Tag Archives: Lars Helge Birkeland

Hochfilzen 2017: The Relays!

Holy s**t! How are you supposed to summarise the Men’s Relay in Hochfilzen?! I went with absolute madness!

Here goes; it didn’t snow but it was very windy and it caused chaos in the range, 8 teams were lapped including the hosts Austria, of the 18 teams that finished the Czech Republic were last, Belgium were leading after the first leg and there were about 103 penalty loops!!!

The Norwegians emerged from the chaos in the best position with Bjoerndalen shooting well to keep the at the front after the first leg. Michael Roesch of Belgium was amazing and passed Ole Einar to hand over in the lead. Belgium that were team 26 were now up to 1st.

Florent Claude continued Belgium’s good start but Henrik L’Abee Lund put Norway into a lead they would not give up. Germany were pretty consisted and came home second with no penalties. Third went to France who did 2 penalty loops with Jean Guillaume Beatrix on the first loop but great legs from Emilien Jacquelin and Quentin Fillon Maillet brought them back to the podium.

Sweden were great in 4th despite Peppe Femling being mowed down by Beatrix on the first leg! Italy were fourth and their best performer was Thierry Chenal on his World Cup debut weekend showing Windisch and Hofer how to shoot. Ukraine were 6th.

There were also some issues in the range with some very slow reactions by the range officials. Maksim Varabei and Matvey Eliseev both needed assistance and didn’t get it very quickly.

In the end the Belgian team finished 16th with Tom Lahaye Goffart and Thierry Langer doing 3 penaltyy loops each but both are inexperienced at this level and actually performed really well in tough conditions especially when finding themselves at the sharp end of a World Cup race.

The women still had windy conditions to contend with but their shooting was better and the wind maybe not quite as strong. The Germans led after the first leg with a solid performance from Vanessa Hinz. Franziska Hildebrand made it more interesting needing 4 spares and letting the others back into the race.

The Swiss were up at the front along with the Ukraine, Sweden, Belarus and Russia but Marie Dorin Habert went on the penalty loop twice in the first lap to put France well behind and Hilde Fenne did 3 to put Norway out of contention.

Coming into the final lap it was Germany with Maren Hammerschmidt and Switzerland with Lena Haecki along with Ukraine’s Valj Semerenko who looked like the podium finishers. Laura Dahlmeier on the last lap was steady and brought her team home in first for their sixth relay win in a row.

The Swiss dropped back with Irene Cadurisch doing 2 penalty loops. Olena Pidhrushna took Ukraine to second place and unbelievably the French got third doing exactly what the men did coming back from 2 penalty loops on the first lap to get on the podium!

Russia were 4th, Switzerland were 5th which is still a great result for them and the Czech Republic were 6th.

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Oestersund 2017: The Pursuits!

Well, well, well Denise Herrmann proved everyone wrong didn’t she! The general consensus was that she would not repeat her Sprint victory in the Pursuit as she has the least experience in the field and has never led the race before.

WRONG! She produced a great race to take her second victory in a row and really worry the other women! Hopefully not too many other cross country skiers will follow her move as if you don’t choose biathlon as your first sport it is very suspicious! 😉

The first two prone shoots were pretty straightforward for Herrmann hitting 10/10. It was in the first stand that she had a wobble! She missed two and that allowed Justine Braisaz to catch up to her. Both cleaned the second stand and left the range together but then Herrmann just skied off into the distance winning by 25 seconds and leaving poor Justine to miss out on the win again. She shot 20/20 and will take the yellow bib to Hochfilzen after having a great week here in Sweden.

Third place went to Marte Olsbu who moved from 7th to the final podium spot with 2 missed targets. She passed Lisa Vittozzi who had just one miss and came home 4th. Maren Hammerschmidt went from 12th to 5th.

Nadezhda Skardino was 6th hitting 20/20 making it 50/50 for the individual races which is ridiculously impressive! Olena Pidhrushna went from 28th to 9th, Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht moved from 27th to 11th and Iryna Kryuko went from 53rd to 22nd. It was a bad day for Yuliia Dzhima who went from third down to 21st missing 5 targets.

