Tag Archives: Martin Fourcade

HO HO HOchfilzen!

hochfilzen

It’s close enough to Christmas to get away with that title,right? Well either way we got a few pre-Christmas treats from the biathletes this weekend in Hochfilzen. It all kicked off with the women in the Sprint which saw Selina Gasparin taking her and Swizerland’s first win on the World Cup with a great skiing and shooting performance. Some great shooting also saw Veronika Vitkova match her best result so far in second and Irina Starykh taking her top result finishing third. I was especially pleased about Irina Starykh as she just happened to be wearing bib 23!

It was followed by the men and Lars Berger stormed back onto the World Cup by winning the Sprint with an amazing skiing performance after starting out on the IBU Cup.He managed to beat Martin Fourcade into second and a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into third. It’s great to see Berger doing well again for his fun personality if nothing else. I would also like someone to check Bjoerndalen’s birth certificate to make sure he really will be 40 next month.I don’t know how he does it! Whatever his parents fed him when he was young I want some of it!

On Saturday we had the first men’s and women’s relays of the season. The Ukrainian women’s team put in a stellar performance to win. All of their athletes did a great job but Julia Dzhyma stands out for her overall performance over the weekend. They were followed by Germany and France but Norway were noticeably absent from the podium. Over on the men’s side however the Norwegian men won with a dominant display and a characteristically great last leg from Svendsen. Sweden took a great second place with Bergman striking like a cobra into the stadium to fight off the Russian charge and leave them in third.

On to Sunday and the Pursuit. A great race from Solemdal gave her a second victory in Hochfilzen and made up for another difficult day on the shooting range for Tora Berger. Dzhyma took a fantastic second place thanks to some great shooting and Poland’s Palka made up 8 places to finish third. Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade won the men’s race followed by Svendsen and Boe. Just a little tip for the Norwegians you can’t give Fourcade a 40 second lead in a Pursuit if you want a chance of winning it! Having said that both the Norwegian guys have stepped up a gear from Oestersund and it’s just a pity they won’t be competing in France this coming weekend.

For the home crowd Cristoph Sumann gave them something to cheer about getting 5th in the Sprint and 7th in the Pursuit. They got 4th in the men’s relay too but unfortunately Simon Eder couldn’t carry on his form from last week in Oestersund and Dominik Landertinger didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped at home. The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews.

Standouts for me from Hochfilzen have to be Simon Schempp and the German team in general. Schempp finished 8th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the relay. Daniel Boehm and Arnd Peiffer got 2 TOP 20 finishes and the women were second in the relay. Julia Dhzyma as I mentioned before had a good weekend all round finishing first in the relay, second in the Pursuit and fifth in the Sprint. The big movers in the Pursuit were Alexis Boeuf and Benjamin (Darth) Weger gaining 20 and 34 places respectively and the Semerenko twins and Gabriela Soukalova(Bib23) who started 22,23 and 24 and finished 7,8,9.

So after HO HO Hochfilzen now all thoughts turn to France and a first visit to Annecy. None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy!

P.S Has anyone else noticed the interviewer in the IBU official Press Conference always asks a question with the word “surprise” in it. I can’t watch them properly because it makes me laugh everytime I hear it! Listen out for it in Annecy!

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The Swede Smell of Success!

oestersund

Well that’s Oestersund over for another year. A disrupted calendar due to high winds but pretty interesting all the same. It began what feels like about 10 years ago with the mixed relay. The Czech Republic won with a very solid performance from all 4 athletes and with a little help from Martin Fourcade who proved he is in fact human and not just a lean, mean, biathlon machine.

He soon put all that behind him though by winning the Individual by over 2 minutes with an “in your face doubters” kind of display. What’s most remarkable about this guy is that after a disaster in the relay and 4 days to sit and dwell on it he comes out and shoots clear. His mental strength is unbelievable and you can’t help but be impressed by the way he handled the situation. We know his physical ability but to have that mental toughness is why he will be so hard to beat this season. Many people would have crumbled after the relay but he comes out even stronger and wins the Sprint too just for good measure. Four-midable!

