Tag Archives: Julia Simon

Ridnaun 2018: Open European Championships!

This season’s Open European Championships took place in Ridnaun, Italy from the 24th to the 28th of January. The first races were on Wednesday when we had the Individuals.

The men were first to race in sunny, calm conditions. Felix Leitner won his first senior medal at aged 21 by hitting 19/20 targets and winning by 43 seconds. A very impressive performance from the young Austrian. The silver went to Tomas Krupcik of the Czech Republic who also hit 19/20. In third place was Germany’s Philipp Horn who also just missed 1 shot. Only two men hit the perfect 20/20, Yury Shopin in 9th and Fredrik Roervik in 20th.

The women raced later but with the same conditions. This time France won gold with Chloe Chevalier. She hit 19/20 and won by almost 48 seconds. She had a fantastic ski time as silver medallist Alexia Runggaldier and bronze medallist Victoria Slivko both hit 20/20. Two other women also hit the perfect score, Nadine Horchler in 7th and Sigrid Neraasen in 15th.

After a day off on Thursday we had the Sprint races on Friday. It was a bit clouder and wetter and made conditions a little trickier. It was Andrejs Rastorgujevs who came away with the gold medal in the men’s race. Despite missing 1 target his skiing took him to the top step of the podium by 5.5 seconds. The silver medal went to Alexander Loginov just like it did last year. He shot clean as did Krasimir Anev who also repeated his result from last season taking the bronze.

In the women’s race it was the Ukraine’s Iryna Varvynets who came out on top. She took the gold with clean shooting by 12.5 seconds from Chloe Chevalier in second. Chevalier missed one target which prevented her from claiming her second gold medal here. Third place went to Japan’s Fuyuko Tachizaki. She also shot 10/10 to make history for Japan. She is the first Japanese biathlete to win an international medal.

Both pursuits were on Saturday and with Sprint victor Andrejs Rastorgujevs deciding not to race, along with another 13 biathletes who didn’t start, it left Loginov to start the race. He never gave up the lead. He missed 2 targets but still won by 27 seconds from Anev who hit 20/20. The bronze medal went to Evgeniy Garanichev who went from 19th to 3rd despite 3 misses.

In the women’s race, where there were 15 non starters, Chloe Chevalier claimed gold once again. She shot clean to overtake Iryna Varvynets and win by 11 seconds. Varvynets took the silver with 19/20 and Julia Simon also with 1 miss moved from 29th to 3rd to take the bronze medal.

The final day was reserved for the Relays. First we had the Single Mixed Relay. It was a close affair between the top three teams with Norway coming out on top. Their team of Thekla Brun-Lie and Vetle Christiansen used just six spares to take the gold. They passed the early leaders France with better shooting. Julia Simon and Emilien Jacquelin needed 11 spares. The bronze medal went to the USA who sneaked in a team of Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey who only competed in this event and none of the individual races.

The last race was the Mixed Relay and this time it was the good shooting of Ukraine that saw them win the gold medal. The team of Yuliia Zhurakov, Iryna Varvynets, Artem Pryma and Dmytro Pidruchnyi used 6 spares to beat Russia by 12 seconds. Victoria Slivko, Anastasia Zagoruiko, Evgeniy Garanichev and Alexander Loginov needed 9 spares to take the silver medal. Norway were third with Emilie Kalkenberg, Kaia Nicolaisen, Haavard Bogetveit and Fredrik Gjesbakk using 4 spares to win bronze.

Those results left France at the top of the medal table with 5 in total followed by Russia with 4 and the Ukraine with 2. It was a very good Championships for Chloe Chevalier who was the star performer with 2 gold medals and 1 silver.

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Antholz 2018: The Sprints!

It was a beautiful day in Antholz on Thursday for the women’s Sprint with sunshine and no wind. With surprising weather comes surprising results and no one was more surprising than the winner!

Tiril Eckhoff, who has had a pretty average season so far, finally put everything together today and won the Sprint race. She started late in bib 71 but crucially she shot clean for the first time this season and with her ski speed she beat Laura Dahlmeier into second by 12 seconds.

