Tag Archives: Kaia Nicolaisen

PyeongChang 2017: The Relays!

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It was the final day of racing in PyeongChang and also the final men’s and women’s relays of the season. There are reports going around that after his record equaling 6 Overall Titles in a row and 12 wins in a season that Martin Fourcade was using his big crystal globe to drink soju from! Soju is like the Korean version of sake. We thought he might miss the Relay but as these reports were from an American source it’s possible that it was fake news! 😉

Laura Dahlmeier did miss the women’s relay which is real news! The German’s lined up with their ‘H’ team (like the A team but further down the alphabet) of Horchler, Hammerschmidt, Hermann and Hildebrand! The absence of Dahlmeier didn’t prevent them from winning their fifth relay in a row and every relay this season. A fantastic achievement.

At one point it looked like it wasn’t going to happen though. Nadine Horchler had a solid first leg with just one spare needed handing over to Hammerschmidt in third place behind Chevalier of France and Crawford of Canada.

Hammerschmidt moved Germany into the lead after her leg using 2 spares but staying ahead of France’s Anais Bescond and Canada’s Julia Ransom. Ransom had an amazing leg shooting 10/10 and handing over to Megan Tandy still in contention for the lead.

Denise Hermann was confident on the prone hitting all five. However in the standing shoot she had a lot of trouble and ending up on the penalty loop. This meant that Justine Braisaz of France could take the lead handing over in front of Hermann. Then came Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who had a stunning leg making up for Hilde Fenne’s penalty loop on leg 2. Megan Tandy was brilliant in 4th using just 1 spare.

Celia Aymonier took over for France and was up against Franziska Hildebrand, Marte Olsbu and Emma Lunder. After a solid prone she had a horrible stand ending up with 2 penalty loops and so France were out of the picture. Hildebrand was excellent with just one spare meaning she had a comfortable final loop to victory.

The race was still on for the podium and it came down to a sprint finish on the line between Marte Olsbu, Gabriela Koukalova and Anna Magnusson. Some excellent shooting from these three put them all in with a chance but on the line Olsbu took second by 0.1 of a second with Koukalova in third just in front of Magnusson.

Emma Lunder needed 2 spares and in the end Canada finished 8th but it was a great race from ever member of their team racing in the top 4 for much of the relay.

The men’s race was a little less dramatic but still entertaining. Lukas Hofer set off very fast and led the first loop for Italy before having to do 3 penalty loops on the prone! Norway were up at the front after a great leg from Vetle Christiansen shooting 10/10. The USA were in seconds thanks to Lowell Bailey’s clean shoot and the Ukraine were in 3rd with Artem Pryma.

Bjoerndalen held on to the lead for Norway in the second leg with 3 spares. France’s Simon Fourcade moved them up from 7th, where Beatrix handed over, using just 1 spare. Ukraine were still in third after Sergiy Semenov’s leg.

The third leg saw France move into the lead and they wouldn’t give it up. Simon Desthieux was steady on the range unlike his competitor Vergard Gjermandshaug who incurred a penalty loop for Norway. Austria moved into second with two great legs from Simon Eder and then Julian Eberhard and Norway were still in third.

That’s how the race would end with legs from Martin Fourcade, Dominik Landertinger and Henrik L’Abee Lund. They were all good enough on the range to stop any others catching or passing them.

That is the end of the pre-Olympic event here in PyeongChang and now it’s back to Kontiolahti for World Cup 8!

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Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 1!

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Saturday was a different day on the biathlon calendar with the women racing the Mass Start and the men racing the Relay. Maybe they should do it more often as they were two fantastic races!

With calm wind conditions and a lovely sunny day it was a great day to race. The Women’s Mass Start was won by a clean shooting German…and it wasn’t Laura Dahlmeier! Giving the German selectors a massive headache before the World Championships was Nadine Horchler. She normally competes more on the IBU Cup and goes up and down to the World Cup but that may not be the case anymore after taking her first ever win.

She started with bib 30 which meant she was the last person to qualify to race today and she overtook the whole field to win with an outstanding performance. She shot clean and then on the final loop she skied past Gabriela Koukalova to take the win by just over 3 seconds. Second place went to teammate Dahlmeier who also passed Koukalova on the final lap but the Czech held on to third. She had a tough race having to take 3 different poles and missing 2 targets.

It was also unlike Dahlmeier to miss 3 shots but I think Horchler was quite pleased she did!

Tatiana Akimova had the early lead in this race after the first two prone shoots but her standing shoots let her down. That left Koukalova to take her time and clean the standing shoots to put her into the lead but she couldn’t hold on to it and a brave final lap from Horchler gave her the win.

