Tag Archives: Mari Laukkanen

Holmenkollen 2017: The Sprints!

It is the final World Cup round in Holmenkollen and it’s just like school before you break up for the holidays. With most of the big prizes already decided there is a bit of craziness in the air. We had Serafin Wiestner with underwear over his ski suit (like Superman) in training after losing a bet with his coach. Anton Babikov trying to throw snowballs at a Russian TV interview and Michal Krcmar falling out of his hotel window (it was very low to the ground).

Finally on Friday we got a little more serious for the Sprint races. The Women’s Sprint threw up a lot of surprises. We had another brand new winner with Finland’s Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever race on the World Cup. She shot clean to win by almost 8 seconds. Second place went to Justine Braisaz getting her second podium of the season also hitting 10/10. Her teammate Anais Bescond had a good race hitting the perfect score finishing in third.

The big surprise was that Gabriela Kouklava won the Sprint Title. She finished 4th with 1 miss but rival Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 31st with 3 misses all in the prone. Those results meant that Gabi won the small crystal globe by just 5 points!

Some of the younger women coming up from the IBU Cup also had a good day. There were personal bests for Austria’s Julia Schwaiger in 14th, France’s Julia Simon in 25th and Russia’s Victoria Slivko in 30th.

The Men’s race was less surprising! Johannnes Boe shot 10/10 and skied really well to win the race by over 13 seconds. Second place went to Martin Fourcade who has chosen to race this weekend despite the imminent arrival of his second child. He missed his last standing target but skied his way to the podium.

Third place went to Anton Shipulin who at one point was ahead of Fourcade but lost a lot of time on the tracks possibly because of his late start bib giving him trickier conditions. He hit 10/10 but was 8 seconds behind Fourcade in the end. He was also just 0.2 of a second ahead of Dominik Landertinger in 4th so he did well to stay on the podium!

Fredrik Gjesbakk got his personal best on the World Cup in 25th as did Slovenia’s Miha Dovzan in 34th. In his final race of the season Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also improved his best result to 65th!

Tomorrow we have the final Pursuit races and we will see if Laura Dahlmeier can hang on to that title!

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Kontiolahti 2017: The Sprints!

The Wall is back! And there are going to be some tired biathletes climbing it! To be fair it wasn’t scheduled this season but with Kontiolahti replacing Tyumen as host of World Cup 8 they get to spend all weekend going up and up and up!

It started with the Sprint races and in the Men’s race Martin Fourcade did it again. He won yet another Sprint to make it 13 wins this season breaking the record of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. He did by just 0.6 of a second however stealing the glory from poor Ondrej Moravec. The Czech shot clean while Fourcade missed a target in the stand but he still managed to win. What a great biathlete he is but not very generous! 😉

Third place went to Emil Svendsen who also shot clean finishing 9 seconds behind the winner. Johannes Boe was fourth hitting 10/10 and Arnd Peiffer in 5th did the same. Fellow Germans Roman Rees and Philipp Nawrath both got personal bests. Rees finished 12th and Nawrath 34th. Olli Hiidensalo sneaked into the points in 39th in his home race.

Continuing her great form from PyeongChang Tiril Eckhoff finally got the better of Laura Dalmeier to win her first race of the season. She shot 10/10 to win by 18 seconds from Dahlmeier who missed 1 standing target. Third place went to Darya Domracheva with clean shooting continuing her excellent comeback after having her first child.

In fourth was Russia’s Daria Virolaynen also hitting 10/10. Susan Dunklee missed a target to come 5th for the third race in a row! Lisa Vittozzi hit 10 to finish 6th.

Celia Aymonier grabbed a personal best in 7th. Darya Usanova also got a personal best shooing 10/10 in 14th. Denise Hermann got her best result on the World Cup missing 2 but finishing 18th.

Gabriela Koukalova finished in 13th and Kaisa Makarainen was 49th after missing 4 targets. Mari Laukkanen was the top Finn in 19th with 2 misses.

Tomorrow we have both the Pursuit races and they should be exciting with the time gaps between biathletes pretty close!

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Women’s Individual!

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The weather today for the Women’s Individual can only be described as a “Scottish Summer”! Sunny and 11 degrees celcius! (and yes there is sun in Scotland – occasionally! ) It was a warm day for biathlon and if the weather was a bit of a surprise the winner of the race certainly wasn’t!

That’s right Laura Dahlmeier has her third gold medal at these Championships. In fact can you remember the last time she didn’t win a medal in a race at the World Championships? That is 9 in a row I believe. It is also a piece of history as she is the first women to win 3 Individual races in a row and also means she wins the small crystal globe in the Individual. Not a bad day at the office!

She won in the end by 24 seconds missing just 1 target but she did keep us waiting. Starting in group 4 she drew bib 93 out of 99 and so we had to wait until the end of the race for the winner. Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova who also missed 1 target but wasn’t fast enough on the skis to challenge Laura today.

Third place went to Italy’s Alexia Runggaldier who shot the perfect 20/20 and claimed her first ever World Championships medal. It is only her second ever podium but it was very well deserved today.

