Tag Archives: Germany

An Ex’Sche(m)pp’tional talent!

schempp

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!

 

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Going for Gold!Part 2

women olympics

The heat is on, the time is right,
It’s time for you for you to play your game,
’cause, people are coming, everyone’s trying,
trying to be the best that they can,
when they’re going for going for gold!

The heat is definitely on! With only 3 days until the women’s opening race on Sunday in Sochi there is just time for a final preview of the female biathletes. They kick off just like the men with the Sprint event followed by the Pursuit, the 15km Individual, the Mass Start, the Mixed Relay and finally the Women’s Relay on the 21st of February.

This is probably one of the most open Olympic Games for a while on the women’s side.There are some favourites of course but no one athlete has really dominated the World Cup so far like Tora Berger did last season. Of course Tora is still one of the favourites to win gold but her problems in the standing shoot have left the door open for the other biathletes. Particularly impressive so far this season is Gabriela Soukalova. She has won 3 races and is the leader of the overall World Cup. Her wins in the Individual races mean she is likely to medal in that event in Sochi but she could be on the podium in more than one race.

The run of races after Christmas showed that Darya Domracheva is also back on top form after a quiet start to the season. Germany(Oberhof and Ruhpolding) in particular was a strong period for her and she has a great chance of winning a few medals in Sochi. Kaisa Makarainen had exactly the same run of form as Domracheva and could also feature on the podium. Her skiing is excellent but her shooting might mean that she can’t quite reach the top step.

These four will be contending for medals in all the races but they are not the only ones. Selina Gasparin has come into her own this season and with 2 Sprint victories she can’t be discounted to do the same in the Olympic Sprint.The Semerenko twins are always there either on or around the podium. Valj seems in better form than Vita but the Olympics could change that. Olga Zaitseva will be under extreme pressure to deliver in her home Olympics and her form has been patchy up to now and so it will be difficult for her in Sochi. I think she will be able to rise to the occasion and handle the pressure with her vast experience. Another veteran in with a shout is Andrea Henkel. She thrives in the big competitions and I wouldn’t be surprised if she follows up her silver in last years World Championships with another medal in Sochi.

On the other hand there is a lot of good young talent emerging this year. Germany have a strong young team and it’s possible that Laura Dalmeier could spring a shock and take a medal(she also shares her name with the stadium – a good omen?).Anais Bescond is coming off the back of a first win in Antholz and will be full of confidence. Tiril Eckhoff is currently having the best season of her life and she too could challenge at the sharp end. My only concern for these girls is lack of experience in the really important competitions and the huge pressure they will need to cope with.

There is also Veronika Vitkova, Marie-Laure Brunet, Synoevve Solemdal, Anastasiya Kuzmina and Olena Pidhrushna who have the capabilites of winning medals. The women’s side is really tough to call at this Olympics. The relay is exactly the same. Russia, Norway, Ukraine and Germany are the ones most likely to be fighting for the top three spots but any penalty loops could destroy their chances and leave the door open for teams like France, Belarus and also Canada if they can better their amazing performance in Annecy.

In the mixed relay the same teams will be involved at the front. I would also throw in The Czech Republic, who won the only mixed relay of this season in Ostersund, and Italy to pick up any places lost by any bad performances from the top teams. All in all the women’s races are going to be very exciting and pretty unpredictable. It would nice to see some of the Russians on the podium in their home Games but whoever takes the medals will do so in one of the most difficult and competitive years and so will fully deserve their victories when they are going for gold!

Good luck ladies! Especially those lucky enough to wear bib 23!!!

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There’s no Ru-hpolding back now!

biathlon-ruhpolding-wm

World Cup 5 is finished already! Where did the time go? We only have one more WC round before the Olympics start in February! Ruhpolding as usual did not disappoint. Huge crowds, decent conditions and some exceptional performances by the competitors saw to that! It started on Wednesday with the Women’s Relay followed by the Men on Thursday,then we had the Individuals and finally the Pursuits.

The Women’s Relay was great entertainment. It was won by a strong Russian Team, Germany took second and Norway third. The result tells you nothing about the race though. Franziska Preuss had a disaster in the first leg which ended with a penalty loop but her teammates Sachenbacher, Dahlmeier and Hildebrand were all amazing to pull Germany up to second. Tiril Eckhoff had a similar meltdown on the first leg and again her team of Flatland, Solemdal and Berger pulled off a brilliant third place. However you can’t beat a Russian team of Glazyrina, Zaitseva, Starykh and Vilukhina who are shooting so well by going on the penalty loop and they got a well deserved victory.