Elsewhere Sweden’s Anna Magnusson came 7th getting her personal best missing just one target, Kaia Nicolaisen shot clean and took 9th and Alexia Runggaldier continued her fine form at home finishing 6th with 1 miss.

The Men’s Relay was next and gave us a fantastic sprint to line and a photo finish to decide the winner! Of course if there is a sprint finish there can only be two people involved. The two who are always in sprint finishes and in fact are two of the best at doing it – Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen.

This time Schempp came out on top and led team German to the victory. They were separated by just 0.1 of a second at the end. The early stages of this race had Russia in control after the first two laps with Tsvetkov and Garanichev racing really well.

The third loop began with Malyshko, Johannes Boe and Peiffer all together but by the end it was Boe who passed a 17 second lead to Svendsen. Boe and Peiffer missed just 1 shot each and Malyshko needed 4 spares which put Russia out of contention for the win.

With Svendsen requiring 2 spares to Schempp’s 1 it made the final loop into an exciting ski race. Schempp who can claim to be one of the best sprinters around grabbed the win on the line to give his team of Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer the perfect end to the day.

Norway’s team of Svendsen, Boe, Lars Birkeland and L’Abee Lund now have a first and second place in the last 2 Relays with arguably not their strongest team. Russia with Tsvetkov, Garanichev, Malyshko and Anton Babikov stayed in third place.

The American team of Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Leif Nordgren and Sean Doherty had a great race finishing in 6th from bib 24 and the Swedes with Stenersen, Nelin, Samuelsson and Lindstrom were 9th from bib 22.

Tomorrow the races are the opposite way around with the Men’s Mass Start and the Women’s Relay so let’s hope they are just as exciting as today!

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Ruhpolding 2017: The Relays!

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It seems the people of Ruhpolding like everything weiß. Weißbier, weißwurst and of course weiß snow! They also love an exciting finish in the Relay and that’s exactly what they got in the Men’s race on Wednesday.

We all know the Norwegian men love to win the Relay in Ruhpolding and they did so again for the third time in a row. For most of the race it didn’t look that likely until Emil Svendsen took over on the final leg and very much proved why he is called Super Svendsen – and it’s not because he wears his underpants over his trousers! No it’s because when he is on form he is an awesome biathlete.

Russia spent most of the race in the lead apart from the first lap where a great leg from Lukas Hofer, shooting 10/10, put Italy in the lead at the first changeover. The second two legs were dominated by Anton Shipulin who only used one spare and Matvey Eliseev who didn’t miss a target.

He handed over a 30 second lead to Anton Babikov who had Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen chasing him. Schempp was lucky to be there after Erik Lesser did a penalty loop on the first leg but some great work from Bendikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer put Germany back into contention.

Svendsen proved to be the best of the three, shooting 10/10 when the other two both needed a spare and had a great ski to catch and then pass Babikov to win the race by 5 seconds. He has teammates Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Vetle Christiansen and Henrik L’Abee Lund to thank for putting him in such a good position and also his ski technicians for some incredible skis. With Norway winning without a Boe in sight they could be hard to beat for the rest of the season.

Back in the pack Sweden came all the way from 23rd to finish 6th using 8 spares, Bulgaria finished an impressive 8th including a penalty loop and the Ukraine showed how good a team they have maintaining 4th place with Vitaliy Kilchytskyy completing his standing shoot in 17 seconds hitting all the targets. France came 9th unable to recover from a poor first leg from Simon Fourcade who is back after an illness.

So then the Women’s race on Thursday had a lot to live up to and it did just that! Kaisa Makarainen got us off to a great start by leading the race up to the first exchange. However Finnish hopes were short lived as the bigger teams took over from there. Maren Hammerschmidt took the second leg for home team Germany taking over from Vanessa Hinz. She managed to hand over the lead to Franziska Preuss despite the close attentions of Italy, Ukraine, Norway and France.

In the third leg it was Tiril Eckhoff of Norway who went into the lead missing just one shot in the prone. In fact that was the only spare round the Norwegian team used in the race! She handed Marte Oslbu a 4.5 second lead but she had some tough competition in the form of Olena Pidhrushna, Laura Dahlmeier and Celia Aymonier.

In the end it was Laura Dahlmeier who was victorious giving the crowd something to cheer! She used 1 spare but was too strong on the skis for the others making up a 10 second deficit on Olsbu. Second place went to France with Celia Aymonier also beating Olsbu to the line after they both hit every target. Aymonier, who used to be on the dark side of cross-country, seems to have found some Jedi powers on the shooting range and is becoming a fantastic biathlete. The French team were without Marie Dorin Habert today but with Anais Chevalier, Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz and Aymonier they look a formidable team even without her.

