Fans in the Czech Republic are amazing and they love biathlon so I think that in Nove Mesto, there will be a great atmosphere. My grandma and parents who will cheer me on the track are surely more excited than I am.

Gabriela won the Overall last season. What is she like as a teammate? Does she give you advice? Do you feel some pressure to be really successful like her?

We work as a team together and share advice. Gabi has more work in the background of the sport – with sponsors etc. and in this way she loses a lot of energy necessary for training. It is in the background of all successful sportsmen lives, but everybody has to set their own limits. I don’t feel any pressure, I want to work on my own, and we will see how it goes.

Do you have a favourite biathlon race (sprint, pursuit, etc.)? Which is it and why?

I really like the Sprint because there are only two shootings. You know, when the race has four shootings, there is a bigger probability to spoil it – in my case. But I also got some good results in the Pursuit. It is a contact race which requires tactics and I really enjoy fighting face to face on the track.

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

I’ve never had any sport idol. I think that it isn’t necessary to have some “model” and to do exactly the same things as him/her. Everybody is a unique personality and they should do what they think is the best for them.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, it doesn’t. Sometimes when I shoot bad I call it by some swear words…

Describe yourself in three words.
 
Dutiful, intelligent, pessimistic, home loving, nature lover…

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Ondřej Moravec – he has the Czech lion as the national emblem
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Austria
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: every odd number
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: All of the Norwegian men’s team.
Best thing about being a biathlete: When you are the owner of a rifle, others can think that you could kill them!

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Monika Hojnisz: The Interview!

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Monika Hojnisz is a Polish biathlete who was born on the 27th of August 1991 in Chorzów. Monika made her international debut in 2007. She has won medals at the World Championships, the Open European Championships and the Universiade. Her best result on the World Cup is 4th place and she came 26th in the Total Score last season which is her highest finish to date.

Like her Facebook Page: Monika Hojnisz – Oficjalna Strona

Why did you become a biathlete?

Biathlon was not my favourite sport when I was young but I used to try a lot of different kinds of sports, for example swimming, handball, running, light athletics! When I was twelve years old I tried to step on skis for the first time. Next I had contact with the rifle and I started my first race! I think that the main reason why I became a biathlete was competition, adrenaline, pressure and the fight. 🙂

You got your best result last season in Canmore in the Sprint. Can you describe the race? Were you happy with last season overall?

I was feeling great over the snow. 🙂 It was an easy ski for me. I was lucky and happy. In spite of these feelings I don’t remember too much.

You won a World Championship bronze medal in 2013 in the Nove Mesto Mass Start. What was it like? Do you remember how you felt during and after the race?

It was my first mass start at such big event as the World Championships so before the race I was really nervous but I knew that I needed to do my best. And… I did it!!! I remember only my last loop when I was third and nobody was behind me! My only dream was to see the finish line! At the finish I couldn’t believe it … but I will never forget that day.

Poland has a really strong women’s team at the moment. Why do you think you are doing so well? Will you miss Weronika Nowakowska this season?

Weronika was a strong part of our team but now she is a happy mother of two boys and she will miss this season. But I believe that we will still fight for good, high places. 🙂

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

The main training has been cycling, roller skiing, shooting, long walking in the mountains, and from time to time skiing in the Oberhof tunnel to have some contact with the skis.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength – no stress – I think it helps me during my race.
My weakness – sometimes I’m much too lazy.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to keep my focus on shooting. I know that this is an important point to be on the top, and I know that I can still improve my shooting level.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I love training in Obertilliach! There is a beautiful view and a lot of places to do good training!

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

Tarjei Boe- just!!! I can’t explain my choice. 😛

Does your rifle have a name?

NO

Describe yourself in three words.

Shy, helpful, a little bit lazy and I love coffee!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norwegian Team
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Martin Fourcade
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Switzerland
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: 25 – It was my start number in Nove Mesto
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Boe Brothers
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Gabriela Soukalova
Best thing about being a biathlete:I can visit a lot of wonderful places

Clare Egan: The Interview!

