Tag Archives: Lisa Vittozzi

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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Season Review 2018/19: The Women!

WOW! What a year we had on the women’s World Cup! We had 12 different winners, 6 brand new winners and an amazing battle between Dorothea Wierer and Lisa Vittozzi which kept us hooked all season. For the second year in row the title was won in the very last race of the season!

In the end it was Dorothea Wierer who won the Overall Title but it was far from easy! She finished the season with 904 points. Vittozzi was second with 882 points and Anastasiya Kuzmina was third with 870 points.

The season began in Pokljuka with the Individual and Yuliia Dzhima got the season rolling with her first win on the World Cup. Last year’s champion Kaisa Makarainen looked really good at the opening round winning the following two races; the sprint and pursuit.

Wierer got her fantastic season underway with her first win of the new campaign in the Hochfilzen sprint. Makarainen took the pursuit and was at the top of the standings.

However in Nove Mesto Marte Olsbu Roeiseland, got her first World Cup win in the sprint and then her second in the pursuit. It would be the foundation for her best ever season. Anastasiya Kuzmina won the mass start.

In Oberhof we got another first time winner and this time it was Lisa Vittozzi who did the sprint and pursuit double. She had been in and around the top 5 all season up until then when she finally made her big breakthrough and was well on her way to a shot at the big crystal globe.

Ruhpolding was the venue for Kuzmina’s second win of the season in the sprint. Home favourite Franziska Preuss won the mass start taking her first gold medal on the World Cup.

Antholz was next up and there was yet another debut World Cup victory this time from Marketa Davidova in the sprint. Wierer took her second win at home in the pursuit.

Canmore saw races cancelled but Tiril Eckhoff managed to win the shortened individual race. In Soldier Hollow Roeiseland took her third win of the season in the sprint throwing her into the mix for the yellow bib with the two Italians. Denise Herrmann got her third career victory in the pursuit.

The World Championships in Oestersund gave us four different winners in the four individual competitions and all debut winners of a World title! The sprint went to Anastasiya Kuzmina despite being unwell. Denise Herrmann won the pursuit, Hanna Oberg won the individual on home soil and Dorothea Wierer took the mass start.

Everything came down to Holmenkollen. There were still 3 women in serious contention to win the big crystal globe; Wierer and Vittozzi, who started the round on equal points, and Kuzmina. In the sprint it was Anastasiya Kuzmina who came out all guns blazing to take the win.

Lisa Vittozzi had a terrible race failing to score any points and she didn’t qualify for the pursuit either. Wierer took the overall lead after finishing 11th. Kuzmina also won the pursuit while Wierer was 12th so everything went down to the mass start.

All three women struggled after a long hard season. It was Hanna Oberg who won the race taking her first win on the World Cup. Kuzmina was 10th, Vittozzi 11th and Wierer 12th and that meant the overall title belonged to Wierer and the big crystal globe was on it’s way to Italy for the first time!

The small globes were shared around with Vittozzi taking the individual title, Kuzmina winning the sprint, Wierer the pursuit and Oberg the mass start.

Rookie of the season was Evgeniya Pavlova.

Relays
The women’s relays were much like the rest of the women’s season with four different winners in the first four races. Italy won in Hochfilzen, Russia in Oberhof, France in Ruhpolding and Germany in Canmore. However at World Championships it was Norway who came out on top with a team of Synnoeve Solemdal, Ingrid Tandrevold, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Roeiseland.

There were only two single mixed relays on the World Cup which France won in Pokljuka, and Italy in Soldier Hollow. The first ever World title in the event went to Norway with a team of Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Johannes Boe.

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Holmenkollen 2019: The Mass Starts!

It wasn’t really the epic battle we hoped for between Dorothea Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi and Anastasiya Kuzmina to decide the winner of the overall title in the mass start. All three looked physically and mentally drained after a tough season. They finished with Kuzmina in 10th missing 6 targets, Vittozzi in 11th missing 5 and Wierer in 12th also missing 5!

It was more than enough though for Wierer to claim her and Italy’s first ever big crystal globe in the women’s event. It was very well deserved by Wierer as she has been in the fight from the start fighting with Kaisa Makarainen in the earlier part of the season, then against Vittozzi and then finally Kuzmina.

