Tag Archives: Khanty Mansiysk

Biathlete23: Season 2014/15 Review!

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After the excitement of a debut season your next full year on the World Cup can be difficult. There are no excuses you know what it’s all about now. Mostly you just want to improve your performances and results from the season before. It’s been an up and down year for biathlete23 but thankfully no one suspended for doping which is always good news. In case you don’t know this blog follows the fortunes of whoever is lucky enough to be drawn in bib 23 throughout the season and calculates the points to see how they compare to the real biathletes. Last year there were 2 wins from the bib from Selina Gasparin and Johannes Thingnes Boe which were coincidentally on the same day and were also their debut wins!

This year got off to a slow start no doubt due to the pressure that biathletes suffer when they learn they are in bib 23 and have to represent the blog. It may also be from fear of repraisals from me. If you think the Norwegian coaches are tough you haven’t seen anything yet! In Oestersund the biathletes in 23 were Diana Rasimoviciute, Simon Desthieux, Dmitry Malyshko,Juliya Dzhyma, Jitka Landova and Lowell Bailey which yielded a total of 64 points. Not the best results ever but it was still early days.

On to Hochfilzen and happy days! Kaisa Makarainen was drawn in bib 23 and went on to win the Sprint! The first win of the season is always sweet. It was backed up by a solid 17th place for Krasimir Anev. In the Pursuits Luise Kummer failed to score any points but Maxim Tsvetkov was 21st and meant a total of 104 points from the round.

The last races before Christmas came in Pokljuka and I was lucky enough to get home favourite Teja Gregorin into bib 23! She didn’t disappoint coming home in 7th and for the men Simon Eder took 11th place. Fredrik Lindstrom finished 12th in the Pursuit but bad luck struck when Tiril Eckhoff pulled out of the race. In the Mass Start Quentin Fillon Maillet got 12th and Fanny Horn 21st which meant leaving Slovenia with 115 points.

Luckily for her Tiril Eckhoff got to make up for her DNS in Pokljuka by finishing 13th in the Sprint in Oberhof. Backing her up in 10th was Artem Tyshchenko. Fanny Horn did the business again getting 29th in the Mass Start and Vladimir Iliev kept up the points scoring with 19th in the men’s race which gave a points total of 93. It was then on to Ruhpolding where we started with the women’s Sprint and a fourth place from Valj Semerenko! In the men’s race it was over to legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who was 15th. It’s always a pleasure to see Ole Einar in bib 23! On to the Mass Starts with Lisa Hauser taking 21st and Vladimir Iliev, in his second appearance in 23, coming home 30th. Biathlete 23 left Germany with 100 points from round 5.

Antholz came next and it wasn’t the highest scoring round. Daniel Mesotitsch failed to score any points coming 45th in the Sprint. Juliya Dzhyma did better in 30th for the women. The Pursuit saw 2 Czech biathletes race with Gabriela Soukalova in 21st and Michal Krcmar in 24th. That only meant a total of 48 points for bib 23.

Just like after Hochfilzen biathlete23 doesn’t take disappointing results lying down -oh no! Laura Dahlmeier stepped up in Nove Mesto and won her first World Cup race and 60 points! Woo hoo second win of the season. It was Emil Hegle Svendsen’s turn next but he failed to get any points finishing 43rd in the men’s race. We can rely on the Czechs though and another one Eva Puskarcikova got 14th in the Pursuit and Simon Fourcade went one better and came home 13th. Another 115 points gained.

In Oslo we saw Juliya Dzyhma in bib 23 for the third time this season and she used the occasion to perform well. She came in 6th in the Individual to earn some vital points to make up for Ondrej Moravec who was 70th staining the Czechs good form in the bib. In the Sprint Kadri Lehtla was 28th and another appearance for Vladimir Iliev saw him finish 27th. 65 points was the total from that weekend.

