Tag Archives: Lars Berger

Nils-Erik Ulset: The Interview!

Photo Credit: Biathlon23!!!

Nils-Erik Ulset is para-biathlon legend! The 36-year-old Norwegian has competed in 5 Paralympic Games from Salt Lake City 2002 to PyeongChang 2018. He has won biathlon medals at four of those Games including gold in Vancouver in 2010. He has 10 World Championship medals three of which are gold. He was born with a genetic condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease that affects the muscle strength in his legs. He has also been a World and Paralympic Champion in cross-country skiing.

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Why did you become a biathlete?

I have an older brother who started biathlon, and of course since he was a role model for me I had to follow in his steps.
(His brother is John Ola Ulset who represented Norway at IBU World Cup level.)

How did you assess last season? What were you happy with and what disappointed you?

Last season was a little up and down. The good races were very good winning world cup races, taking a medal in the world championship and finishing second in the overall cup. But my main goal was the world championship sprint and being so far from the podium in this race was a disappointment.

The first World Cup this season is in Lillehammer! Are you excited about that? Do you know the course there well?

It will be awesome starting the World Cup in Lillehammer. I know the area well since I lived for 7 years in Lillehammer, but I think we are going to use the FIS world cup tracks which I haven’t tested out yet. But I know they will be tough!

Are you focusing only on biathlon now? Will you do any cross country races this season?

Yes, I’m only focusing on biathlon now. I’ll never do cross country World Cup races again.

How does your impairment affect your skiing?

I have maybe 25% of normal muscle strength in my lower legs and my balance is very bad. So for me the hardest parts are flat areas where you benefit from having good balance. Also very soft(spring) conditions and icy tracks is some thing that I can struggle with.

What have you been doing for summer training? Are training with any of the IBU biathletes this summer?

This summer I have been focusing much more on strength training, a lot of roller skiing and some trail running.
I’m doing all my training camps with the Norwegian development (B-team), this is something that really suits me and helps me a lot in pushing forward.

When Norwegian biathletes retire they seem to become your coach! Lars Berger then Martin Eng. Who will coach you this season – L’Abbe Lund, Svendsen or Bjoerndalen?!!! Seriously though what is it like having ex-biathletes as your coach? How have they helped you?

Well actually Lars Berger is back again as my coach and in previous seasons, especially towards PyeongChang I got a lot of help and advice from Ole Einar. It’s great to have the possibility to ask these athletes for advice and to learn from them.

What are your goals for this season?

The main goal this season is the biathlon World Championships in Østersund.

Do you have a job? If so how do you fit your training around it?

I work part time in a sports shop that specializes in mountain sports like ski mountaineering, climbing and trail running.

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

My all time favourite tracks are Natrudstilen Sjusjøen, Canmore, Whistler Olympic Park and Nordmarka Surnadal. All these tracks really suit me and my strengths, and are located in really nice places.


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

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (of course) and Martin Fourcade. They are both amazing athletes who always push themselves forward and are ahead of everybody in their development as athletes. They are fair athletes who also take a clear stand for clean and fair sports.

Does your rifle have a name?

No I’ve never named any of my rifles.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, curious and childish.


Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Lukas Hofer
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Martell
Lucky bib number: Any
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Gregory Vovchinskiy
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Mark Arendz and Benjamin Daviet
Best thing about being a biathlete: You get to ski around and shoot.

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Biathlon at the Movies!

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We all need something to fill in the time between Christmas and New Year when there is no biathlon. Last year I brought you an exclusive interview with biathlon rifle Reginald P.Rifle and this year I was hoping to talk to ski poles Marek and Justyna but they were too busy! So instead I bring you some reviews of “biathlon” related films so you can fill in the time before the next event in Ruhpolding! It’s biathlon so all ratings are in Crystal Globes not stars. Get your popcorn ready people!!!

Top Gun:

Martin Fourcade stars as Maverick who gets his chance in the top rifle school in California ‘Top Gun’. His main rival is Iceman played by Emil Hegle Svendsen. Unfortunately in target practice Martin accidentally kills a goose and loses his confidence. However after a slow motion game of volleyball he seems to recover and in the final scene manages to team up with Emil to shoot at baddies. They become best of friends and in fact go on a date together in a helicopter!

