Tag Archives: Junior World Championships

Jillian Colebourn: The Interview!

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Jillian Colebourn is an Australian biathlete. She was born in Sydney on the 9th of January 1995. She has already competed in two Youth/Junior World Championships in Raubichi and Chiele Gradistei. Last season she also took part in the new Junior IBU Cup.

Follow Jillian on Twitter: @JillColebourn

How did you discover biathlon and why did you want to become a biathlete?

I started downhill skiing with my family when I was a child then decided to focus on cross country skiing when I was about 16. That same year I discovered biathlon through the cross country community and decided to try the sport as I had experience with rifle shooting as a Scout, and it sounded like fun!

Is biathlon becoming more popular in Australia? Do you get help from any sports institutes or do you need to raise your own funds?

Australian Biathlon is encouraging more kids to try out the sport and holds training camps and other opportunities to develop the sport. Biathlon in Australia is slowly developing more interest in the areas where members live and are able to volunteer, however the sport is still very small with only about 100 biathletes in total ranging from children to masters and the elite athletes to novices. Some institutes such as my University help to support my training, and the athletes also receive some help from Australian Biathlon, however most of my funds for training and races are raised by myself. I am also very lucky to have KV+ Australia as a sponsor of mine, as they have helped me to access the best poles, race skis and other cross country ski gear.


Can you concentrate solely on biathlon at the moment or are you still in education too?

I am currently studying Full-Time Mechatronic Engineering and Commerce at the University of Sydney, as well as training. However, I have found that I am not able to focus on biathlon as much as I would like, and so have reduced my study load for the next year to part-time so that I can concentrate on biathlon.

Do you train in Australia in the off season? It is winter there so can you train on snow quite a lot? What are the facilities like at Hotham?

I train in Australia for most of the year, except for the Northern-hemisphere winter. In Autumn and the Spring, I do normal summer training at home while I attend university such as roller skiing, shooting, swimming, biking and running. I will spend the majority of winter staying in the ski resort Hotham, as it has the only biathlon range in Australia. Hotham is about 10 hours drive from Sydney, so I will stay there for a few weeks at a time. My university is very supportive, so I continue to stay and train when the semester starts and keep up to date with my studies online. I will also occasionally go to Perisher, another skiing resort closer to Sydney (about 5 hours) as it has good cross-country tracks but no shooting range unfortunately. Currently the range at Hotham has about 12 lanes, with mechanical targets. The facilities are not perfect, but we are a small sport and we have everything that we need, we even have an outdoor drop-dunny!


Can you tell me about last season, what races did you take part in and what results did you get?

Last season I was based in Livigno, Italy where my coach lives and competed in some European National cups such as the Swiss Cup, Italian Cup, Junior IBU cups and the Youth/Junior World Championships in Romania. Unfortunately, I peaked early in the season so I did not perform my best at the JWCH and was disappointed with my results. However at the Junior IBU cups earlier in the season, I consistently place around 40th to 50th position out of about 100 competitors. I was pleased with this result as it is hard to develop as a biathlete in Australia and it was a positive step in the direction of my goals.

What did you learn about yourself last season? Are you working on anything specific that you want to improve for the coming season?

Last season I learned that during competitions I am quite reliably a good shooter. However this came at the cost of having very slow shooting times. I have been working on improving my shooting speed during summer training and aim to improve my racing shooting times during the upcoming Australian Winter season.


What are your goals for this season?

This coming Northern Hemisphere season, I plan to compete in a few IBU cups, some European National Cups and the World University Games. This will be my first time at an IBU Cup so my goal is simply to get a feel for the competition and standards so that I know how to improve for the coming years.

Who has been the biggest inspiration or supporter of your biathlon career and why?

My biggest supporter of my biathlon career has to be my parents who encouraged and supported me from day 1. When I first started biathlon they knew nothing about it, but have grown to be large parts of the community here in Australia to support not only myself but the growth of the sport as a whole. However, my biggest inspiration is definitely my coach, Luca Bormolini from Italy. He pushes me to become the best athlete I can be and believes in my abilities even when I do not and I can always trust his coaching.

Do you have a favourite race (sprint, pursuit etc.)? Which is it and why?

My favourite race is a sprint, because I am able to stay focused to ski fast and shoot very well. In longer races, my shooting accuracy tends to vary much more and I find it much harder to maintain focus on ski technique and pushing myself.

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Magic BéaTRIX!

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You could say that last season was magic for Jean Guillaume Béatrix! He won bronze in the Pursuit race in the Sochi Olympics and finished on the podium for the first time ever on the World Cup. He has been threatening to do this for a while now and has finally lived up to the promise that he showed in his Junior career. I didn’t want to say it’s about time Jean-Guillaume, but it’s about time!!

I am not suggesting he is old though. In fact Jean Guillaume is just 26 years old. He was born on the 24th of March 1988 in Saint Priest, France and he is the same age as Martin Fourcade, Simon Schempp and Tarjei Boe to name a few. In fact competing with these guys goes some way to explaining why it has taken a while for him to reach the podium. It is extremely difficult to make it into the TOP 3 nowadays with the vast amount of talent in men’s biathlon both old and new.