So it was on to Kontiolahti and as the result counted towards World Cup total score it was important to have some biathletes in the points here too. The Sprint races were first and Daria Virolaynen came in 21st and Dominik Windisch was 35th. In the Pursuit we had Ondrej Moravec, making up for Oslo, who was 9th and Megan Heinicke in 28th. For the Individual Anna Magnussen was 72nd and Tim Burke 31st. Lastly we had the Mass Start and Jana Gerekova was 12th for the women and in the men’s race my old pal Brendan Green was in bib23 once again. That’s the Olympics and now the World Championships where he found himself in bib 23! That’s why he is the unofficial ambassador for bib23 (unpaid position!). He finished 21st and meant total points from Kontiolahti were 130.

On to the final round and Khanty Mansisyk. The last chance to score points and see where biathlete 23 would have finished in comparison to the other biathletes in the total score. The first races were the Sprints and for the men Simon Fourcade was 8th. Why he chose this one occasion not to come 4th I don’t know!!! For for the women Elise Ringen was 47th which meant no points. In the Pursuit race Tiril Eckhoff was back and got 17th while Florian Graf got 18th place. The final races were the Mass Starts and biathlete 23 regular Juliya Dzhyma finished in 18th and Sergey Semenov was 26th. The final points total from Russia was 119.

So where did that leave us at the end of the season. Well like the real biathletes you have to deduct your two worst finishes from your total but as biathlete 23 had more than 2 non points scoring finishes it wasn’t necessary!!! The final total for the men was 467 which would have put them in equal 20th place in the overall with the exact same score as Jean Guillaume Beatrix! The women’s total was 481 and left them between Daria Virolaynen in 16th and Susan Dunklee in 17th in the overall. The big question however was did they do better than last year?

Last year’s total score for the men and women combined was 754 points. This year it is 948! An improvement of 194 points. Although last year the Olympics didn’t count towards the overall so that will account for some of the difference but even if you deduct the World Championship points of 130 the score would be 818 points so it is still a better year than the first! The women’s score last year was 407 and the men’s was 347. Good news the results improved! The coach is very happy!!!

Special thanks goes to all the biathletes who are lucky enough to be drawn in bib23 and that have scored points for biathlete 23! Juliya Dzhyma has been in bib23 a record 4 times this year! A great team player! Obviously the biggest thanks has to go to the two athletes who won in bib 23 Kaisa Makarainen and with her debut win Laura Dahlmeier! Biathlete 23 will return next year and who knows maybe we can win 3 races and sneak into the TOP 10! 🙂

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Global Success!2014/15 Season Review:Men

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Season 2014/15 has come to an end and there is no surprise about who came out on top in the Men’s field. Yes for the fourth time in a row France’s Martin Fourcade has won the overall title and gets another big Crystal Globe to put on his already overcrowded mantlepiece. It didn’t start out that way though. We all got a bit excited in the first race of the season way back in Oestersund in the Individual 20km.

It was won by Fourcade’s main rival at the start of the season Emil Hegle Svendsen and with Martin having a total nightmare and finishing in 81st place we thought we might see the title go elsewhere. Of course we we entirely wrong because Fourcade popped up and won the very next race, the Sprint, by 28 seconds and went on to win the Pursuit too. After the first World Cup round it was business as usual with Fourcade and Svendsen setting the pace.

That didn’t last long though as two new contenders appeared to chase Fourcade. Germany’s Simon Schempp started putting in some fantastic performances with two second places in Hochfilzen. In Pokljuka Russia’s Anton Shipulin emerged as a real challenger for the overall with 2 wins and a second place. At this point Svendsen was still going along nicely picking up wins and podiums to stay in the hunt.

After Christmas we had the two German races in Oberhof and Ruhpolding. Oberhof went well for Fourcade where he won both races but in Ruhpolding he started to have some problems. Both Schempp and Shipulin gained points there with Schempp getting a win and a second place. Antholz was next and that’s where Schempp did even more damage. With Fourcade under the weather he won both races just as he did the year before to make a big dent in Fourcade’s lead in the yellow bib. It was around this time that Svendsen’s title challenge faded away as he failed to get on the podium or even into the Top 10. Schempp again beat Fourcade in Nove Mesto but not by much as he was second twice while Fourcade was third and fourth.

