Tag Archives: Kaisa Mäkäräinen

Spring Things 2019!

It’s summer! Not a biathlon fans favourite season is it? But it means there is only autumn between now and winter! Before the biathlon23 summer season of interviews starts it’s time to remind you what things happened in spring. That’s right -it’s Spring Things!!!

Retirements:

Well we all got a shock in May when Laura Dahlmeier announced her retirement at the age of 25! (How dare she!!) It was pretty well known that she wouldn’t be a Bjoerndalen and carry on forever but we thought we could get another Olympics out of her at least! Gabriela Koukalova who hasn’t raced for 2 seasons confirmed that she won’t be coming back and so is another biathlon pensioner!

Other retirements in spring included Henrik L’Abee Lund who joins Bjoerndalen and Svendsen in putting his feet up on the Norwegian sofa. Canada’s Erin Yungblut also ended her career as did Finland’s Laura Toivanen.

Relationships:

It was a spring of weddings this year with Eva Puskarcikova tying the knot. Russian pair Nikita Porshnev and Anastasiia Morozova also got married to each other. Monika Hojnisz married another Polish nordic star cross-country skier Maciej Starega.

Anais Chevalier will miss the season after she announced that she is pregnant with her first child. Congratulations to all of them!

In tragic news young Russian biathlete Artemii Khasankaev passed away.

Coaching carousel:

As usual we had the annual swapping of biathlon coaches. Sometimes I think they just put all the names in a hat and then the countries pick them out like a raffle!

Michael Greis left the US men’s team and is now coaching the Polish women’s team after Nadiya Bilova stepped down for health reasons. Norwegian Vegard Bitnes takes over the US men’s team.

Also in North America Mathias Ahrens is no longer coaching the Canadian national team but will coach for Biathlon Alberta.

Wolfgang Pichler retired from Sweden and was replaced by Anders Byström who will be the National Team Manager and Johannes Lukas who takes over the position of National Team Coach.

Russia have added another coach with the appointment of Maxim Maksimov as assistant to the head coach.

Simon Fourcade is the new coach of the French Junior team.

And if you have followed all that you deserve a medal! Not an Olympic one of course maybe just a bronze from a World Cup round! 😉

Injuries:

The bike strikes again this time with Erik Lesser falling off and breaking his collarbone. Vetle Christiansen had surgery to correct an issue with his left knee. Anna Magnusson also had an operation on a ligament in her left hand. Tiril Eckhoff had a rollerski accident ending with an enormous lump on her hip.

Other things of spring:

Martin Fourcade announced that he will be hosting a nordic festival over the weekend of the 31st of August in Annecy. He has ingeniously called it the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival! How did he come up with that! 😉
Most of the big stars in biathlon will be there including Johannes Boe! Imagine if he beats Fourcade in his own competition!!!

Kaisa Makarainen, Liza Vittozzi and Dorothea Wierer will be competing along with many of the French biathletes amongst others.

We also had the excitement of the Giro d’Italia finishing a stage in the Antholz biathlon arena watched on by all the Italian biathletes. It was nice to see but we don’t really want to encourage other sports that are not as good as biathlon, do we!

Dorothea Wierer also put in an appearance at the Moto GP race in Mugello getting a photo with some guy called Marquez. Better still she also got a photo with Herbert Cool the former Dutch biathlete and now biathlon commentator who is moonlighting at the Moto GP in the summer!

The IBU announced a few changes with prize money now being awarded to the top 20 finishers instead of the top 15. Why stop there? Shouldn’t it be the Top 40 – if you get a point, you get a prize!

They have also introduced a “season opening” to open the 2020/21 season in Kontiolahti. (They get their naming ideas from Martin Fourcade!) I think this is basically just an extra World Cup round that they can’t call World Cup 1 as Oestersund was already given the title!

The IBU also held a gender equality conference in Poland which is an excellent initiative. Biathlon is one of the most gender equal sports when it comes to the athletes but has a long way to go with a lack of female coaches and women in leadership positions.

Last but certainly not least the IPC have announced that Para-biathlon will have it’s own World Championship this season for the first time! They will take place in Oestersund from the 11th to 15th March 2020 without a cross-country skier in sight!!!
(Up until now cross-country and biathlon have had combined World Championships.)

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Season Review 2018/19: The Women!

