Tag Archives: IBU Cup

Holly Rees-Lay: The Interview!

Holly Rees-Lay is a young British biathlete who is hoping to make it on to the IBU Cup this season. The 21-year-old from Oxfordshire competed on the Junior World Cup last season and achieved a top result of 60th in the Lenzerheide Individual. She currently combines biathlon with her studies at Edinburgh University. Even though she only started skiing aged 18 she has already been successful at the British World Championships in Ruhpolding. She also competes in rifle shooting.

Follow Holly on Twitter: @HollyyRL
Like her Facebook Page: Holly Rees-Lay- Rifle Shooter/ Biathlete

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I’ve been watching biathlon on TV with my mum from when I was very small and had always wanted to try it, and my family are all keen target rifle shooters (both my parents have shot for England, and my mum has shot for Great Britain). I wasn’t particularly interested in shooting until I was about 11 when mum convinced me that if I was going to be a biathlete I’d have to learn to shoot! (Not that she thought there was any chance I would ever go skiing or take up biathlon, she just wanted to trick me into learning to shoot). From there I improved fairly quickly and shot for the GB junior squad for the first time in Germany when I was 13, and I went on to compete all over the world with my last competition being the World University Games in Gwangju which turned out to be one of my best matches.

When I was 17, a small roller ski club started in a car park 35 minutes away, so I dragged my mum along with me, mostly because I really needed to lose weight and I didn’t want to run! I started doing roller ski races, although it took 2 races before I didn’t come last… and being super competitive I got completely hooked and knew I had to improve to try and win. I was lucky enough to get involved with the Cairngorm biathlon club when I was 18 and meet Mike Dixon, who persuaded me to go to the British Biathlon Championships in 2015. Despite having only had a week on snow beforehand and having never skied with a rifle before the first race I won 2 of the 3 youth races, at which point I decided to give it a more serious go!

How do you assess last season? You raced in the Junior World Cup. What was that like?

Last season was a really steep learning curve for me. Having only ever raced at British Championships I had no idea how I would perform against anyone else, but I was quite worried that I would be coming last in every race. Ultimately my only goal was to learn as much as I could, enjoy it, race my own races and see what happened. I found that my shooting is definitely competitive, even though I had expected myself to shoot a lot better, but my ski speed needs a lot of work, which I guess isn’t surprising seeing as I’m still really new to it. It was an amazing experience to see first hand how fast the top girls from the other countries are, and has definitely given me the motivation to improve and be more competitive in the coming years.

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

Probably the Individual in Lenzerheide. I had a bit of a cold and knew I wasn’t skiing particularly fast in training, which wasn’t exactly filling me with confidence prior to my first ever Junior World Cup! But I was feeling OK on the day and I really wanted to race so I did- I was so nervous I missed 3 on the first shoot, but somehow came back to hit all of the last 15 targets and skied the best I ever had at that point. I hadn’t seen the results but my mum rang me almost in tears to say well done and that I’d finished 60th out of 74. It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to anyone else but having had most of my race experience roller skiing around a car park in Oxfordshire it felt like a very big deal to me!

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

For me as a civilian in Great Britain, I think the hardest part is that there is no Junior squad or British training group for me to join, so I do sometimes feel very isolated training by myself. Last year I also struggled with organising my training- as I had next to no experience I often had to resort to googling how to organise training plans or ask anyone that could help me! Thankfully this year I am now getting a training plan and guidance through the British Nordic ski team, which is one less thing for me to worry about and I’m super grateful for. Lack of funding is also a problem for the team as a whole as well as myself, although I realise that it’s an issue in a lot of sports and I’m fortunate to have parents who are willing to do almost anything to support me when they see that I can’t support myself. There are also good things though- being a small team means that I’ve made some really close friends, and being the “little one” out of the British girls I feel like the older girls have really looked out for me and been a shoulder to cry on when races don’t go well, which has been really nice. Some of the ex GB biathletes have also been incredibly generous and I can’t thank them enough. And with Amanda doing so well it’s awesome to have someone who I can really look up to and aspire to be like.

