Tag Archives: IBU

Spring Things 2019!

It’s summer! Not a biathlon fans favourite season is it? But it means there is only autumn between now and winter! Before the biathlon23 summer season of interviews starts it’s time to remind you what things happened in spring. That’s right -it’s Spring Things!!!

Retirements:

Well we all got a shock in May when Laura Dahlmeier announced her retirement at the age of 25! (How dare she!!) It was pretty well known that she wouldn’t be a Bjoerndalen and carry on forever but we thought we could get another Olympics out of her at least! Gabriela Koukalova who hasn’t raced for 2 seasons confirmed that she won’t be coming back and so is another biathlon pensioner!

Other retirements in spring included Henrik L’Abee Lund who joins Bjoerndalen and Svendsen in putting his feet up on the Norwegian sofa. Canada’s Erin Yungblut also ended her career as did Finland’s Laura Toivanen.

Relationships:

It was a spring of weddings this year with Eva Puskarcikova tying the knot. Russian pair Nikita Porshnev and Anastasiia Morozova also got married to each other. Monika Hojnisz married another Polish nordic star cross-country skier Maciej Starega.

Anais Chevalier will miss the season after she announced that she is pregnant with her first child. Congratulations to all of them!

In tragic news young Russian biathlete Artemii Khasankaev passed away.

Coaching carousel:

As usual we had the annual swapping of biathlon coaches. Sometimes I think they just put all the names in a hat and then the countries pick them out like a raffle!

Michael Greis left the US men’s team and is now coaching the Polish women’s team after Nadiya Bilova stepped down for health reasons. Norwegian Vegard Bitnes takes over the US men’s team.

Also in North America Mathias Ahrens is no longer coaching the Canadian national team but will coach for Biathlon Alberta.

Wolfgang Pichler retired from Sweden and was replaced by Anders Byström who will be the National Team Manager and Johannes Lukas who takes over the position of National Team Coach.

Russia have added another coach with the appointment of Maxim Maksimov as assistant to the head coach.

Simon Fourcade is the new coach of the French Junior team.

And if you have followed all that you deserve a medal! Not an Olympic one of course maybe just a bronze from a World Cup round! 😉

Injuries:

The bike strikes again this time with Erik Lesser falling off and breaking his collarbone. Vetle Christiansen had surgery to correct an issue with his left knee. Anna Magnusson also had an operation on a ligament in her left hand. Tiril Eckhoff had a rollerski accident ending with an enormous lump on her hip.

Other things of spring:

Martin Fourcade announced that he will be hosting a nordic festival over the weekend of the 31st of August in Annecy. He has ingeniously called it the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival! How did he come up with that! 😉
Most of the big stars in biathlon will be there including Johannes Boe! Imagine if he beats Fourcade in his own competition!!!

Kaisa Makarainen, Liza Vittozzi and Dorothea Wierer will be competing along with many of the French biathletes amongst others.

We also had the excitement of the Giro d’Italia finishing a stage in the Antholz biathlon arena watched on by all the Italian biathletes. It was nice to see but we don’t really want to encourage other sports that are not as good as biathlon, do we!

Dorothea Wierer also put in an appearance at the Moto GP race in Mugello getting a photo with some guy called Marquez. Better still she also got a photo with Herbert Cool the former Dutch biathlete and now biathlon commentator who is moonlighting at the Moto GP in the summer!

The IBU announced a few changes with prize money now being awarded to the top 20 finishers instead of the top 15. Why stop there? Shouldn’t it be the Top 40 – if you get a point, you get a prize!

They have also introduced a “season opening” to open the 2020/21 season in Kontiolahti. (They get their naming ideas from Martin Fourcade!) I think this is basically just an extra World Cup round that they can’t call World Cup 1 as Oestersund was already given the title!

The IBU also held a gender equality conference in Poland which is an excellent initiative. Biathlon is one of the most gender equal sports when it comes to the athletes but has a long way to go with a lack of female coaches and women in leadership positions.

Last but certainly not least the IPC have announced that Para-biathlon will have it’s own World Championship this season for the first time! They will take place in Oestersund from the 11th to 15th March 2020 without a cross-country skier in sight!!!
(Up until now cross-country and biathlon have had combined World Championships.)