Clare Egan is an American biathlete from Cape Elizabeth in Maine. She was born on the 19th of November 1987. She is part of the US Women’s Relay Team and has taken part in two World Championships. She had three Top 40 points finishes last season and achieved her personal best so far of 16th. This meant that she came 67th in the Total Score at the end of the season an improvement of 29 places from season 2014/15.

Like her Facebook Page: Clare Egan Biathlete
Read her blog: http://lclareegan.blogspot.co.uk

How did you discover biathlon and why did you want to become a biathlete?

When I was 25, I was a slightly bored cross-country skier, questioning whether to continue with the sport. It was perfect timing when US Biathlon’s regional development coach, Algis Shalna, asked if I wanted to learn how to shoot. He is a former Lithuanian biathlete who was part of a gold medal-winning relay team for the Soviet Union. I took him up on his offer because I was inspired by the success of biathletes Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee, who, like me, started shooting after university and trained in Craftsbury, Vermont with the Green Racing Project ski team. I had a great experience working with Algis and learning the skills of shooting, so it was a good fit.

You had a really good season last year getting your personal best result of 16th in the Oestersund Sprint. Can you describe that race?

I went into that race with only one goal: to shoot well. I took my time making 10 good shots, and the downhill range approach helped me make that happen. I just wanted to make the pursuit but it was a nice surprise to clean a World Cup race for the first time and get my first top-20.

You also got two great results at your home race in Presque Isle. What was it like competing at home? Did you feel the pressure or did you enjoy it?

I had two great races in Presque-Isle, finishing 32nd in the sprint and then 23rd in the pursuit. I did not feel more pressure than usual, because biathlon is not well known in the US. But I am glad I had the experience of doing a biathlon World Cup in my home country and home state. Even though Presque-Isle is a 6-hour drive from where I grew up, there were some familiar faces in the crowd. My whole team did great that weekend, including Susan’s 2nd place in the sprint, and we were very proud.

Annalise Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker have both retired. How do you think the women’s team will cope with losing two great biathletes?

I really miss Annelies and Hannah even more than I thought I would. It is a very different team environment without those two! They lived and trained in Lake Placid, where our national team is based and where I live. Now that they are not here, I am one of the senior members of the team so I am learning how to be in that role. I miss them not only at training but also outside of training because they are great friends. Now, Susan and I are joined on the national team by two talented biathletes, Maddie Phaneuf and Joanne Reid, both of whom have already raced World Cups, so I have no doubt that our team will continue to move forward and improve, following in the footsteps of Hannah and Annelies.

What did you learn about yourself last season? Are you working on anything specific that you want to improve for the coming season?

I put a lot of pressure on myself, so I am working on staying relaxed and focussing on the positive aspects of each performance. In terms of specific biathlon skills I am working on my standing shooting and physical strength.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to consistently make the pursuits and score World Cup points. I would also like to qualify for a mass start!


Who has been the biggest inspiration or supporter of your biathlon career and why?

I think Algis Shalna, my first biathlon coach, is the person most responsible for where I am now. I learned so much from him even though we only worked together for one year. I wrote everything down in a little book that I travel with all winter so I can remember the most important basic lessons he taught me.

You sang in a biathlonworld video last season with Lowell and Jean-Gui. Have you always sung? Are you replacing Gabriela and will we see more of your singing next season?!

Gabriela was a little busy winning the overall World Cup title! I was just her substitute. I love singing and playing music with other people so I am always ready for the next video. I learned many instruments growing up… I don’t do anything super well, but I can do a little bit of everything.


Do you have a favourite race (sprint, pursuit etc.)? Which is it and why?

I like anything that is head-to-head, so pursuits and relays are my favorite so far. I hope to do a mass start one day because I think that would be my favorite.

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

Andrea Henkel Burke!!! She is a great athlete, a great person and a great mentor. We are so lucky to have her living in Lake Placid.

Does your rifle have a name?

She is called Rifey.