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

Edinburgh University have been really supportive in making sure I can catch up on any work I miss, and I was very grateful to them for letting me take my winter exams in August as I was away racing in December. Obviously I have to make some sacrifices within my social life, but I have a great group of friends who are always really supportive even when I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. I’m also very lucky to live with my best friend, who competes on the World Cup for rifle shooting (and has recently been getting some awesome results), so totally gets it if I’m grouchy for no apparent reason and just want to lie in bed watching Made in Chelsea because I’m tired!

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

Freshers week…
(For my non-UK readers Freshers week is the week before you begin classes at University and involves a lot of parties and alcohol!)

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

Next season will be my first season as a senior so I’m hoping I’ll qualify for the IBU Cup team and then take it from there. I’m aiming to qualify for the World Cup in the next 3 years with my ultimate goal being to compete at the Winter Olympics.

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

My biggest strength is definitely the accuracy of my shooting, but I need to work on shooting faster and not losing so much time on the range. My biggest weaknesses are my ski speed and my (lack of) downhill technique, but I am now working with British Nordic so I am confident I can make big improvements leading up to next winter.

Do you have any hobbies away from biathlon?

I used to do figure skating when I was younger and I’ve been getting back into that recently which has been really fun! I’m also a big American football fan and support the Cincinnati Bengals (which can be a challenge in itself…) so I try and catch up on their games in the winter!

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

I loved racing in Lenzerheide, the area is stunning and I felt the tracks really suited me with long uphills but that weren’t too steep.

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

Johannes Boe, because he’s always exciting to watch race and you know he’ll give absolutely everything if he thinks he has a chance to win.

Does your rifle have a name?

Yes, it’s called Freddie.

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined, Stubborn, Caffeinated

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Czech Republic
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding, mostly because there never seems to be any wind to worry about!
Nicest biathlete: He’s retired but I’ve got to say Mike Dixon because without him I would never have had the confidence to give biathlon a go.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Getting to train and compete in incredible places I would never otherwise think to visit.

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Hanna Öberg: The Interview!

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Hanna Öberg is a Swedish biathlete who was born on the 2nd of November 1995 and currently lives in Östersund. She recently competed in the Youth/Junior World Championships in Cheile Gradistei where she won double gold in the Junior Women’s Sprint and Pursuit. She also won a silver medal in the Junior Women’s Relay with teammates Sofia Myhr and Anna Magnusson.She has raced on the IBU Cup this season in Idre.

You can follow her on Twitter: @hannaaaoberg
You can look at her website: http://www.hanna-oberg.se/

You won double gold in Cheile Gradistei. Can you describe how it
felt to win those medals?

After the first gold in the Sprint I was so happy and for so many reasons. I knew that with a good day both on the track and on the shooting range I could be fighting for a medal but a gold felt a little bit unbelievable. After the finish I cried a lot. All the hard work I have laid down it finally paid off. And of course it was huge for me to share the podium with Anna Magnusson(bronze), we have been friends for a long time and we come from the same small city in Sweden. We are good friends but also tough competitors.

To win the second gold in the Pursuit was just crazy too. To win one gold was more than I ever could imagine so to win the second gold was just unbelievable.

What do you remember about the races? Can you describe them?

Before the Sprint I was very nervous. I had a good feeling before the race and knew I had a good chance for a great result. The skiing felt solid on the first two laps and after zero misses in the prone I came in to the standing shooting with a little bit shaky legs. Actually I wasn’t so nervous on the range but with the legs starting to shake I took some extra breaths before firing the last shot. After leaving the range I got to know that I had a lead of 17-18 seconds before Anna and Lena Häcki. I went pretty hard on the first half of the last loop hoping to get some extra power at the end. I have heard of people getting energy they didn’t know they had when they are chasing medals. But it never came to me so the second half of the last loop was really hard. I was so tired after finishing the race and I only realized later that it was as tight as 0.6 seconds.

