Tag Archives: Johanna Talihärm

Susan Dunklee: The Interview!

Susan Dunklee is an American biathlete who was born on the 13th of February 1986. She enjoyed her best season to date in 2016/17. She finished 10th in the Total Score and more importantly won her first World Championship medal taking silver in the Mass Start in Hochfilzen. She is the first American women to win a medal at a major Championships and in doing so qualified to race for the US at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang this March. Her father Stan and her uncle Everett have both competed for America at the Olympics in cross country skiing.

Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanDunklee
Like her Facebook page: Susan Dunklee
Check out her blog: https://susandunklee.wordpress.com/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I didn’t want to give up ski racing after college. USBA offered a better training and living situation than any US xc ski club at the time, so I figured why not learn how to shoot?

The Mass Start in Hochfilzen. Talk us through your silver medal winning race and your emotions at the end.

I felt inspired after watching Lowell’s Individual. I remember thinking that I had got my first ever WC podium in 2014 the week after he got his first podium.
Despite that, I didn’t feel particularly good going into the race. By the end of the Championships you have raced so much that both your body and head feel fried. I had to remind myself that everyone else was exhausted too and that there is opportunity in that.
Much of that race felt surreal. Leading was an experience that I’m not very familiar with. I didn’t intend to lead because it’s usually not a smart tactical decision and it is harder to ski fast and efficiently by yourself. However, after every shooting stage I found myself alone out front. It seemed silly to just pull over for 5 seconds and let the pack catch up. So I skied my own pace, tried to stay relaxed and didn’t worry about what the pack did.
People ask me if the last shooting stage felt any different. In this case, no, it was more of a deja vu feeling. It felt just like the 3 stages before it. I remember thinking after the last shooting stage that now it was time to “get the hell out of there” because I knew some fast people would be chasing my tail. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to challenge Laura [Dahlmeier] when she caught me, but I was so psyched to hold onto second. It truly was a perfect race for me.

Apart from your medal you were also 10th in the Total Score. What was the key to your great season?

Shooting speed had been my biggest focus during training for a couple years and that work started to pay off last winter.

You had some good results at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Has that given you a lot of confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

It doesn’t matter if I like them or not. What matters is if I’m willing to make those tracks and that range “my own” so that I will feel strong and confident there.

What are your goals for next season for the World Cup as well as the Olympics?

To keep my focus on “performing well.” If I can do that, the results will take care of themselves.

Team USA is a really close team. What was it like watching Lowell win his gold medal at the World Champs?

Lowell put together an impressive performance which personified a tremendous effort on the part a whole host of people. For an achievement like that you need everything to go right such as ski fitness, shooting performance, and ski preparation. There are so many people who contributed to making that possible- coaches, teammates, ski techs, physios, managers, psychologists, sponsors, supportive friends and family back home…. Everyone in the USBA community felt some ownership of America’s first gold medal moment and that’s one of the reasons why I think the US Team is special.

Have you noticed any changes in the popularity of biathlon in the US after your recent success? Has it helped you with funding and sponsors?

Not as much as we had expected.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Same routine as usual- roller skiing, shooting, running, biking, lifting, etc. We did an on-snow camp in May in Bend, Oregon as well as a three week camp in Germany in September.

One of your hobbies is bee keeping. How did you get into that and why do you like it?

I already was interested in pollination systems after studying them in college. A few years ago I visited one of my ecologist friends who kept honey bees and I watched a barefoot “bee-whisperer” capture an escaped swarm. I was fascinated. Working with bees is a lot like shooting in a high pressure race situation. The consequences of making mistakes are high and you must conquer your fears and stay calm.

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

Nove Mesto has the best atmosphere with the biggest, friendliest crowds of spectators. I love racing there.

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

Michal Slesingr, Martin Fourcade and Lowell Bailey. They are phenomenal athletes and leaders who insist on fighting for the integrity of our sport.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Sincere, hardworking, contemplative.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin’s dragon
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch. Honorable mention: Stefani Popova
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Toss up: Johanna Taliharm, Anais Bescond, and Katja Yurlova.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Recovery massages.

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Biathlon at the Movies II: The Sequel!

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Hollywood loves a sequel, doesn’t it? Mainly to squeeze all the money it can out of the movie goers rather than making a better film than the first one and that is exactly what I intend to do! After the success of ‘Biathlon at the Movies’ I bring you ‘Biathlon at the Movies II’! It’s basically the same but with different movies. Hopefully it helps you get through the Christmas and New Year mini-break from biathlon. All ratings come in the form of crystal globes rather than stars. Popcorn at the ready? Then role titles!!! 🙂

The King and I:
Biathlon’s greatest love story set to the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The story of a young Belarusian biathlete who falls in love with the King of Biathlon. That’s right it’s the Darya Domracheva story! The plot is simple. Domracheva and Bjoerndalen fall in love but neither of them will admit it until of course she gets pregnant and they get married! Featuring such classic songs as ‘Getting to snow you’, ‘Song of the King'(suspiciously similar to the Norwegian national anthem), ‘Shall we ski?’, ‘Shall I tell you what I think of your shooting percentages?’

