Tag Archives: Irina Starykh

Antholz 2020: The Pursuits!

We can always rely on the pursuits for a bit of action and we were not let down today at the world championships. It was a beautiful sunny day in Antholz as usual and not much wind in the range.

The women raced first and it was a win for home favourite Dorothea Wierer! It’s always good to see the home nation getting a gold medal and it’s extra special for Wierer as she is literally at home! It’s not just in her country it’s her home town!

It wasn’t easy for her starting 7th with 39 seconds to make up on Marte Olsbu Roeiseland at the start. At the first prone it was Roeiseland who made the first mistake and it was Susan Dunklee who took advantage hitting 5/5. Wierer also hit 5/5 and was already up to third place.

At the second prone it was Dunklee who missed but Roeiseland and Wierer both hit 5. By the third shoot these two were close together and both hit 5/5 again. Behind them Denise Herrmann was moving up the field despite a couple of misses.

It all came down to the final shoot and all of the top three had misses however Wierer just had 1 and Roeiseland 2. She left the range and headed out on her way to victory all alone for a celebratory final lap. Herrmann also missed 1 and came out with Roeiseland from the penalty loop. These two would race for silver and it was Herrmann who was too strong for Roeiseland who had to settle for bronze.

Hanna Oeberg finished 4th, Vanessa Hinz 5th and Ivona Fialkova was 6th getting her personal best in the process.

Further back in the field there were some big moves with Ingrid Tandrevold going from 57th to 14th, Tiril Eckhoff from 59th to 20th, Elisa Gasparin from 50th to 16th hitting 20/20, Irina Starykh from 53rd to 24th and Larisa Kuklina from 48th to 23rd.

The only other woman to hit the perfect 20 was Karoline Horchler taking bib 23 to 15th!

The men raced next and it was a very close finish at the end which saw Emilien Jacquelin take his first ever win and first world title!

The race began with Alexander Loginov in full control of things. He hit 15/15 and it looked like the race was his. Quentin Fillon Maillet missed 4 on the first prone and was completely out of the race straight away. Martin Fourcade was hanging in there in second place until he missed at the third shoot. Johannes Boe missed one on both prone shoots.

Meanwhile Jacquelin was hitting all his targets and after the third shoot had moved up to second place. Everthing hinged on the final shoot. Loginov missed one but Boe and Jacquelin cleaned and so it would be a ski race to the finish! It was Jacquelin who was stronger and after hitting 20/20 he fully deserved the win.

Loginov was third, Martin Fourcade 4th, Arnd Peiffer 5th and Tarjei Boe 6th.

Simon Eder was the only other man to hit 20/20 to move from 37th to 12th, Vetle Christiansen went from 33rd to 10th and Erlend Bjoentegaard from 35th to 15th. Jakov Fak moved from 45th to 21st and Ondrej Moravec from 46th to 22nd.

There is a rest day on Monday and then it’s the women’s individual on Tuesday!

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Pokljuka 2020: The Individuals!

The final round of the World Cup before World Champs got underway in Pokljuka on Thursday. The men’s individual was the race and the tracks are slightly different this year. I guess they had to make them harder for the World Champs next year!

It was business as usual for Johannes Boe after coming back after the birth of his first son Gustav. He shot 20/20 and as we know if he doesn’t miss a shot he wins! It was like he has never been away!

Second place went to Martin Fourcade who also shot the perfect score but isn’t fast enough to challenge Johannes on the skis. He finished 11 seconds behind the Norwegian.

In third place was Fabien Claude who also hit 20/20 to achieve his first World Cup podium and a new personal best. It’s actually a remarkable performance after the news that his father, is missing after his snowmobile crashed through ice on a frozen lake in Canada.

Philipp Nawrath also hit all the targets finshing fourth to collect his personal best. Johannes Dale was 5th with one miss and Uncle Tarjei was 6th also with 19/20.

