Tag Archives: Hochfilzen World Championships 2017

Herbert Cool: The Interview!

Herbert Cool is a former Dutch biathlete who was born in Rotterdam on the 9th of February 1985. He retired from biathlon in 2012, which was far too soon!, with a top finish of 50th in both the Sprint and Pursuit races at the 2008 World Championships in Oestersund. After retiring he began commentating on biathlon for Dutch Eurosport.

Follow Herbert on Twitter: @CoolHerbert

Why did you become a biathlete?

My father loves to go cross country skiing. As we have no snow in the Netherlands we used to spend our vacations in Germany and the Czech Republic. I got into the sport as well, enjoyed it, enjoyed racing against the local youth and sometimes even beating them. Age 18 I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Bled, Slovenia. I came 9th in the Sprint which was great. We hardly ever trained on snow, only roller skiing and some shooting in a shooting range without a roller ski loop. This made me realize I had a talent for the sport and made me decide to pursue a professional career in biathlon. At age 19 I moved to the US to train with the US Junior team in Minnesota. A year after, I moved to Ruhpolding and stayed there for 6 years.

What are your best memories from your biathlon career?

For sure the first year in the US was the most fun. Obviously it is a great experience to live there on the whole, especially after finishing school. I got to see a lot of the country and was surprised about the large Nordic community it has, not to mention the beautiful cross country tracks. Also, the team was great. Just a bunch of young people wanting to make it in a sport that wasn’t normal in the country they came from. I guess we shared this experience, even though our countries were so far apart. We shared the troubles with funding, we shared having to travel away from your own country to be able to do what you love. And we had a great coach, Vladimir Cervenka, who is still coaching the US Juniors in Minnesota. Of course there were many great memories after that year, but things became a bit more serious, more like a job.

How did you become a commentator for Eurosport and how long have you been doing it?

Unfortunately I didn’t qualify for the Vancouver Olympics. The Dutch Olympic Association wants biathletes to be top 8 in the world, which obviously is a requirement similar to countries like Germany or Norway. However, there is hardly any funding and no talent development whatsoever. I really hope this will change and I am putting energy into this myself, but for now it is unrealistic to expect any talent from the Netherlands (nor is it realistic to expect youth to become interested in the sport, there simply are no facilities). Eurosport gave me a call; whether I would be interested in joining their biathlon commentator during the Olympics. I did, and it was a lot of fun. After I decided to quit in 2012 I pretty much became their new biathlon commentator. I still enjoy it a lot, and nowadays do some other sports as well as some presenting in front of the camera. For example during the 2018 Olympics. It’s a lot of fun and it enables me to stay on top of the sport that I love.

Did you find the transition from biathlete to commentator difficult? Was it harder or easier than you thought? Do you ever run out of things to say? 😉

I think it was the fact that I could become the biathlon commentator at Eurosport that helped me in the transition. You have to understand, I am a city boy. I was born and raised in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Definitely worth a visit if you have the time. So living in Ruhpolding was about as far away from living in the city as possible. Although I often miss the beautiful nature in the Alps (and the snow, obviously) I also really wanted to go back to Rotterdam. And I’m not just a commentator, I also own a sports management agency. We are into sports marketing, event management and athlete management. For example, this year we will bring a large group of Dutch biathlon fans to the World Team Challenge in Gelsenkirchen for the first year. You’d be surprised how many Dutch people love watching biathlon. When it comes to winter sports, speed skating is obviously the number 1 by far, but I would say biathlon is the second most popular winter sport on television here!
(Definitely not running out of things to say 😉 )

How much and what kind of research do you do before the races?

Honestly, I hardly do any research. I simply love the sport so much that I read and see everything no matter what. Before a race, I obviously do my preparation work, but that doesn’t take a lot of time this way.

Do you have some favourite/memorable races or moments that you have commentated on? Why were they special?

