Tag Archives: Hochfilzen

To biathlon, or not to biathlon…..

….that is the question!

Sport has never had to deal with a global pandemic before. It is an unprecedented time and difficult decisions have to be made. Last season the corona virus caused the World Cup round in Nove Mesto to be held with no fans. Kontiolahti was the same and was ended a day early and then Holmenkollen was cancelled altogether.

So what of this season? Will there be biathlon? Should there be biathlon? There is a real possibility that the season could be cancelled. Here are some of the difficulties our beloved sport will have to face in the very near future.

Winter
Biathlon is a winter sport and even though cases are falling in some places around the world and the peak in Europe is passed unfortunately viruses tend to spread more easily in the winter months. If there is a second wave of corona virus is most likely to be right around the time the biathlon season is due to begin.

Travel
With 9 rounds of the World Cup, a season opener and the World Championships on the schedule for the 2020/21 season it means travelling between 10 different countries (Germany has 2 races). One of the stops on the World Cup is in Beijing, China for the Olympic test event in February but the rest are all in Europe.

Biathletes do sometimes drive between venues that are closer together but they also fly to save time. This means going through airports that obviously have people from all over the world passing through them and so the virus can be spread more easily.

Different countries also have different rules for their borders and these could change at any moment if a cluster occurs in a certain place. This might lead to airports being shut down amid a localised lockdown or borders being closed with little warning.

Socially distant racing

It’s not really possible to socially distance in a biathlon race. Maybe in the sprint and individual it would be easier but not in the head to head races or obviously the relays. There is also the question of contact with wax technicians and physiotherapists as well as race officials and journalists. The shooting mats are also shared by all the biathletes on the range and could be a source of spread.

How will the prizes be awarded? The podium is not that big to stay separate especially for the relay teams and how can you award flowers and a medal from two metres away? (Well you could try and throw the medal around the neck I suppose!)

Fans
As we saw last season biathlon without the fans is just not the same. However if mass gatherings are still banned then biathlon will be held behind closed doors possibly for the entire season.

Solutions?
Hopefully by the time the season opener comes around on the 28th of November in Kontiolahti these issues will not be a problem and we can go racing normally but what if we can’t?

There are a number of things the IBU could try to make sure the season goes ahead. The most radical would be to entirely change the schedule. For example in Moto GP, Formula 1 and for the Champions League the authorities are holding races and matches at one venue multiple times. Biathlon could also do this. Germany already hosts 2 World Cups so why not 3 and that would be one race block in one country with much less travel and movement involved.

Kontiolahti, Nove Mesto and Holmenkollen missed out last season with no fans and cancellations so why couldn’t they hold two races this season instead of one? The World Championship are in Pokljuka and with Antholz and Hochfilzen not so far away they could also be held around the same time. Yes it would take a lot of reorganisation and some venues would miss out but it is a possibility.

As for racing we already have a biathlon bubble. The biathlon family tends to stick together throughout the season competing, travelling and staying in local accomodation around the venues together. This should reduce the likelihood of transmission from outside sources.

Testing the biathletes and their teams and the officials regularly to make sure no one is spreading the virus will no doubt have to happen. If they were tested before returning from the breaks in the season like at Christmas or before World Championships it would find anyone who may have picked up the virus from returning home or seeing family.

However this throws up another issue about what happens if someone tests positive during a World Cup round or after coming back from the breaks? Obviously they would have to self isolate for 2 weeks but would their entire team have to do the same or the entire tour?

Travel could be made standard with all teams using chartered flights like they do already between some venues or if they choose to drive they could be always with the same people in the cars and also in the hotels at the venues. Or we could have a biathlon bus fleet!

Hopefully all the venues have been stocking up on personal protective equipment as the officials will need to wear gloves and masks when dealing with biathletes and their equipment like at the rifle checks or when fitting the transponders.

The fans is a tricky issue if there are no mass gatherings allowed in the winter. The fans make biathlon but it is still pretty watchable without them. The last two races of the season were incredible even without the crowd (but would have been even better with them!) because of the intense drama on the tracks.

Other sports have crowd noise played into the stadium to generate an atmosphere which is an option as some teams already do this in training to simulate race conditions. Also the number of spectators could be reduced to allow for more social distancing.

It is a tricky time for sport and the problems mentioned here hopefully will not come to pass. We all want biathlon to go ahead as normal this winter but it’s likely that it will have to make some changes. The possibility of behind closed doors races is probably the most likely scenario but at least that would be better than no biathlon at all!

Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!</strong

Tom Lahaye-Goffart: The Return!

Next in my series of catch ups with former biathlon23 interviewees is Tom Lahaye-Goffart. His first interview was 4 years ago when he was still a Junior! Now at age 23 (which is an excellent age) he has been competing on the IBU Cup and also on the World Cup in the relay.

Follow Tom on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram!

We last spoke 4 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

A lot of things changed for me during those 4 years. On the studies side, I graduated with a bachelor degree in Marketing and Communication, which means I can take a pause in my studies to focus 100% on biathlon! That’s a really good thing because I can completely rest between my training now (even if I didn’t work that much when I studied, but psssst, secret!). I also moved home, once again! I came back to my previous home in the South Alps but I took a flat in Villard De Lans to get the best training possibilities in France!

