Tag Archives: Great Britain

Sofie Hopkins: The Interview!

hopkins

18-year-old Sofie Hopkins from Great Britain is a great example of the perseverance you need to become a biathlete. Coming from a country where biathlon is not popular it is a very difficult career to choose and requires a lot of sacrifice and determination as well as courage. Here she talks about her goals for the future and her clear love of the sport.

You can follow Sofie on Twitter: @Sofiehops
She has a Facebook page: Sofie Hopkins (Sportsperson)
She has her own blog: https://landofsofie.wordpress.com/

Biathlon isn’t a big sport in Great Britain. How did you discover it and why did you want to become a biathlete?
I first discovered biathlon through my Dad’s Army friend as he had done a bit of biathlon with the military. He also was first to suggest the idea as at the time I was competing in National Cross Country and Hockey Events with the Army Cadet Force which I really enjoyed. I knew then I wanted to pursue a career in a sport and that’s when my Dad’s friend turned around and observed that “I had really big feet” (I was a size 9 when I was 13) and my build was similar to most biathletes already. I then searched biathlon online and I instantly fell in love with it and watched it everyday for a month on youtube. My Dad asked me if I really wanted to do such an insane sport and if was I willing to dedicate my time as he explained it would be a lot of sacrifice. I replied with a yes and from that day on that is exactly what I have done.

How much and what kind of training do you? Do you have a coach?
I train 5 days a week, however it has been cut down to 3 at the moment due to my A Level exams. I use roller skis for 4 of the days where I do endurance one day, technique another and then focus on speed wherever I can fit it in. I also go to the gym once a week where I do biathlon specific exercises, for example: pulling down on wires but adding weight each time. I am also an avid runner and like to do the occasional 10km once every other week as I still compete in local running competitions to get more experience in terms of competing. I’m also very fortunate to use the uphill slope at the ski centre in Xscape, Castleford as the staff kindly allow me to use the uphill and junior slope at 6am before customers arrive. After I have done my one and a half hours of skiing I then do another hour of Alpine Skiing with The Lions Ski Club as I also really enjoy other skiing disciplines and it is helpful as I can usually incorporate some of the skills into my biathlon. My coach is my Dad as he has supported me throughout my Biathlon journey and our close father and daughter relationship has really helped. My Dad is not a skiing coach, but after serving as an officer in the military as a Sniper for over 20 years and also qualifying to be an NRA coach he knows a lot about shooting. He gave up his job in the Army to focus on training me, which means the world to me.The skiing side was purely self-taught from watching youtube videos and also gathering tips from many other people over the years. Shooting has also been a big part of my life as I started shooting at the age of 5 where me and my father would go out and hunt for rabbits.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?
I find that my flexible timetable at college helps me to fit in my training perfectly as most of the time I only do quarter or half days of lessons. This allows me to do a lot of training, although when I get home at 6pm then I focus on my studies for a good 4 hours before getting an early night. However due to the intensity of my training I do find it very hard to concentrate on my work and sometimes end up falling asleep very early whilst I’m doing my homework. In terms of my social life I feel that in my first 2 years I put my social life on hold. I went to occasional events to support my other friends in their future careers, however training dominated most of my time. I now do squeeze in time to see my friends on a weekend as I think that it’s good to have some free time to socialise as it creates a good balance between the two. If I wasn’t training for biathlon I really don’t know what I would be doing. Biathlon has changed my life for the better. It has become a part of who I am.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?
I do not receive any “official” long term funding at the moment. However I have recently secured a sponsorship deal with Eley Ammunition who are supplying me with 5,000 rounds a year and Eley merchandise which has been a big help. The money for travelling and equipment is all saved and self raised by me and my parents. I go skiing at a Caravan Park near where I live and by doing raffles and just by talking to people on the campsite we managed to raise a £100 pound in 1 week, which is incredible. The manager on the site also shaved his hair off last year to raise money for me and we made an immense amount of money and it was a brilliant day for me and all the caravaners. If we are not doing raffles or anything special a lot of people I meet give me a donation out of the kindness of their hearts and I’m forever grateful. In terms of my rifle which is not cheap my parents managed to save up £1000 pounds which we knew wasn’t enough and was preying on our minds for months. However luckily the owner of the Shooting ground where I shoot twice a week ordered my Anschutz rifle and paid the rest of the money for it. He also got a good friend to make me my own range, which in total cost £2000 pounds. I can’t believe how generous people have been. Me and my Father over the past four years wrote letter after to letter to every different company you could think of and all we got was a resounding “no” or no response at all. The first year me and my parents planned a Summer Trip to the DKB Skihalle in Oberhof we had to scrape what money we had together to get there. We couldn’t afford a plane or an apartment so my Dad drove his car what seemed liked 3000+ miles over the border at Dover all the way down to Oberhof where we had to find a campsite and sleep in a tent. Even with a low budget we have always tried to get there. I’ve always said you have to sacrifice for what you love.