WOW! What a year we had on the women’s World Cup! We had 12 different winners, 6 brand new winners and an amazing battle between Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi which kept us hooked all season. For the second year in row the title was won in the very last race of the season!

In the end it was Dorothea Wierer who won the Overall Title but it was far from easy! She finished the season with 904 points. Vittozzi was second with 882 points and Anastasiya Kuzmina was third with 870 points.

The season began in Pokljuka with the Individual and Yuliia Dzhima got the season rolling with her first win on the World Cup. Last year’s champion Kaisa Makarainen looked really good at the opening round winning the following two races; the sprint and pursuit.

Wierer got her fantastic season underway with her first win of the new campaign in the Hochfilzen sprint. Makarainen took the pursuit and was at the top of the standings.

However in Nove Mesto Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, got her first World Cup win in the sprint and then her second in the pursuit. It would be the foundation for her best ever season. Anastasiya Kuzmina won the mass start.

In Oberhof we got another first time winner and this time it was Lisa Vittozzi who did the sprint and pursuit double. She had been in and around the top 5 all season up until then when she finally made her big breakthrough and was well on her way to a shot at the big crystal globe.

Ruhpolding was the venue for Kuzmina’s second win of the season in the sprint. Home favourite Franziska Preuss won the mass start taking her first gold medal on the World Cup.

Antholz was next up and there was yet another debut World Cup victory this time from Marketa Davidova in the sprint. Wierer took her second win at home in the pursuit.

Canmore saw races cancelled but Tiril Eckhoff managed to win the shortened individual race. In Soldier Hollow Roeiseland took her third win of the season in the sprint throwing her into the mix for the yellow bib with the two Italians. Denise Herrmann got her third career victory in the pursuit.

The World Championships in Oestersund gave us four different winners in the four individual competitions and all debut winners of a World title! The sprint went to Anastasiya Kuzmina despite being unwell. Denise Herrmann won the pursuit, Hanna Oberg won the individual on home soil and Dorothea Wierer took the mass start.

Everything came down to Holmenkollen. There were still 3 women in serious contention to win the big crystal globe; Wierer and Vittozzi, who started the round on equal points, and Kuzmina. In the sprint it was Anastasiya Kuzmina who came out all guns blazing to take the win.

Lisa Vittozzi had a terrible race failing to score any points and she didn’t qualify for the pursuit either. Wierer took the overall lead after finishing 11th. Kuzmina also won the pursuit while Wierer was 12th so everything went down to the mass start.

All three women struggled after a long hard season. It was Hanna Oberg who won the race taking her first win on the World Cup. Kuzmina was 10th, Vittozzi 11th and Wierer 12th and that meant the overall title belonged to Wierer and the big crystal globe was on it’s way to Italy for the first time!

The small globes were shared around with Vittozzi taking the individual title, Kuzmina winning the sprint, Wierer the pursuit and Oberg the mass start.

Rookie of the season was Evgeniya Pavlova.

Relays
The women’s relays were much like the rest of the women’s season with four different winners in the first four races. Italy won in Hochfilzen, Russia in Oberhof, France in Ruhpolding and Germany in Canmore. However at World Championships it was Norway who came out on top with a team of Synnoeve Solemdal, Ingrid Tandrevold, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Roeiseland.

There were only two single mixed relays on the World Cup which France won in Pokljuka, and Italy in Soldier Hollow. The first ever World title in the event went to Norway with a team of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Johannes Boe.

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Holmenkollen 2019: The Mass Starts!

It wasn’t really the epic battle we hoped for between Dorothea Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi and Anastasiya Kuzmina to decide the winner of the overall title in the mass start. All three looked physically and mentally drained after a tough season. They finished with Kuzmina in 10th missing 6 targets, Vittozzi in 11th missing 5 and Wierer in 12th also missing 5!

It was more than enough though for Wierer to claim her and Italy’s first ever big crystal globe in the women’s event. It was very well deserved by Wierer as she has been in the fight from the start fighting with Kaisa Makarainen in the earlier part of the season, then against Vittozzi and then finally Kuzmina.

Back to the race and it was close after the first prone with Hanna Oberg, Dorothea Wierer, Paulina Fialkova, Kaisa Makarainen, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Tiril Eckhoff all shooting clean and getting themselves a small lead over the others.