After the sprint I was satisfied and felt that I had nothing to lose in the Pursuit. Actually I would have been happy just to finish in the top ten. My body was really tired so I knew that I had to shoot well to hang on to the podium. And all of sudden I had shot zero three times and was coming in to the range in the lead and I liked the situation. It was so easy to shoot that day and without any nervousness I cleaned the targets again. This was the first time for me to shoot zero four times in a competition. Just the right day to do it on!

How did you prepare for the World Championships? Have you done any races on the IBU Cup for example?

I raced at the IBU Cup in Idre at the beginning of the season but after that it has just been a couple of races in the Swedish cup. Before the YJWCH I hadn’t raced at all for over a month. I was just focusing on training towards the Championships.

What are you plans for the rest of the season? What are your goals for
next year?

I will race at the European Championships in Tyumen and after that maybe the last IBU Cup but nothing is set yet. Next year is my first as a senior and then I hope I will race my first World Cup.

The Swedish Women’s team have had a difficult time in the last few years. You seem to be doing a lot better now as a team. What do you think has changed?

There have been some years with not so many of the junior girls taking the step up to a good senior level. There are not so many biathletes in Sweden. But now there are a lot of young girls my age who have been pretty much on the same level and this has pushed everyone of us to get even better. Furthermore the Swedish biathlon confederation took some of us younger girls into the A-team last year and this year with Wolfgang Pichler coming back as coach we have progressed a lot.

Why did you become a biathlete and why do you like the sport?

My father did biathlon when he was young but not at such a high level. In 2005 he and a couple more people started a biathlon club in my home town and so it was natural for me to start with biathlon. Since then it has been clear to me it is biathlon I want to do. I like the sport because of its complexity. It’s not just to ski fast or shoot clean. You have to ski well, shoot well and also to shoot pretty fast. It’s so much more exciting than just cross-country skiing.

Do you combine sport with your education or are you concentrating only
on biathlon at the present?

This year I have been taking some courses at the University alongside my training and competing. Mostly because of economic reasons but also because I think it’s good to have something else to focus on sometimes.

Does your rifle have a name?

Ha ha, no it doesn’t.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, Purposeful and positive.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Östersund
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Helena Ekholm and Magdalena Neuner
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Mass Start
Favourite/best race of your career so far?: The YJWCH Sprint in Romania.
Favourite food: Some good medium cooked meat with roast potatoes and mushroom sauce.
Favourite singer/band: Music isn’t quite my thing..
Favourite film: The Nicholas Sparks based films are really good!
Favourite sports team: I don’t really know.
Favourite TV show: I must sound really boring but I don’t watch so much TV.

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Scott Dixon: The Interview 2!!!

dixonint

Back by popular demand -well he is popular so I demanded it – it’s Scott Dixon! The 21-year-old Brit has made a few changes over the summer in his residence and his coaches and is looking forward to the new season. He kindly took some time before the season gets under way to tell us all about his training and his goals for the World Cup.

You can follow Scott’s progress on his Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete.

First and most importantly you turned 21 over the summer. Did you get any good presents? Did you celebrate with a wild party?

Well, I have never been much of a crazy party animal, but I was lucky enough to move to a beautiful location in France (Aix-Les-Bains) with my girlfriend. We are both able to train in the area as Katie competes in Figure Skating and there are good facilities in Annecy. I am able to train in La Féclaz which is a relatively new development and the set up there is of a very high standard.

You have 3 new coaches in France one of whom is Alexis Boeuf. What are they like as coaches and what have you learned from them?

I really like all of my coaches. They are all very helpful and have a lot of knowledge to share. It has been interesting for me to see how differently two great Biathlon nations operate and learn how two different approaches to training can be so effective.

You went to Corsica for the French Summer Roller Ski Championships. How did that go? I believe you were caught up in an accident there also – what happened?

