Tag Archives: Lars Helge Birkeland

Oestersund 2019: The Relays!

Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg would have been very happy with today’s rallies…..what I am talking about!!! It was the relays and they won’t be happy at all since they were both won by their neighbours and great rivals Norway!

The women raced first and it was Italy as usual who handed over first at the exchange. Lisa Vittozzi is a first leg legend! She did use 3 spares today unusually for her but she still skied herself into the lead!

She gave Nicole Gontier a five second lead over the Ukraine, the USA and home team Sweden after 10/10 shoots from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Linn Persson and just the 1 spare from Susan Dunklee. Germany with Vanessa Hinz went on the penalty loop but Norway were not too far off with a solid leg from Synnoeve Solemdal with 2 spares used.

Gontier had a great leg hitting all 10 targets as did Clare Egan for the USA leaving them neck and neck at the exchange. They were followed by Vita Semerenko, Mona Brorsson and Ingrid Tandrevold who hit 10/10 for Norway.

The third leg saw Joanne Reid hold the lead for the USA after the prone ahead of Alexia Runggaldier, Anna Magnusson, Yuliia Dzhima and Tiril Eckhoff.

Magnusson cleaned the stand to put Sweden in the lead, Reid needed 1 spare, Dzhima 2 and Eckhoff and Runggaldier went on the penalty loop!

That gave Hanna Oberg a 17 second lead at the final exchange. She was followed out by Emily Dreissigacker, Valj Semerenko and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Oberg needed 2 spares in the prone, the USA were clean and Ukraine and Norway took 1 spare each.

Roeiseland and Semerenko passed Dreissigacker on the tracks to move into second and third place for the final crucial shoot. Oberg was first in but needed all her spares. Roeiseland threw caution to the wind and went for it hitting all 5 and skiing to the gold medal for Norway. Sweden took silver and Semerenko needed 1 spare to safely claim the bronze medal. Unfortunately Dreissigacker went on the penalty loop twice and eventually finished in 9th but it was an amazing race from the US ladies.

Germany were 4th, Russia 5th and Slovakia 6th.

The day was tinged with sadness however as it was Rosanna Crawford’s final race for Canada who finished 14th. She will be greatly missed on the World Cup. 😦

The men raced later and victory again went to Norway who have won gold in every single relay at the World Championships!

The first leg was very close between a lot of the teams with some good shooting on the range. It was Matvey Eliseev who handed over first though for Russia with Lukas Hofer and Antonin Guigonnat close behind. The top ten teams were all within around 10 seconds of each other with Erik Lesser and Lars Birkeland keeping Germany and Norway in the mix.

The gaps stared to appear after leg 2 with France taking the lead thanks to Quentin Fillon Maillet. However he was followed closely by Vetle Christiansen in second and Jesper Nelin in third. Roman Rees for Germany (3 spares) and newcomer Nikita Porshnev for Russia (2 spares) both had solid legs.

On the third leg Tarjei Boe did really well using just 2 spares in the stand to give his brother a 43 second lead for the last lap. Simon Desthieux went on the penalty loop but still managed to tag Martin Fourcade in second place. He left at the same time as Bendikt Doll after a great leg from Arnd Peiffer moved Germany into third. Martin Ponsiluoma used 2 spares to put Sweden in fourth. Dmitry Malyshko kept Russia in the hunt also with 3 spares.

Johannes Boe shot clean on the prone to extend his lead. Fourcade cleaned and Doll needed 1 spare but they were still locked together in the podium positions. Samuelsson used 3 spares and was passed by Rok Trsan who put Slovenia into 4th!

Boe used all 3 spares in the stand but it was enough to seal victory and yet another gold for Norway. Doll used 1 spare but Fourcade ended up with 2 penalty loops. That left Germany in a comfortable silver medal position. Bronze was still up for grabs and with a perfect leg from Alexander Loginov it went to Russia.

The Czech Republic moved up to 4th, Slovenia were 5th and France 6th.

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Canmore 2019: The Relays!

Freezing cold and windy, Simon Fourcade looking like a ninja, Evgeniy Garanichev looking like he was on his summer holidays and Michael Rosch flying all the way to Canada to race and getting lapped – the men’s relay ladies and gentlemen!!!

That’s right when everyone is taped literally everywhere (Susan Dunklee even did her toes!) and wrapped up as much as possible, Tyumen resident Evgeniy Garanichev made no adjustments to his normal attire! He took the first leg for Russia and was leading until his standing shoot when ironically he froze!! It took him ages to hit all 5 targets needing all 3 spares and handing Antonin Guiggonat the lead ahead of Lars Hegle Birkeland.