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My Big Biathlon Questions!

I have been thinking, which is both unusual and dangerous! I have come up with some questions about biathlon mainly because certain people have failed to respond to their biathlon23 interview request so I had to write something!

How will the Olympic quotas change for Beijing 2022?

You may have heard that the IOC are cutting 20 places from biathlon at the Olympics. This is supposed to be a cost cutting exercise to reduce the money spent by host cities. It will save about 10 pence! The big costs of hosting the Olympics is paying for new infrastructure like stadiums, venues and road and rail transport. Surely they should be increasing the number of athletes not decreasing it.

They are keen to increase gender equality which is a good thing but biathlon is probably one of the most gender equal sports with the same amount of races for men and women and a mixed event. So that makes no sense either!

Unfortunately for them it now falls to the IBU to decide where the cuts will have to be made. I don’t think it will be China that loses any athletes as they are the host nation. Will they cut biathletes from the top ranked nations like Norway, Germany and France? Will they cut biathletes from the smaller nations who only send one or two competitors like Great Britain?

My guess is the axe will probably fall in the middle somewhere. Who knows? I am glad I don’t have to decide.

Why did the IOC reject the Single Mixed Relay as a new Olympic event?

The IOC has approved new Mixed events in freestyle skiing, ski jumping, skating and snowboarding to promote gender balance in the Games. However they rejected the Single Mixed Relay. This is rubbish! It means the small nations will not get a chance to race in a Relay at all. It is an exciting race and shorter than the Mixed Relay and is good for TV.

I mean why do they even have other sports in the Olympics anyway. It should be a biathlon only event! ( Well I may also allow curling!) 😉

Why is the skiing distance different for men and women?

I am sure the eagle eyed among you have noticed that the male biathletes ski further than the women in every race. For example in the Sprint the men do 10km while the women do 7.5km. I have never understood this. The women can ski as far as the men. Sure it might take them longer but they are not racing each other. The women race the women so why the shorter distance? I imagine it’s because in olden times the poor ladies were not deemed strong enough to ski so far!!! In athletics everyone runs 10km or 5km, there is no difference. The men and women receive equal prize money so surely they should ski the same distances! It could either mean shortening the men’s races or lengthening the women’s races but it’s something to think about.

Why are the Mixed Relays always women first and then the men?

Again why do we have woman, woman, man, man (WWMM) in the Mixed Relay and woman, man (WM) in the Single Mixed? Why can’t the men start for a change? Or why don’t we have WMWM or MWMW or even MMWW? And like before why do they have to ski different distances?
In swimming they have Mixed Relays and each team selects when the men or the women race so you have situations where the men and women are racing each other. It’s really exciting and interesting. Imagine we could have Laura Dahlmeier racing Martin Fourcade! The differences would balance out as everyone has to race two men and two women but the teams decide the order independently of each other. Just think Johannes Boe versus Kaisa Makarainen!

I told you it was dangerous when I think! Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it nice please! And if you have any burning biathlon questions throw them out there too! 🙂

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Spring Things 2018!

Spring was depressing, wasn’t it! It started off with the raid at IBU HQ in Salzburg. The President of the IBU Anders Besseburg and the General Secretary Nicole Resch are both under investigation by the Austrian police for covering up positive doping samples from Russian biathletes. At the time of writing no charges have been brought against either party but both stepped down from their positions while the investigation is on going. Both deny any wrong doing.

Then we had all the retirements to deal with! The legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finally called it a day although I think he made the decision at rifle point as he seemed a bit reluctant to retire! We won’t get rid off him though, he will be coaching or commentating next season I am sure. 🙂

It was not a surprise when his teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen also gave up the sport. He made no secret of the fact that he would go after the Olympics. I know what you are thinking – whose hair will I admire now? Well I take a keen interest in Sebastian Samuelsson’s coiffure but actually I have found someone with even better hair than Emil! Step forward German para- biathlete Steffen Lehmker! 🙂

Jean Guillaume Beatrix has gone too. Very sad to see a biathlon23 interviewee finish their career mainly because it is not allowed! Americans Tim Burke and Lowell Bailey also hung up their rifles along with Russell Currier leaving a lot of space to fill on the men’s team. Jaroslav Soukup and Daniel Mesotitsch retired too. Florian Graf quit and in a bit of a shock so did Canada’s Macx Davies! No!