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with and were there any disappointments?

I’m really happy about last season! My goal was to be “back on track” after a pretty bad previous season, I didn’t expect anything in terms of results, I just wanted to feel good in what I do and not be disappointed about my races. It actually worked pretty well! My ski speed came back to normal, my shooting statistics increased a lot, and I got a few good results!
I was pretty happy with my individual race in Obertilliach in the IBU Cup. I knew I was able to do some great stuff but I never found the way to put everything together earlier, and it worked on that day! That was definitely a morale boost for the rest of the season!
On the bad side I was a bit frustrated not to get my chance on one of the individual races in the World Cup. I showed good shooting statistics all season long and didn’t get my chance to prove myself on the superior circuit. That was frustrating but that’s part of athlete life, you have to be patient!

You are part of everyone’s favourite relay team – Belgium! What is it like racing in that team?

I’m definitely proud to be part of that relay! It’s crazy how people adopted us after Hochfilzen and Oberhof 2 years ago! Being in that relay is really awesome, we don’t have that much pressure, we just do our best and we see at the finish line, and it’s always a good feeling to bother some “big nations”!

That foggy Oberhof Relay in 2018- tell us about it!

Actually that foggy relay is my worst memory as a biathlete! I wasn’t confident at all after the Hochfilzen relay, my shape was also pretty bad that season! And when you’re 21-years-old, you get the relay in 4th place as the last racer, it’s a really huge pressure on your shoulders. According to my self confidence on that day it was way too much for me, I completely cracked, made all the bad choices and lost 9 places to finish 13th! The contrast was so big at the end, everybody was so happy about the race, we led more than halfway, we got so much TV time, and I was crying on the shoulders of my sister because I f***ed up everything on that day. It took me months to get over it and find confidence again. I had so many nightmares about it! But I can say now that it gave me so much experience!

Jean-Guillaume Beatrix is Belgium’s coach now. Have you had much chance to work with him yet?

I have the chance to live really close to him now in Vercors, so I’m probably the luckiest one of the team because he can coach me on my sessions outside of training camps! So we work quite a lot together and try to find the things that can help me in shooting!

What are your plans for summer training?

The same as every biathlete I guess, lots of volume training! We will go with the Belgian team to the Summer World Champs in Minsk at the end of August, otherwise we were in Obertilliach in a camp in July, and then went to Antholz for few days to the World Championship’s location.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think that my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. I actually always try to understand everything around me, to see how things work, how to do it better and so on. It’s also a weakness because sometimes you have to do things naturally without questioning everything all the time! But my strengths and weaknesses are definitely on the mental side!

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal this season is to get to the World Cup. We are 3 athletes for 2 places, which means one will stay in the IBU Cup. After several years on it, I feel that it’s time to take a step further and discover real racing with the “big boys”. I really wish to compete in Östersund and Le Grand-Bornand, because it’s at the beginning of the season, which is the best period for me, and I’ve special connections with those places!

Is Presque Isle still your favourite track and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen your favourite biathlete?

I still like Presque Isle’s track, but my favourite track is definitely Oslo now! Skiing with a view of the Fjord is breathtaking, and reinforced by the feeling of skiing on an historical ski place!
OEB is still my favourite biathlete, he’s such a legend that I don’t even need to find arguments to justify that!

You put effort into your rifle design which is great! Have got a new design for this season or are you sticking with last year’s? Where do you get your ideas from for the designs?

I still don’t know if I will change my rifle’s design this year, I would like to but I don’t think I’ll have enough time for that! I usually have a few colors in mind and then ask around what would be the best. I always try to be original with a design that no one has. The fact is that since I chose silver, a few other athletes chose it too, so I guess I’ll change again. I hate to be in the norm!

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Still not!!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Michal Krcmar’s lions!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): USA
Favourite shooting range: Not Oberhof!
Lucky bib number: 9
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Too hard to chose between Michael Rösch/ Emilien Jacquelin and the Claude brothers!
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup/IBU Cup: I’ll get problems if I name a girl.. So… The womanizer Florent Claude, of course!
Best thing about being a biathlete: The purpose is easy, you have to push as hard as you’re dumb, and shoot the black!

Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Gabrielė Leščinskaitė: The Interview!

Gabrielė Leščinskaitė is a Lithuanian biathlete. She was born on the 25th of March 1996. She has represented Lithuania at the Youth/Junior World Championships four times. She has raced on the IBU Cup, World Cup and at the World Championships.

Like her Facebook page: Gabrielė Leščinskaitė Biathlete

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because probably that was one of God’s plans. If not because of this, then the reason was my surroundings. I was born in a sporty family so from a very young age I had to release energy in order to express myself. Actually I insensibly chose biathlon because I can’t even clearly remember how and when I became a biathlete. It just happens when your stepfather turns out to be the President of the Lithuanian biathlon federation.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? What were you disappointed with?