By now Shipulin’s charge was slowing and while he still made the podium and TOP 10 in Holmenkollen Fourcade’s win and second place gave him the advantage. Schempp didn’t have a great round in Norway either which left Fourcade with a lead of 78 points going into the World Championships where the results also counted towards the overall title. His rivals didn’t fare too well in the points department but Shipulin and Schempp did medal. Martin won the Individual and was competitive enough in all the other races to give him a lead of 111 points to take into the final round.

We found ourselves in Khanty-Mansiysk for round 9 and in the first race, the Sprint, Martin won convincingly and also won the small Crystal globe. Shipulin was second but it left a deficit of 117 points going into the final 2 races. He was also second in the Sprint standings ahead of Simon Schempp in third. In the Pursuit race Martin did enough to win the Overall Title finishing fourth just one place behind Shipulin. This means he has won the total score for 4 years in a row the first person to do so. The final race saw Shipulin claiming the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Outside of these guys there have been other impressive performances. Ukraine’s Sergey Semenov won the Individual 20km competition with some great shooting and consistent results and did enough in Kontiolahti to hang on to beat Fourcade and Svendsen to the title. Jakov Fak put up a late charge coming into great ski form towards the end of the year winning World Championship gold as well as 3 other races. This put him into third place in the overall standings.

Johannes Thingnes Boe didn’t get as many World Cup wins as last year but he is the World Champion in the Sprint. He is also relatively inexperienced on the World Cup which is obviously a worry for all the other biathletes! His big brother Tarjei made up for a slow start to the season troubled by illness to win 5 medals in Kontiolahti. The German team were stronger than they have been in a while with Schempp but Arnd Peiffer also got back to winning ways in Holmenkollen and with Lesser becoming Pursuit World Champion and Andi Birnbacher getting back to his old form they are a formidable team. They also have Daniel Boehm and Benedikt Doll who collected his first 2 podiums in Khanty Mansiysk.

Simon Fourcade enjoyed a better season than last year finishing 4th in every race!!;-) The French team also have a new star in Quentin Fillon Maillet. He has finished in the TOP 10 nine times with his best result of second place coming in the Ruhpolding Mass Start in a photo finish. Benjamin Weger has shown more consistency this season and has had 4 Top 10 finishes. The Czech team had a good season too with Michal Slesingr in great form and Ondrej Moravec performing well at the World Championships. Evgeniy Garanichev did well too for Russia and finished 6th in the total score.

The Canadians have done really well with Nathan Smith winning silver in the World Championship Sprint, taking 6 TOP 10 finishes and his first ever win in Khanty Mansiysk to finish the season on a high. Brendan Green got a personal best result of 5th too. For the Americans Leif Nordgren outshone his better known colleagues Burke and Bailey with 4 TOP 30 results and a personal best of 16th in the Nove Mesto Sprint. The Bulgarians Krasimir Anev and Vladimir Iliev have been a breath of fresh air this season both shooting really well and getting 14 Top 20 finishes between them, 9 for Iliev and 5 for Anev. Anev achieved a PB of 4th and Iliev 6th.

It has been a very enjoyable season watching the men’s races. I would like to have seen a closer challenge to Fourcade but it sets up next season very nicely. It’s not a two horse race anymore between Fourcade and Svendsen. There are other opponents who can stop Fourcade achieving 5 in a row! However they will find it very tough. It was nice to see the small globes shared around too with Semenov taking the Individual title, Shipulin the Mass Start and the Sprint and Pursuit going to Fourcade. The Nation’s Cup went to Norway. Well we have a long summer ahead of us to digest this season and look forward to the next one. One thing is certain for Monsieur Fourcade season 2014/15 has been a Global Success!

