Tag Archives: Leif Nordgren

Biathlon23 Awards 2017/18!!!

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Welcome to the 5th anniversary of the Biathlon23 awards! (imaginary fanfare!) I know, I am as surprised as you that it has lasted this long! This year we have a couple of special guests giving out awards. I couldn’t afford much so no Leo DiCaprio or Jennifer Lawrence. Instead we have the winner of the OLYMPICKS (my Olympic competition) and also the runner-up. Look out for their awards below. It could be the first and last time I let anyone else run amok on my blog! Their awards are all their own work! Mine are of course subject to the the same rigorous system used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree! 🙂

After the news that Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is retiring, these awards are dedicated to him for being such an amazing competitor and a fabulous servant to the greatest sport in the world. Thanks Ole, will will miss you!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
At one point this was going to a para-biathlete which I was very excited about considering it was Scotland’s Scott Meenagh but then the Olympics happened! A certain lady became very, very, very popular after some good performances finishing 5th in two races. In fact she now has the most popular interview on my blog ever and by a very long way. She also got her first podium finishing second in the last race of the season. I hope all the attention is due to how good she is at biathlon and not how beautiful she is but that may be wishful thinking!

Winner: Paulina Fialkova

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“Paralympic biathlon, Brittany Hudak skiing in 2018, biathlon 2018 Paralympic Games”: YES! I will make you all love para-biathlon! ALL OF YOU!
“nationality of 2018 Olympic sprint skier Bolshanov”: That is f#####g cross-country! Get off my blog!
“dorothea wierer the blast”: I’ve got nothing!
“how to pronounce einar bjoerndalen’s name”: I believe it is ‘Ole’ like the Spanish!
“anton guigonnat, elisa vitozzi, samulson biathlon”: How they will be known from now on!
“klemen bauer nude”: I suspect it was Klemen himself searching for this!
“größe paulina fialkova”: She is neither big nor fat! 😉
“andre chisholm”: Canada’s wax tech Andrew just became all European and sexy sounding! 😉
“linstrum bistholon switzerland”: Makes perfect sense to me!

Winner:“french biathlete Anais Chevalier fires her rifle”: Well yes every couple of kilometeres in fact! It’s kind of what biathletes do! 😉

Best Facial Hair:
Some strong competition coming from the para-biathletes this season with Collin Cameron and Aaron Pike sporting some majestic full beards. The IBU had the usual suspects, last year’s champ Michael Roesch and Benjamin Weger. However this year there is only one choice. At the Olympics a mad Italian decided to dye his moustache in the colours of the Italian flag. I guess he really wanted this award!

Winner: Lukas Hofer

Best earrings:
Ladies you have been disappointing this year with the earring choices. None have inspired me much. In fact this season it’s not even a woman who will win this. It’s not even an earring! For some reason someone thought it would be a good idea to get their nose pierced. But not on the side, oh no, through the middle. Doing his best impression of a bull and risking getting it caught on something ripping his whole nose off, for bravery it has to go to the American!

Winner: Leif Nordgren

Best fall:
It turns out falls are better when you see them on TV and not in real life. The best one on TV this season was in the Oslo Men’s Sprint. It was the mighty who fell breaking a ski pole and you just know all the other biathletes were happy to see that even he makes mistakes! Well I was anyway. Admit it you were secretly pleased too! 😉 Of course he falls just as well as he skis and so got up and still made the podium!

Winner: Martin Fourcade

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
The question was “The teams ran 151 penalty loops and you shot 10/10 today, what was your secret?”
The answer was ” From now on I will shoot with closed eyes! Maybe it’s better, maybe it was the secret!”
I knew it! I knew that’s what most biathletes do! Now I have the proof!
Also watch for Lukas Hofer’s reaction to the question! 😉
You can watch it here from about 3:48.

Winner: Dominik Windisch

Best biathlon video:
There exists in the darkest corner of France, I believe it’s commonly known as the Savoie region, a collection of odd winter sports people who make crazy videos of a nordic nature. Their third installment of ‘One of Those Nordic Days’ is another madcap showcase of all things on snow. They seem to have strange obsession with minions and chainsaws but c’est la vie! Worryingly they seems to have included people who are not biathletes in it! Once they sort this out they will surely win an Oscar!
You can watch it here. (Look out for a certain Simon Fourcade as Rambo!)