On the women’s side Tora Berger didn’t get off to a great start either. She also had a bit of a shocker in the relay. Like Fourcade she worked her way back on to the podium finishing 3rd in the Sprint.Elsewhere Gabriela Soukalova started where she finished last season with an impressive performance in the Individual and Ann Kristin Flatland had a great race to win the Sprint. It was great to see Marie-Laure Brunet get the podium that her amazing shooting deserves and Olga Zaitseva making it in there too after a rocky start for Team Russia. Slovakia also earned a podium through Kuzmina.

Special mentions have to go to the French men’s team especially Jean-Guillame Beatrix for his 4th place in the Sprint and Baptiste Jouty for an amazing 13th place in the same race.In fact the French men had 5 finishers in the TOP 40. Also to Fredrik Lindstrom for restoring some home pride in a tough meet for the Swedes. What might have been if he hadn’t fallen we will never know but I like to think he would have won. Tim Burke also hit some early season form in the Sprint and his fellow North American JP Le Guellec proved that he must really like Oestersund by getting a 4th place in the Individual to follow his Sprint win last year. The Austrian men also performed very well in the Individual with Eder in second, and Mesotitsch in third after competing in Idre in the IBU Cup.

The Italians also had some great results from both the men and women. Oberhofer and Weirer both finished in the TOP 10 -a first for Italy and Hofer and De Lorenzi repeated the feat for the men. Kadri Lehtla was the only woman to shoot clear in the Individual and earned her a career best 15th place. Andorra’s Laurie Soulie was also having the race of her life in that event right up until the final shoot.If she hadn’t missed 3 targets she could have made the TOP 5.

On the other hand it was a bit of a disappointing weekend for the big guns from Norway and Russia especially on the men’s side with no podiums for either team.If you are a fan of theirs though you shouldn’t worry too much. I think they both have a master plan that involves peaking in time for the Olympics and if last season’s World Championships are anything to go by the Norwegians at least will be bang on form for Sochi.

It was unfortunate that both the Pursuits were cancelled. It seems my powers of weather forecasting are brilliant as I did predict a hurricane in my last post! Not to worry though the fun starts again in Hochfilzen on Friday. Fourcade, Soukalova, Flatland and the Czech relay team leave Oestersund with the Swede smell of success but can they repeat it in Austria? You’ll have to wait and see!

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Targeting success! Season Preview: Men

biath

It’s that time of year again folks! After an eternity (well just summer and autumn really) biathlon is back! The season kicks off on Sunday in Oestersund with the mixed relay followed by the Individual,the Sprint and finally the Pursuit. So the boys will be back on track with all guns blazing-literally! It’s a big season for everyone with the Olympics starting in a mere 3 months so what can we expect form the men’s side this year?

Well as you might have guessed the big favourite has to be Martin Fourcade. Five Chrystal globes last season and a handful of medals from the World Championships makes him the guy they will all be gunning for. Unfortunately for the others like a French wine he seems to be getting better with age.

What about his main competition this season. Well the top two on his tail have to be the Russian ladies favourites from Norway Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tarjei Bø. These boys will be very hard to beat as illness hit seasons for both of them last year were still better than most others full seasons.

Beyond these three who else is left to challenge. There is a whole team from Russia who can do well but with their main aim the home Olympics in Sochi I can’t see them putting too much effort into winning a Chrystal Globe. Elsewhere we have the Germans. A poor season last year by their own high standards should see a highly motivated Peiffer, Birnbacher and co. launch a major attack on the podiums this year.

We should also see continually improving athletes like Jakov Fak and Dominik Landertinger being a challenge to Fourcade’s dominance and closer to home he will have to watch out for his French teammates and of course his own brother. Have I forgotten someone? Oh yes – young Ole Einar Bjørndalen! You can never count him out for a race win but a Globe will be much more difficult.

What I like best though about the opening round of the IBU World Cup is that no one really knows what shape they are going to be in at the start and it can throw up some unexpected results. Take the first Sprint podium last year which saw JP Le Guellec win his first race and Alexis Boeuf and Cristoph Sumann take second and third.

So who is going to win the prizes this time round? Well looking into my Chrystal Globe I can see victory for……now that would be telling!!! All I know for sure is that it’s going to be one hell a season with so many male biathletes at the top of their game and all competing for the few Olympic medals on offer. My advice – just sit back and enjoy the show and whoever wins the Globes and medals will thoroughly deserve them all!