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Gunning for Glory Part 1: Women

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Intrigue, uncertainty, unpredictability ,mystery and suspense! No it’s not the latest thriller at the cinema- it’s the Women’s World Cup!!! This season is going to be one of the best yet. Who is going to finish with the Overall Title 2014/15? Your guess is as good as mine. Anybody could win it but there are some with a better chance than others.

There have been some big changes on the Women’s Tour this year which is why it is so exciting. Tora Berger, Andrea Henkel, Ann Kristin Flatland and Marie-Laure Brunet have retired, Selina Gasparin is pregnant and will miss the season, Marie-Dorin Habert has a new daughter and we are not sure when she will return. Olga Vilukhina has also decided to sit out the season to heal from some injuries. That means four of the Top 11 finishers in the Overall will not be on the start line this season. So we better take a look at the other eight!

Last year’s winner by 4 points was Kaisa Makarainen. An amazing end of season run saw her just pip Tora Berger and totally ruin her retirement! 😉 Can she defend her title this year? Well of course she is capable and she has more experience than her competitors but she also has a home World Championships in Kontiolahti to prepare for. It is likely to be her final year in the sport and the World Championships might mean her main focus is not on the World Cup.

In third place last season was Darya Domracheva. Her stunning performances in Sochi must make her one of the favourites to take the title this year. However I am not so sure. She can be fantastic over a race weekend but can she sustain that level over a whole season? In the last 3 years she has finished second twice, and third once in the Total Score but seems to lack just that little something to push her up to first. She seems to have sorted out her shooting issues but with all the attention she has received after her Olympic glory and all the extra engagements outside of biathlon it has brought her, will she be able to keep her focus all the way to Khanty?

This is an issue that will also affect Gabriela Soukalova who was fourth last year. She has become very popular over the last couple of seasons and that can bring it’s own pressure. The other biathletes will be watching out for her and like Domracheva she will have to try and maintain a good level throughout the season.

Sixth last time around was Anastasiya Kuzmina. She had a pretty average season but came good for the Olympics and brilliantly defended her Sprint gold. Actually sixth is her best ever position in the Total Score but her lack of consistency means to win it would be quite unlikely. Just behind her in seventh was Norway’s new sensation Tiril Echoff. Talk about pressure, taking on Berger’s mantle and the intense scrutiny of the Norwegian press will be a lot to handle for this young lady. They breed them tough in Norway though and she could be up in the Top 3 by the end of March.

In 8th and 9th places were Valj Semerenko and Veronika Vitkova. They had great seasons both finishing with their highest ever placings on the Total Score. They will be dangerous again this time round but may lack the number of podiums required to get to the very top. Outside the Top 11 are more dangers lurking to thwart the favourites. The experience of Teja Gregorin, Vita Semerenko and Olga Zaitseva could prove vital over the season. They may not win overall but they are capable of taking valuable points off the favourites by knocking them off the podium.

Then there is the raft of young talent coming on or back to the scene. Dorothea Wierer had a great season last time out and her double victory in Sjusjoen suggests she will be challenging for more podiums this time around. The young Germans like Dahlmeier, Hildebrand and Preuss will also be in the mix. Miriam Goessner is back from injury and if she has learned to shoot better in her absence she will be a real contender to win a lot of races. Elsewhere Nadezhda Skardino, Juliya Dzhyma and Susan Dunklee were really impressive last time and I am sure will take more points and get better results this season.

So basically I am saying that I have absolutely no idea who is going to win this year’s big Crystal Globe! That is why it is going to be such a great season to watch the women. The favourites have to be Makarainen, Domracheva and Soukalova but only one of these has won it before. I am really looking forward to this season to see whether one of these ladies can win it or if someone will take us by surprise and come from nowhere to claim victory. Anything could happen! I advise you to put all bets on each way because it’s going to be one hell of a season with all these outstanding women Gunning for Glory!!!

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There is a Lind-Störm coming!

