Tag Archives: Lenzerheide

Carine Leijn: The Interview!

Carine Leijn is a Dutch biathlete who was born on the 11th of March 1999. She raced on the Junior World Cup last season achieving a best result of 46th in the Individual in Lenzerheide. She also raced in the Junior Open European Championships in Nove Mesto as well as the Youth World Championships in Brezno-Orsblie. Her big sister Lilian also used to be a biathlete until she recently gave up the sport leaving Carine as the only female Dutch biathlete.

Follow her on Twitter: @CarineLeijn
on Instagram.com/carine.leijn
and Facebook: Biatleijn
Website: http://www.leijn.eu/

Why did you become a biathlete?

Besides the fact that biathlon is just plain awesome, I have two older sisters who used to do biathlon. So you could say it runs in the family. So when my parents were around 30 years old they started cross country skiing. And we grew up going to Sweden every winter to do cross country skiing in the snow. We also practised on these plastic ski mats in Gouda (yes yes Gouda from the cheese). It’s hard to imagine what it looks like and even harder to describe its appearance, so I’ll leave it at that. Eventually the Dutch ski federation asked my oldest sister if she was interested in doing biathlon. Since then our family was in love.

How do you assess last season? You raced in the Junior World Cup and at the Youth World Championships. What were they like?

Last season started out pretty good in Lenzerheide and Hochfilzen. I had overall good races and felt good on the skis. Last season was supposed to be promising. With sneak peeks of my good races I was excited to see what more I could do at the Junior cups and The Youth World Championships. Sadly my nightmare came true after the Christmas break, at the first day of the IBU-IOC training camp in Slovenia I got sick. Not the “I don’t feel so good but I will train anyway even if coach said not to cold” but the real deal 39 degrees, hot and cold am I dead yet fever! So I had to take a lot rest and a lot of Slovenian honey to get back on my feet. So the races in Pokljuka and in NMNM were kind of doomed before I even started because they were directly after this camp. Then I got home for a few weeks to prep for the Youth World Champs. I was feeling a bit more in shape but not as good as I was before. In Slovakia the conditions weren’t the best, a lot of rain, wind and soft snow. Swimming was almost faster than skiing on the tracks. No but in all seriousness taking into account the short period of time Osrblie had to organize everything they did a really good job. At all the venues the people were so nice and kind. It was a great experience to be able to compete at the Junior cup with so many countries. I learned so much which I am really grateful for.

Do you have a favourite race from last season? Which one was it and what was special about it for you?

My favourite race was in Hochfilzen, before I got sick. There were a few factors which made it really special for me. I really liked the tracks, the up and downhills, tricky curves and the high speed. So I was testing my skis and all of a sudden I heard Dutch people and realized they were talking to me. They told me they just moved to Hochfilzen and asked me if I was going to compete in the Junior cup. They told me they were going to try to come and watch the race. The next day they actually showed up, wished me good luck and cheered for me from the tribunes. So in that Sprint I shot clean, had the best skis and gave everything I had. So this was really my favourite race from last season.

You can also race in the Single Mixed Relay with Jarl Hengstmengel. Do you like that event?

The Single Mixed Relay was really something on its own. I never did a competition like this before but I really liked the fact that you’re a team against all the other countries. Also the girls start in a mass start which I’d never done before, so that was really awesome. This Single Mixed Relay was when I was had just started training a few days after my fever. So I was dying during the whole race. It was good that we had a little rest in between when the boys were racing. But Jarl and I agreed beforehand that no matter what happened we weren’t going to do the penalty loop and we were going to beat the Belgian team. We succeeded at both so we were quite happy with our race.

It’s not easy being a Dutch biathlete. What are the hardest things about it? What are the good things?

No it sure isn’t. The hardest of thing of all is that I always have to train alone. Given that I am the only girl at this point, there isn’t a training group it’s just me. I used to have my sister as a training partner but when she quit I really had to do it on my own. One of the good things about being a Dutch biathlete is I think the IBU-IOC camps. Because The Netherlands isn’t a major country in biathlon we get invited, along side other small countries, to these camps. My motivation really gets a boost from these camps. You meet a lot of new people and go to places that are really awesome. But for me most important thing is the fact that you train in a group which is really important because no matter how hard you work you can’t always do it on your own.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life?