At the second prone it was again Oberg who led out of the shooting range hit 5/5. The leading group was halved however with just Eckhoff and Fialkova matching Oberg with no misses.

The three arrived at the first standing and all three missed! Oberg and Fialkova missed 1, Eckhoff missed 2. That gave the chasers a chance to close the gap and that’s just what Clare Egan with 15/15 and Denise Herrmann with
13/15 did.

At the final stand Oberg missed one again but so did her rivals Egan and Eckhoff. Herrmann missed 2 and Fialkova 3. That left Oberg out in front but being pursued by Eckhoff and Egan. Egan caught and passed Eckhoff but possibly used too much energy doing so and the Norwegian repassed her and even had a go a catching Oberg for the win but she ran out of track.

It was Oberg’s first win on the World Cup and also saw her win the mass start crystal globe. It was a personal best and first ever podium for Egan in third.

Herrmann was 4th, Lisa Hauser 5th and Fialkova 6th.

Evgeniya Pavlova was crowned rookie of the year.

Who wins 16 races in one season? Johannes Thingnes Boe that’s who! What an unbelievable season it has been for the Norwegian and he capped it off with a hattrick of wins at home and shooting 20/20 in the mass start to secure the small crystal globe. He made a clean sweep of all the globes this year and he has been outstanding. Unlike his celebratory viking helmet!!! Not only historically inaccurate but not very well fitting either! 😉

In the race itself it was Antonin Guigonnat who took the lead after the first prone but he was followed very closely by Julian Eberhard, Vetle Christainsen, Boe, Sebastian Samuelsson and Arnd Peiffer.

At the second prone it was Christiansen who took on the lead with Boe, Peiffer, Phillip Nawrath and Fabien Claude behind him after they all shot 5/5.

Christiansen missed 2 on the first standing but Boe, Peiffer and Nawrath cleaned as did Bendikt Doll who was making up ground fast after an early mistake.

It was Boe who pulled out a lead before the 4th and final shoot of the season. He seems to have solved all his standing issues and cleaned and cruised off to victory. On the range Peiffer cleaned also hitting 20/20 to take second place. Christiansen made no mistakes this time leaving in third. Doll had 1 miss but came off the penalty loop right behind the Norwegian.

Christiansen couldn’t hold off the charging Doll however and he was passed on the tracks. Doll took the last place on the podium and Julian Eberhard came back to take 4th with Christiansen having to settle for 5th. Lukas Hofer took 6th but he and Simon Desthieux got tangled up on the small hill before the finishing straight and both fell. It was the Italian who recovered fastest to take the final flowers of the season!

Fabien Claude got his personal best in 12th and Lucas Fratzscher pushed his up to 13th.

Johannes Dale won rookie of the season.

And just like that the season was finished! It has been a historic and memorable one but more about that in my season reviews and there is the small matter of some awards to hand out too! 🙂

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Holmenkollen 2019: The Pursuits!

Well, well, well someone knows how to finish their career in style! Anastasiya Kuzmina was untouchable in the pursuit making it look easy!!! What a performance! She shot 20/20 and won the race by 1 minute and 42 seconds. She has one race left, the mass start, and who would bet against her winning that one too.

Luckily we had a bit of action behind Kuzmina. It was Franziska Pruess and Celia Aymonier who were chasing her after the first prone but teammate Paulina Fialkova missed 2 to put her out of the running.

However on the second prone both Preuss and Aymonier missed and so it was left to the Swedes Elisabeth Hoegberg and Linn Persson to take up the chase in second and third after going 10/10 in the prone. They were followed closely by Tiril Eckhoff, Denise Herrmann and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland.

Herrmann and Persson celaned on the first stand to take second and third. Another Swede Hanna Oberg moved into 4th just ahead of Clare Egan, Eckhoff and Hoegberg.

As usual it was shoot 4 that decided the places. Herrmann, Persson and Oberg all missed 1 while Egan and Eckhoff missed 2 and Hoegberg missed 3. Roeiseland cleaned.

In the end it was Herrmann who kept second place with Hanna Oberg third. Persson was beaten in a sprint finish by Roeiseland who took 4th but it was still a personal best for Persson in 5th. Eckhoff was 6th.

Elsewhere Kaisa Makarainen went from 32nd to 8th and Anais Bescond from 52nd to 25th. Thelka Brun-Lie got a PB in 23rd as did Janina Hettich in 32nd.