Winner: Team Suitcase sorry I mean Valoche! 😉

Best rifle design:
Another disappointing rifle design season. I mean seriously people you have all summer to come up with a design and then choose one block colour or a wooden stock. YAWN! Two people did make the effort thankfully! Marketa Davidova went for pink with unicorns! Amazing! However it wasn’t quite enough to win. Taking inspiration from teammate Anton Shipulin’s dragon, this lady has a tiger carved into the front of her rifle! RAAR! (That’s meant to be a tiger by the way!)

Winner: Svetlana Mironova

Flower Gatherer of the season: (awarded by Nuno Magalhães, Portugal winner of the OLYMPICKS!)

Biathlon’s flower ceremony, which rewards the individuals placed between 4th and 6th in every World Cup event, is very unique to the sport and the spark for a particular cocktail of feelings, ranging from the satisfaction of a job well done to the pain of falling just short of the podium. It stands to reason then that, taken in the context of a whole season, claiming a litany of flower bouquets is both a reflection of consistency throughout the year and a fair bit of bad luck.

Thus, in order to identify the biathletes that fell most frequently into this grey area, I went back to the final standings of every non-relay WC race contested in 2017-18 and tallied the points for every male and female competitor, distributing 3-2-1 points for each fourth, fifth and sixth position.

Lisa Vittozzi (2 fourths, 2 fifths, 0 sixths (2-2-0), 10 pts) and Kaisa Makarainen (1-2-3, 10 pts) share the top spot for the women. On the men’s side, Benedikt Doll (3-0-0, 9 pts), Arnd Peiffer (1-1-5, 10 pts) and Emil Hegle Svendsen (3-1-0, 11 pts) put up a good fight, but the award ultimately belongs to a German with (3-2-1, 14 pts), who I hope will find some solace after a season that featured several near misses, no WC podiums for the first time since 2012-13, and that heart-breaking photo-finish defeat to Martin Fourcade in PyeongChang.
He might have to be nicknamed the florist from now on! 😉

Winner: Simon Schempp

Best ski suit:
Norway receives a special commendation for their suit. It’s always good. The Czech Republic I also like. Canada almost won this in an excellent comeback from the ‘Where’s Wally (Waldo)’ debacle! There was a lot of red, white and blue suits this season but one stood out for me above the rest. Paulina Fialkova told me it was her favourite and it’s mine too.

Winner: Slovakia

Worst ski suit:
Russia in maroon? Germany in green and yellow? Some strange colour choices this season. Belarus dressing like frogs for the Olympics! However one suit stood out (quite literally) from the rest and that was the bananas on skis. Strangely it grew on me over the season, kind of like mould on cheese, but not enough to avoid this award. I think it’s just the block yellow that does it. Throw a bit of blue in somewhere. Not even Zlatan would be seen head to toe in yellow!

Winner: Sweden

Best Biathlete23:
The easiest decision I have ever had to make for these awards! Turn up at the Olympics, win a gold medal in the first race. What a star! She couldn’t have done it without the bib though!

Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

Biggest Improver:
This goes to a biathlete who has always been good but this season looked like the real deal. Before this year she only had 1 podium finish to her name. This season she got three plus another three fourth place finishes. At the Olympics she was 4th in the Mass Start, 6th in the Sprint and 11th in the Pursuit. She won a bronze medal as part of the Mixed Relay team and her shooting has been exceptional. She moved from 27th to 6th in the Total Score and it’s just a matter of time before she wins her first race. I’m sure it won’t be long until she becomes Italy’s number one biathlete.

Winner: Lisa Vittozzi

Best Team Performance:
This one was pretty obvious to me. As a fan of biathlon I like biathletes who shoot well and I like to see them beat the teams who can ski faster than them. The conditions were exactly right for this at the Olympics with the weather levelling the playing field. The two biathletes who would normally be seen as weaker really shone and the team shot better than anyone else on the day in a victory for shooting over ski speed. Although it does help if you have Darya Domracheva on last leg for the skiing! 😉

Winner: Belarus Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
After finishing 7th in the Sprint and 5th in the Pursuit at the Olympics it wasn’t a surprise to see this person do well in the Individual. It was a surprise that she won it! One of just three women who shot the perfect 20/20 the 22-year-old turned in a faultless performance in the ultimate test of a biathlete. Actually there was one small fault, she was wearing bib 24!

