Tag Archives: Justine Braisaz

PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Women’s Relay!

WOW! Just when you thought the biathlon races couldn’t get any better! The Women’s Relay was incredible! So much tension with so many ups and downs!

It started with snow! Unusual for the winter, I know! The wind was the big problem however with some horrible gusts hitting the range in different directions!

The first leg was again a good one for Italy. Lisa Vittozzi had another great start just using a single spare in the prone to hand over at the first exchange in the lead. She was followed by Susan Dunklee giving the USA a great start just needing 1 spare in the stand. Paulina Fialkova redeemed herself after a horrible Mixed Relay, when she shot on the wrong target, with just 1 spare required.

The first big casualty was Germany. Franziska Preuss went on the penalty loop after struggling terribly on the standing shoot. That left the door wide open for all the other teams.

Dorothea Wierer was on the second leg for Italy but she also had a nightmare this time in the prone incurring 2 penalty loops. At the second stand mayhem ensued! The wind was awful and caused almost everyone big problems. Kuzmina, Eckhoff, Herrmann and Vita Semerenko all ended up on the penalty loop and many others lost a lot of time shooting slowly. The best shoot however came from Dorothea Wierer! She cleaned the stand and left the range in the lead. A small biathlon miracle!

Kaisa Makarainen, with 2 spares needed, caught Wierer on the tracks and exchanged in the lead for Finland. The third leg was madness too with Poland’s Krystyna Guzik coming out on top. She did a penalty loop on the prone but used 1 spare in the stand to lead after leg three! Behind there were still many nations in the mix like Belarus, Slovakia, Switzerland and France. Germany couldn’t make up any ground with Franziska Hildebrand on the penalty loop as was Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold.

Some fantastic shooting from Nadezhda Skardino (2 spares), Iryna Kryuko (1 spare) and Dzinara Alimbekava (3 spares) had put Darya Domracheva in fourth place starting the last leg. She had Weronika Nowakowska in front of her as well as Anais Bescond and Federica Sanfilippo. Dasha cleaned the prone to take the lead while the others all needed spares.

That meant everything came down to the final shoot. With immense pressure on her Domracheva needed all three of her spares but when the last target went down the gold belonged to Belarus. Bescond came out after her but a stunning performance from Hanna Oberg hitting 10/10 left her in third.

She was able to pass the Frenchwomen to secure sliver for her teammates Linn Persson, Mona Brorsson and Anna Magnusson. The Swedes used 12 spares and the bronze medallists France with Anais Chevalier, Marie Dorin Habert, Justine Braisaz and Bescond used 14.

Norway finished 4th after a good leg from Marte Olsbu, Slovakia were fantastic in 5th and Switzerland also did really well finishing 6th.

It was a crazy race but an amazing spectacle and another great advert for biathlon. The men’s race tomorrow is the final event here in PyeongChang. Let’s hope they produce something similar!

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Oberhof 2018: The Relays!

Normal weather service was restored in Oberhof for the Relays – fog and lots of it!

It wasn’t so bad for the women who raced first but it still caused problems for them on the range. This one was a tale of the penalty loop with with lots of unexpected people on it!

The first to suffer was Vanessa Hinz for Germany. She had a torrid first leg using all her spares in the prone and going on the penatly loop in the stand. It looked like Germany’s hopes were gone. Italy and France took advantage with Liza Vittozzi shooting clear and Anais Bescond with 1 spare only required.

On the second leg it was France’s turn to go on the penalty loop with Anais Chevalier doing a penalty loop after the prone. Dorothea Wierer kept Italy in the lead only using 2 spares in the stand.

Behind her Denise Herrmann had a fantastic leg. She made up about 10 places just using 2 spares in the prone shoot. Kaisa Makarainen was even better with 1 spare putting Finland into third place.

Remarkably on the third leg Franziska Preuss put Germany back into the lead shooting 10/10. It was France who led over the line though with a fine performance from Celia Aymonier skiing especially well. Nicole Gontier who started the leg at the front did 2 penalty loops dropping Italy back down the standings.

Russia were coming into the race with a great leg from Tatiana Akimova shooting 10/10 and Sweden were in there too with great shooting on all three legs from Linn Persson, Anna Magnussen and Elisabeth Hoeberg.