I hope that last season was the last such terrible and gloomy season in my life. I think there is nothing I am happy with. But I survived it though. Obviously there are many things I am disappointed with. It is quite hard to pick out one or two things that I feel sad about because everything in life is made of millions of connected pieces like a chain. However, one of the worst things that disturbed my preparation was a groin injury. That made me reduce the workload to the minimum and just maintain some kind of shape but in the end I was still suffering from the endless sore leg and butt. Apart from poor physical preparation I have been fighting with other problems related to psychological and mental health like intense anxiety, fear, insomnia etc.

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan up until December?

This summer is a little bit different from the previous ones. First of all, I started to work constantly only in July, so the majority of the work is simply delayed. Secondly, we got some changes in our team. Some of the biathletes left the biathlon world and a new coach came to train the rest of us. So as usual half of the summer we spent in Lithuania, then some athletes had a camp in the mountains, while others stayed in the Baltics. Soon we should go to Ramsau but this year is an exception and we are heading to Vuokatti to check the snow out there. Finally, our preparation journey ends in beloved Sjusjoen, how could we miss this place?!

What is your favourite or best biathlon event? Why?

I do not have a favorite event but I do have a least favorite one and it is the Individual race. And you know what, the greatest achievements of my life was made during Individual races :)))

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strengths are persistence, patience and hope. My weaknesses are uncertainty, low self-confidence and vulnerability.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for next season are to improve my skiing technique and shooting time. Staying overall healthy, peaceful and optimistic should help me get the right shape I guess.

Do you have any hobbies away from biathlon?

I would like to have more time for hobbies but I have to continue my studies every time I come home after competitions. The only things I can do is just spend time with my family and take some dancing sessions that are the only thing that takes away the worries, lightens me up and inspires.

How popular is biathlon in Lithuania?

Actually some years ago you could barely find any Lithuanian that knew what biathlon is. I have been repeating the same story of giving an explanation of this sport to every person that hasn’t heard about it. I feel really satisfied that after the Olympics in PyeongChang the situation is turning to be a bit better.
Of course there is nothing to talk about the funding, on this point biathlon suffers from a lack of financial aid a lot.

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

Probably I do. Hochfilzen and Anterselva. Because of the aura there. Sjusjoen track is nice for me as well.

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

That would be Algimantas Salna. Because he’s like legend walking on the earth.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Always a dreamer.

Quickfire Questions:
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Haven’t seen it yet.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Lithuanian of course!
Favourite shooting range: Lenzerheide.
Lucky bib number: Doesn’t exist.
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Klemen Bauer.
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Clare Egan.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Chance of winning for everyone.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Christian Gow: The Interview!

Christian Gow is a Canadian biathlete who was born on the 28th of March 1993 in Calgary. He was part of the team who won Canada’s first ever relay medal at the 2016 World Championships in Oslo when they took bronze. His best finish to date on the World Cup is 21st in the Pursuit. His older brother Scott is also a biathlete.

Like his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GowBrothersBiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I decided to compete in biathlon after trying it out at a Summer camp at Canada Olympic Park in the summer of 2001. I had so much fun at the camp and I was offered a chance to join a program in the fall, so I signed up and have been loving it ever since!

You were 21st in the Pursuits in Oestersund and Oberhof. Why are you so good in the Pursuit? Is it your favourite event?

I think the pursuit suits me well as a racer. I perform a lot better when I am able to ski with other people and I can manage the pressure of shooting in a group. I would say the pursuit is my favourite event, it is fast-paced, exciting, and the reason for several of my best results!

You went to your first Olympics in PyeongChang. What was that experience like? Were you happy with your performances there?

The Olympics were an incredible experience. I feel so fortunate that I was able to go, I have memories from there that I will never forget. I was happy with my Individual and relay performances, not as happy with my Sprint.

You won World Championships bronze in the Men’s Relay in Oslo. What do you remember about that race? How did it feel to stand on the podium with your brother? Also do you just perform well in places that start with ‘O’?

I feel like I remember every detail of that race, it was such a special and amazing day. I remember being really happy with my opening leg and getting more and more nervous the longer that we stayed at the front. Being on the podium was the best experience ever, and sharing it with my brother made it even better. Haha, I have never thought about it, but maybe that’s what it is!

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan up until December?

We have been in Canmore for most of the Spring and Summer except for a last minute camp out to Quebec because the smoke from forest fires was so bad. It has been routine training with a focus on volume in the earlier months. Our focus now is shifting more towards intensity and getting ready to race.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals are to continue building on my season from last year. I had a really good season with several new personal bests and I would like to continue that trajectory.

What’s it like training, competing and travelling with your brother? Do you get on well?

It’s great having Scott on the team with me. We get along really well and it is nice to always have each other for company.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

I like to read, play video games, and mountain bike.

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

I really like the course in Obertilliach (another O 😉 ), I have good memories racing there. On World Cup my favourite venue is probably Hochfilzen. Its a beautiful area and almost always nice weather.

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

Ole Einar is my favourite biathlete. The first thing I learned about biathlon when I was starting was that he was the best in the world and so I always looked up to him.

Does your rifle have a name?

It does not.

Describe yourself in three words.

Outgoing, personable, dedicated.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): France
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Favourite biathlon siblings (not yourselves!): The Fourcades
Lucky bib number: None
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rosch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travelling the world and doing what I love.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Irene Cadurisch: The Interview!

