Tag Archives: Kaisa Mäkäräinen

Oberhof 2019: The Pursuits!

Wins are like buses. You wait ages for one and then two come along at once. That was the way for Lisa Vittozzi who added the pursuit title to the sprint from Thursday. She performed well in the windy conditions to keep the lead from start to finish despite missing two targets. However most of the field missed more so she held the lead.

Anastasiya Kuzmina worked her way up to 2nd from 7th but with 4 misses didn’t have enough to catch Vittozzi on the skis. Anais Chevalier was third with 5 misses.

Dorothea Wierer had a strange old race. She moved from 24th to 5th but managed to fall along with Anais Bescond while taking a drink on the downhill. Bescond took her revenge however just pipping Wierer on the line to take 4th.

Franziska Preuss had an amazing race going from 45th to 6th. Kaisa Makarainen made up 20 places to finish 22nd.

That leaves Wierer still in the Overall lead by 42 points from Vittozzi who moves into second place.

The men had even tougher conditions with heavy and wet snow coming down. It made for a fun race though except for Dominik Windisch who had a crash and snapped his skis!

It went down to the final shooting with Johannes Boe vs. Martin Fourcade. Just like old times! This time Johannes came out on top with a fast shooting Fourcade missing 2 shots to Boe’s 1. It was Boe’s first win in Oberhof.

It also cost him a podium as Arnd Peiffer and Lukas Hofer both shot clean and worked together to keep Fourcade in 4th place on the final loop. It came down to a sprint finish for 2nd and 3rd and Peiffer came out on top. Loginov was 5th and Simon Desthieux 6th.

Simon Fourcade, making a welcome return to the World Cup, had a great race. He started in 46th and finished in 16th with 1 miss. Maxim Tsvetkov went from 56th to 24th also hitting 19/20.

Johannes now has a lead of 130 points ahead of Loginov with Martin Fourcade up to third but a massive 200 points behind Boe.

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Oberhof 2019: The Sprints!

We are back in Oberhof! Or are we? Snowy,calm conditions – are you sure we are in Oberhof? Yes we are and we should enjoy winter now that it has arrived!

The first race after the Christmas break was the women’s sprint and I am sure Lisa Vittozzi didn’t mind her late gift. She won comfortably on Thursday shooting clean and leading the field by five seconds to take her first ever win on the World Cup. It has been on the cards for a while now and she deserves to make it on to the top step of the podium.

Second place went to Anais Chevalier following up her third place in the final race of 2018 the mass start in Nove Mesto. She also shot clean and managed to stay ten seconds clear of the third place finisher Hanna Oberg. She also shot clean as did Iryna Kryuko in 5th and Vita Semerenko in 6th. It was only 4th placed Marte Olsbu Roeiseland who spoiled the top six all shooting clean by missing 1 target.

The USA had a great day with Susan Dunklee in 10th and Clare Egan in 13th. Dzinara Alimbekava got her personal best finish in 25th as did Susanna Meinen in 39th, Tuuli Tomingas in 42nd and Karoline Knotten in 50th. It wasn’t the best day for our leaders with Paulina Fialkova in 21st, Dorothea Wierer in 24th and Kaisa Makarainen in 44th.

Oberhof was back to normal on Friday for the men’s sprint with some fog and wind! We knew it wouldn’t last! From last to first (great segue!) – it was a day of firsts for the guys. Alexander Loginov won the race to get his first ever World Cup win and Sebastian Samuelsson was third for his first World Cup podium. I think Johannes has been on the podium before though! 😉

Loginov shot clean to win by 25 seconds. A costly miss in the stand put Boe in second and Samuelsson also hit 10/10 in third. Benni Doll was 4th, Arnd Peiffer 5th and Julian Eberhard 6th all hitting 9/10.

Austria’s Felix Leitner got his personal best result in 12th shooting clean as did Anton Smolski in 26th and Simon Bartko in 50th.

Martin Fourcade missed 1 shot to finish 7th and will start 22 seconds behind Johannes Boe in the pursuit. That should be fun! 😉


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An Ode to Biathlon!