The only other man to hit 20/20 was Kirill Streltsov. If you follow the juniors you will recognise the name and the talent! Coming 17th on your World Cup debut is pretty good! Jinle Tang and Simon Bartko also got their best results so far in 43rd and 44th.

On Friday the women raced in sunny conditions and this time a Norwegian didn’t win the race or even get on the podium! It was Denise Herrmann who took her first win in the individual shooting 20/20 for the first time in this race. Hanna Oeberg was second despite missing a target so she must be on incredible ski form finishing just under a minute behind Herrmann.

Third place went to Anais Bescond who hit 20/20 for her first podium of the season. Lisa Vittozzi hit 20/20 to take 4th which is good news for her with the home World Champs coming up soon. Franziska Preuss was 5th also hitting all the targets and Clare Egan was 6th with the perfect shoot to claim her best ever finish in an individual race.

Tiril Eckhoff missed 3 targets to finish 18th and Dorothea Wierer missed 4 to finish 23rd.

Aita Gasparin took a personal best in 9th with 19/20 as did Christina Rieder in 21st with a perfect shoot. Belgium’s Lotte Lie was 53rd on her World Cup debut hitting 20/20 and Irina Starykh was the only other women to hit 20/20 in 8th place.

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Kontiolahti 2017: The Mixed Relays!

The final races in Kontiolahti were the Single Mixed and the Mixed Relay. Martin Fourcade decided to have a day off and would not compete in either race. To be fair he deserves a bit of a rest!

The Single Mixed Relay contained some strong teams and the team with the top shooters would prove to be the best. It was Italy who took the lead after the first leg with Lisa Vittozzi on great form using just 1 spare. However Lukas Hofer went on the penalty loop 3 times on the prone leaving them no chance. He was great yesterday finishing 6th in the Pursuit and terrible today! He also did a similar thing in PyeongChang. He is possibly the most inconsistent biathlete ever!

That left the USA and Austria in contention for victory with some great shooting from Lisa Hauser, Simon Eder, Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey. Dunklee actually had a fall on the downhill but didn’t injury herself or her equipment.

Germany were also in the mix with Laura Dahlmeier and Roman Rees as were France with Anais Chevalier and Jean-Guillaume Beatrix.

In the end it was Eder’s fast and accurate shooting on the last leg that won it for Austria. He hit 10/10 in lightning speed to win by 32 second in the end. The race for second and third came down to a sprint finish with Roman Rees leaving the range in second after a clean shoot in his final stand. Lowell Bailey needed 1 spare and was just behind the German. Bailey stayed behind until the last few metres when he managed to get his ski ahead and take the second place for the USA. Germany were third and France finished 4th. The two top teams both needed just 5 spares with Germany using 6 and France 8.

The Mixed Relay was later in the evening. France got a great start with Marie Dorin Habert taking the first leg. She used 1 spare but handed over in the lead. She was 4 seconds in front of Iryna Varvynets of the Ukraine and 7 seconds ahead of Italy’s Dorothea Wierer. Japan were in 4th with Fuyuko Tachizaki and Austria 5th with Dunja Zdouc. Norway went on the penalty loop twice with Marte Olsbu.

France also controlled the second leg. Germany moved into second with another fantastic relay leg from Maren Hammerschmidt. She needed 2 spares to hand over in front of Slovakia in third after two great legs from Paulina and Ivona Fialkova. The Ukraine were in 4th with Olga Abramova and Russia in 5th with Irina Starykh. After the first prone the USA with Joanne Reid were up to 3rd but after her stand they dropped back to 9th.

The men took over in the third leg. Simon Desthieux for France needed 4 spares and finished with a lead of 25 seconds. He was chased by Benedikt Doll who needed 3 spares. Sergiy Semenov for Ukraine moved into third but Matvey Eliseev for Russia and Tomas Hasilla for Slovakia had bad standing shoots to allow Michal Slesingr to move the Czech Republic up to 4th.