Did you go to the British Championships in Ruhpolding? How did you do and what did you learn from the experience?
This year was my second year of competing at the British Championships and I learnt an awful lot. I didn’t do as well as the previous year, but after a week of analysing what went wrong I am really grateful that the slips ups happened so I can work on them. The biggest thing I learnt not only about competing, but about myself was that I can not achieve under pressure. I started off really well on the 7.5km Sprint, which I wasn’t aware of until I got pulled off as everything started going in slow motion around me and I just collapsed under the pressure to achieve as I had done so well the year before.

For more about this you can read Sofie’s thoughts on her blog here: https://landofsofie.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/the-pressures-of-competition-my-story/

What are your goals for the rest of this year and the future?
My goals for this year was to build up my confidence in a competition scenario again which I feel I have already conquered through the different competitions I have been entering since January and I now feel comfortable and a competitive scene has no longer become overwhelming. My long term future goals is to get to the highest level in the sport that I can. I would love to one day be in the World Cup, it would be an honour to be skiing with some of the Worlds greatest biathletes!

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to work on just now?
I feel my strengths are on the range as I’ve been shooting since I was 5 years old so it is pretty much second nature to me. However as far as weaknesses my speed on the flats has always been an issue. I do think that it is slowly improving as people have noticed that my glide technique (or Skate 1) has improved tenfold in comparison to what it was a year ago. If I were to be my own critic I now think that maintaining speed around a course is a big weakness overall and hopefully my summer training regime will help me to practice and perfect this.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?
I think I would have to borrow Darya Domracheva’s technique. She is so effortless on the snow, but still so fast. Although it’s obviously really tough she makes it look like a walk in the park whilst also making it look stylish in some way.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)
My biathlon heroine is hands down Magdalena Neuner. She has won so many titles and did it in such a short space of time. I really admire her work ethic and also the way she was confident to criticise some training methods and try ones that she had created herself. My ultimate role model is my Dad, he has such a great attitude to life and sacrificed so much to give me the best life possible and make sure I do everything with my best efforts. He has always encouraged me to do things that I have been scared or unsure about so that I have no fear, which has made me stronger and more confident. My Dad has also done lots of great things in his life independently and I hope to follow in his footsteps and make him proud!

What do you do to relax and forget about biathlon for a bit?
I find a day with my friends and having a catch up over a cup of tea is the perfect way to switch off from training. I like to keep my friends and my work (as in training) separate, although of course they are very supportive and I always keep them up to date with my progress as they generally find it interesting listening to my stories. If I’m not doing that I will sit on the sofa watching movies or reading books for long periods of time. Once I’m in a good book you can’t take me away!

Describe yourself in three words.
Shy, Serious and Loving.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:Oberhof
Favourite biathlete (past or present):Martin Fourcade
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Individual
Favourite/best race of your career so far? British Championships 2015, 12.5km Women’s Individual
Favourite food: Olives
Favourite singer/band: Jackie Evancho
Favourite film: The Burbs
Favourite TV show: Sherlock Holmes

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Scott Dixon: The Interview!

dixonint

In the last of my series of interviews with Junior biathletes this season I spoke to Great Britain’s Scott Dixon. Scott was born on the 9th of July 1994 and so this is his final year as a Junior. He has already competed on the IBU and the World Cup and is currently in Finland for the Senior World Championships. He achieved his best result in the Juniors this year finishing in 18th place in the Individual 15km an improvement of 5 places from last year in Presque Isle. He is now living and training in Norway. His Dad is 6 time Olympian, biathlon coach and Eurosport commentator Mike Dixon. Scott is possibly the only biathlete who is sponsored by a castle!