We all know how good Tiril can be on her day, it’s just that those days don’t come often enough.

Dahlmeier also hit 10/10 as did Veronika Vitkova in third place. Vitkova has shown some fantastic form since Christmas and took her third podium of the season. Darya Domracheva missed 1 but is skiing well and finished 4th.

Anais Bescond hit the perfect 10 in 5th and Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht did the same to finish 6th.

There was also some personal bests in the race today from Julia Simon in 12th, Jessica Jislova in 15th, Laura Toivanen in 33rd, Kamila Zuk in 51st, Emily Dreissigacker in 59th, Regina Oja in 61st, Johanna Skottheim in 66th, and Fanqui Meng in 68th.

Some of the bigger names are missing this weekend for Olympic preparation like the Swedish and Polish women. That handed World Cup debuts to Felicia Lindqvist of Sweden who was 63rd and also Canada’s Nadia Moser who was 85th.

The top two fighting for the Overall Title, Kuzmina and Makarainen, were 18th and 26th respectively.

There were no surprises in the men’s Sprint. The race was between Johannes Boe and Martin Fourcade. A common theme for this season. We just have to wait to see who wins. This time it was Johannes. It was a little windier on Friday for the men and it showed in the early shooting.

Johannes missed 1 in the prone but skied like a maniac to win the race by 12.8 seconds. Fourcade hit the perfect 10 but was only second. After looking tired in Ruhpolding last week Johannes recovered well and put in a great skiing display. I mean who misses a shot and beats Fourcade when he has a clear shoot? Only Johannes!

Third place went to Arnd Peiffer. He also shot clean but just beat Anton Shipulin into 4th. Shipulin missed 1 but was only 4 seconds from the podium. Remember though that Anton loves Antholz!

Emilien Jacquelin was a fantastic 5th. He started in bib 94 but cleaned 10/10 and skied really well to take his personal best finish and some flowers! His amazing form this season probably means that a big French name is going to miss the Olympics!

Sixth place went to Lars Birkeland with 10/10 continuing his good form this season and justifying his place at the Olympics ahead of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Apart from Jacquelin there were a few more personal bests in the field. Volodymyr Siemakov was 12th, Andrzej Nedza- Kubiniec was 51st and Vladislav Vitenko was 52nd. There were also some World Cup debuts from Linas Banys of Lithuania in 103rd and Canada’s Aiden Millar in 107th.

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Oberhof 2018: The Sprints!

Now that I have managed to write 2018 in the title and not 2017 we can get on with the Women’s Sprint from Oberhof!

The year may have changed but the form of Anastasiya Kuzmina has not! She took her third victory of the season in the Sprint and again by a big margin.

The conditions were not too bad after heavy snow on Tuesday and then rain storms on Wednesday. The only issue today was the wind in the range, a common problem in Oberhof, and it ruined a lot of standing shoots for the ladies.

In the end Kuzmina won by 35 seconds. She missed 1 target in the prone and looked very impressive. She has never had a season like this before with such consistent success. Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who also had 1 miss in the stand for her. It’s not many people who can take that much time from Kaisa with the same shooting score!

Third place went to Veronika Vitkova with her first podium since the 2014/15 season. It’s not such a surprise that she did it here as she now has a win, two seconds and a third place finish in Oberhof. She loves the place!

Franziska Hildebrand was 4th with 9/10, Justine Braisaz was 5th with 8/10 and Weronika Nowakowska was 6th with her best finish since having twins.

There were some personal bests today too with Linn Persson coming home 8th shooting 10/10. Sarah Beaudry was 23rd also hitting all 10. Japan’s Sari Furuya was 29th with 2 misses and Mun Ji Hee of Korea was 30th with 1 miss. The only other person to hit the perfect 10 was Julia Ransom who equalled her personal best of 9th.

Spare a thought for poor Julia Simon of France who had a nasty trip and looked like she suffered an injury.