Quentin Fillon Maillet took the final leg for France and he was followed by Arnd Peiffer for Germany, Dmytro Pidruchnyi for the Ukriane, Michal Krcmar for the Czechs and Evgeniy Garanichev for Russia. The top 3 teams all needed 1 spare on the prone. Russia shot clean but the Czech Republic went on the penalty loop.

It all came down to the final standing shoot. Just the way we like it to! France and Germany both missed two shots and Fillon Maillet had some trouble loading his spare rounds. He did really well to keep cool and hit the remaining targets to give France the win. Germany were second. Ukraine needed 1 spare but Russia just avoided going on the penalty loop with the last spare round. Ukraine were third showing they are a great relay team. Russia were 4th ahead of Norway who came back to finish in 5th.

Well that concludes some great racing from Kontiolahti and we only have 1 more World Cup left before the end of the season in Holmenkollen! NO say it’s not true!!! 😦

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PyeongChang 2017: The Pursuits!

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Saturday in PyeongChang was dedicated to the Pursuit races. The women went first and had conditions which were a little warm and so made the snow wet in places. The men had better skiing conditions later in the evening. There wasn’t a lot of wind to affect the shooting. There was also some excellent drumming and coordinated dance moves coming from the stands!

The women’s race was not that exciting in terms of the race for the victory. Dahlmeier and Eckhoff were together up to the first prone shoot and when Tiril missed Laura had the race all to herself. She hit 20/20 and was untouchable out front winning by over a minute.

Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who shot 10/10 in the prone and missed 2 shots in her third shoot. However she cleaned the final stand and was able to overtake Anais Bescond who had left the range just before her.

Bescond had a great race in third missing just 1 target but wasn’t able to keep up with Makarainen on the final loop despite shooting better than her. Eckhoff still managed to finish 4th even with 5 penalty loops and Susan Dunklee maintained her 5th place.

Gabriela Koukalova had a much better day missing 2 shots but finishing 8th from at start position of 21st. Marte Olsbu came from 24th to finish 9th. Irina Starykh came from 55th to finish 20th and Iryna Varvynets wento from 44th to 22nd.

In the men’s race Julian Eberhard started with a 40 second lead and managed to stay in front of the rest until the second prone shoot. He missed 2 shots there handing the lead to Martin Fourcade who like Dahlmeier never gave it up. He shot 20/20 to win by 35 seconds giving him his 12th win of the season. This equals the record of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and he still has more races left to try and beat it.

Fourcade was chased by a gang of Austrians. Eder, Landertinger and Eberhard were all trying in vain to catch him but all missed shots in the final standing. Sneaking up from behind was Anton Shipulin who had a magnificent race in bib23! He made up 21 places to come second hitting the perfect 20/20.

Third eventually went to Eberhard despite his 3 misses and teammate Eder was 4th. Anton Babikov moved from 41st to 15th, Henrik L’Abee Lund from 38th to 17th, Christian Gow went from 56th to 32nd and Anton Sinapov went from 60th to get some points in 39th.

Dahlmeier and Fourcade were outstanding today. Considering everything they have already won, especially Fourcade, their will to keep fighting and motivation to keep winning is extraordinary. We are very lucky to have them both racing in biathlon.

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Pursuits!

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Now I warned you not to the miss the Pursuit races, didn’t I! That turned out to be good advice! We were treated to two races at the World Championships in Hochfilzen today and they were both great.

First we had the Women’s Pursuit in the morning and we had drama from the first shoot. Dahlmeier and Koukalova settled down on the mats together but Gabi had some trouble with her rifle and took a long time to fire her shots. It looked like the shells were not ejecting properly and so this affected her focus and in the end she missed 2 targets and it looked like her medal chances were over.

Dahlmeier also missed a target but still managed to complete her penalty loop to stay in the lead and that’s where she remained for the whole race not missing another shot. It means from three races she has 2 gold medals and 1 silver!

Sneaking up from 27th was Darya Domracheva. After having her first child in October and returning to action in January she has had some trouble with her standing shooting. Not today however! She hit 20/20 to win the silver medal and did what is known in biathlon as a ‘Dorin Habert’!

