Tag Archives: Nicole Gontier

Oestersund 2019: The Relays!

Norway’s men won the battle in the sprints and the French men won the battle in the individual! Saturday’s men’s relay would decide who won the war of Oestersund!

OK that might be a little dramatic but we love a bit of drama and that’s what we got in the relay! The first leg was won by Germany with a great start from Erik Lesser. He shot well to hand over ahead of Italy’s Lukas Hofer and France’s Emilien Jacquelin. Norway were 5th with Johannes Dale having a solid first leg using just 2 spares.

Sweden came out on top in the second leg thanks to Jesper Nelin. He coped best in the conditions to give Martin Ponsiluoma a 10 second lead. Behind Nelin came Norway and Italy after good legs from Erlend Bjoentegaard and Thomas Bormolini. Quentin Fillon Maillet went on the penalty loop but skied very fast to make it into third at the exchange ahead of Bormolini.

Tarjei Boe took over for Norway and caught Ponsiluoma before the first prone. Boe needed just one spare which put him into the lead. Simon Desthieux was chasing after Sweden went on the penalty loop and 22-year-old Daniele Cappellari had a great leg for Italy putting them in third.

Tarjei handed over an 11 second lead to his brother Johannes and it was all he needed to take the win for Norway. Fourcade did his best to chase him down with a faultless shoot to Boe’s 2 spares but it wasn’t enough. Dominik Windisch held on to third place for Italy after a fight with Russia.

Russia were 4th, Sweden 5th and Ukraine 6th.

So Norway won the war then? No of course not the wind always wins in Oestersund!

On Sunday it was the women’s turn to race and it was another great relay.

The first leg was once again dominated by Lisa Vittozzi. She cleaned the prone and used 1 spare in the stand to give Italy a 15 second lead at the first exchange. Behind her were Norway with Karoline Kntten and Sweden’s Linn Persson.

Nicole Gontier took the second leg for Italy but she incurred a penalty loop on the prone and put them out of contention. Elvira Oeberg took over the lead for Sweden and held it to the second exchange despite the close attention of Justine Braisaz. Norway came next with Ingrid Tandrevold and then Selina Gasparin for Switzerland and Germany’s Denise Herrmann.

Mona Brorsson took the third leg for the home team but was caught by Tiril Eckhoff and they came into the range together. They both shot 5/5 as did Aita Gasparin. In the stand the Swede cleaned while Eckhoff needed 2 spares. Gasparin cleaned again for the perfect leg.

By the exchange Brorsson had a three second lead to hand to Hanna Oeberg who was closely followed by Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Next came Franziska Preuss and Lena Haecki. The three chasers all cleaned the prone but Oeberg needed all 3 of her spares.

Roeiseland took the lead on the track but had to use 2 spares in the final stand. However it was enough to secure the lead and take Norway to victory again matching the men’s relay team.

The battle was on for second with Oeberg storming back with a clean stand and Haecki using a single spare. They were neck and neck until Haecki made a decisive break and Oeberg just couldn’t catch her. It was an historic second place for the Swiss women’s team with the three Gasparin sisters and Haecki getting their country’s first podium in the women’s relay needing just 4 spare rounds to do it!

Sweden were third with another good result. Germany were 4th, Russia 5th and France 6th.

The action now moves to Hochfilzen for round 2 of the World Cup.

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Nicole Gontier: The Interview!

Nicole Gontier is an Italian biathlete from the Aosta Valley. The 27-year-old made her World Cup debut in 2012 and achieved her personal best result in 2015 when she finished third in the Oberhof Sprint. She has 2 bronze medals from the World Championships in 2013 and 2015 as a member of the Women’s relay team. She has represented Italy twice at the Olympics in Sochi and PyeongChang.

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Why did you become a biathlete?

I started to do biathlon thanks to my father and my grandfather who were in charge of the Aosta valley biathlon and also thanks to the atmosphere and training of the coaches of Aosta valley biathlon.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season I was happy about my shape on skis, I had good feelings but I have to improve my shooting on the range.

The World Championships are in Antholz! How excited are you about that?

I’m really happy that the World Championships will be in Antholz. I really like there and I hope that it will be sunny and it will be perfect. The Italian ambience is the best.

The Italian women have a really strong team at the moment. What are your expectations for the World Championships in particular the women’s relay?

Yes the Italian women are really strong but for the moment I expect nothing. I prefer to concentrate on training and then I will see my shape with the first races!