Normal service was resumed in the men’s race with Martin Fourcade winning his 64th World Cup race. He managed to defeat the double assault from the Boe brothers this time! The top 3 from the Sprint, Fourcade, Tarjei Boe and Lesser got to the first prone together but then Lesser missed 4 and his chance was gone. Boe and Fourcade missed 1 which left Svendsen and Dolder in the lead ahead of Andrejs Rastorgujevs.

At the second prone Boe and Fourcade shot clean and retook the lead. The first standing shoot would decide the winner as Fourcade hit all five and Boe missed 3. Behind Fourcade the battle was on for second and third. Jakov Fak and Quentin Fillon Maillet cleaned the first stand while others missed and they both missed 1 in the final shoot leaving a ski race to decide the positions. Fak managed to get away from Fillon Maillet in the last section of the track and took his first podium since 2015. Last year was ruined for Fak through illness so it was great to see him back at the top.

Svendsen just pipped home favourite Freddie Lindstrom for 4th and Lars Helge Birkeland came from 29th to finish 6th. Another Norwegian Henrik L’Abee Lund moved from 41st to 12th, Ondrej Moravec went from 44th to 22nd and Evgeniy Garanichev moved from 55th to 29th.

That concludes the action from Oestersund and now we move swiftly to Hochfilzen for a Sprint, Pursuit and the Relays. The yellow bibs are in the hands of the French with Justine Braisaz and Martin Fourcade leading the Total Scores.

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Biathlete23: Season Review 2016/17!

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Picture courtesy of photographer extraordinaire Ross Burton.

For anyone unfamiliar with Biathlete23 this blog follows the results of whichever biathlete happens to be in bib23 for each race. It treats them like one athlete and adds up the score to see how this biathlete would have performed over the year.

In the first year the total for the men and the women was 802 and in the second year the total was 948. Excellent a bit of progress! The third year was not as successful with a points total of 760.

This season there was great improvement with a total score of 921 points! The men scored most points with 482. This would put biathlete23 in 19th place in the Men’s Total score sandwiched between Evgeniy Garanichev on 495 and Maxim Tsvetkov on 469. The women scored 439 points which amazingly enough would put biathlete23 19th on the Women’s Total Score too between Nadezha Skardino on 440 and Vanessa Hinz on 436.

There were 3 podiums this season from Anton Shipulin, Justine Braisaz and Susan Dunklee. Biathlete23 achieved 13 Top 10 finishes on the World Cup and 1 Top 10 finish at the World Championships. According to Biathlon Addict on Twitter “it’s statistically usual for #23 this season to claim around the 5th or 6th place!!” It’s great when others do the stats for you and that they too believe in 23!

All in all it was a season much like that of Emil Hegle Svendsen. No wins, some podiums and not a great World Championships but importantly all done with great hair!

Biathlete23’s season started in Oestersund with a Swedish lady. Unfortunately Linn Persson finished 65th in the Individual and outside the points but her photo (kindly taken by Ross Burton) is now used as the picture for this page! In the Men’s race Ondrej Moravec came home in 17th. Darya Yurkevich was 59th in the Sprint for the women but Julian Eberhard was 5th for the men. In the Pursuits Iryna Varvynets was 52nd and Jean-Guillaume Beatrix was 11th. This meant the ladies had 0 points leaving Sweden but the men had 94! Well done chaps!

Pokljuka was next up and Brendan Green was in bib23 for the Sprint. He finished 52nd but in the Women’s Sprint Justine Braisaz was 2nd! The first podium of the season! Allez Justine! There were no points from the Pursuits with Scott Gow 48th and Federica Sanfilippo 52nd. That meant a total of 54 points from Slovenia.

Nove Mesto was a great round for biathlete23 with everyone scoring points. In the Sprint Michael Roesch was 11th and Susan Dunklee was 3rd! Another podium woo-hoo! Artem Pryma was 27th in the Pursuit and Marte Olsbu was 18th. In the Mass Start Jean-Guillaune Beatrix was 13th and Vanessa Hinz was 4th! Pilsner all round for a reward! 😉 The men left with 53 points but the women with 114.