This year’s Christmas holiday special to keep you going over the biathlon break is in the form of a poem. That’s right there is no beginning to my talents! 😉 Eat your heart out Homer – it’s epic! 😉

Biathlon, biathlon,
Why do I love you so?
Because you are the best sport,
Shooting and skiing in the snow!

From Fourcade to Dahlmeier,
Makarainen and Boe,
You always entertain us,
With one hell of a show!

Sprint, Pursuit, Individual,
Relay and Mass Start,
We love watching all of them,
The excitement is off the chart!

We have the best fans around,
And that will never change,
Cheering on the athletes,
When they are on the shooting range!

But watch out dear biathletes,
There is always someone ready to swoop,
Especially when you miss a target,
And go round the penalty loop.

The World Cup takes us everywhere,
To many places we go,
To help support our favourite stars,
Just like Anto Guigo!*

There are many families in biathlon,
And we are not sure how,
But there is Boe, Fourcade, Gasparin,
Claude, Fialkova and Gow.

Some biathletes have ups and downs,
Like Slovenia’s Klemen Bauer,
But when he finishes in the Top 6,
He’s guaranteed a flower!

We also have team Sweden,
With gold medallists Seb and Hanna,
They are still brilliant biathletes,
Even dressed like a banana!

Italy have some amazing shooters,
Like Vittozzi and Wierer,
Making all the other biathletes,
Wish the targets were nearer!

Then there are our officials,
Who carry out all the checks,
We appreciate all the coaches too,
And especially the wax techs!

Don’t forget para biathlon,
With sitting, standing and VI,
Their impairments don’t hold them back,
Their limit is the sky!

Imagine doing biathlon blind,
And shooting with your hearing,
Using a guide to get you around,
And help you with the steering!

I am obsessed with biathlon,
That’s obvious to see,
But the most important thing of all,
Is to support bib23!

*for rhyming purposes only! 😉

Please feel free to send me your biathlon poems!

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Nove Mesto 2018: The Mass Starts!

We love the mass start, don’t we! In front of tens of thousands of fans in Nove Mesto it’s even better.

It has been a great few days for Johannes Boe. He won the sprint and pursuit races and then conquered the mass start in some style. He shot 20/20 and even held off big brother Tarjei at the start of the race to make it three wins in a row for the Norwegian.

The only other man to shoot clean was Evgeniy Garanichev who finished third. Second place went to Quentin Fillon Maillet who missed two shots but was much faster than Garanichev on the skis and easily passed him after the final shoot. It was also good news for the home fans with Ondrej Moravec finishing 8th and Michal Krcmar 10th.

With Martin Fourcade in 9th it means Johannes has a massive lead on the Total Score heading into the Christmas break. He is 116 points ahead of Loginov in second and 165 ahead of Fourcade who is in 5th.

In the women’s race Dorothea Wierer was denied victory despite having the best shooting score hitting 19/20. She was beaten by ski speed mainly through tiredness from her amazing efforts in the last three weeks. The win went to Anastasiya Kuzmina. Remember her from last season? Well she is finally back and on top of the podium in spite of her two misses.

Paulina Fialkova made it a one-two for Slovakia out skiing Anais Chevalier and Wierer on the final lap. I’m sure the Czech crowd were very happy to see there neighbours doing so well!!! 😉

Chevalier was third getting her first podium of the season. Sweden’s Mona Brorsson did really well getting a personal best in 5th. It wasn’t a good round for Kaisa Makarainen in 22nd. She seems to struggle in Nove Mesto which means Wierer stays in the yellow bib until Oberhof in January. She has a 36 point lead over Fialkova in second and is 113 points ahead of Makarainen.

The biathletes get a well deserved break now after three tough rounds in a row. They will be back on the 10th of January for the Sprint races in Oberhof.

Don’t forget to look out for my special Christmas break post. I think you will like this one! 😉

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Pokljuka 2018: The Relays!