Good luck guys!

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Hungary for biathlon!

hungaryfans

What’s the one thing I love more than biathlon? Biathlon fans of course! Finding people with the same kind of passion for a sport as you is great and if they come from all different countries and cultures so much the better. It has nothing to do with the fact that they are the same people who read my blog! Honestly!;-)

Hungary might not be the first country you would associate with biathlon but it is there that a group of guys got together via their shared love of biathlon and created (the imaginatively titled!) Biathlon Fans Hungary.

It was through the medium of the internet (useful thing that internet!) that 5 guys from all around Hungary met on forums and community pages to share their passion for biathlon in a country which is dominated by football, handball, water polo,volleyball and other non-winter sports. András, Ákos, Sanyi, Szilveszter and Dani had never even been to a race before when they first started communicating.

That was all about to change however when the intrepid Dani decided to go to his first race in Nove Mesto to watch a World Cup event. Inspired by their friend, András, Sanyi and Szilveszter went to the World Championships in Ruhpolding to watch their favourite, Magdalena Neuner, at least once before she retired. That was when they decided as a group that they should go to last season’s World Championships in Nove Mesto and what a time they had!

Not content with just watching the events by day they also had a plan for how to fill their evenings as well! Already an international fan club after David and Antoine joined from France they made even more friends by organising parties and inviting many people from the stadium to join them which eventually included some of the biathletes! They now have an official t-shirt and also their own blog which I highly recommend and they are the first official IBU registered fan club from Hungary. So bereft of biathlon this summer they organised a tour and visited amongst other places Obertilliach,Ramsau and Pokljuka to meet and interview some biathletes during their summer training. That’s dedication for you!

What makes these guys special is that they support everyone in biathlon. I imagine like any fan they have their favourites but it doesn’t stop them encouraging and shouting for all the biathletes. Like me they take an interest in everyone who takes part from Fourcade and Berger at the top to less well known biathletes from non traditional winter sports countries as you can see from their great interviews on their blog. I don’t know what their plans are for this season but if you see a bunch of friendly faces in red t-shirts making a lot of noise at any of the World Cup rounds this season be sure and say hello. I am sure they would love to meet anyone who is as Hungary for biathlon as they are!

Well done guys! Keep up the amazing support and those great interviews!

Read the blog: http://biathlonfanshungary.blogspot.co.uk/
And join their Facebook page!

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Johannes: The next big Thing!

johannes bo

Things to knøw about Johannes Thingnes Bø :
He was born on the 16th of May 1993.
He was born in Styrn, Norway.
His big brother is Tarjei Bø.
He is the youngest Norwegian to appear in the National Team.
He is a three time Junior World Champion.
In 2 Junior World Championships he has won 5 gold and 2 silver medals.
He won a gold and silver medal in the World Junior Olympics.
He won the Super Sprint at this year’s Blink Festival.

Sø we have yet another young and very talented Norwegian breaking onto the World Cup. Where do they get them all? Well Johannes isn’t exactly an unknown quantity. He has been setting the biathlon world alight now for a good few years in the Junior ranks and last year saw his debut on the Senior tour. He competed in the final three events of the season in Holmenkollen, Sochi and Khanty-Mansiysk. Two 20th place finishes in the Sprint and Pursuit made for a very promising debut for the 20 year old.

He is a fast and accurate shooter and he is also a good skier which will be worrying to some of the senior members of the Norwegian Team. With the Olympics coming up there are probably 2 spots available on the relay team and Johannes has a good chance of getting one. If he can perform well on the World Cup he will give the Norwegian selectors a big headache for Sochi. If he can replicate what Tarjei did in his debut season it will be a great start to his Senior career.

Some might argue that Sochi may be a bit too soon for Johannes but if he is good enough then he is old enough. He managed to beat the likes of Svendsen, Fourcade and his brother in this year’s Blink Festival in the Super Sprint event. Obviously this takes places in the summer on roller-skis and isn’t a huge indicator of form for the season but it will definitely give him confidence and is great experience for the youngster.