Scott has a Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete

Why did you become a biathlete? Did your Dad make you do it or did you have a choice?!! 😉

I was very stubborn as a teenager, never committing fully to one thing at a time. I liked to play Rugby and Football and Biathlon was just the different sport that separated me from the normality of school life. I became very passionate about Biathlon when I was 16. This is when I couldn’t miss a race on T.V and if I did I would have to watch it at the next available time. I knew then that biathlon was my passion and I had to pursue it.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

This year I have been living in Norway, trying to learn the language which has been interesting! My interests are almost entirely sport based and my plan is to take a sport psychology (open university) course this year. Balancing a social life with training, I think, is not too difficult. Many top athletes may surprise you by how often they relax and socialise. I have to plan quite carefully my visits home to the UK to visit my family and girlfriend. She lives in England and my family in Scotland. So it is important to minimise travel and expenses in this case.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

My head sponsor ‘Heaver Castle & Gardens’ contributes enormously to my expenses in Norway. The basis of this sponsorship is my personal belief that I can one day compete amongst the very best in the world. I think my current location and level of motivation is perfect for making this happen. RMA sports kindly sponsor me and help me greatly with kit. Always reliable and with the best prices on so much kit. I know without the support from this company I would not be where I am now.

What were your goals for the Junior World Championships in Raubichi? Did you achieve them? Were you happy with your overall performances?

At the end of last season (2013/14) I decided that I am capable of achieving a top 10 at this year’s Junior World Championships in Belarus. I had to improve my overall game but most specifically, my ski speed. I was training along side some of the top Norwegian Juniors as part of team ‘Statkraft Lillehammer’ and felt like I was improving dramatically on the shooting range and on the skis. Sadly, in mid October I got ‘Compartment Syndrome’ in my lower abdominal muscles by simply running gently down a mountain after a hard session. A very rare and freak occurrence that put me out of training at a crucial time for over 120 hours of planned training. I spoke with my coach Sverre T. Roiseland to discuss/manage my expectations and figure out what I could expect from myself when I got back into full training and what to expect at the Junior World Championships. My goals did not change (perhaps this was naive) but I had to be prepared for a slower ski speed than initially anticipated and therefore try not to be disappointed if I do not achieve this goal.

The Junior World Championships approached very quickly and I felt like my ski form was approaching at the right time, which was good! My shooting had taken a positive turn for the best at the British Championships where I cleared my first ever Individual 20/20 and the next day the sprint 10/10. This was a good confidence boost for Minsk. However, shooting is a cruel game. If you think about it too much everything can change.

Minsk arrived and I was delighted with many aspects of my performance. If someone told me I would hit 38/40 in the Individual and Pursuit I probably wouldn’t have believed it. So this was an enormous achievement for me. Also being able to identify why I had 4 errors in the Sprint and then act on it for the next day was a big achievement. My 18th place was emotional. It is a personal best but we had some difficulties with our skis on the day and the entire British teams form on the skis really took a beating. With one mistake I knew it is possible to make a top 10! I was gutted.

The Sprint saw me failing to stick to my routine in the range. Almost a valuable lesson worth having, even at this crucial time because I was able to rectify this for the pursuit the next day. Starting the pursuit in 49th and moving up 18 places to 31st was a fantastic experience, missing 1 target again. This is another big achievement for me. What a shame I didn’t do better in the sprint.

What did you learn from the Championships? What do you need to improve and what are your plans to do it?

I learned a great deal about discipline on the shooting range. How so many factors can influence your shooting and how you have to focus on yourself, shutting out all distractions. Knowing this and implementing it are two very different things. It will take years to master but I think I am on the right path.

The British team are on a small budget and we certainly can’t expect to compete for the best skis on the field every event. We couldn’t bring a wax man with us to the Championships. (We have a wax man on the World Cup) I need to learn to accept this until our budget increases and strive to do everything I can personally to make the best of my situation rather than acting emotionally on it. I allow this to use up far too much mental energy.

I will improve my skiing speed. I have a fantastic coach and I know that with his advice I will make big leaps in my ski speed for next year. Hopefully I will avoid injury and see a good improvement come next season.

You have already raced on the World Cup. What is it like racing against the likes of Bjoerndalen and Fourcade? Is it inspirational or a bit nerve wracking or maybe both?

I love it, however I am always gutted to miss watching these races because I enjoy them so much. I can’t complain really because I get to compete against the athletes I love watching compete. I am looking forward to the day I can begin making an impression on the World Cup circuit.

You had a bit of an unusual injury earlier in the season. Can you tell me what happened and is the problem solved now?

I had Compartment Syndrome in my lower abdominal muscles. It is normally an injury people suffer in the lower legs or forearms and is extremely rare in the abs. In the Norwegian hospital, of four Doctors (one of which was a physio for a national Ice hockey team) only one of them had seen this specific injury before in this area of the body. He must have called me a ‘Rare Bird’ a thousand times.