Between learning to play the piano and the guitar(show off!) Jean Guillaume had a successful career at Youth and Junior level. He won 2 bronze medals in the 2007 Youth World Championships in the Individual and the Relay before going on to win gold in the Individual the next year in the Junior World Championships. Like a lot of biathletes he found the transition to the Senior level more demanding and it is in the last few years that he has really shown what a classy biathlete he is.

He helped the French Men’s Relay team to consecutive silver medals in the World Championships in 2012 and 2013 before claiming individual glory in the Olympic Games. He came from 14th place to win his bronze medal and also did well in the Individual race finishing 6th. He arrived at the Olympics fresh from his first appearance on a World Cup podium in Antholz where he came second in the Pursuit. Not a bad couple of months!

In fact his whole season was pretty good. He matched his position the Total Score from the previous season finishing 13th overall. His best result came in the Mass Start standings where he came 6th which is a good indication of someone who can compete under pressure. He has improved his shooting a lot and I think this has been the real difference in his results. He has always been a fast skier and can compete with the top guys but his shooting has sometimes let him down. If he can continue his progress I am sure a trip to the top step of the podium is not far away.

Of course Jean Guillaume is also known for his musical skills as well as biathlon. He is part of the “biathlon band” that includes Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Former member JP Le Guellec has now retired so there is a place up for grabs. They were joined for their version of Venus by Larisa Nedbaeva on violin but I do play a pretty mean triangle and tambourine myself if required!:-)

So I am sure that Jean Guillaume will be performing another song next season with the band but what can we expect from his performances on the track? Well he has to be targeting a first win on the World Cup and I am pretty confident he will get it. Improving on 13th in the Total Score should also be achievable. The World Championships could provide him with more chances for medals and of course France are guaranteed silver in the Men’s Relay because that’s where they always finish but he could also take an individual medal or two. Great skiing and shooting are obviously the key to success but if he can add some Magic BéaTRIX it could see him ski away with a gold!

You can like Jean-Guillaume’s Facebook page : Jean-Guillaume Beatrix – Officiel

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A’Doro’ble Wierer!

Dorothea Wierer is Italy’s best hope for a World Cup victory since Nathalie Santer. Her final win was in season 1999/2000 and so it’s about time Italy had another lady on the top step of the podium. They almost made it there with Michela Ponza who came second on four occasions but heartbreakingly never won a race on the World Cup.

Dorothea was born on the 3rd of April 1990 and like many Italian biathletes she comes from the very North West of Italy near the Austrian border and so speaks German as well as Italian. Last season was really a breakthrough season for her as she achieved some excellent but also consistent results. Her career best result came in Pokljuka where she got on the podium for the very first time on the World Cup finishing third in the Pursuit.

That was not her first time on a podium however. Just before Pokljuka she won a bronze medal in the Winter Olympics in Sochi in the Mixed Relay in a really talented team including Lukas Hofer, Karin Oberhofer and Dominik Windisch. That is not the first medal she has won either!

She enjoyed a very successful Junior career winning 5 gold medals and 1 silver. She won gold in the Individual in Ruhpolding in 2008 and another gold in the Pursuit in Canmore in 2009. In Nove Mesto in 2011 she won gold in all three events, Sprint, Pursuit and Individual, and just missed out on a clean sweep finishing with silver in the relay.

So as you can see it’s not really a surprise that she has done so well after such excellent displays as a Junior. It does take a little while to make the transition into Senior racing but with some good years of experience behind her she is now showing exactly what she is capable of in an extremely competitive womens competition. She achieved six TOP 10 finishes last season and considering that her only previous TOP 10 finish came in 2010/11 shows just what improvements she has made both with skiing and shooting but also with consistency.

All of which helped her to 16th place in the Overall Score and a 7th position the Individual. The future is looking bright for Italian Women’s biathlon at the moment. Along with Karin Oberhofer ,who has also had a great season, Wierer is setting a great example for the likes of Lisa Vittozzi another up and coming young Italian biathlete.

Next season will be very interesting for Wierer. Without the Olympics dominating everyone’s focus she will have the opportunity to concentrate on getting to the top step of the podium and try and pick up some medals in the World Championships in Kontiolahti. If she can continue to improve on last season’s performances she will be a serious contender for not just a relay medal but an individual medal too.

I really hope she can do something special next year as a boost not just for herself but for Italian biathlon too. She will face some difficult competition however as there are many strong female biathletes on the scene just now. Whatever happens I am sure she will do it with a smile on her face if not also in full Tyrolean costume because she is of course A’doro’ble Wierer!

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Great Scott!

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Fourth on the google search list behind a motor racer, a golfer and a boxer Scott Dixon is a popular sporting name! Most importantly however it is the name of a biathlete. Scott was born on the 9th of July 1994. The youngest of the Great Britain World Cup squad he is also the only civilian on the team. The others are all members of the armed forces.

