Tag Archives: Kontiolahti 2020

Kontiolahti 2020: The Pursuits!

And deep breath! Wow what a day of biathlon that was! Both overall titles going down to the last lap of the season and two huge retirements from the sport!

It started with the men’s pursuit and with it being Martin Fourcade’s final ever race it was always going to be special. The overall was on the line and Fourcade needed to win to have a chance of taking it and of course he did. Unfortunately for him if Johannes Boe finished 4th he would claim the title an he did just that!

It was a careful start for Johannes who had a 21 second lead but he took a long time on the windy range. He hit all 5 in the first prone but so did Fourcade and Jacquelin who made up a lot of time with faster shooting. At the second prone both Frenchmen again hit all the targets but Boe missed one and left them in the lead.

At the third shoot Boe missed 3 and it looked like Martin could maybe take the big globe afterall. Both he and Jacquelin missed 1 shot but had a clear lead over Boe. Arnd Peiffer meanwhile moved into 3rd place and Quentin Fillon Maillet into 4th.

At the final shoot it was Fourcade’s turn to miss 2 and Jacquelin 3! This time Boe hit all 5 and found himself in a battle with Jacquelin and Fillon Maillet for the podium. Fourcade went on to win his last race – very Fourcade! – but Boe knew he just needed to be 4th. Lucky for him there were only 2 Frenchmen ahead of him as he was tiring towards the end but won the overall in the end by just 2 points.

Fillon Maillet was second and Jacquelin third making it a French clean sweep! Arnd Peiffer was 5th and Erlend Bjoentegaard 6th. It was a fitting way for Martin Fourcade to end such an amazing career. His first win was in the Kontiolahti pursuit and so was his last, his 83rd career victory! Astonishing!

Elsewhere Anton Smolski improved his PB to 14th and Said Khalili was 25th with 20/20 for a big personal best!

Just before the start of the women’s pursuit Kaisa Makarainen announced that she would also be retiring after the race! I mean how much do they think we can take in one day!

To the race itself and it was another showdown for the overall this time between Tiril Eckhoff and Dorothea Wierer. Eckhoff started in 3rd and Wierer in 19th so the advantage was with the Norwegian. At the first shoot she missed 2 and Wierer 1 but it was Franziska Preuss who hit 5/5 to take the lead on her own. Behind her came Denise Herrmann and Lisa Vittozzi.

The second prone was a disaster in a windy range for Preuss. She missed 4 but Marketa Davidova hit all 5 to take over at the front of the race. Vittozzi moved into second place and Julia Simon up to third. Eckhoff was into 4th while Wierer was 10th.

The first stand saw Eckhoff hit 5/5 and move into the lead followed by Simon and Vittozzi. Wierer missed 2 to leave the range in 16th place.

At the final shoot Eckhoff had a lot of problems and missed 3 targets! Julia Simon cleaned as did Selina Gasparin. Vittozzi missed 1 to find herself in second place behind Simon and just in front of Gasparin. Wierer missed 1 and was on the penalty loop with Eckhoff.

She came out ahead and just had to stay with Eckhoff for the final loop to take the overall. At the front Simon was taking her first ever win and Selina Gasparin passed Vittozzi to finish second with the Italian third.

Kaisa Makarainen in her final race had moved from 18th to 4th but just couldn’t manage one last podium! Monika Hojnisz-Starega was 5th and Mona Brorsson was 6th from a start of 25th!

Emilie Kalkenberg got a PB in 15th and weirdly the Oebergs finished in 18th (Hanna) and 19th (Elvira) and the Gasparins in 37th (Aita) and 38th (Elisa)! Sisters racing together!

In the end Eckhoff came home in 10th but with Wierer was 11th so it meant the big crystal globe was Doro’s once more winning by 7 points!

That is the end of the 2019/20 biathlon season! It has been one to remember and we will need the extra long break to recover I think!……can’t wait until next season though! Roll on November!

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Kontiolahti 2020: The Sprints!

We are living in crazy biathlon times! Last week we had no spectators in Nove Mesto and now the season has been cut short due to corona virus.

We were supposed to have a crowd here in Kontiolahti but then the Finnish government recommended not to hold public gatherings over 500 people just a few hours before the race so they were not let in. Then we discovered half way through the race that Oslo was cancelled and that this would be the final World Cup of the season. It’s a shame but not much you can do!

The poor US biathlon team had to make a mad dash to the airport to catch flights home before they were suspended by the US government so they could not race here.

So on to the racing. It was Johannes Boe who was again victorious in the men’s sprint. He hit 10/10 and out skied the field by 21 seconds to put himself in pole position to win the overall title. Martin Fourcade also hit 10/10 and put in a fearsome final lap to take second. Well Emilien Jacquelin said he stole it but that’s because he beat him into third place by just over a second.

Jacquelin also shot clean as did 13 out of the top 15!!! Vetle Christiansen finished 4th, Tarjei Boe was 5th and Benedikt Doll was 6th. He was one of those who hit 9/10!