What have you been doing for summer training?

In summer we train on the shooting range and with the roller ski,running,hiking and with the bike.

What are your goals for this season on the World Cup?

Like I said before I don’t have any goals. My goal is to improve myself and I work for this, then I will see in winter where I am.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is that my head is really hard to break so I continue to work hard also in the worst moments because I love what I do. My weakness is that I don’t really trust in me! I will have to trust more in my abilities.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read, to study, to knit and to stay with my dog! The best is to stay on the sofa with him watching the TV. I like to travel in Italy and to discover new little places and eat the special dish and drink the local wine.

Do you have a favourite biathlon track? Where is it and why?

I really like Antholz, it is a hard track but I had good feelings with it.

Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?

I really respect Martin Fourcade, he always has the situation under control and he does what he wants. I like so much Doro(Wierer) and Lisa (Vittozzi)! They are really strong.

Does your rifle have a name?

Ahah.. no for the moment no, we have a relationship of love and hate.

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling,stubborn,sweet.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): French
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Lukas Hofer – last year’s rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy’s suits of last year’s Championship
Lucky bib number: Mmm… I don’t have one.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade (but he stopped).
Best thing about being a biathlete: We never get bored!

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Oestersund 2019: The Relays!

Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg would have been very happy with today’s rallies…..what I am talking about!!! It was the relays and they won’t be happy at all since they were both won by their neighbours and great rivals Norway!

The women raced first and it was Italy as usual who handed over first at the exchange. Lisa Vittozzi is a first leg legend! She did use 3 spares today unusually for her but she still skied herself into the lead!

She gave Nicole Gontier a five second lead over the Ukraine, the USA and home team Sweden after 10/10 shoots from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Linn Persson and just the 1 spare from Susan Dunklee. Germany with Vanessa Hinz went on the penalty loop but Norway were not too far off with a solid leg from Synnoeve Solemdal with 2 spares used.

Gontier had a great leg hitting all 10 targets as did Clare Egan for the USA leaving them neck and neck at the exchange. They were followed by Vita Semerenko, Mona Brorsson and Ingrid Tandrevold who hit 10/10 for Norway.

The third leg saw Joanne Reid hold the lead for the USA after the prone ahead of Alexia Runggaldier, Anna Magnusson, Yuliia Dzhima and Tiril Eckhoff.

Magnusson cleaned the stand to put Sweden in the lead, Reid needed 1 spare, Dzhima 2 and Eckhoff and Runggaldier went on the penalty loop!

That gave Hanna Oberg a 17 second lead at the final exchange. She was followed out by Emily Dreissigacker, Valj Semerenko and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Oberg needed 2 spares in the prone, the USA were clean and Ukraine and Norway took 1 spare each.

Roeiseland and Semerenko passed Dreissigacker on the tracks to move into second and third place for the final crucial shoot. Oberg was first in but needed all her spares. Roeiseland threw caution to the wind and went for it hitting all 5 and skiing to the gold medal for Norway. Sweden took silver and Semerenko needed 1 spare to safely claim the bronze medal. Unfortunately Dreissigacker went on the penalty loop twice and eventually finished in 9th but it was an amazing race from the US ladies.

Germany were 4th, Russia 5th and Slovakia 6th.

The day was tinged with sadness however as it was Rosanna Crawford’s final race for Canada who finished 14th. She will be greatly missed on the World Cup. 😦

The men raced later and victory again went to Norway who have won gold in every single relay at the World Championships!

The first leg was very close between a lot of the teams with some good shooting on the range. It was Matvey Eliseev who handed over first though for Russia with Lukas Hofer and Antonin Guigonnat close behind. The top ten teams were all within around 10 seconds of each other with Erik Lesser and Lars Birkeland keeping Germany and Norway in the mix.

The gaps stared to appear after leg 2 with France taking the lead thanks to Quentin Fillon Maillet. However he was followed closely by Vetle Christiansen in second and Jesper Nelin in third. Roman Rees for Germany (3 spares) and newcomer Nikita Porshnev for Russia (2 spares) both had solid legs.

On the third leg Tarjei Boe did really well using just 2 spares in the stand to give his brother a 43 second lead for the last lap. Simon Desthieux went on the penalty loop but still managed to tag Martin Fourcade in second place. He left at the same time as Bendikt Doll after a great leg from Arnd Peiffer moved Germany into third. Martin Ponsiluoma used 2 spares to put Sweden in fourth. Dmitry Malyshko kept Russia in the hunt also with 3 spares.