Back to the race and it was close after the first prone with Hanna Oberg, Dorothea Wierer, Paulina Fialkova, Kaisa Makarainen, Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Tiril Eckhoff all shooting clean and getting themselves a small lead over the others.

At the second prone it was again Oberg who led out of the shooting range hit 5/5. The leading group was halved however with just Eckhoff and Fialkova matching Oberg with no misses.

The three arrived at the first standing and all three missed! Oberg and Fialkova missed 1, Eckhoff missed 2. That gave the chasers a chance to close the gap and that’s just what Clare Egan with 15/15 and Denise Herrmann with
13/15 did.

At the final stand Oberg missed one again but so did her rivals Egan and Eckhoff. Herrmann missed 2 and Fialkova 3. That left Oberg out in front but being pursued by Eckhoff and Egan. Egan caught and passed Eckhoff but possibly used too much energy doing so and the Norwegian repassed her and even had a go a catching Oberg for the win but she ran out of track.

It was Oberg’s first win on the World Cup and also saw her win the mass start crystal globe. It was a personal best and first ever podium for Egan in third.

Herrmann was 4th, Lisa Hauser 5th and Fialkova 6th.

Evgeniya Pavlova was crowned rookie of the year.

Who wins 16 races in one season? Johannes Thingnes Boe that’s who! What an unbelievable season it has been for the Norwegian and he capped it off with a hattrick of wins at home and shooting 20/20 in the mass start to secure the small crystal globe. He made a clean sweep of all the globes this year and he has been outstanding. Unlike his celebratory viking helmet!!! Not only historically inaccurate but not very well fitting either! 😉

In the race itself it was Antonin Guigonnat who took the lead after the first prone but he was followed very closely by Julian Eberhard, Vetle Christainsen, Boe, Sebastian Samuelsson and Arnd Peiffer.

At the second prone it was Christiansen who took on the lead with Boe, Peiffer, Phillip Nawrath and Fabien Claude behind him after they all shot 5/5.

Christiansen missed 2 on the first standing but Boe, Peiffer and Nawrath cleaned as did Bendikt Doll who was making up ground fast after an early mistake.

It was Boe who pulled out a lead before the 4th and final shoot of the season. He seems to have solved all his standing issues and cleaned and cruised off to victory. On the range Peiffer cleaned also hitting 20/20 to take second place. Christiansen made no mistakes this time leaving in third. Doll had 1 miss but came off the penalty loop right behind the Norwegian.

Christiansen couldn’t hold off the charging Doll however and he was passed on the tracks. Doll took the last place on the podium and Julian Eberhard came back to take 4th with Christiansen having to settle for 5th. Lukas Hofer took 6th but he and Simon Desthieux got tangled up on the small hill before the finishing straight and both fell. It was the Italian who recovered fastest to take the final flowers of the season!

Fabien Claude got his personal best in 12th and Lucas Fratzscher pushed his up to 13th.

Johannes Dale won rookie of the season.

And just like that the season was finished! It has been a historic and memorable one but more about that in my season reviews and there is the small matter of some awards to hand out too! 🙂

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Holmenkollen 2019: The Sprints!

All the talk before the final World Cup round in Holmenkollen was about the two Italian women Vittozzi and Wierer but in the sprint it was two Slovakians who made the podium!

Anastasiya Kuzmina loves the sprint and she loves Oslo so obviously she won the final sprint of the season and with it the small crystal globe. Unfortunately it was also her last ever sprint as she has announced her retirement from the sport. With her little brother Anton Shipulin also having retired this season we have lost a whole family!!! 😦

She had a great last sprint though despite missing 1 shot in the prone she skied way better than anyone else to secure her fifth win in Oslo in her career. She finished 21 seconds ahead of second placed Franziska Pruess who shot clean to get her second podium of the season.

Third place went to Paulina Fialkova who also shot clean. Celia Aymonier achieved her personal best in 4th with 10/10. Denise Herrmann was 5th and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland was 6th.

It was a bad day for the overall leader Lisa Vittozzi who missed 5 shots in total and finished in 68th place meaning she got no points and didn’t qualify for Saturday’s pursuit. Her main rival Dorothea Wierer missed 1 target to finish 11th and took the lead in the total score outright.

It was a better day for Emma Lunder shooting 10/10 to get her career best result in 9th. Elena Kruchinkina got her PB in 18th with 1 miss.