So it has finally begun! The new biathlon season got underway on Sunday with both the mixed relays – the single and well the double I suppose! Normal service was resumed with Norway and France winning, or was it?

The Single Mixed relay went to the Norwegian pair of Thelka Brun-Lie and Lars Birkeland. They finished ahead of the Austrian team Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder in second. Ukraine took third. Not too many surprises there but there was some exceptional shooting from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Artem Tyshchenko who only used 1 spare in the whole race.

Canada were leading the race at one point and so were France but the shooting let those teams down a little. Japan were 10th and usually do well in this race.

It was the Mixed Relay where we got a surprise. France won with a strong team of Bescond, Braisaz, Martin Fourcade and Desthieux. However second place went to Switzerland with fantastic performances from the birthday girl Elisa Gasparin, Lena Hacki, Benni Weger and Jeremy Finello.

Third went to Italy, with the usual suspects, Vittozzi, Wierer, Windisch and Hofer despite a penalty loop.

Finland also had a great race with Eder(formerly Laukkanen) and Makarainen putting them in the lead but the men, Seppala and Hiidensalo, couldn’t hold it and eventually finished 5th which is still a great result.

The biggest excitement of the day however was reserved for Timofey Lapshin’s moustache. It’s amazing! Curled up at the ends and everything!

Racing continues on Wednesday with the Individual and goes right through until Sunday with the Pursuits.

Apologies to my regular readers as the blog coverage is going to be patchy before Christmas. It seems I am so busy writing about biathlon for other people that I don’t have a lot of time to do it for myself. Hopefully normal service will be resumed after Christmas!

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Season 2018/19: Women’s Preview!

Three points! That’s all that separated the top two women in the Overall last season. It went down to the very last race at the final World Cup. In stark contrast to the Men’s Title no one knows who will win the Women’s Overall Title.

Kaisa Makarainen was victorious last season and she is probably just the favourite for this year but really it could go to any one of three.

Anastasiya Kuzmina was unlucky missing out on what would have been her first ever Overall victory. She had an astonishingly consistent season which hasn’t happened for her before and to lose out on the big crystal globe in her home town of Tyumen must have been heartbreaking. She decided to race again this year to try and win the one thing that has eluded her so far in biathlon.

Challenging both of these women will be Laura Dahlmeier. She had a fantastic Olympic Games but wasn’t as good as usual on the World Cup. She finished third, 92 points behind Makarainen but won’t have the big distraction of the Olympics this time around. She has already won the Overall and so knows exactly what it takes to do it. She still suffers with illness during the season however and that could make the difference between winning and losing in the Total Score. She even had to take a break this pre-season from training in October due to ill health so hasn’t had the ideal preparation.

There are other biathletes who will feature in the Top 5 or 10 of course but none of them have yet showed they have what it takes to win the World Cup. The Italians Lisa Vittozzi and Dorothea Wierer are always strong and are fantastic shots but lack the consistency for the Overall Title. Tiril Eckhoff is a great biathlete but you never know what you are going to get with her. One day she is outstanding, the next she disappears. Justine Braisaz and Anais Bescond both had good seasons in 2017/18 but the French duo are also a bit hit and miss.

The Women’s Relays will be very interesting this season. Last year the dominance of the German Team was ended with France and Belarus both taking victories. However both of those teams will be missing big guns, Dorin Habert, Domracheva and Skardino, so hopefully other teams like Italy, Ukraine and the Czech Republic will threaten the Germans.

It will also be fun to see who comes out on top in the Mixed Relays. There were three races last season and three different winners; France, Norway and Italy. This could be a really exciting event with quite a lot of strong teams around.

The season starts on the 2nd of December in Pokljuka with the Single and Mixed Relays. The programme also includes the Individual, Sprint and Pursuit races. We then head to Hochfilzen and Nove Mesto will take us up to Christmas! What an awesome present! 🙂

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Herbert Cool: The Interview!

