Tag Archives: Kontiolahti

Emma Lunder: The Interview!

Emma Lunder is a Canadian biathlete from North Vancouver. She was born on the 2nd of September 1991 and she made her World Cup debut in 2014. She has competed for Canada in two Junior World Championships and made her first appearance at the Senior World Championships last season in Hochfilzen. In Season 2014/15 she got a second place finish on the IBU Cup in the Sprint at her home race in Canmore and last season she achieved her personal best of 21st in Antholz on the World Cup.

Follow her on Twitter: @EmmaLunder
Take a look at her blog: http://emmalunder.blogspot.co.uk/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I followed my brother into biathlon through Sea Cadets, and once I graduated high-school I decided to give it a serious shot and see how far I could get. A huge part for biathlon for me now is the teammates I get to train with everyday, and the amazing biathlon community I’m so lucky to be a part of.

You got your best result so far last season in the Antholz Individual. What are your memories from that race and how did you feel at the end?

My result in Antholz was really special because it came as a total surprise, and it reignited my confidence and love for this sport. I was beyond happy to hit all but one target in the Individual, and at the end I felt so overwhelmed with support from our team, coaches and wax crew who knew what a big deal placing 21st was for me.

Last season was pretty big for you with a good run on the World Cup post Christmas and going to the World Championships. How do you assess the season overall?

I was quite happy with last season. I struggled a lot on the shooting range with prone, but I was really persistent with trying to fix my mistakes, and by the end of the season my shooting was on an upward trajectory. With a personal best, and my first time at World Championships last winter, it’s been really motivating for my training so far this season.

Like you said your shooting improved last season. Is that something you were specifically working on and if so what were you doing to make it better?

My standing shooting has been pretty solid for me, but it was nice last year to see even an improvement in that. I was making some really basic technical errors in my prone, so once my coaches and I figured out what I was doing, we started taking steps to get those few things under control.

You won “Testival” for the second year in a row. Can you explain what that is and why you are so good at it?

Testival is basically a week of test events that the national team does every year in the summer and fall. There are 3 uphill tests (running, double pole and skate) and then 2 shooting tests. I really love going uphills, so I usually do quite well in the fitness tests. The shooting tests are where I usually lose points, but with some more attention to a few technical shooting cues I was able to have way more consistent shooting tests this year. It helps that I got to wear the “Queen” bib to motivate me all through the testing, and I really didn’t want to let anyone else have it!

What else have you been doing for summer training?

This year our team lost all of its funding, so instead of the 3 training camps we usually do, we’ve been staying in Canmore and taking advantage of all the great opportunities we can find in the mountains. This year I’ve done a few more long run/hikes and adventure workouts with the girls, as well as just trying to keep things exciting in day-to-day training.

The Winter Olympics are coming up this season. What do you need to do to qualify to represent Canada?

We will be sending a team of 4 women to the Olympics, so I need to be in the top-4 by mid-January. We have some complicated criteria that will determine who the team is, and a lot of the benchmarks are top-30’s on the World Cup, so I’m looking to achieve a few more of those!

You are also a barista! Can you do that fancy art on top of the coffee? Some of your teammates are coffee obsessed! Is that all they talk to you about? 😉

Yes I’ve been working at Starbucks for 8 years! Sarah Beaudry and I are the two women on our team working for Starbucks, and we’re the only two on the team who don’t drink coffee on a regular basis 😉 I’m slowly working on my latte art… I leave the really fancy stuff up to Rosanna Crawford and Brendan Green who are our team’s true coffee connoisseurs.

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

My favorite race course is probably Kontiolahti. I like the ripping downhills and killer climbs.

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

Magdalena Neuner – she was the first female biathlete I started following, and meeting her in Vancouver in 2010 made me want to train harder and get onto the World Cup circuit.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope!

Describe yourself in three words.

Entertaining, emotional, mischievous.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway – for the brown cheese!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Aita Gasparin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy for the last 2 years
Favourite shooting range: Antholz
Lucky bib number: 39
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benjamin Weger
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anais Bescond
Best thing about being a biathlete: Getting to travel the world with my amazing team.

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Galina Vishnevskaya!

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You may not be able to spell it but you should probably recognise the name. Galina Vishnevskaya is one of the up and coming biathletes on the Women’s World Cup and is definitely someone you should be looking out for next season.

She was born on the 10th of February 1994 in Semey, Kazakhstan and has already had a very successful junior career. She has two medals from the Youth Olympics in 2011 which were held in Innsbruck. She won silver in the Sprint race there and followed it up with bronze in the Pursuit.