Winner: Hanna Öberg

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
I know what you are thinking Martin Fourcade will win this! WRONG! It must be Kaisa then! WRONG again! They are always at the top either winning or very close to it. This season we saw a biathlete who despite having 2 Olympic gold medals was never that great on the World Cup. Previously she had won 5 World Cup races in her entire career and she now she has won 5 in one season. She has shown much better consistency just missing out on the Overall by 3 points but winning the Sprint and Pursuit titles. Oh and she won 3 medals at the Olympics, a gold and 2 silvers!

Winner: Anastasiya Kuzmina

IPC Para-biathlete of the Year:
There were so many amazing performances by the biathletes at the Paralympic Games that it’s almost impossible to choose a winner. There were many multiple medallists and some stunning performances. I am giving it to someone who got six medals in six races (even though 3 were in cross country I will overlook such treachery just this once). He won his first biathlon Paralympic title and also a silver and bronze in the two other biathlon races hitting 49 out of 50 targets. He added another silver and two bronze in the sport we don’t like to mention. Apart from that has done two biathlon23 interviews which also helps when it comes to winning awards! 😉

Winner: Mark Arendz

Junior Biathlete of the Year:
A difficult decision for this award as there are a lot of good Juniors around at the moment. The winner finished second in the Junior World Cup Overall but actually with the same points as the winner. She also won a gold medal in the Women’s Relay at the Junior World Championships as well as two bronze medals in the Sprint and Pursuit. She won a race on the World Cup in the Obertilliach Sprint and was third in the Mixed Relay there too. She grabbed another podium in Nove Mesto also coming third in the Sprint. At just 21 she looks like a great prospect for France and dare I say it, is already better than her big brother Aristide! 😉

Winner: Myrtille Begue

Youth Biathlete of the Year: (awarded by Jeff Mattarocci, USA runner-up in the Olympicks)

I’ll choose a member of the US Biathlon Team. She is an under 16 athlete, who regularly competes with the Youth ladies and can hold her own with them. She just came off a great US Biathlon Championships, where she won every race she entered, two as a youth and one as an under 16. The future looks good for the US ladies team! 🙂
We will have to keep an eye out for her!

Winner: Lexie Madigan

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Men’s Relay!

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It was back to sunshine for the Men’s Relay at the Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen. We had a field of 26 starting the race and it was another great one.

The first leg went very well for all the top teams. Erik Lesser had a great leg shooting 10/10 and handing over in the lead. He was followed by Jean Guillaume Beatrix who also hit 10/10. Lowell Bailey continued his good form with just 1 spare needed, Bjoerndalen needed 2 spares as did Hofer and Volkov. Pyrma and Mesotitsch used 1 each so it was all pretty close at the first exchange. Andrejs Rastorgujevs went out very fast on the first leg for Latvia and was leading up until the standing when he ended up on the penalty loop!

Benedikt Doll took over for Germany and although he used 1 spare on the prone he used 3 on the stand and risked a penalty loop. Quentin Fillon Maillet had a much better leg than in the Mixed Relay and used only 1 spare. Maxim Tsvetkov, Dominik Windisch and Sergey Semenov were all brilliant shooing 10/10. Emil Svendsen used 1 spare as did Leif Nordgren but Julian Eberhard needed 4. All of that left France just in the lead in front of the chasing pack.

The third leg is usually where things can be decided. Anton Babikov didn’t put a foot wrong shooting 10/10 and put Russia firmly in control of the race. Behind him Simon Eder, Arnd Peiffer, Simon Desthieux and Vladimir Semakov all needed to use 3 spares. Tarjei Boe ended Norway’s chances by going on the penalty loop on his standing shoot. Italy’s Guiseppe Montello had a fine leg using just 1 spare.

That left us with the final leg to go and Anton Shupulin in the lead. He was chased by Martin Fourcade and after him came Dominik Landertinger and Simon Schempp. Italy and Ukraine were left fighting for the minor placings with Thomas Bormolini and Dmytro Pidruchnyi racing for 5th and 6th.

Shipulin was comfortable on the prone hitting all 5 to maintain his lead. Fourcade also hit them all but Landertinger and Schempp both needed 1 spare. So that left one fight for gold and silver and another for bronze. Shipulin missed a target in the stand but hit quickly with his spare to keep a gap over Fourcade who again shot clean. Landertinger needed a spare but Schempp didn’t and they were together leaving the range.

Shipulin went out hard and Fourade couldn’t catch him giving Russia their first gold of these Championships. France took silver but there was a great fight for bronze.