Norway had a great race in third. Their women’s team hasn’t been as strong this season but Kaia Nicolaisen, Hilde Fenne, Eckhoff and Olsbu put that right today. Hopefully they can carry this success into the individual races.

Norway were the top team on the range followed by Ukraine and Canada who used only 3 spares and finished 4th and 10th respectively and Sweden used only 4 finishing 7th. Russia had a bad day at the range using 11 spares and incurring 2 penalty loops.

The Relays were both really good races to watch with exciting finishes. Hopefully the rest of the round will be the same with the Sprints on Friday and Saturday and the Pursuits on Sunday.

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WC8: Presque Isle Review 2016!

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Scarily it’s World Cup Round 8 already – the final one before the World Championships! We were in Presque Isle in Maine, USA for this one and the conditions were great for the first races that took place on Thursday.

The Men’s Sprint came first and was won by a refreshed Johannes Thingnes Boe.He skipped the last round in Canmore and flew out with big brother Tarjei for this one. That was a good decision! He won by over 27 seconds shooting clean. In second was Anton Shipulin who beat Martin Fourcade into third by only 1 second. However Anton shot clean and Martin missed a target. The Swiss team had a great race with a personal best for Serafin Weistner in fifth and teammate Benjamin Weger was sixth with by far his best result of the season. Thirteen may be unlucky for some but not Sean Doherty who got his career best result on the World Cup at home fresh from winning 3 medals at the World Junior Championships.

The Women’s race was up next and was won by Total Score leader Gabriela Soukalova which obviously means she extended her lead in the race for the Overall Title. She is a very popular biathlete but possibly not in Preque Isle as she beat home favourite Susan Dunklee into second place. The fans can’t be too upset though as that is Susan’s best ever result and she saved it for them. Third place went to Krystyna Guzik who is having a great time in North America taking 2 podiums in 2 weeks. Kaia Nicolaisen got a personal best in 9th as did Celia Aymonier in 11th.

Friday saw both the Pursuit race and again the men raced first. The weather conditions were much more difficult for this one with some wind and a lot of cold around -16. Martin Fourcade was again victorious beating Johannes Boe into second and Anton Shipulin remained in third. Fourcade missed 2 shots and the others missed three but the big difference was when they missed. Martin cleared the final shoot and the others didn’t which is so often how he wins. Erlend Bjoentegaard raced into 5th for a personal best. Estonia’s Kalev Ermits came from 19th to 11th to earn his career best result.

Other impressive Pursuit races were had by Tim Burke who went from 20th to 7th, Vladimir Iliev 21st to 8th, Alexander Polvarnitsyn 28th to 10th, Oleksander Zhyrnyi 31st to 16th, Dmytro Rusinov 49th to 33rd and Daniel Boehm 54th to 37th. It wasn’t a good race however for Arnd Peiffer who came off the tracks at a corner and hit a tree. He was taken to hospital with suspected concussion.

In the Women’s race, despite being critical of holding the round in Presque Isle, Gabriela Soukalova made it a double victory! Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who moved up from 5th and in third place was Marie Dorin Habert despite missing 5 targets. Mona Brorsson achieved a peronal best finishing in 17th as did Tatiana Akimova who was 19th.

Other women with good Pursuit results were Lisa Hauser who went from 28th to 12th, Franziska Preuss 36th to 14th, Ekaterina Shumilova 39th to 16th, Anais Chevalier 50th to 21st, Lisa Vittozzi 46th to 29th and Dunja Zdouc 52nd to 30th

Both the Men’s and Women’s Relays were held on Saturday. Originally the Women’s Relay was scheduled for Sunday but low temperatures below -20 degrees were forecast and the races cannot take place below that temperature. The Men’s race was full of excellent shooting. Norway were the winners using only 7 spares with Lars Helge Birkeland, Erlend Bjoentegaard and the Boe brothers. France were second using only 2 spares rounds but even with Desthieux and Beatrix shooting clean in legs 3 and 4 they couldn’t match the Norwegians. Third place went to Germany who used 11 spares to beat Russia for the final podium place by 6 seconds. The USA were 5th in their home race their best Relay result of the season.

The Women’s race started 2 hours after the Men and consequently finished in the dark! Maybe they should have pushed the schedule forward as the only light seemed to be a torch across the finish line! The winners of the race were the Czech Republic who even with a penalty loop crossed the beam of light first. The team of Eva Puskarcikova, Lucie Charvatova, Gabriela Soukalova and Veronika Vitkova will get a good confidence boost ahead of the World Championships. The race for the remaining podium places was really tight. In a Sprint finish Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine lunged over the line 0.2 of a second ahead of Germany’s Karoline Horchler to grab second. Poland had to settle for fourth with Krystyna Guzik just half a second behind.