My relationship with the US team runs like a red line through my career. First I moved to Minnesota to train with the US Juniors. After that I moved to Ruhpolding where I was fortunate enough to have Ricco Gross coach me and help me a lot. He helped me connect to the US World Cup team -they waxed his ski’s during that time- and I ended up going with them in some of their training camps as well as travelling with them throughout the winter. A great setup for which I am still very grateful to both Ricco Gross, Bernd Eisenbichler, their high performance director and the team as a whole. It was during the time Tim Burke did very well, he even led the World Cup total score during Christmas, and I roomed up with them and learned a lot. So to answer the question, during the Hochfilzen World Champs there was the epic individual race men’s race. Moravec was in the lead, Lowell Bailey started really late. He shot well, and the finish loop was so intense. I think I screamed during my commentary and for sure I wasn’t very objective, but I didn’t care. It was such a great win for Lowell and I felt a lot of joy, especially seeing all of the wax techs and coaches celebrating afterwards. You know how hard they all work for it and how much effort goes in behind the scenes.

Is biathlon popular in The Netherlands? Can you tell us something about the current biathletes from the Netherlands.

It’s a difficult subject at the moment. The Dutch ski federation has chosen not to invest in talent development. One of the reasons is that the Dutch Olympic Association will only send a biathlete to the Olympics if he or she is around top 8 in the world. This is almost impossible to achieve in general, but especially with no funding, no facilities (no snow) and, very important, no athletes who are already on a World Cup level. You need to train with athletes who are at least as good as you on a daily basis. A good example is Chardine Sloof; she is a talented biathlete who got introduced to the sport because she lives in Sweden. She became a Junior World Champion for the Netherlands, which is crazy. Luck hardly has any influence on the sport of biathlon, if you become Junior World Champion you are talented. Period. After that she struggled with some physical issues and the funding stopped. She decided to switch to the Swedish team. A good decision, because she is surrounded by great athletes, the right culture and great facilities as well. She achieved 3 top 15 results during the Oberhof World Cup 2 seasons ago, really great stuff. I hope we will see more of her in the upcoming season.

Do you have any predictions for the up coming season? Anyone we should be looking out for to do well?

As always after an Olympic season we saw some big names quit. Of course we will miss Domracheva for example. She has one of the best techniques on the women’s side and is of great added value to the exposure of biathlon due to her personality. On a personal note I will miss Bjoerndalen, because he was my idol when I was a biathlete myself. I think Johannes Thingnes Boe will again be a little bit better and more solid this time, although he did admit to not training as much as he should have done in spring. But it will be interesting to see whether Fourcade can take another overall World Cup. I think it’s Boe’s time now. And the Swedes will be strong. They have the momentum after their successful Olympics. Of course there is a big difference between having nothing to lose and being one of the favourites, so this will be a role they will have to get used to. On the women’s side I think Dahlmeier will be very strong, if she stays healthy on her way to December. But I’m afraid that if she wins a lot, she will quit after this winter, which would be a big loss to the sport. I would also keep an eye on Lisa Vittozzi, she made big steps last season and is still very young.

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

I loved Östersund. Great atmosphere downtown, great energy on the whole and tracks that suited me. Long uphills that you really had to dig into. Antholz is everybody’s favorite, not only because of the great food and kind people. I always joke during my commentary that they somehow always seem to have a lot of snow, yet the sun is always shining!

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

Bjoerndalen, because he made biathlon into the sport it is today. He pulled it out of cross country skiing’s shadow. His technique was perfection. Someone who also has great balance and style on ski’s is Simon Fourcade, I love watching him ski. When it comes to fighting spirit you have to mention Kaisa Makarainen. Such a great athlete, a fierce competitor on the tracks and a great person once she crosses the finish line.

Did your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, passionate, calm.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Right now: Belgium!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin’s carved rifle looks great.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Not sure which year, and a bit of a different sport, but I loved the suit the Norwegian cross country team had in the last seasons Bjorn Daehlie was racing.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Being active in a worldwide sport that is still small enough to be a small community, and the closeness to nature.
Best thing about being a commentator: Sharing what you love with viewers who really discover your sport -and how great it is. Because biathlon wasn’t really known in the Netherlands, viewers can ask me question through Twitter during the race. This works out great and gives me the chance to bring the sport closer to the Dutch audience.

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Alexia Runggaldier: The Interview!

Alexia Runggaldier had a fantastic season in 2016/17. At the World Championships in Hochfilzen she won the bronze medal in the Individual race. At her home round of the World Cup in Antholz she got her first ever podium coming third, again in the Individual, and also helped the Italian Women’s team to third place in the Relay in the same weekend. She was born in Bressanone on the 27th of November 1991 and her younger sister Carmen is also a biathlete.

