Tag Archives: Mixed Relay

Oestersund 2019: Mixed Relay!

The World Championships got off to a fantastic start in Oestersund! There was (wait for it!)… a Smörgåsbord of talent on show in the Mixed Relay with most of the big guns starting for their country. There was one last minute change when Laura Dahlmeier pulled out after feeling a little unwell and she was replaced by Denise Herrmann.

The first leg was the same as pretty much every other relay this season that had Lisa Vittozzi racing first. She shot the perfect 10 and headed to the exchange in first place. She was followed closely however by Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Linn Persson who had a great leg for the home team. Vanessa Hinz handed over in 6th for Germany.

The second leg was easily the best of the race. Dorothea Wierer and Tiril Eckhoff were out front but were being chased down by Hanna Oberg but especially by Denise Herrmann. At the first prone we all expected Wierer to blast through the 5 targets and Eckoff to miss but it didn’t work out that way.

Wierer missed 2 and then so did Eckhoff but they both used their spares well. Oberg needed 1 spare but Herrmann shot best of all with no misses. Italy, Germany and Norway stuck together on the second loop and in the standing shoot Wierer required 2 spares while Eckhoff and Herrmann both needed 3.

With Herrmann’s ski speed she handed over in the lead with Eckhoff in second and Wierer third. It was then a battle between Johannes Boe, Arnd Peiffer and Lukas Hofer and there was only going to be one winner. Boe and Peiffer both used 2 spares but Hofer needed 5 over the two shoots. Boe grabbed a lead of 15 seconds over Peiffer to hand over to Vetle Christiansen, with Hofer 56 seconds back in third.

It was a brilliant performance by Peiffer considering the meltdown he had in this race at the Olympics that cost Germany the gold medal.

His teammate Benedikt Doll set off after Christiansen hoping to haul back the Norwegian but to no avail. Even though he is the least experienced biathlete on the Norwegian team Christiansen was amazing on his leg. He shot 10/10 and skied calmly the whole way around like he didn’t have a care in the world! It was a fabulous effort from the Norwegians who thoroughly deserved the gold medal.

Doll stayed in second using 2 spares on the standing shoot. Dominik Windisch kept Italy in third although he did need 5 spares including 3 on the final shoot!

Russia were 4th, Sweden 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.

France who have won both Mixed Relays this season on the World Cup finished 8th with 15 spares required in a dismal performance for such a great team. Poland raced really well starting 22nd and finishing 9th only using 4 spares!

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The Swede Smell of Success!

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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

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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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