So that’s it for our journey to North America. Fourcade and Soukalova continue in yellow (as usual!!). It has been an enjoyable 2 weeks and Presque Isle did a good job of hosting and brought the cold that has been missing this winter as well as a penalty loop that goes around a building! Now everyone heads back to Europe for 2 weeks of recovery and preparation for the World Championships with the first race on the 3rd of March. Don’t miss it!

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WC1: Oestersund 2015 Review!

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AT LAST! Winter is here and the withdrawal symptoms have gone – biathlon is back! As usual we kicked off the season in Oestersund, Sweden and this year we started with the Single Mixed Relay.

This time around it was poor Simon who suffered from the “Oestersund Curse of the Fourcades” when he failed to fire all his bullets and missed a penalty loop which cost the French team a victory. Simon and Marie Dorin Habert were winning by a margin but after a 3 minute time penalty they ended up 21st. This left the way clear for Norway to win with a team of Kaia Nicolaisen and Lars Birkeland. In second and taking their first ever relay podium was the Canadian pair of Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith and third were the German team of Maren Hammerschmidt and Daniel Boehm.

Next came the Mixed Relay which Norway controlled and won by a margin big enough for Tarjei Boe to pose in front of a car advert pleasing the sponsors immensely. Second came Germany and in third was the Czech Republic. It wasn’t the most exciting relay apart from the first takeover where Franziska Hildebrand, Vanessa Hinz and Ekaterina Yurlova managed to play skittles with each other and Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Freddie Lindstrom treated us to a sprint finish for 4th place.

On Wednesday the first individual race of the season got underway and coincidentally it was the Men’s Individual 20km! It was won by Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who had a great race shooting 20/20 to win his 95th race. He profited slightly from calmer conditions on the shooting range but that doesn’t take anything away from his victory. In second was Overall Title contender Simon Schempp and third was Alexey Volkov who also shot clear. Windy and snowy conditions made it a difficult day on the range with Martin Fourcade missing 5 shots to finish in 21st, Tarjei Boe missing 4 in 22nd and Anton Shipulin missing 3 to finish 16th. Svendsen came joint 4th with Quentin Fillon Maillet who was France’s top finisher in the race.

In contrast to Bjoerndalen the winner of the Women’s race collected her first ever win on the World Cup. Italy’s Dorothea Wierer shot clear to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time. Marie Dorin Habert put in a great skiing performance to come second and Olena Pidhrushna was third after coming out of retirement. Overall title hopefuls Tiril Eckhoff and Gabriela Soukalova finished 4th and 5th. Also in the Top 10 was Lisa Hauser getting her best finish of 8th on the World Cup.

On Saturday came the Sprints and they were held in windy conditions which meant shooting was very difficult. Fortunately for winner Martin Fourcade he can miss some targets and still win. This time everyone missed targets except one.In second was Arnd Peiffer and third was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. The wind threw some new names into the TOP 20 with Macx Davies of Canada finishing 10th shooting 10/10. Raman Yaliotnau from Belarus was 15th and Jesper Nelin of Sweden was 16th.

In the Women’s race Gabriela Soukalova hit 10/10 to take the win denying Italy’s Federica Sanfilippo her first World Cup victory. Second is still an amazing result for her finishing ahead of a resurgent Olena Pidhrushna who was third for the second race in succession.

The Sprint result meant that Martin Fourcade would start the Pursuit 52 seconds before Peiffer and it would be very difficult to beat him, and so it proved as he won comfortably. Peiffer maintained his second place and Quentin Fillon Maillet finally got on the podium in third after two 4th place finishes.

You might have noticed I haven’t mentioned Kaisa Makarainen yet. She got off to an inauspicious start by her standards with a 24th and 10th place finish. She showed her class in the Pursuit though with a stunning final shoot and last lap to claim victory. Second was Dorothea Wierer and third was Franziska Hildebrand who couldn’t hold off Kaisa and her amazing skiing.

Others who did well in the Pursuits were Tarjei Boe who went from 29th to 4th, Dmitry Malyshko 34th to 7th, Evgeniy Garanichev 27th to 8th, Simon Fourcade 49th to 14th and Lars Birkeland 58th to 25th. For the women Marte Olsbu went from 26th to 7th, Eva Tofalvi from 60th to 19th, Megan Tandy from 46th to 25th and Nadezhda Skardino from 26th to 7th.

All in all it was a great start to the new season and we now head to Austria and Hochfilzen for round 2 with Martin Fourcade in the yellow bib for the men and Gabriela Soukalova for the women. It promises to be a great World Cup round!

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