After Christmas it was time to head to Germany with the first stop in Oberhof. It was another good round with Martin Fourcade finishing 8th in the Sprint (great time to miss the podium Martin, thanks!) and Anais Chevalier was 4th. In the Pursuit Vitaliy Kilchytskyy was 48th but Jana Gerekova was 26th. In the Mass Starts Benjamin Weger was 10th and Maren Hammerschmidt was 20th. That meant 65 points from the men and 79 from the women.

Ruhpolding wasn’t the best round. Dmytro Pidruchnyi started well in the Sprint finishing 7th but then Lena Haecki was 74th. In the Pursuit Anton Babikov didn’t start the race but Anastasiya Merkushyna showed great dedication to bib23 by finishing 23rd! That gave a total of 36 points from the men and 18 from the women.

The last round before the World Championships was in Antholz where Joanne Reid was 60th in the Individual and Martin Otcenas was 84th -no points! However in the Mass Starts Anna Magnusson was 7th and Lars Birkeland was 11th. So that meant 30 points for the men and 36 for the women.

The World Championships started well for biathlon23, were a bit rubbish in the middle and picked up at the end. Alas there was no gold medal this year. 😦

Anastasiya Merkushyna was back in 23 for the Sprint and she was 10th. Anton Pantov was 68th in the Men’s Sprint. In the Pursuits Lisa Hauser was 26th and Remus Faur was 42nd. The Americans in the Individuals were Maddie Phaneuf who was 87th and Sean Doherty who was 58th. The Mass Starts were better with Nadezhda Skardino in 16th and Dominik Windisch in 24th. Biathlete23 left Hochfilzen with 17 points for the men and 71 for the women.

Then we went to PyeongChang for the Olympic test event and World Cup 7. Julia Ransom was 41st in the Sprint and Vegard Gjermundshaug was 40th. In the Pursuits Lisa Vittozzi was 43rd but then Anton Shipulin came from 23rd to 2nd to grab some valuable points. That meant 55 points for the men and 0 for the women.

Kontiolahti was the venue for round 8 replacing Tyumen. In the Men’s Sprint the legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen brought home the points in 8th! For the women Eva Puskarcivkova was 63rd. Getting a Russian in the Men’s Pursuit is always good and this time it was Evgeniy Garanichev’s turn to make up lots of places. He finished 12th but fellow Russian Ekaterina Shimulova was outside the points in 42nd. The men got 64 (check) points and the women 0.

At the final round in Holmenkollen home favourite Tiril Eckhoff was in bib23 in the Sprint and she finished 12th. For the men Maxim Tsvetkov didn’t start the Sprint race. The Pursuits went well with Anna Magnusson in 21st and Andrejs Rastorgujevs 10th. In the Mass Starts Anna Magnusson was again in bib23 and finished 23rd! She has been in bib23 three times this season and always scored points! Well done Anna Mag! Michal Slesingr was 6th making it 69 points for the men and 67 for the women.

For full results and points see the Biathlete23 page.
Biathlete23 will return! 🙂

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Men’s Individual!

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What can I say about the Men’s Individual in Hochfilzen! What a fantastic race and an even better result! Another fine day at the World Championships and history was made!

Lowell Bailey won the Men’s Individual! He became the first ever American to win a biathlon World title. In fact biathlon is the only winter sport that America has never won a World Title in. Not anymore! Thanks to outstanding shooting from Bailey he will go down in the history books and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. He has been unlucky this week finishing 4th in the Sprint and 6th in the Pursuit but finally in the Individual no one could beat him. It’s his first ever win having a previous best of second.

He managed to out ski Ondrej Moravec, who took the silver, by 3.3 seconds. Moravec also shot 20/20 but had started earlier than Bailey. In fact Bailey was bib 100 and so kept us hanging on right until the end.

Bronze went to Martin Fourcade who couldn’t make it 4 Individual World Titles in a row. He missed 2 shots but still did really well to finish in third place. He has a medal in every race so far.

Fourth went to Erik Lesser with 1 miss, 5th to Sergey Semenov also with 1 miss. In 6th place was Michal Krcmar who shot 20/20, 7th went to Anton Shipulin with 2 misses and in 8th was Johannes Boe also with 2 misses. In 9th was another Norwegian Lars Birkeland with a single miss and 10th went to Benjamin Weger also with 19/20.

