Tag Archives: German Biathlon

Franziska Hildebrand : The Interview!

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

Like her Facebook page: Franziska Hildebrand

Why did you become a biathlete?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have you been doing for summer training?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Describe yourself in three words.

Persistent, colourful, freedom-loving.

Quick fire Questions:

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

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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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Lesser is more!

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Erik Lesser is the ultimate big time performer. Don’t get me wrong he is successful on the Biathlon World Cup but he always seems to save his best performances for the big Championships. In Sochi at the Olympics he came home with 2 silver medals and in Kontiolahti he upgraded to 2 gold medals!

Erik was born on the 17th of May 1988 in Suhl. He made his World Cup debut in 2010 where he finished second in the Mixed Relay and he took 44th place in the Sprint in his first individual event. He came 91st that year in the Total Score. Over the last 5 years he has improved significantly and last season he came 10th in the Overall which is his best finish to date.

It is in the Championships where he excels however. He has taken part in 2 World Championships so far. In Nove Mesto in 2013 he won a bronze medal as part of the Relay Team. Then in Kontiolahti in 2015 he won the Pursuit race coming from fifth place in the Sprint. He also helped the German Men’s Relay Team to win gold. In between these Championships he went to the Olympic Games in Sochi and won silver in the 20km Individual and another silver in the Relay.

All this from a man who has never won a race on the World Cup! He has three podiums to his name, one second place and two thirds but has not managed a victory in normal World Cup racing. For your first ever win to be in the World Championships is quite special. I am not really sure what the reason for this is. Maybe he reacts well under pressure and the World Championships and Olympics are the toughest events around.

Talent is obviously in his genes as his grandfather was an Olympian. Axel Lesser competed in the 1976 Winter Olympics for East Germany. Erik was also well known for his facial hair. A few years ago he wore a quite excellent moustache but sadly he is now clean shaven but maybe that’s why he is skiing faster! He was certainly easier to identify on the tracks with his magnificent moustache!

Moustache or no Erik needs to transfer his Championship form across to the regular World Cup season. Now that he has won a race and knows he can beat the best he will take more confidence on to the World Cup. He is a great biathlete and he is capable of getting good results but he needs to do it on a more consistent basis. He just needs to look at his teammate Simon Schempp’s performances from last season to see it can be done.

It’s a big season for Erik. There is a lot of pressure on German biathletes and he has a World title to defend in Oslo. I wouldn’t bet against him winning more medals there! When it comes to the big events we know that Lesser is more!!

You can like Erik’s page on Facebook: Erik Lesser (Offizielle Fanpage)
He has his own website: http://eriklesser.de/


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An Ex’Sche(m)pp’tional talent!

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As one who has been diagnosed with under training for many years (well actually my whole life!) it can be hard to understand how someone can over train. It is something that does occur and especially with biathletes who spend a ridiculous amount of time training anyway for such a hard sport. Recent retiree Marie-Laure Brunet had problems with this in the past and so did Simon Schempp.

Athletes have to put their bodies under stress to increase their physical capabilities. Where the stress loads are appropriate then the athlete’s performance will improve but if the stress loads are inappropriate then over-training or burnout can occur. In Simon’s case he did burnout in the 2010/11 season and he suffered fatigue and a loss of form which cut short that season for him.

Thankfully that is all in the past now and last season was Simon’s best ever on the World Cup. Born in Mutlangen on the 14th of November 1988 Schempp came up through the biathlon ranks at the same time as the likes of Tarjei Boe and Lukas Hofer. Fitting then that his first ever win was a shared victory with Hofer in Antholz in the Sprint race. He followed it up by a superbly calm and collected performance to win the Pursuit and went into the Winter Olympics in Sochi with a lot of confidence.

His great form coupled with this confidence meant that he came away with a silver medal in the Men’s Relay and a 6th place finish in the Pursuit. In fact all of Simon’s medals so far have come in relay events. He won gold in the Mixed Relay in the 2010 World Championships in Khanty Mansiysk and 2 bronze medals in the Men’s Relay in Ruhpolding 2012 and Nove Mesto 2013.

Like a lot of biathletes Simon started out in another Winter Sport. He was an alpine skier until the age of 13 when he sensibly decided that biathlon was much better and changed disciplines. A good decision that was borne out by last season’s good results. Apart from his two victories he had a pretty consistent season finishing 10th in the Total Score with 6th in the Pursuit standing being his best individual event. He was also an important member of the German Relay team and he is really good in this format as his medal haul shows.

