Tag Archives: Individual

Like father like Arwid-son!

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With his hometown in Lima, Peruvian biathlete Tobias Arwidson now races for Sweden. Not really I am just messing with you!!! It turns out there is in fact a place called Lima in Sweden too. Tobias was actually born in Mora, Sweden on the 7th of June 1988 but grew up in Lima in Dalarna County in the west of Sweden. He is the son of double Olympic bronze medal winner Lars-Göran Arwidson and currently lives in Oestersund which as it happens is also in Sweden! (I bet he hasn’t even been to Peru!)

Following in his father footsteps Tobias took part in his first Olympic Games this year in Sochi. His Dad actually represented Sweden (not Peru!) in 3 Olympic Games in 1968, 1972 and 1976. In 1968 in Grenoble, he won a bronze medal with the Swedish relay team in the 4 x 7.5 km relay and in 1972 in Sapporo, he won a bronze medal in the 20km Individual. Tobias is also a medal winner although unfortunately for him not in the Olympics –yet! He won a silver medal in the European Championships in 2013 in the Individual event in Bansko, Bulgaria.

Tobias warmed up for the Games by achieving his two best ever results on the World Cup. Firstly in Oestersund in his home race he was 22nd in the Individual and then in Ruhpolding he came 17th also in the 20km Individual. (Anyone would think he and his Dad like that event!!) His previous best results were all outside the TOP 30. He was also part of the Swedish Men’s Relay team who came second in Antholz, together with Bjorn Ferry, Carl Johan Bergman and Fredrik Lindstrom.

In Sochi he finished an impressive 28th in the Pursuit, from a start number of 42 where he finished in the Sprint, beating his more experienced colleagues Bergman and Ferry. In the Individual he came 41st but the Swedish Men’s relay team couldn’t repeat their podium in Sochi and they finished 10th. I think Tobias gets his best results from the Individual events because he is an excellent shot. At the Olympics he only missed 2 shots in 4 races. If he can increase his ski speed (which is easier said than done I know) it could propel him into the TOP 20 more often and I am sure he will be appearing inside the TOP 10 soon! Unfortunately it won’t be this season as he is too sick to race in Oslo but hopefully he will back fit and illness free next season!

So even though he is not actually from Peru I am sure all the residents of Lima and his Dad are proud of his achievements so far. He is still just 25 years old so has the potential to compete in 2 more Olympic Games and maybe he could win something in those. After all he is like father like Arwid-son!

If you follow any biathlete on Twitter make it Tobias! He has a keen eye for comedy!:-)

Check out his website too:
http://www.tobiasarwidson.com/


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Solo Soulié!

soulie

What a season Laure Soulié has been having! In Ruhpolding she achieved her two best results ever on the World Cup finishing 22nd in the Pursuit and an incredible 9th in the Individual. These result also meant she qualified for the Olympics in Sochi. It seems that being Andorran is working out better than being French for Soulie.

Born in Andorra la Vella in Andorra on the 28th of April 1987, Laure originally competed for France through her French mother. This was mainly due to the fact that there was no Andorran biathlon team to compete for at the time. She studied Sports studies in the French Alps and went on to win a bronze medal for France in the Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle in 2006.To this day her best friends remain from the French team, Marie-Laure Brunet and Marine Boillet. She is also lucky enough to be able to continue training with the French women’s top team.

However in she was offered the chance by her home country Andorra to compete for them and so became their only biathlete. An easy decision to make but maybe a difficult one to live with. We all know the struggles that small nations can have in terms of funding and facilities and so it is not as easy as it might have been to stay with France who have more athletes, coaches and sponsors to work with.

It seems so far that this decision has paid off. A fantastic season this year has seen Laure claim her first ever Top 10 result which is a big step up for an athlete whose previous best result was 26th and most of her other finishes were outside the TOP 30. It isn’t an easy feat in biathlon to make it into the Top 10 especially if you are the only biathlete from your country. Hopefully these performances will inspire the young people of Andorra to become more involved in the sport. After her qualification for the Sochi Olympics they definitely have a great role model to look up to.

She also had a great role model as her brother Francois Soulie represented Andorra in the Olympics in cross country skiing. Her Olympics however didn’t go as well as her form suggested they might. She finished 67th in the Sprint in Sochi and 48th in the Individual.
She has done remarkably well though because it’s difficult to be your country’s sole representative. She is lucky to still enjoy the support of the French team but she has proved that it’s not so bad being Solo Soulie!