The final leg came down to a race between Justine Braisaz and Maren Hammerschmidt for the win. Braisaz shot steadily and although she needed 4 spares she didn’t go on the penatly loop. Hammerschmidt did as she missed on the stand and Braisaz had an easy ski to victory. Laura Toivanen of Finland and Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht suffered the same fate which left the way clear for Mona Brorsson who with 3 spares brought Sweden home in third for a magnificent podium!

It’s ironic that Germany’s dominance in the Women’s Relay was ended in Germany but they still managed second without Hildebrand and Dahlmeier in the team. Russia were 4th, Ukraine 5th and Italy 6th.

The men’s relay is difficult to describe as you couldn’t see it!!! Thick fog descended and the guys had a lot of trouble on the range just to see the targets nevermind hit them. It made for a fun race though!

It was again the Belgian team who impressed over the first two legs just like in Hochfilzen. Michael Roesch and Florent Claude both led their legs with Roesch using 1 spare and Claude 2. Alexey Volkov was amazing with 1 spare for Russia putting them up front. Martin Ponsiluoma also had a great start for Swedn with 2 spares used.

Italy went on the penalty loop early with Tomas Bormolini as did Germany’s Roman Rees and France’s Emilien Jacquelin.

Lukas Hofer had a strong second leg for Italy and left Dominik Windisch to put Italy into the lead after three legs. Windisch shot clean while many others did a penalty loop or in the case of Johannes Kuehn 9!!! Jesper Nelin was steady for Sweden keeping them near the front.

Behind Windisch was Sebastian Samuelsson who left Freddie Lindstrom to chase Thierry Chanal for the win. They both shot clean in the prone and the Italian had a 30 second lead. However in the stand he had to take a penalty loop when Lindstrom needed just 1 spare and he won the race comfortably in the end.

It was a brilliant win for the Swedes in horrible conditions. The Italians held on to second and out of the fog appeared Tarjei Boe to put Norway on the podium. They did 3 penalty loops earlier on but Boe brought them back with a good leg while others moved backwards.

Russia were 4th, France 5th and Germany came back to 6th. We were also treated to the Thuringian dumpling song by Michael Roesch at the end of the race to make up for not being able to see it!!!

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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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Annecy 2017: The Mass Starts!

Before I tell you the tale of today’s Mass Starts I just want to congratulate the French biathlon fans! They have been amazing in Annecy and on the whole very fair supporting all the biathletes not just the home team. It might not have the most demanding tracks and the range is not the most difficult but this place should feature more often on the World Cup because of the great support. Well done Annecy!

Those fantastic crowd had a lot to cheer about today. Justine Braisaz finally took her first ever win after coming second 4 times. She did it the hard way too in a Mass Start at her home race. She kept her cool all the way through this one and even dictated the pace to the others. She missed just one target but crucially cleared her final five to cruise to victory.

Kuzmina initially led this race but did the same as she did in the Pursuit missing on the first prone. It was just two misses today but it still put her way down the field. She eventually finished 4th with 4 misses altogether which is amazing.

Denise Hermman had the chance to win here as she was leading into the final stand but she missed 3. Dahlmeier also missed 1 on the last shoot leaving Braisaz out front. Someone who didn’t miss at all was Iryna Kryuko. She hit all 20 targets and was the only woman to do that today. It was her first ever podium and thoroughly deserved for her excellent shooting.

Dahlmeier held on to third. Kuzmina was 4th, Vanessa Hinz did very well in 5th and Anais Chevalier had a good race finishing 6th.

In the men’s race Martin Fourcade finally got his long awaited win at his home World Cup. He controlled this race from start to finish in the old Fourcade style. It helped that Johannes Boe missed two shots in the first prone so Martin could play aroung with his closest challengers Anton Shipulin and Erik Lesser.

The lead changed a few times coming out of the range each time with Fourcade being careful with his shooting. However he caught and passed his rivals each time on the tracks and maybe pushed them a bit beyond their limits.

In the end Fourcade shot 20/20 and no one could touch him. Johannes Boe made a great comeback and finished second by out skiing Lesser and Shipulin on the final lap. Lesser took third place also hitting 20/20.

Shipulin took 4th also with a clean shoot. Benjamin Weger was 5th with a good performance (1 miss) ahead of Arnd Peiffer in 6th who also missed one. Freddie Lindstrom was the only other man to shoot clean in 14th place.

So that concludes all the biathlon races for this year! We return in January in Oberhof on the 4th of January. Anastasiya Kuzmina will have the yellow bib for the women, just 6 points ahead of Justine Braisaz. Martin Fourcade stays in yellow for the men but with Johannes Boe just 20 points behind him.