Irene Cadurisch is a Swiss biathlete. She was born on the 23rd of October 1991. She is known on the World Cup for her fast shooting and she finished an incredible 8th at the PyeongChang Olympic Games in the Sprint. She has suffered from a knee injury in recent years and also had to have an operation this summer. She is the anchor leg of the Swiss Women’s Relay team who finished 5th in Oslo last season and 6th at the Olympics.

Like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cadurisch.irene/
Check out her website: http://www.irene-cadurisch.ch/

Why did you become a biathlete?

When I was 16 or 17 our cross country skiing group in my home valley had a biathlon training. I tried it and I liked it.

Tell us about your 8th place in the Olympic Sprint! That was amazing! Can you describe your race and how you felt at the end?

I knew I was in shape before the races. I was very focused in the whole preparation time. The race day was like other race days. I tried to enjoy it. And it was working. To do my own race not worrying about others was my goal. While in the race I felt that I could hold my pace. In the first shooting I did a mistake but I kept fighting. It was a great race with not too much suffering, but pushing.

How do you assess your season on the World Cup last year? Are you happy with your progress? What do you need to work on?

Yes I am happy. Of course I didn’t have the greatest results but I saw my progress. And this was very important for me. My hard work since my knee injury paid off.

You shoot really fast! How are you able to do that? Is it natural for you or is it something you work on?

I was working on that since beginning with biathlon. But I have problems, when I try to change the rhythm. So there is a lot of work to do.
While shooting I don’t feel that I shoot fast. In my head it is all step by step in slow-motion. After the race they tell me if it was fast or not.

The Swiss women’s team is making great progress. You were 5th in the Relay in Oslo. Do you like the Relays and what do you think the team can do this season?

Of course I like the relay. Nowhere else is the whole team honestly happy or upset all together. We have to work good and hard. The podium is a goal.

You have a new coach this season (Sandra Flunger). Have you started working with her yet? Has she introduced anything new?

Yes the training rhythm changed. Every coach has a different way to be. We are happy with Sandra and try to learn and grow.

What are your plans for summer training?

I had an operation in the middle of July. My Hallux valgus (bunions) on both feet were always infected (also last winter) and now I had to do it. So I will not be able to train for 2 months. It is not an easy summer and it will be a hard preparation time. I try to stay positive and work hard. It will pay off.

What are your goals for this season?

Before the operation I wanted to continue my progress. But now I just want to come back strong and do my best in this short preparation time. Then I can see what happens. The World Championships are of course in my mind.

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

I don’t have favourites no. I like a lot: Hochfilzen, Antholz, Pokljuka, Oslo, Kontiolahti, Grand Bornand, of course Lenzerheide, Ridnaun and Obertilliach 😉

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

I don’t have favourites. Every athlete has his thing where I think: “wow this is really cool or strong”. But of course Bjørndalen will stay the King.

Does your rifle have a name?

No. But when I think about it, she would be Victoria.

Describe yourself in three words.

Home/Family person, Nature lover, I am an honest person.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):
France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): I like the natural ones.
Favourite ski suit design: Odlo has great suits.
Favourite shooting range: Lenzerheide
Lucky bib number: 1 in Pursuit 😉 (I don’t have a favourite)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anna Maka, Poland
Best thing about being a biathlete: Be focused in the right time.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Carine Leijn: The Interview!

Carine Leijn is a Dutch biathlete who was born on the 11th of March 1999. She raced on the Junior World Cup last season achieving a best result of 46th in the Individual in Lenzerheide. She also raced in the Junior Open European Championships in Nove Mesto as well as the Youth World Championships in Brezno-Orsblie. Her big sister Lilian also used to be a biathlete until she recently gave up the sport leaving Carine as the only female Dutch biathlete.

Follow her on Twitter: @CarineLeijn
on Instagram.com/carine.leijn
and Facebook: Biatleijn
Website: http://www.leijn.eu/

Why did you become a biathlete?

Besides the fact that biathlon is just plain awesome, I have two older sisters who used to do biathlon. So you could say it runs in the family. So when my parents were around 30 years old they started cross country skiing. And we grew up going to Sweden every winter to do cross country skiing in the snow. We also practised on these plastic ski mats in Gouda (yes yes Gouda from the cheese). It’s hard to imagine what it looks like and even harder to describe its appearance, so I’ll leave it at that. Eventually the Dutch ski federation asked my oldest sister if she was interested in doing biathlon. Since then our family was in love.

How do you assess last season? You raced in the Junior World Cup and at the Youth World Championships. What were they like?