I was running innocently down a mountain after a pretty crazy hard 6 x 5 minute running interval session up it. I felt a slow onset of pain, like a stitch, in my abs above my groin and ignored it for quite some time. I got back to the car after the session and from there until I got back to my house, I concluded something was seriously wrong as I couldn’t lift my leg to use the clutch any more.

I was taken to hospital by my coaches who looked after me very well. I am lucky to be a part of such a positive team. After being treated for my injury that evening I went home to recover in England and Scotland for quite some time. I was very sad to miss out on the training camp that week.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

I am young and doing exactly what I want to do with my life. Maybe it isn’t always a smooth ride but I enjoy it. I feel that I should take advantage of my situation and continue to enjoy it while there is good progress. Some times, things that are out of your control have a massive influence on your performance. This is frustrating, especially when you work so hard for your goals.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

A tough question, I think I want to earn all my characteristics and add my own unique touch to them. I think that Andrejs Rastorgujevs is the best example of a hungry athlete. He wants to win and he is an underdog from an under funded nation like mine. Seeing people like him making it to the top reinforces my belief that I can do it.

Can you describe your routine on a race day? When do you get up, eat, warm up, what you do after the race etc.

Race days used to be so stressful, I was never organised. But now I always make a list of what I need to take to the course, what times I need to be there etc. This way I don’t get stressed! I always start my day with a 5-15minute jog to get the body and mind ready for action. I try and eat a good amount in the morning, hopefully porridge is on the menu but I settle for near enough anything with carbs. It isn’t necessary to over eat before the race, just enough not to be hungry on the start line so this depends on my start time as to what I eat that day.

Before zero starts (45 minutes before the race starts) I normally test the skis I have been given for that day to determine which are running fastest. The reason being that each ski has a different ‘grind’ in the base and therefore runs differently in different snow conditions. Once selected I am then free to Zero my weapon for the days conditions.

I then take my start time and subtract about 40 minutes from it and this is when I will start my warm up. Once complete, I am ready to unleash the beast! Which hopefully is ready to go!

Your Dad used to be your coach. How did that work in practice? Can you separate training and parenting? Does he start a lot of sentences with “Well when I was a biathlete we used to….” or “we didn’t do that in my day son” !! 😉

It was fantastic. I know his raw positivity and natural hard working attitude was a brilliant guide in my early years as a Biathlete. Something I am extremely thankful for and perhaps grateful enough for it in my early days. In my middle teenage years I was stubborn and difficult to manage like most teenagers but my Dad was always positive, supportive and understanding despite my difficult nature at times! In the last two years I really hope I have learned to appreciate the fantastic opportunity I have been given and learn from the mistakes I have made, am making and will make in the future.

When my Dad starts a sentence like that, he is normally right anyway to be honest!

Does your rifle have a name?

I’m afraid not!

Describe yourself in three words.

Motivated, Hungry (mostly for food but also for success from time to time) and Content.

Quick fire Questions:


Favourite biathlon track
: Idre – Sweden, followed closely by Raubichi, Belarus.
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Andrejs Rastorgujevs!
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): I like the Individual, it is a brain game! To spectate – the mass start!
Favourite/best race of your career so far? The 12.5km Pursuit at the Junior World Champs. I had a terrible Sprint the day before. I started the Pursuit in 49th position but managed to have one of my best races ever in the shooting range, moving me up 18 places. It was such fun going past people on the penalty loop having shot 1 – 0 – 0 – 0.
Favourite food: I love salmon, Mushrooms (creamy sauce) with rice!
Favourite singer/band: Imagine Dragons
Favourite film: I love mind twisting films, Inception is pretty great! Source code is also up there with Cloud Atlas… This list goes on.
Favourite sports team: I don’t really watch football so I guess team Sky. Based on their incredibly professional attitude.
Favourite TV show: Family Guy

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Great Scott!

dixon

Fourth on the google search list behind a motor racer, a golfer and a boxer Scott Dixon is a popular sporting name! Most importantly however it is the name of a biathlete. Scott was born on the 9th of July 1994. The youngest of the Great Britain World Cup squad he is also the only civilian on the team. The others are all members of the armed forces.