Hope you all have a great Christmas and I will be back over the holidays with my usual ‘unusual’ biathlon story!

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Oestersund 2017: The Pursuits!

Well, well, well Denise Herrmann proved everyone wrong didn’t she! The general consensus was that she would not repeat her Sprint victory in the Pursuit as she has the least experience in the field and has never led the race before.

WRONG! She produced a great race to take her second victory in a row and really worry the other women! Hopefully not too many other cross country skiers will follow her move as if you don’t choose biathlon as your first sport it is very suspicious! 😉

The first two prone shoots were pretty straightforward for Herrmann hitting 10/10. It was in the first stand that she had a wobble! She missed two and that allowed Justine Braisaz to catch up to her. Both cleaned the second stand and left the range together but then Herrmann just skied off into the distance winning by 25 seconds and leaving poor Justine to miss out on the win again. She shot 20/20 and will take the yellow bib to Hochfilzen after having a great week here in Sweden.

Third place went to Marte Olsbu who moved from 7th to the final podium spot with 2 missed targets. She passed Lisa Vittozzi who had just one miss and came home 4th. Maren Hammerschmidt went from 12th to 5th.

Nadezhda Skardino was 6th hitting 20/20 making it 50/50 for the individual races which is ridiculously impressive! Olena Pidhrushna went from 28th to 9th, Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht moved from 27th to 11th and Iryna Kryuko went from 53rd to 22nd. It was a bad day for Yuliia Dzhima who went from third down to 21st missing 5 targets.

Normal service was resumed in the men’s race with Martin Fourcade winning his 64th World Cup race. He managed to defeat the double assault from the Boe brothers this time! The top 3 from the Sprint, Fourcade, Tarjei Boe and Lesser got to the first prone together but then Lesser missed 4 and his chance was gone. Boe and Fourcade missed 1 which left Svendsen and Dolder in the lead ahead of Andrejs Rastorgujevs.

At the second prone Boe and Fourcade shot clean and retook the lead. The first standing shoot would decide the winner as Fourcade hit all five and Boe missed 3. Behind Fourcade the battle was on for second and third. Jakov Fak and Quentin Fillon Maillet cleaned the first stand while others missed and they both missed 1 in the final shoot leaving a ski race to decide the positions. Fak managed to get away from Fillon Maillet in the last section of the track and took his first podium since 2015. Last year was ruined for Fak through illness so it was great to see him back at the top.

Svendsen just pipped home favourite Freddie Lindstrom for 4th and Lars Helge Birkeland came from 29th to finish 6th. Another Norwegian Henrik L’Abee Lund moved from 41st to 12th, Ondrej Moravec went from 44th to 22nd and Evgeniy Garanichev moved from 55th to 29th.

That concludes the action from Oestersund and now we move swiftly to Hochfilzen for a Sprint, Pursuit and the Relays. The yellow bibs are in the hands of the French with Justine Braisaz and Martin Fourcade leading the Total Scores.

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Oestersund 2017: The Sprints!

Another race, another new winner on the Women’s World Cup!

Well we knew it was just a matter of time before the Herrmannator started picking of the other biathletes! That’s right Germany’s Denise Herrmann in only her second season as a biathlete has won her first World Cup race.

You could see it coming a mile away in the Sprint. She is super fast on skis after ‘crossing’ over from cross country skiing and was always going to win the short distance race if she could shoot clean or miss just one target. Today she missed one in Oestersund and ran away with the victory. She won a Sprint race over on IBU Cup 1 in Sjusjoen and she did it again in Sweden with a margin of 15.2 seconds over her rivals.

Those rivals shot clean which shows her superiority on the skis. Justine Braisaz was second with 10/10 and Yuliia Dzhima took her second podium in 2 races finishing third. Fourth place went to Synnøve Solemdal who will now wear the yellow bib in the Pursuit. What a turn around in her fortunes! She also shot clean as did Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi in 5th. Kaisa Makarainen missed 1 target and was 6th.

The Semerenko twins finished 21st and 22nd both shooting 9/10 but Vita was 0.5 of a second faster than Valj. I wonder if she was the twin that was born first!! 😉

We had to wander right back to 50th place to find a personal best and that went to Russian youngster Svetlana Mironova. Slovenia’s Ukska Poje was 57th matching her PB from the Oestersund Individual. At least she is consistent! Canada’s Megan Bankes also got a best World Cup finish in 60th and made the Pursuit on Sunday.