Biathlon23: “Make sure you have plenty of tissues!” Rating: 5 globes

I am Sam:
The tale of a biathlete who thinks his name is too long. It chronicles his struggles to think of a name that is shorter than his. Being called Simon this proves to be a difficult task. After painstakingly searching the world for a shorter title he goes with Sam much to the disappointment of his parents who thought Simon was just fine. Other Simons like Fourcade, Schempp and Desthieux seem bemused by his decision but Simon Eder finally announces that he is Simon no more declaring – I AM SAM!

Biathlon23: “Simple Simon!” Rating: 5 globes

Skifall:
The third installment of biathlon Bond following ‘The Spy Who Loved Biathlon’ and ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. Simon Fourcade returns in the title role. Excitingly in this film we find out that Fourcade isn’t French after all but in fact he is Scottish. His enemy the mysterious Johannes Bøfeld follows him to his Highland home and attempts to kill M (his brother Martin) so Simon gets loads of gadgets from Q (Quentin Fillon Maillet) and blows loads of things up, saves the day and then appears for Great Britain at the Winter Olympics where he wins gold!

Biathlon 23: Oh come on, Blofeld wasn’t even in Skyfall!! Rating: 5 globes

The Hunger Range:

In a dystopian biathlon future Ivona Fialkova is chosen by her district to compete in the Hunger Range. However her big sister Paulina volunteers to take her place and is joined in the games by Matej Kazar. The tributes have to compete against teams from 11 other districts in order to win a medal and a bouquet of flowers. Unexpectedly it turns out to be the Single Mixed Relay and not a fight to the death – that’s lucky! Can the tributes from Slovakia conquer the Hunger Range? Watch it and see….

Biathlon23:”Surprised the Hungarian biathletes aren’t in this!” Rating: 5 globes

Macx Payne:
An epic starring Macx Davies in his second film role to date after ‘Macx The Man’ thrilled audiences in Norway. Macx Payne tells the story of his 10th place finish in Oestersund in the Sprint race in 2015. Being a dedicated and well prepared biathlete he naturally forgot to load one of his magazines and so only had five bullets to shoot at 10 targets. Cliffhanger! I won’t spoil the whole film for you but chaos ensues and as usual out of tragedy comes triumph. A heart warming tale of one man’s fight against his own incompetence with a lot of pain involved!

Biathlon23:” The Charlie Chaplin of biathlon.” Rating: 5 globes

Hard Target:
Florent-Claude Van Damme makes his film debut pretending to be a Belgian. He is joined in this film by Michael Roesch, who is also pretending to be a Belgian. The duo are hired by Jakov Fak, who is pretending to be Slovenian, to hunt down Torstein Stenersen, who is pretending to be Swedish. Also pretending to be Swedish is his accomplice Chardine Sloof. Are you following this so far? They are hiding out with Anna Frolina and Alexander Starodubets who are pretending to be South Korean. Anastasiya Kuzmina is also involved somehow while pretending to be Slovakian but that’s about all I could work out.

Biathlon23: “Sounds like a lot of make believe to me!” Rating: 1 globe

Open range:
A classic western starring the Estonian biathlon team. A baddie (the IBU) has decided to close down the range in Otepaa and it’s up to the team to open it again. Lot’s of action right from the start with “KALAMITY” Kauri Koiv leading his band of heroes, Kalev “THE FROG” Ermits (also known as Kermits), Rene “THE SNOWDANCE KID” Zahkna, Johanna “THE LONE RANGEr” Taliherm and Kahdri “LETHAL” Lethla. There is plenty of shooting in this one but can they save the day and open the range?

Biathlon23: “Yee-haw! or however you say that in Estonian.” Rating: 5 globes

RamBø 2: The second shooting
Tarjei Bø is released from the Norwegian training camp and sent on a top secret mission to France. His teammate Ole Einar Bjoerndalen has offered him a deal to get out. Go to France and secure the services of their shooting coach. He goes deep undercover and befriends the French team before using his many skills to tempt away their coach. In a desperate attempt to disguise himself he grows his hair longer (after getting the proper grooming advice from expert E.H Svendsen) and ties a red band around his head in preparation to fight the whole French Team. Who will win? Will he get the coach? Will he go totally nuts with a machine gun? Watch and see.