It looked like Schemmp was going to sit in behind Landertinger and use his sprint finish to beat him. Landi had other ideas and when they got to the final climb he threw everything at it going up like a rocket. He managed to break Schempp and held the gap all the way to the line and gave Austria their first medal at their home World Championships. It was great and the hosts deserved a medal for putting on a great show here in Hochfilzen. Plus Germany have got loads of medals already -it’s time to share!

Fourth place went to Germany, Italy were amazing to get 5th, Ukraine were 6th, the USA were excellent in 7th inspired by Lowell Bailey, Norway were 8th, Bulgaria took 9th and the Czech Republic 10th.

11th Sweden
12th Slovakia
13th Canada
14th Kazakhstan
15th Japan
16th Switzerland
17th Romania
18th Slovenia
19th Belarus
20th Finland
21st Estonia
22nd Latvia
23rd Korea
24th Poland
25th Lithuania
26th Great Britain

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Season 2016/17 Preview: Men

Oestersund, Pokljuka, Nove Mesto, Oberhof, Ruhpolding, Antholz, PyeongChang, Tyumen and Olso! Are you ready? It’s almost time for the new biathlon season to begin! That means it must be time for a season preview too so here it is!

Looking back over previous previews they all read more or less like this. Martin Fourcade is the red hot favourite. If he stays fit and healthy all season he will win the Overall Title for the 6th year in a row. Potential challengers are Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Simon Schempp and Anton Shipulin. They are all capable of beating Fourcade in a single race but don’t seem to have the consistency over a whole season to win the big Crystal globe.

Preview finished!

Only joking! As the top places are nearly always the same for the men I decided that this year’s preview should move away from the elite and see what’s happening a little bit behind them. Who are the up and coming biathletes to look out for? Who could get their first win or first podium? Who should be doing better? That’s what I am going to look at before season 2016/17 gets under way.

It’s sometimes hard to believe but there are some well established biathletes who have yet to win a race on the World Cup. The most famous is probably Simon Fourcade. He has achieved many podium results but never higher than second. Surely this season he will get to the top step. Fellow Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet has also come within a toenail of winning but again second place is his best result. Germany’s Benedikt Doll will be hoping to grab his first win. Tim Burke is another who will want to come first instead of second place as will Sergey Semenov and Benjamin Weger.

Expect a strong season from the Austrian team. Simon Eder was 5th last season in the overall title and Dominik Landertinger was 9th. With Julian Eberhard getting his first win and Sven Grossegger achieving a personal best of 5th they will be a dangerous squad this year.

Hoping to get their first taste of the podium are Andrejs Rastorgujevs who has a few 4th positions to his name already. Klemen Bauer also has a personal best of fourth as does Simon Desthieux and Krasimir Anev.

Scoring points on a more consistent basis will be the goal for biathletes like Mario Dolder, Leif Nordgren, Macx Davies, Kalev Ermits and Martin Otcenas.

Make sure you look out for some of the younger biathletes this season who will be trying their best to impress their coaches and the fans. Watch out for Sean Doherty to continue his rise to the top. The likes of Rene Zahkna, Rok Trsan and Fabien Claude will be pushing hard to do well. Keep an eye out too for Sebastian Samuelsson who has been picked for the Swedish team to make his debut in Oestersund and Felix Leitner who will start his first World Cup race for Austria.

On the other hand it’s about time Freddie Lindstrom had a better season. We haven’t seen him on the podium since 2013. Lukas Hofer didn’t have a great season individually either and it would be good to see him back on form. Jakov Fak will be hoping to improve as will Ondrej Moravec.

There are many more biathletes to watch out for but too many to mention here. The Germans are always dangerous with Peiffer and Lesser showing some good form in patches last time.

Last but not least expect new dad Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to pop up with a few podium finishes and don’t be surprised if he adds more World Championships medals to his vast collection in Hochfilzen. That’s if he can cope with the sleepless nights of course!

Hopefully it will a great season with some more first time winners and some great races. The title race might not be close but we can look forward to some great battles in individual races. Bring it on boys!!!

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World Champs 2016: The Sprints!

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On Saturday we had both Sprint races at the World Championships in Holmenkollen. The Men’s race took place first in the morning and the Women raced in the afternoon.