Like her Facebook Page: Alexia Runggaldier
Follow her on Twitter: @AlexiaMRTmx

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete thanks to my father and the Ski Club of Val Gardena. When I was a little girl, I practiced Alpine Skiing. One day my dad brought me to try some Cross Country Skiing and after this experience I knew that I wanted to do this. My Ski Club let me try shooting and I noticed that biathlon was a very fascinating and exciting sport. At the age of 18 the sport department of the Police hired me and that made it possible for me to became a professional biathlete!

You had a great World Championships. Can you describe your bronze medal winning race in Hochfilzen? What do you remember about it? How did you feel?

It was a strange race, because I didn’t feel so good on the skis and I lost a pole on the 4th loop. During the race, after loosing the pole, I was thinking ‘oh no today it will not be my day’ but at the end of the race I was starting to hope that it would be my day! 🙂 I was very happy and I enjoyed every moment!

It was your first full season on the World Cup and you had an amazing round in Antholz. What was it like to be on the podium twice at home? Were all your friends and family there to see it?

It was an indescribable feeling to be for the first time in an Individual race on the podium and this at home. I was crying tears of happiness and relief. And then three days after the second podium came with my teammates and this was the best way to conclude an amazing weekend! Yes, my parents did a weekend of partying and also my friends came to cheer for me. The atmosphere in Antholz was very special to me!

You improved a lot last season. Why do you think that happened? Have you changed anything in training? Is it your shooting that is better or the skiing or both?

I think I improved a lot last season, because I started to listen to my body and I’ve found a way of training that is good for my body and my characteristics. I think I mostly improved in skiing but also in shooting.

The Italian women’s team is really strong right now and you have a great relay team. Do you think you can win a medal in PyeongChang?

I hope so! 🙂

What are your personal goals for the Olympics? What do you think of the course and range in PyeongChang?

My personal goals for the Olympics are to be in good shape in order to be able to give my best. I think that the course is quite hard but I like it and also the range is not that easy.

What have you been doing for summer training?

We had good summer preparation. With the team, we had a lot of training camps in France, Germany, Austria, Italy and also in Norway for some skiing. The good weather made it possible to train well…although it was too hot sometimes!

If it’s possible can you try and describe your process when you are shooting? Is it all automatic or are you thinking everything through all the time? How do you try and stop thinking about the other athletes and what is happening in the race?

During the race the process of shooting most of the time is automatic. On the range the movements that have been trained during summer training come out, but sometimes when I’m tired and the shape is not so good I have to think about some processes.
During a race a lot is happening, but the best thing is to focus on myself and to do my race.

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

My favourite biathlon track is Hochfilzen or Oslo.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, simple, bright.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Simon Schempp
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Of course Italy 😉
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 59
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Giuseppe Montello
Best thing about being a biathlete: The life we can live. We have the chance to travel a lot, seeing new places and meeting a lot of nice people.

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Sebastian Samuelsson: The Interview!

sebsam

With the World Championships starting in Hochfilzen on the 9th of February I spoke to a biathlete who will be making his first appearance at the Senior event. Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson has burst on to the World Cup this season and has six Top 25 finishes already. He is from Sollefteå and was born on the 28th of March 1997. His best result on the World Cup so far is 13th from the Sprint race in Nove Mesto just before Christmas.

Follow Sebastian on Twitter: @SebbeSamuelsson
Read his blog (Swedish): http://sebastiansamuelsson.se/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started cross-country skiing when I was nine years old. A year later the Swedish Biathlon Championships were held in Sollefteå where I lived. I watched the competitions and immediately wanted to try it out. I did and have liked it ever since!

This is your first season on the World Cup. What has it been like?

An adventure! I never expected that I would do this well in my first year and I am just trying to enjoy every minute! The competitions are similar, but everything is bigger and the big crowds make it a really nice party.

Your best result so far on the World Cup was 13th in the Nove Mesto Sprint. Can you describe the race? Did you think you would do so well so quickly?

It was the third week of World Cup competitions for me, and not being used to it, I was tired. I did not feel so well in the days before. The zeroing was really bad and all this made me feel more nervous than before. We had really good skis that day and I skied behind Simon Schempp on the first loop, that gave me confidence. Zero in the prone and still feeling strong. The coaches screamed that I was skiing like the leaders so I knew that I was doing a good race. One miss in the standing and then I made my best final loop this year. I never expected to be 13th with a penalty loop in good conditions and that is why it was so fun!

