Tag Archives: Lillehammer

Johannes Dale: The Interview!

Johannes Dale is a Norwegian biathlete who burst onto the World Cup last season. In his debut WC race in Nove Mesto he finished 15th in the Sprint and eventually got a personal best finish of 10th in the Soldier Hollow Sprint. These results meant the 22-year-old from Lørenskog finished 50th in the Total Score and won the IBU’s Rookie of the Season award.

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Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because of my father. My father was doing biathlon back in the day. I remember the time I decided to start doing biathlon. I was in the basement of our house and looking at the medals he had won. I remember thinking that I also wanted to win these medals. I went up and told my dad that I wanted to start with biathlon, and from there, there was no way back.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season was in many ways my breakthrough. I started racing in the senior class in IBU-Cup and World Cup, and started to race against the best. I am happy that I have gotten to a level that I can compete with the best athletes in the world, and also already doing some good races. The most disappointing part of the season was actually in the beginning. I was doing bad races, and I didn’t qualify for anything..

You got to race a World Cup in Holmenkollen for the first time last season. What was that like?

To race in Holmenkollen was a great experience. To race at home in front of the home crowd is an amazing experience and everybody is cheering for you. It was also a special moment, because my whole family and my friends were there cheering for me during a World Cup race. A moment I have been working towards for a long time.

What have you been doing for summer training?

For the summer training I have been putting down a lot of hard work. It started in May with a lot of training hours, and during the summer and fall it gets more and more specific. I am very satisfied with the hard work I have done, and hope it will pay off.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals for this season is mainly to race in the World Cup. And when I race there, I know what kind of results I can achieve. I also have a goal of reaching the podium this winter in World Cup. I think that it can be realistic.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength has been the speed on the track over the past years. What I have to improve is to be more stable in the shooting, and control challenging situations better.

What is it like being on a team with Johannes Boe? Does it inspire you to be like him or does it make your life harder trying to keep up with him?! 😉

To be on team with Johannes Boe is great. He is a great guy, and someone I can learn from. Of course he is a good biathlete, and I can’t challenge him all the time.

On the IBU website it says your hobby is Tinder but also that you are single! Do you have any other hobbies that you are more successful at? 😉

Haha! Actually that bio is a bit old. I have an girlfriend who also is doing biathlon, and we are living together in Lillehammer. Maybe I should change the bio for the upcoming season 😉

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

For the World Cups tracks I have raced on, I have to say Nove Mesto! The atmosphere there is unbelievable, and an amazing crowd. You almost can’t hear yourself breathe. That was also my first World Cup race, so an awesome memory.

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

I grew up having two biathletes I looked up to. Ole Einar Bjørndalen was one of them, and a legend in biathlon. The other was Tarjei Bø, I looked very much up to him. To be on the same team as him now is awesome.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle does not have a name, but I love my rifle very much. For me it’s very important to have a good feeling with the rifle, and almost to feel a bit of friendship with it.

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny, relaxed and engaged.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Dorothea Wierer
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Favourite shooting range: Holmenkollen
Lucky bib number: 5
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Tarjei Bø
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: The biathlon family is full of nice people, I can’t choose one!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Living the best life I can ever imagine.

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Nils-Erik Ulset: The Interview!

Photo Credit: Biathlon23!!!

Nils-Erik Ulset is para-biathlon legend! The 36-year-old Norwegian has competed in 5 Paralympic Games from Salt Lake City 2002 to PyeongChang 2018. He has won biathlon medals at four of those Games including gold in Vancouver in 2010. He has 10 World Championship medals three of which are gold. He was born with a genetic condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease that affects the muscle strength in his legs. He has also been a World and Paralympic Champion in cross-country skiing.

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Why did you become a biathlete?

I have an older brother who started biathlon, and of course since he was a role model for me I had to follow in his steps.
(His brother is John Ola Ulset who represented Norway at IBU World Cup level.)

How did you assess last season? What were you happy with and what disappointed you?