At this point I’m still in high school. I split the year before my senior year in 2 years. So I had more time to train, this was in the last school year. But next year I’ll be a senior and hopefully will be graduating high school. My high school is really cooperative with my sport. They help me with my school planning and I get a lot of guidance. As for my social life, my friends support me all the way and help me stay motivated for school and for training. They help me study when I miss a lot of school due to races or a training camp.I really love having my friends around and I don’t have the idea that biathlon is in the way of that.

Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Not particularly. I’ve never been a person who likes to go out or something like that. So I don’t miss it and it’s not something I would want to do. Because I really grew up in the sport I am used to making certain sacrifices.

What are your goals for next season and further into the future?

My big goal for next season is to qualify again for the Youth World Championships. And to not get sick during the season. And for further in to the future it isn’t that easy to say. I think we all dream really big, which is a good thing. But we have to have goals in between to keep our feet on the ground. For now I hope I will make a lot of progress in the Junior cup over the next years and who knows what we can achieve with hard work, passion and big dreams.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What will you be working on over the summer?

I think one of my strengths is that I am mentally able to push myself to the very end, during training or a competition. My weakness is my speed on the shooting range, and my shooting time which I am currently working on. The less time you spend on the shooting range the better.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

Pokljuka for sure, the track in the winter is really fast with quick turns which is really fun. Also I’ve been there so many times that every time I get there it feels like coming home which feels really special to me.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Darya Domracheva. Since I was little she has been my favourite. I always watched the races, looked at her skiing with her perfect technique and wanting to be like her. So I was really excited last season when she was making a comeback in Oberhof. I can’t wait to find out what she’ll do next season.

Does your rifle have a name?

I don’t think I got the note stating this was a thing… It is a thing! A biathlon23 thing! 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

chaotic – resilient – hard worker

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Finland
Favourite shooting range: Hochfilzen
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Tarjei Bø
Best thing about being a biathlete: The food in all the different countries.

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Holly Rees-Lay: The Interview!

Holly Rees-Lay is a young British biathlete who is hoping to make it on to the IBU Cup this season. The 21-year-old from Oxfordshire competed on the Junior World Cup last season and achieved a top result of 60th in the Lenzerheide Individual. She currently combines biathlon with her studies at Edinburgh University. Even though she only started skiing aged 18 she has already been successful at the British World Championships in Ruhpolding. She also competes in rifle shooting.

Follow Holly on Twitter: @HollyyRL
Like her Facebook Page: Holly Rees-Lay- Rifle Shooter/ Biathlete

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I’ve been watching biathlon on TV with my mum from when I was very small and had always wanted to try it, and my family are all keen target rifle shooters (both my parents have shot for England, and my mum has shot for Great Britain). I wasn’t particularly interested in shooting until I was about 11 when mum convinced me that if I was going to be a biathlete I’d have to learn to shoot! (Not that she thought there was any chance I would ever go skiing or take up biathlon, she just wanted to trick me into learning to shoot). From there I improved fairly quickly and shot for the GB junior squad for the first time in Germany when I was 13, and I went on to compete all over the world with my last competition being the World University Games in Gwangju which turned out to be one of my best matches.

When I was 17, a small roller ski club started in a car park 35 minutes away, so I dragged my mum along with me, mostly because I really needed to lose weight and I didn’t want to run! I started doing roller ski races, although it took 2 races before I didn’t come last… and being super competitive I got completely hooked and knew I had to improve to try and win. I was lucky enough to get involved with the Cairngorm biathlon club when I was 18 and meet Mike Dixon, who persuaded me to go to the British Biathlon Championships in 2015. Despite having only had a week on snow beforehand and having never skied with a rifle before the first race I won 2 of the 3 youth races, at which point I decided to give it a more serious go!

How do you assess last season? You raced in the Junior World Cup. What was that like?