You can follow Laure on Facebook.

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Sochi Individually and Collectively!

dashasochi

Well I asked in my last post if anyone could beat Fourcade and Domracheva in the Individual races and the answer was a pretty emphatic NO!Both of them performed magnificently and even managed to win by clear margins while hitting 19/20 and while others around them shot clear. Their ski speed is a huge factor for both but for Dasha in particular her shooting has come good at exactly the right time.

Germany finally showed up and Erik Lesser took silver in the Individual going someway to make up for his grandfather losing out on an Olympic medal when he crashed into a spectator. In third was birthday boy Evgeniy Garanichev who turned 26, won a bronze medal and did it all from bib 1! A great display as you have no idea how any of the field are doing behind you and no time references. Other men who did well were Lowell Bailey who finished 8th the highest an American has achieved in this event and also Alex Almoukov who did the same for Australia finishing 45th.

Selina Gasparin won silver in the women’s race to add to the amazing season she has already been having with a clear shoot and pipped Nadezhda Skardino into bronze. The Belarus biathlete made it a great day for her country by getting on the podium along with Domracheva. Other biathletes who had a good race were Anais Bescond who finished 5th and Veronika Vitkova who was 6th.

So after the Individual race we went on to the collective races with the Men’s and Women’s Mass Starts. Well we tried anyway. The Men’s race was postponed about a million times because of fog but the Women’s went off without any problems. Well one big problem actually for all the biathletes who aren’t Darya Domracheva! She took her third gold in a row in imperious style beating Gabriela Soukalova into second. Bronze was won by Tiril Eckhoff who just pipped Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle in the final straight. Others like Anais Bescond 5th, Monika Hojnisz 6th, Susuan Dunklee 12th and Karin Oberhofer 14th continued their excellent form so far in these Games.

The Men’s race finally got underway on Tuesday instead of Sunday! Luckily we got what we have all been waiting for since the Games started, another titanic battle between Svendsen and Fourcade like last year in Nove Mesto. The outcome was the same too with Svendsen winning by centimetres! It was a gutsy performance from Emil who hasn’t had quite the Olympics he was hoping for but I am sure today made up for it. For Martin it’s an historic three medals and in third another outstanding race from Ondrej Moravec gave him his second medal this time bronze. Brendan Green and JP Le Guellec did Canada proud finishing 9th and 10th and Matej Kazar did an amazing job to qualify for the Mass Start and finished a highly creditable 15th.

So it’s on to the real collective races tomorrow with the Mixed Relay, then the Women on Friday and the Men on Saturday, weather permitting of course! All the medals have been won strong>individually and it’s now down to the teams to see who can take them collectively!

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Sochi so far: Biathlon Royalty!

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Phew! A rest day for biathlon today and just in time for me to calm down a bit from my ridiculous over excitement and keep you up to date with what’s been happening. We have had 4 races so far – 2 Sprints and 2 Pursuits. Unless you have been on a trip to the moon or deep under the ocean you will have heard by now that the King of Biathlon Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won the Men’s Sprint race on Saturday. His highness claimed his 12th Olympic medal and equalled the record of his fellow countryman Bjorn Daehlie. The Women’s Sprint was won by Queen Kuzmina who successfully defended her Olympic title from Vancouver.

The Prince and Princess of Pursuit were Martin Fourcade and Darya Domracheva who both showed amazing ski speed and backed it up with highly accurate marksmanship to take their first ever gold medals. The other medallists so far have been Dominik Landertinger and Jaroslav Soukup who took silver and bronze in the Sprint. Soukup’s achievement was all the more amazing after recovering from an arm injury that doctor’s thought might mean he would never ski competitively again. Well he showed them!

In the Women’s Sprint silver and bronze went to Olga Vilukhina, who pleased the home crowd, and Vita Semerenko. The other Pursuit medals went to Ondrej Moravec and Jean Guilliame Beatrix and for the women Tora Berger and Teja Gregorin who won Slovenia’s first ever medal in Olympic biathlon.

The Czech Republic are having a great games so far with 2 medals for the men in 2 races and are looking very good to win more in the relays. Gabriela Soukalova looks back on form in the Pursuit coming from 29th to finish 4th. France have also done well again with 2 medals from 2 races and a very good Pursuit performance from young Simon Destheiux who went from 46th to 21st. They will be difficult to beat in the Men’s Relay.