Third place unbelievably went to Koukalova! After her terrible first shoot she also missed another at the first standing but came back to claim bronze. She was helped a bit by the others missing especially Makarainen who was in with a medal chance until she missed on the final shoot.

Russia’s Irina Starykh, back from her drugs ban, was 4th hitting 20/20, Justine Braisaz was 5th from 28th, Marie Dorin Habert took 6th, Makarainen was 7th, Anastasiya Merkushyna hit another 20/20 in 8th, Celia Aymonier was 9th and Dorothea Wierer came from 21st to finish 10th.

Other good performances came from Pualina Fialkova who went from 31st to 13th, Alexia Runggaldier from 43rd to 15th hitting 20/20 and Baiba Bendika hit another perfect score coming from 50th to finish 27th.

The men’s race started in the afternoon and saw Martin Fourcade win his first race here at the World Championships. He missed just 1 target and controlled the race to win by 22 seconds. Johannes Boe held on to his second place despite missing 3 targets, but skiing incredibly well, giving him 2 silver medals.

Third place went to Ole Einar Bjoerndalen! Starting from 8th and no doubt inspired by his wife’s fantastic performance in the women’s race he missed just 1 target to win the bronze medal. He is incredible! I have run out of words for that man! That is his 45th World Championship medal! Let’s just say that there will be a party at the Bjoerndalen’s tonight!

Anton Shipulin had a very good race coming from 21st to finish 4th, Ondrej Moravec kept his 5th place position from the Sprint, Lowell Bailey was 6th ahead of Krasimir Anev in 7th. Completing the Top 10 were Julian Eberhard in 8th, Tarjei Boe in 9th and Simon Schempp in 10th.

Sergey Semenov did really well starting 41st and finishing 15th, Quentin Fillon Maillet went from 43rd to 22nd and Martin Otcenas from 47th to 24th.

Well we now have 2 days off to recover before the next race on Wednesday which is the Women’s Individual followed by the Men’s on Thursday. Will Dahlmeier get another medal? Can anyone beat Martin Fourcade in that event? There is lots to look forward too!

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OECH 2017: Duszniki Zdroj!

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The Open European Championships got underway in Duszniki Zdroj in Poland on Wednesday with the Individual races. With a brand new stadium and good weather conditions it made it a good day to race.

The results of both races were a bit controversial however and to be fair you could see it coming. Alexander Loginov won the Men’s Individual and Irina Starykh won the women’s race. Both have just returned to the sport after serving 2 year suspensions for doping violations. According to the rules they were caught, they have served their suspensions and are free to compete again. However against the backdrop of alleged Russian state sponsored doping and the IBU biathletes threatening action if the IBU doesn’t crack down on doping it makes an uncomfortable situation for the governing body.

Whatever you feel about the outcome of the race they were the winners and performed the best on the day. They have both been doing well on the IBU Cup so it wasn’t a big surprise that they won. The silver medal for the men went to Bulgaria’s Krasimir Anev who shot 20/20 and bronze went to Alexey Slepov who also shot the perfect score.

In the Women’s Individual silver went to Russia’s Svetlana Sleptsova, who has also been involved in doping in the past, and bronze to Anastasiya Merkushyna from the Ukraine who both missed 1 target.

Both Sprint races took place on Friday and in the men’s race Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev won his first race and his first title despite 1 missed target. He finished 5 seconds ahead of Loginov who won silver and 16 seconds ahead of teammate Krasimir Anev who won bronze. They both shot 10/10 which makes Iliev’s performance a very good one.

In the women’s race in the afternoon Ukraine’s Yuliia Dzhima won gold by 27 seconds shooting 10/10. Silver again went to Sleptsova who also shot clean and the bronze went to Starykh with 1 miss.