At the age of nearly 20 he has been on the World Cup scene for 2 years now but has so far been used sparingly at the top level. He has taken part in some individual events but has competed more often as a member of the GB relay team. Still classed as a junior he also had the chance of going to Presque Isle in March to take part in the Youth/Junior World Championships. His previous 2 championships in Obertilliach 2013 and Kontiolahti 2012 yielded a best result of 40th in the Sprint. This year however he improved greatly and came in 23rd in the 15km Individual.

That was the best ever result achieved by a British athlete in these championships beating Mark Gee’s result of 35th in 1991. In fact it could have been even better as he was in second place after the first two shoots. Unfortunately Scott heard the stadium announcer mention his placing which maybe contributed to a poor third shoot and put paid to what could have been an outstanding achievement for a British athlete. Pressure is a big part of the sport though and is another step on the learning curve for Scott.

Speaking of learning Scott doesn’t have a bad teacher when it comes to biathlon. His Dad is former GB biathlete and cross country skier Mike Dixon. He is now a biathlon coach for the Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club in Scotland and happens to be one of a few people who have competed in 6 Olympic games. He is basically Scotland’s Bjoerndalen but unfortunately without the medals! So Scott has a great biathlon foundation, good genes and a good coach, and is a big hope for the future.

However it’s not easy competing for Great Britain in biathlon. They don’t have the resources and facilities that other countries do and like many biathletes Scott had to go and live in Germany to be able to train to a high standard. Ruhpolding is a home away from home for a lot of GB athletes and it seems to be working for Scott. Dixon junior still has 1 Junior World Championships that he is eligible to take part in next year in Raubitschi, Belarus. He has the IBU Cup and hopefully more World Cups to compete in too in season 2014/15.

On the World Cup it would be interesting to see Scott changing places in the relay team. He is always used 4th and so doesn’t usually get the chance to compete an entire lap as teams who are lapped are stopped after the last shoot and so don’t finish the race. I would like to see him tried at second or third so he can get more experience of pressure and the opportunity to actually complete the whole distance with some real competition around him.

Next season will be an important one for Scott. With the likes of Lee Jackson and Kevin Kane not getting any younger (sorry guys!) he is in line to take over from them. His ultimate goal has to be to represent Team GB at the next Olympics in Pyeongchang 2018 but to do this he needs to show continual improvement and work on not only the physical but also the mental side of biathlon. At 20 he still has time to get better and I am sure he will be a great representative for Great Britain. It’s only a matter of time before he moves up the google search list too because he is definitely a Great Scott!

You can Like Scott’s Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete.

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Dutch courage!*

chardine

It’s flat. It doesn’t have a lot of snow. It’s more famous for windmills, tulips and clogs and a liberal attitude to just about everything. The Netherlands is not a place you would readily associate with biathlon. You would however be wrong! Not only do they have biathletes, they have a whole family of them!

All born in Waddinxveen the Sloof family comprising of brothers Joël and Luciën and sister Chardine are taking the biathlon siblings thing to a whole new level! Especially as their coach just happens to be their dad, Eddy! Despite being the youngest, the most successful and probably best known of the three is Chardine. She burst onto the scene in 2012 at the Junior World Championships in Kontiolahti winning two gold medals in the Individual and the Pursuit. In doing so she made history by becoming the first Dutch athlete to win a World Championship.

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Moving to Sweden in 1999 obviously helped all of the Sloofs in biathlon as The Netherlands neither has the weather conditions or facilities to support professional biathletes. Torsby is the location the family chose and it has paid off as all three children have done well in biathlon. The eldest brother Joël born on the 15th of November 1988 has had most experience on the IBU and World Cup. He has had some good results in the past year finishing from around 50th to 95th on the World Cup and a 51st place in the World Championship Individual in Nove Mesto was a great achievement. Luciën born on the 7th of June 1990 is obviously slightly less experienced but has produced some good Top 50 results in the Junior World Championships and also in the European Championships.

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However the Sloof family don’t have the monopoly on Dutch biathlon. The recently retired and brilliantly named Herbert Cool had a good career and there is another up and coming biathlete Jarl Hengstmengel, who placed a credible 48th and 68th in the Individual and Sprint respectively in the Junior World Championships in Obertilliach this year. He trains in Germany and has set a goal of becoming one of the Top 50 in the World. As an 18 year old he has great ambition and also the time to try and achieve it. He is aiming high and there is nothing wrong with that unless you are on the shooting range of course!

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So there you have it, The Netherlands has quite a few good young biathletes coming through. It just shows you that you don’t need hills or snow to be good at winter sports. A little help is required of course in these cases from Sweden and Germany but a bit of Dutch courage can take you a long way.

Good luck to all of them!

You can follow all The Sloofs and Jarl on Twitter and Chardine, Luciën and Jarl on Facebook. I strongly recommend you do so – they need your support!

You can find out more info at: http://www.sloofbiathlon.com
(It’s in Dutch but you can translate it easily with an online translator.)

*just so we’re clear I mean Dutch courage as in brave people who are Dutch. I am not advocating drinking alcohol for courage(as the saying means in English) before doing biathlon!Although……


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