Last season was a little up and down. The good races were very good winning world cup races, taking a medal in the world championship and finishing second in the overall cup. But my main goal was the world championship sprint and being so far from the podium in this race was a disappointment.

The first World Cup this season is in Lillehammer! Are you excited about that? Do you know the course there well?

It will be awesome starting the World Cup in Lillehammer. I know the area well since I lived for 7 years in Lillehammer, but I think we are going to use the FIS world cup tracks which I haven’t tested out yet. But I know they will be tough!

Are you focusing only on biathlon now? Will you do any cross country races this season?

Yes, I’m only focusing on biathlon now. I’ll never do cross country World Cup races again.

How does your impairment affect your skiing?

I have maybe 25% of normal muscle strength in my lower legs and my balance is very bad. So for me the hardest parts are flat areas where you benefit from having good balance. Also very soft(spring) conditions and icy tracks is some thing that I can struggle with.

What have you been doing for summer training? Are training with any of the IBU biathletes this summer?

This summer I have been focusing much more on strength training, a lot of roller skiing and some trail running.
I’m doing all my training camps with the Norwegian development (B-team), this is something that really suits me and helps me a lot in pushing forward.

When Norwegian biathletes retire they seem to become your coach! Lars Berger then Martin Eng. Who will coach you this season – L’Abbe Lund, Svendsen or Bjoerndalen?!!! Seriously though what is it like having ex-biathletes as your coach? How have they helped you?

Well actually Lars Berger is back again as my coach and in previous seasons, especially towards PyeongChang I got a lot of help and advice from Ole Einar. It’s great to have the possibility to ask these athletes for advice and to learn from them.

What are your goals for this season?

The main goal this season is the biathlon World Championships in Østersund.

Do you have a job? If so how do you fit your training around it?

I work part time in a sports shop that specializes in mountain sports like ski mountaineering, climbing and trail running.

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

My all time favourite tracks are Natrudstilen Sjusjøen, Canmore, Whistler Olympic Park and Nordmarka Surnadal. All these tracks really suit me and my strengths, and are located in really nice places.


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

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (of course) and Martin Fourcade. They are both amazing athletes who always push themselves forward and are ahead of everybody in their development as athletes. They are fair athletes who also take a clear stand for clean and fair sports.

Does your rifle have a name?

No I’ve never named any of my rifles.

Describe yourself in three words.

Stubborn, curious and childish.


Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Lukas Hofer
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Martell
Lucky bib number: Any
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Gregory Vovchinskiy
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Mark Arendz and Benjamin Daviet
Best thing about being a biathlete: You get to ski around and shoot.

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Scott Dixon…The Third!!!

Like a boomerang, or slightly cooler ‘The Terminator’, Scott Dixon is back! In his third interview for Biathlon23 I have discovered that as well as being a biathlete Scott is now the author of a children’s book. He also dabbles in witchcraft which he claims is “card magic” but I am not so sure! He is currently trying to raise funds to help pay for the season. If you can help you can find the details here:
https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/biathlete-olympic-dream/

Like his Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete

Last season-discuss! Not a great start due to illness but you got your World Cup PB in Oslo at the end. Talk us through the main points of last season.

The start of the season went about as badly as it could have as I was having heart problems. I had shot well in the Individual in Oestersund on a very windy day (16/20) but on the last lap, having already exerted myself for four agonising laps before, my heart decided to go into hyper drive and shot up to 199 bpm whilst standing still shooting my last five stand shots.

Despite my form taking such a hit, I still skied quickly relative to my ski speed last year in both Slovenia and Nove Mesto. I had a good training phase over Christmas and was ready to go full speed into the next trimester with a positive attitude. We arrived in Germany and drove to Oberhof. Two days later I contracted the Noro virus, which I’m sure many people are familiar with… sixteen hours of being sick every hour. Nasty.

I was bed bound for four days, but still raced. This was silly, but I was still in disbelief my luck had taken such a turn and too stubborn to let the race go. It took some time to recover physically, and mentally from this bout of bad luck. But I did!


You are doing some training camps with the Swedish team. What’s it like working with Wolfgang Pichler? What differences do you think he has made for your biathlon?