It will be very interesting to see what Johannes can achieve this season. He has the talent to get some Top 10 finishes on the World Cup tour and possibly even a podium but we have to remember it will be his first proper season and it’s a steep learning curve. Whatever he does I am sure he will be good to watch and I love it when a new biathlete comes up to the Senior tour and gives the big boys a run for their money. We may have to wait until the 2014 season to see him at his best with a year’s experience under his belt but I am really looking forward to seeing Bø versus Bø* and watching the progress of biathlon’s next big Thing!

*if anyone from NRK is reading this it would make a fantastic biathlon based gameshøw! Possibly presented by Emil Hegle Svendsen!;-)

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What happ-ARND last season?

peiffer

I think this is the question that Arnd Peiffer will be asking himself this year as well as the German coaching staff and the fans. Last season was pretty terrible for Arnd and not much better for the rest of the German men’s squad. After a great few seasons where did it all go wrong?

Arnd Peiffer(no relation to Michelle ;-)) was born on March 18th 1987 in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. He began competing on the World Cup in 2008 and attained his first victory by the end of that season. He has won a total of 8 World Championship medals. He enjoyed great success in 2011 in Khanty- Mansiysk winning an Individual gold in the Sprint and silver in the Mixed relay. He also has a gold from the Mixed relay in 2010 and a further 5 bronze medals from relay events in Pyeongchang,Ruhpolding and Nove Mesto.

This last medal in the Men’s Relay from 2013 was the highlight of a difficult season for Peiffer. He missed far too many targets on the shooting range and was nowhere near competing with the likes of Fourcade and Svendsen. This dip in form coincided with the retirement of Michael Greis and for me may have played a part in Peiffer’s loss of form.

Greis was the leader of the German team and had by far the most success and experience of their athletes. His absence meant that Peiffer was left,along with Andi Birnbacher, to fill the role left by Greis and probably put a lot of extra weight on his shoulders. Pressure can often cause people to under perform and I think this goes some way to explaining last season’s problems.

However having a bad season can sometimes do athletes a lot of good. It gives them a taste of failure which they do not want to ever repeat and can provide them with a greater understanding of themselves and extra motivation to do well. It can also allow them to assess themselves in a way they might not do when they are enjoying relative success and let them make improvements in areas they may have previously thought unnecessary.

I think Arnd Peiffer can use last season to help him become a better biathlete and he will show that he has great strength of character in doing so. He is already well into preparation for next season having spent time training in Oberhof, Davos and Bormio. He has the possibility to medal in Sochi if he can find some shooting form. In analysing what happ-ARND last season he will surely be able to improve his performances in the future.

Arnd’s Website: http://www.arndpeiffer.de

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See you in Annecy!

annecy

December 9th to 15th this year sees the first ever World Cup stage to be held in France. It will take place at Le Grand Bornand in Annecy. Good timing then when the men’s overall World Cup winner with his five Chrystal globes just happens to be French! It’s also a great chance for the French athletes to perform in front of their home crowd.

It’s great to see the IBU World Cup moving around a bit. Fantastic as the other venues are, like Ruhpolding and Holmenkollen, it’s nice for the fans that can’t necessarily travel to have the opportunity to see these great athletes close up.

And for those who can travel it’s an excellent place to combine a bit of skiing while watching the biathlon. Annecy, in the far west corner of France, is just 50 minutes from Geneva and is home to the resorts of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigold and St-Jean de Sixt. As a bidder (unfortunately unsuccessful) for the 2018 Winter Olympics it boasts exciting ski zones and excellent facilities. It also has the largest Nordic ski area in Haute-Savoie with more than 50 miles of trails across the Confins Plateau and the Beauregard Plateau.

The biathlon stadium, opened in February 2011, is named after local double world champion and Olympic medallist Sylvie Beceart. A World Cup stage was due to take place here the same year but was cancelled due to a lack of snow. However measures have been taken to stock pile last winter’s excess snow to ensure that the event will go ahead this winter.

Recently used for the 2013 Military World Winter Games, it has already held a biathlon event with a lot of the top names attending including the Fourcade brothers, Hofer, Landertinger and Weger, Gwizdon and Palka to name but a few.

So if you are thinking of an early Christmas holiday with a bit of biathlon and skiing thrown in maybe we will see you in Annecy!

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