Biathlon 23: “Top entertainment!” Rating: 5 Globes

Hot Shots:

A documentary about biathletes and their shooting skills. Highlights include biathletes shooting in the prone position and the standing position. They shoot at targets 50 metres away on what is known as “a range”. Sometimes they hit these targets and sometimes they miss. Watch out for some reloading action and cartridges falling onto the mats. There is also a great behind the scenes feature about cleaning a rifle, choosing a fancy design for the stock and placement of stickers.

Biathlon23: “Unmissable” Rating: 5 targets – sorry I mean Globes!

Hot Shots Part Deux:

You might think that this is the sequel to Hot Shots but it is in fact a remake. It turns out that the French biathlon team thought they were not featured enough in the original and decided to make their own version. A more avant-garde piece in black and white. In French with French subtitles. An Antonin Guigonnat production. Director: Quentin “Tarantino” Maillet.

Biathlon 23: “Magnifique!” Rating:Cinq Globes

The Man with the Golden Gun:

Simon Fourcade makes his second appearance as James Bond in this spy thriller. The villain is played by Johannes Thingnes Bø who with his golden rifle is terrorising the world of biathlon. His obsession with all things gold means he is out to steal all the gold medals from the biathletes. There is a car chase, a martini, a few ladies and some gadgets! What else do you want?!!! (Set in Season 2014/15 before “someone” changed their rifle from gold to shocking pink!!!)

Biathlon23: “Great action” Daniel Craig: “Better than Spectre!”
Rating: After 5 martinis 5 Globes

Mad Maxes: Fury Range

In a post nuclear holocaust future Maxim Braun, Maxim Tsvetkov, Maksim Ramanouski, Maksim Varabei, Maxim Savitsky, Maksym Ivko, Max Durtschi and Macx Davies have to find all the bullets left on Earth (well in the desert somewhere!). When they have found them all they must return to the shooting range and hit all the targets to save the world!

Biathlon23: “Max-imum fun!” Rating: 5 Globes

RamBø:

Norwegian veteran and drifter Tarjei Bø wanders into a small Washington town in search of an old friend Tora Berger, but is met with intolerance and brutality by the local sheriff. When he and his deputies restrain and shave RamBø, he flashes back to season 2011/12 when he suffered from Twar virus and unleashes his fury on the officers. He narrowly escapes the manhunt, but it will take his former commander Lars Berger to save the hunters from the hunted.

Biathlon23: “UnBølievable!” Rating: 5 Globes

Harry Potter and the Wax Cabin of Secrets:

Nathan Smith makes his debut in the first film about the boy who grows up to be a wizard at biathlon. Here he teams up with his uncle Sirius Fak to try and defeat the master of the dark arts Beatrix Lestrange. Beatrix has stolen the secret wax formula from Potter and threatens to use it to win all the biathlon races beginning with the Mass Start in Pokljuka. Will Potts be able to stop him?

Biathlon23: “It’s magic!” Rating: 5 Globes

There’s Something About Marie:

A biography of French star Marie Dorin Habert. From her childhood to the present dealing with biathlon, marriage, having a child, playing the piano, horse riding and cherries. Everything you need to know about Marie. And the one thing you really need to know…please never offer her any “hair gel”!!!

Biathlon23: “A-dor-able!” Rating: 5 Globes

No Cross Country for Old Men:

While out cross country skiing, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finds the grisly aftermath of a drug deal. Though he knows better, he cannot resist the cash left behind and takes it with him possibly to buy an even bigger motor home with. The hunter becomes the hunted when a merciless killer picks up his trail. Also looking for Bjoerndalen is Sheriff Daniel Mesotitsch, an aging lawman who reflects on a changing world and a dark secret of his own, as he tries to find and protect Bjoerndalen.

Biathlon23: “Great but a bit “old” fashioned!” Rating: 5 Globes

The Shooter:

Tobias Arwidson reluctantly leaves a self-imposed exile from his isolated mountain home in Sweden at the request of the IBU, who appeal to him to help track down an assassin who is planning to shoot the IBU president. He is set up by the IBU (saw that coming!) and is chased around a bit before he takes his revenge and returns to Lima to fish and take some photographs.