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Fredrik Lindström is only 25! Can you believe that? It seems like he has been on the World Cup for ages! He must have started when he was 12 or something! Actually he made his debut at age 19 in Hochfilzen and where he finished 47th in the Sprint race.

Freddie was born on the 24th of July, 1989 in a bread bin. Wait a minute that’s not right! He was born in Bredbyn of course! That’s in the Örnsköldsvik Municipality in Sweden as you all know! It also makes part sense of his Twitter name which is @bredbypajken. As for the rest you will have to ask him. I mean I guess I could have asked him but you need to retain some mystery in your life!

Freddie had great start to last season when he came second in the Sprint race at his home World Cup round in Oestersund. Many, including me, thought that this was a sign of a great year to come but unfortunately it turned out to be his best result of the whole season. After finishing 7th in the Total Score in 2012/13 big things were expected from Mr. Lindström. However after making good progress every year in his career until now he slipped back a little last year and finished only 17th overall with just that one podium to his name.

He has won a race on the World Cup though which as you know is not that easy to do and some older and more experienced athletes than him have not managed it yet. It came back in season 2011/12 in Anholtz where he took victory in the Sprint. Actually he had a lot of great results that season which is why people expect a lot from him because they know what he is capable of.

Freddie has always performed well in the World Championships and has 2 bronze medals to prove it. In Ruhpolding in 2012 he was third in the Mass Start and in 2013 in Nove Mesto he was third in the Individual. He also just missed out on a bronze in the Men’s relay in 2011 in Khanty-Mansiysk when the team came in fourth. In fact last year the Swedish Men’s Relay team were on excellent form. They were twice on the podium on the World Cup coming second in Hochfilzen and Antholz and also took two fourth place finishes in Annecy and Ruhpolding. They were tipped to make the podium in Sochi too with such great form but ended up a disappointing 10th.

With the retirement of half of that relay team the pressure will be on Freddie and also Tobias Arwidson to keep up those impressive results. Without the talent and experience of Bergman and Ferry it will be hard to repeat such feats but Sweden has the likes of Peppe Femling and Ted Armgren who will finally get their chance to shine. Freddie is going to have to handle the new pressure of being Sweden’s top male biathlete and a lot will be expected from him from Sweden’s coach Johan Hagström. He will have to set the example for the rest of the team.

So will he be able to use that extra pressure to get back to his best? I think he can. He is a really talented biathlete and for someone so young he has a lot of experience to fall back on. It will be a big year for him as the leader of Team Sweden and he will be looking to add some more podiums and wins to his collection. With the World Championships “next door” in Finland he will have a lot of supporters there and if his past record is anything to go by he should get a bronze medal at the very least! The other biathletes need to keep an eye out for Freddie as I think it could potentially be his best season yet! Beware there is a Lind-Störm coming!

Follow Freddie on Twitter: @bredbypajken
Have a look at his website (in Swedish): http://www.flindstrom.se/


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A Light Foot across the snow!

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“It’s cold up North!” That’s what they say about the North of England which means that it is a great place to acclimatise to winter sports! Lucky for Great Britain then that the frozen wastes of South Shields have helped their top female biathlete get to where she is now. No need to go looking for cold weather in Europe, Amanda Lightfoot can get plenty of it at home!

Amanda was born on the 30th of January 1987 and raised in South Shields which is more famous for football and running than for biathlon!(Shocking I know!). In fact biathlon is not a well-known sport at all in Great Britain so how did Amanda end up becoming a biathlete? Well like many others she discovered the sport after she joined the army. Actually she only learned to ski at age 19 and considering most biathletes can ski when they are children she has had a lot of catching up to do.

With only 3 months of biathlon training she won the novice prize in the British Championships and earned the chance to spend a year training in the Development Squad. In 2007 she was selected for the European Cup and after only 3 races qualified for the Women’s Relay team to compete on the World Cup.