Last season started out pretty good in Lenzerheide and Hochfilzen. I had overall good races and felt good on the skis. Last season was supposed to be promising. With sneak peeks of my good races I was excited to see what more I could do at the Junior cups and The Youth World Championships. Sadly my nightmare came true after the Christmas break, at the first day of the IBU-IOC training camp in Slovenia I got sick. Not the “I don’t feel so good but I will train anyway even if coach said not to cold” but the real deal 39 degrees, hot and cold am I dead yet fever! So I had to take a lot rest and a lot of Slovenian honey to get back on my feet. So the races in Pokljuka and in NMNM were kind of doomed before I even started because they were directly after this camp. Then I got home for a few weeks to prep for the Youth World Champs. I was feeling a bit more in shape but not as good as I was before. In Slovakia the conditions weren’t the best, a lot of rain, wind and soft snow. Swimming was almost faster than skiing on the tracks. No but in all seriousness taking into account the short period of time Osrblie had to organize everything they did a really good job. At all the venues the people were so nice and kind. It was a great experience to be able to compete at the Junior cup with so many countries. I learned so much which I am really grateful for.

Do you have a favourite race from last season? Which one was it and what was special about it for you?

My favourite race was in Hochfilzen, before I got sick. There were a few factors which made it really special for me. I really liked the tracks, the up and downhills, tricky curves and the high speed. So I was testing my skis and all of a sudden I heard Dutch people and realized they were talking to me. They told me they just moved to Hochfilzen and asked me if I was going to compete in the Junior cup. They told me they were going to try to come and watch the race. The next day they actually showed up, wished me good luck and cheered for me from the tribunes. So in that Sprint I shot clean, had the best skis and gave everything I had. So this was really my favourite race from last season.

You can also race in the Single Mixed Relay with Jarl Hengstmengel. Do you like that event?

The Single Mixed Relay was really something on its own. I never did a competition like this before but I really liked the fact that you’re a team against all the other countries. Also the girls start in a mass start which I’d never done before, so that was really awesome. This Single Mixed Relay was when I was had just started training a few days after my fever. So I was dying during the whole race. It was good that we had a little rest in between when the boys were racing. But Jarl and I agreed beforehand that no matter what happened we weren’t going to do the penalty loop and we were going to beat the Belgian team. We succeeded at both so we were quite happy with our race.

It’s not easy being a Dutch biathlete. What are the hardest things about it? What are the good things?

No it sure isn’t. The hardest of thing of all is that I always have to train alone. Given that I am the only girl at this point, there isn’t a training group it’s just me. I used to have my sister as a training partner but when she quit I really had to do it on my own. One of the good things about being a Dutch biathlete is I think the IBU-IOC camps. Because The Netherlands isn’t a major country in biathlon we get invited, along side other small countries, to these camps. My motivation really gets a boost from these camps. You meet a lot of new people and go to places that are really awesome. But for me most important thing is the fact that you train in a group which is really important because no matter how hard you work you can’t always do it on your own.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life?

At this point I’m still in high school. I split the year before my senior year in 2 years. So I had more time to train, this was in the last school year. But next year I’ll be a senior and hopefully will be graduating high school. My high school is really cooperative with my sport. They help me with my school planning and I get a lot of guidance. As for my social life, my friends support me all the way and help me stay motivated for school and for training. They help me study when I miss a lot of school due to races or a training camp.I really love having my friends around and I don’t have the idea that biathlon is in the way of that.

Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Not particularly. I’ve never been a person who likes to go out or something like that. So I don’t miss it and it’s not something I would want to do. Because I really grew up in the sport I am used to making certain sacrifices.

What are your goals for next season and further into the future?

My big goal for next season is to qualify again for the Youth World Championships. And to not get sick during the season. And for further in to the future it isn’t that easy to say. I think we all dream really big, which is a good thing. But we have to have goals in between to keep our feet on the ground. For now I hope I will make a lot of progress in the Junior cup over the next years and who knows what we can achieve with hard work, passion and big dreams.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What will you be working on over the summer?

I think one of my strengths is that I am mentally able to push myself to the very end, during training or a competition. My weakness is my speed on the shooting range, and my shooting time which I am currently working on. The less time you spend on the shooting range the better.

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

Pokljuka for sure, the track in the winter is really fast with quick turns which is really fun. Also I’ve been there so many times that every time I get there it feels like coming home which feels really special to me.

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

Darya Domracheva. Since I was little she has been my favourite. I always watched the races, looked at her skiing with her perfect technique and wanting to be like her. So I was really excited last season when she was making a comeback in Oberhof. I can’t wait to find out what she’ll do next season.

Does your rifle have a name?

I don’t think I got the note stating this was a thing… It is a thing! A biathlon23 thing! 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

chaotic – resilient – hard worker

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Finland
Favourite shooting range: Hochfilzen
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Tarjei Bø
Best thing about being a biathlete: The food in all the different countries.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

The Biathlon23 Awards 2016/17!!!

awards
It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their fourth year! As usual they are not your typical awards. In fact they are even more la-la than LA-LA Land! Luckily I double checked all the envelopes as I discovered Gabi Koukalova’s name in the Best Facial Hair category – OOPS!!! 😉 Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Shockingly this award was almost won by a ski technician. Now I love the ski/wax techs but they are forbidden from winning awards! Andrew Chisholm is the culprit proving very popular among his fellow Canadians. This had to be stopped and there was only one way to it. Interview a German! Luckily for me one of them agreed to do it and since it’s biathlon a German can beat anyone! This one also went on to become World Champion in the Sprint in Hochfilzen! (That’s what biathlon23 interviews can do for you!)
Winner: Benedikt Doll

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“biathlon23”: This is happening more often! It’s a worry! 😉
“little bit too much girly habert dorin”: Outrageous behaviour from a girl!!!
“martin fourcade and final lap of relay. did he cheat?” Yes he cheats in every race by being faster on skis and better at shooting than everyone else – Damn him!
“is aiden miller one of the fastest people”: I think it’s still Usain Bolt!
“simon fourcade has child”: I don’t think he can!
“van damme biathlon”: Well Belgium are always looking for biathletes!
“tarjei bø party”: I want to go!
“tarjei bö shirtless”: The party just got better!
“lisa theresa hauser high heels”: Not when she is skiing I hope!