Johannes Boe shot clean on the prone to extend his lead. Fourcade cleaned and Doll needed 1 spare but they were still locked together in the podium positions. Samuelsson used 3 spares and was passed by Rok Trsan who put Slovenia into 4th!

Boe used all 3 spares in the stand but it was enough to seal victory and yet another gold for Norway. Doll used 1 spare but Fourcade ended up with 2 penalty loops. That left Germany in a comfortable silver medal position. Bronze was still up for grabs and with a perfect leg from Alexander Loginov it went to Russia.

The Czech Republic moved up to 4th, Slovenia were 5th and France 6th.

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Soldier Hollow 2019: The Pursuits!

It’s the penultimate round of the World Cup here in the USA and it was the turn of the pursuit races on Saturday.

The women were first up and what a race it was! At the first prone Marte Olsbu Roeiseland missed and so did Kaisa Makarainen! That let Anastasiya Kuzmina take the lead.

At the second prone Kuzmina missed 2 but Franziska Hildebrand and Monika Hojnisz cleaned and left the range together. They both hit 10/10 in the prone as did Denise Herrmann who found herself in third.

At the first stand it was Hojnisz who missed 2 but Hildebrand cleaned to take the lead by herself. Herrmann missed 1 but Lisa Vittozzi cleaned for 15/15.

At the final shoot Hildebrand missed 1, then Herrmann missed 1 and Vittozzi missed 2! It was then a ski race to the finish with Herrmann making up 12 seconds from the range to the finish line to pass her teammate to take her first win this season. Hildebrand took second. The final shoot saw Makarainen, Kuzmina and Roeiseland all shoot clean so we had three of the fastest skiers all going for third place. It was Makarainen who took it and Roeiseland just pipped Kuzmina on the line for 4th.

Lisa Vittozzi was 6th and with Wierer missing 8 and finishing 20th it means Vittozzi is the new Overall leader and takes the yellow bib to the World Championships next month.

There were some big moves behind the top 6 with Marketa Davidova going from 32nd to 12th hitting 20/20, Nicole Gontier went from 39th to 18th and home favourite Susan Dunklee went from 45th to 26th.

The men’s race was more straight forward. At the first shoot Vetle Christiansen and Simon Desthieux shot clean but Roman Rees missed. Erik Lesser, Johannes Boe and Quentin Fillon Maillet also cleaned as did a lot of the field in fact.

At the second shoot it was Christiansen and Desthieux who both missed 1 but Boe, Fillon Maillet and Lesser hit all five.

Shoot three was pivotal with Fillon Maillet the only one to clear the targets with Boe and Lesser both missing 2. That gave Christiansen and Desthieux the chance to get back into the race.

Fillon Maillet was perfect today hitting his final five targets to go 20/20 to take his second win of the season by 26 seconds. Christiansen also hit his last five to take second comfortably from Desthieux who missed another but kept third place with Boe missing 3 and Lesser 2 on the final stand.

In the end Johannes Boe was 4th, Erik Lesser 5th and Benjamin Weger 6th.

Christian Gow was amazing going from 44th to 8th hitting 20/20 to get a PB and Sean Doherty got his PB in 10th at home in the US.

The final races here are the Single Mixed and Mixed Relays on Sunday and the men will be starting first with the women finishing the race!

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Canmore 2019: The Relays!

Freezing cold and windy, Simon Fourcade looking like a ninja, Evgeniy Garanichev looking like he was on his summer holidays and Michael Rosch flying all the way to Canada to race and getting lapped – the men’s relay ladies and gentlemen!!!

That’s right when everyone is taped literally everywhere (Susan Dunklee even did her toes!) and wrapped up as much as possible, Tyumen resident Evgeniy Garanichev made no adjustments to his normal attire! He took the first leg for Russia and was leading until his standing shoot when ironically he froze!! It took him ages to hit all 5 targets needing all 3 spares and handing Antonin Guiggonat the lead ahead of Lars Hegle Birkeland.

It proved to be a fight between France and Norway until the end. Vetle Christiansen got the better of Emilien Jacquelin on leg two despite the Frenchman using 1 spare to the Norwegians 2. The third leg saw a fantastic race from biathlon ninja (black face tape!) Simon Fourcade using 1 spare to Erlend Bjoentegaard’s 3. However the Norwegian got the better of the French thanks to their faster skiing and gave Johannes Boe a nice lead to take into the final leg.

