Tag Archives: Marte Olsbu

PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Women’s Relay!

WOW! Just when you thought the biathlon races couldn’t get any better! The Women’s Relay was incredible! So much tension with so many ups and downs!

It started with snow! Unusual for the winter, I know! The wind was the big problem however with some horrible gusts hitting the range in different directions!

The first leg was again a good one for Italy. Lisa Vittozzi had another great start just using a single spare in the prone to hand over at the first exchange in the lead. She was followed by Susan Dunklee giving the USA a great start just needing 1 spare in the stand. Paulina Fialkova redeemed herself after a horrible Mixed Relay, when she shot on the wrong target, with just 1 spare required.

The first big casualty was Germany. Franziska Preuss went on the penalty loop after struggling terribly on the standing shoot. That left the door wide open for all the other teams.

Dorothea Wierer was on the second leg for Italy but she also had a nightmare this time in the prone incurring 2 penalty loops. At the second stand mayhem ensued! The wind was awful and caused almost everyone big problems. Kuzmina, Eckhoff, Herrmann and Vita Semerenko all ended up on the penalty loop and many others lost a lot of time shooting slowly. The best shoot however came from Dorothea Wierer! She cleaned the stand and left the range in the lead. A small biathlon miracle!

Kaisa Makarainen, with 2 spares needed, caught Wierer on the tracks and exchanged in the lead for Finland. The third leg was madness too with Poland’s Krystyna Guzik coming out on top. She did a penalty loop on the prone but used 1 spare in the stand to lead after leg three! Behind there were still many nations in the mix like Belarus, Slovakia, Switzerland and France. Germany couldn’t make up any ground with Franziska Hildebrand on the penalty loop as was Norway’s Ingrid Tandrevold.

Some fantastic shooting from Nadezhda Skardino (2 spares), Iryna Kryuko (1 spare) and Dzinara Alimbekava (3 spares) had put Darya Domracheva in fourth place starting the last leg. She had Weronika Nowakowska in front of her as well as Anais Bescond and Federica Sanfilippo. Dasha cleaned the prone to take the lead while the others all needed spares.

That meant everything came down to the final shoot. With immense pressure on her Domracheva needed all three of her spares but when the last target went down the gold belonged to Belarus. Bescond came out after her but a stunning performance from Hanna Oberg hitting 10/10 left her in third.

She was able to pass the Frenchwomen to secure sliver for her teammates Linn Persson, Mona Brorsson and Anna Magnusson. The Swedes used 12 spares and the bronze medallists France with Anais Chevalier, Marie Dorin Habert, Justine Braisaz and Bescond used 14.

Norway finished 4th after a good leg from Marte Olsbu, Slovakia were fantastic in 5th and Switzerland also did really well finishing 6th.

It was a crazy race but an amazing spectacle and another great advert for biathlon. The men’s race tomorrow is the final event here in PyeongChang. Let’s hope they produce something similar!

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PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Mixed Relay!

Yet another dramatic biathlon race in PyeongChang. The Mixed Relay did not disappoint – well it did disappoint Germany but they aren’t short of medals, are they?!

The Italians were the first team to take the lead in this race. The brilliant Lisa Vittozzi, who should get a special gold medal for her performance, shot 10/10! She was so quick and accurate she made Martin Fourcade look like a beginner! Vanessa Hinz for Germany and Marie Dorin Habert did the same but Vittozzi handed over in the lead.

Marte Olsbu needed spares and put Norway on the back foot. Mona Brorsson ended Swedish hopes with 3 penalty loops and Paulina Fialkova did 5. I can only assume there was a problem with her rifle.

That left Dorothea Wierer at the front closely followed by Laura Dahlmeier and Anais Bescond. Bescond missed 1 in the prone but Wierer and Dahlmeier cleaned to give them a gap. In the stand Dahlmeier missed 1 while Wierer and Bescond needed all their spares.

Dahlmeier handed over a comfortable lead to Erik Lesser meanwhile Tiril Eckhoff went on the penalty loop for Norway and Dasha brought Belarus up to 4th.

Lesser had a straightforward leg just requiring 1 spare in the stand. It was the same for Lukas Hofer but Simon Desthieux for France hit 10/10. While that was going on Johannes Boe had dragged Norway right back to the front needing 1 spare but skiing fast.

Arnd Peiffer, a late replacement for the ill Simon Schempp, was out in front with Martin Fourcade, Emil Svendsen and Dominik Windisch chasing him down.