Winner:“anton panton biathlon”: It’s Pantov! Anton Pantov! It must be the rhyming here that made me cry laughing so that’s why it wins!

Best Facial Hair:
Talk about famine to feast. Last season there was obviously some sort of offer on shaving items as there was hardly a whisker to be seen but this year the beard is back! It’s not just the biathletes either some of the coaches have beards and even the new IBU TV guy. Well sorry gents but this is a biathlete only award. The French put up a good fight this season with Simon Fourcade and also Antonin Guigonnat trying to become an extra on “Vikings”. The Canadians have Macx Davies trying to defend his title and a hidden gem in the IBU Cup with Matthew Neumann’s wonderful effort. The Germans tried but I’m sorry to say failed with Erik Lesser and Arnd Peiffer attempting the goatie but with little success. Klemen Bauer always has a great beard. Benni Weger was a strong candidate but the winner has a great beard to go with a great personality and also some great form!
Winner:Michael Roesch

Best earrings:
A strong category this season. There are a lot of ladies wearing earrings to compete and so it was a tough decision. Kaisa Makarainen has her snowflakes as does Tiril Eckhoff. There were a lot of ladies choosing long earrings this year. They are brave, I mean imagine if they got caught in your harness – AHH!!! The ones I liked best however were small blue earrings that actually looked like real flowers.
Winner:Nicole Gontier

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This year’s award has to be shared for a magnificent two person effort. Picture the scene. The Men’s Relay in Pokljuka, the first lap, a herd of biathletes hurtling down the hill. Sergey Bocharnikov of Belarus falls and Tuomas Gronman of Finland skis into him and goes flying through the air and lands on his face! Fortunately both were OK but it was a spectacular crash to watch.
Winner: Thomas Gronman and Sergey Bocharnikov

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
Again this has to go to a Boe! This year it’s Johannes but he does have to share it with Gabi! Asked at a press conference in Hochfilzen about Valentine’s Day he put his arm round Gabi and said he had everything he needed for Valentine’s Day. To which she replied that he would have to wait a few days because her husband was there! So funny and very cheeky as usual! (actually Gabi saying that Laura Dahlmeier ‘runs like a horse’ was also in contention!)
See the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLI4rZgjECE
Winner: Johannes Boe and Gabriela Koukalova

Best biathlon video:
There is only one possibility. Filmed in a bathroom at the World Championships (no it’s not that get your mind out of the gutter!) by the American team. Please feel free to ignore most of it except of course the part where Maddie Phaneuf talks about this blog! Fame at last! It’s all about 23! 🙂
(Actually you should watch all the videos they did as it’s a great behind the scenes view with some raw emotions too.)
see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UdHH16RR8c&feature=youtu.be
Winner: US biathlon women’s team

Best rifle design:
It’s been a lean year for rifle design. I mean biathletes have all summer to come up with a idea and then we get a blue,black or red rifle or a wooden stock. Come on people! We have a few saviours thankfully. Erik Lesser has a design that I think is miners. Joanne Reid has a naked lady! (Don’t look kids!). Andrejs Rastorgujevs has his like a zebra in case we do safari biathlon! Anastasiya Kuzmina has gone a bit psychedelic. Jaroslav Soukup has his kids on there (AWW!). Shipulin and Gasparin still have their cool rifles from last season but the winner is a lady who has a cat’s face on her stock. You can just see the eyes staring at you when she shoots. It’s PURR-fect! 😉
Winner: Darya Usanova

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Well it’s not technically ridiculous and not even that bad but as almost everyone has gone boring this season someone has to win. I don’t want to be too harsh, she may be short of money and that’s why she used her grandmother’s flowery wallpaper to cover her rifle including the barrel!
Winner: Veronika Vitkova

Best ski suit:
There has been a noticeable improvement in this years ski suits. I particularly like Estonia, Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic. The Norwegians and Great Britain have done well too. The winner was actually hard to choose for a change but I went with this country because I like the design and the colours and they deserve praise for getting rid of those pixelated trousers from last season!
Winner: Austria

Worst ski suit:
Well there is a clear winner this year but first I must commend some previous winners for improving their suits. Not France of course because theirs still sucks! Lithuania however have made major improvements in colour abandoning the yellow/green horror for a lovely shade of red. China came close to getting this award but avoided it by at least using the colours of their flag. However the winners was an easy choice. They have chosen the colour of the phlegm you cough up when you have a chest infection and matched it with silvery grey. None of these colours are on the country’s flag and hopefully it will never been seen again!
Winner: Romania