You will never guess who won the men’s sprint! Oh wait you will because it was Johannes Thingnes Boe again! He already has the sprint crystal globe but now he also has 14 wins in one season to match the MF mafia of Magdalena Forsberg and Martin Fourcade. However he still has two races left to try and break it and make a bit of biathlon history.

He won today by 31.7 seconds despite missing a target in the stand. I think he doesn’t like the stand so much these days! 😉

Second place went to Lukas Hofer who hit 10/10 and had a fantastic race but Boe out skied him by a mile so there wasn’t much else he could have done. Third place went to Quentin Fillon Maillet who also hit 10/10 continuing his amazing season.

In the absence of Martin Fourcade who isn’t racing in Oslo, Fillon Maillet is fighting for second place in the Overall Score and has a chance to win the pursuit crystal globe too.

Julian Eberhard had a super fast ski finishing 4th with 2 misses. Tarjei Boe was 5th with 9/10 and Benedikt Doll had a great ski time too in 6th with 8/10.

Felix Leitner got his personal best in 10th with the perfect shoot. Lucas Fratzscher got his PB in 31st even with 2 misses.

The pursuit races are on Saturday with Dorothea Wierer and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland battling it out for the small crystal globe for the women and Johannes Boe and Quentin Fillon Maillet for the men.

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Oestersund 2019: The Relays!

Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg would have been very happy with today’s rallies…..what I am talking about!!! It was the relays and they won’t be happy at all since they were both won by their neighbours and great rivals Norway!

The women raced first and it was Italy as usual who handed over first at the exchange. Lisa Vittozzi is a first leg legend! She did use 3 spares today unusually for her but she still skied herself into the lead!

She gave Nicole Gontier a five second lead over the Ukraine, the USA and home team Sweden after 10/10 shoots from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Linn Persson and just the 1 spare from Susan Dunklee. Germany with Vanessa Hinz went on the penalty loop but Norway were not too far off with a solid leg from Synnoeve Solemdal with 2 spares used.

Gontier had a great leg hitting all 10 targets as did Clare Egan for the USA leaving them neck and neck at the exchange. They were followed by Vita Semerenko, Mona Brorsson and Ingrid Tandrevold who hit 10/10 for Norway.

The third leg saw Joanne Reid hold the lead for the USA after the prone ahead of Alexia Runggaldier, Anna Magnusson, Yuliia Dzhima and Tiril Eckhoff.

Magnusson cleaned the stand to put Sweden in the lead, Reid needed 1 spare, Dzhima 2 and Eckhoff and Runggaldier went on the penalty loop!

That gave Hanna Oberg a 17 second lead at the final exchange. She was followed out by Emily Dreissigacker, Valj Semerenko and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Oberg needed 2 spares in the prone, the USA were clean and Ukraine and Norway took 1 spare each.

Roeiseland and Semerenko passed Dreissigacker on the tracks to move into second and third place for the final crucial shoot. Oberg was first in but needed all her spares. Roeiseland threw caution to the wind and went for it hitting all 5 and skiing to the gold medal for Norway. Sweden took silver and Semerenko needed 1 spare to safely claim the bronze medal. Unfortunately Dreissigacker went on the penalty loop twice and eventually finished in 9th but it was an amazing race from the US ladies.

Germany were 4th, Russia 5th and Slovakia 6th.

The day was tinged with sadness however as it was Rosanna Crawford’s final race for Canada who finished 14th. She will be greatly missed on the World Cup. 😦

The men raced later and victory again went to Norway who have won gold in every single relay at the World Championships!

The first leg was very close between a lot of the teams with some good shooting on the range. It was Matvey Eliseev who handed over first though for Russia with Lukas Hofer and Antonin Guigonnat close behind. The top ten teams were all within around 10 seconds of each other with Erik Lesser and Lars Birkeland keeping Germany and Norway in the mix.

The gaps stared to appear after leg 2 with France taking the lead thanks to Quentin Fillon Maillet. However he was followed closely by Vetle Christiansen in second and Jesper Nelin in third. Roman Rees for Germany (3 spares) and newcomer Nikita Porshnev for Russia (2 spares) both had solid legs.

On the third leg Tarjei Boe did really well using just 2 spares in the stand to give his brother a 43 second lead for the last lap. Simon Desthieux went on the penalty loop but still managed to tag Martin Fourcade in second place. He left at the same time as Bendikt Doll after a great leg from Arnd Peiffer moved Germany into third. Martin Ponsiluoma used 2 spares to put Sweden in fourth. Dmitry Malyshko kept Russia in the hunt also with 3 spares.