She has also won 7 Youth/Junior World Championships medals. In 2011 she won her first medal which was a bronze in the Individual in Nove Mesto. A year later in Kontiolahti she took silver in the same event. In 2013 in Obertilliach she won silver again but this time in the Pursuit. Her best result came in Presque Isle in 2014 when she won gold in the Pursuit after getting the silver in the Sprint. She took another two medals in Raubichi in 2015 winning silver in the Pursuit and bronze in the Individual.

So as you can see Vishnevskaya did very well as a junior but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will translate to the senior World Cup. However in her case she has proved that she can also compete with the top biathletes. She has 12 Top 40 finishes to her name so far including two results in the Top 20. Her personal best result to date came in Ruhpolding last season where she was 15th in the Individual. She also managed 18th place in Presque Isle in the Sprint race.

In the Total Score last season she was 41st. Considering she is only 22-years-old that is very impressive. At 20 she went to Sochi for her first taste of Olympic action and her best result was 41st. She competed in Oslo at the Senior World Championships for the first time and finished every race inside the Top 25.

Vishnevskaya is a young biathlete and doesn’t come from one of the bigger biathlon nations but she will still be a dangerous competitor in the coming season. Her target must be to get into the Top 10 and finish consistently in the Top 20. If she stays healthy and injury free I see no reason why she can’t finish in the Top 20 overall. In fact with a little bit of luck we could see her on the podium or even take her first World Cup victory.

Along with her teammates Darya Usanova, Anna Kistanova and Alina Raikova she will be hoping to improve on their great result from the Women’s Relay in Oslo at the World Championships of 8th. She will also be trying to gain some more Nations Cup points in the Mixed and the Single Mixed Relays alongside Yan Savitsky, Anton Panton and Maxim Braun.

It is an important season coming up with the World Championships in Hochfilzen and it’s less than two years until the next Olympic Games in PyeongChang. They provide a great opportunity for Vishnevskaya to gain some valuable experience that will help her in her desire to win medals in the future and also to perform well for her country and help biathlon continue to grow in Kazakhstan. She is a good shot like most of her Kazakh teammates and with an improvement in her ski speed it could be an exciting two years for her.

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Some Scheduling Suggestions!

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Some of my readers and I have been wondering lately why biathlon has a World Championships every year? We have the Olympic Games every four years and in the three years between there is always a World Championships in biathlon. I had not really considered it much before last season but with the IBU deciding to have two races in North America followed by the World Championships in Norway it got me thinking.

As you will know some biathletes chose to skip one or both of the World Cups in Canmore and Presque Isle to concentrate on the chances of doing well in Oslo at the World Championships. This wasn’t very good for the hosts of these World Cups as you want as many of the best biathletes competing to give the sport more coverage and a boost in popularity in other countries. It also wasn’t good for the biathletes whose minds would no doubt wander to thoughts of gold medals elsewhere and worry that all the long haul travel might affect their preparations.

So what could be done to resolve this? Well just in case I am ever in charge of the IBU (it could happen!) I thought about what I would do. Firstly I would make the World Championships every 2 years. For example for the next cycle you would have the Olympics in 2018, the World Champs in 2019, a break in 2020, a World Champs in 2021 and then the Olympics again in 2022. Not only that I would also change the World Cup schedule itself – that’s right I would be a sweeping reformer!!

Currently we start the season in Oestersund then go to Hochfilzen and Pokljuka before Christmas. Recent years have seen a lack of snow at the start of the season so I would start in Russia. Either Tyumen or Khanty Mansiysk could host the opening round as they are more likely to have snow. It also gets the longest journey out of the way when the biathletes are freshest. The second round can go to Antholz and the third remain in Pokljuka.

After Christmas we normally go to Oberhof and then Ruhpolding followed by Antholz. Sorry Germans I know biathlon is massive there but it is growing in many other places now so you would get one World Cup rotated between Oberhof one year and Ruhpolding the next. Round 5 would go to Nove Mesto which has to become a permanent fixture on the World Cup due to its huge popularity and amazing World Cup from the season before last. Round 6 switches to Hochfilzen. All three countries border each other therefore minimising travel time and costs.

The final three rounds would be a tour of Scandinavia with Round 7 in Kontiolahti, round 8 in Oestersund and the final round in Oslo. Again all counties that border each other. I know what you are thinking. What about Canmore, Presque Isle, Annecy and the other countries that can host biathlon like Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Poland to name a few? Fear not I have a cunning plan for that!