The Men’s race was a masterclass in biathlon from probably the two best biathletes of all time. Martin Fourcade was imperious shooting clean and skiing fast to win the race by nearly 27 seconds. He was bib 8 and so spent the rest of the race watching everyone else fall by the wayside and fail to seriously challenge him. His closest challenger I am pleased to report was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who took the silver medal which is amazingly his 30th Championship medal. He looked fit and slim and if only he wasn’t 42 I think the gold could have been his. I told you he would win a medal, didn’t I! In third place was an excellent Sergey Semenov. After his strong performance in the Mixed Relay is was no surprise he shot clean to win bronze.

It wasn’t such a good day for some other biathletes though. Johannes Boe missed a target and finished just off the podium in fourth. A terrible place to finish in your home World Championships. Still at least he did better than big brother Tarjei who had a nightmare and finished in 54th missing 4 shots. Emil Svendsen missed 1 target but finished in 17th at 1 minute 15 seconds from the winner. Anton Shipulin had a bad race in bib 1. Simon Schempp fell on the finishing straight after catching his pole on his ski and lost valuable seconds for the Pursuit race. His teammate Arnd Peiffer shot clean but could do no better than 7th.

The other biathletes who shot 10/10 apart from the three medallists and Peiffer were Leif Nordgren, Anton Babikov, Cornel Puchianu,Oleksander Zhyrnyi, Kauri Koiv, Michail Kletcherov,Mikito Tachizaki, Vassiliy Podkorytov, Maxim Braun and Mehmet Ustuntas.

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If the crowd weren’t already happy enough with Bjoerndalen’s silver medal they were ecstatic after the Women’s race. Home favourite Tiril Eckhoff shot 10/10 and won the race by 15 seconds. She has turned a disappointing season into the best season of her life! The silver medal went to last year’s champion Marie Dorin Habert who also shot clear but was out skied by Eckhoff. Bronze medal went to Laura Dahlmeier who missed one shot. It was a fantastic performance by Eckhoff. Her season has not been great and her shooting has let her down time after time but in the race with most pressure on her she delivered. The noise from the crowd when she hit a target was phenomenal and she did so well to cope with it. It was an outstanding display.

Mona Brorsson got her career best result in the race shooting clean and finishing 6th. Most of the big names in the Women’s field made the top ten with Soukalova in 4th, Wierer 5th, Makarainen 9th and Hildebrand 10th which makes for a very interesting Pursuit race.

There was a lot of good shooting from the Women with clear rounds for Eckhoff, Dorin Habert, Wierer, Brorsson, Vitkova, Hildebrand, Iryna Varvynets, Jialin Tang, Hannah Dreissigacker, Ingela Andersson, Teja Gregorin, Susanne Hoffmann, Terezia Poliakova, Jessica Jislova, Emilia Yordanova, Meril Beilmann and Hyesuk Hwang.

That concludes the Sprint races and they were both great to watch. It was great to see Bjoerndalen do so well and Sergey Semenov was fantastic. Can anyone beat Fourcade in the Pursuit tomorrow? Probably only himself! The Women’s race has the makings of a classic though. Could it be another gold for Norway or France or will Germany get a first gold? It’s anyone’s race for the ladies. Don’t miss it!

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Global Success!2014/15 Season Review:Men

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Season 2014/15 has come to an end and there is no surprise about who came out on top in the Men’s field. Yes for the fourth time in a row France’s Martin Fourcade has won the overall title and gets another big Crystal Globe to put on his already overcrowded mantlepiece. It didn’t start out that way though. We all got a bit excited in the first race of the season way back in Oestersund in the Individual 20km.

It was won by Fourcade’s main rival at the start of the season Emil Hegle Svendsen and with Martin having a total nightmare and finishing in 81st place we thought we might see the title go elsewhere. Of course we we entirely wrong because Fourcade popped up and won the very next race, the Sprint, by 28 seconds and went on to win the Pursuit too. After the first World Cup round it was business as usual with Fourcade and Svendsen setting the pace.

That didn’t last long though as two new contenders appeared to chase Fourcade. Germany’s Simon Schempp started putting in some fantastic performances with two second places in Hochfilzen. In Pokljuka Russia’s Anton Shipulin emerged as a real challenger for the overall with 2 wins and a second place. At this point Svendsen was still going along nicely picking up wins and podiums to stay in the hunt.