The men raced on Friday and well it was wet. A bit of a miserable day in Oberhof with some gusts of wind thrown in for good measure. Surprise, surprise Martin Fourcade won this one. It is however just his third victory this season in the 4th World Cup. His overall rival Johannes Boe could have won this too but he missed two shots on the prone when Fourcade hit 10/10 but was just 10 seconds behind. That only left him in third however as teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen took second. He shot clean to finish 8 seconds behind Fourcade.

It’s only Svendsen’s second World Cup this season after missing Hochfilzen and Annecy. Also shooting clean in 4th was Tim Burke! Yes finally Tim is back at the sharp end with a great performance at his home away from home in Oberhof. Tarjei Boe was 5th with 1 miss and Lukas Hofer was 6th also with 9/10.

It will be a tough day for Fourcade in the Pursuit on Saturday with 3 Norwegians chasing him down!

Jakov Fak shot clen today in 7th as did Matvey Eliseev in 21st. Jeremy Finello hit all the targets in 27th, Tuomas Gronman did the same in 45th and Scott Dixon also hit 10/10 in 87th place.

Poor Edin Hodic of Serbia had a problem when his harness came off his rifle after a fall and he couldn’t finish the race.

The Pursuit races on Saturday should be very interesting with a lot of people having trouble shooting in the Oberhof range and with wet tracks it could be a great watch!

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Holmenkollen 2017: The Sprints!

It is the final World Cup round in Holmenkollen and it’s just like school before you break up for the holidays. With most of the big prizes already decided there is a bit of craziness in the air. We had Serafin Wiestner with underwear over his ski suit (like Superman) in training after losing a bet with his coach. Anton Babikov trying to throw snowballs at a Russian TV interview and Michal Krcmar falling out of his hotel window (it was very low to the ground).

Finally on Friday we got a little more serious for the Sprint races. The Women’s Sprint threw up a lot of surprises. We had another brand new winner with Finland’s Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever race on the World Cup. She shot clean to win by almost 8 seconds. Second place went to Justine Braisaz getting her second podium of the season also hitting 10/10. Her teammate Anais Bescond had a good race hitting the perfect score finishing in third.

The big surprise was that Gabriela Kouklava won the Sprint Title. She finished 4th with 1 miss but rival Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 31st with 3 misses all in the prone. Those results meant that Gabi won the small crystal globe by just 5 points!

Some of the younger women coming up from the IBU Cup also had a good day. There were personal bests for Austria’s Julia Schwaiger in 14th, France’s Julia Simon in 25th and Russia’s Victoria Slivko in 30th.

The Men’s race was less surprising! Johannnes Boe shot 10/10 and skied really well to win the race by over 13 seconds. Second place went to Martin Fourcade who has chosen to race this weekend despite the imminent arrival of his second child. He missed his last standing target but skied his way to the podium.

Third place went to Anton Shipulin who at one point was ahead of Fourcade but lost a lot of time on the tracks possibly because of his late start bib giving him trickier conditions. He hit 10/10 but was 8 seconds behind Fourcade in the end. He was also just 0.2 of a second ahead of Dominik Landertinger in 4th so he did well to stay on the podium!

Fredrik Gjesbakk got his personal best on the World Cup in 25th as did Slovenia’s Miha Dovzan in 34th. In his final race of the season Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also improved his best result to 65th!

Tomorrow we have the final Pursuit races and we will see if Laura Dahlmeier can hang on to that title!

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Junior Open Euro Champs 2016!

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Viktar Kryuko

The Junior Open European Championships were held in Pokljuka, Slovenia and were another chance for the Junior biathletes to get some competition practice and some more Championship experience.

The first race was the Men’s Individual and was won by Viktar Kryuko from Belarus. He missed 1 target and finished 1 minute 15 second ahead of second place. The silver medal went to Anton Dudchenko of Ukraine who also missed just 1 target with bronze medal going to Kazakhstan’s Roman Yeremin who shot 18/20.