The year that there would be no World Championships in my schedule would be the year where we could boldly go where no biathlete has gone before, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations! Oh no, wait a minute, that’s the opening to Star Trek but Captain Kirk had the right idea!

In a season without a World Championships we could probably squeeze in 3 more World Cup rounds. So you could potentially have 3 World Cups across Canada and America or even further afield in Asia possibly Korea, Japan and China. You could also mix and match the established World Cup rounds with others in for example Annecy, Otepaa, Cheile Gradistei, Bansko or Brezno-Orsblie.

You could point out that usually there are only 3 or 4 people who are capable of winning the Overall biathlon title so if there is no World Championships what incentive is there for the other biathletes. Well there is also the possibility in the free year of having a “Tour de Biathlon”-I came up with that name and idea myself, I have not copied it from anywhere!!! 😉

You could take three or four venues that are not too far apart and hold a series of races across them with a nice cash incentive for the winners of each event and the overall tour. You could even throw in some classic ski races like in olden times biathlon and also some pure shooting knockout competitions as well as team events. These are just suggestions there could be many ways of doing it.

So there you have it, an alternative biathlon season. Obviously there are probably many reasons of money, sponsorships deals and logistics that might not make such ideas feasible but as I still don’t work for the IBU (but it really could happen!) they are not my problem!! If anyone from the IBU is reading this you can copy it if you like although you will have to use the name “The Tour de Biathlon23!!”

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Jean Guillaume Beatrix: The Interview!

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French biathlete Jean Guillaume Beatrix was born on the 24th of March 1988. He was World Junior Champion in the Individual in 2008 and he won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014 in the Pursuit. He has 4 World Championship medals, 3 silver and 1 bronze, all from the Relays with his French teammates. He is also a member of the biathlon band!

You can like Jean Guillaume’s Facebook Page: Jean-Guillaume Beatrix (Sportsperson)

Your name contains the word “beat” so obviously it was your destiny to become a musician! Why did you ignore that destiny and become a biathlete instead?

I’m actually a sportsman because I failed to be a musician! I used to dream about being a rock star, and used to play music when I was in my early teens. But I had to admit that I didn’t have much talent for that.

You won the Bronze medal in Sochi in the Pursuit. How did that feel? Did you have a feeling before the race that you could get a medal? Do you wear it a lot around the house! 😉

I remember that I was in top shape during the Olympic Games, and confident in the shooting. But I didn’t have any feeling about the result or medal before the race.
Now the medal is in a box, I tend to forget it.

You also won 2 silver medals in the Relays at the World Championships in Kontiolahti. However your form individually probably wasn’t what you were hoping for. Have you learned anything from that in preparation for the World Champs in Oslo?

Being in good shape in March is a real challenge for me. For sure I had to change several things in my preparation and let’s see if I made the correct choices.

Your top result on the World Cup is 2nd. What do you need to do to convert that into a win? Are you missing a bit of luck or is there anything mentally that you need to change?

I don’t consider myself “unlucky”, I’ve just never been the strongest so far! My opponents are very strong, so I have to be perfect if I want to have a chance to win a race. That’s a big challenge and it gives me a lot of motivation.

You took part in the first official Single Mixed Relay. What do you think of the format and do you think it’s a good addition to the biathlon programme?

That was very interesting, I’m really happy and proud to take part in this race. I think it can bring a kind of “game” to biathlon, but I don’t want the classic races to disappear.

What training have you done so far this summer and what’s the plan until the start of the season?

Everything is right, following the plan. Great details!Thanks! 😉

You have said that you eat sugary cereal for breakfast in an IBU video which makes me very worried for the health of your teeth!! What do you normally eat when you are training and does that change on race day?

My breakfast is nearly always the same during the race days, I just have a bit less appetite. And that’s true, I must be careful about my teeth because I’m a real sugar addict.

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’d like to improve my shooting statistics, it’s really important! I’m usually strong on the track in December and January, I’d like to keep this good shape until March and it should be a nice winter.

You won the biathlon23 Award for Nicest Person in Biathlon mainly for your reaction to the “Pokljuka Incident”. Is it hard to control your emotions in situations like that or are you quite calm? Did you go back to the hotel and smash your guitar in secret?!!!

Actually I don’t respect people who get angry and lose control of themselves in hard or unfair situations. That’s very important for my self-esteem to stay calm, so you’ll never see me breaking anything because I’m angry. I’m honored to win that award, especially because many biathletes deserve it.

