Tag Archives: Lars Helge Birkeland

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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Antholz 2018: The Sprints!

It was a beautiful day in Antholz on Thursday for the women’s Sprint with sunshine and no wind. With surprising weather comes surprising results and no one was more surprising than the winner!

Tiril Eckhoff, who has had a pretty average season so far, finally put everything together today and won the Sprint race. She started late in bib 71 but crucially she shot clean for the first time this season and with her ski speed she beat Laura Dahlmeier into second by 12 seconds.

We all know how good Tiril can be on her day, it’s just that those days don’t come often enough.

Dahlmeier also hit 10/10 as did Veronika Vitkova in third place. Vitkova has shown some fantastic form since Christmas and took her third podium of the season. Darya Domracheva missed 1 but is skiing well and finished 4th.

Anais Bescond hit the perfect 10 in 5th and Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht did the same to finish 6th.

There was also some personal bests in the race today from Julia Simon in 12th, Jessica Jislova in 15th, Laura Toivanen in 33rd, Kamila Zuk in 51st, Emily Dreissigacker in 59th, Regina Oja in 61st, Johanna Skottheim in 66th, and Fanqui Meng in 68th.

Some of the bigger names are missing this weekend for Olympic preparation like the Swedish and Polish women. That handed World Cup debuts to Felicia Lindqvist of Sweden who was 63rd and also Canada’s Nadia Moser who was 85th.

The top two fighting for the Overall Title, Kuzmina and Makarainen, were 18th and 26th respectively.

There were no surprises in the men’s Sprint. The race was between Johannes Boe and Martin Fourcade. A common theme for this season. We just have to wait to see who wins. This time it was Johannes. It was a little windier on Friday for the men and it showed in the early shooting.

Johannes missed 1 in the prone but skied like a maniac to win the race by 12.8 seconds. Fourcade hit the perfect 10 but was only second. After looking tired in Ruhpolding last week Johannes recovered well and put in a great skiing display. I mean who misses a shot and beats Fourcade when he has a clear shoot? Only Johannes!

Third place went to Arnd Peiffer. He also shot clean but just beat Anton Shipulin into 4th. Shipulin missed 1 but was only 4 seconds from the podium. Remember though that Anton loves Antholz!

Emilien Jacquelin was a fantastic 5th. He started in bib 94 but cleaned 10/10 and skied really well to take his personal best finish and some flowers! His amazing form this season probably means that a big French name is going to miss the Olympics!

Sixth place went to Lars Birkeland with 10/10 continuing his good form this season and justifying his place at the Olympics ahead of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Apart from Jacquelin there were a few more personal bests in the field. Volodymyr Siemakov was 12th, Andrzej Nedza- Kubiniec was 51st and Vladislav Vitenko was 52nd. There were also some World Cup debuts from Linas Banys of Lithuania in 103rd and Canada’s Aiden Millar in 107th.

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Ruhpolding 2018: The Relays!

Wow relays are boring without any fog, aren’t they! 😉 It’s Ruhpolding so of course Norway won the men’s relay. They have won 4 in a row here and 8 out of the last 11.

The Norwegian team, which looks like the Olympic team, of Lars Birkeland, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen and Johannes Boe were always near the front for the whole race. Birkeland on the first leg was just beaten to the first exchange by Erik Lesser. Lesser shot 10/10 while Birkeland needed 1 spare.

I know what you are thinking -“Where was Belgium?” It was not their day today with Michael Roesch doing 2 penalty loops. Apparently he shoots better when he can’t see the targets!

Matej Kazar and Lowell Bailey both had great legs handing over in 3rd and 4th.

Tarjei headed out fast on the second leg, a little too fast as he needed all his spares on the prone to avoid the penalty loop. That meant Lukas Hofer overtook him as did Tomas Hasilla and Benedikt Doll. Boe made up for it on the stand and cleared while the others needed spares. Simon Eder made great progress for Austria hitting 10/10 very fast so it was Italy in first, Norway second and Austria third at the next exchange.

Svendsen was on leg three up against Windisch and Daniel Mesotisch. They all has pretty solid legs using a few spares but unfortunaley for them Martin Fourcade was on leg three for France and shot fast and clean to move France into the lead heading into the final leg. Italy were in second and Norway third. Russia were up to 4th after 10/10 from Anton Babikov.

The tables turned again with Johannes Boe on the final leg for Norway. He flew off into the distance leaving Antonin Guigonnat and Thierry Chenal for dust! He used 2 spares on the stand but took the win comfortably. Guigonnat did well staying in second for France and Anton Shipulin moved Russia into third with a good final leg using just 1 spare.

Germany finished 4th, Austria 5th and Sweden 6th. The mysterious penalty for the USA was explained as Sean Doherty cross fired on the final leg.

Kazakstan who seem to love Ruhpolding as much as Norway does moved from 19th to 11th. They got a string of personal bests in the Individual and used only 5 spares between the four guys in the relay!

The women’s relay treated us to a really close finish. This time it was the home team Germany who took the victory. After their little slip up coming second in Oberhof they moved back up to first to the delight of the crowd.