Home team Austria finished with Eder in 12th, Eberhard in 14th and Mesotitsch in 15th. They will be desperate to do well in the Relay and the Mass Start to win Austria a medal.

Emil Svendsen was back in action after collapsing at the end of the Sprint race and he finished 27th. Further back Great Britain’s Scott Dixon grabbed a personal best in 69th with 2 missed targets.

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Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 1!

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Saturday was a different day on the biathlon calendar with the women racing the Mass Start and the men racing the Relay. Maybe they should do it more often as they were two fantastic races!

With calm wind conditions and a lovely sunny day it was a great day to race. The Women’s Mass Start was won by a clean shooting German…and it wasn’t Laura Dahlmeier! Giving the German selectors a massive headache before the World Championships was Nadine Horchler. She normally competes more on the IBU Cup and goes up and down to the World Cup but that may not be the case anymore after taking her first ever win.

She started with bib 30 which meant she was the last person to qualify to race today and she overtook the whole field to win with an outstanding performance. She shot clean and then on the final loop she skied past Gabriela Koukalova to take the win by just over 3 seconds. Second place went to teammate Dahlmeier who also passed Koukalova on the final lap but the Czech held on to third. She had a tough race having to take 3 different poles and missing 2 targets.

It was also unlike Dahlmeier to miss 3 shots but I think Horchler was quite pleased she did!

Tatiana Akimova had the early lead in this race after the first two prone shoots but her standing shoots let her down. That left Koukalova to take her time and clean the standing shoots to put her into the lead but she couldn’t hold on to it and a brave final lap from Horchler gave her the win.

Elsewhere Sweden’s Anna Magnusson came 7th getting her personal best missing just one target, Kaia Nicolaisen shot clean and took 9th and Alexia Runggaldier continued her fine form at home finishing 6th with 1 miss.

The Men’s Relay was next and gave us a fantastic sprint to line and a photo finish to decide the winner! Of course if there is a sprint finish there can only be two people involved. The two who are always in sprint finishes and in fact are two of the best at doing it – Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen.

This time Schempp came out on top and led team German to the victory. They were separated by just 0.1 of a second at the end. The early stages of this race had Russia in control after the first two laps with Tsvetkov and Garanichev racing really well.

The third loop began with Malyshko, Johannes Boe and Peiffer all together but by the end it was Boe who passed a 17 second lead to Svendsen. Boe and Peiffer missed just 1 shot each and Malyshko needed 4 spares which put Russia out of contention for the win.

With Svendsen requiring 2 spares to Schempp’s 1 it made the final loop into an exciting ski race. Schempp who can claim to be one of the best sprinters around grabbed the win on the line to give his team of Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer the perfect end to the day.

Norway’s team of Svendsen, Boe, Lars Birkeland and L’Abee Lund now have a first and second place in the last 2 Relays with arguably not their strongest team. Russia with Tsvetkov, Garanichev, Malyshko and Anton Babikov stayed in third place.

The American team of Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Leif Nordgren and Sean Doherty had a great race finishing in 6th from bib 24 and the Swedes with Stenersen, Nelin, Samuelsson and Lindstrom were 9th from bib 22.

Tomorrow the races are the opposite way around with the Men’s Mass Start and the Women’s Relay so let’s hope they are just as exciting as today!

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Ruhpolding 2017: The Sprints!

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Just like a Bavarian grandmother preparing Dampfnudel for pudding, the outcome of the Men’s Sprint was entirely predictable. Martin Fourcade dominated the entire race and shot 10/10 to lead the field by 18 seconds in his 200th race. In fact he now has 101 podiums in those 200 races which is incredible!

Considering he beat Julian Eberhard by those 18 seconds shows that it’s getting a bit ridiculous how good he is. Eberhard is one of the fastest skiers around and even shooting 10/10 himself in tricky wind conditions he couldn’t get near Fourcade. It’s quite depressing for the other biathletes I imagine and to be honest it’s not that entertaining to watch. None of which is Fourcade’s fault of course, that is just the way it’s going at the moment.

Third place went to a resurgent Emil Hegle Svendsen but even he was nearly 40 seconds off Fourcade’s time. The home team’s best results came from Arnd Peiffer in 4th and Simon Schempp in 5th. Schempp missed a target in the standing shoot which probably cost him a podium position. Another German Matthias Bischl continued his excellent form from Oberhof by getting another personal best result here of 16th.