I was training on the beautiful island of Corsica with my team and unfortunately, I was caught up in an accident. I was there to compete at the French National Summer Roller Ski championships. The Island is criss-crossed with great roads to explore on roller skis, and about 40 minutes into a 55km loop, a group of over 8 of us came quickly upon a very hard corner at 45kmph. The man who cycled the course the previous day had forgotten that the corner was that soon in the skate. There was no time to react and about six of us piled into the debris at the side of the road, including rocks. I lost a lot of skin! Two athletes were taken to hospital by ambulance and I was taken back to our accommodation to be bandaged up. I didn’t sleep much that night and racing was a nightmare two days later with a lot less skin left on my left leg!

Last year you had the very uncommon compartmental syndrome in the abdominal muscles and this summer a double pole machine fell on your head! Why do these things happen to you?!

Well the list of unfortunate things doesn’t stop at compartmental syndrome and hostile gym machines.

My list is disturbingly long. It has come to a point in my process as an athlete when I have to ask myself if these incidents have come around due to my own stupidity or lack of restraint in certain situations. I think there is an element of that, I must admit, but I also think I have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time a few times. On the other hand a lot of luck has come my way, and I tend to forget that in the face of all my bad luck. It’s generally how I confuse ‘sod’s law’ for just life as it comes in general.

You were also competing in Arcon against all the French Biathletes recently. How was that experience?

Arcon was interesting. I shot 80% which was slightly disappointing and I skied very slowly compared to my expectations. It was very soon after my injury so I was told not to see it as a negative and more as an experience. However, I couldn’t help feeling I had let myself down somehow. Any athlete can relate to this I am sure.

What are your goals for this season?

I am now hoping to maintain my World Cup qualifier by competing well on World cup instead of having to re-qualify on the IBU cup. I know I am capable of this as I did so twice at last year’s World Championships. The qualification points are harder to achieve with the new IBU points system, but I am hoping that with good improvement from last year I will be ready to achieve this goal.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

My main strength is my shooting. Last year I finished the season with an overall hit rate of 85% and managed to clear 20/20 and the next day 10/10 which is a clear personal best for me. My ski speed however is a big weakness. With so many setbacks, my progress is not where I hoped to see it at this point. If everything goes to plan in the coming months, I will see improvements in my ski speed. I will be working extremely hard to improve this aspect of my performance.

British Biathlon is looking for new sponsorship again. How will it affect you if it doesn’t get the funds it needs? Will you be able to go to the North American rounds for example?

I try to keep the issue out of my mind because there is very little I can do to affect it. I will not attend the races in North America due to this funding issue which is a shame, but it may also mean more time to get in good shape for the World Championships. So despite the clear negative there is a very clear positive I can take from it. I also believe with the passionate team that is the BBU that sponsorship will be found soon.

Lee Jackson and Kevin Kane have both retired. What affect will that have on the team and on you personally?


I was sad to see them both retire. Kevin was somewhat of a mentor for me in my first few years, keeping me under control and trying to pare down some of my typical teenage bad habits. So now at 21 I feel a bit old for my age, when new guys are selected for the team and I find myself pointing out things that I was guilty of not so long ago (mainly Biathlon related as I am still an ”admin case” around the house). Jackson is now working closely with the IBU cup team and is still very much in the system. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him race again. That applies for both of them in fact, as we don’t have enough people qualified for a relay without them.

Will we see you and Amanda Lightfoot in the Single Mixed Relay this season? They are on the same day as the Mixed Relays again but you two could do really well in it I think.

Sadly not this season, unless attending North America becomes an option, as that is the only remaining Single mixed relay this season. However, I believe that this is the event of the future for Amanda and me. Is a podium possible in the future? I don’t see why not!

We know you are a bit of a biathlon geek! Do you have any predictions for who you think will do well this season and maybe a younger biathlete we should be keeping our eye on?

Of course I am, like everyone I know who started watching casually and fell in love with the sport. I have a strong suspicion that Simon Schempp will be the Overall World Cup winner this year. I believe that Jean-Guillaume Beatrix will win a pursuit or mass start competition this season, and hopefully more than one. Andrejs Rastorgujevs will be one of the fastest on the track over the whole season with a podium finish and Tarjei Bø will be top three in the Overall World Cup rankings at the end of the season. Keep an eye on Fabien Claude, he is extremely fast, just a bit older than me and more consistent in his shooting. He will be one of the top names on World Cup in the coming years. Look out for Justine Braisaz (also French) for the women. With several World Cup starts already she has a big future ahead of her I think.