Biathlon23:”Definitely a hit!” Rating: 5 Globes

Sister Act:

When 3 young sisters witness a mafia hit(by someone who looks suspiciously like Dominik Windisch!) they are sent to a convent where they are to be disguised as nuns. Starting Selina, Elisa and Aita Gasparin, the sisters fit in by teaching the nuns how to do biathlon. They take part in a competition at the end with all the nuns and so they can defend themselves from the mafia!

Biathlon23: “N-unmissable!” Rating: 5 Globes

The Usual Suspects:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world she wasn’t going to win the Crystal Globe.” The film starts with the retelling of the 2014/15 Women’s biathlon season. It stars Darya Domracheva, Valj Semerenko, Veronika Vitkova and Franziska Hildebrand. They each explain how they got caught up in the race for the Overall Title by a mysterious Kaisa Söze. No one knows who this Kaisa is but some say she had won the Crystal Globe in the past. None of them has met her before but everyone thinks she is going to win the Total Score! I don’t want to spoil the end but it turns out that it was Darya Domracheva the whole time!!!

Biathlon23: “I didn’t understand it either!” Rating: 5 confusing Globes!

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Season Review 2013/14: Men

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Before starting to write this I thought I would take a look back at my season preview and maybe just remove the “P” and so save myself a lot of time writing another! Alas it is not so as somewhat surprisingly not all of my predictions were right! 😉

Well it didn’t take a genius to predict Martin Fourcade being at the sharp end again and he duly delivered winning 4 out of the 5 Crystal Globes including the Overall title for the third year in a row. He was only prevented from another clean sweep by Emil Hegle Svendsen who won the globe for the Individual 20km. He also took 3 medals at the Olympics in Sochi. He won gold in the Pursuit and Individual and silver in the Mass Start once again being denied by, you guessed it, that pesky Emil Svendsen!

The other big winner in Sochi was of course Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who became the greatest ever Winter Olympian by winning the Sprint title and the Mixed Relay. Obviously enough to change his mind about retiring and in the process ruin my post about his last ever season! Thanks Ole Einar! The Russian men’s team brought the Olympics to a fine end winning the relay in their home Games.

Back on the World Cup tour a young and confident(slight understatement there!) Johannes Thingnes Boe was winning 5 World Cup races. He won 2 in Annecy and then all 3 in Kontiolahti.
Simon Schempp and Lukas Hofer shared their first ever wins in Antholz and Jakov Fak kept us waiting to the end to grab his win in Holmenkollen. Way back in November Martin Fourcade won both races in Oestersund recovering from his first day breakdown on the range in the Mixed Relay. Lars Berger came from nowhere in Hochfilzen to win the Sprint but Fourcade was again victorious in the Pursuit. Svendsen took 2 wins in Oberhof and in Ruhpolding. Bjorn Ferry surprised everyone after the Olympics by winning twice in Pokljuka and Anton Shipulin took his only victory of the season there too. In the last 2 races the spoils went to Simon Eder finally winning another race and Martin Fourcade who I think likes to win the first and last race of the season!

The year also saw some great improvement from a lot of men. Lowell Bailey achieved his first ever podium in Kontiolahti. Andrejs Rastorgujevs has been threatening the podium for most of the season but his shooting keeps letting him down. Canadians Nathan Smith and Brendan Green have being showing that life after Jean-Philippe Le Guellec won’t be so bad with their excellent performances. France’s Jean-Guilliame Beatrix has really stepped up his game winning Olympic bronze and Simon Desthieux looks a real talent making up for disappointing seasons for Simon Fourcade and Alexis Beouf. The Czech guys have been amazing this year with Jaroslav Soukup and Ondrej Moravec both winning multiple Olympic medals. Dominik Landertinger for Austria had a successful if quiet season. He won silver and bronze in Sochi and was solid on the World Cup without really setting the world on fire.

