Tag Archives: Kontiolahti 2015

Vladimir Chepelin!

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The Belarus Team has been getting stronger and stronger over the last few years. It is mainly the women who have been grabbing all the headlines with fantastic results from Darya Domracheva and Nadezhda Skardino in particular but the men’s team are doing well too.

Vladimir Chepelin is one of those who has stepped up his performances. He was born on the 15th of July 1988 and made his biathlon debut in 2011. Last season was one of his best so far.

On the World Cup he started the season well by coming 23rd in the opening round in Oestersund in the Individual. Overall he finished in 47th place in the Total Score. However it was in Oslo Holmenkollen at the World Championships where he really showed what a good biathlete he is.

In the Sprint race he finished in a fantastic 13th place which is his highest finish in a biathlon race to date. He dropped 10 places in the Pursuit to 23rd but another Top 25 finish is impressive. The Indiviual wasn’t as successful and he ended the race in 56th but in the Mass Start which is one of the toughest races he came back to take 13th place again equaling the personal best he set earlier in the week. Considering his top result in Kontiolahti at the last World Championships was 38th you can see he has made a significant step forward.

The coming season could be a good one for Chepelin. It would be great to see him take part in the Single Mixed Relay possibly with Skardino to see what they could do. However last season they were both in the Mixed Relay but without Domracheva they might do better in the Single as they are very capable of getting a podium. It’s much harder in the Mixed Relay to do well against the bigger nations but in the Single Mixed Relay the smaller nations have a better chance of success especially with a strong pair.

Individually Chepelin will be hoping to get his first Top Ten finish on the World Cup. He needs more consistency if he wants to improve his overall standing but I think he could break into the Top 30 overall this season. His shooting can be a bit erratic but if he can reduce the number of missed targets and stay healthy throughout the season it could be his best one yet.

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Dahlmeier: Climbing to the Top!

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Where do you suppose biathletes go on their holidays? After a long, hard season you might imagine they would go somewhere hot, to the beach or somewhere exotic. Not Laura Dahlmeier, she spent her off season climbing. Not just in any mountain range though –she went to the Himalayas!

It’s no wonder she is such a fantastic biathlete. If you can climb up huge mountains in life or death situations you can manage shooting down five targets from 50 metres away. The concentration required for climbing and the amount of pressure you are under must make biathlon look like child’s play! Actually considering her age and her results she does seems to be making biathlon look much easier than it really is.

Laura was born on the 22nd of August 1993. After a successful junior career, in the 2012/13 season she won three gold and one silver medal at the Junior World Championships in Obertilliach, she made an almost seamless transition on to the World Cup. Her first season saw her finish 35th in the Total Score and she has improved every year since then and was 6th last season.

The highlight of her career so far also came last season at the World Championships in Oslo. She won gold in the Pursuit race and won 5 medals in total with silver in the Mass Start and bronze in the Sprint, Individual and Relay. These can be added to the 2 medals she won the previous year in Kontiolahti, gold in the Relay and silver in the Pursuit, to give her 7 World Championship medals before she is 23-years-old.

It is quite remarkable how well she has done for such a young woman. She also managed to take a double victory in her home race in Ruhpolding last season by winning the Pursuit and the Mass Start. She performs well in every single event whether she is against the clock in the Sprint and Individual or head to head her with other biathletes in the Pursuit and Mass Start.

If she has one weakness however it appears to be her health. For the past two seasons she has missed the opening round of the World Cup in Oestersund. This has put her at a disadvantage as there are a lot of points to be gained in the first round and so she starts the season playing catch up to the other biathletes. Maybe she is overtraining during the summer or perhaps she spends too much time up cold mountains but it would be great to see her compete over an entire season.

If she can stay healthy for the coming season she will be in with a very good chance of winning her first Overall Title. With Domracheva missing again and Kaisa another year older she has the possibility to compete with the likes of Soukalova, Dorin Habert and Wierer to win the big Crystal Globe. There is also another World Championships in Hochfilzen and she will be hoping to add to her already impressive haul of medals there.

She will turn 23 before the start of the season and although she is younger than a lot of the favourites she will be among the challengers to take Gabriela Soukalova’s title. Her shooting is amazing and her ability to handle pressure for a person of her age is outstanding. Make no mistake Dahlmeier is climbing her way to the very top!