However it was Italy who got off to the best start with Lisa Vittozzi having a great first leg hitting 10/10 and handing over in first place. She was just ahead of Franziska Preuss. Many other teams were close behind with France, Switzerland, Belarus, Austria, USA, Sweden, Norway and Poland all chasing the leaders.

Denise Herrmann and Dorothea Wierer battled it out on the second leg with Wierer shooting better(10/10) and Herrmann skiing faster which meant Germany took the lead into leg three. Norway came out the best from the chasing pack with Tiril Eckhoff skiing well.

It was now time for Franziska Hildebrand and Nicole Gontier to go head to head. However after the first prone it was Sweden who came out in the lead with Anna Magnusson shooting quickly. By the stand it was Chloe Chevalier with a clean shoot who left the range first but by the exchange Selina Gasparin was in the lead! Madness! Leg three was a good one!

She had Sweden, France and Germany behind her heading to the handover. Aita Gasparin was now up against Laura Dahlmeier, Federica Sanfilippo and Hanna Oberg. The German and the Swede both needed 1 spare and left the range together after the prone with Italy, Switzerland, Norway, France and Poland all within 30 seconds of the top two.

At the final shoot Sanfilippo cleared, Oberg used 1 spare and Dahlmeier needed 2. It was a ski race from there between Italy and Germany and with just 600 metres left Dahmeier passed the Italian and snatched the win. Oberg held on for third and Sweden’s second podium finish in a row in this event.

Norway were fourth a great result for them considering they have had a terrible season so far in the women’s relay. Poland were 5th and the Czech Republic moved up to take 6th. Switzerland dropped to 8th after 1 penalty loop on the final stand and France were 9th after 2 penalty loops on the same shoot.

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Oberhof 2018: The Relays!

Normal weather service was restored in Oberhof for the Relays – fog and lots of it!

It wasn’t so bad for the women who raced first but it still caused problems for them on the range. This one was a tale of the penalty loop with with lots of unexpected people on it!

The first to suffer was Vanessa Hinz for Germany. She had a torrid first leg using all her spares in the prone and going on the penatly loop in the stand. It looked like Germany’s hopes were gone. Italy and France took advantage with Liza Vittozzi shooting clear and Anais Bescond with 1 spare only required.

On the second leg it was France’s turn to go on the penalty loop with Anais Chevalier doing a penalty loop after the prone. Dorothea Wierer kept Italy in the lead only using 2 spares in the stand.

Behind her Denise Herrmann had a fantastic leg. She made up about 10 places just using 2 spares in the prone shoot. Kaisa Makarainen was even better with 1 spare putting Finland into third place.

Remarkably on the third leg Franziska Preuss put Germany back into the lead shooting 10/10. It was France who led over the line though with a fine performance from Celia Aymonier skiing especially well. Nicole Gontier who started the leg at the front did 2 penalty loops dropping Italy back down the standings.

Russia were coming into the race with a great leg from Tatiana Akimova shooting 10/10 and Sweden were in there too with great shooting on all three legs from Linn Persson, Anna Magnussen and Elisabeth Hoeberg.

The final leg came down to a race between Justine Braisaz and Maren Hammerschmidt for the win. Braisaz shot steadily and although she needed 4 spares she didn’t go on the penatly loop. Hammerschmidt did as she missed on the stand and Braisaz had an easy ski to victory. Laura Toivanen of Finland and Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht suffered the same fate which left the way clear for Mona Brorsson who with 3 spares brought Sweden home in third for a magnificent podium!

It’s ironic that Germany’s dominance in the Women’s Relay was ended in Germany but they still managed second without Hildebrand and Dahlmeier in the team. Russia were 4th, Ukraine 5th and Italy 6th.

The men’s relay is difficult to describe as you couldn’t see it!!! Thick fog descended and the guys had a lot of trouble on the range just to see the targets nevermind hit them. It made for a fun race though!

It was again the Belgian team who impressed over the first two legs just like in Hochfilzen. Michael Roesch and Florent Claude both led their legs with Roesch using 1 spare and Claude 2. Alexey Volkov was amazing with 1 spare for Russia putting them up front. Martin Ponsiluoma also had a great start for Swedn with 2 spares used.

Italy went on the penalty loop early with Tomas Bormolini as did Germany’s Roman Rees and France’s Emilien Jacquelin.

Lukas Hofer had a strong second leg for Italy and left Dominik Windisch to put Italy into the lead after three legs. Windisch shot clean while many others did a penalty loop or in the case of Johannes Kuehn 9!!! Jesper Nelin was steady for Sweden keeping them near the front.

Behind Windisch was Sebastian Samuelsson who left Freddie Lindstrom to chase Thierry Chanal for the win. They both shot clean in the prone and the Italian had a 30 second lead. However in the stand he had to take a penalty loop when Lindstrom needed just 1 spare and he won the race comfortably in the end.

It was a brilliant win for the Swedes in horrible conditions. The Italians held on to second and out of the fog appeared Tarjei Boe to put Norway on the podium. They did 3 penalty loops earlier on but Boe brought them back with a good leg while others moved backwards.

Russia were 4th, France 5th and Germany came back to 6th. We were also treated to the Thuringian dumpling song by Michael Roesch at the end of the race to make up for not being able to see it!!!

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