The German biathletes are under a lot of pressure as biathlon is a big and very well supported sport in Germany (well done Germans!). After the recent retirement of the likes of Michael Greis and now Andrea Henkel they have a younger and less experienced team than in the past. However that doesn’t mean they are not super talented. After a few lean years the German fans will be looking to Simon to provide them with a bit more to cheer.

If he maintains last year’s great form and pushes on a bit more without overdoing it he can be a real threat to the main contenders in men’s biathlon. He might not be able to beat Martin Fourcade over the whole season but he can beat him in individual races. If he can do this in Kontiolahti at the World Champs it will bring him the individual medals that are missing from his CV. I am sure he will win many more races on the World Cup and prove to everyone that he is an Ex’Sche(m)pp’tional talent!

 

Follow Simon on Twitter: @SimonSchempp

Like ‘Simon Schempp’ on Facebook.

Check out his website: http://www.simon.com.de/ (it could use an update Simon!)

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UnBølievable Annecy : Le Grand Børnand!

boannecy

World Cup round 3 in Annecy was dominated by the new “golden boy” of Norwegian biathlon Johannes Thingnes Bø. An extraordinary performance by the 20 year old saw him win the Sprint and Pursuit double by 33 and 37.5 seconds respectively.I always expected him to win a World Cup race but not this soon and not in such a dominant style! He also helped a weakened relay team to a fifth place on Friday. He has certainly announced himself as a real threat this year and I hope he can be consistent because I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do against his brother and Svendsen and a Martin Fourcade in better shape. Never short of confidence he stated after his Sprint win that “It is cool to beat Martin here.” He is a real contender now and I think the bigger names in the Norwegian team should start to worry about their places for Sochi.

Elsewhere and playing second fiddle to the Bø show was the great performance of Selina Gasparin who won her second Sprint race in a row. They are like buses those Swiss you wait ages for a win and 2 come along at once. There was also another first time winner on the women’s side. Valj Semerenko took the Pursuit race by maintaining her composure in the final shoot and finished in front of Irina Starykh and Tiril Eckhoff who both finished a career best second and third. In the Sprint race second place went to Kaisa Makarainen and third to Valj Semerenko. The women’s competition is fantastic this year mainly thanks to the amount of amazing biathletes around just now and without last year’s dominance from Tora Berger we are getting some superb racing.

Back to the men and behind Bø in the Sprint came Ondrej Moravec and Martin Fourcade. Following him in second and third in the Pursuit where Erik Lesser and Anton Shipulin. Lesser coming home for a career best finish for him as well. Another stand out result for the men has to be Canada’s Nathan Smith who finished 8th in the Pursuit after starting the year on the IBU Cup.

In the relays the German women’s team put in a great performance to win . The younger members,Preuss,Hildebrand and Dahlmeier, were especially solid on the shooting range and did well in the individual races too. Ukraine got another podium and now have to be the favourites to win gold in Sochi. Norway took third and the Canadian team did an incredible job to get their best ever result of fourth. For the men Russia came back into form with a great finish from Anton Shipulin to sprint past Schempp and take the win. It was also good to see Austria in third to put a disappointing Hochfilzen firmly behind them.

Speaking of disappointment it was a rough weekend for the French team with only Martin Fourcade’s third place to cheer about. However they have a great venue in Annecy. The tracks and the shooting range may not be the most difficult on tour but they make for great close racing that I personally love to watch. It was an UnBølievable weekend for Johannes Bø but it was also a successful one for Annecy. I can’t wait to go back!

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year! We will catch up again in Oberhof!!

P.S For new readers or anyone who is unfamiliar with the blog- a)what’s wrong with you? and b) no seriously, what is wrong with you?- I always keep an eye on whoever is wearing bib 23 and this weekend bib 23 won the men and women’s Sprint races!!!!YES!!!

HO HO HOchfilzen!

hochfilzen

It’s close enough to Christmas to get away with that title,right? Well either way we got a few pre-Christmas treats from the biathletes this weekend in Hochfilzen. It all kicked off with the women in the Sprint which saw Selina Gasparin taking her and Swizerland’s first win on the World Cup with a great skiing and shooting performance. Some great shooting also saw Veronika Vitkova match her best result so far in second and Irina Starykh taking her top result finishing third. I was especially pleased about Irina Starykh as she just happened to be wearing bib 23!