On the women’s side we said goodbye to a lot of mums! Marie Dorin Habert, Karin Oberhofer and Weronika Nowakowska all stopped racing. All three women have young children so that may have come into their decisions. Then at the end of June Darya Domracheva decided that she would also retire wanting to focus on her child too. This followed the announcement from Nadezhda Skardino at the start of June that she was ending her career thus decimating the Belarus Olympic gold medal Relay team!

Eva Tofalvi, Hilde Fenne, Coline Varcin and Olga Podchufarova also gave up biathlon. And we lost another biathlon23 interviewee in Julia Ransom. 😦

Miriam Goessner has changed sports to go to cross country skiing. Her back problems meant she had trouble carrying the rifle and her aim meant she had trouble hitting the targets! 😉 Good luck Miri!

Gabriela Koukalova will not race again this season and possibly not ever again. She seems to have fallen out of love with biathlon! How could she?!! She also has an autobiography out which has already caused a bit of controversy. Think the fame may have gone to her head a bit! 😉

In other news Mario Dolder got married and Selina Gasparin is pregnant with her second child in exciting times for the Swiss. Not with each other though just to be clear!

Jakov Fak got married too and Ondrej Moravec had a little boy called Ondrej. Again not with each other!

Nadezhda Pisareva also married Russian ski technician Andrey Shatokin. Johannes Boe will be married on the 30th of June and Marte Olsbu and Mari Laukkanen will also get married this summer. You guessed it – not to each other! 😉

My postman assures me that he didn’t lose my wedding invitations so I have no idea what has happened to them!!!

In less exciting news Simon Schempp broke his shoulder in a bike accident and Dzinara Alimbakava had surgery on her shoulder. Florent Claude had a operation for compartment syndrome in his shins and Anton Shipulin has mononucleosis.

Finally we had the coaching merry-go-round! I don’t think so many changes have been made in the Spring before! Take a deep breath, possibly grab a snack and a drink – follow this if you can!

USA:
The Americans lost both their coaches this Spring. The women’s coach Jonne Kähkönen went back to the Finnish women’s team and the men’s coach Jonas Johansson went back to Sweden as Development Coach. They were replaced by Michael Greis (Men) and Armin Auchentaller (Women). They now have Tim Burke as athlete development manager. He didn’t stay away for long, did he!!!

France:
The French team made big changes with the appointments of Vincent Vittoz, a former cross-country skier, and Patrick Favre from the Italian team taking over as the men’s coaches. Coaching the French women will be Fredric Jean and Vincent Porret.

Norway:
The coaches for the women’s team have changed. Patrick Oberegger moves from the Italian team and ex-cross country skier Sverre Kaas will take care of the skiing.

Germany:
Germany have gone for youth with their new coaches all in their 30’s. Mark Kirchner is now head of the German men and women with Gerald Honig as German national shooting coach. Kristian Mehringer is the Senior Women’s coach with Florian Steirer as his assistant. Isidor Scheurl is the new men’s assistant coach.

Poland:
Nadija Belova is the new Polish women’s head coach taking over from Tobias Torgersen.

Italy:
Andreas Zingerle is the new World Cup and Elite Team coach. He will be assisted by Andrea Zattoni while Klaus Hoellrigl and Nicola Pozzi will coach the A team. Olympic gold medallist in shooting without skiing (apparently that’s a thing!) Niccolò Campriani will be shooting coach for all the Italian biathletes.

Russia:

New RBU president Vladimir Drachev has appointed Anatoly Khovantsev as the new head coach. He will take the men’s team with Sergei Idinov assisting him. Vitaly Noritsyn is the women’s coach with assistant Sergei Bashkirov.

Czech Republic:
Norwegian Egil Gjelland is the new coach of the women’s team. The former coach of Norway’s men will be joined by Jiří Holubec and Tomáš Kašpar. Zdeněk Vitek moves from the women’s team to coach the men with another Norwegian Anders Bratli assisting him as well as Aleš Ligaun.