At the age of nearly 20 he has been on the World Cup scene for 2 years now but has so far been used sparingly at the top level. He has taken part in some individual events but has competed more often as a member of the GB relay team. Still classed as a junior he also had the chance of going to Presque Isle in March to take part in the Youth/Junior World Championships. His previous 2 championships in Obertilliach 2013 and Kontiolahti 2012 yielded a best result of 40th in the Sprint. This year however he improved greatly and came in 23rd in the 15km Individual.

That was the best ever result achieved by a British athlete in these championships beating Mark Gee’s result of 35th in 1991. In fact it could have been even better as he was in second place after the first two shoots. Unfortunately Scott heard the stadium announcer mention his placing which maybe contributed to a poor third shoot and put paid to what could have been an outstanding achievement for a British athlete. Pressure is a big part of the sport though and is another step on the learning curve for Scott.

Speaking of learning Scott doesn’t have a bad teacher when it comes to biathlon. His Dad is former GB biathlete and cross country skier Mike Dixon. He is now a biathlon coach for the Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club in Scotland and happens to be one of a few people who have competed in 6 Olympic games. He is basically Scotland’s Bjoerndalen but unfortunately without the medals! So Scott has a great biathlon foundation, good genes and a good coach, and is a big hope for the future.

However it’s not easy competing for Great Britain in biathlon. They don’t have the resources and facilities that other countries do and like many biathletes Scott had to go and live in Germany to be able to train to a high standard. Ruhpolding is a home away from home for a lot of GB athletes and it seems to be working for Scott. Dixon junior still has 1 Junior World Championships that he is eligible to take part in next year in Raubitschi, Belarus. He has the IBU Cup and hopefully more World Cups to compete in too in season 2014/15.

On the World Cup it would be interesting to see Scott changing places in the relay team. He is always used 4th and so doesn’t usually get the chance to compete an entire lap as teams who are lapped are stopped after the last shoot and so don’t finish the race. I would like to see him tried at second or third so he can get more experience of pressure and the opportunity to actually complete the whole distance with some real competition around him.

Next season will be an important one for Scott. With the likes of Lee Jackson and Kevin Kane not getting any younger (sorry guys!) he is in line to take over from them. His ultimate goal has to be to represent Team GB at the next Olympics in Pyeongchang 2018 but to do this he needs to show continual improvement and work on not only the physical but also the mental side of biathlon. At 20 he still has time to get better and I am sure he will be a great representative for Great Britain. It’s only a matter of time before he moves up the google search list too because he is definitely a Great Scott!

You can Like Scott’s Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete.

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Flying Sircus!

sircus

No it’s not a preview of Monty Python’s summer reunion! It is in fact my rather catchy title for this article about Great Britain’s Robert Sircus. Robert was born on the 1st of December 1995 and will soon be competing for Great Britain in the upcoming Youth/Junior World Biathlon Championships. He will be competing in the Youth Men category in Presque Isle in Maine, U.S.A. This will be his first appearance at this level.

Born in Yeovil, he moved up to Scotland and started training at the Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic ski club and attended Kingussie High School. A familiar route for a lot of the young civilian British biathletes. The Cairngorms is one of the best places in the U.K to train and compete in biathlon under the careful eye of the legend that is Mr. Mike Dixon. He has also recently become a member of Team Out There Biathlon and Nordic which gives support to athletes from countries who stuggle with funding. Other members of the team include Victoria Padial (Spain), Leandro Lutz (Brazil) and Sarah Murphy (New Zealand).

Like the cross country skier Andrew Musgrave and biathletes like Selina Gasparin he has been lucky enough to be able to go to Norway to train and compete and benefit hugely from the coaching and facilities there. He moved to Sirdal last August to train alongside junior Norwegian biathletes under the guidance of National coach, Roger Grubben. Just two months later he took part in the Norwegian Summer Biathlon Championships, becoming the first British youth biathlete ever to compete in that event. It saw him competing against Norwegian biathletes (and we all know how good they are) from the elite biathlon schools like Geilo, Lillehammer and his own in Sirdal. In the first event, the 7.5km Sprint, he managed to finish in seventh place and then came eleventh in the following day’s Pursuit. Remarkable results considering the level of competition.

It showed a marked improvement from his results in the European Youth Olympic Winter festival in 2013 where he finished 74th in the Individual and 72nd in the Sprint. He said of that experience “I think I still expect too much of myself, I think I need to stop doing that before I can improve. I need to relax more and enjoy the competition and the experience more.” For one so young he sounds like a pretty intelligent guy but he has to be careful not to lose his competitiveness.You need to learn from such performances and do everything possible to improve from them. Robert has proven that he has the ski speed to compete but he needs to improve his shooting on the range. Missed targets have cost him some top finishes in various races but it’s generally easier to improve your shooting than skiing so he’s got it the right way round.