In the Women’s Individual Ukrainian Anastasiya Merkushyna took gold by 35 seconds shooting 20/20. Silver went to Germany’s Christin Maier who also shot 20/20 but couldn’t match the ski pace of the winner. The bronze medal went to Lena Arnaud of France who missed 1 target and was only 49 seconds behind first place which means that one shot cost her the chance of the gold medal.

Friday was a rest day after the Individual races and so we waited until Saturday for the Sprints. In the Men’s race Viktar Kryuko claimed double gold by winning again. He missed 2 targets but still managed to ski fast enough to win by 2.6 seconds. Winning the silver medal was Germany’s Dominic Reiter who shot 10/10 but wasn’t fast enough on the skis to get gold. Bronze also went to Germany with David Zobel.

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Lena Arnaud

In the Women’s race Lena Arnaud added gold to her bronze medal from the Individual. She shot 10/10 to win by 23.4 seconds. Silver medal went to her teammate Chloe Chevalier who missed 2 targets and shooting clear to win bronze was Christin Maier.

The final 2 races were the Pursuits. Moving up from third and taking gold was David Zobel.He missed 2 shots but won by a comfortable margin of 27 seconds. The silver medal went to France’s Emilien Jacquelin who after finishing the first 2 races in 5th place finally made it on to the podium. The bronze medal was won by Anton Dudchenko.

The Women’s race was won by Julia Simon of France who came from fifth to win by 21 seconds. The silver medal went to the Sprint winner Lena Arnaud and Christin Maier retained her third place start to get another bronze medal.

That concludes the Open European Championships for the Juniors. France, Germany and the Ukraine took most of the medals and Kazakhstan got 1 too. Viktar Kryuko was the star winning 2 gold medals for Belarus and Lena Arnaud got gold,silver and bronze for France. That’s it for the Juniors this season but it was good to see them getting their own World Cup rounds as well as the World and European Championships to help them gain experience to hopefully move on to the IBU Cup and eventually the World Cup! Remember where you read about them first though – on Biathlon23!

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Raubichi 2015: The Joy of Juniors!

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The Junior Men and Women had to wait a day longer than the Youths to start their competition in Raubichi and it was lucky for them as the conditions were better than the first days racing. The Women got us underway in the Individual with an early start and it was the Ukraine who came out on top. Yuliya Zhurakov shot the perfect score and took gold but only by 0.2 of a second from Poland’s Kinga Mitoraj. She also shot clear to take silver and was maybe at a disadvantage starting bib 3 so that Zhurakov could get her timings having started later and knew she had to push hard. In third was Kazakhstan’s Galina Vishnevskaya who missed 1 shot. If she had shot clean she would have won as she was only 30 second behind the winner. Two Swedish women made it into the Top 15 with Linn Persson in 12th and Hanna Öberg in 13th which is a good boost for the team.

In the Men’s race France’s pocket rocket Aristide Begue won the Individual again! He loves this race! His shooting was outstanding with 20/20 and he managed to hold off the challenge from Russia’s Alexsandr Dediukhin by 3 seconds. In third was Norway’s Vemund Gurigard who also shot zero. Begue’s teammate Emilien Jacquelin was 4th missing one shot which prevented him making the podium. Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also just missed the one target finishing 18th in a high quality field. In fact the level of the biathletes in the Men’s Junior field is quite incredible. Some of the shooting in the race was fantastic not just for the accuracy but also the speed under real pressure. I thought Johannes Boe was a top shooter when it came to speed but looking at Begue, Dediukhin, Jacquelin and Gurigard I think he still has work to do!;-)

It was over to the Junior French Women on Saturday to continue their country’s success. Lena Arnaud won the Sprint race by 2.4 seconds from Galina Vishnevskaya who added silver to her bronze from the Individual. Chloe Chevalier added to France’s medals by winning bronze. The race was characterised by excellent shooting as the Top 6 all shot 10/10. It then came down to ski speed with Arnaud proving the fastest on the day. In the Men’s Sprint Alexsandr Dediukhin recovered very well from his exertions in the Individual to come home in first and claim the gold medal. Unlike in the women’s race he was the only one in the Top 20 to shoot the perfect score and so was a deserving winner. In second came France again but this time it was Fabien Claude who won silver. Taking the bronze was America’s Sean Doherty who got his first medal after moving up from the Youth category. Canada’s Aiden Miller impressed by getting his best finish of 8th and it was also good to see a Croatian biathlete doing well when Kresimir Crnkovic finished in 12th position.