On Saturday both Pursuit races were held and Irina Starykh won yet again. She shot 20/20 which means she hasn’t missed a target yet in 3 races. Silver medal went to Yuliia Dzhima who missed 2 targets, one in each standing shoot to finish 20 seconds behind. Third place went to Sleptsova who had 1 miss. It means over the 3 races only 4 women have won all 9 medals. Ingrid Tandrevold had a great race a bit further back coming from 48th shooting clean to end up 16th.

The men’s race was again dominated by the Russians. Loginov took gold again shooting 19/20 to beat compatriot Evgeniy Garanichev by 28 seconds. Garanichev had a great race starting 17th and taking the silver medal shooting 19/20. Andrejs Rastorgujevs finally made it on to the podium missing 4 shots and having to pass another Russian Volkov on the final lap to take the bronze medal. The Sprint winner Iliev missed 6 targets and finished in 11th place.

The final day of racing on Sunday was for the Relays. Unsurprisingly they were both won by the Russians. First it was the Single Mixed Relay and Garanichev and Daria Virolaynen who used 7 spare rounds finished 6.3 seconds ahead of Norway who also used 7. Tandrevold and Christiansen held on to silver in front of home favourites Krystyna and Grzegorz Guzik who finally gave the home fans something to cheer winning bronze.

The Mixed Relay gold went to the team of Starykh, Sleptsova, Volkov and Loginov. They finished 36 seconds ahead of silver medalists Norway with a team of Erdal, Huber, Bjoentegaard and Gjesbakk. Bronze medal went to the Ukrainians with a team of Merkushyna, Dzhima, Zhyrnyi, and Tkalenko despite Dzhima going on the penalty loop and Tkalenko being in second until Gjesbakk overtook him on the final downhill.

That concludes the Open European Championships which were dominated by Russia. Thankfully some others from the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Latvia and Norway got in on a bit of the action! It will be interesting to see if the likes of Loginov and Starykh get named on the World Championships team for Hochfilzen which starts on the 9th of February.

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A season in bib 23! The results!

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Wow from the first, Diana Rasimovicuite, to the last, Serhiy Semenov, the bearers of “the bib” have given me a roller coaster first season in 23! From the highs of 2 wins in 1 day to the lows of the doping scandal “biathlete23” has given me more fun, excitement and disappointment than I could ever have imagined before I started all this back in November.

For those of you unfamiliar with biathlete23 I decided that as a feature on my blog I would follow whichever athlete was wearing bib 23 and record their scores and see how they did. This led to a great new way for me to watch biathlon and to get to know some of the less well known biathletes.

For the first representative to score me some points was pretty great! To most 19th position doesn’t mean a whole lot but for me it was my first 22 points! That was the only point score I got in Oestersund in fact from 4 races. In Hochfilzen I was celebrating my first podium from Irina Starykh but that was wrecked after Christmas with her positive drugs test. Fortunately the lovely Gabriela Soukalova took a 9th place in the Pursuit and Evigeny Garanichev got me 7 points in the Men’s race.

But then came Annecy, the wonderful Annecy! The first two races were Sprints and were won by Selina Gasparin and Johannes Thingnes Boe who were both wearing bib 23!!! Maximum 120 points! To say I was delighted would be the understatement of the year! Two more points finishes from Garanichev and Gregorin took my total to 169 points for the weekend! Finally I was getting some good scores!

In Oberhof 5 out of the 6 biathletes in 23 scored points; Alexander Loginov and Daniel Boehm for the men and Vita Semerenko, Weronika Nowakowska and Krystyna Palka for the women.In Ruhpolding Teja Gregorin and Simon Desthieux grabbed me 43 points from the Pursuits.The last round before the Olympics in Antholz saw 46 points scored by Franziska Preuss and Yan Savitskiy.

The Olympics was fun to watch for bib 23. I didn’t really expect a medal at my first attempt but I got very close when Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle finished 4th in the Women’s Mass Start. However like Starykh before her my joy was short lived as she too tested positive for an illegal substance and was disqualified. My best results were from Yan Savitshiy who finished 20th in the Men’s 20km Individual for the men and Veronika Vitkova who was 6th in the Women’s Individual. My favourite athlete from the Olympics though has to be the awesome Mr. Brendan Green who represented 23 in the Pursuit. He finished 35th but was kind enough to photograph his bib and send it to me and you can see it at the top of this post and on my Facebook and Twitter accounts! Thanks Brendan!