Finland’s Mari Laukkanen took 4th with her best result for a while missing just 1 shot. 5th place went to South Korea’s Ekaterina Avvakummova with her personal best result shooting 20/20. She is a Russian who now competes for Korea and her previous best was 63rd so it’s quite an improvement.

In 6th place was Susan Dunklee with 2 misses, continuing the good results for the US team. 7th and 8th went to the German pair Maren Hammerschmidt and Vanessa Hinz both missing 2 targets. 9th an 10th went to the Ukraine with Yuliia Dzhima and Olena Pidhrushna.

There were some other really good performances from home biathlete Dunja Zdouc of Austria who got her PB in 11th shooting 20/20. Canada’s Julia Ransom improved her best result to 18th with 1 miss and Great Britain’s Amanda Lightfoot got her career best result in 32rd with 1 miss.

The men’s race is tomorrow so let’s see if Mr. Fourcade can keep up with Miss. Dahlmeier!

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Mixed Relay!

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It’s here! Finally the 2017 World Championships have begun in Hochfilzen! After what feels like about 7 years since the last World Cup round in Antholz the action got underway on Thursday with the Mixed Relay.

Under sunny skies and with a little bit of wind the women got us started in the afternoon. The Italian team with Lisa Vittozzi taking the first leg got off to the best start. She shot clear and handed over in first place in front of Marte Olsbu who used 1 spare and Lisa Hauser who used 2. The USA were in 4th after a great opening leg. They were followed by Mari Laukkanen, Anais Chevalier and Vanessa Hinz.

It was then the turn of Dorothea Wierer, Laura Dahlmeier, Marie Dorin Habert and Kaisa Makarainen to go head to head. Unusually for her Dahlmeier needed 4 spares as did Makarainen, Wierer used 3, Dorin Habert 2 and Akimova was the best shot with just 1 spare required putting Russia into 5th. Tiril Eckhoff put Norway out of contention by going on the penalty loop on the prone.

The women were all very evenly matched at the front with Dahlmeier putting Germany into the lead just in front of Dorin Habert for France and Dorothea Wierer for Italy. However it was all change when the men took over for the third leg. It looked like France had thrown their medal chances away when Quentin Fillon Maillet had to take a penalty loop on his standing shoot. The others were doing much better with Arnd Peiffer hitting 10/10, Lukas Hofer missing just 1 and Alexander Loginov using 3 spares.

Somehow Fillon Maillet managed to hand over to Martin Fourcade still in medal contention and he and Anton Shipulin would stick to each other like glue for the rest of the race in their efforts to chase down Dominik Windisch in second and Simon Schempp who was in first place.

Schempp was too far in front for them to catch and he just needed 1 spare in the standing and so could not be caught. The German team all put in fantastic legs and were well deserved winners of the gold medal. In the final standing Dominik Windisch needed 2 spares and his opponents hit all the targets and so it came down to a ski race between Fourcade and Shipulin for the silver and bronze medals.

They were locked together until the finish where Fourcade took a rather wide line into the straight and forced Shipulin to check his sprint to change lanes which effectively gave France the silver medal and spoiled a sprint finish up to the line. Fourcade knows that Shipulin has a better sprint finish than him and used his tactics wisely to beat him.

Italy came 4th after a great race from their quartet. 5th went to the Ukraine, 6th to Sweden, 7th to the Czech Republic, 8th to Norway, 9th to home team Austria and 10th to Finland.

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

P.S On the podium the Russians refused to shake Martin Fourcade’s hand accusing him of disrespecting and knocking over Alexander Loginov at the third exchange. At the press conference Anton Shipulin said that he was defending his teammate and that’s why he wouldn’t shake hands. It emerged that the Russian Federation had asked for special sanctions against Fourcade for a social media comment he made about Loginov’s success at the European Championships reminding people he had served a two year drug ban.

On the video of the changeover Fourcade did ski over Loginov’s ski and knock him down but as one was slowing down and the other speeding up it looked like an accident. Fourcade seemed to just be trying to pass him quickly to catch up with the leaders rather than deliberately hitting him. It’s unlikely that Fourcade would jeopardize his teams chances to make a point that he can do off the track if he wanted.

Hopefully it will not spill over to the rest of the competition.  Although the comments section of the press conference video have been removed and the IBU have issued a statement to ask the fans to calm down so I don’t think we have heard the last of this!

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Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 2!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pokljuka 2016: The Pursuits!

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Like idrijski žlikrofi, Slovenian potato dumplings, the Pursuit races in Pokljuka were stuffed full of tasty stuff! The men’s race was in the morning and the Martin Fourcade bus keeps on rolling. With no wins in Pokljuka for years two come along at once. I ran out of words to describe this man a long time ago but his mental strength is astonishing. I think he is one of the toughest sports people in the world when it come to the mental side of the sport. He takes risks and I think he isn’t afraid to lose. He pushes himself and his opponents to their limits but he is usually the one who comes out on top.