Peiffer had a nervous prone shoot needing 2 spares, Fourcade hit 5 and Svendsen and Windisch both used a spare. Fourcade was then left alone to hunt down Peiffer and challenge for the gold.

In the end it was heartbreak for Sprint gold medallist Peiffer as he went on the penalty loop on the stand. With Fourcade hitting 5 gold was assured for France. Svendsen used 1 spare to put Norway into silver medal position and Windisch used 2 which meant came out of the range just in front of Peiffer.

With gold and silver decided it was a race for bronze. It came down to a sprint and Windisch took it on the line. The German team protested that he had changed line in the straight and impeded Peiffer but after an agonising wait the jury decided that Peiffer didn’t have slow down due to Windisch’s actions and the bronze stayed with Italy.

Belarus were fantastic finishing 5th and Finland had a great run in 6th. Much will be made of Martin Fourcade winning a 5th gold medal but he is part of the team and they left him in a fabulous position. Occasionally Fourcade lets himself down like in the Idividual race but he rarely lets his team down and he didn’t today.

Spare a though for Arnd Peiffer and the German team though as it’s a tough thing to happen to anyone.

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PyeongChang 2018: The Olympic Pursuits!

The Pursuit race – when the cream rises to the top. Unless you are Laura Dahlmeier of course and already at the top! That’s right she started first and she finished first! Laura led this one most of the way with a short visit from Anastasiya Kuzmina but it was a comfortable race for the double gold medallist.

She hit 19/20 and won by a margin of 30 seconds. She has mastered the winds of PyeongChang and that’s what made the difference. Kuzmina moved up to second and just managed to stay there beating Anais Bescond over the line by 0.2 of a second. Kuzmina missed 4 while Bescond only missed 1 shot and moved from 19th to claim the bronze medal.

Marte Olsbu was 4th, Hanna Oberg was 5th and Denise Herrmann was 6th. The biggest mover of the day was Rosanna Crawford who despite missing twice went from 53rd to 19th!

In the men’s race a certain Mr. Fourcade remembered that he is supposed to win races and put the Sprint debacle behind him. It was a close race up until the third shoot when Fourcade cleaned and all his rivals missed to leave him with a clear path to the gold medal.

He shot 19/20 and won by only 12 seconds in the end but he did slow down to celebrate and do a bit of flag waving. The fight behind him was where the real race was. From the group behind Fourcade only two held their nerve to shoot clean and so it came down to a ski race between Sebastian Samuelsson and Benedikt Doll.

Doll had the lead out of the range but Samuelsson basically stalked him round and it seems he loves this course as he skis it faster than everyone else. He overtook Doll and held him off to take the silver medal at 20-years-old. The Swede shot 19/20 coming from 14th to 2nd and the German also hit 19/20 to claim bronze. I was very happy to see these guys on the podium as they have both done interviews for my blog!!!

Tarjei Boe was 4th, Simon Schempp 5th and Benjamin Weger was 6th. Tim Burke had a great race moving from 47th to 17th.

Tuesday is a day off and the Games continue on Wednesday with the Women’s Individual.

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PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Women’s Sprint!

The 23rd Winter Olympics finally got underway in PyeongChang today with the Women’s Sprint. The conditions were tough with cold temperatures and an ever changing wind. It was a hard day at the office for the ladies.

Lucky for a Miss L. Dahlmeier not only is she an amazing biathlete but had the fortune to be wearing bib23. That could only mean one thing- her first ever Olympic gold medal!!!

What a race from the German! She was the only one of the favourites to hold her nerve in the shooting range hitting 10/10 and skiing to victory by 24 seconds. She cleaned the prone without too much difficulty but on the stand she waited on shot four to make sure it went down. Amazing mental toughness!

The other big names couldn’t do the same with Domracheva missing 2 and Kuzmina and Makarainen both missing 3. That left two podium spots available and it was Marte Olsbu who swooped to win silver. The Norwegian surprised everyone by getting her best ever result here. She missed just 1 shot on the prone and skied strongly to grab a medal. The bronze went to Veronika Vitkova who also missed 1 but this time in the stand.

Marie Dorin Habert was back on form in 4th, Vanessa Hinz was 5th and Lisa Vittozzi 6th.

Two other women shot clean the Russian (you can call her an OAR if you want!) Tatiana Akimova and Austria’s Dunja Zdouc.