Best range decoration:
Oestersund got us started with range decoration this season by throwing some shells (the wrong size by the way) on to a pile of snow! Creativity at it’s best! PyeongChang got in on the action with a rabbit watching the shooting (FYI rabbits don’t like rifles!). The clear winner however is the digger and the penguin. Not that much to do with biathlon to be fair but good work nonetheless.
Winner:Ruhpolding

Best TV turn:
You may have noticed at the start of Sprint and Individual races the biathletes pop up with a TV turn at the left bottom corner of your screen. Most of them either cross their arms or put their arms on their hips. Luckily we have 2 creative rebels to entertain us. Vladimir Semakov of Ukraine does the 2 thumbs up and the winner who is 100% biathlon at all times makes a gun with his fingers for shooting!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Best Biathlete23:
Difficult this season without a win for bib23. We have had 3 podiums. Susan Dunklee was third and Anton Shipulin and Justine Braisaz were both second. How do you choose between them? You don’t! I have gone left field for this one. A biathlete who contacts the blog to say they are in bib23 in the first race of the season and then goes on to achieve their personal best wearing it deserves the title! It doesn’t matter if it’s World Cup, IBU Cup or the Junior World Cup. In this case 14th in the Junior Men’s Individual in Lenzerheide!
Winner: Tom Lahaye-Goffart

Biggest Improver:
One person in particular has had an amazing season. This season she has progressed from an athlete who would move between the IBU and World Cup to a regular on the World Cup. She got her first ever World Cup podium in Nove Mesto where she came second in the Sprint. She won her first ever race in the Pursuit a day later. She was also on the podium in Antholz coming second in the Individual and again in PyeongChang when she was 3rd in the Sprint. She won a bronze medal in the Sprint at the World Championships. Last season she was 39th in the Total Score and this season she was 7th. You can see the clear improvement!
Winner: Anais Chevalier

Best Team Performance:
There can only be one winner in this category. Winning every Women’s Relay of the season and the World Championships is a remarkable achievement. I mean it helps to have Laura Dahlmeier on the anchor leg but they can even win without her as was proved in PyeongChang.
Winner: German Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This one comes from the World Championships. Dominik Landertinger’s final lap in the Men’s Relay was a strong contender but there could only be one winner for me. Winning the Individual race for the USA was an outstanding achievement. A perfect shooting performance and a excellent ski meant he deserved all the accolades he got. However this award is actually for the whole Championships. He was also 4th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the Mass Start. After being overtaken in these races and losing positions his win in the Individual showed some amazing mental fortitude as well as his obvious talent.
Winner: Lowell Bailey

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
So it has to come down to Martin Fourcade vs. Laura Dahlmeier. That’s a race I would love to see! Martin now has 6 Overall Titles in a row and won an amazing 14 races this season. Dahlmeier won the Overall Title for the first time and won 5 gold and 1 silver medal at the World Championships. She also won 10 races this season and was a fantasic anchor in the Women’s Relay team. Basically I think it comes down to the more competitive nature of the women’s field as to why I chose this winner and that the first World Title is often the hardest.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

IPC biathlete of the Year:
I think this is the hardest award of all to choose with 3 categories of men and women there are a lot of possibilities. This year I have chosen someone who dramatically claimed his first ever biathlon World Title at the final World Cup round in Japan in the final race. He also won two gold medals at his home World Championships in Finsterau in the sitting category. Also he likes biathlon better than cross-country which is very important!
Winner: Martin Fleig

Junior Biathlete of the Year:

A very tough category especially as there is now a Junior World Cup as well as World Championships. I chose this guy because of his consistency over the season as well as his obvious talent in skiing and shooting. He won the Overall Title on the Junior World Cup and silver at the European Junior Championships in the Individual. He also won silver in the Sprint at the World Championships and helped his team to Relay gold.
Winner: Kirill Streltsov

Youth Biathlete of the Year:
This was a duel between two biathletes again. Irene Lardschneider and Claude 3 or Emilien as he is also known. They have both competed on the Junior World Cup. They both won 2 gold medals at the Youth World Championships in the Sprint and Pursuit. One of them also won a bronze medal with their team in the Relay so for that and the fact that they have a great surname here is the winner.
Winner: Irene Lardschneider

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Season 2016/17 Preview: Men

Oestersund, Pokljuka, Nove Mesto, Oberhof, Ruhpolding, Antholz, PyeongChang, Tyumen and Olso! Are you ready? It’s almost time for the new biathlon season to begin! That means it must be time for a season preview too so here it is!

Looking back over previous previews they all read more or less like this. Martin Fourcade is the red hot favourite. If he stays fit and healthy all season he will win the Overall Title for the 6th year in a row. Potential challengers are Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Simon Schempp and Anton Shipulin. They are all capable of beating Fourcade in a single race but don’t seem to have the consistency over a whole season to win the big Crystal globe.

Preview finished!

Only joking! As the top places are nearly always the same for the men I decided that this year’s preview should move away from the elite and see what’s happening a little bit behind them. Who are the up and coming biathletes to look out for? Who could get their first win or first podium? Who should be doing better? That’s what I am going to look at before season 2016/17 gets under way.