After a lot of hard work and gaining valuable experience along the way she got her best ever result in the World Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2011. She came 34th in the Individual race which is an amazing result for someone who had only been doing biathlon for 5 years! Most biathletes have been training and competing since childhood especially in places like Norway and Russia. This led Amanda to be named British Biathlete of the Year in 2011. She is also the first GB biathlete to score World Cup points since 1992 and is only the second female biathlete from her country to compete in an Olympic Games following Emma Fowler in 2006.

Her best result on the World Cup was last year’s 46th place in the Oberhof Pursuit. That beat her previous best which was 47th in the Oberhof Sprint from the day before! Strangely enough her top results have all been achieved at World Championships. The best in Khanty and then in Ruhpolding where she came 36th in the Sprint and 43rd in the Pursuit in 2012.This bodes well of course for this season and the up coming World Championships in Finland. As someone who has served in Iraq the Kontiolahti wall will hold no fear for Amanda – just exhaustion!

Like many British biathletes she has had to base herself abroad so that she can have the use of quality training facilities and Amanda chose Lillehammer in Norway. She has even been learning the language over the summer which should be pretty easy for her because if you can speak “Geordie” then Norwegian should be a breeze!

It’s difficult to become a successful biathlete if you come from Great Britain. There are problems with funding and facilities and also snow! Amanda is a tough girl though and she needs to be to do what she does. This year she will be hoping to clinch a first Top 30 position and grab some more World Cup points. A good showing at the World Championships would also be a good confidence boost.

There are some young British ladies coming through, like Sophie Hopkins and Holly Rees-Lay, who would like to be to be professional biathletes one day. They should be inspired by Amanda and can learn a lot from her remarkable progress. So keep an eye out for Amanda this season and watch her progress carefully. British biathlon needs some good results and I am sure she is the one who can provide them. She has the skills required to be in the TOP 40 more often and coupled with her determination and motivation she will get there. She also has something the others don’t have – the gift of stealth! They don’t know she is coming because she has such a Light Foot across the Snow!

Follow Amanda on Twitter: @amandabiathlon1
Like her Facebook Fan page: ‘Amanda Lightfoot Biathlete -Fan Page’

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A’Eder the pack!

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So if your name was Simon what would your potential nicknames be? How about Si, or Simo or maybe just plain Simple! For some reason Austria’s Simon Eder’s nickname is Sam!! It has obviously stuck as he uses it as the name of his website too: http://www.edersam.com.

Sam or as I like to call him Simon (mainly because it’s his name!) was born in Zell am See on the 23rd of February 1983. His father Alfred Eder was also a biathlete and took part in 6 Winter Olympic Games. Simon has only been to 2 so far so if my Maths is correct that makes his Dad 3 times better than him!!:-) Luckily for Simon his Dad is now also his coach.

Last season was probably his best ever. He won a race on the World Cup for the first time since he claimed his first ever victory in 2008/09. A brilliant end to the season saw him win the Oslo Pursuit to add to his win in the Mass Start in Khanty-Mansiysk from 5 years ago. He also began the season well finishing 2nd in the Oestersund Individual and he just missed out on another podium finishing 4th in the Ruhpolding Pursuit.

He ended the season in fifth place in the Total Score which is his highest finish to date mainly thanks to him coming second in both the Pursuit and Individual standings. The best result of the year obviously has to be his bronze medal from the Sochi Olympics Men’s Relay which he won with Daniel Mesotitsch, Dominik Landertinger and Christoph Sumann. The same team in fact who won silver in Vancouver in 2010 in the same event. He has also finished 4th twice at the Olympics which is the worst position to finish in. He was 4th in the Vancouver Pursuit and 4th in the Individual in Sochi.

He has had quite a successful Olympic career so far but has done less well when it comes to the World Championships. He has competed in 6 but his only medal came again in the relay in Pyeongchang 2009 where Austria finished second. At the age of 31 Simon must be looking to set this right in the coming season in Kontiolahti. He has plenty of experience now and if he can carry his form over from last year he will definitely be in contention to finally grab that individual medal and another relay one too.