It was the same today. Anton Shipulin gave him a good run for his money and watching them shoot clean side by side was fantastic. However on the final shoot Shipulin missed a target and denied us a great finish but Fourcade was imperious today. Second place went to Emil Hegle Svendsen, remember him? It’s great to see him back up the front shooting 20/20 and holding off Shipulin who was third. It was a great display of shooting all round at the front.

Taking sixth place was Michael Roesch of Belguim who also shot clean. Lars Birkeland came from 32nd to finish 13th, Julian Eberhard went from 47th to 21st and Ondrej Moravec from 31st to 14th.

The women raced later in the day and Laura Dahlmeier made it a double victory when she beat Kaisa Makarainen by around 17 seconds. They both missed 2 targets but Dahlmeier is very strong at the moment and hard to beat. In third was the Czech biathlete Eva Puskarcikova who made the podium for the first time on the World Cup missing just 1 shot and beating Marie Dorin Habert in a close finish.

Dorin Habert had a good race also missing one to move up from 17th to 4th. Susan Dunklee took 5th from Lisa Hauser in 6th who is continuing her great early season form. Yuliia Dzhima went from 28th to 11th, Galina Vishnevskaya from 25th to 13th, Veronika Vitkova from 30th to 15th, Iryna Kryuko from 33rd to 18th, Maren Hammerschmidt from 41st to 24th, Anna Magnusson from 47th to 28th and Mari Laukkanen from 56th to 35th.

We were treated to two good races from the men and women in Pokljuka and as there are Relays tomorrow it means that Laura Dahlmeier leads the women’s overall by 69 points from Kaisa Makarainen and Martin Fourcade leads Johannes Boe by 95 points.

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Mari Laukkanen: The Interview!

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Mari Laukkanen was born on the 9th of November 1987 in Eno, Finland. She got her first podium at home in Kontiolahti in 2013-14 and she has also finished in the TOP 10 another 4 times. She has competed in 2 Winter Olympic Games and 7 World Championships. After an illness towards the end of last season she is looking forward to competing again starting in Oestersund.

You can like Mari’s Facebook page: Mari Laukkanen offical
Follow her on Twitter: @mari_laukkanen
She has a website (in Finnish): http://www.marilaukkanen.fi/etusivu/

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I started competing in cross-country skiing when I was nine years old. Afterwards I had a chance to try shooting and I loved that from the first time. I also always liked more skating than classic, the fastest way of skiing 🙂

Your personal best race was a 3rd place in Kontiolahti in 2013/14. What was it like to get on the podium at a home race?

That was great. Maybe the greatest place to make your first podium. Also the
price giving ceremony in the evening in the city was amazing !!

The World Championships didn’t go as well as you probably hoped. Was there a lot of pressure on you racing at home and have you learned anything that could help you for this year’s Championships in Oslo?

I was getting sick during the Oslo World Cup, so just before the World Championships. Afterwards we found out that this was a serious virus which I had then and even though I felt healthy after 10 days resting, my body was still fighting against it and that´s why my body got overloaded and got other problems. It was big disappointment for me that I couldn’t race at my best level there.

Last season you equaled your best finish in the Total Score of 36th. What are your goals for this season?

Definitely Top 25. I would like to run all the Mass Starts next winter.

What training have you done so far this summer and what’s the plan until the start of the season?

Now it is already October so most of the training has been done. Anyway one more important period is coming when we change to snow training. I had some problems especially at the beginning of the summer because of the virus which I talked about before. I wasn’t sick but my body was stressed and was still over working because of the damage after my sickness.

You took part in the Single Mixed Relay in Nove Mesto and finished 12th with Ahti Toivanen. Do you like the new format? Do you think Finland will be able to do well in the event?

It was interesting. But it is so much about fast shooting that maybe this is not the best race for us. Ahti is a pretty fast shooter but this is a big challenge for me. But I like this short distance, that fits for me because I think I am pretty fast.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

I am fast. That´s my biggest strength. I can also handle high intensity and high lactate (acid) very well. I have been working for years on my endurance and it is nice to see progress. I have a lot of things to do in shooting and I have big goals for this training season. We have made big steps but I still have some problems which I want to solve before winter.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

No. I don’t believe in luck in sport.

You are a teammate of Kaisa Makarainen. What have you learned from her and do you think she can win the Overall Title this season?

She is definitely the biggest favourite to win the Overall Title next season and it will be difficult for everybody to beat her. I have learned that every day matters. She asks a lot from herself and people around her.

What hobbies do you have when you aren’t training for biathlon?

I don’t have time for hobbies. But every now and then I try to find time for something which helps me to turn my brain away from biathlon. I have seen that this is important for me.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Empathetic, bubbly, passionate.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: All of them
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Kontiolahti sprint 2014 (3rd place) or Ruhpolding sprint 2015 (5th place)
Favourite food: good steak.
Favourite singer/band:too many!
Favourite sports team: Finnish ice hockey team!
Favourite TV show: maybe one of my favorites right now! Siskonpeti (YLE, Finland)

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