It proved to be a fight between France and Norway until the end. Vetle Christiansen got the better of Emilien Jacquelin on leg two despite the Frenchman using 1 spare to the Norwegians 2. The third leg saw a fantastic race from biathlon ninja (black face tape!) Simon Fourcade using 1 spare to Erlend Bjoentegaard’s 3. However the Norwegian got the better of the French thanks to their faster skiing and gave Johannes Boe a nice lead to take into the final leg.

Of course he smashed it hitting 10/10 and cruised to victory by over a minute from Quentin Fillon Maillet. Russia held on for third with Eduard Latypov, Alexander Loginov and Alexander Povarnitsyn along with Garanichev using 9 spares.

Austria had the chance to go for a podium but on the final leg Julian Eberhard had a nightmare with 3 penalty loops letting Germany into 4th. Austria were 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.

Home team Canada were 10th but after the first two legs from the Gow brothers they were in 4th which is a good sign for the future.

The women’s relay was another good one. Italy as usual started well with Lisa Vittozzi on the first leg shooting clean and taking the lead. Emilie Kalkenberg had a tough leg for Norway with 2 penalty loops. Vanessa Hinz and Anais Chevalier did well as did Estonia’s Regina Oja.

Nicole Gontier had a great second leg for Italy only needing one spare and maintained the lead. Justine Braisaz and Franziska Hildebrand kept their teams in it with good legs too. Ingrid Tandrevold started Norway’s comeback with a great leg using only 1 spare.

On the third leg Dorothea Wierer had a lead over Anais Bescond and Denise Herrmann. However after using 2 spares on the stand she left the range with a 26 second lead which incredibly Herrmann made up and passed her to put Germany in the lead with Dahlmeier on the last leg. Tiril Eckhoff put Norway back into contention with just 1 spare needed from her.

At the first prone Dahlmeier need 2 spares but left the range before Sanfilippo got her first shot away. Julia Simon had problems using all 3 spares. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland had no issues hitting all 5 and moving into third behind Italy.

The wind had a massive influence on the final stand. Dahlmeier went on the penalty loop but still came out in the lead after the others also had issues having to shoot carefully. Sanfilippo also went on the penalty loop. Julia Simon came out best moving from second to fourth and Roeiseland stayed in third.

Dahlmeier skied home for first place but unfortunately for Simon she couldn’t hold off Roeiseland who overtook her to give Norway second with France getting third.

Italy were 4th, Switzerland were 5th and Austria were 6th.


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Canmore 2019: The Individuals!

So it’s a bit cold in Canada. There is a polar vortex so it’s around -20 to -30 degrees, basically what the people from Siberia call summer temperatures! 😉 Anyway such cold meant some changes to the schedule for the athletes health and also for the fans who have to watch in freezing temperatures!

The Individuals were shortened as per the new rule that was brought in this summer (good timing there, eh!). Excitingly named the Short Individual, for the men it was 15km and the women 12.5km to reduce the race time and therefore the exposure to the cold. There was a 45 second penalty for a miss instead of the usual minute.

None of which had a bearing on the winner of the men’s race! Of course Johannes Bow won again but this time he blew the entire field away! He won the race shooting clean by 2 minutes and 10 seconds which is almost unheard of in an individual! He was outstanding.

Norway got second place too with Vetle Christiansen. He missed 2 shots but was still able to get his career best result. Alexander Loginov was third also with 2 misses.

Norway were also in 4th with Lars Birkeland equalling his personal best with 1 miss. Dominik Windisch was 5th and Simon Eder 6th both missing 2.

There were plenty of PB’s elsewhere in the field with Peppe Femling shooting 20/20 in 9th proving that stabbing yourself in the leg with your ski pole isn’t all bad! 😉 Home favourite Christian Gow got his top finish in 10th, Tomas Krupcik in 12th, Eduard Latypov in 15th, Taras Lesiuk in 32nd, Sergey Korostylev in 42nd and Xingyuan Yan in 44th.

In the women’s race there was a titanic battle for first place. Lisa Vittozzi and Marketa Davidova continued their excellent recent form both hitting 20/20. However it was not enough to win the race for either of them as Tiril Eckhoff was amazing making up 20 seconds on the final loop after missing 1 shot to win her first race of the season.

Davidova finished second skiing faster than Vittozzi in third. 4th place went to Franziska Hildebrand with 20/20, Ingrid Tandrevold was 5th with 1 miss and Vanessa Hinz was 6th with 1 miss in bib23!!!