Achieving your personal best at an Olympics is quite an amazing thing to do so well done to not only Olsbu but also Irene Cadurisch in 8th, Marketa Davidova in 15th, Johanna Taliherm in 22nd and Emily Dreissigacker in 51st.

The Pursuit is next for the women on Monday. Dahlmeier has a good lead but anything can happen in biathlon!!!

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Pursuits!

Snow, snow, snow! It’s been a while since we have seen so much snow at the biathlon races! It has made for some interesting racing especially today in the Pursuits!

The men started us off and with plenty of snow and wind Johannes Boe took his third win of the season. It was a straight fight between him and Martin Fourcade with none of the others getting even close to the win. Johannes and Martin were pretty well matched, Johannes missing 2 on the first prone and Martin missing one. They both shot well in shoots two and three both just missing 1 in the first stand.

So they arrived on the range together for the final shoot and normally you expect Martin to clear and Johannes to shoot too fast and miss. Not today! Johannes shot fast and cleared all the targets and Martin missed three! That’s right three! It seems that Johannes has the upper hand at the moment and the last thing you want to give him is more confidence!

Jakov Fak concentrated on his own race and although he briefly lost third place to Henrik L’Abee Lund he retook it and shot 19/20. Thanks to Fourcade’s three misses he was able to pass him to finish second and continue his great start to the season. Fourcade fought off Simon Schempp for third on the line.

Fifth went to Tarjei Boe who came from 14th and sixth went to Maxim Tsvetkov from 20th. Other big movers were Quentin Fillon Maillet from 38th to 12th, Freddie Lindstrom from 44th to 16th and Evgeniy Garanichev from 57th to 26th. There were also a couple of personal bests for Ruslan Tkalenko in 35th and Vytautas Strolia in 38th.

The women’s race seemed like someone had given you a Christmas present of a snow globe from ‘ye olden times’ biathlon. We saw Anastasiya Kuzmina winning her first race since 2014. Second went to Kaisa Makarainen and third to Darya Domracheva. Where have all the youngsters gone?

Domracheva got off to a good start clearing the first prone with Kuzmina missing one. They matched each others shooting until the third shoot when Dasha missed and Kuzmina cleared all the targets on both stands to win by 10 seconds. Coming up behind was Makarainen with 2 misses altogether but faster skiing meant she passed Dasha for second place.

Wierer was 4th, Olsbu 5th and Dzhima 6th. Iryna Kryuko went from 35th to 9th with a clean shoot. Vanessa Hinz went from 27th to 12th, Marie Dorin Habert moved from 34th to 14th and Johanna Taliherm went from 45th to 29th to claim her best result on the World Cup to date.

The Relays are next which means Kaisa Makarainen takes the yellow bib to France as does Martin Fourcade. Imagine if Johannes took the yellow bib from Martin in Annecy!!!

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Oestersund 2017: The Pursuits!

Well, well, well Denise Herrmann proved everyone wrong didn’t she! The general consensus was that she would not repeat her Sprint victory in the Pursuit as she has the least experience in the field and has never led the race before.

WRONG! She produced a great race to take her second victory in a row and really worry the other women! Hopefully not too many other cross country skiers will follow her move as if you don’t choose biathlon as your first sport it is very suspicious! 😉

The first two prone shoots were pretty straightforward for Herrmann hitting 10/10. It was in the first stand that she had a wobble! She missed two and that allowed Justine Braisaz to catch up to her. Both cleaned the second stand and left the range together but then Herrmann just skied off into the distance winning by 25 seconds and leaving poor Justine to miss out on the win again. She shot 20/20 and will take the yellow bib to Hochfilzen after having a great week here in Sweden.

Third place went to Marte Olsbu who moved from 7th to the final podium spot with 2 missed targets. She passed Lisa Vittozzi who had just one miss and came home 4th. Maren Hammerschmidt went from 12th to 5th.

Nadezhda Skardino was 6th hitting 20/20 making it 50/50 for the individual races which is ridiculously impressive! Olena Pidhrushna went from 28th to 9th, Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht moved from 27th to 11th and Iryna Kryuko went from 53rd to 22nd. It was a bad day for Yuliia Dzhima who went from third down to 21st missing 5 targets.

Normal service was resumed in the men’s race with Martin Fourcade winning his 64th World Cup race. He managed to defeat the double assault from the Boe brothers this time! The top 3 from the Sprint, Fourcade, Tarjei Boe and Lesser got to the first prone together but then Lesser missed 4 and his chance was gone. Boe and Fourcade missed 1 which left Svendsen and Dolder in the lead ahead of Andrejs Rastorgujevs.