In the men’s race on Saturday it was just like having a new winner as Tarjei Boe took his first win since 2013! Illness has ruined the last few seasons for him and it was fantastic to see him back on the top step of the podium. It wasn’t easy for him though as he had to ski I think beyond his limit to win this one.

Martin Fourcade had 1 miss and set the pace and didn’t look like he could be beaten. Tarjei in bib 94 also missed 1 target but he managed to win by just 0.7 of a second. Erik Lesser completed the podium in third 3 seconds back from Fourcade.

Fourth place went to Emil Hegle Svendsen also with 9/10. Simon Schempp was fifth with 1 miss and Mario Dolder of Switzerland got his best ever World Cup finish in 6th with a clean shoot.

Germany’s Johannes Kuehn got his career best result in 9th. Canada’s Scott Gow improved his PB by 1 place finishing 16th and Estonia’s Rene Zahkna equalled his best in 34th. Emilien Jacquelin of France again finished in the points in 37th in his second ever World Cup start.

On Sunday both Pursuits take place and they are shaping up to be great races! Don’t miss them!

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Season Preview 2017/18: Women

It’s almost time for the Women’s biathlon season to start. The first race is the Women’s Individual in Oestersund on the 29th of November. Last season was more or less a straight fight between Laura Dahlmeier and Gabriela Koukalova with Dahlmeier coming out on top winning the Overall Title for the first time.

It could be a similar situation this season but with the Olympics Games on the horizon the World Cup will not be the main focus for the majority of the biathletes. They will be concentrating on peaking for PyeongChang in February and we could even see some of them skipping World Cup races preferring to train for the Olympics.

It also means we could be losing a few of our favourites at the end of the season as the end of an Olympic cycle is a favoured time among sportspeople to retire.

Last season’s Total Scored ended like this:
4.Dorin Habert

Dahlmeier was impressive all year and crucially managed to stay fit and healthy for the entire season. She was a deserved winner of the big crystal globe and will start as favourite this season. However she didn’t have it easy.

At some points last season the top four were very close and Gabriela Koukalova pushed Dahlmeier the hardest. She is also a contender again this season but I fear she will be aiming solely for the Olympic medals and she has some health problems that could see her miss the first round in Sweden and possibly more.

It could be Kaisa Makarainen’s final season. She has spoken about retiring in the past and this may be the one she chooses to call it a day. Hopefully not but she also has a chance at the overall if she gets back some of her old consistency. Last season wasn’t her best but if she can sort out her shooting then it’s tough to beat her on the skis.

Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer are very talented biathletes but I am not sure either can put together enough consistent performances to win the World Cup.

The French women’s team in particular had a great season with Justine Braisaz and Anais Chevalier also in the Top 10. They can’t win it yet but look for them to continue moving up the standings.

None of the other ladies have produced enough points scoring finishes over the whole season to win the overall but the likes of Yuliia Dzhima, Franziska Hildebrand and Susan Dunklee can certainly win races and take podiums when they are on form.

Outside the Top 10 we found Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu in 11th and 12th place. Eckhoff has been pretty disappointing since she won the Sprint gold at the Oslo World Championships. She has struggled to put together a good season but she is still young and can hopefully make the Top 10 this year.

I would expect improvement from Anais Bescond and now also Mari Laukkanen after her great end to last season. Selina Gasparin has shown glimpses of getting back to her best and we should look to see her moving up the rankings.

Franziska Preuss had a season disrupted by injury and she will also be in the mix for podiums if she returns on good form. The Italian women like Lisa Vittozzi and Alexia Runggaldier will also be hoping to build on their successful seasons last year.

There is of course a dark horse in the women’s side. A certain Darya Domracheva. She was 24th in the Total Score but missed a lot of the season after having her baby. If she regains her form from the Sochi Olympic year she will be a massive challenger to Dahlmeier and the others.

One nation that has had a terrible time lately is Russia. Their women’s team is not nearly as good as it has been and their top performer last season was Tatiana Akimova in 16th. They will be hoping to step up their game in this very important season.

One person who will be missing from the start line in Sweden is Teja Gregorin. The Slovenian has been suspended by the IBU after retesting of her samples from the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 came back as positive for a banned substance. A growth hormone was discovered in her blood and there will be a hearing at the end of this month to deal with it.

However we will concentrate on those who are racing and the action gets underway very soon. If this season is anything like last year on the women’s World Cup you will not want to miss a single race!

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