Dorothea Wierer was 12th and so won the crystal globe for the pursuit and further extended her lead in the total score.

LEGEND ALERT! History was made in the men’s race with Johannes Thingnes Boe winning his 15th race of the season! He broke the previous record of 14 for most wins in a single season. It also won him the pursuit crystal globe. Amazing!

He started the race well cleaning the first prone and looked comfortable out front. He was followed by Lukas Hofer, Bendikt Doll and big brother Tarjei. To make it exciting Johannes missed 2 in the second prone but Tarjei and Hofer cleaned and so reduced his lead significantly. Behind them came Arnd Peiffer, Vetle Christiansen and Felix Leitner.

At the first standing shoot Johannes cleaned and so did Tarjei. Leitner moved into third after hitting 15/15. At the final shoot both brothers missed 1 and went on to finish in first and second for another Boe-dium! Leitner and Peiffer cleaned.

Unfortunately Peiffer was stronger on the tracks than Leitner and he took third but it was still a personal best for the Austrian youngster in 4th. Christiansen was 5th and Hofer 6th.

Sean Doherty went from 32nd to 11th, Lucas Fratzscher went from 31st to 15th for a PB and Andrejs Rastogujevs went from 49th to 21st.

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Oestersund 2019: Women’s Sprint!

Like a piece of flat pack furniture from Ikea, Anastasiya Kuzmina constructed herself a great sprint race in Oestersund. Despite suffering from laryngitis and missing 1 target she was still able to win the gold medal! It was her first at World Championships to add to her two Olympic sprint titles.

She made a fantastic decision to start the race even though she is unwell and proved her choice to continue competing this season was a good one.

It was a strange race with a lot of misses on the range but I suppose that is not so unusual in Oestersund with the tricky wind conditions.
It was the favourites who struggled most however with Tiril Eckhoff missing 2, then Dorothea Wierer missing 2, Kaisa Makarainen missed 2, Lisa Vittozzi missed 3 (unheard of!) and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland missed 4!!! Wierer and Makarainen both had falls on the course which also cost them more time.

Kuzmina missed her shot on the prone but cleaned the stand to come out of the rage just over a second off the lead. That was held by Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold who hit all 10 targets and that would win her the silver medal at her first World Championships. Kuzmina didn’t gain too much time on the uphills but in the last part of track she made up around 8 seconds to secure victory.

Third place went to Laura Dahlmeier who is also sick with a cold. She hit 10/10 and just beat Hanna Oberg by under a second to get the bronze medal. Not the way to make yourself popular with the home crowd!!! Oberg was followed home in 5th by teammate Mona Brorsson, both with a single miss and 6th place went to Denise Herrmann with 2 misses.

Wierer takes back the yellow bib after finishing 10th with Vittozzi back in 21st. With a minute separating the top 20 women we should be in for an amazing pursuit race on Sunday! An if we learned anything from today it’s that it’s best to race when you are sick!!! 😉

There were also a lot of personal bests today of course as it’s International Women’s Day the ladies were keen to show off how fabulous they all are.

Dzinara Alimbekava was 13th, Sari Maeda was 14th, Joanne Reid was 15th, Johanna Taliharm was 20th in bib23!, Irina Kruchinkina was 22nd and Natalja Kocergina was 27th.

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Soldier Hollow 2019: The Pursuits!

It’s the penultimate round of the World Cup here in the USA and it was the turn of the pursuit races on Saturday.

The women were first up and what a race it was! At the first prone Marte Olsbu Roeiseland missed and so did Kaisa Makarainen! That let Anastasiya Kuzmina take the lead.

At the second prone Kuzmina missed 2 but Franziska Hildebrand and Monika Hojnisz cleaned and left the range together. They both hit 10/10 in the prone as did Denise Herrmann who found herself in third.

At the first stand it was Hojnisz who missed 2 but Hildebrand cleaned to take the lead by herself. Herrmann missed 1 but Lisa Vittozzi cleaned for 15/15.

At the final shoot Hildebrand missed 1, then Herrmann missed 1 and Vittozzi missed 2! It was then a ski race to the finish with Herrmann making up 12 seconds from the range to the finish line to pass her teammate to take her first win this season. Hildebrand took second. The final shoot saw Makarainen, Kuzmina and Roeiseland all shoot clean so we had three of the fastest skiers all going for third place. It was Makarainen who took it and Roeiseland just pipped Kuzmina on the line for 4th.