It’s sometimes hard to believe but there are some well established biathletes who have yet to win a race on the World Cup. The most famous is probably Simon Fourcade. He has achieved many podium results but never higher than second. Surely this season he will get to the top step. Fellow Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet has also come within a toenail of winning but again second place is his best result. Germany’s Benedikt Doll will be hoping to grab his first win. Tim Burke is another who will want to come first instead of second place as will Sergey Semenov and Benjamin Weger.

Expect a strong season from the Austrian team. Simon Eder was 5th last season in the overall title and Dominik Landertinger was 9th. With Julian Eberhard getting his first win and Sven Grossegger achieving a personal best of 5th they will be a dangerous squad this year.

Hoping to get their first taste of the podium are Andrejs Rastorgujevs who has a few 4th positions to his name already. Klemen Bauer also has a personal best of fourth as does Simon Desthieux and Krasimir Anev.

Scoring points on a more consistent basis will be the goal for biathletes like Mario Dolder, Leif Nordgren, Macx Davies, Kalev Ermits and Martin Otcenas.

Make sure you look out for some of the younger biathletes this season who will be trying their best to impress their coaches and the fans. Watch out for Sean Doherty to continue his rise to the top. The likes of Rene Zahkna, Rok Trsan and Fabien Claude will be pushing hard to do well. Keep an eye out too for Sebastian Samuelsson who has been picked for the Swedish team to make his debut in Oestersund and Felix Leitner who will start his first World Cup race for Austria.

On the other hand it’s about time Freddie Lindstrom had a better season. We haven’t seen him on the podium since 2013. Lukas Hofer didn’t have a great season individually either and it would be good to see him back on form. Jakov Fak will be hoping to improve as will Ondrej Moravec.

There are many more biathletes to watch out for but too many to mention here. The Germans are always dangerous with Peiffer and Lesser showing some good form in patches last time.

Last but not least expect new dad Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to pop up with a few podium finishes and don’t be surprised if he adds more World Championships medals to his vast collection in Hochfilzen. That’s if he can cope with the sleepless nights of course!

Hopefully it will a great season with some more first time winners and some great races. The title race might not be close but we can look forward to some great battles in individual races. Bring it on boys!!!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Lucie Charvátová: The Interview!

charvatova

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

Like her Facebook page: Lucie Charvátová (Sportsperson)

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your goals for this season?

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

Are you excited to compete in Nove Mesto this season?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does your rifle have a name?

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

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

Quick fire Questions:

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

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Galina Vishnevskaya!

vish

You may not be able to spell it but you should probably recognise the name. Galina Vishnevskaya is one of the up and coming biathletes on the Women’s World Cup and is definitely someone you should be looking out for next season.

She was born on the 10th of February 1994 in Semey, Kazakhstan and has already had a very successful junior career. She has two medals from the Youth Olympics in 2011 which were held in Innsbruck. She won silver in the Sprint race there and followed it up with bronze in the Pursuit.

She has also won 7 Youth/Junior World Championships medals. In 2011 she won her first medal which was a bronze in the Individual in Nove Mesto. A year later in Kontiolahti she took silver in the same event. In 2013 in Obertilliach she won silver again but this time in the Pursuit. Her best result came in Presque Isle in 2014 when she won gold in the Pursuit after getting the silver in the Sprint. She took another two medals in Raubichi in 2015 winning silver in the Pursuit and bronze in the Individual.

So as you can see Vishnevskaya did very well as a junior but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will translate to the senior World Cup. However in her case she has proved that she can also compete with the top biathletes. She has 12 Top 40 finishes to her name so far including two results in the Top 20. Her personal best result to date came in Ruhpolding last season where she was 15th in the Individual. She also managed 18th place in Presque Isle in the Sprint race.

In the Total Score last season she was 41st. Considering she is only 22-years-old that is very impressive. At 20 she went to Sochi for her first taste of Olympic action and her best result was 41st. She competed in Oslo at the Senior World Championships for the first time and finished every race inside the Top 25.

Vishnevskaya is a young biathlete and doesn’t come from one of the bigger biathlon nations but she will still be a dangerous competitor in the coming season. Her target must be to get into the Top 10 and finish consistently in the Top 20. If she stays healthy and injury free I see no reason why she can’t finish in the Top 20 overall. In fact with a little bit of luck we could see her on the podium or even take her first World Cup victory.

Along with her teammates Darya Usanova, Anna Kistanova and Alina Raikova she will be hoping to improve on their great result from the Women’s Relay in Oslo at the World Championships of 8th. She will also be trying to gain some more Nations Cup points in the Mixed and the Single Mixed Relays alongside Yan Savitsky, Anton Panton and Maxim Braun.

It is an important season coming up with the World Championships in Hochfilzen and it’s less than two years until the next Olympic Games in PyeongChang. They provide a great opportunity for Vishnevskaya to gain some valuable experience that will help her in her desire to win medals in the future and also to perform well for her country and help biathlon continue to grow in Kazakhstan. She is a good shot like most of her Kazakh teammates and with an improvement in her ski speed it could be an exciting two years for her.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!