You are a member of the biathlon band with Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Do you enjoy doing that? Is it a nice distraction from racing? When do we get to hear you sing? 🙂

I’m very lucky to play music with them, I enjoy it very much. It’s a perfect distraction and I hope that we will continue. But I don’t have the level to sing, sorry…

Does your rifle have a name?

When I was a teenager, my rifle’s name was “Charlene”, just like the soldier in Full Metal Jacket. Fortunately, since then I’ve become mentally sane 🙂 so now my rifle has no name.

Describe yourself in three words.

Curious, itinerant, phlegmatic

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Antholz
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Evgeny Ustyugov
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Mass start
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Mass start in Pokljuka
Favourite food: Haribo!
Favourite singer/band: Lowell and Gabriela
Favourite film: Kubrick’s films
Favourite sports team: The Czech girls biathlon team!
Favourite TV show: I never watch TV.

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Mari Laukkanen: The Interview!

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Mari Laukkanen was born on the 9th of November 1987 in Eno, Finland. She got her first podium at home in Kontiolahti in 2013-14 and she has also finished in the TOP 10 another 4 times. She has competed in 2 Winter Olympic Games and 7 World Championships. After an illness towards the end of last season she is looking forward to competing again starting in Oestersund.

You can like Mari’s Facebook page: Mari Laukkanen offical
Follow her on Twitter: @mari_laukkanen
She has a website (in Finnish): http://www.marilaukkanen.fi/etusivu/

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I started competing in cross-country skiing when I was nine years old. Afterwards I had a chance to try shooting and I loved that from the first time. I also always liked more skating than classic, the fastest way of skiing 🙂

Your personal best race was a 3rd place in Kontiolahti in 2013/14. What was it like to get on the podium at a home race?

That was great. Maybe the greatest place to make your first podium. Also the
price giving ceremony in the evening in the city was amazing !!

The World Championships didn’t go as well as you probably hoped. Was there a lot of pressure on you racing at home and have you learned anything that could help you for this year’s Championships in Oslo?

I was getting sick during the Oslo World Cup, so just before the World Championships. Afterwards we found out that this was a serious virus which I had then and even though I felt healthy after 10 days resting, my body was still fighting against it and that´s why my body got overloaded and got other problems. It was big disappointment for me that I couldn’t race at my best level there.

Last season you equaled your best finish in the Total Score of 36th. What are your goals for this season?

Definitely Top 25. I would like to run all the Mass Starts next winter.

What training have you done so far this summer and what’s the plan until the start of the season?

Now it is already October so most of the training has been done. Anyway one more important period is coming when we change to snow training. I had some problems especially at the beginning of the summer because of the virus which I talked about before. I wasn’t sick but my body was stressed and was still over working because of the damage after my sickness.

You took part in the Single Mixed Relay in Nove Mesto and finished 12th with Ahti Toivanen. Do you like the new format? Do you think Finland will be able to do well in the event?

It was interesting. But it is so much about fast shooting that maybe this is not the best race for us. Ahti is a pretty fast shooter but this is a big challenge for me. But I like this short distance, that fits for me because I think I am pretty fast.

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 fast. That´s my biggest strength. I can also handle high intensity and high lactate (acid) very well. I have been working for years on my endurance and it is nice to see progress. I have a lot of things to do in shooting and I have big goals for this training season. We have made big steps but I still have some problems which I want to solve before winter.

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?!

No. I don’t believe in luck in sport.

You are a teammate of Kaisa Makarainen. What have you learned from her and do you think she can win the Overall Title this season?

She is definitely the biggest favourite to win the Overall Title next season and it will be difficult for everybody to beat her. I have learned that every day matters. She asks a lot from herself and people around her.

What hobbies do you have when you aren’t training for biathlon?

I don’t have time for hobbies. But every now and then I try to find time for something which helps me to turn my brain away from biathlon. I have seen that this is important for me.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Empathetic, bubbly, passionate.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: All of them
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Kontiolahti sprint 2014 (3rd place) or Ruhpolding sprint 2015 (5th place)
Favourite food: good steak.
Favourite singer/band:too many!
Favourite sports team: Finnish ice hockey team!
Favourite TV show: maybe one of my favorites right now! Siskonpeti (YLE, Finland)

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Karin: Ober the moon!

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Last season was a very memorable one for Italy’s Karin Oberhofer. It was by far her best ever season on the World Cup and at the World Championships. At 29 Karin has found success a little later than some biathletes but she still has many years to try and improve even more.