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Both of the Pursuits took place on Sunday and we got our first German medal of the Championships. Marie Heinrich shot clean to win her first gold ahead of Vishnevskaya who took silver and has won a medal in every race. In bronze position was Yulila Zhuravok who added to her Individual gold. In the Men’s Pursuit Russia got back on the top step of the podium with Eduard Latypov taking gold ahead of Vemund Gurigard in silver and teammate Alexander Povarnitsyn who won bronze.

The final day of competition on Tuesday morning was for the Relays. The Junior Women were first and a very impressive French team won the gold medal. Chloe Chevalier, Julia Simon and Lena Arnaud only needed 6 spare rounds to win and finished 27 seconds ahead of second placed Russia. The Russian team of Victoria Slivko, Natalia Gerbulova and Uliana Kaisheva only used 7 spares themselves but couldn’t make up the time on the tracks. In bronze medal position were Germany whose team of Anna Weidel, Helene Terese Hendel and Marie Heinrich finished over 1 minute 30 seconds down on France who led from start to finish. The Swedish team came fourth with a penalty loop meaning they couldn’t reach the podium. The Norwegian team in 8th only used 7 spares like the teams in second and third but were over 3 minutes off the pace which must be a worry for their selectors.

The Men’s race was won by a really strong Russian team of Dediukhin, Viktor Tretiakov, Latypov and Povarnitsyn. Silver medal went to Norway who had a team of Andreas Kvam, Henrik Sagosen Smeby, Aslak Nenseter and Vemund Gurigard. They used 5 spare rounds to the Russians 4 but where still 1 minute 12 off the time of the winners. In third was France with Aristide Begue, Felix Cottet Puinel, Emilien Jacquelin and Fabien Claude. They used a total of 8 spares and finished 10 seconds behind the Norwegians.

What are the conclusions from the Junior World Championships? Firstly France are in really good shape and have an impressive Junior squad. They come away from Raubichi with 6 medals,three from the men and three from the women. Russia also have a strong squad and a star in the making in Dediukhin who is a fast skier and an excellent shot. The Norwegian men’s team look promising but the women’s side have a lot of work in front of them to match the high standards expected by their country. On the other hand it was great to see the Swedish women do well. They just missed out on the medals but after the criticism they have had in recent years it’s good to see some improvement from them. Individually it was a good Championships for Galina Vishnevskaya who won two silvers and a bronze, Lena Arnaud with 2 golds and obviously Dediukhin who won two golds and a silver.

There will be many happy biathletes leaving Raubichi having achieved their targets or even exceeded them. Equally there will be those who are disappointed and frustrated at their performances. The Junior category has an amazingly high standard of competitor this year especially in the men’s field. Some of the biathletes know just how hard it is to compete at this level and others will have gotten a massive shock at just how good the guys and girls are at Junior level. They will all be taking something away from these Championships whether it be medals or just the drive and motivation to train harder and practise more to come back stronger next year. That is the Joy of Juniors!

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Raubichi: Give Youth a Chance!

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For this year’s Youth/Junior World Championships all eyes will be turning to Belarus. The home of Darya Domracheva will be hosting this year’s Championships in Raubichi, a purpose built winter sports complex just 20km North East of Minsk. The Junior WC was first held in 1997 in Forni Avoltri Italy followed by the Youth WC in 2002 in Ridnaun also in Italy. You might recognise some of the former winners. If you are good enough to get a medal here you are joining some illustrious company.