On the other hand Norway’s Crown Princes, Svendsen and the Boe brothers, have been a little bit off the pace. They haven’t raced competitively since Ruhpolding but will no doubt come in to form for the latter races. The German team haven’t performed very well either with the exception of Schempp but will still be in with a chance especially in the relays.

The Olympics can bring out the best in people. Even thought they might not win a medal for it some of the biathletes have been performing really well. JP Le Guellec finished 5th in the Sprint an improvement on 6th place in Vancouver and he was leading the Pursuit race up until his unfortunate fall on that treacherous corner. Tobias Arwidson of Sweden outperformed his much more experienced countrymen Ferry and Bergman by being one of only two men to shoot clear in the Pursuit – the other being silver medallist Moravec. You also have to feel for Anton Shipulin who came so close to a medal in the Sprint at his home games. Hopefully he will get something from the remaining races.

For the women Karin Oberhofer and Dorothea Weirer of Italy did exceptionally well in the Sprint finishing 4th and 6th. Anais Bescond had a great race finishing in 5th and Switzerland’s Elisa Gasparin finished 8th beating her big sister Selina. In the Pursuit Ann Kristin Flatland made up a lot of places finishing 9th from a start bib of 24 and Olga Zaitseva showed some encouraging form coming from 28th to finish 11th. Sunsan Dunklee has also been breaking all kinds of US records finishing 14th in the Sprint and 18th in the Pursuit.

Tomorrow is the Men’s Individual and then it’s the Women’s turn on Friday. I am not even going to try and predict any medallists as it’s a difficult one to call with the 1 minute penalty per missed target. The gold medals in Sochi so far have been dominated by biathlon’s royalty but can anyone beat them in the next races? You will just have to watch and see!

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LEHT’s go KADRI!

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Estonia has only been a country in its current form since 1993. It has a population of around 1.3 million, one of the least-populous in the EU, and yet it is producing some quality biathletes. Kadri Lehtla is one of these.

Born in Tallinn on the 3rd of May 1985 she has been competing in biathlon since 2006. She has managed to break into the TOP 30 at least once every single year since 2007 which is an amazing feat in itself and she finished 18th in the Pursuit in Kontiolahti in the 2011/12 season. Already an Olympic athlete she achieved some respectable results in Vancouver finishing 18th in the 4×6 km relay, 45th in the 15 km individual and 64th in the 7.5 km sprint.

This summer she has spent time training in Estonia, Finland and Austria. She trained alone away from the rest of the Estonian team in Obertilliach to help her prepare for Sochi. Estonia is not a very mountainous country, it can be described as hilly at best, so it is important to do some training at higher altitudes. Kadri suffered a minor setback with her rifle this summer when she got it caught under her rollerskis and snapped a piece off. Fortunately she has a very handy brother who stuck it back on with glue and tape so she could carry on shooting!

Kadri’s big goal for this season is to break into the TOP 10 and obviously to perform well in Sochi. She needs to improve by around 10-15 places to achieve this and it will be difficult considering the competition but she definitely has the potential to do it. If she can remain illness free for a whole season there is no reason why she can’t be up there with the top biathletes. In biathlon if you can shoot clear anything is possible.

At 28 Kadri is probably now getting to her peak years. With plenty of experience behind her now is the perfect time to try and push on and attain the high goals she has set for herself. She has started this season well with a career best 15th place in the Individual in Oestersund shooting clear. If she does break into the TOP 10 it will be a massive boost both for herself and Estonian biathlon. If she can keep her rifle in one piece she has a great chance – LEHT’s go KADRI!

Kadri’s website: http://www.kadrilehtla.com
You can find her on Facebook too.

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The Swede Smell of Success!

oestersund

Well that’s Oestersund over for another year. A disrupted calendar due to high winds but pretty interesting all the same. It began what feels like about 10 years ago with the mixed relay. The Czech Republic won with a very solid performance from all 4 athletes and with a little help from Martin Fourcade who proved he is in fact human and not just a lean, mean, biathlon machine.

He soon put all that behind him though by winning the Individual by over 2 minutes with an “in your face doubters” kind of display. What’s most remarkable about this guy is that after a disaster in the relay and 4 days to sit and dwell on it he comes out and shoots clear. His mental strength is unbelievable and you can’t help but be impressed by the way he handled the situation. We know his physical ability but to have that mental toughness is why he will be so hard to beat this season. Many people would have crumbled after the relay but he comes out even stronger and wins the Sprint too just for good measure. Four-midable!