Lisa Vittozzi was 6th and with Wierer missing 8 and finishing 20th it means Vittozzi is the new Overall leader and takes the yellow bib to the World Championships next month.

There were some big moves behind the top 6 with Marketa Davidova going from 32nd to 12th hitting 20/20, Nicole Gontier went from 39th to 18th and home favourite Susan Dunklee went from 45th to 26th.

The men’s race was more straight forward. At the first shoot Vetle Christiansen and Simon Desthieux shot clean but Roman Rees missed. Erik Lesser, Johannes Boe and Quentin Fillon Maillet also cleaned as did a lot of the field in fact.

At the second shoot it was Christiansen and Desthieux who both missed 1 but Boe, Fillon Maillet and Lesser hit all five.

Shoot three was pivotal with Fillon Maillet the only one to clear the targets with Boe and Lesser both missing 2. That gave Christiansen and Desthieux the chance to get back into the race.

Fillon Maillet was perfect today hitting his final five targets to go 20/20 to take his second win of the season by 26 seconds. Christiansen also hit his last five to take second comfortably from Desthieux who missed another but kept third place with Boe missing 3 and Lesser 2 on the final stand.

In the end Johannes Boe was 4th, Erik Lesser 5th and Benjamin Weger 6th.

Christian Gow was amazing going from 44th to 8th hitting 20/20 to get a PB and Sean Doherty got his PB in 10th at home in the US.

The final races here are the Single Mixed and Mixed Relays on Sunday and the men will be starting first with the women finishing the race!

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Soldier Hollow 2019: The Sprints!

I know what you are thinking. Soldier Hollow – that is such a cool name for a venue! It must have some interesting history from the days of the old west where soldiers maybe made their last stand in a hollow or something like that. Well no – they just made it up for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics! Still a cool name though!

In fact biathlon hasn’t been back here since 2002! But now it is and we kicked off with the women’s sprint on Thursday – Valentine’s Day! So who would feel the love? It was Marte Olsbu Roeiseland which is appropriate as she just got married last year.

It was her third win of the season and she shot clean and skied really well to win by 11.5 seconds. Behind her in second place was Kaisa Makarainen who missed one shot but also skied super fast. It was a surprise after her huge journey to get from Canmore to Utah which took her via Toronto and Atlanta after her initial flight to Seattle was cancelled.

Third place went to biathlete23!!! It was Franziska Hildebrand who got on the podium shooting clean for a great result. Flowers for bib23 on Valentine’s Day – how romantic! 😉

4th place went to Monika Hojnisz, 5th to Anastasiya Kuzmina and 6th to Kamila Zuk which was her best World Cup result to date shooting 10/10.

There were also personal bests for Tuuli Tomingas in 14th and Thelka Brun-Lie in 26th.

Dorothea Wierer stretched her lead in the Overall finishing 8th with teammate and rival Lisa Vittozzi in 12th.

The men’s sprint on Friday was also won by a Norwegian! No not him! It was Vetle Christiansen! After his second place finish in the Canmore Individual he went one better here taking his first ever World Cup win. He shot clean and won the race by just 1.3 seconds.

Simon Desthieux finally got on the podium after being in great form all season. He missed 1 but skied really well to get so close but it wasn’t enough to get the win. Third place went to Roman Rees with his first podium on the World Cup also missing 1.

Erik Lesser was 4th hitting 10/10, Johannes Boe was 5th after missing 4 on the standing shoot and Quentin Fillon Maillet was 6th with 9/10. Boe skied super fast as usual to get 5th and it was enough to give him the small crystal globe in the sprint.

There were some more great performances in the field from Johannes Dale in 10th getting his PB, Scott Gow in 14th equalled his PB from the Olympics, Fabien Claude was 16th his best result so far and Aidan Miller hit 10/10 to move his PB from 81st to 20th!!! Thierry Chenal was 31st for his top World Cup finish.

I don’t know what it is about Norway and North America but they have won all the races here apart from the women’s relay in Canmore when they were second! Maybe because they both start with NOR? 😉

Both pursuit races are on Saturday! Can Norway win them both too?

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