Tag Archives: Laura Toivanen

Spring Things 2019!

It’s summer! Not a biathlon fans favourite season is it? But it means there is only autumn between now and winter! Before the biathlon23 summer season of interviews starts it’s time to remind you what things happened in spring. That’s right -it’s Spring Things!!!

Retirements:

Well we all got a shock in May when Laura Dahlmeier announced her retirement at the age of 25! (How dare she!!) It was pretty well known that she wouldn’t be a Bjoerndalen and carry on forever but we thought we could get another Olympics out of her at least! Gabriela Koukalova who hasn’t raced for 2 seasons confirmed that she won’t be coming back and so is another biathlon pensioner!

Other retirements in spring included Henrik L’Abee Lund who joins Bjoerndalen and Svendsen in putting his feet up on the Norwegian sofa. Canada’s Erin Yungblut also ended her career as did Finland’s Laura Toivanen.

Relationships:

It was a spring of weddings this year with Eva Puskarcikova tying the knot. Russian pair Nikita Porshnev and Anastasiia Morozova also got married to each other. Monika Hojnisz married another Polish nordic star cross-country skier Maciej Starega.

Anais Chevalier will miss the season after she announced that she is pregnant with her first child. Congratulations to all of them!

In tragic news young Russian biathlete Artemii Khasankaev passed away.

Coaching carousel:

As usual we had the annual swapping of biathlon coaches. Sometimes I think they just put all the names in a hat and then the countries pick them out like a raffle!

Michael Greis left the US men’s team and is now coaching the Polish women’s team after Nadiya Bilova stepped down for health reasons. Norwegian Vegard Bitnes takes over the US men’s team.

Also in North America Mathias Ahrens is no longer coaching the Canadian national team but will coach for Biathlon Alberta.

Wolfgang Pichler retired from Sweden and was replaced by Anders Byström who will be the National Team Manager and Johannes Lukas who takes over the position of National Team Coach.

Russia have added another coach with the appointment of Maxim Maksimov as assistant to the head coach.

Simon Fourcade is the new coach of the French Junior team.

And if you have followed all that you deserve a medal! Not an Olympic one of course maybe just a bronze from a World Cup round! 😉

Injuries:

The bike strikes again this time with Erik Lesser falling off and breaking his collarbone. Vetle Christiansen had surgery to correct an issue with his left knee. Anna Magnusson also had an operation on a ligament in her left hand. Tiril Eckhoff had a rollerski accident ending with an enormous lump on her hip.

Other things of spring:

Martin Fourcade announced that he will be hosting a nordic festival over the weekend of the 31st of August in Annecy. He has ingeniously called it the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival! How did he come up with that! 😉
Most of the big stars in biathlon will be there including Johannes Boe! Imagine if he beats Fourcade in his own competition!!!

Kaisa Makarainen, Liza Vittozzi and Dorothea Wierer will be competing along with many of the French biathletes amongst others.

We also had the excitement of the Giro d’Italia finishing a stage in the Antholz biathlon arena watched on by all the Italian biathletes. It was nice to see but we don’t really want to encourage other sports that are not as good as biathlon, do we!

Dorothea Wierer also put in an appearance at the Moto GP race in Mugello getting a photo with some guy called Marquez. Better still she also got a photo with Herbert Cool the former Dutch biathlete and now biathlon commentator who is moonlighting at the Moto GP in the summer!

The IBU announced a few changes with prize money now being awarded to the top 20 finishers instead of the top 15. Why stop there? Shouldn’t it be the Top 40 – if you get a point, you get a prize!

They have also introduced a “season opening” to open the 2020/21 season in Kontiolahti. (They get their naming ideas from Martin Fourcade!) I think this is basically just an extra World Cup round that they can’t call World Cup 1 as Oestersund was already given the title!

The IBU also held a gender equality conference in Poland which is an excellent initiative. Biathlon is one of the most gender equal sports when it comes to the athletes but has a long way to go with a lack of female coaches and women in leadership positions.

Last but certainly not least the IPC have announced that Para-biathlon will have it’s own World Championship this season for the first time! They will take place in Oestersund from the 11th to 15th March 2020 without a cross-country skier in sight!!!
(Up until now cross-country and biathlon have had combined World Championships.)

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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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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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Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 2!

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Well that was a good finish to a fun weekend in Antholz! We had a new winner in the women’s races with Nadine Horchler and a first podium at home for Alexia Runggaldier and Martin Fourcade didn’t win a race! Surprises everywhere!

The men raced first this morning in the Mass Start and it was another cracker. They attacked it from the start with Emil Svendsen pushing the pace on the first loop. It didn’t work out too well for him though as he was the one who missed a target.

At the second prone it was Shipulin’s turn to miss which left Johannes Boe, Martin Fourcade, Lars Birkeland and Erik Lesser in the lead.

The third shoot saw Fourcade miss but Boe, Lesser and Birkeland all cleared. Behind them Beatrix, Schempp, Fillon Maillet and Svendsen were all closing back in on the leaders.

The final shoot as usual was the crucial one. Lesser missed 1 and Fourcade missed 2 which left Boe and Fillon Maillet fighting it out on the tracks for the victory with Shipulin just behind. The last person you want to ski the final loop of a race with is Martin Fourcade but the second last is Johannes Boe!

Fillon Maillet just couldn’t hang on to him in the closing stages and was denied a first victory. However Johannes more than deserved the win for his powerful skiing as well as shooting 20/20. He was the only man to shoot clean today and gave Fourcade a gentle reminder that he won’t have it all his own way in Hochfilzen.

We had 3 Frenchmen in the top six with Fourcade in 5th and Beatrix in 6th. Svendsen came back to finish 4th and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was 10th.

The Women’s Relay was not as close as the men’s race yesterday and there was no surprise who won this one. It was the German women who made it a Deutsch eins-zwei in the Relays.

They fielded a strong team of Laura Dahlmeier, Franziska Hildebrand, Maren Hammerschmidt and Vanessa Hinz and if they all perform well it’s a very hard group to beat. The French team of Chevalier, Braisaz , Bescond and Dorin Habert gave it a good try leading the first leg but from there the Germans took over and never looked back winning by 24 seconds. They did use 12 spares to France’s 8 so they are not perfect.

Third place went to Italy whose women rounded off a good weekend for the team. Vitozzi, Sanfilippo, Runggaldier and Wierer put in a great performance to move from 7th to third with 9 spares.

Finland had a great Relay too coming 8th from a start position of 16th with Toivanen, Markkanen, Laukkanen and Makarainen. The USA also did well finishing 13th after starting in bib 22 with Dunklee, Egan, Reid and Phaneuf.

So that is the end of the World Cup races for a little while. We have a short break before the World Championships in Hochfilzen on the 9th of February. Martin Fourcade will wear the yellow bib for the men and Laura Dahlemier is in yellow for the women.

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