Sturla Laegreid continued his rise with 10th place and another new PB. Said Khalili moved his from 44th to 42nd and Didier Bionaz smashed his from 72nd last week to 48th this week!

In the women’s race the conditions were much more difficult with wind and snow! It didn’t stop Denise Herrmann though! She took her second sprint win in a row with 9/10. Second place went to her teammate Franziska Preuss who also hit 9/10 and is on great form late in the season.

Third place went to Tiril Eckhoff who despite missing 2 shots skied like a demon on the final lap to reach the podium. It was crucial for her hopes in the overall especially as Dorothea Wierer could only finish in 19th place missing 3 targets.

Lisa Vittozzi was 4th with 9/10, Marketa Davidova was 5th also with 9/10 and Monika Hojnisz-Starega was 6th with a perfect shoot.

Chloe Chevalier got her PB in 8th hitting 9/10 and Susanna Meinen got her career best in 31st.

Saturday will see the final races of the season after Sunday’s relays were also cancelled. It will be a showdown in both the men’s and women’s pursuits to decide the overall titles. Wierer and Eckhoff go head to head and so will Johannes Boe and Martin Fourcade. It will be Fourcade’s final race as he has announced his retirement from the sport.

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Season Preview 2019/20: The Men!

The light bulbs in the floodlights have all been replaced in Oestersund, the fog machines have been serviced in Oberhof (you didn’t think that was real fog ,did you?) and the Kontiolahti Wall has been made a little bit steeper. All of which can only mean one thing – the biathlon season is about to start!

The schedule is a little different this year with Oestersund, Hochfilzen and Annecy before Christmas. Then comes Oberhof, Ruhpolding and Pokljuka. The World Championships are in Antholz and then we have three more World Cup rounds in Nove Mesto, Kontiolahti and Oslo.

The big question on everyone’s mind on the men’s World Cup is which Martin Fourcade is going to show up in Sweden? Will it be 7 times champion Martin Fourcade or 2018/19 Martin Fourcade? Fingers crossed it’s the former. It’s about time we had a proper head to head clash on the men’s World Cup.

Last season was fantastic for Johannes Boe. He won the big crystal globe with 1262 points which was 408 points ahead of his closest challenger Alexander Loginov and almost double the tally of Fourcade. Fourcade had many issues last year but he still had a great season by “normal biathlete” standards. However he is not a normal biathlete as we know and if he comes back with his old form we could have a battle between himself and Boe the likes of which we haven’t seen since Troy.

Of course there is an “Achillies Heel”! Johannes Boe is set to become a father for the first time in January. Obviously baby Boe has priority so it could mean him missing some races which could impact a close title fight. And there is Trojan Horse of injury and illness that could sneak up unexpectedly!

Won’t there be any other challengers for the title I hear you ask? No, probably not! There are many biathletes who ski as fast as Boe and Fourcade and many who shoot as well as them too. However there are none who can do both on such a consistent basis as our two favourites.

It is shaping up to be a fight between Norway and France not just via Boe and Fourcade but also with the rest of the guys too. Last season Quentin Fillon Maillet was excellent and finished third overall and Simon Desthieux was fourth. Tarjei Boe was sixth and Vetle Christiansen took a big step forward winning his first World Cup race. Antonin Guigonnat had a great season and Erlend Bjoentegaard will be looking to impress. So the relays could get very exciting as well as the individual races.

Who else should we be looking out for to do well this season? Who could taste victory for the first time and who could make the jump up onto the podium?

There is always a lot of attention on Sebastian Samuelsson after his Olympic successes but he is yet to win a race. I think people forget that he is still a biathlon “baby” aged just 22. He got his first World Cup podium last season and it would be great to see him make the jump up to the top step.

Johannes Keuhn had a great start last season getting a second place in the first race. However he faded a bit after the initial glory but it could be his chance this time to take a maiden victory.

Remember Michal Krcmar? He disappeared last season along with the rest of the Czech men’s team. The year before though he excelled so if he can get that old form back a win could be his for the first time. And let’s face it his rifle deserves a victory!

A surprise winner at the World Championships, it would be good to see Dmytro Pidruchnyi bring that confidence and attitude with him on to the World Cup this season and hopefully gets some more wins under his belt.

Johannes Dale is one to watch for possible podiums this season. He did really well debuting on the World Cup last year and has the ski speed to get among the top finishers. It would also be good to see Sean Doherty live up to the potential he showed as a Junior. 10th is his personal best so far but after joining the army this summer maybe a bit if discipline and a good haircut can propel him up the field! Attention!

Tero Seppala didn’t have the best season in 2018/19 but he had good results the year before so hopefully he can also take a step forward. Christian Gow had a fantastic season with two Top 10 finishes and he could be a good bet to grab Canada a podium this time round.

The men’s season for the Overall Title begins with the Sprint race in Oestersund on the 1st of December. The World Cup opens on the 30th of November with the single and mixed relays.

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