There were also personal bests for Julia Schwaiger in 10th with 20/20, Emilie Kalkenberg in 21st, Regina Oja in 23rd, Thelka Brun-Lie in 37th and Leisan Biktasheva in 40th.

The cold weather did provide some excellent glove action with Sergey Semenov and Dorothea Wierer in particular rocking the mittens! Not to forget the face tape in a variety of “bright” colours!!! 😉

The relays are now going to be on Friday after the changes because of the cold conditions.

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Ruhpolding 2019: The Relays!

Tissues! I need tissues! Michael Roesch raced for the final time in Ruhpolding. He is loved by everyone – the fans and his fellow biathletes mainly for his sense of humour and being such a nice guy. He will be sorely missed by the biathlon family!

Back to the race and what do we know about the men’s relay in Ruhpolding? That’s right Norway always win! So of course Norway won! With a team of Lars Helge Birkeland, Vetle Christiansen, Tarjei Boe and Johannes Boe they got their fifth win in a row here.

It was a tight race however. Mr Roesch finished on a high shooting clean on the first leg for Belgium. Six teams came to the first exchange together- Ukraine, France, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic and Germany.

Christiansen put Norway in the lead using one spare and Martin Fourcade handed over in second place. Tarjei Boe needed two spares in the standing which let France, Germany and Austria catch up to the leaders.

Tarjei handed over to Johannes with a tiny lead of under a second. He was neck and neck with Benedikt Doll but took the lead after the prone. However he needed 3 spares in the stand to Doll’s 1 and so they left the range together.

Behind these two it was a battle between Simon Desthieux and Julian Eberhard for third place. Johannes attacked on the steep uphill and pulled away from Doll to give Norway the victory. Norway used 8 spares in total.

The German team were second with Roman Rees, Johannes Kuehn, Arnd Peiffer and Doll using 6 spares. There was a sprint finish for third with Desthieux coming out on top. The French team of Emilien Jacquelin, Fourcade, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Desthieux used 9 spares.

Austria were 4th, Russia 5th and Sweden 6th. Roesch’s Belgian team finished 19th.

The women’s relay was on Saturday and what do we know about the women’s relay in Rupholding? France haven’t won here for ages. So obviously France won! The team of Julia Simon, Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz and Anais Chevalier used only 4 spares to take the victory for the first time here in 25 years.

Unsurprisingly Italy took an early lead with Dorothea Wierer shooting clean. However Simon was right with her after hitting 10/10 and Norway’s Synnoeve Solemdal did the same in third.

Anais Bescond was steady on the second leg using 1 spare and handed over to Braisaz ahead of Italy and Slovakia who moved up after a great leg from Paulina Fialkova.

Braisaz used 2 spares but was fast enough to complete both shoots before the others had fired a round. Tiril Eckhoff had a super leg moving Norway into second and Preuss brought Germany into it handing over in third.

That was how the race finished with neither Marte Olsbu Roeiseland nor Denise Herrmann able to catch Anais Chevalier. One spare was the difference between second and third with 2 spares needed by Norway and 3 by Germany on the last standing.

Sweden were 4th, Russia 5th and Slovakia 6th with Kuzmina moving them up from 16th on the final leg.

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Pokljuka 2018: The Relays!

So it has finally begun! The new biathlon season got underway on Sunday with both the mixed relays – the single and well the double I suppose! Normal service was resumed with Norway and France winning, or was it?

The Single Mixed relay went to the Norwegian pair of Thelka Brun-Lie and Lars Birkeland. They finished ahead of the Austrian team Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder in second. Ukraine took third. Not too many surprises there but there was some exceptional shooting from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Artem Tyshchenko who only used 1 spare in the whole race.

Canada were leading the race at one point and so were France but the shooting let those teams down a little. Japan were 10th and usually do well in this race.

It was the Mixed Relay where we got a surprise. France won with a strong team of Bescond, Braisaz, Martin Fourcade and Desthieux. However second place went to Switzerland with fantastic performances from the birthday girl Elisa Gasparin, Lena Hacki, Benni Weger and Jeremy Finello.

Third went to Italy, with the usual suspects, Vittozzi, Wierer, Windisch and Hofer despite a penalty loop.

Finland also had a great race with Eder(formerly Laukkanen) and Makarainen putting them in the lead but the men, Seppala and Hiidensalo, couldn’t hold it and eventually finished 5th which is still a great result.

The biggest excitement of the day however was reserved for Timofey Lapshin’s moustache. It’s amazing! Curled up at the ends and everything!

Racing continues on Wednesday with the Individual and goes right through until Sunday with the Pursuits.