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I love Lucy!

glanville

Even as the youngest female competitor at the Sochi Olympics and only the third Australian woman ever to represent her country at the Games Lucy Glanville is probably still not a name people are very familiar with. Australia isn’t the first country that springs to mind when you think of biathlon but it actually has a thriving scene. Obviously with the weather they have it’s hard to convince people to take up a winter sport but they do get snow especially in the ironically named “Hotham”.

Lucy is one of a small band of Australians making a name for themselves in biathlon. Along with Alex Almoukov, Dyllan Harmer and Daniel Walker they are doing a great job representing a country that is not a typical winter sports competitor. The Australians are sports mad though and you know no matter what the sport they will always give it their all.

Lucy was born on the 16th of October 1994 and currently lives in Sydney where she is studying a degree in Art History at Macquarie University majoring in Russian studies. She is a clever one that Glanville as she spends a lot of time in Russia, as that is where the team trains in the summer, so she can combine biathlon and her education.

She was the first female biathlete from Australia to go to an Olympics since Nagano 1998. So you can see how hard it is for Australians to compete in biathlon but also how well Lucy is doing to have qualified aged only 19. Her best finish in Sochi was 78th in the Individual and she came 82nd in the Sprint. She has also competed at 2 Senior World Championships in Nove Mesto and Ruhpolding as well as in the Youth/Junior World Championships.

So as the new season approaches what might we see from Lucy this year. Well like all of the smaller biathlon nations funding is hard to come by and it’s especially important for Australians. Travel and accomodation eats up a lot of their money as they have to stay in Europe for an extended period to compete. It’s not like they can pop home for the weekend! Like many others Lucy will probably spend her time between the IBU Cup and the World Cup. Hopefully she can make more appearances on the World Cup and can improve on her best finish of 78th from Sochi.

A push into the TOP 60 would be excellent progress for the youngster and some better results on the IBU cup are achievable. Mostly it is gaining experience that will help her in the future and an appearance at the World Championships in Kontiolahti can only add to this. She is of course still eligible for the Junior World Championships and will be looking to do well in Raubichi, Belarus. Speaking of young biathletes there are a couple of other girls from Australia, Sabrina Howell and Gabriele Hawkins, who in the future might give Australia the chance to compete in the relays and give Lucy a chance to enter more races.

Continual improvement is all that we want to see from Lucy in the up coming season. It’s a difficult sport and it’s fiercely competitive but she has the talent and determination to do well. You have to respect her for coming to Europe to compete and it also means she can add a few dollars to her lessons(being a professional biathlete!) as she is also a qualified cross-country ski coach! So if you Aussies want a lesson or two you know who to ask! For Lucy it will be another tough season but she is doing a great job which is why I love Lucy and you should too!:-)

Have a look at Lucy’s website: http://lucyglanville.com.au/

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C’Mon-a Brorsson!

brorsson

The Swedish women’s team have had a pretty hard time of late. They didn’t perform well on the World Cup and they didn’t even take a team to Sochi for the Winter Olympics. Since the retirements of Helena Ekholm and Magdalena Forsberg they have been struggling to bring through new talent of the same calibre. It wasn’t all doom and gloom however as we saw in the European Championships in Nove Mesto.

Mona Brorsson took gold in the Pursuit race to put a smile back on Swedish faces. She did in in some style too coming from a 12th place start to beat Victoria Padial into second place. It was the highlight of a fine season for Mona on the IBU Cup and she also claimed her first ever World Cup point back in her home race in Oestersund taking 40th place in the Individual. She was able to build on her success from the previous winter when she enjoyed a great IBU Cup season, made her debut in the World Cup and also won a bronze medal in the CISM World Military Winter Games in the patrol.