Describe yourself in three words.

outgoing, energetic, pig-lover

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Everybody is great
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Johannes Thingnes Boe’s pink rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Belarus 2015 World Championships
Favourite shooting range: Ostersund, because the approach is downhill!
Lucky bib number: 11
Best use of the IBU Athlete Guidebook: checking out who is single, hot and has interesting hobbies.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Stefani Popova (BUL) and Amanda Lightfoot (GB)
Best dancers on the World/IBU Cup: 1st Place: Team Manager from Kazakstan (AMAZING!!!), 2nd Place (tie): Lithuanian biathletes Gabriele Lescinskaite and Vytautas Strolia.
Best World Cup food: dense hot chocolate available in Italy and Slovenia
Friendliest Wax Tech: Gregoire Deschamps
Favourite song on stadium playlist: “Walking on sunshine”
Most annoying song on stadium playlist: “Hey baby I wanna know if you’ll be my girl”
Best thing about being a biathlete: Having the opportunity to represent the best side of my country, when the world often only sees the worst.

(Please note Clare added some of her own quick fire questions here! If only all the biathletes were so conscientious!:-)

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Dahlmeier: Climbing to the Top!

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Where do you suppose biathletes go on their holidays? After a long, hard season you might imagine they would go somewhere hot, to the beach or somewhere exotic. Not Laura Dahlmeier, she spent her off season climbing. Not just in any mountain range though –she went to the Himalayas!

It’s no wonder she is such a fantastic biathlete. If you can climb up huge mountains in life or death situations you can manage shooting down five targets from 50 metres away. The concentration required for climbing and the amount of pressure you are under must make biathlon look like child’s play! Actually considering her age and her results she does seems to be making biathlon look much easier than it really is.

Laura was born on the 22nd of August 1993. After a successful junior career, in the 2012/13 season she won three gold and one silver medal at the Junior World Championships in Obertilliach, she made an almost seamless transition on to the World Cup. Her first season saw her finish 35th in the Total Score and she has improved every year since then and was 6th last season.

The highlight of her career so far also came last season at the World Championships in Oslo. She won gold in the Pursuit race and won 5 medals in total with silver in the Mass Start and bronze in the Sprint, Individual and Relay. These can be added to the 2 medals she won the previous year in Kontiolahti, gold in the Relay and silver in the Pursuit, to give her 7 World Championship medals before she is 23-years-old.

It is quite remarkable how well she has done for such a young woman. She also managed to take a double victory in her home race in Ruhpolding last season by winning the Pursuit and the Mass Start. She performs well in every single event whether she is against the clock in the Sprint and Individual or head to head her with other biathletes in the Pursuit and Mass Start.

If she has one weakness however it appears to be her health. For the past two seasons she has missed the opening round of the World Cup in Oestersund. This has put her at a disadvantage as there are a lot of points to be gained in the first round and so she starts the season playing catch up to the other biathletes. Maybe she is overtraining during the summer or perhaps she spends too much time up cold mountains but it would be great to see her compete over an entire season.

If she can stay healthy for the coming season she will be in with a very good chance of winning her first Overall Title. With Domracheva missing again and Kaisa another year older she has the possibility to compete with the likes of Soukalova, Dorin Habert and Wierer to win the big Crystal Globe. There is also another World Championships in Hochfilzen and she will be hoping to add to her already impressive haul of medals there.

She will turn 23 before the start of the season and although she is younger than a lot of the favourites she will be among the challengers to take Gabriela Soukalova’s title. Her shooting is amazing and her ability to handle pressure for a person of her age is outstanding. Make no mistake Dahlmeier is climbing her way to the very top!

Laura has her own website: http://www.laura-dahlmeier.de

Like her Facebook page: Laura Dahlmeier (Sportsperson)

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Spring Snapshot 2016!

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Seriously – you try and take a couple of months holiday from biathlon to refresh the mind and get excited again for a new season but it won’t let you! There is no escape! Here is a snapshot of just some of the things that happened in April and May in the world of biathlon.