Herbert Cool is a former Dutch biathlete who was born in Rotterdam on the 9th of February 1985. He retired from biathlon in 2012, which was far too soon!, with a top finish of 50th in both the Sprint and Pursuit races at the 2008 World Championships in Oestersund. After retiring he began commentating on biathlon for Dutch Eurosport.

Follow Herbert on Twitter: @CoolHerbert

Why did you become a biathlete?

My father loves to go cross country skiing. As we have no snow in the Netherlands we used to spend our vacations in Germany and the Czech Republic. I got into the sport as well, enjoyed it, enjoyed racing against the local youth and sometimes even beating them. Age 18 I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Bled, Slovenia. I came 9th in the Sprint which was great. We hardly ever trained on snow, only roller skiing and some shooting in a shooting range without a roller ski loop. This made me realize I had a talent for the sport and made me decide to pursue a professional career in biathlon. At age 19 I moved to the US to train with the US Junior team in Minnesota. A year after, I moved to Ruhpolding and stayed there for 6 years.

What are your best memories from your biathlon career?

For sure the first year in the US was the most fun. Obviously it is a great experience to live there on the whole, especially after finishing school. I got to see a lot of the country and was surprised about the large Nordic community it has, not to mention the beautiful cross country tracks. Also, the team was great. Just a bunch of young people wanting to make it in a sport that wasn’t normal in the country they came from. I guess we shared this experience, even though our countries were so far apart. We shared the troubles with funding, we shared having to travel away from your own country to be able to do what you love. And we had a great coach, Vladimir Cervenka, who is still coaching the US Juniors in Minnesota. Of course there were many great memories after that year, but things became a bit more serious, more like a job.

How did you become a commentator for Eurosport and how long have you been doing it?

Unfortunately I didn’t qualify for the Vancouver Olympics. The Dutch Olympic Association wants biathletes to be top 8 in the world, which obviously is a requirement similar to countries like Germany or Norway. However, there is hardly any funding and no talent development whatsoever. I really hope this will change and I am putting energy into this myself, but for now it is unrealistic to expect any talent from the Netherlands (nor is it realistic to expect youth to become interested in the sport, there simply are no facilities). Eurosport gave me a call; whether I would be interested in joining their biathlon commentator during the Olympics. I did, and it was a lot of fun. After I decided to quit in 2012 I pretty much became their new biathlon commentator. I still enjoy it a lot, and nowadays do some other sports as well as some presenting in front of the camera. For example during the 2018 Olympics. It’s a lot of fun and it enables me to stay on top of the sport that I love.

Did you find the transition from biathlete to commentator difficult? Was it harder or easier than you thought? Do you ever run out of things to say? 😉

I think it was the fact that I could become the biathlon commentator at Eurosport that helped me in the transition. You have to understand, I am a city boy. I was born and raised in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Definitely worth a visit if you have the time. So living in Ruhpolding was about as far away from living in the city as possible. Although I often miss the beautiful nature in the Alps (and the snow, obviously) I also really wanted to go back to Rotterdam. And I’m not just a commentator, I also own a sports management agency. We are into sports marketing, event management and athlete management. For example, this year we will bring a large group of Dutch biathlon fans to the World Team Challenge in Gelsenkirchen for the first year. You’d be surprised how many Dutch people love watching biathlon. When it comes to winter sports, speed skating is obviously the number 1 by far, but I would say biathlon is the second most popular winter sport on television here!
(Definitely not running out of things to say 😉 )

How much and what kind of research do you do before the races?

Honestly, I hardly do any research. I simply love the sport so much that I read and see everything no matter what. Before a race, I obviously do my preparation work, but that doesn’t take a lot of time this way.

Do you have some favourite/memorable races or moments that you have commentated on? Why were they special?