Born on the 28th of March 1990 Mona comes from Koppomsvägen in Värmland, Sweden. She studied at biathlon college in Torsby and then went on university in Oestersund where she still lives and trains. She currently competes for Finnskoga IF after spending 12 years with her local club Beteds SKF. Mona started out as a cross country skier like many biathletes but saw sense and picked up a rifle at age 10 to begin her road to becoming a professional biathlete.

Mona has had a great couple of years as her results show. There will probably be a bit more pressure on her shoulders in the coming season however as Sweden looks to improve the performance of its women’s team. The whole team will be under scrutiny with the retirements of Bjorn Ferry and Carl Johan Bergman and the wish of national coach Johan Hagstrom to deliver at least one medal at each of the World Championships leading up to Pyeongyang 2018. The main target being for the team to win medals there and obviously for the women’s team to prove they are deemed good enough to go next time.

As a member of the development team geared toward winning medals in Pyeongyang Mona still has a lot of work to do but fortunately she also has time on her side. At 24 she still has 4 years until the next games and can gain a lot of valuable experience from the World Cup and World Championships. She has been named in the A team for this year along with Hanna Öberg, Sofia Myhr and Anna Magnusson. As the eldest member of the team a lot will be expected of her.

So what can we hope for from Mona come December and the start of the new season? Well adding to her 1 World Cup point should be her first target. Some good solid TOP 40 finishes would be a great way to build her confidence on a bigger stage. Forming a good relay team with the other Swedish women is of great importance too and also getting into the Mixed Relay team with the likes of Freddie Lindstroem and Tobias Arwidson can only help her improve. Most importantly she needs to continue to enjoy biathlon and help the Swedish ladies get back on track! You can do it! C’Mon-a Brorsson!

Follow Mona on Twitter: @monabrorsson

Like ‘Mona Brorsson’ on Facebook!

Read Mona’s blog (in Swedish): http://monabrorsson.weebly.com/

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Vamos Victoria!

padial

Having visited the beautiful Andalusian city of Granada, Spain it’s not the kind of place you would imagine as the home of a biathlete. But that’s exactly what it is. Granada is the home to Spain’s first Olympic biathlete Victoria Padial Hernandez. The 25 year old has been cross country skiing from a young age and took up the sport of biathlon in 2007.

In her first 3 years of competing she managed to qualify for the IBU Cup, the World Cup and also the Vancouver Olympic Games. A pretty meteoric rise considering that she has done it all with only the assistance of her coach, family and sponsors without any funding or help from Spain’s funding bodies. A common occurrence in fact from athletes who are not from traditional winter sports countries.

Despite this she has put in some very good performances on the World Cup. Her best result came in Sochi where she finished 40th in the Individual event – a good sign for the forthcoming Olympics. She also finished 44th in the Oberhof Sprint and 45th in the same event at the World Championships in Nove Mesto. A 47th in Holmenkollen and 49th in Oberhof were her best results in the Pursuit.

This summer seems to have gone well for Victoria as she achieved an excellent bronze medal in the Summer World Championships held in Italy. She finished a creditable 8th in the Sprint and turned that into 3rd in the Pursuit. Hopefully these results will translate onto the snow and she will be able to break in to the Top 40 on a regular basis.

Victoria had a pretty consistent season last year finishing regularly from around 40th to 60th position. She needs to improve on her standing shoot but she has plenty of time to do this and the more experience she gains through the World Cup and Olympics the better she will get. Her summer experience should help her in this and maybe the fact that this is an Olympic year. Seasons that contain an Olympic Games can often throw up some unusual results as the top athletes can take their eye of the ball a little to concentrate on the Games. If Padial can take advantage of this and continue her great progression we may see her in the Top 30 and she can show the Spanish authorities what they are missing.

Vamos Victoria!

For more information about Victoria in English and Spanish check out her website:
http://victoriapadial.es/
She has a calendar out now!
She is also on Facebook and Twitter and also has her own channel on Youtube! Where she gets time to train for biathlon with all these social media committments I do not know!;-)

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