Karin was born in Brixen on the 3rd of November 1985. She is currently Italy’s second best ranked biathlete behind Dorothea Wierer. Last season she finished 10th in the Total Score which was a huge 30 place jump from 40th the season before.

The improvement is mainly due to the fact that Karin is now a regular in the Top 10 on the World Cup and had started to make appearances on the podium. In Hochfilzen she got her career best result of second in the Sprint race. She backed that up with 7 more Top 10 finishes and pushed herself up the rankings.

It’s not just on the World Cup where she has been finding success however. Back at the Olympics in Sochi she came 4th in the Sprint and took a bronze medal in the Mixed Relay with teammates Wierer, Dominik Windisch and Lukas Hofer. At the World Championships in Kontiolahti she went one better and managed to get onto the podium by winning the bronze medal in the Mass Start and was able to repeat bronze but this time in the Women’s Relay again with Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi and Nicole Gontier.

She does have another bronze medal from the Women’s Relay in Nove Mesto at the 2013 World Championships. She is probably getting a bit tired of bronze now and must be desperate for a change of colour to silver and most of all gold!

That could happen for Karin if she continues her great form from last season. With Domracheva missing it opens up the possibility of biathletes like her to upgrade their medals and also to take a position on the podium in the World Cup. She will face tough competition to do this and not least from her own teammates. The Italian Women’s team were great last season and hopefully they will all improve again this time round.

Medals are a definite possibility for Karin in the World Championships in Oslo and not just in the Relays. She has always been quite a reliable shooter and has improved her ski speed a lot over the last year. In fact she was one of the top ten fastest skiers in 2014/15 and if she can continue her progress she could have an even better season to come. If she does this I am sure Italy and Karin will be Ober the Moon!

You can like Karin’s Facebook page: Karin Oberhofer
You can look at her website(in German/Italian): http://www.karinoberhofer.com/

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Lisa Theresa: A HAUS-hold name!

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What a season Lisa Teresa Hauser had in 2014/15! The 21-year-old came 26th in the Total Score and had 10 Top 25 finishes including three at the World Championships in Kontiolahti. All that in only her second season on the World Cup!

Lisa was born in Kitzbühel, Austria on the 16th of December 1993. She initially began cross country skiing when she started school and only started biathlon in 2011. By the 2012 season she was already in the Austrian Youth Team who went to the Youth/Junior World Championships in Kontiolahti. In the Youth Category she managed to come 11th in the Individual and then was selected as the anchor leg in the Relay. The team came third and then Lisa took third place in the Sprint race too.

Obviously her background in cross country gave her a solid start as a biathlete but to learn to shoot well and start winning medals one year after you begin is an amazing achievement. Those results earned Lisa the chance to go to the final IBU Cup that season where she got a 23rd place. From there she started the next season 2012/13 on the IBU Cup and has never looked back.

She went to Sochi as part of the Austrian Olympic squad and performed admirably taking 3 TOP 40 finishes, her best a 27th place finish in the Sprint race. Last season however was her really good as she improved her personal best from 24th to 13th which came in the Oestersund Sprint. She added another 6 TOP 25 finishes throughout the World Cup season and then got three in a row at the World Championships.

Lisa finished a fantastic 14th in the Mass Start after coming 24th in the Sprint, 22nd in the Pursuit and 26th in the Individual. Not bad for someone who only picked up a rifle 4 years before. She was also part of the Austrian Mixed Relay team who were 5th and the Women’s Team who were 9th.

She is not just a talented biathlete however. Her hobbies include playing the flute and the guitar, which could possibly earn her a place in the biathlon band, as well as cycling, slacklining and reading.

Next season could be a very good one for Lisa if she stays fit and healthy so what can we expect from her? Well if her progress so far is anything to go by we can expect a lot! She will definitely be aiming to break into the Top 10 but I think she has the ability to get on to the podium this season. She is a strong skier and her shooting is improving all the time. At 21 she has plenty of time to get better at both disciplines. She also has a chance of making it into the Top 10 of the Total Score if she can improve and become more consistent.

In Oslo at the World Championships she has an outside chance of an Individual medal but the Mixed Relay could be the event where she has a serious chance of winning. With Landertinger, Eder and Innerhofer, Austria has a really good team capable of getting a medal. So look out for Lisa’s results this season because she will soon be a HAUS-hold name!

You can like Lisa’s Facebook page: Lisa Hauser

She has her own own website too: http://www.lisahauser.at/

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