At the second prone Boe and Fourcade shot clean and retook the lead. The first standing shoot would decide the winner as Fourcade hit all five and Boe missed 3. Behind Fourcade the battle was on for second and third. Jakov Fak and Quentin Fillon Maillet cleaned the first stand while others missed and they both missed 1 in the final shoot leaving a ski race to decide the positions. Fak managed to get away from Fillon Maillet in the last section of the track and took his first podium since 2015. Last year was ruined for Fak through illness so it was great to see him back at the top.

Svendsen just pipped home favourite Freddie Lindstrom for 4th and Lars Helge Birkeland came from 29th to finish 6th. Another Norwegian Henrik L’Abee Lund moved from 41st to 12th, Ondrej Moravec went from 44th to 22nd and Evgeniy Garanichev moved from 55th to 29th.

That concludes the action from Oestersund and now we move swiftly to Hochfilzen for a Sprint, Pursuit and the Relays. The yellow bibs are in the hands of the French with Justine Braisaz and Martin Fourcade leading the Total Scores.

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Season Preview 2017/18: Women

It’s almost time for the Women’s biathlon season to start. The first race is the Women’s Individual in Oestersund on the 29th of November. Last season was more or less a straight fight between Laura Dahlmeier and Gabriela Koukalova with Dahlmeier coming out on top winning the Overall Title for the first time.

It could be a similar situation this season but with the Olympics Games on the horizon the World Cup will not be the main focus for the majority of the biathletes. They will be concentrating on peaking for PyeongChang in February and we could even see some of them skipping World Cup races preferring to train for the Olympics.

It also means we could be losing a few of our favourites at the end of the season as the end of an Olympic cycle is a favoured time among sportspeople to retire.

Last season’s Total Scored ended like this:
4.Dorin Habert

Dahlmeier was impressive all year and crucially managed to stay fit and healthy for the entire season. She was a deserved winner of the big crystal globe and will start as favourite this season. However she didn’t have it easy.

At some points last season the top four were very close and Gabriela Koukalova pushed Dahlmeier the hardest. She is also a contender again this season but I fear she will be aiming solely for the Olympic medals and she has some health problems that could see her miss the first round in Sweden and possibly more.

It could be Kaisa Makarainen’s final season. She has spoken about retiring in the past and this may be the one she chooses to call it a day. Hopefully not but she also has a chance at the overall if she gets back some of her old consistency. Last season wasn’t her best but if she can sort out her shooting then it’s tough to beat her on the skis.

Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer are very talented biathletes but I am not sure either can put together enough consistent performances to win the World Cup.

The French women’s team in particular had a great season with Justine Braisaz and Anais Chevalier also in the Top 10. They can’t win it yet but look for them to continue moving up the standings.

None of the other ladies have produced enough points scoring finishes over the whole season to win the overall but the likes of Yuliia Dzhima, Franziska Hildebrand and Susan Dunklee can certainly win races and take podiums when they are on form.

Outside the Top 10 we found Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu in 11th and 12th place. Eckhoff has been pretty disappointing since she won the Sprint gold at the Oslo World Championships. She has struggled to put together a good season but she is still young and can hopefully make the Top 10 this year.

I would expect improvement from Anais Bescond and now also Mari Laukkanen after her great end to last season. Selina Gasparin has shown glimpses of getting back to her best and we should look to see her moving up the rankings.

Franziska Preuss had a season disrupted by injury and she will also be in the mix for podiums if she returns on good form. The Italian women like Lisa Vittozzi and Alexia Runggaldier will also be hoping to build on their successful seasons last year.

There is of course a dark horse in the women’s side. A certain Darya Domracheva. She was 24th in the Total Score but missed a lot of the season after having her baby. If she regains her form from the Sochi Olympic year she will be a massive challenger to Dahlmeier and the others.

One nation that has had a terrible time lately is Russia. Their women’s team is not nearly as good as it has been and their top performer last season was Tatiana Akimova in 16th. They will be hoping to step up their game in this very important season.

One person who will be missing from the start line in Sweden is Teja Gregorin. The Slovenian has been suspended by the IBU after retesting of her samples from the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 came back as positive for a banned substance. A growth hormone was discovered in her blood and there will be a hearing at the end of this month to deal with it.

However we will concentrate on those who are racing and the action gets underway very soon. If this season is anything like last year on the women’s World Cup you will not want to miss a single race!

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