Hard. Wolfgang is an incredible coach. He knows how to bring a team together, and he involves intense psychological elements in his training that are incredibly challenging. It is rare to meet someone so genuinely passionate about doing an excellent job. He’s punctual and has high expectations. What an opportunity it’s been training along side his athletes.

I feel my body developing all the time. I’m able to maintain higher speeds for longer, which I measure frequently on repeatable sessions.


You are back living and training in Lillehammer. What training have you been doing there and do you ever train with the British Nordic team there?

I live with Callum Smith who’s on the British Nordic team! However, we don’t get to train much together, usually the odd run here or there because our training differs a lot. We do eat together and compete to see who can make the best lasagna. Me of course, but his last one was pretty snazzy, I admit..

I don’t spend that much time in Lillehammer unfortunately because of the training camps. I’m usually recharging my batteries when I finally get back there. Although the training continues!

You are 23 this year and as everyone knows that is an important number in biathlon! What are your goals for this season?

Indeed it is!
Pursuits! The Olympic qualification is tough since we lost our top 25 spot on the nation cup score, so in order to qualify I need to make a couple of pursuit races.

British Biathlon is, as usual, going through a tough time but probably the worst in your career. You and Amanda Lightfoot have had to hand some of your funding back. What is going on and how else has it affected you?

It’s not the first time I’ve been told that it’s all doom and gloom by my National Governing Body (NGB), but it is the first time Amanda and I have had to financially bail them out. Of all the years this could happen, it was the Olympic season. However, it’s important that I focus on preparing my body to be the best it can be come the winter, and not allow these distractions to negatively influence my training.

You have launched a crowd funding campaign to help you with your costs this season. Tell us about it. What will the money go towards?

Our governing body is run by volunteers and they are unable to invest huge amounts of time in the search for sponsors or even planning the race season for example. Amanda and I have been assigned the job of sorting out travel arrangements in the season. Thankfully, Amanda is a guru when it comes to planning, and has come up with some very practical solutions to tough logistical issues. We’ve got a plan that works and brings us to the Olympic Games. But even with a plan in place, our governing body doesn’t have the funds to implement the plan. I set up a pledge sports campaign because I couldn’t afford the season, and if I missed a race I’d almost certainly miss the opportunity to compete at the Games.

So I set up a pledge for those who were interested in supporting me to the Olympic Games, and used it as an opportunity to expose my book to supporters.

You are now an author! Tell us about your children’s book ‘Pup the Brave’. Will you be writing anymore?

To some extent I am! It’s funny hearing that since it’s just a hobby. The idea originated from Katie, my girlfriend, when I asked her to tell me a story. She doesn’t like it so much when I randomly ask her to do that, but I persisted. I asked her to name a subject, or something, and she said “Puppy.”
“What’s the puppy doing?”
“Trying to cross a river.”
“Why?”
“There’s a bear chasing him.”
“Can he swim?”
“Do we have to do this?”
“Yes, can he swim?”
“No.”
“How does he cross?”
“Beaver builds him a dam…”

And so forth.

This continued for a little while and I liked the little story we created. We left it be, and one long bike ride in the hills, I thought about it again and for the next two weeks I didn’t let it rest, and had the poem completed, and had started sketching the images.

When I spend hours on end cycling and skiing, it can be advantageous to take my mind away from the discomfort. So I daydream about stories, plots and concepts and such like. Since I rarely get to see my little baby brother and sister, one and three years old, I decided I ought to write and illustrate a story for them. I used the Pup story as a template and set to daydreaming it into a plot and a story.

I do this all the time, and it’s definitely a direction I’d like to take after my Biathlon career. I have two more books planned for my little brother and sister, then I hope to publish the fiction material I spend even more time writing and thinking about.

You will be appearing on an episode of Sky 1’s ‘A League of Their Own’. Can you tell us anything about that or is it top secret?

Shh! who told you that?

Nah, it’s no secret! I am and I can’t wait to see it. I think I was a bit funky on camera, but I can guarantee that you’ll love the show when you watch it, which as biathlon fans you must! It was a surreal experience but thoroughly enjoyable. I hope it raises the profile of biathlon in the UK.