So on to Presque Isle where he will be joined in the Youth events by Lachlan Cowie and Scott Dixon will also be there competing with the Juniors. Accompanied by coach Carl Carrier, it is a great chance for Robert to measure his performances against the best young biathletes in the world and see how he measures up. To be honest British biathlon could use a boost after all the funding issues. That is another discussion however and he just needs to concentrate on his own races. Good luck to all three of the guys going off to represent Great Britain in America and be sure to keep an eye out for the Flying Sircus!

Robert has his own Twitter and Facebook pages where you can follow him.
You can also read his blog entries on the British Biathlon blog:

http://britishbiathlon.blogspot.co.uk/


Team Out There and Nordic are also on Facebook and Twitter. Their website is:

http://outthereshop.com

For more info on The Cairngorms Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club see their website:
http://www.cbnsc.co.uk/

The Youth/Junior World Championships take place in Presque Isle USA from the 27th of February to the 7th of March.

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Funding Biathlon: Not so Great, Britain!

British-Olympic-Association

Biathlon is not exactly Britain’s most popular sport. Actually if you asked the average Briton they probably couldn’t tell you what it is. However this does mean that it doesn’t have any biathletes, it just means that they don’t give them any help. The best known of these are Lee Jackson, Kevin Kane and Amanda Lightfoot. They are not the only ones though. Amongst the ranks of the British Biathlon Union, the national governing body for biathlon in the U.K, are Scott Dixon, Marcel Laponder, Adele Walker and Nerys Jones to name but a few.

The BBU is funded by sponsors, the IBU, the Army Winter Sports Association and by the athletes themselves. It is run on voluntary basis and the paid staff consists of a Secretary General and a wax technician. They have no performance director or any support staff who are paid. There is no support for biathlon from any of Britain’s main sports bodies or any National Lottery funding.

Why is this? Well for all the talk of a lasting legacy in sport after the London Olympics this only seems to apply to sports that have “podium potential”. So basically if you get a medal you can have some more money. As far as I am concerned this is completely the wrong way round and leaves a lot of Winter Sports stuck in a vicious circle. If you have won a medal it seems to me that you are doing pretty well as it is with the funding you have.

Surely it would be better to give sports like biathlon more money to give them a chance to catch up with the likes of curling and skeleton. How are you supposed to improve if you are not funded? All you end up with is a couple of sports who might provide a medal and a lot that end up struggling. You would think that money could be given to sports like biathlon to give them a chance to see what they could do even on a trial basis or on a sliding scale depending on each year’s results on the IBU Cup and World Cup instead of basing everything on Olympic performances.

Another thing that could be improved is the amount of races that the British Biathletes, and those from other countries with the same issues, have to compete in. On the IBU World Cup you have to finish in the Top 60 to qualify to compete in the Pursuit race, and you must be ranked in the Top 30 to take part in the Mass Start. So if you have a World Cup round where there is a Sprint, Pursuit and Mass Start if you don’t make it into the Top 60 and you are not ranked in the Top 30 overall you could find yourself travelling to places like Khanty- Mansiysk or Kontiolahti to take part in one race. This can be expensive if you are not well funded and is hardly going to give you valuable experience on the World Cup especially if you are a young athlete.

Maybe they could think about introducing a B race for the Pursuit where the Top 5 or 10 finishers are guaranteed to take part in the next Pursuit A race to give them an incentive to race for. Or maybe they could re-introduce the Team race for the lower ranked countries and reward them with some funding rather than points. I imagine these suggestions might be difficult to put on the schedule and cause logistical difficulties but I am sure the fans wouldn’t complain as you would get more races to see each day.

As it stands at the moment the BBU and the athletes themselves have done a remarkable job to have achieved what they have done so far. However the lack of funding, assistance and interest in biathlon from the Sports funding bodies especially after a successful summer Olympic campaign means that you are not so Great, Britain!

For more information on British Biathlon:
http://www.britishbiathlon.com/
For information on the biathletes:
http://britishbiathlon.blogspot.co.uk/
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Update as of January 2014: Good news on the funding. The BBU has a new sponsor, Aspen Healthcare Solutions, for the next 4 years securing funds until the Winter Olympics in 2018!