So obviously the biggest news story was that the Biathlon23 Awards 2015/16 broke all records to become the most read post on my blog!!! Less exciting but equally important was of course the news that Old-sorry-Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will continue competing until the Olympics in 2018 or maybe even forever! There is no stopping that man. Good news for men’s biathlon but he has managed to ruin the upcoming women’s season by impregnating former KGB operative Darya Domracheva and robbing us of her presence until probably January. How dare he! After the announcement that Kaisa Makarinen also intends to compete until 2018 (while building a house at the same time!) we won’t get to see her go head to head with Dasha for a while longer.

Dasha isn’t the only one expecting a baby though. Magdalena Neuer with her customary speed is having her second child and Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska is pregnant with twins.

Gabriela Soukalova changed her name by 1 letter, not just for fun of course, she got married to Petr Koukal making her Koukalova! Dmitry Malyshko also married in the Spring break. Congratulations all round! 🙂

With all that good news we also have some bad news too. Klaus Siebert, former German biathlete and coach of Germany, China and Belarus, died after a long battle with cancer. Two Ukrainian biathletes Artem Tyshchenko and Snizhana Tisyeyeva were involved in a serious car crash on the 2nd of May. Thankfully Tisyeyeva is out of intensive care after being treated for burns and Tyschenko was released from hospital after a head injury.

Tyshchenko was again in the news when he had his suspension for doping lifted as did Eduard Latypov as their samples were consistent with having stopped taking Meldonium before it was banned. This wasn’t the case for Romania’s Eva Tofalvi and Olga Abramova who also tested positive for the drug. All four cases are still on going.

Krystyna Guzik has a shoulder injury which needs surgery and means she will be out for 2 months.

In lighter news all the biathletes were off on their holidays and were making us all jealous with their social media pictures. Martin Fourcade went to Morocco, brother Simon went to Mauritius and Reunion. Laura Dahlmeier chose a nice relaxing holiday climbing in the Himalayas! Dominik Windisch took a little European road trip. Dorothea Wierer went to the Caribbean. Johannes Boe went to London and Klemen Bauer turned up at the World Snooker Final in Sheffield. I can’t go through everyone but I am sure they all had nice breaks!

There has also been some changes in the coaching department with the news that Siegfried Mazet was leaving the French team. It was no secret where he was going and he is now the shooting coach for Norway’s men who also announced Egil Kristiansen as their ski coach. France have replaced Mazet with Franck Badiou. Elsewhere Alfred Eder returns to the Belarusian women’s team, Valeriy Medvedtsev is the Russian Women’s new coach, Finland’s new coach is Antti Leppavuori and Juraj Sanitra takes charge of the Ukranian men’s team. Thomas Fusko is the new Slovak biathlon President and Erlend Slokvik has the job for Norway.

There have also been some retirements from the sport. Canadians Zina Kocher, Scott Perras and Audrey Vaillancourt have all decided to end their biathlon careers. They are joined by Americans Annelise Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker. Also retiring are Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi and Christian Martinelli, German Andi Birnbacher, Ivan Tcherazov of Russia, Austria’s Fritz Pinter, Marine Bolliet of France and Natayla Burdyga who is retiring for the second time!

To be fair I have probably forgotten many other things that happened but as Ross said to Rachel, “WE WERE ON A BREAK!”

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2015/16!!!

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It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their third year! And guess what Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won one!! Only joking biathlon is a lot harder than surviving a CGI bear attack! 😉 As usual they are not your typical awards and there are a few new categories too. 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):
Last year’s post that was read by the most people was about an American.This year it is a Brit. It’s great to see the growing interest in the smaller biathlon nations where most of the population haven’t heard of the sport let alone who competes in it. This lady especially deserves your support as she was all alone this season on the Women’s World Cup as Britain’s only female representative.
Winner: Amanda Lightfoot

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:

“Tarjei Boe Marine” : Someone has taken RamBoe too seriously!
“Simon Fourcade’s diet”: Snails and frogs legs mostly! 😉
“Johannes Boe why pink rifle”: My sentiments exactly!
“Benjamin Eder”, “Manuela Goessner”, “Galina Schwaiger”: My favourite biathletes!
“Martin and Simon Fourcade warfare”: I knew they didn’t like each other really!
“where is Laura Dahlmeier?”: I don’t know I haven’t seen her!
“funny welle strand horn”: I think there is a Norwegian biathlete in there somewhere!
” olgan of awesome race 2015″: erm ….!
Winner:”Emil Hegle Svendsen secret weapon”: It’s the amazing hair! It’s dandruff free you know. 😉