Have you got a name for your rifle yet?

I’m afraid not. I may have to for our next interview! What next interview?!! No name no chance!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Fillon Maillet. He made it himself!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Germany. It’s very German, and I like suits that represent the flag well.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 106 (since I often get the last bib, I might as well make it my lucky one!)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup:Tiio Söderhielm. He’s in his thirties, but you’d think he was only twenty.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Erik Lesser is always extremely friendly. He always says hello when most other people don’t notice us little guys. A special mention to all the Swedes. I couldn’t pick any one of them over the rest, and you asked for only one, but they all mutually win that title (future in diplomacy?).
Best thing about being a biathlete: In a race, the order people enter the shooting range for the final time is so vastly different to the order everyone finishes in. So much can change in the closing stages of the competition by pulling the trigger at the wrong time.

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A Light Foot across the snow!

lightfoot

“It’s cold up North!” That’s what they say about the North of England which means that it is a great place to acclimatise to winter sports! Lucky for Great Britain then that the frozen wastes of South Shields have helped their top female biathlete get to where she is now. No need to go looking for cold weather in Europe, Amanda Lightfoot can get plenty of it at home!

Amanda was born on the 30th of January 1987 and raised in South Shields which is more famous for football and running than for biathlon!(Shocking I know!). In fact biathlon is not a well-known sport at all in Great Britain so how did Amanda end up becoming a biathlete? Well like many others she discovered the sport after she joined the army. Actually she only learned to ski at age 19 and considering most biathletes can ski when they are children she has had a lot of catching up to do.

With only 3 months of biathlon training she won the novice prize in the British Championships and earned the chance to spend a year training in the Development Squad. In 2007 she was selected for the European Cup and after only 3 races qualified for the Women’s Relay team to compete on the World Cup.

After a lot of hard work and gaining valuable experience along the way she got her best ever result in the World Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2011. She came 34th in the Individual race which is an amazing result for someone who had only been doing biathlon for 5 years! Most biathletes have been training and competing since childhood especially in places like Norway and Russia. This led Amanda to be named British Biathlete of the Year in 2011. She is also the first GB biathlete to score World Cup points since 1992 and is only the second female biathlete from her country to compete in an Olympic Games following Emma Fowler in 2006.

Her best result on the World Cup was last year’s 46th place in the Oberhof Pursuit. That beat her previous best which was 47th in the Oberhof Sprint from the day before! Strangely enough her top results have all been achieved at World Championships. The best in Khanty and then in Ruhpolding where she came 36th in the Sprint and 43rd in the Pursuit in 2012.This bodes well of course for this season and the up coming World Championships in Finland. As someone who has served in Iraq the Kontiolahti wall will hold no fear for Amanda – just exhaustion!

Like many British biathletes she has had to base herself abroad so that she can have the use of quality training facilities and Amanda chose Lillehammer in Norway. She has even been learning the language over the summer which should be pretty easy for her because if you can speak “Geordie” then Norwegian should be a breeze!

It’s difficult to become a successful biathlete if you come from Great Britain. There are problems with funding and facilities and also snow! Amanda is a tough girl though and she needs to be to do what she does. This year she will be hoping to clinch a first Top 30 position and grab some more World Cup points. A good showing at the World Championships would also be a good confidence boost.

There are some young British ladies coming through, like Sophie Hopkins and Holly Rees-Lay, who would like to be to be professional biathletes one day. They should be inspired by Amanda and can learn a lot from her remarkable progress. So keep an eye out for Amanda this season and watch her progress carefully. British biathlon needs some good results and I am sure she is the one who can provide them. She has the skills required to be in the TOP 40 more often and coupled with her determination and motivation she will get there. She also has something the others don’t have – the gift of stealth! They don’t know she is coming because she has such a Light Foot across the Snow!

Follow Amanda on Twitter: @amandabiathlon1
Like her Facebook Fan page: ‘Amanda Lightfoot Biathlete -Fan Page’

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