It seems it’s not just Svendsen who is in good form for the Norwegians with Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in 8th and Lars Helge Birkeland in 10th. Russia’s Dmitry Malyshko got his best result of the season by far in 6th and Ukraine’s Dmytro Pidruchnyi also did well finishing 7th.

Klemen Bauer grabbed another Top 20 finish in 14th and his teammate Jakov Fak made his long awaited start to the season finishing in 56th and scraping into the Pursuit on Sunday. Johannes Boe returned from illness to finish 37th and the USA’s Sean Doherty got back in the points in 40th after also coming back from ill health.

The Women’s Sprint was also a little predictable if you watched the first leg of the relay on Thursday. The light snow meant that conditions were a little heavy for skiing but it didn’t stop Kaisa Makarainen who won her first race of the season shooting 10/10 and winning by 22 seconds. It was very similar to her relay leg when she put Finland in the lead and we all know if Kaisa shoots clean she is very difficult to beat. Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova who also shot clean but wasn’t fast enough today to challenge for the win. The same goes for Laura Dahlmeier who shot clean in third but was 30 seconds behind Makarainen.

Marie Dorin Habert was 4th meaning the Top 4 in the Total Score were the Top 4 in the race. She missed a target but still beat Dorothea Wierer, who didn’t, into 5th. Hanna Oeberg continues to impress improving her personal best to 7th in this race and Darya Domracheva finished 13th, her best result since her return. The Czech Republic’s Marketa Davidova was 28th which is her personal best so far. Another biathlete racing for the first time this season was Valj Semerenko who was 30th with 2 misses.

Both Pursuit races are tomorrow but there are some big time gaps separating the top biathletes in both the men’s and women’s races. Hopefully they can be made up and we will see some exciting races on the final day in Ruhpolding.

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Pokljuka 2016: The Pursuits!

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Like idrijski žlikrofi, Slovenian potato dumplings, the Pursuit races in Pokljuka were stuffed full of tasty stuff! The men’s race was in the morning and the Martin Fourcade bus keeps on rolling. With no wins in Pokljuka for years two come along at once. I ran out of words to describe this man a long time ago but his mental strength is astonishing. I think he is one of the toughest sports people in the world when it come to the mental side of the sport. He takes risks and I think he isn’t afraid to lose. He pushes himself and his opponents to their limits but he is usually the one who comes out on top.

It was the same today. Anton Shipulin gave him a good run for his money and watching them shoot clean side by side was fantastic. However on the final shoot Shipulin missed a target and denied us a great finish but Fourcade was imperious today. Second place went to Emil Hegle Svendsen, remember him? It’s great to see him back up the front shooting 20/20 and holding off Shipulin who was third. It was a great display of shooting all round at the front.

Taking sixth place was Michael Roesch of Belguim who also shot clean. Lars Birkeland came from 32nd to finish 13th, Julian Eberhard went from 47th to 21st and Ondrej Moravec from 31st to 14th.

The women raced later in the day and Laura Dahlmeier made it a double victory when she beat Kaisa Makarainen by around 17 seconds. They both missed 2 targets but Dahlmeier is very strong at the moment and hard to beat. In third was the Czech biathlete Eva Puskarcikova who made the podium for the first time on the World Cup missing just 1 shot and beating Marie Dorin Habert in a close finish.

Dorin Habert had a good race also missing one to move up from 17th to 4th. Susan Dunklee took 5th from Lisa Hauser in 6th who is continuing her great early season form. Yuliia Dzhima went from 28th to 11th, Galina Vishnevskaya from 25th to 13th, Veronika Vitkova from 30th to 15th, Iryna Kryuko from 33rd to 18th, Maren Hammerschmidt from 41st to 24th, Anna Magnusson from 47th to 28th and Mari Laukkanen from 56th to 35th.

We were treated to two good races from the men and women in Pokljuka and as there are Relays tomorrow it means that Laura Dahlmeier leads the women’s overall by 69 points from Kaisa Makarainen and Martin Fourcade leads Johannes Boe by 95 points.

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