Best Facial hair:
I wanted to give this to the magnificent beard of Martin Johnsrud Sundby and then I remembered he isn’t a biathlete! Damn you Sundby! The biathlon beards seem to have been quite absent this season. Martin Fourcade was growing a beard for a bet, not shaving until he shot clean. He cheated and shaved it before he shot clean though and that kind of attitude does not win you awards Monsieur! The winner kept his beard all through the season and through dancing with Russian media and film making with the Norwegians!
Winner:Max Davies

Best earrings:
There were many contenders this year. Everyone seems to be wearing them now. They are probably trying to win this award! Kaisa Makarainen had nice ones as did Olena Pidhrushna and many others. This year however the winner is someone who has gone for patriotism, and has more than one pair, with earrings in red, white and green.
Winner: Dorothea Wierer

Nicest person in biathlon:
I was really tempted to give this to last year’s winner again Jean-Gui Beatrix because he was nice enough to do an interview for me although it took him ages!! However he failed to acknowledge the role of this interview in getting him his first ever World Cup win in Pokljuka! That’s not nice! The winner has in fact done 2 interviews for my blog already and I am sure he will do more if I ask. He always remains positive even in a team struggling for finance and did I mention the most important fact – he is Scottish!! 😉
Winner: Scott Dixon

Best Team Performance:
A difficult choice this season. France were strong contenders for their World Championship results. Norway won both Relay golds in Oslo. However I expect that kind of stuff from those teams. What I didn’t expect was a small biathlon nation to go and win a bronze medal in the Men’s Relay. An exceptional performance from all four biathletes when everything just went right on the day. Excellent shooting and cool heads from Brendan Green, Nathan Smith, Scott Gow and Christian Gow.
Winner: Canadian Men’s Relay Team

Biggest Improver:
This year’s award goes to someone who has made a big impression in Season 2015/16. He has gone under the radar until now possibly because of the strong results of his teammates. His best result last season on the World Cup was a 15th place. His best result this season was 5th. His best performance at a World Championships previously was 57th. This season is was also 5th. His shooting has been amazing this season and if he keeps improving it won’t be long until we see him on the podium. Arguably the strongest male biathlete on the Czech Team this season.
Winner:Michal Krcmar

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 victor went all out to get this award. In Presque Isle he came to the bottom of a slope on a corner and went straight into a tree and got concussion. Raising the bar and proving that if you don’t go to hospital you won’t win this award!
Winner:Arnd Peiffer

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
One year this award won’t go to one of the Boe brothers but it won’t be this year! Tarjei strikes again winning this for the second year in a row. Commenting on younger brother Johannes winning two races and getting a second place in Presque Isle he said “I’m glad Fourcade beat him yesterday or he would be flying already over the Atlantic Ocean!”
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ_x4JT2W-Y
Winner:Tarjei Boe

Best biathlon video:
There are a lot of biathletes making videos of training and they are really good. The French do the most with Antonin Guigonnat, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Alexis Beouf all posting some good stuff. This inaugural award however doesn’t go to a biathlete at all. It goes to a TV station and reporter for his amazing explanation of biathlon in song with some help from the Norwegian biathletes!
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThZRndkxA-E
Winner:NRK and Nicolay Ramm

Best World Cup Round:
The World Cup was a bit different this season as we missed Oberhof for lack of snow and had 2 rounds in Ruhpolding. In Khanty Mansiysk 2 races were cancelled due to strong winds and there were problems with snow elsewhere. One place that had no problems with snow or weather and hosted a great World Cup round with good organisation and the beautiful backdrop of the Three Sisters (the mountains not the Gasparins!). We haven’t been there for a while but hopefully we will go back soon!
Winner: Canmore