Wolfgang Pichler is your coach and moved you onto the World Cup. What is he like as a coach and what has he helped you to improve?

He is demanding, but in a good way. He is very ambitious and always gives 100 %. He is one of the best coaches I have had. The best thing with Wolfgang is that you learn what it really takes to be a world-class athlete. There are no shortcuts, just hard training! He helps me improve in many ways.

You did not race in Oberhof. Was that planned or did you just eat to much at Christmas? 😉

Ha ha, both. I ate a lot, but it was already planned that I would skip Oberhof to prepare myself for the World Championships in Hochfilzen.

You will be taking part in your first Senior World Championships in Hochfilzen. Are you excited or nervous? Have you raced there before? What are your personal goals for the races?

Not so nervous, not yet at least. Just excited, it will be so much fun! I have never been there before. If I make one Top-20 I will be more than happy.

The whole Swedish Team are doing really well this season. Do you think you have a chance of a medal in the Relays in Hochfilzen?

We have all improved a lot! I think we have a good medal chance in all three relays.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think I am quite a good all rounder. I have to improve on all parts to become a world-class athlete!

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

Hallstaberget in Sollefteå of course! It is where I do most of my training. The course is hard and the shooting range is good. You should visit me and try it out!

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

Hmm, I think I would give a different answer depending on when you ask me. But I will go with Johannes Bö, he is young and always aiming for first place!

Does your rifle have a name?

No. If someone has any ideas, let me know.
( As you are Swedish may I suggest Gunnar Riflesson! 😉 )

Describe yourself in three words.

Positive, ambitious and happy.


Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Great Britain with Scott Dixon and Amanda Lightfoot of course! We train with them during summer and autumn.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Hallstaberget, Sollefteå
Lucky bib number: 19, still waiting to get it at the World Cup.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Outside of our team, Simon Fourcade is the one I have spoken with the most.
Best thing about being a biathlete: All the nice people and the chance to challenge yourself.

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Mario Dolder: The Interview!

dolder

Mario Dolder is a Swiss biathlete who was born on the 22nd of June 1990. He won a Youth/Junior World Championships bronze medal in the Sprint race in Canmore in 2009. His best result on the World Cup is 16th place from the Sprint race in Holmenkollen in 2015. He has taken part in 4 World Championships and his best overall finish in the Total Score is 46th which he achieved in Season 2014/15. He missed the first part of last season with an injury but came back to finish the season well.

Check out his website: http://www.mariodolder.ch/
You can like his Facebook page: Dolder Mario
He’s got his own Fan club too: http://www.mariodolder-fanclub.ch/

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I love to be active in nature and doing sports. My parents taught me cross-country skiing. I did some races and once I tried biathlon. I had a lot of fun and decided to start a biathlon career.

How do you assess last season? Were you pleased with your results?

In summer 2015 I had two knee injuries and lost a lot of power. Therefore my first race was in Ruhpolding in January. My shape wasn’t good and the races were bad. In February my shape was much better and I was 24th two times in Presque Isle…pretty good results for me.

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

We have had a good summer of training with the Swiss-Team. We trained a lot in Andermatt, our training base, but also in Crete, Antholz, Obertilliach, Ruhpolding and Oberhof.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: Prone Shooting, Sprint races

Weakness: My inconsistency

What are your goals for this season?

A Top 15 finish on the World Cup.
To finish in the Top 40 on the World Cup overall.

The Swiss men’s team is improving. Do you think you can do well in the relays next season?

We are looking forward to the relays. Especially in the relay at the World Championships in Hochfilzen. We will try to beat our best result from Kontiolahti (7th).

You took part in the Single Mixed Relay in Canada. Do you like this new event?

For me it is a fun competition for entertainment, but not needed on the World Cup.

You have your own fan club! Do they come to a lot of races? Can you hear them on the tracks?

Normally they visit two or three races each season. The support is very good! For sure…they are the loudest of all. 😉

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

Antholz. I love the profile and the landscape.

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

Berni Leitinger (AUT)- he had a really serious illness two years ago. But he fought like a lion, and now he is back on the track! RESPECT!!!