It was followed by the men and Lars Berger stormed back onto the World Cup by winning the Sprint with an amazing skiing performance after starting out on the IBU Cup.He managed to beat Martin Fourcade into second and a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into third. It’s great to see Berger doing well again for his fun personality if nothing else. I would also like someone to check Bjoerndalen’s birth certificate to make sure he really will be 40 next month.I don’t know how he does it! Whatever his parents fed him when he was young I want some of it!

On Saturday we had the first men’s and women’s relays of the season. The Ukrainian women’s team put in a stellar performance to win. All of their athletes did a great job but Julia Dzhyma stands out for her overall performance over the weekend. They were followed by Germany and France but Norway were noticeably absent from the podium. Over on the men’s side however the Norwegian men won with a dominant display and a characteristically great last leg from Svendsen. Sweden took a great second place with Bergman striking like a cobra into the stadium to fight off the Russian charge and leave them in third.

On to Sunday and the Pursuit. A great race from Solemdal gave her a second victory in Hochfilzen and made up for another difficult day on the shooting range for Tora Berger. Dzhyma took a fantastic second place thanks to some great shooting and Poland’s Palka made up 8 places to finish third. Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade won the men’s race followed by Svendsen and Boe. Just a little tip for the Norwegians you can’t give Fourcade a 40 second lead in a Pursuit if you want a chance of winning it! Having said that both the Norwegian guys have stepped up a gear from Oestersund and it’s just a pity they won’t be competing in France this coming weekend.

For the home crowd Cristoph Sumann gave them something to cheer about getting 5th in the Sprint and 7th in the Pursuit. They got 4th in the men’s relay too but unfortunately Simon Eder couldn’t carry on his form from last week in Oestersund and Dominik Landertinger didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped at home. The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews.

Standouts for me from Hochfilzen have to be Simon Schempp and the German team in general. Schempp finished 8th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the relay. Daniel Boehm and Arnd Peiffer got 2 TOP 20 finishes and the women were second in the relay. Julia Dhzyma as I mentioned before had a good weekend all round finishing first in the relay, second in the Pursuit and fifth in the Sprint. The big movers in the Pursuit were Alexis Boeuf and Benjamin (Darth) Weger gaining 20 and 34 places respectively and the Semerenko twins and Gabriela Soukalova(Bib23) who started 22,23 and 24 and finished 7,8,9.

So after HO HO Hochfilzen now all thoughts turn to France and a first visit to Annecy. None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy!

P.S Has anyone else noticed the interviewer in the IBU official Press Conference always asks a question with the word “surprise” in it. I can’t watch them properly because it makes me laugh everytime I hear it! Listen out for it in Annecy!

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What happ-ARND last season?

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I think this is the question that Arnd Peiffer will be asking himself this year as well as the German coaching staff and the fans. Last season was pretty terrible for Arnd and not much better for the rest of the German men’s squad. After a great few seasons where did it all go wrong?

Arnd Peiffer(no relation to Michelle ;-)) was born on March 18th 1987 in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. He began competing on the World Cup in 2008 and attained his first victory by the end of that season. He has won a total of 8 World Championship medals. He enjoyed great success in 2011 in Khanty- Mansiysk winning an Individual gold in the Sprint and silver in the Mixed relay. He also has a gold from the Mixed relay in 2010 and a further 5 bronze medals from relay events in Pyeongchang,Ruhpolding and Nove Mesto.

This last medal in the Men’s Relay from 2013 was the highlight of a difficult season for Peiffer. He missed far too many targets on the shooting range and was nowhere near competing with the likes of Fourcade and Svendsen. This dip in form coincided with the retirement of Michael Greis and for me may have played a part in Peiffer’s loss of form.

Greis was the leader of the German team and had by far the most success and experience of their athletes. His absence meant that Peiffer was left,along with Andi Birnbacher, to fill the role left by Greis and probably put a lot of extra weight on his shoulders. Pressure can often cause people to under perform and I think this goes some way to explaining last season’s problems.

However having a bad season can sometimes do athletes a lot of good. It gives them a taste of failure which they do not want to ever repeat and can provide them with a greater understanding of themselves and extra motivation to do well. It can also allow them to assess themselves in a way they might not do when they are enjoying relative success and let them make improvements in areas they may have previously thought unnecessary.

I think Arnd Peiffer can use last season to help him become a better biathlete and he will show that he has great strength of character in doing so. He is already well into preparation for next season having spent time training in Oberhof, Davos and Bormio. He has the possibility to medal in Sochi if he can find some shooting form. In analysing what happ-ARND last season he will surely be able to improve his performances in the future.

Arnd’s Website: http://www.arndpeiffer.de

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