On the other had it was a season to forget for the likes of Tarjei Boe who never really got going and Andi Birnbacher who finished early due to his lack of form. Fredrik Lindstroem stared well in Oestersund with a second place but couldn’t better it during the rest of the season. The Russian team have been in and around the Top 10 but have only taken one win on the World Cup, although young Alexander Loginov looks like he could help them improve that statistic next season.

So that’s it for another season and next year will hopefully see some more new faces on the podium and more first time winners. It should be intriguing to see if Fourcade can make it 4 in a row or if the likes of Johannes Boe can give him a real run for his money. Whatever happens I hope that the Globes and titles can get spread out a little more. Don’t get me wrong I am a great admirer of Martin Fourcade but it can get a bit boring having to write his name all the time!!!(I can type it in my sleep!) Help me out guys! We want to see an epic battle for the Overall next season now that there are no Olympic Games to distract everyone. Enjoy your (short!)rest, put in a great Spring/Summer training and we will see you in November!

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HO HO HOchfilzen!

hochfilzen

It’s close enough to Christmas to get away with that title,right? Well either way we got a few pre-Christmas treats from the biathletes this weekend in Hochfilzen. It all kicked off with the women in the Sprint which saw Selina Gasparin taking her and Swizerland’s first win on the World Cup with a great skiing and shooting performance. Some great shooting also saw Veronika Vitkova match her best result so far in second and Irina Starykh taking her top result finishing third. I was especially pleased about Irina Starykh as she just happened to be wearing bib 23!

It was followed by the men and Lars Berger stormed back onto the World Cup by winning the Sprint with an amazing skiing performance after starting out on the IBU Cup.He managed to beat Martin Fourcade into second and a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into third. It’s great to see Berger doing well again for his fun personality if nothing else. I would also like someone to check Bjoerndalen’s birth certificate to make sure he really will be 40 next month.I don’t know how he does it! Whatever his parents fed him when he was young I want some of it!

On Saturday we had the first men’s and women’s relays of the season. The Ukrainian women’s team put in a stellar performance to win. All of their athletes did a great job but Julia Dzhyma stands out for her overall performance over the weekend. They were followed by Germany and France but Norway were noticeably absent from the podium. Over on the men’s side however the Norwegian men won with a dominant display and a characteristically great last leg from Svendsen. Sweden took a great second place with Bergman striking like a cobra into the stadium to fight off the Russian charge and leave them in third.

On to Sunday and the Pursuit. A great race from Solemdal gave her a second victory in Hochfilzen and made up for another difficult day on the shooting range for Tora Berger. Dzhyma took a fantastic second place thanks to some great shooting and Poland’s Palka made up 8 places to finish third. Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade won the men’s race followed by Svendsen and Boe. Just a little tip for the Norwegians you can’t give Fourcade a 40 second lead in a Pursuit if you want a chance of winning it! Having said that both the Norwegian guys have stepped up a gear from Oestersund and it’s just a pity they won’t be competing in France this coming weekend.

For the home crowd Cristoph Sumann gave them something to cheer about getting 5th in the Sprint and 7th in the Pursuit. They got 4th in the men’s relay too but unfortunately Simon Eder couldn’t carry on his form from last week in Oestersund and Dominik Landertinger didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped at home. The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews.

Standouts for me from Hochfilzen have to be Simon Schempp and the German team in general. Schempp finished 8th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the relay. Daniel Boehm and Arnd Peiffer got 2 TOP 20 finishes and the women were second in the relay. Julia Dhzyma as I mentioned before had a good weekend all round finishing first in the relay, second in the Pursuit and fifth in the Sprint. The big movers in the Pursuit were Alexis Boeuf and Benjamin (Darth) Weger gaining 20 and 34 places respectively and the Semerenko twins and Gabriela Soukalova(Bib23) who started 22,23 and 24 and finished 7,8,9.

So after HO HO Hochfilzen now all thoughts turn to France and a first visit to Annecy. None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy!

P.S Has anyone else noticed the interviewer in the IBU official Press Conference always asks a question with the word “surprise” in it. I can’t watch them properly because it makes me laugh everytime I hear it! Listen out for it in Annecy!

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