After Christmas we had the two German races in Oberhof and Ruhpolding. Oberhof went well for Fourcade where he won both races but in Ruhpolding he started to have some problems. Both Schempp and Shipulin gained points there with Schempp getting a win and a second place. Antholz was next and that’s where Schempp did even more damage. With Fourcade under the weather he won both races just as he did the year before to make a big dent in Fourcade’s lead in the yellow bib. It was around this time that Svendsen’s title challenge faded away as he failed to get on the podium or even into the Top 10. Schempp again beat Fourcade in Nove Mesto but not by much as he was second twice while Fourcade was third and fourth.

By now Shipulin’s charge was slowing and while he still made the podium and TOP 10 in Holmenkollen Fourcade’s win and second place gave him the advantage. Schempp didn’t have a great round in Norway either which left Fourcade with a lead of 78 points going into the World Championships where the results also counted towards the overall title. His rivals didn’t fare too well in the points department but Shipulin and Schempp did medal. Martin won the Individual and was competitive enough in all the other races to give him a lead of 111 points to take into the final round.

We found ourselves in Khanty-Mansiysk for round 9 and in the first race, the Sprint, Martin won convincingly and also won the small Crystal globe. Shipulin was second but it left a deficit of 117 points going into the final 2 races. He was also second in the Sprint standings ahead of Simon Schempp in third. In the Pursuit race Martin did enough to win the Overall Title finishing fourth just one place behind Shipulin. This means he has won the total score for 4 years in a row the first person to do so. The final race saw Shipulin claiming the small Crystal Globe for the Mass Start.

Outside of these guys there have been other impressive performances. Ukraine’s Sergey Semenov won the Individual 20km competition with some great shooting and consistent results and did enough in Kontiolahti to hang on to beat Fourcade and Svendsen to the title. Jakov Fak put up a late charge coming into great ski form towards the end of the year winning World Championship gold as well as 3 other races. This put him into third place in the overall standings.

Johannes Thingnes Boe didn’t get as many World Cup wins as last year but he is the World Champion in the Sprint. He is also relatively inexperienced on the World Cup which is obviously a worry for all the other biathletes! His big brother Tarjei made up for a slow start to the season troubled by illness to win 5 medals in Kontiolahti. The German team were stronger than they have been in a while with Schempp but Arnd Peiffer also got back to winning ways in Holmenkollen and with Lesser becoming Pursuit World Champion and Andi Birnbacher getting back to his old form they are a formidable team. They also have Daniel Boehm and Benedikt Doll who collected his first 2 podiums in Khanty Mansiysk.

Simon Fourcade enjoyed a better season than last year finishing 4th in every race!!;-) The French team also have a new star in Quentin Fillon Maillet. He has finished in the TOP 10 nine times with his best result of second place coming in the Ruhpolding Mass Start in a photo finish. Benjamin Weger has shown more consistency this season and has had 4 Top 10 finishes. The Czech team had a good season too with Michal Slesingr in great form and Ondrej Moravec performing well at the World Championships. Evgeniy Garanichev did well too for Russia and finished 6th in the total score.

The Canadians have done really well with Nathan Smith winning silver in the World Championship Sprint, taking 6 TOP 10 finishes and his first ever win in Khanty Mansiysk to finish the season on a high. Brendan Green got a personal best result of 5th too. For the Americans Leif Nordgren outshone his better known colleagues Burke and Bailey with 4 TOP 30 results and a personal best of 16th in the Nove Mesto Sprint. The Bulgarians Krasimir Anev and Vladimir Iliev have been a breath of fresh air this season both shooting really well and getting 14 Top 20 finishes between them, 9 for Iliev and 5 for Anev. Anev achieved a PB of 4th and Iliev 6th.

It has been a very enjoyable season watching the men’s races. I would like to have seen a closer challenge to Fourcade but it sets up next season very nicely. It’s not a two horse race anymore between Fourcade and Svendsen. There are other opponents who can stop Fourcade achieving 5 in a row! However they will find it very tough. It was nice to see the small globes shared around too with Semenov taking the Individual title, Shipulin the Mass Start and the Sprint and Pursuit going to Fourcade. The Nation’s Cup went to Norway. Well we have a long summer ahead of us to digest this season and look forward to the next one. One thing is certain for Monsieur Fourcade season 2014/15 has been a Global Success!

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Nove Mesto: Czech it out!

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The World Cup is back after a weekend off and what a place to start again. Nove Mesto is fast becoming a top destination for the Biathlon World Cup. The spectators there over the weekend were amazing with huge crowds giving raucous but good natured support to not only the home team but to all the nations. If this continues hopefully it will soon become a permanent fixture on the biathlon calendar.