My relationship with the US team runs like a red line through my career. First I moved to Minnesota to train with the US Juniors. After that I moved to Ruhpolding where I was fortunate enough to have Ricco Gross coach me and help me a lot. He helped me connect to the US World Cup team -they waxed his ski’s during that time- and I ended up going with them in some of their training camps as well as travelling with them throughout the winter. A great setup for which I am still very grateful to both Ricco Gross, Bernd Eisenbichler, their high performance director and the team as a whole. It was during the time Tim Burke did very well, he even led the World Cup total score during Christmas, and I roomed up with them and learned a lot. So to answer the question, during the Hochfilzen World Champs there was the epic individual race men’s race. Moravec was in the lead, Lowell Bailey started really late. He shot well, and the finish loop was so intense. I think I screamed during my commentary and for sure I wasn’t very objective, but I didn’t care. It was such a great win for Lowell and I felt a lot of joy, especially seeing all of the wax techs and coaches celebrating afterwards. You know how hard they all work for it and how much effort goes in behind the scenes.

Is biathlon popular in The Netherlands? Can you tell us something about the current biathletes from the Netherlands.

It’s a difficult subject at the moment. The Dutch ski federation has chosen not to invest in talent development. One of the reasons is that the Dutch Olympic Association will only send a biathlete to the Olympics if he or she is around top 8 in the world. This is almost impossible to achieve in general, but especially with no funding, no facilities (no snow) and, very important, no athletes who are already on a World Cup level. You need to train with athletes who are at least as good as you on a daily basis. A good example is Chardine Sloof; she is a talented biathlete who got introduced to the sport because she lives in Sweden. She became a Junior World Champion for the Netherlands, which is crazy. Luck hardly has any influence on the sport of biathlon, if you become Junior World Champion you are talented. Period. After that she struggled with some physical issues and the funding stopped. She decided to switch to the Swedish team. A good decision, because she is surrounded by great athletes, the right culture and great facilities as well. She achieved 3 top 15 results during the Oberhof World Cup 2 seasons ago, really great stuff. I hope we will see more of her in the upcoming season.

Do you have any predictions for the up coming season? Anyone we should be looking out for to do well?

As always after an Olympic season we saw some big names quit. Of course we will miss Domracheva for example. She has one of the best techniques on the women’s side and is of great added value to the exposure of biathlon due to her personality. On a personal note I will miss Bjoerndalen, because he was my idol when I was a biathlete myself. I think Johannes Thingnes Boe will again be a little bit better and more solid this time, although he did admit to not training as much as he should have done in spring. But it will be interesting to see whether Fourcade can take another overall World Cup. I think it’s Boe’s time now. And the Swedes will be strong. They have the momentum after their successful Olympics. Of course there is a big difference between having nothing to lose and being one of the favourites, so this will be a role they will have to get used to. On the women’s side I think Dahlmeier will be very strong, if she stays healthy on her way to December. But I’m afraid that if she wins a lot, she will quit after this winter, which would be a big loss to the sport. I would also keep an eye on Lisa Vittozzi, she made big steps last season and is still very young.

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

I loved Östersund. Great atmosphere downtown, great energy on the whole and tracks that suited me. Long uphills that you really had to dig into. Antholz is everybody’s favorite, not only because of the great food and kind people. I always joke during my commentary that they somehow always seem to have a lot of snow, yet the sun is always shining!

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

Bjoerndalen, because he made biathlon into the sport it is today. He pulled it out of cross country skiing’s shadow. His technique was perfection. Someone who also has great balance and style on ski’s is Simon Fourcade, I love watching him ski. When it comes to fighting spirit you have to mention Kaisa Makarainen. Such a great athlete, a fierce competitor on the tracks and a great person once she crosses the finish line.

Did your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, passionate, calm.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Right now: Belgium!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin’s carved rifle looks great.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Not sure which year, and a bit of a different sport, but I loved the suit the Norwegian cross country team had in the last seasons Bjorn Daehlie was racing.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Being active in a worldwide sport that is still small enough to be a small community, and the closeness to nature.
Best thing about being a commentator: Sharing what you love with viewers who really discover your sport -and how great it is. Because biathlon wasn’t really known in the Netherlands, viewers can ask me question through Twitter during the race. This works out great and gives me the chance to bring the sport closer to the Dutch audience.

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