Back to the World Cup and I was keen to get back scoring some big points. Pokljuka didn’t disappoint as 98 points were added to my total from Jana Gerekova, Tim Burke, Tomas Kaukenas, Zina Kocher and Serhiy Semenov. To Kontiolahti next where a strong team of Christoph Sumann, Tiril Eckhoff, Simon Eder, Susan Dunklee, Jean-Guillaume Beatrix and Julia Dzhyma scored an impressive 114 points!

Holmenkollen was our final stop and biggest points haul of the season! I had the great privilege of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen racing in bib 23(by this time I had gotten over the fact that he won Olympic Sprint gold in bib 24 – the traitor!). The rest of the biathletes were overall winner Kaisa Makarainen who I like to think was inspired in her Pursuit performance by number 23 to get to fourth and help her win the big Crystal Globe!!! The others were Dominik Landertinger, Yana Romanova and Serhiy Semenov(he loves bib 23 -always in it!). They scored 119 points to take my grand total up to 754 points for the season, 347 from the men and 407 from the women. These put me in 25th place in the Men’s overall between Daniel Boehm and Tim Burke and 14th in the Women’s between Teja Gregorin and Franziska Hildebrand. Not bad for a debut season in biathlon!

A big thanks to all the biathletes who have been lucky enough to wear bib 23 – you have all been fantastic with some obvious exceptions! You have to take the rough with the smooth though!It has been really enjoyable supporting whoever has been in bib 23 this season. I don’t really have favourites among the biathletes so this way I can support different ones in each race and I have learned about biathletes that I previously knew little of. It’s a great way to find out more about all the biathletes and a really nice way to show support for all of them.I had no idea quite how interesting it would be to follow a bib number throughout the season but I have loved it. I can’t wait for next season to start so I can do it all over again and I hope some of you will join me along the way supporting biathlete23!! I just hope I can beat the Total Score for this season!!! GO BIATHLETE23!

For full results and participants please see my page Biathlete23
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There’s no Ru-hpolding back now!

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World Cup 5 is finished already! Where did the time go? We only have one more WC round before the Olympics start in February! Ruhpolding as usual did not disappoint. Huge crowds, decent conditions and some exceptional performances by the competitors saw to that! It started on Wednesday with the Women’s Relay followed by the Men on Thursday,then we had the Individuals and finally the Pursuits.

The Women’s Relay was great entertainment. It was won by a strong Russian Team, Germany took second and Norway third. The result tells you nothing about the race though. Franziska Preuss had a disaster in the first leg which ended with a penalty loop but her teammates Sachenbacher, Dahlmeier and Hildebrand were all amazing to pull Germany up to second. Tiril Eckhoff had a similar meltdown on the first leg and again her team of Flatland, Solemdal and Berger pulled off a brilliant third place. However you can’t beat a Russian team of Glazyrina, Zaitseva, Starykh and Vilukhina who are shooting so well by going on the penalty loop and they got a well deserved victory.

The same type of things actually happened in the Men’s Relay the next day. Johannes Boe has more than likely shot himself out of a starting place in the Olympic Relay team by missing 6 shots out of 8 in the first prone shoot and leaving his team with an impossible task. They did however finish a respectable 9th with Tarjei Boe, Christiansen and Svendsen having great races individually. The winners after five long years of waiting were the Austrian team of Sumann, Mesotitsch, Eder and Landertinger. A thrilling final lap saw Landi just pip Germany and Simon Schempp into second and Russia finished a solid third. Elsewhere Slovenia met their qualification for Sochi finishing 7th, Italy again did well in 6th and Sweden laid down their medal winning credentials finishing 4th with some great shooting performances.