The same type of things actually happened in the Men’s Relay the next day. Johannes Boe has more than likely shot himself out of a starting place in the Olympic Relay team by missing 6 shots out of 8 in the first prone shoot and leaving his team with an impossible task. They did however finish a respectable 9th with Tarjei Boe, Christiansen and Svendsen having great races individually. The winners after five long years of waiting were the Austrian team of Sumann, Mesotitsch, Eder and Landertinger. A thrilling final lap saw Landi just pip Germany and Simon Schempp into second and Russia finished a solid third. Elsewhere Slovenia met their qualification for Sochi finishing 7th, Italy again did well in 6th and Sweden laid down their medal winning credentials finishing 4th with some great shooting performances.

Onto the Women’s Individual and Pursuit which were both won by the on form Gabriela Soukalova who must be a strong favourite for the Olympic titles. Second went to Darya Domracheva continuing her great form from Oberhof and Veronika Vitkova finished an impressive third. The stand out performances though came from Andorra’s Laure Soulie who took her best ever result of ninth, Germany’s Franziska Hildebrand in fourth her highest place finish and Japan’s Fuyuko Suzuki who claimed 13th also a career best. Second and third in the Pursuit went to Berger and Makarainen who are both getting better and better especially in terms of their skiing right in time to go to Sochi. Other impressive movers in the Pursuit were Preuss 16th to 4th,Eckhoff 25th to 7th,Brunet 21st to 10th and Bescond 29th to 11th!

Over on the Men’s side a certain Mr. Svendsen comfortably won both races before he goes home and continues his Olympic training. Shame he won’t be in Anholtz but Fourcade and Bjoerndalen will be there. Russian’s Volkov and Ustykov took second and third in the Individual and are making it hard from them not to be selected for Sochi. Jakov Fak returned to form after injury and illness finishing 4th and Simon Fourcade seems to be back on track finishing 7th. Tobias Arwidson achieved a career high 17th place and Johannes Boe bounced back from the relay by finishing 8th. In the Pursuit Fak took second and Garanichev not wanting to be overshadowed by his Russian teammates was third. Tarjei Boe did yet another amazing race taking 6th from a start bib of 37! Other big moves came from Eder 16th to 4th and Sumann 27th to 8th continuing their good form from the relay.

So after 2 fun weekends in Germany the World Cup circus heads to Anhotlz-Anterselva. It’s the last World Cup round before the Olympics and it’s where the final teams will be decided to get on the plane to Sochi. For many biathletes it’s their last chance to impress the selectors so there’s no Ru-pholding back now! Go for it everyone and good luck!

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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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Dutch courage!*

chardine

It’s flat. It doesn’t have a lot of snow. It’s more famous for windmills, tulips and clogs and a liberal attitude to just about everything. The Netherlands is not a place you would readily associate with biathlon. You would however be wrong! Not only do they have biathletes, they have a whole family of them!

All born in Waddinxveen the Sloof family comprising of brothers Joël and Luciën and sister Chardine are taking the biathlon siblings thing to a whole new level! Especially as their coach just happens to be their dad, Eddy! Despite being the youngest, the most successful and probably best known of the three is Chardine. She burst onto the scene in 2012 at the Junior World Championships in Kontiolahti winning two gold medals in the Individual and the Pursuit. In doing so she made history by becoming the first Dutch athlete to win a World Championship.

JoelSloof

Moving to Sweden in 1999 obviously helped all of the Sloofs in biathlon as The Netherlands neither has the weather conditions or facilities to support professional biathletes. Torsby is the location the family chose and it has paid off as all three children have done well in biathlon. The eldest brother Joël born on the 15th of November 1988 has had most experience on the IBU and World Cup. He has had some good results in the past year finishing from around 50th to 95th on the World Cup and a 51st place in the World Championship Individual in Nove Mesto was a great achievement. Luciën born on the 7th of June 1990 is obviously slightly less experienced but has produced some good Top 50 results in the Junior World Championships and also in the European Championships.

luciensloof

However the Sloof family don’t have the monopoly on Dutch biathlon. The recently retired and brilliantly named Herbert Cool had a good career and there is another up and coming biathlete Jarl Hengstmengel, who placed a credible 48th and 68th in the Individual and Sprint respectively in the Junior World Championships in Obertilliach this year. He trains in Germany and has set a goal of becoming one of the Top 50 in the World. As an 18 year old he has great ambition and also the time to try and achieve it. He is aiming high and there is nothing wrong with that unless you are on the shooting range of course!

jarl

So there you have it, The Netherlands has quite a few good young biathletes coming through. It just shows you that you don’t need hills or snow to be good at winter sports. A little help is required of course in these cases from Sweden and Germany but a bit of Dutch courage can take you a long way.

Good luck to all of them!

You can follow all The Sloofs and Jarl on Twitter and Chardine, Luciën and Jarl on Facebook. I strongly recommend you do so – they need your support!

You can find out more info at: http://www.sloofbiathlon.com
(It’s in Dutch but you can translate it easily with an online translator.)

*just so we’re clear I mean Dutch courage as in brave people who are Dutch. I am not advocating drinking alcohol for courage(as the saying means in English) before doing biathlon!Although……


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What happ-ARND last season?

peiffer

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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