Tag Archives: Lars Helge Birkeland

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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Oestersund 2016:The Individuals!

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Seriously the IBU are pretty mean, aren’t they? They give us two Relays on Sunday and then nothing until Wednesday! Luckily the wait is over and the first individual races got under way with well – the Individual races!

The Women’s race was first and there was a smörgåsbord of talent on view. (That’s right -I used smörgåsbord in a review of a race in Sweden!) Wednesday was windy but it’s Oestersund if it’s not windy, it’s crap as some might say. 😉 The wind is great, not for the biathletes for the fans. It helps to throw up some different results and introduce us to some new faces.

The winner didn’t need an introduction of course. Laura Dahlmeier won the race missing 2 targets but still managed to win by nearly 16 seconds from Anais Bescond who only missed one. In third place we got the surprise result. Dayra Yurkevich from Belarus got her first ever podium finish and deservedly so as she shot clean and was the only woman to do so.

Home biathlete Hanna Oberg came 8th which is a fantastic result for her. With Anna Magnusson and Mona Brorsson also in the Top 25 it was a good race for the Swedes. Joanne Reid from the USA also had a great race finishing in 29th position. The Austrian team did really well too with personal bests for Lisa Hauser 7th, Fabienne Hartweger 22nd and Julia Schwaiger 28th.

Apart from Dahlmeier it wasn’t the best day for the pre-race favourites with Koukalova in 17th, Dorin Habert in 19th, Makarainen in 24th and Wierer in 31st.

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The wind was unpredictable again on Thursday for the men but the result was very predictable with Martin Fourcade winning. He is hard to beat in the Individual and rarely loses in this format. In second place was Johannes Boe who had the opportunity to win but missed twice in his final shoot. Third place went to Vladimir Chepelin of Belarus taking his first ever podium missing just 1 target. In fact it was his first Top 10 result. If only there was someone who had written a blog post about him before the start of the World Cup predicting such a possibility! 😉

There were another two Norwegians in the Top 5 with Lars Birkeland in 4th and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in 5th. I really must find out what magic he is using so I can bottle it and sell it. What a legend! There were equally impressive performances from Cornel Puchianu in 14th and Tuomas Gronman in 20th.

It wasn’t such a good day for some of Fourcades main rivals however. Shipulin finished in 11th but missed 3 targets on the final shoot and could have got more points. Simon Schempp missed 7 and finished outside the points in 46th and Svendsen didn’t even start the race.

The Sprints take place on Saturday for both the men and women but the big question is – can I get pickled herring into my race report? Wait and see….

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WC8: Presque Isle Review 2016!

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Scarily it’s World Cup Round 8 already – the final one before the World Championships! We were in Presque Isle in Maine, USA for this one and the conditions were great for the first races that took place on Thursday.

The Men’s Sprint came first and was won by a refreshed Johannes Thingnes Boe.He skipped the last round in Canmore and flew out with big brother Tarjei for this one. That was a good decision! He won by over 27 seconds shooting clean. In second was Anton Shipulin who beat Martin Fourcade into third by only 1 second. However Anton shot clean and Martin missed a target. The Swiss team had a great race with a personal best for Serafin Weistner in fifth and teammate Benjamin Weger was sixth with by far his best result of the season. Thirteen may be unlucky for some but not Sean Doherty who got his career best result on the World Cup at home fresh from winning 3 medals at the World Junior Championships.

The Women’s race was up next and was won by Total Score leader Gabriela Soukalova which obviously means she extended her lead in the race for the Overall Title. She is a very popular biathlete but possibly not in Preque Isle as she beat home favourite Susan Dunklee into second place. The fans can’t be too upset though as that is Susan’s best ever result and she saved it for them. Third place went to Krystyna Guzik who is having a great time in North America taking 2 podiums in 2 weeks. Kaia Nicolaisen got a personal best in 9th as did Celia Aymonier in 11th.

Friday saw both the Pursuit race and again the men raced first. The weather conditions were much more difficult for this one with some wind and a lot of cold around -16. Martin Fourcade was again victorious beating Johannes Boe into second and Anton Shipulin remained in third. Fourcade missed 2 shots and the others missed three but the big difference was when they missed. Martin cleared the final shoot and the others didn’t which is so often how he wins. Erlend Bjoentegaard raced into 5th for a personal best. Estonia’s Kalev Ermits came from 19th to 11th to earn his career best result.

Other impressive Pursuit races were had by Tim Burke who went from 20th to 7th, Vladimir Iliev 21st to 8th, Alexander Polvarnitsyn 28th to 10th, Oleksander Zhyrnyi 31st to 16th, Dmytro Rusinov 49th to 33rd and Daniel Boehm 54th to 37th. It wasn’t a good race however for Arnd Peiffer who came off the tracks at a corner and hit a tree. He was taken to hospital with suspected concussion.

In the Women’s race, despite being critical of holding the round in Presque Isle, Gabriela Soukalova made it a double victory! Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who moved up from 5th and in third place was Marie Dorin Habert despite missing 5 targets. Mona Brorsson achieved a peronal best finishing in 17th as did Tatiana Akimova who was 19th.

Other women with good Pursuit results were Lisa Hauser who went from 28th to 12th, Franziska Preuss 36th to 14th, Ekaterina Shumilova 39th to 16th, Anais Chevalier 50th to 21st, Lisa Vittozzi 46th to 29th and Dunja Zdouc 52nd to 30th

Both the Men’s and Women’s Relays were held on Saturday. Originally the Women’s Relay was scheduled for Sunday but low temperatures below -20 degrees were forecast and the races cannot take place below that temperature. The Men’s race was full of excellent shooting. Norway were the winners using only 7 spares with Lars Helge Birkeland, Erlend Bjoentegaard and the Boe brothers. France were second using only 2 spares rounds but even with Desthieux and Beatrix shooting clean in legs 3 and 4 they couldn’t match the Norwegians. Third place went to Germany who used 11 spares to beat Russia for the final podium place by 6 seconds. The USA were 5th in their home race their best Relay result of the season.

The Women’s race started 2 hours after the Men and consequently finished in the dark! Maybe they should have pushed the schedule forward as the only light seemed to be a torch across the finish line! The winners of the race were the Czech Republic who even with a penalty loop crossed the beam of light first. The team of Eva Puskarcikova, Lucie Charvatova, Gabriela Soukalova and Veronika Vitkova will get a good confidence boost ahead of the World Championships. The race for the remaining podium places was really tight. In a Sprint finish Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine lunged over the line 0.2 of a second ahead of Germany’s Karoline Horchler to grab second. Poland had to settle for fourth with Krystyna Guzik just half a second behind.

So that’s it for our journey to North America. Fourcade and Soukalova continue in yellow (as usual!!). It has been an enjoyable 2 weeks and Presque Isle did a good job of hosting and brought the cold that has been missing this winter as well as a penalty loop that goes around a building! Now everyone heads back to Europe for 2 weeks of recovery and preparation for the World Championships with the first race on the 3rd of March. Don’t miss it!

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