Onto the Women’s Individual and Pursuit which were both won by the on form Gabriela Soukalova who must be a strong favourite for the Olympic titles. Second went to Darya Domracheva continuing her great form from Oberhof and Veronika Vitkova finished an impressive third. The stand out performances though came from Andorra’s Laure Soulie who took her best ever result of ninth, Germany’s Franziska Hildebrand in fourth her highest place finish and Japan’s Fuyuko Suzuki who claimed 13th also a career best. Second and third in the Pursuit went to Berger and Makarainen who are both getting better and better especially in terms of their skiing right in time to go to Sochi. Other impressive movers in the Pursuit were Preuss 16th to 4th,Eckhoff 25th to 7th,Brunet 21st to 10th and Bescond 29th to 11th!

Over on the Men’s side a certain Mr. Svendsen comfortably won both races before he goes home and continues his Olympic training. Shame he won’t be in Anholtz but Fourcade and Bjoerndalen will be there. Russian’s Volkov and Ustykov took second and third in the Individual and are making it hard from them not to be selected for Sochi. Jakov Fak returned to form after injury and illness finishing 4th and Simon Fourcade seems to be back on track finishing 7th. Tobias Arwidson achieved a career high 17th place and Johannes Boe bounced back from the relay by finishing 8th. In the Pursuit Fak took second and Garanichev not wanting to be overshadowed by his Russian teammates was third. Tarjei Boe did yet another amazing race taking 6th from a start bib of 37! Other big moves came from Eder 16th to 4th and Sumann 27th to 8th continuing their good form from the relay.

So after 2 fun weekends in Germany the World Cup circus heads to Anhotlz-Anterselva. It’s the last World Cup round before the Olympics and it’s where the final teams will be decided to get on the plane to Sochi. For many biathletes it’s their last chance to impress the selectors so there’s no Ru-pholding back now! Go for it everyone and good luck!

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UnBølievable Annecy : Le Grand Børnand!

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World Cup round 3 in Annecy was dominated by the new “golden boy” of Norwegian biathlon Johannes Thingnes Bø. An extraordinary performance by the 20 year old saw him win the Sprint and Pursuit double by 33 and 37.5 seconds respectively.I always expected him to win a World Cup race but not this soon and not in such a dominant style! He also helped a weakened relay team to a fifth place on Friday. He has certainly announced himself as a real threat this year and I hope he can be consistent because I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do against his brother and Svendsen and a Martin Fourcade in better shape. Never short of confidence he stated after his Sprint win that “It is cool to beat Martin here.” He is a real contender now and I think the bigger names in the Norwegian team should start to worry about their places for Sochi.

Elsewhere and playing second fiddle to the Bø show was the great performance of Selina Gasparin who won her second Sprint race in a row. They are like buses those Swiss you wait ages for a win and 2 come along at once. There was also another first time winner on the women’s side. Valj Semerenko took the Pursuit race by maintaining her composure in the final shoot and finished in front of Irina Starykh and Tiril Eckhoff who both finished a career best second and third. In the Sprint race second place went to Kaisa Makarainen and third to Valj Semerenko. The women’s competition is fantastic this year mainly thanks to the amount of amazing biathletes around just now and without last year’s dominance from Tora Berger we are getting some superb racing.

Back to the men and behind Bø in the Sprint came Ondrej Moravec and Martin Fourcade. Following him in second and third in the Pursuit where Erik Lesser and Anton Shipulin. Lesser coming home for a career best finish for him as well. Another stand out result for the men has to be Canada’s Nathan Smith who finished 8th in the Pursuit after starting the year on the IBU Cup.

In the relays the German women’s team put in a great performance to win . The younger members,Preuss,Hildebrand and Dahlmeier, were especially solid on the shooting range and did well in the individual races too. Ukraine got another podium and now have to be the favourites to win gold in Sochi. Norway took third and the Canadian team did an incredible job to get their best ever result of fourth. For the men Russia came back into form with a great finish from Anton Shipulin to sprint past Schempp and take the win. It was also good to see Austria in third to put a disappointing Hochfilzen firmly behind them.