Laura has her own website: http://www.laura-dahlmeier.de

Like her Facebook page: Laura Dahlmeier (Sportsperson)

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Lena Häcki: The Interview!

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Lena Häcki is a Swiss biathlete who was born in Engelberg on the 1st of July 1995. She recently took part in the Youth/Junior World Championships in Cheile Gradistei where she won 2 silver medals in the Sprint and Pursuit races. She also competes on the World Cup for Switzerland and her career best result so far was 12th in the Sprint race in Antholz in 2015. She competed in the Senior World Championships held in Kontiolahti in 2015 and her best result there was 28th in the Sprint.

You can like Lena’s Facebook page: Lena Häcki (Sportsperson)
You can look at her website: http://www.lenahaecki.ch/

You won 2 silver medals in Cheile Gradistei. Can you describe how it felt to win those medals?

It was an amazing and incredible feeling. For me it was like a miracle.

What do you remember about the races? Can you describe them?

I felt very good on the track, and the shooting was okay, I liked the track very much, it was a hard track.

Did you set any goals before you went to Romania and did you achieve them?

I hoped for a medal, but it wasn’t really a goal, I just hoped that I could give my best and I did that.

You already compete on the World Cup and you competed in Kontiolahti at the World Championships. What are the main differences between those events and the Junior World Championships?

There is not much difference between these both, the Junior World Champs are very well organized, there are just other people there.

What are you plans for the rest of the season? What are your goals for next year?

My plans are just to make some good races and to show that I deserved to win those medals. Next season I want to compete in the World Cup and get some good points.

Why did you become a biathlete and why do you like the sport?

My trainer asked me one day if I wanted to try biathlon and I tried it and loved it so much. I continued to do it and still love it so much. For me it’s an amazing sport and I like it a lot because everyone has a chance, anyone can win or lose.

Do you combine sport with your education or are you concentrating only on biathlon at the present?

At the moment I am a maths student, I try to study maths but it is very hard and not easy to do both.

Does your rifle have a name?

Yes, my rifle is called Giorgio.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, kind, strong-willed.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Antholz
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Ole Einar Björdalen
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint
Favourite/best race of your career so far?: My 12th place in the Sprint in Antholz 2015
Favourite food: Swiss food
Favourite film: A Walk to Remember
Favourite sports team: The Swiss biathlon team 😉
Favourite TV show: How I Met Your Mother

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Elite Elisa!

egasparin

With big sister Selina taking a year off to have a baby, Elisa Gasparin really stepped up for Switzerland and enjoyed her best season so far in 2014/15. The 23-year-old got some of her top results on the World Cup as well as impressing at the World Championships in Kontiolahti.

Elisa was born on the 2nd of December 1991 in Samedan. She is the younger sister of Olympic silver medallist and World Cup winner Selina, and the older sister of Aita. In fact the sisters made history together back in 2012 at the Hochfilzen World Cup by becoming the first three siblings to take part in a Relay together.

Elisa first showed us her potential back in Sochi at the Winter Olympics in 2014 where she finished an excellent 8th in the Sprint race. She even finished ahead of her older sister in the race as Selina was 13th. That was her only TOP 10 finish to date but a great confidence boost for her.

Last season was very impressive from the young Swiss biathlete. She achieved her personal best result of 11th on the World Cup in the Sprint in Khanty Mansiysk. This, added to another seven Top 20 finishes meant that she ended the season in 23rd place in the Total Score. A remarkable improvement of 31 places from the year before.

She also had a good World Championships in Kontiolahti. She finished every race in the Top 25 coming 25th in the Mass Start, 22nd in the Individual, 13th in the Sprint and 15th in the Pursuit. Most of her good results from last season came in the Sprint races which suggests that she prefers the shorter distance and racing against the clock.

This season she will be looking forward to the return of Selina and being able to race in Relays with both her sisters once again. If she continues her good form we might see some improved results from both the Swiss Women’s and Mixed Relay teams. Her main goal for this season must be to break into the Top 10 on the World Cup and put together a string of consistent results in the TOP 20. She is capable of doing this and in the Sprint especially she could even be pushing for a place on the podium.