Biathlon23: “Another unbølieveable performance.” Rating: 5 globes

24: The Movie:
The movie version of the TV series 24 starring Klemen “Jack” Bauer. The film follows Bauer for 24 hours in real time in an exciting day in his life. He gets up,has breakfast, trains, eats lunch, trains again, watches some snooker on TV , eats dinner and goes to sleep. Oh did I mention that he also thwarts multiple terrorist plots, including presidential assassination attempts, weapons of mass destruction detonations, bioterrorism, cyber attacks, as well as conspiracies which deal with government and corporate corruption. All in one day- What a guy!

Biathlon23: “Not thought this through! Who would spend 24 hours in the cinema! Rating: 24 globes


Fantastic biathletes and where to find them:

Sorry Nathan Smith fans although this is set in the same wizarding world, Harry Potter isn’t actually in this. All the biathletes have escaped from the magic rifle case where they are kept over the summer before they are allowed out in the winter. The owner of the case and the person responsible for the escape, Andrejs Rastorgujevs, is tasked with finding them all before the evil FIS catches them and tries to make them into cross-country skiers by taking away their rifles! The horror! Joined by teammate Baiba Bendika can they find all the biathletes before it’s too late?

Biathlon23: “Simply magic!” Rating: 5 globes

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Ross Burton: Biathlon Photographer!

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Photo credit: Elena Sobol

As you know biathlon23 likes to look at all aspects of biathlon not just the biathletes. This time I am bringing you an interview with a biathlon photographer. Ross Burton from America has been taking pictures of biathletes on the World Cup for 6 years and has kindly taken the time to tell us exactly what that is like.

He also jointly runs the website Biathlon News International: http://www.biathlonnewsinternational.com/
The site also has a Facebook Page: Biathlon News International

Why do like biathlon?

I was a cross-country skier in the early 70’s. The Army National Guard had a biathlon team, and I joined the Guard so I could get paid for skiing. We had wooden skis, bamboo poles, Remington 513T rifles, and it was classic only. After 3-4 years, I went into the active Army, and that was the end of biathlon. Then the Internet changed everything. Biathlon is
and was a small sport in the USA, as I believe it is in the UK. Before the Internet, there was virtually no information about biathlon, except for maybe 5 minutes coverage during the Olympic broadcasts. After the Internet came, there was plenty of information, even full races on the IBU Eurosport channel.

I decided I wanted to attend a World Cup in 2009, and a German friend suggested Ostersund. I went, and it was a life-changing experience for me. I decided I wanted to move my photography in that direction. At about the same time, a Russian friend, Raniya Kutumova, and I decided to build an English-language news website to enhance interest in
biathlon in the USA. The news website was not particularly successful in generating interest in the USA, but it was marvelously successful in other parts of the world, largely Germany and Russia, despite the fact that it’s in English.

I have been an Olympics fan all my life, and never in my fondest dreams did I ever think I would be paid to go to the Olympics (Sochi.) So, one could say that I have had a life-long interest in biathlon as a competitor, volunteer, journalist and photographer.

How long have you been a photographer and when did you start doing it in biathlon on the World Cup?

I am not a life-long professional photographer. I started working professionally in biathlon during 2010 when my friend Per-Ole Lindell, manager of the Finland team, needed some pictures featuring their new Viessmann sponsorship.

What kind of camera do you have? Do you mainly do digital photography? Have you thought about using a drone?

I have two Nikon D4’s and lenses from 14mm to 400mm focal lengths. Everyone does digital now. I have never thought of using a drone, but I have nightmares of a drone going out of control and landing in the range or on a biathlete.

How often do you go to World Cups and how do you choose which ones to attend?

Between 2-4 World Cups or two World Cups and the World Championships or Olympics. I choose based on time available from USA commitments, money, and logistics.

Where are you going this season and why?

Hochfilzen for sure because it’s the World Championships this year. Looking at Pokjluka and Nove Mesto for World Cups because of favorable logistics.

Do you get to enjoy the races or are you too busy trying to get good shots?

Mostly too busy, but for the first-in, first-win races like the pursuit, relay and mass start I’m always at the finish line, so it’s fun to see the winners and the celebrations. My finest moment was seeing my friends Darya Domracheva and Nadya Skardino win their Olympic medals for Belarus.

Are there a lot of other photographers working on the World Cup? Are you competitive like the biathletes to see who can get the best pictures or is there a good camaraderie?

Yes, there are numerous photographers who attend the World Cups. Of course, we all want to get the best pictures for our customers, but we all are great friends. There is no photographer who won’t take the time to share what they know about the best locations they have found, or the fastest workflow, or anything else that might be a help other photographers.

Since I know a bit about biathlon, I think it’s important to help photographers who are not that familiar with biathlon. We can explain how the races go, which are the big stars, and other things they might consider important. I don’t know how many times I have been asked, “which one is Bjoerndalen?” by new or unfamiliar photographers.

What do you do with the photos? Who do you sell them to? Do you keep some for yourself?