Speaking of disappointment it was a rough weekend for the French team with only Martin Fourcade’s third place to cheer about. However they have a great venue in Annecy. The tracks and the shooting range may not be the most difficult on tour but they make for great close racing that I personally love to watch. It was an UnBølievable weekend for Johannes Bø but it was also a successful one for Annecy. I can’t wait to go back!

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year! We will catch up again in Oberhof!!

P.S For new readers or anyone who is unfamiliar with the blog- a)what’s wrong with you? and b) no seriously, what is wrong with you?- I always keep an eye on whoever is wearing bib 23 and this weekend bib 23 won the men and women’s Sprint races!!!!YES!!!

HO HO HOchfilzen!

hochfilzen

It’s close enough to Christmas to get away with that title,right? Well either way we got a few pre-Christmas treats from the biathletes this weekend in Hochfilzen. It all kicked off with the women in the Sprint which saw Selina Gasparin taking her and Swizerland’s first win on the World Cup with a great skiing and shooting performance. Some great shooting also saw Veronika Vitkova match her best result so far in second and Irina Starykh taking her top result finishing third. I was especially pleased about Irina Starykh as she just happened to be wearing bib 23!

It was followed by the men and Lars Berger stormed back onto the World Cup by winning the Sprint with an amazing skiing performance after starting out on the IBU Cup.He managed to beat Martin Fourcade into second and a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into third. It’s great to see Berger doing well again for his fun personality if nothing else. I would also like someone to check Bjoerndalen’s birth certificate to make sure he really will be 40 next month.I don’t know how he does it! Whatever his parents fed him when he was young I want some of it!

On Saturday we had the first men’s and women’s relays of the season. The Ukrainian women’s team put in a stellar performance to win. All of their athletes did a great job but Julia Dzhyma stands out for her overall performance over the weekend. They were followed by Germany and France but Norway were noticeably absent from the podium. Over on the men’s side however the Norwegian men won with a dominant display and a characteristically great last leg from Svendsen. Sweden took a great second place with Bergman striking like a cobra into the stadium to fight off the Russian charge and leave them in third.

On to Sunday and the Pursuit. A great race from Solemdal gave her a second victory in Hochfilzen and made up for another difficult day on the shooting range for Tora Berger. Dzhyma took a fantastic second place thanks to some great shooting and Poland’s Palka made up 8 places to finish third. Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade won the men’s race followed by Svendsen and Boe. Just a little tip for the Norwegians you can’t give Fourcade a 40 second lead in a Pursuit if you want a chance of winning it! Having said that both the Norwegian guys have stepped up a gear from Oestersund and it’s just a pity they won’t be competing in France this coming weekend.

For the home crowd Cristoph Sumann gave them something to cheer about getting 5th in the Sprint and 7th in the Pursuit. They got 4th in the men’s relay too but unfortunately Simon Eder couldn’t carry on his form from last week in Oestersund and Dominik Landertinger didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped at home. The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews.

Standouts for me from Hochfilzen have to be Simon Schempp and the German team in general. Schempp finished 8th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the relay. Daniel Boehm and Arnd Peiffer got 2 TOP 20 finishes and the women were second in the relay. Julia Dhzyma as I mentioned before had a good weekend all round finishing first in the relay, second in the Pursuit and fifth in the Sprint. The big movers in the Pursuit were Alexis Boeuf and Benjamin (Darth) Weger gaining 20 and 34 places respectively and the Semerenko twins and Gabriela Soukalova(Bib23) who started 22,23 and 24 and finished 7,8,9.

So after HO HO Hochfilzen now all thoughts turn to France and a first visit to Annecy. None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy!

P.S Has anyone else noticed the interviewer in the IBU official Press Conference always asks a question with the word “surprise” in it. I can’t watch them properly because it makes me laugh everytime I hear it! Listen out for it in Annecy!

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