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Focused, calm, good-humoured.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Belgium
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: 22
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Kauri Koiv
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Alexia Runggaldier
Best thing about being a biathlete: Season-End Party in Khanty 😉

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Karin Oberhofer: The Interview!

oberhofer2

Karin Oberhofer is an Italian biathlete who was born on the 3rd of November 1985 in Brixen. She made her international debut in 2005 and her best result to date on the World Cup is second place from the Sprint race in Hochfilzen 2014. She has an World Championship bronze medal from the Mass Start in Kontiolahti 2015 and also won bronze in the relay there. She has another bronze medal in the Mixed Relay from the Sochi Olympics.

Like her Facebook Page: Karin Oberhofer (sportsperson)
Check out her website: http://www.karinoberhofer.com/en/

Why did you become a biathlete?

In the beginning I liked cross country skiing and I decided to go the Sport Oberschulzentrum in Mals to do it. When I was there in Mals I was at school with some biathletes and thought I would like to try to do it. I have loved this sport since the beginning and it became my big passion.

How do you assess last season? Were you happy with it or a little disappointed that you didn’t get an individual podium?

Last season was quite strange for me for many reasons. Anyway I know that I did my best as always. All the athletes would like to reach the podium but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out as we would like. Even if I didn’t reach the individual podium I won the relay in Hochfilzen with my team and it was absolutely terrific!!!

You won the relay in Hochfilzen last season. Can you describe your leg and how it felt at the end when you won? Are you happy the World Championships are in Hochfilzen?

As I mentioned before, it was extraordinary! I will remember that victory forever. I don’t want to comment only on my leg: all four of us had a great race. I guess that a victory like that in the relay is an huge result also for all our coaches that do an excellent job every day. We were all very satisfied and happy.

Regarding the World Champs in Hochfilzen, I think it will be a great event. But every day is different, especially in biathlon, and if you mean that we will have more chance because we won there last season… no, no more chance than the others!!!

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

I have already done a lot of training together with the Italian World Cup Team. Now we are in Ramsau (AUT) for the first training on snow and then, before the start of competitions, we will go to Antholz for some days, Senales and finally to Norway. But you know my training for winter season 16/17 started in the second week of May, every day with no vacation, no weekends except for a couple of days in September. A lot of training with the national team in different venues but also a lot of “hard working days” in my beautiful area: Sud Tirol.

What are your goals for this season?

I would like to be healthy for all the season in order to be constant in my results. My big goal is to improve my performance and myself but also to enjoy my beautiful job: both in skiing and in shooting. All the time my goal is to do my best and improve myself, to reach better results in my body, to touch the limit and to move this limit every season a bit further!

You have an Olympic bronze medal from Sochi in the Mixed Relay and a World Championship bronze medal in the Women’s Relay. Why do you think Italy is now so good at relays?

Because we are a great group and we have worked very hard together every day for some years. Together we grow as athletes thanks to the great support of all our staff.

What kind of food do you eat when you are training?

First of all I like eating healthy! I love good food and I take into consideration a lot the quality of the food. I like to try new food and also to cook new dishes.

I eat all kinds of food and I also have a couple of great food producers from my area that support and supply me with their healthy products all year long: Bakery Profanter and Kiku Apples.

I spend a lot of days away from home but anyway I have always with me, even during the winter season, some typical crispy bread (schüttelbrot) and fresh apple juice. It’s a small part of my kitchen that I bring with me always and I feel like I’m at home 😉

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

Sincerely.. no. I like to change and, as I mentioned before every day is different. I don’t have a special feeling with one specific venue. There are a lot of great places and every venue has something special.

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

I appreciate a lot of biathletes but I can’t say that I have one favourite in particular.

I have great respect for the biathletes that, even after great success and satisfaction, “stay on the ground” and continue to consider that the small things are important and don’t look down on you from the top.

Does your rifle have a name?

After your question, yes 😉 I have just given a name to my rifle: Joy! : )))

Describe yourself in three words.

Natural – Persistent – crazy 😉

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):NORWAY
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): MINE 😉
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): SWITZERLAND
Favourite shooting range: NONE
Lucky bib number: 13 (from Mass Start of Kontiolahti 2015)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: BOE BROTHERS
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: I think there are many nice biathletes on the World Cup.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Biathlon is like life, up and down but you have to do your best always and never give up. You don’t know how it will go but this is biathlon and this is what I like!

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