Of course he smashed it hitting 10/10 and cruised to victory by over a minute from Quentin Fillon Maillet. Russia held on for third with Eduard Latypov, Alexander Loginov and Alexander Povarnitsyn along with Garanichev using 9 spares.

Austria had the chance to go for a podium but on the final leg Julian Eberhard had a nightmare with 3 penalty loops letting Germany into 4th. Austria were 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.

Home team Canada were 10th but after the first two legs from the Gow brothers they were in 4th which is a good sign for the future.

The women’s relay was another good one. Italy as usual started well with Lisa Vittozzi on the first leg shooting clean and taking the lead. Emilie Kalkenberg had a tough leg for Norway with 2 penalty loops. Vanessa Hinz and Anais Chevalier did well as did Estonia’s Regina Oja.

Nicole Gontier had a great second leg for Italy only needing one spare and maintained the lead. Justine Braisaz and Franziska Hildebrand kept their teams in it with good legs too. Ingrid Tandrevold started Norway’s comeback with a great leg using only 1 spare.

On the third leg Dorothea Wierer had a lead over Anais Bescond and Denise Herrmann. However after using 2 spares on the stand she left the range with a 26 second lead which incredibly Herrmann made up and passed her to put Germany in the lead with Dahlmeier on the last leg. Tiril Eckhoff put Norway back into contention with just 1 spare needed from her.

At the first prone Dahlmeier need 2 spares but left the range before Sanfilippo got her first shot away. Julia Simon had problems using all 3 spares. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland had no issues hitting all 5 and moving into third behind Italy.

The wind had a massive influence on the final stand. Dahlmeier went on the penalty loop but still came out in the lead after the others also had issues having to shoot carefully. Sanfilippo also went on the penalty loop. Julia Simon came out best moving from second to fourth and Roeiseland stayed in third.

Dahlmeier skied home for first place but unfortunately for Simon she couldn’t hold off Roeiseland who overtook her to give Norway second with France getting third.

Italy were 4th, Switzerland were 5th and Austria were 6th.


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Ruhpolding 2018: The Relays!

Wow relays are boring without any fog, aren’t they! 😉 It’s Ruhpolding so of course Norway won the men’s relay. They have won 4 in a row here and 8 out of the last 11.

The Norwegian team, which looks like the Olympic team, of Lars Birkeland, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen and Johannes Boe were always near the front for the whole race. Birkeland on the first leg was just beaten to the first exchange by Erik Lesser. Lesser shot 10/10 while Birkeland needed 1 spare.

I know what you are thinking -“Where was Belgium?” It was not their day today with Michael Roesch doing 2 penalty loops. Apparently he shoots better when he can’t see the targets!

Matej Kazar and Lowell Bailey both had great legs handing over in 3rd and 4th.

Tarjei headed out fast on the second leg, a little too fast as he needed all his spares on the prone to avoid the penalty loop. That meant Lukas Hofer overtook him as did Tomas Hasilla and Benedikt Doll. Boe made up for it on the stand and cleared while the others needed spares. Simon Eder made great progress for Austria hitting 10/10 very fast so it was Italy in first, Norway second and Austria third at the next exchange.

Svendsen was on leg three up against Windisch and Daniel Mesotisch. They all has pretty solid legs using a few spares but unfortunaley for them Martin Fourcade was on leg three for France and shot fast and clean to move France into the lead heading into the final leg. Italy were in second and Norway third. Russia were up to 4th after 10/10 from Anton Babikov.

The tables turned again with Johannes Boe on the final leg for Norway. He flew off into the distance leaving Antonin Guigonnat and Thierry Chenal for dust! He used 2 spares on the stand but took the win comfortably. Guigonnat did well staying in second for France and Anton Shipulin moved Russia into third with a good final leg using just 1 spare.

Germany finished 4th, Austria 5th and Sweden 6th. The mysterious penalty for the USA was explained as Sean Doherty cross fired on the final leg.

Kazakstan who seem to love Ruhpolding as much as Norway does moved from 19th to 11th. They got a string of personal bests in the Individual and used only 5 spares between the four guys in the relay!

The women’s relay treated us to a really close finish. This time it was the home team Germany who took the victory. After their little slip up coming second in Oberhof they moved back up to first to the delight of the crowd.