Medalists from the YJWC’s include Andrea Henkel, Olga Vilhukina, Darya Domracheva, Magdalena Neuner and Dorothea Wierer. Some former male champions include Simon Fourcade, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Anton Shipulin, Lukas Hofer, Simon Eder and Jean Guillaume Beatrix to name but a few! This year’s races start with the Youth Men and Women’s Individual on the 18th of February and end on the 24th with the Men’s and Women’s Junior Relays.

The Youth section of the championships is open to athletes who are under 18. To qualify as a Junior you must be between the ages of 19 and 21 by the 31st of December which is the cut-off date for the age ranges. Each country has their own selection criteria by which they select the eligible athletes. Last year’s competition took place in Presque Isle, USA and showcased some great young talent that is coming through in biathlon.

The two biathletes who stood out in the Youth category were American Sean Doherty and Italian Lisa Vittozzi. Curiously they both achieved exactly the same results with both winning gold in the Sprint and Pursuit and silver in the Individual. Other impressive performers were Julia Schwaiger of Austria who won the Individual and Germany’s Anna Weidel who was second in the Sprint and Pursuit behind Vittozzi. France sent a strong team and reaped the rewards with two individual medals, one each for Julia Simon (bronze in the Sprint) and Estelle Mougel (bronze in the Pursuit) and team gold in the Youth Relay. Stand outs among the young men were Germany’s Marco Gross and Russia’s Dmitrii Shamaev who were 2nd and 3rd respectively in both the Sprint and Pursuit. Another young Russian, Yaroslav Kostyukov, won the Individual and Russia also won the relay ahead of Canada and Finland.

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There were equally good performances from people just outside the medals who will be pushing to get on the podium this time around. America’s Maddie Phaneuf, Estonia’s Tuuli Tomingas and Russian pair Liliya Davletshina and Maria Ivanova will all be hoping to medal in the Women’s competition although some will be making the move to Junior level. The young Canadian guys will be looking for some individual medals to add to a very impressive Relay silver as will the young Finns who were third.

Last year’s Junior competitions were a little more evenly spread in terms of medalists. On the Womens side a Russian, Evgeniya Pavlova, won the Sprint, a Kazakh Galina Vishnevskaya won the Pursuit and Luise Kummer a German won the Individual. Austria and Canada also had success with Lisa Hauser and Sarah Beaudry. As for the junior men Russia’s Alexander Povarnitsyn won Sprint gold and Pursuit silver. The French team won gold with Fabien Claude in the Pursuit and silver and bronze in the Individual from Aristide Begue and Dany Chavoutier. Norway also turned up at this point with Tore Leren taking Individual gold and Sprint silver with Jarle Midthjell Gjoerven adding Pursuit bronze. The Junior Relays were dominated by the German Team who won both the men’s and women’s races.

Some of these biathletes will be competing again in Raubichi and some are now too old and will be hoping to move to the IBU Cup and hopefully the World Cup for their respective countries. One thing is for sure there is a lot of good young talent in biathlon at the moment and there will surely be new names that come to the fore in Raubichi especially in the Youth Category.

What is important to remember though is that it’s not all about medals and success. For the majority of the biathletes that take part it is great experience for them and hopefully a stepping stone to greater things. You don’t have to win at this level to be a great biathlete just ask Martin Fourcade. For many of the youngsters taking part it is not only a challenge to be selected but just to be able to get to the venue. Many are partly funded or not funded at all and have to raise their own money just to pay for flights, accomodation and food. They all deserve your support and so keep an eye out for all the results not just the TOP 3. So if you don’t normally pay much attention to the Youth and Junior biathletes now is your chance. You never know you could be watching future World and Olympic champions in the making. What are you waiting for – Give Youth a Chance!

I have to say a huge thank you and good luck to Maddie Phaneuf, Robert Sircus, Martin Femsteinivik, Brian Halligan and Mateusz Janik who were all kind enough to do interviews for me in the build up to these Championships! I know you will all do your best and I will be behind you all the way! Tom Lahaye-Goffart and Jarl Hengstmengel won’t make it but better luck for next time!

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