Best rifle design:
Another tough category this year but it comes down to two. Selina Gasparin with her rifle of flames which was designed in a competition and Anton Shipulin’s dragon rifle. Both are very cool and any other season Gasparin would have had this award but come on his rifle is carved like a dragon!A DRAGON!!!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Some advice for you Johannes, pink and ginger clash my friend. The gold was good last season but pink! It ‘s not even a nice shade of pink! What were you thinking?
Winner: Johannes Thingnes Boe

Best ski suit:
There were actually very few contenders for this award but Great Britain put out a good design as usual and I do like Estonia’s too. The Norwegians have finally taken my advice and added some extra colour to the red with their excellent World Championships suit. However the winner I think represents their country well. Classic white and blue with a swirling pattern within the blue sections which I hope depicts the many lakes of the country in question.
Winner:Finland

Worst ski suit:
On my God! Where do I even start with this one. It was like the designers had a competition to see who could come up with the worst suit. This is such a difficult decision but let’s look at the “offenders”. First Russia with the weird pixelated trousers. Followed by Sweden and the Ukraine with the weird pixelated trousers. Then came America with the weird pixelated trousers and also the colours of orange and purple which on TV made them look like Russia! The cold war begins again! Canada didn’t want to miss out either with their tribute to “Where’s Wally (Waldo)? So I didn’t like a lot of the suits this season but for my initial reaction to the this one (“what the hell is it that?”) and contrasting it with the greatness of their previous suit I chose the winner – or more appropriately the loser. Blue with what looks like a red, white and yellow attack by an out of control marker pen!
Winner:France

Best vocal performance:
There weren’t many to choose from this season! Maybe Gabi was too busy winning the Overall Title to do any singing. However we did get some nice seasonal songs at Christmas from someone that I didn’t even know could sing.
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ_x4JT2W-Y
Winner:Clare Egan

Rising star:
This young lady is, at 19-years-old, an up and coming talent in the French Team and that is a pretty difficult thing to do as they have a lot of very good biathletes. Her previous best result on the World Cup was 14th place and this season she improved that to 4th. She won a silver medal with the Women’s Relay Team at the World Championships and has achieved 8 Top 20 finishes on the World Cup. She is an excellent shot and I expect her to get her first World Cup podium next season.
Winner:Justine Braisaz

Best biathlete23:
A straight fight between two Frenchmen! Quentin Fillon Maillet and Martin Fourcade. QFM was the first biathlete in bib23 this season and provided a photo of the bib which I stole for my profile picture! He was also 4th which was the best result until the World Championships where Fourcade won gold in bib23 in the Individual. A difficult choice but – I love gold!!!
Winner: Martin Fourcade

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
Another impossible task to choose a winner. Martin Fourcade’s Individual at the World Championships, Johannes Boe’s Mass Start gold medal, Ole Einar and Marie Dorin Habert in Oslo are just a few. We also had great races in the Mass Starts from Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Dominik Windisch and especially Erik Lesser in Ruhpolding. The award is going to a woman who didn’t have a great season but when under maximum pressure she delivered. At her home World Championships in front of the King she shot 10/10 and won the gold medal in the Sprint. She is brave and never gives up and is amazing at handling huge pressure.
Winner:Tiril Eckhoff

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
This award should go to Martin Fourcade. He won the Overall Title for the 5th time in a row and 4 gold medals at the World Championships. But then you have 42-year-old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who won a race on the World Cup and 4 World Championship medals. The award is not going to either of them though. It’s going to a woman who worked hard all season, was very consistent and raced in a more competitive field. She won the Overall Title for the first time for herself and her country and also took 3 of the 4 small globes. Most importantly she did it all with a smile on her face!
Winner:Gabriela Soukalova

IPC biathlete of the Year:
The Russian’s won every single category on the World Cup in biathlon this season so it’s no surprise that the award goes to a Russian. The men’s standing category is very competitive just now and the winner was pushed all the way by a rapidly improving Benjamin Daviet of France and only won the title in the final race of the season in Vuokatti in Finland.
Winner:Vladislav Lekomtsev

Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year:
Yet another tough decision. At World Juniors Felix Leitner and Hannah Oberg both took double gold. Viktar Kryuko did the same in the European Juniors. In the Youth category Harald Oeygard won 2 gold and 1 bronze medal. Igor Malinovskii and Viacheslav Maleev won a gold medal and 2 silvers each. Karoline Erdal won medals as did Emilie Kalkenberg, Alina Pantova and Marina Sauter. However I have to give this award to someone who won bronze, silver and gold at the World Junior Championships taking his total up to an historic 10 Youth/Junior titles. He has also been competing and doing very well on the World Cup all season with a top finish of 13th in his home World Cup in Presque Isle.
Winner:Sean Doherty

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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 Sprints!

wc16sp

On Saturday we had both Sprint races at the World Championships in Holmenkollen. The Men’s race took place first in the morning and the Women raced in the afternoon.

The Men’s race was a masterclass in biathlon from probably the two best biathletes of all time. Martin Fourcade was imperious shooting clean and skiing fast to win the race by nearly 27 seconds. He was bib 8 and so spent the rest of the race watching everyone else fall by the wayside and fail to seriously challenge him. His closest challenger I am pleased to report was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who took the silver medal which is amazingly his 30th Championship medal. He looked fit and slim and if only he wasn’t 42 I think the gold could have been his. I told you he would win a medal, didn’t I! In third place was an excellent Sergey Semenov. After his strong performance in the Mixed Relay is was no surprise he shot clean to win bronze.

It wasn’t such a good day for some other biathletes though. Johannes Boe missed a target and finished just off the podium in fourth. A terrible place to finish in your home World Championships. Still at least he did better than big brother Tarjei who had a nightmare and finished in 54th missing 4 shots. Emil Svendsen missed 1 target but finished in 17th at 1 minute 15 seconds from the winner. Anton Shipulin had a bad race in bib 1. Simon Schempp fell on the finishing straight after catching his pole on his ski and lost valuable seconds for the Pursuit race. His teammate Arnd Peiffer shot clean but could do no better than 7th.

The other biathletes who shot 10/10 apart from the three medallists and Peiffer were Leif Nordgren, Anton Babikov, Cornel Puchianu,Oleksander Zhyrnyi, Kauri Koiv, Michail Kletcherov,Mikito Tachizaki, Vassiliy Podkorytov, Maxim Braun and Mehmet Ustuntas.

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If the crowd weren’t already happy enough with Bjoerndalen’s silver medal they were ecstatic after the Women’s race. Home favourite Tiril Eckhoff shot 10/10 and won the race by 15 seconds. She has turned a disappointing season into the best season of her life! The silver medal went to last year’s champion Marie Dorin Habert who also shot clear but was out skied by Eckhoff. Bronze medal went to Laura Dahlmeier who missed one shot. It was a fantastic performance by Eckhoff. Her season has not been great and her shooting has let her down time after time but in the race with most pressure on her she delivered. The noise from the crowd when she hit a target was phenomenal and she did so well to cope with it. It was an outstanding display.

Mona Brorsson got her career best result in the race shooting clean and finishing 6th. Most of the big names in the Women’s field made the top ten with Soukalova in 4th, Wierer 5th, Makarainen 9th and Hildebrand 10th which makes for a very interesting Pursuit race.

There was a lot of good shooting from the Women with clear rounds for Eckhoff, Dorin Habert, Wierer, Brorsson, Vitkova, Hildebrand, Iryna Varvynets, Jialin Tang, Hannah Dreissigacker, Ingela Andersson, Teja Gregorin, Susanne Hoffmann, Terezia Poliakova, Jessica Jislova, Emilia Yordanova, Meril Beilmann and Hyesuk Hwang.

That concludes the Sprint races and they were both great to watch. It was great to see Bjoerndalen do so well and Sergey Semenov was fantastic. Can anyone beat Fourcade in the Pursuit tomorrow? Probably only himself! The Women’s race has the makings of a classic though. Could it be another gold for Norway or France or will Germany get a first gold? It’s anyone’s race for the ladies. Don’t miss it!

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