Calm yourselves people! I know the season starts on Sunday but there is still time for a little preview of the women’s competition. These kinds of seasons only come around every four years so there is a lot to get excited about and there will be a lot of focus on the Olympic Games in February. However there is still the small matter of the World Cup Tour to get on with first.
This year we find ourselves kicking off in Oestersund again and unlike last year I am hoping it will throw up some unexpected results. Tora Berger won all 3 races and went on to dominate the entire season. Obviously she is again the favourite to do so and to win medals in Sochi. While I am a huge fan of Berger and her amazing achievements I would like to see the prizes shared around a bit!
So who can we expect to challenge her in her final season? Well last year’s runner up Darya Domracheva could certainly give her a run for her money. A little more consistency for Dasha would really give Tora something to worry about. Veteran Andrea Henkel showed that age is no barrier to success with a fantastic season last year and Zaitseva also has a wealth of experience and a home Olympics to motivate her.
Don’t forget the young guns who are hot on Berger’s heels. A great end of season from Soukalova made a lot of people sit up and take notice of her and of course Germany’s Miriam Gossner is still a contender despite her pre-season injury problems. If that isn’t enough consider the double pronged attack from the Semerenko twins,and not forgetting their Ukrainian colleague Pidhrushna. Then there is Kuzmina, Mäkäräinen, Dorin Habert and Teja Gregorin to throw into the mix. Not to mention the successors to the Norwegian throne Synnøve Solemdal and Ann Kristin Flatland.
There is a lot of talent in women’s biathlon at the moment. It’s going to be a great season to follow and somehow I don’t think Berger will have it all her own way this time around. The unpredictable nature of the sport due to the shooting element means that nobody quite knows what’s going to happen and this year has the potential to be one of the best yet. I suggest you sit back and enjoy the fireworks – 2013/14 is going to be cracker!
Good luck ladies!
Like biathlon23 on Facebook!
Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter!
The bicycle: You may think it’s just an object used to keep fit and enjoy yourself but to biathletes they are becoming an increasing danger. Unfortunately in the battle of biathletes vs. bikes it seems as though the bikes are winning!
Many biathletes turn to the bike as an integral part of their summer training. It is great for improving fitness and stamina and it doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the hips or knees. However some of them seem to have forgotten that they are not Chris Froome and are succumbing to more and more accidents.
One of the worst bike accidents was probably that of Czech biathlete Jaroslav Soukop last year. Whilst training with his teammates he went over the handlebars of his bike and hit his right shoulder, head and arm. This resulted in cerebral concussion and lumbar spine injuries and also required an operation to reset two breaks in his right arm. It was feared he would miss the whole of last season but made a miraculous recovery and returned mid-season. He was able to compete in his home World Championships in Nove Mesto where he won a bronze medal in the Mixed Relay.
This summer’s training has also seen a spate of biking accidents. Miriam Gössner had an accident while training in Norway in which she fractured four lumbar vertebrae and will miss a good deal of training and possibly the beginning of the season. Selina Gasparin injured her foot in Greece and spent a few weeks in a removable cast but thankfully it was not too serious.
So are any of our intrepid athletes fighting back? Well I would like to put forward Alexis Boeuf as a champion for the biathletes. To be honest he looks like he could be a professional bike racer. He can often be seen cycling up very high mountains and seems to really love cycling rather than just doing it as a means of training. Actually the French are doing pretty well with their bikes as Simon Fourcade is now sponsored by a bike company (well they are giving him a load of free stuff anyway). Martin also uses a bike regularly in his summer training.
The bicycle: A great way to train but also an easy way to get a serious injury. My advice to the biathletes would be to get some training about descending from hills and mountains. Not a lot of people get injured cycling uphill but coming down at high speed is not an easy skill. Maybe if they ask their” local” cycling professionals for a bit of help things might go better. Soukop can have a word with Roman Kreuziger, Gössner with Marcel Kittel, Gasparin with Fabian Cancellara and Alexis Boeuf can challenge Cristophe Riblon and Pierre Roland to a race up Alpe D’ Huez! 😉
Don’t forget you can like biathlon23 on Facebook!
Not only is she a biathlete but 22 year old Miriam Gössner is also a cross-country skier. One of few people who choose to compete in both events she has won an Olympic silver medal in cross-country skiing and two biathlon world championship titles all in relay events.
Miriam was born in the German alpine resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria. Her father is German and her mother Norwegian. Could there be a better combination for producing a top biathlete! However this wasn’t her original choice of winter sport. She aimed for a career in alpine skiing, but following an accident during slalom training she changed disciplines to biathlon at the age of 14. Let’s just say alpine’s loss is biathlon’s gain.
Being German, a very fast skier and blonde, she is inevitably compared to Magdalena Neuner. This is a lot of pressure to heap on a young athlete. They are quite similar in that they are both better at skiing than shooting but Miri has plenty of time to improve. And she will have to improve because no matter how fast you ski you can’t make up for missing too many targets. However she is her own person and although comparisons to Neuner may be flattering they may not be helpful. She should be judged on her own performances and against her own expectations rather than other peoples. Too much pressure on young shoulders can sometimes have a negative effect, but Miri seems to be the kind of athlete who can handle it and use it to her advantage.
Next season could be a huge one for Miriam. She has the Olympics to come as well as the regular World Cup season. She also has the option of competing in two disciplines in Sochi. Will she be tempted to enter any cross-country events as well as the biathlon programme? I think it comes down to how well she shoots. If she can improve her shooting statistics to over 80% for both disciplines then she will have a great chance of winning medals next February especially in the sprint which has so far been her best event. However if she doesn’t maybe she could consider giving the cross-country a go.
One motto of hers is to “live the life you love”. A great philosophy to have and it seems as though she is doing it. You can see how much she enjoys competing and the skiing in particular. I am really looking forward to following her progress next season and I’m expecting a bit of Miri magic in the Olympics too.
1st Sprint 2012/13 Ruhpolding (GER)
1st Sprint 2012/13 Oberhof (GER)
1st Pursuit 2012/13 Pokljuka (SLO)
2nd Mass Start 2012/13 Pokljuka (SLO)
2nd Sprint 2012/13 Pokljuka (SLO)
2nd Sprint 2010/11 Fort Kent, ME (USA)