It must be nice for Elisa to have both her sisters racing with her and travelling together in periods away from home. The three Gasparins have also done some great things to help develop biathlon in Switerland. They have built two shooting targets near their childhood home and also established three more ranges around Switzerland.

Elisa will be excited for the start of the new season to see how much she has progressed over the summer. She is still young and has plenty of time to improve but this season is a good opportunity to take a step forward and try and make Top 10 finishes her regular result. It won’t be easy but she has more experience now and has a good chance of doing it. It won’t be too long before Elisa joins the elite!

Elisa has her own website: http://www.gasparin.ch/
You can like her Facebook Page : Elisa Gasparin (Community Page)

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Ondřej: We want More-avec!

moravec

The Czech Republic are having a great time in biathlon at the moment. Not only are the team doing fantastically well but the crowds that went to watch the races in Nove Mesto last season were huge. The two things are probably related as the better the team does the more people want to watch but there has been a very big increase in interest there.

One of the reasons for the success of the team is Ondřej Moravec. Over the last few seasons he has made some amazing progress that has turned him into a medal winner. Born in Ústí nad Orlicí on the 9th of June 1984 he made his debut on the World Cup back in Season 2005/06. He has taken part in 3 Olympic Games and 6 World Championships.

His first and only win to date on the World Cup came in Oslo Holmenkollen in 2013 when he took victory in the Mass Start. He has finished on the podium many times but probably the most significant of these was in Sochi. He won silver at the 2014 Olympic Games in the Pursuit coming from a start position of 8th. That wasn’t enough for Ondřej however as he also finished third in the Mass Start to take bronze and then won another bronze in the Mixed Relay alongside Jaroslav Soukup, Veronika Vítková and Gabriela Soukalová.

That was just the beginning of his personal medal haul however as at the World Championships in Kontiolahti he added more to his collection. He won the silver medal in the Mass Start and also bronze in the Individual after helping the Czech Mixed Relay team to gold.

Season 2014/15 was also his best ever on the World Cup. He finished 6th in the Total Score improving from 14th the season before. As well as looking to win more medals at this year’s World Championships in Oslo, Ondřej will be trying to get some more wins on the World Cup. As his only win so far came in Holmenkollen his bid to win more medals there could turn out to be a good one.

On the World Cup however he needs to continue the consistency that got him such a good place on the Total Score. We know he is capable of excellent results but he has to put them together more often. If his form from last season continues it could be another good year for the Czech Team and for him. Ondřej, we want More-avec!

You can like Ondřej’s Facebook Page: Ondřej Moravec (Sportsperson)

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Lesser is more!

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Erik Lesser is the ultimate big time performer. Don’t get me wrong he is successful on the Biathlon World Cup but he always seems to save his best performances for the big Championships. In Sochi at the Olympics he came home with 2 silver medals and in Kontiolahti he upgraded to 2 gold medals!

Erik was born on the 17th of May 1988 in Suhl. He made his World Cup debut in 2010 where he finished second in the Mixed Relay and he took 44th place in the Sprint in his first individual event. He came 91st that year in the Total Score. Over the last 5 years he has improved significantly and last season he came 10th in the Overall which is his best finish to date.

It is in the Championships where he excels however. He has taken part in 2 World Championships so far. In Nove Mesto in 2013 he won a bronze medal as part of the Relay Team. Then in Kontiolahti in 2015 he won the Pursuit race coming from fifth place in the Sprint. He also helped the German Men’s Relay Team to win gold. In between these Championships he went to the Olympic Games in Sochi and won silver in the 20km Individual and another silver in the Relay.

All this from a man who has never won a race on the World Cup! He has three podiums to his name, one second place and two thirds but has not managed a victory in normal World Cup racing. For your first ever win to be in the World Championships is quite special. I am not really sure what the reason for this is. Maybe he reacts well under pressure and the World Championships and Olympics are the toughest events around.

Talent is obviously in his genes as his grandfather was an Olympian. Axel Lesser competed in the 1976 Winter Olympics for East Germany. Erik was also well known for his facial hair. A few years ago he wore a quite excellent moustache but sadly he is now clean shaven but maybe that’s why he is skiing faster! He was certainly easier to identify on the tracks with his magnificent moustache!