“Nove” in Czech means “new” and so it was the perfect place to showcase biathlon’s new format. The Single Mixed Relay had it’s official debut on Friday. It involved a man and woman from each team competing together in a format similar to that held in Schalke over Christmas. The men complete 7.5km and the women 6km with the usual prone and standing shoots. The penalty loop is half the size at just 75 metres.

While the format was new the winners were not. Russia won the first ever race with a team of Yana Romanova and Alexey Volkov. They won by over 21 seconds from Norway who fielded a team of Marte Olsbu and Henrik L’Abee Lund. Juliya Dzhyma and Artem Tyshchenko came in third for the Ukraine. The best thing about it for me was the fact that Japan came in 10th! When is the last time you saw them in the Top Ten of a relay event! It is a great opportunity for the smaller nations to compete more often and with more possibilities to do well.

Later on Friday we had the normal Mixed Relay. This time Norway went one better and won the race. The Bø brothers brought home the victory with some good shooting and fast skiing. The home nation were 4 seconds behind in second place and Ukraine completed the podium in third consigning Russia to fourth. The USA finished in 7th which was excellent for a team without Tim Burke or Lowell Bailey. The team did very well and anchorman Sean Doherty just missed out on 6th by a tiny margin just pipped at the post by Germany’s Benedikt Doll. France started off very well with Anais Bescond and Marie Dorin Habert putting them in the lead at the half way point but Simon Fourcade had a leg to forget which put them out of contention.

On Saturday we moved on to the Sprint races. In the Women’s race some outstanding shooting and a good ski time saw Laura Dahlmeier take her first ever World Cup victory. The 21 year old held her nerve and managed to beat her teammate Franziska Hildebrand by just 1 second. It may have helped that she was wearing bib 23!!! Hildebrand had a fantastic race and second was a personal best for her. In third was home favourite Veronika Vitkova who gave the crowd even more reason to cheer loudly!

In the Men’s race Jakov Fak finally did what he has been threatening to do for a while and won the race! Behind him came the super consistent Simon Schempp and in third getting on the podium for the first time this season was Jean Guillaume Beatrix. There were also some great perfomances by Nathan Smith 7th and Leif Nordgren 16th who both got their best results to date and Coline Varcin 8th and Lisa Vittozzi 19th did likewise in the Women’s race.

The Pursuits were the last races of the weekend and provided the crowd with a great show. The Women’s Pursuit was hotly contested and in the end Darya Domracheva came through to win with her main rival for the Overall title Kaisa Makarainen behing her in second place. Third went to Laura Dahlmeier who has been on the podium in the last three races. Gabriela Soukalova had a great chance to win when leading into the final shoot but she missed two and finished 5th. Hildebrand shot on Vitkova’s target on the final shoot due to the heavy snow that was falling and the wind on the range. She lost alot of time but got it back after the race and was given 11th place. Vanessa Hinz and Iryna Kryuko both got their best results on the World coming in 4th and 10th. Romania’s Eva Tofalvi had an amazing race coming from 24th to finish in 8th place and similarly Luise Kummer went from 29th to 12th.

In the Men’s race we had a similar podium to the Sprint with Fak holding on to his lead to win with Schempp again in second. Martin Fourcade finished 4th to gain points over rival Shipulin but gave them away to Schempp. Nathan Smith again produced a great race to improve his personal best to 5th, Simon Desthieux came from 34th to 15th and Sven Grossegger moved from 37th to 18th. Antonin Guigonnat made up 20 places from 45th to 25th as did Svendsen going from 43rd to 23rd.

Nove Mesto has turned into a fantastic venue for biathlon. With crowds of over 30,000 everyday and challenging tracks it is fast becoming a favourite venue for biathletes and spectators alike. The success of the Czech team obviously helps fill the stadium but the whole weekend was a great success from the new format Single Mixed Relay to the excitement of the final Pursuit races. We now move from the new to the old and head to Norway and Oslo Holmenkollen. The race for the yellow bib is hotting up with Domracheva and Schemmp continuing to catch up to Makarainen and Fourcade. It will be a very interesting round of the World Cup but if you missed Nove Mesto you should really consider going next year to Czech it out!