Apologies to my regular readers as the blog coverage is going to be patchy before Christmas. It seems I am so busy writing about biathlon for other people that I don’t have a lot of time to do it for myself. Hopefully normal service will be resumed after Christmas!

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Tyumen 2018: The Pursuits!

If you give Martin Fourcade a 33 second lead in a Pursuit then he will most likely extend it by the end. That’s what he did again today enjoying a victory lap after winning the Overall Title on Thursday. He shot very well just missing 1 target on the final shoot but he was never under any pressure.

The victory gave him the Pursuit crystal globe to add to the Sprint and Individual.

Behind him there was more excitement with Johannes Boe skiing super fast and hitting 19/20 to move from 14th to 2nd. He was followed by Lukas Hofer who shot 20/20 and came from 13th to take 3rd.

Freddie Lindstrom was 4th, Erik Lesser 5th and Arnd Peiffer 6th.

Simon Eder moved from 27th to 8th, Lars Birkeland from 38th to 13th and Anton Babikov went from 43rd to 24th.

The women’s race was much more exciting going right down to the final standing shoot then the finish line!. Laura Dahlmeier, Anais Bescond, Darya Domracheva and Kaisa Makarainen were all in contention. Three of the four missed but Kaisa took her time and shot clean. She left the range to find Anais Bescond coming off the penalty loop and it was a ski race between them for the win.

Kaisa took it with a sprint to the line by just 0.2 of a second in dramatic fashion to take the race for the Overall Title to the final race! Laura Dahlmeier finished in third.

Domracheva was 4th, Karolin Horchler was 5th getting her personal best result and Anastasiya Kuzmina was 6th securing the Pursuit crystal globe.

Irina Uslugina came from 22nd to 9th hitting 20/20 for her personal best result. Nadine Horchler hit 20 to go from 39th to 12th and Hanna Oberg went from 49th to 22nd.

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PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Men’s Relay

Wow it has been a fantastic two weeks of biathlon in PyeongChang. Possibly the best ever Olympic Games for biathlon in terms of exciting races and all the different nations who picked up medals.

Today was the final race (sniff,sniff) but it was another good one. The conditions were much better for the men than the women but curiously only one team avoided the penalty loop for the men and three did for the women!!!

The golden team today was Sweden. They were fantastic from start to finish. Let’s start at the start though and the first leg saw Germany firmly in control of the race with a great leg from Erik Lesser. He used 1 spare in the stand and produced a brilliant ski to hand over with a comfortable lead.

Matej Kazar did a great job for Slovakia hitting 10/10, Austria were up there with Tobias Eberhard, Sweden were in the mix after 1 spare from Peppe Femling, Artem Pryma for Ukraine hit 10/10 and Lars Birkeland had a solid start for Norway using 2 spares. It was France who were the major casualty with Simon Desthieux having a disaster with 2 penalty loops on the stand.

Leg 2 saw Benedikt Doll keep Germany’s lead until the stand where he did 2 penalty loops letting all the following teams back into the race. It was the Czech Republic with Michal Slesingr who took advantage using just 1 spare. Jesper Nelin and Simon Eder were still towards the front along with Tarjei Boe.

Jaroslav Soukup was on the third leg for the Czech team but he was being chased by Sebastian Samuelsson, Johannes Boe and Julian Eberhard three of the fastest skiers there are!

Eberhard cracked first with 2 penalty loops on his standing shoot, Soukup had to do one too but Samuelsson and Boe just used 1 spare each and were neck and neck at the exchange. Arnd Peiffer did a great job for Germany hitting 10/10 and putting them back up to third. It was good to see after his Mixed Relay meltdown. Meanwhile Martin Fourcade’s efforts to haul back time failed when he also incurred a penalty loop probably from skiing too hard.

So the final leg came down to Fredrik Linstrom against Emil Svendsen. Now we all remember what happen to Emil in Sochi on the last leg when he took Norway from 1st to 4th so he must have been nervous! They matched each other on the prone and behind them Simon Schempp needed all three spares and so the gold medal was between Norway and Sweden.

When they arrived for the final shoot the wind suddenly got up and both missed their first shots. Lindstrom hit the other 4 but Emil missed another. With 1 spare Lindstrom hit the last target and the gold belonged to Sweden. Emil couldn’t hit his final target with the spares and had to go on the penalty loop.

Schempp couldn’t capitalize on Svendsen’s error and ended up on the penalty loop himself. He had enough time to still take the bronze medal, with Norway in silver and Sweden with just 7 spare rounds and no penalty loops were well deserved gold medallists.

Austria were 4th, France 5th and the USA were 6th.

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