I keep enough for myself to post on my website, http://www.biathlonnewsinternational.com, but I am always working for some team or some photo agency. I have worked for several foreign photo agencies, but Team Finland is my best customer. I have worked for them since 2009. In fact, the last issue of the Finland Biathlon Magazine has a four-page spread
of just my pictures. It can be seen at biathlon.fi.com. Most of the winter cover shots on the magazine are mine too.


What is the best/favourite photo you have taken in biathlon?

The Finland team picture which appears in the header of my Biathlon News International Facebook page.

What is your favourite biathlon venue – for pictures and for racing?

Pictures: Presque Isle. Racing: Holmenkollen

Does your camera have a name?

Yep, Camera 1 and Camera 2.

Describe yourself in three words.

Lucky, Lazy, Ludicrous.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation: A tie between the USA and Finland
Favourite biathlete: Long Past: Dennis Donahue Recent Past: Agnieszka Cyl Present: Peter Dokl Future: Jessika Rolig and Auli Kiskola.
Favourite race(sprint,pursuit etc.): The single gender relay
Favourite ski suit design: Belarus, two years ago.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Past, Bjoern Ferry, by a mile! Present: Tarjei Boe
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Tie between Johanna Talihaerm and Kadri Lehtla. The rest of the Estonian women are all very nice too.
Best thing about being a photographer: Pragmatically, free food. Emotionally, seeing my pictures published in worldwide circulation.

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Johanna Talihärm: The Interview!

Talihärm

Johanna Talihärm is an Estonian biathlete who was born on the 27th of June 1993 in Tallinn. She is a part of the Estonian Women’s Relay Team and last season she broke into the TOP 40 on the World Cup. She has a brother who is also a biathlete. Next season she will be trying to get into that TOP 40 more often and score some more points if she can sort out her prone shooting!

Blog:http://www.johannablogi.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: @johannataliharm
Facebook: Estonian Fantastic Four in the biathlon world

How popular is biathlon in Estonia?

Biathlon used to be in the shadow of cross county skiing which is “the national sport” in Estonia, but we are gaining popularity now.
You can help too by following Estonian fantastic four on Facebook!

You achieved your best career result last season at the World Championships in Kontiolahti coming 39th in the Sprint in difficult conditions. How good did that feel and how much confidence has it given you for next season?

I had a rough start for the 2014/15 season. Then I started to feel better, gained energy and confidence during the season and was finally prepared to give my best in the World Championships. After 3 penalties in prone I thought the race is over, but I got myself together again and pushed as hard as I could and cleaned the standing. I never thought I had a chance for points with 3(!!!) penalties, I was super happy that I finally reached the top 40 goal I had had for so long. It showed me how much more is possible with clean shooting.

The Estonian Women’s Team seem to be very good friends. How nice is it to travel and compete in such a good atmosphere?

I don’t even want to imagine how hard and boring it would be if we didn’t get along so well. I feel so lucky to be able to call my teammates my best friends. It is great to share the emotions, no matter if they are good or bad with them immediately. To explore the world with them! And of course to race in the same relay team!

What are your plans for summer training?

We have a new team coach with whom I personally have worked since last August. We’re mostly training in Otepää, where we have an amazing center with a 6km rollerski track with two shooting ranges.

What are your goals for next season?

To improve technique and balance, to hit more targets and shoot faster.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.

It depends on what time the race starts. Usually our races are in the afternoon so I like to sleep longer, have breakfast, then go for a run and have an light lunch and get ready to go to the stadium. I eat “normal food” but avoid milk products because they don’t suit my stomach.

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?

I am quite a slow shooter, and also much worse in prone than standing. Ski wise I want to improve balance and technique.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

I usually wear my favorite pieces of clothing, but just because they are the most comfortable. Also I have a routine of warm up exercises, which I do every time before the start.

How difficult is it to keep up with the WADA rules for doping? Is it hard to keep track of all your food, supplements and medicines etc?

It comes with time, and now we have a database made by the Estonian anti-doping where we can search for all the medicines sold in Estonia to see if they are allowed or not.

I don’t want to criticize but you are Johanna and your brother is called Johan which shows a lack of imagination by your parents!!!;-) Does this ever cause any confusion because your names are so similar?

You are not the first one to ask this question. Both Johan and Johanna are very common names in Estonia and Scandinavia so usually there is no problem. Our parents just wanted them to be similar for both siblings and international.

Does your rifle have a name?

I usually call it “rifle” or “gun” 🙂

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling, independent, lively.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Oslo
Favourite biathlete (past or present):The whole biathlon family is super friendly and fun, it would be a shame to pick just one.
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit and relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? First ever clean shooting at the Sochi Olympics
Favourite food: chocolate
Favourite singer/band: can change daily
Favourite film: 1+1 (The Intouchables)
Favourite TV show: news or any other show that is not read in some language that I can’t understand.

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