Austria:
The Austrian men’s team will be coached by Ricco Gross after he left his job with the Russian men’s team.

Ukraine:
Andrei Prokunin will take over as the new Women’s Coach for Ukraine. Uros Velepec will most likely return to coach Slovenia.

Switzerland:
The new women’s head coach is Austrian Sandra Flunger who happens to be Simon Eder’s cousin!

If you have made it this far I congratulate you and encourage you to consider climbing Everest – it’s a similar feat! 😉

I imagine I have forgotten some retirements, events or coaching changes but there is a lot going on!


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Meldonium Madness!

melodium

Just to be clear before you start reading the main article Biathlon23 writes clean! Unless WADA have added alcohol and chocolate to the banned list! 😉

Meldonium, not to be confused with a melodium which is a musical instrument, is the latest drug to be banned by WADA. The World Anti-Doping Agency decided to ban it in September 2015 and it was officially added to the list on the 1st of January 2016. After which date athletes from many sports tested positive for its use. Biathlon was affected significantly with 4 biathletes having positive tests for the drug.

What exactly is Meldonium and why was it only banned this year? The drug which is also known as mildronate is principally used to treat ischaemia. Ischaemia, for those of you who aren’t doctors, is a lack of blood flow to parts of the body including the heart. Therefore Meldonium is often taken to treat angina or heart failure. As we have seen with the most famous case involving Maria Sharapova people have been taking it for a long time, in her case over 10 years. WADA had been monitoring the drug for a year before taking the decision to ban it.

The drug itself was made in Latvia and is available across the Baltic counties and Russia. It was originally intended for animals! It is not approved for use in Europe or America. You may be surprised at the amount of athletes across so many sports who are able to compete at such a high level with angina and heart failure but it turns out that’s probably not what they are taking it for! The fact that it increases blood flow around the body means that if an athlete is taking it they can improve their exercise capacity. That means they can train more and recover quicker. A distinct advantage over other athletes.

The reason that WADA decided to look into the use of Meldonium was because they were finding it so frequently in athletes samples and so began to monitor it. In biathlon the first to be found with a positive sample was Artem Tyshchenko from the Ukraine. He was followed by fellow Ukrainian Olga Abramova, then Russia’s Eduard Laytpov and finally by Romania’s Eva Tofalvi.

You would imagine that is the end of the story. They got caught, they get banned and we move on. Not so in this case as we have had athletes claiming that they stopped taking the drug before the 1st of January therefore breaking no rules. It all comes down to how long the drug remains in your system after you have stopped taking it.

WADA have stated that “cases where the concentration is below 1 µg/ml and the test was taken before the 1st of March 2016 are compatible with an intake prior to January 2016.” This has led to the lifting of the provisional suspension of both Tyshchenko and Latypov as this applied to both of their positive tests. However they are still required to explain why the substance was found in their samples.

In general the IBU seem to be doing a decent job in testing and finding possible cheats. Other winter sports have hardly found any cases of Meldonium use. Cross-country, alpine, snowboarding and all the others haven’t found many, if any, positive cases of Meldonium use. This suggests that either these other winter sportspeople are clean or much more likely they just aren’t getting caught.

Unfortunately sport is always going to be plagued by cheats. As long as they are caught and punished that helps me to believe that the vast majority of biathletes compete clean. It is getting harder and harder for us poor spectators to trust sportspeople nowadays though. With more money and rewards everything becomes about winning so maybe they would do well to remember that sport is not only about success. It’s about fun, being healthly, self improvement, setting a good example for others, learning skills and did I mention fun! Not everyone can win, even cheats will lose to other cheats. So maybe just try and enjoy your sport because it’s really not worth risking your health and career taking some random drug that might help you win but probably won’t! Even if it does help you deep down you know your success is undeserved. So please stop the MADNESS – Meldonium or any other performance enhancing drug!!!

Biathlon23 would like to point out that although not currently on the WADA banned list, the use of a melodium is not recommended as a way to make you into a better biathlete! 😉

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