Excitingly for us fans Simon has one of the best websites of all the biathletes. It is in German and English and best of all he has his own shop! Yes you can buy Simon Eder goodies straight from his website! He has his own range of T-shirts for men, women and children and my favourite part – he also sells accessories! You can get a mug, a backpack, a lap top case and who in the world wouldn’t want a Simon Eder pencil case! Actually if you have a biathlon fan in the family they would make great Christmas presents. It’s also nice to see biathletes be proactive in the raising of funds and giving the fans a chance to support them and buy a pencil case! (I am obsessed with the pencil case!).

The upcoming year will be an interesting one for Simon and not just in terms of T-shirt sales! He has a real chance to challenge at the very top and to claim a few more wins on the World Cup. The World Championships have to be one of his main goals and he has the ability and the experience to take medals. Let’s hope he has a great year and can finish A’Eder the pack!

 

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Slam Dunk-lee!

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With a father and an uncle who were both Winter Olympians in cross-country skiing it’s no wonder that America’s Susan Dunklee could ski by the age of 2! It did however take her another 20 years before she learned how to shoot! Born on the 13th of February 1986 Susan Dunklee became the first female America biathlete to get on the podium since 1994. She matched the efforts of Joan Smith who also made a second place finish.

Originally an All American cross-country skier like her father and uncle before her Susan was a bit of a late comer to the world of biathlon. Whilst in her final year at Dartmouth College she received an email from the then head of biathlon development, James Upham, who invited her to a biathlon training camp. He offered her the chance to learn to shoot in return for a commitment to pursue biathlon instead of cross-country.

This proved to be a great decision on both sides. With an excellent background in skiing, her father Stan Dunklee competed in the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics following his brother and Susan’s uncle Everett Dunklee who competed in 1972, and a total immersion course in shooting Susan has gone on to become an excellent biathlete.

Last season was her best yet but she had already shown signs of what was to come. In her debut season on the World Cup she finished a mightily impressive 5th in the World Championships Individual in Ruhpolding which equalled the best ever result by an American woman. She also got a 9th and 10th place finish that season in the Pursuit and Sprint in Khanty-Mansiysk. The following year in 2012/13 she placed once in the TOP 10 in the Olympic warm up in Sochi.

Last season however exceeded expectations with a first ever podium coming in the last round in Oslo which eclipsed her 4th place in Annecy and meant a total of seven TOP 10 finishes for the year. In her first Olympics in Sochi she finished 11th in the Mass Start and was part of a good performance from the Women’s Relay team who came in 7th and the Mixed Relay team who were 8th.

This year Susan has to be in contention to take her first ever victory on the World Cup. No America woman has ever won a World Cup race and so if she gets it she will be making history for US biathlon (no pressure or anything!!!). It will be a difficult thing to achieve however considering the strength of the female competitors but it has to be one of her goals for the season.

Another will be to take a medal in Kontiolahti in the World Championships. She is capable of getting an individual medal but will also make up a pretty strong Mixed Relay team with the likes of Tim Burke, Hannah Dreissigacker and Lowell Bailey and with a great performance and some luck they have a decent chance of a medal. I hope she can make history and win a race because it will be a huge Slam Dunk-lee for the US biathlon programme who are doing a great job!

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Check out her blog: susandunklee.wordpress.com


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An Ex’Sche(m)pp’tional talent!

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As one who has been diagnosed with under training for many years (well actually my whole life!) it can be hard to understand how someone can over train. It is something that does occur and especially with biathletes who spend a ridiculous amount of time training anyway for such a hard sport. Recent retiree Marie-Laure Brunet had problems with this in the past and so did Simon Schempp.

Athletes have to put their bodies under stress to increase their physical capabilities. Where the stress loads are appropriate then the athlete’s performance will improve but if the stress loads are inappropriate then over-training or burnout can occur. In Simon’s case he did burnout in the 2010/11 season and he suffered fatigue and a loss of form which cut short that season for him.