Johannes Boe shot clean on the prone to extend his lead. Fourcade cleaned and Doll needed 1 spare but they were still locked together in the podium positions. Samuelsson used 3 spares and was passed by Rok Trsan who put Slovenia into 4th!

Boe used all 3 spares in the stand but it was enough to seal victory and yet another gold for Norway. Doll used 1 spare but Fourcade ended up with 2 penalty loops. That left Germany in a comfortable silver medal position. Bronze was still up for grabs and with a perfect leg from Alexander Loginov it went to Russia.

The Czech Republic moved up to 4th, Slovenia were 5th and France 6th.

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Oestersund 2019: Women’s Individual!

It seems Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump) has a rival for the affections of the Swedish people! Yes Hanna Oberg is now the darling of Oestersund after her stunning performance to take gold at her home World Championships!

After finishing 4th in the sprint and 5th in the pursuit she finally got the medal the home fans were desperate for. She shot the perfect 20/20 to add the World title to the Olympic title she won last year becoming the first woman to ever do that back to back. Grattis Hanna! 🙂

The silver medal went to Lisa Vittozzi who has broken the curse of changing ski suit from green to blue! She also hit 20/20 to win her first ever World Championship medal and also win the small crystal globe in the Indiviudual as well as extending her lead in the yellow bib. Not a bad day’s work for the Italian!

The bronze medal was more of a surprise with Justine Braisaz finishing third. Her form hasn’t been great this season but she timed it right today. She hit 19/20 and managed to ski 7 seconds faster than Laura Dahlmeier who with the same shooting score was denied her third podium in a row. Paulina Fialkova was 5th also with 19/20.

Others who hit 20/20 today were Lisa Hauser who was 7th, Yuliia Dzhima who was 12th and Yuliia Zhuravok who was 14th.

Larisa Kuklina got her personal best in 16th with 1 miss.

Special mentions for Mona Brorsson who hit 19/20 to finish 6th making a great comeback after Sunday’s pursuit. Although she would have won the race had she hit all 20 targets!!! Also for Selina Gasparin who was 9th with 1 miss on her return from becoming a mother for the second time.

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Oestersund 2019: Women’s Sprint!

Like a piece of flat pack furniture from Ikea, Anastasiya Kuzmina constructed herself a great sprint race in Oestersund. Despite suffering from laryngitis and missing 1 target she was still able to win the gold medal! It was her first at World Championships to add to her two Olympic sprint titles.

She made a fantastic decision to start the race even though she is unwell and proved her choice to continue competing this season was a good one.

It was a strange race with a lot of misses on the range but I suppose that is not so unusual in Oestersund with the tricky wind conditions.
It was the favourites who struggled most however with Tiril Eckhoff missing 2, then Dorothea Wierer missing 2, Kaisa Makarainen missed 2, Lisa Vittozzi missed 3 (unheard of!) and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland missed 4!!! Wierer and Makarainen both had falls on the course which also cost them more time.

Kuzmina missed her shot on the prone but cleaned the stand to come out of the rage just over a second off the lead. That was held by Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold who hit all 10 targets and that would win her the silver medal at her first World Championships. Kuzmina didn’t gain too much time on the uphills but in the last part of track she made up around 8 seconds to secure victory.

Third place went to Laura Dahlmeier who is also sick with a cold. She hit 10/10 and just beat Hanna Oberg by under a second to get the bronze medal. Not the way to make yourself popular with the home crowd!!! Oberg was followed home in 5th by teammate Mona Brorsson, both with a single miss and 6th place went to Denise Herrmann with 2 misses.

Wierer takes back the yellow bib after finishing 10th with Vittozzi back in 21st. With a minute separating the top 20 women we should be in for an amazing pursuit race on Sunday! An if we learned anything from today it’s that it’s best to race when you are sick!!! 😉

There were also a lot of personal bests today of course as it’s International Women’s Day the ladies were keen to show off how fabulous they all are.

Dzinara Alimbekava was 13th, Sari Maeda was 14th, Joanne Reid was 15th, Johanna Taliharm was 20th in bib23!, Irina Kruchinkina was 22nd and Natalja Kocergina was 27th.

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