On the women’s side Tora Berger didn’t get off to a great start either. She also had a bit of a shocker in the relay. Like Fourcade she worked her way back on to the podium finishing 3rd in the Sprint.Elsewhere Gabriela Soukalova started where she finished last season with an impressive performance in the Individual and Ann Kristin Flatland had a great race to win the Sprint. It was great to see Marie-Laure Brunet get the podium that her amazing shooting deserves and Olga Zaitseva making it in there too after a rocky start for Team Russia. Slovakia also earned a podium through Kuzmina.

Special mentions have to go to the French men’s team especially Jean-Guillame Beatrix for his 4th place in the Sprint and Baptiste Jouty for an amazing 13th place in the same race.In fact the French men had 5 finishers in the TOP 40. Also to Fredrik Lindstrom for restoring some home pride in a tough meet for the Swedes. What might have been if he hadn’t fallen we will never know but I like to think he would have won. Tim Burke also hit some early season form in the Sprint and his fellow North American JP Le Guellec proved that he must really like Oestersund by getting a 4th place in the Individual to follow his Sprint win last year. The Austrian men also performed very well in the Individual with Eder in second, and Mesotitsch in third after competing in Idre in the IBU Cup.

The Italians also had some great results from both the men and women. Oberhofer and Weirer both finished in the TOP 10 -a first for Italy and Hofer and De Lorenzi repeated the feat for the men. Kadri Lehtla was the only woman to shoot clear in the Individual and earned her a career best 15th place. Andorra’s Laurie Soulie was also having the race of her life in that event right up until the final shoot.If she hadn’t missed 3 targets she could have made the TOP 5.

On the other hand it was a bit of a disappointing weekend for the big guns from Norway and Russia especially on the men’s side with no podiums for either team.If you are a fan of theirs though you shouldn’t worry too much. I think they both have a master plan that involves peaking in time for the Olympics and if last season’s World Championships are anything to go by the Norwegians at least will be bang on form for Sochi.

It was unfortunate that both the Pursuits were cancelled. It seems my powers of weather forecasting are brilliant as I did predict a hurricane in my last post! Not to worry though the fun starts again in Hochfilzen on Friday. Fourcade, Soukalova, Flatland and the Czech relay team leave Oestersund with the Swede smell of success but can they repeat it in Austria? You’ll have to wait and see!

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Targeting success! Season Preview: Men

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It’s that time of year again folks! After an eternity (well just summer and autumn really) biathlon is back! The season kicks off on Sunday in Oestersund with the mixed relay followed by the Individual,the Sprint and finally the Pursuit. So the boys will be back on track with all guns blazing-literally! It’s a big season for everyone with the Olympics starting in a mere 3 months so what can we expect form the men’s side this year?

Well as you might have guessed the big favourite has to be Martin Fourcade. Five Chrystal globes last season and a handful of medals from the World Championships makes him the guy they will all be gunning for. Unfortunately for the others like a French wine he seems to be getting better with age.

What about his main competition this season. Well the top two on his tail have to be the Russian ladies favourites from Norway Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tarjei Bø. These boys will be very hard to beat as illness hit seasons for both of them last year were still better than most others full seasons.

Beyond these three who else is left to challenge. There is a whole team from Russia who can do well but with their main aim the home Olympics in Sochi I can’t see them putting too much effort into winning a Chrystal Globe. Elsewhere we have the Germans. A poor season last year by their own high standards should see a highly motivated Peiffer, Birnbacher and co. launch a major attack on the podiums this year.

We should also see continually improving athletes like Jakov Fak and Dominik Landertinger being a challenge to Fourcade’s dominance and closer to home he will have to watch out for his French teammates and of course his own brother. Have I forgotten someone? Oh yes – young Ole Einar Bjørndalen! You can never count him out for a race win but a Globe will be much more difficult.

What I like best though about the opening round of the IBU World Cup is that no one really knows what shape they are going to be in at the start and it can throw up some unexpected results. Take the first Sprint podium last year which saw JP Le Guellec win his first race and Alexis Boeuf and Cristoph Sumann take second and third.

So who is going to win the prizes this time round? Well looking into my Chrystal Globe I can see victory for……now that would be telling!!! All I know for sure is that it’s going to be one hell a season with so many male biathletes at the top of their game and all competing for the few Olympic medals on offer. My advice – just sit back and enjoy the show and whoever wins the Globes and medals will thoroughly deserve them all!

Good luck guys!

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