Thankfully that is all in the past now and last season was Simon’s best ever on the World Cup. Born in Mutlangen on the 14th of November 1988 Schempp came up through the biathlon ranks at the same time as the likes of Tarjei Boe and Lukas Hofer. Fitting then that his first ever win was a shared victory with Hofer in Antholz in the Sprint race. He followed it up by a superbly calm and collected performance to win the Pursuit and went into the Winter Olympics in Sochi with a lot of confidence.

His great form coupled with this confidence meant that he came away with a silver medal in the Men’s Relay and a 6th place finish in the Pursuit. In fact all of Simon’s medals so far have come in relay events. He won gold in the Mixed Relay in the 2010 World Championships in Khanty Mansiysk and 2 bronze medals in the Men’s Relay in Ruhpolding 2012 and Nove Mesto 2013.

Like a lot of biathletes Simon started out in another Winter Sport. He was an alpine skier until the age of 13 when he sensibly decided that biathlon was much better and changed disciplines. A good decision that was borne out by last season’s good results. Apart from his two victories he had a pretty consistent season finishing 10th in the Total Score with 6th in the Pursuit standing being his best individual event. He was also an important member of the German Relay team and he is really good in this format as his medal haul shows.

The German biathletes are under a lot of pressure as biathlon is a big and very well supported sport in Germany (well done Germans!). After the recent retirement of the likes of Michael Greis and now Andrea Henkel they have a younger and less experienced team than in the past. However that doesn’t mean they are not super talented. After a few lean years the German fans will be looking to Simon to provide them with a bit more to cheer.

If he maintains last year’s great form and pushes on a bit more without overdoing it he can be a real threat to the main contenders in men’s biathlon. He might not be able to beat Martin Fourcade over the whole season but he can beat him in individual races. If he can do this in Kontiolahti at the World Champs it will bring him the individual medals that are missing from his CV. I am sure he will win many more races on the World Cup and prove to everyone that he is an Ex’Sche(m)pp’tional talent!

 

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Check out his website: http://www.simon.com.de/ (it could use an update Simon!)

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Soukalová: Sing when you’re winning!

soukalova

Singing sensation and biathlete, Gabriela Soukalová proved what a great competitor she is and the excellent progress she is making in her career by winning all 3 events on the final stop of the World Cup last season. Taking top spot in the Sprint, Pursuit and Mass Start in Khanty-Mansiysk really put Soukalová in the spotlight for next year’s World Cup and Olympic Games.

Her results earlier in the season were an indicator of what was to come. Three podiums in Pokljuka, a win in the Sprint, 2nd in the Pursuit and a 3rd in the Mass Start, mean that when she is on form there is no stopping her. It also means these must be her 3 favourite events!

Gabriela Soukalová was born on the 1st of November 1989 in Jablonec in the Czech Republic. She started to compete in biathlon in 2005. She topped of a great season last year by helping the home nation to a mixed relay bronze medal in Nove Mesto at the World Championships. Having recovered from illness last summer and again around Christmas it is not surprising that her best form came towards the end of the season.

She is becoming increasingly known for her singing as well as biathlon. She provided the soundtrack for biathlonworld TV’s ‘The Spy Who Loved Biathlon’ with her version of ‘For Your Eyes Only’. She has also sung at press conferences –‘summertime’ being one example from last year. She also performed at the Closing Ceremony in Nove Mesto with her version of No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’. A video also exists of her wandering through a forest singing ‘Scarborough Fair’.

A beautiful girl with a beautiful voice but what can we expect of her on the World Cup this season and for the Sochi Games? If she can produce the same form she showed in Pokljuka and Khanty she is a serious contender for a medal in one or more of the individual events. As football fans often say ‘you only sing when you’re winning’ I get the feeling we will be hearing many more songs from Gabriela both next year and well into the future.

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