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‘Fil-zen you in!

filzen

To Austria this week and between eating strudel, singing all the songs from The Sound of Music and getting into trouble for outrageous stereotyping there was just about time for some biathlon! Generally speaking shooting clean in a Sprint Race means you have a good chance of winning it. Not however if you happen to be racing against Kaisa Makarainen! At the moment she can afford a miss and still win, much to the consternation of Karin Oberhofer. The Italian produced a great race, shooting clean, that ended with her first ever podium. Second place is fantastic for the Italian but it would have been first but for Makarainen’s amazing ski speed. In third was Tiril Eckhoff who is rapidly emerging as a real contender for the Chrystal Globe. Other ladies who impressed were France’s Justine Braisaz who on her World Cup debut finished 17th. Enora Latuilliere continued her good progress in 20th the German ladies had 3 in the TOP 10 -Hildebrand 5th, Hinz 6th and Preuss 10th.

The men’s race was a bit of a surprise even before it began with Fourcade and Bjoerndalen choosing to go in group 4 with the later starters. This was to take advantage of colder conditions making a faster track. It didn’t work and Johannes Thingnes Bø skied round like a rocket beating the field by 14 seconds. The Germans also did well here completing the podium with Simon Schempp in second and Andi Birnbacher third. Home favourite Dominik Landertinger just missed the podium coming in fourth. Elsewhere Dutch biathlete Joel Sloof qualified for his first ever Pursuit by coming in 52nd and Romania’s Cornel Puchianu matched last weeks 28th place to equal his best result.

Saturday saw the first Men’s and Women’s Relays of the season. Well they were definitely worth the wait. The Women’s race was one of the best I have seen in a long time. The lead changed several times and there were so many good performances and of course a few bad ones which made it all the more exciting. The Germans carried their great Sprint form over and were so calm and collected for such a young team especially Preuss who was on the last leg. Kummer also did well on the first leg and Hildebrand and Hinz were strong in between. It did look like Russia might cruise to victory but Glazyrina had a total meltdown on the range and handed the win to Germany. Domracheva outskied Vitkova to take second, an exceptional result for them and the Czechs were impressive in third. Italy’s chances of a podium were ruined by some bad shooting from Gontier and Tiril Eckhoff pulled of a miracle to get Norway back to 5th after starting her leg in 14th!

The Men’s race was characterised by some excellent shooting. The Russians won by only using one spare round which is incredible! Lapshin was the culprit missing one target but we can forgive him! The French also shot well only using 4 spare rounds and Norway came in third despite Birkeland and Tarjei Bø both needing all three spares in their standing shoots on legs three and four. Austria and Germany had a sprint for fourth where Landertinger beat Schempp to the line and Canada finished in sixth,a good result for them.

Sunday was Pursuit day and a dominant Kaisa Makarainen was untroubled on her way to victory. She missed 1 shot but won with time to spare. In second was Ekaterina Glazyrina who recovered in incredibly quick time from her relay disaster and also just missed 1 target. In third was France’s Anais Bescond with her best result of the season so far. She had the strength at the end to hold off Podchufarova who was 4th and a magnificent Rosanna Crawford who came from 34th to finish 5th which is a career best result for her. Other good performances came from Monika Hojnisz (POL) 40th-11th, Nadezhda Skardino (BLR) 36th-12th, Annelise Cook (USA) 50th-33rd and Daria Virolaynen (RUS) 51st-35th!

The men ended the weekend with a shocking result! Yes Martin Fourcade won – that hardly ever happens!;-) Actually he wouldn’t have won if Johannes Bø hadn’t missed two targets in his third shoot when he was well in control of the race. Simon Schempp was second proving he has a last found some consistency and Jakov Fak came in third holding off the challenge from a tired looking Johannes Bø. Vladimir Iliev added to his 19th place in the Sprint with an 11th place here which is great news for Bulgarian biathlon and other good races were had by Quentin Fillon Maillet (FRA) 45th-15th, Fredrik Lindstrom 47th-22nd and Leif Nordgren (USA) 51st-37th.

Overall Hochfilzen was a great race weekend and thank god they got the snow to let it go ahead. Kaisa Makarainen extended her lead in the yellow bib and Martin Fourcade will wear the men’s next week after wrestling it from Svendsen. Thursday is when we race again in Pokljuka and with the great results form the Slovenia biathletes the home crowd will be really looking forward to it. The biathlete will be looking forward to a sneaky Kremna Rezina(delicious Slovenian dessert!) down in Bled too! I really enjoyed all the races in Austria and I also enjoyed ‘Filzen you in!

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