Moustache or no Erik needs to transfer his Championship form across to the regular World Cup season. Now that he has won a race and knows he can beat the best he will take more confidence on to the World Cup. He is a great biathlete and he is capable of getting good results but he needs to do it on a more consistent basis. He just needs to look at his teammate Simon Schempp’s performances from last season to see it can be done.

It’s a big season for Erik. There is a lot of pressure on German biathletes and he has a World title to defend in Oslo. I wouldn’t bet against him winning more medals there! When it comes to the big events we know that Lesser is more!!

You can like Erik’s page on Facebook: Erik Lesser (Offizielle Fanpage)
He has his own website: http://eriklesser.de/


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Johanna Talihärm: The Interview!

Talihärm

Johanna Talihärm is an Estonian biathlete who was born on the 27th of June 1993 in Tallinn. She is a part of the Estonian Women’s Relay Team and last season she broke into the TOP 40 on the World Cup. She has a brother who is also a biathlete. Next season she will be trying to get into that TOP 40 more often and score some more points if she can sort out her prone shooting!

Blog:http://www.johannablogi.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: @johannataliharm
Facebook: Estonian Fantastic Four in the biathlon world

How popular is biathlon in Estonia?

Biathlon used to be in the shadow of cross county skiing which is “the national sport” in Estonia, but we are gaining popularity now.
You can help too by following Estonian fantastic four on Facebook!

You achieved your best career result last season at the World Championships in Kontiolahti coming 39th in the Sprint in difficult conditions. How good did that feel and how much confidence has it given you for next season?

I had a rough start for the 2014/15 season. Then I started to feel better, gained energy and confidence during the season and was finally prepared to give my best in the World Championships. After 3 penalties in prone I thought the race is over, but I got myself together again and pushed as hard as I could and cleaned the standing. I never thought I had a chance for points with 3(!!!) penalties, I was super happy that I finally reached the top 40 goal I had had for so long. It showed me how much more is possible with clean shooting.

The Estonian Women’s Team seem to be very good friends. How nice is it to travel and compete in such a good atmosphere?

I don’t even want to imagine how hard and boring it would be if we didn’t get along so well. I feel so lucky to be able to call my teammates my best friends. It is great to share the emotions, no matter if they are good or bad with them immediately. To explore the world with them! And of course to race in the same relay team!

What are your plans for summer training?

We have a new team coach with whom I personally have worked since last August. We’re mostly training in Otepää, where we have an amazing center with a 6km rollerski track with two shooting ranges.

What are your goals for next season?

To improve technique and balance, to hit more targets and shoot faster.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.

It depends on what time the race starts. Usually our races are in the afternoon so I like to sleep longer, have breakfast, then go for a run and have an light lunch and get ready to go to the stadium. I eat “normal food” but avoid milk products because they don’t suit my stomach.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

I am quite a slow shooter, and also much worse in prone than standing. Ski wise I want to improve balance and technique.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

I usually wear my favorite pieces of clothing, but just because they are the most comfortable. Also I have a routine of warm up exercises, which I do every time before the start.

How difficult is it to keep up with the WADA rules for doping? Is it hard to keep track of all your food, supplements and medicines etc?

It comes with time, and now we have a database made by the Estonian anti-doping where we can search for all the medicines sold in Estonia to see if they are allowed or not.

I don’t want to criticize but you are Johanna and your brother is called Johan which shows a lack of imagination by your parents!!!;-) Does this ever cause any confusion because your names are so similar?

You are not the first one to ask this question. Both Johan and Johanna are very common names in Estonia and Scandinavia so usually there is no problem. Our parents just wanted them to be similar for both siblings and international.

Does your rifle have a name?

I usually call it “rifle” or “gun” 🙂

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling, independent, lively.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Oslo
Favourite biathlete (past or present):The whole biathlon family is super friendly and fun, it would be a shame to pick just one.
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit and relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? First ever clean shooting at the Sochi Olympics
Favourite food: chocolate
Favourite singer/band: can change daily
Favourite film: 1+1 (The Intouchables)
Favourite TV show: news or any other show that is not read in some language that I can’t understand.

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