Last season was a really steep learning curve for me. Having only ever raced at British Championships I had no idea how I would perform against anyone else, but I was quite worried that I would be coming last in every race. Ultimately my only goal was to learn as much as I could, enjoy it, race my own races and see what happened. I found that my shooting is definitely competitive, even though I had expected myself to shoot a lot better, but my ski speed needs a lot of work, which I guess isn’t surprising seeing as I’m still really new to it. It was an amazing experience to see first hand how fast the top girls from the other countries are, and has definitely given me the motivation to improve and be more competitive in the coming years.

Do you have a favourite race from last season? Which one was it and what was special about it for you?

Probably the Individual in Lenzerheide. I had a bit of a cold and knew I wasn’t skiing particularly fast in training, which wasn’t exactly filling me with confidence prior to my first ever Junior World Cup! But I was feeling OK on the day and I really wanted to race so I did- I was so nervous I missed 3 on the first shoot, but somehow came back to hit all of the last 15 targets and skied the best I ever had at that point. I hadn’t seen the results but my mum rang me almost in tears to say well done and that I’d finished 60th out of 74. It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to anyone else but having had most of my race experience roller skiing around a car park in Oxfordshire it felt like a very big deal to me!

It’s not easy being a biathlete in Great Britain. What are the hardest things about it? What are the good things?

For me as a civilian in Great Britain, I think the hardest part is that there is no Junior squad or British training group for me to join, so I do sometimes feel very isolated training by myself. Last year I also struggled with organising my training- as I had next to no experience I often had to resort to googling how to organise training plans or ask anyone that could help me! Thankfully this year I am now getting a training plan and guidance through the British Nordic ski team, which is one less thing for me to worry about and I’m super grateful for. Lack of funding is also a problem for the team as a whole as well as myself, although I realise that it’s an issue in a lot of sports and I’m fortunate to have parents who are willing to do almost anything to support me when they see that I can’t support myself. There are also good things though- being a small team means that I’ve made some really close friends, and being the “little one” out of the British girls I feel like the older girls have really looked out for me and been a shoulder to cry on when races don’t go well, which has been really nice. Some of the ex GB biathletes have also been incredibly generous and I can’t thank them enough. And with Amanda doing so well it’s awesome to have someone who I can really look up to and aspire to be like.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life?

Edinburgh University have been really supportive in making sure I can catch up on any work I miss, and I was very grateful to them for letting me take my winter exams in August as I was away racing in December. Obviously I have to make some sacrifices within my social life, but I have a great group of friends who are always really supportive even when I don’t get to see them as much as I would like. I’m also very lucky to live with my best friend, who competes on the World Cup for rifle shooting (and has recently been getting some awesome results), so totally gets it if I’m grouchy for no apparent reason and just want to lie in bed watching Made in Chelsea because I’m tired!

Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Freshers week…
(For my non-UK readers Freshers week is the week before you begin classes at University and involves a lot of parties and alcohol!)

What are your goals for next season and further into the future?

Next season will be my first season as a senior so I’m hoping I’ll qualify for the IBU Cup team and then take it from there. I’m aiming to qualify for the World Cup in the next 3 years with my ultimate goal being to compete at the Winter Olympics.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What will you be working on over the summer?

My biggest strength is definitely the accuracy of my shooting, but I need to work on shooting faster and not losing so much time on the range. My biggest weaknesses are my ski speed and my (lack of) downhill technique, but I am now working with British Nordic so I am confident I can make big improvements leading up to next winter.

Do you have any hobbies away from biathlon?

I used to do figure skating when I was younger and I’ve been getting back into that recently which has been really fun! I’m also a big American football fan and support the Cincinnati Bengals (which can be a challenge in itself…) so I try and catch up on their games in the winter!

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I loved racing in Lenzerheide, the area is stunning and I felt the tracks really suited me with long uphills but that weren’t too steep.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

Johannes Boe, because he’s always exciting to watch race and you know he’ll give absolutely everything if he thinks he has a chance to win.

Does your rifle have a name?

Yes, it’s called Freddie.

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined, Stubborn, Caffeinated

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Czech Republic
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding, mostly because there never seems to be any wind to worry about!
Nicest biathlete: He’s retired but I’ve got to say Mike Dixon because without him I would never have had the confidence to give biathlon a go.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Getting to train and compete in incredible places I would never otherwise think to visit.

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