However it was Italy who got off to the best start with Lisa Vittozzi having a great first leg hitting 10/10 and handing over in first place. She was just ahead of Franziska Preuss. Many other teams were close behind with France, Switzerland, Belarus, Austria, USA, Sweden, Norway and Poland all chasing the leaders.

Denise Herrmann and Dorothea Wierer battled it out on the second leg with Wierer shooting better(10/10) and Herrmann skiing faster which meant Germany took the lead into leg three. Norway came out the best from the chasing pack with Tiril Eckhoff skiing well.

It was now time for Franziska Hildebrand and Nicole Gontier to go head to head. However after the first prone it was Sweden who came out in the lead with Anna Magnusson shooting quickly. By the stand it was Chloe Chevalier with a clean shoot who left the range first but by the exchange Selina Gasparin was in the lead! Madness! Leg three was a good one!

She had Sweden, France and Germany behind her heading to the handover. Aita Gasparin was now up against Laura Dahlmeier, Federica Sanfilippo and Hanna Oberg. The German and the Swede both needed 1 spare and left the range together after the prone with Italy, Switzerland, Norway, France and Poland all within 30 seconds of the top two.

At the final shoot Sanfilippo cleared, Oberg used 1 spare and Dahlmeier needed 2. It was a ski race from there between Italy and Germany and with just 600 metres left Dahmeier passed the Italian and snatched the win. Oberg held on for third and Sweden’s second podium finish in a row in this event.

Norway were fourth a great result for them considering they have had a terrible season so far in the women’s relay. Poland were 5th and the Czech Republic moved up to take 6th. Switzerland dropped to 8th after 1 penalty loop on the final stand and France were 9th after 2 penalty loops on the same shoot.

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Oberhof 2018: The Relays!

Normal weather service was restored in Oberhof for the Relays – fog and lots of it!

It wasn’t so bad for the women who raced first but it still caused problems for them on the range. This one was a tale of the penalty loop with with lots of unexpected people on it!

The first to suffer was Vanessa Hinz for Germany. She had a torrid first leg using all her spares in the prone and going on the penatly loop in the stand. It looked like Germany’s hopes were gone. Italy and France took advantage with Liza Vittozzi shooting clear and Anais Bescond with 1 spare only required.

On the second leg it was France’s turn to go on the penalty loop with Anais Chevalier doing a penalty loop after the prone. Dorothea Wierer kept Italy in the lead only using 2 spares in the stand.

Behind her Denise Herrmann had a fantastic leg. She made up about 10 places just using 2 spares in the prone shoot. Kaisa Makarainen was even better with 1 spare putting Finland into third place.

Remarkably on the third leg Franziska Preuss put Germany back into the lead shooting 10/10. It was France who led over the line though with a fine performance from Celia Aymonier skiing especially well. Nicole Gontier who started the leg at the front did 2 penalty loops dropping Italy back down the standings.

Russia were coming into the race with a great leg from Tatiana Akimova shooting 10/10 and Sweden were in there too with great shooting on all three legs from Linn Persson, Anna Magnussen and Elisabeth Hoeberg.

The final leg came down to a race between Justine Braisaz and Maren Hammerschmidt for the win. Braisaz shot steadily and although she needed 4 spares she didn’t go on the penatly loop. Hammerschmidt did as she missed on the stand and Braisaz had an easy ski to victory. Laura Toivanen of Finland and Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht suffered the same fate which left the way clear for Mona Brorsson who with 3 spares brought Sweden home in third for a magnificent podium!

It’s ironic that Germany’s dominance in the Women’s Relay was ended in Germany but they still managed second without Hildebrand and Dahlmeier in the team. Russia were 4th, Ukraine 5th and Italy 6th.

The men’s relay is difficult to describe as you couldn’t see it!!! Thick fog descended and the guys had a lot of trouble on the range just to see the targets nevermind hit them. It made for a fun race though!

It was again the Belgian team who impressed over the first two legs just like in Hochfilzen. Michael Roesch and Florent Claude both led their legs with Roesch using 1 spare and Claude 2. Alexey Volkov was amazing with 1 spare for Russia putting them up front. Martin Ponsiluoma also had a great start for Swedn with 2 spares used.

Italy went on the penalty loop early with Tomas Bormolini as did Germany’s Roman Rees and France’s Emilien Jacquelin.

Lukas Hofer had a strong second leg for Italy and left Dominik Windisch to put Italy into the lead after three legs. Windisch shot clean while many others did a penalty loop or in the case of Johannes Kuehn 9!!! Jesper Nelin was steady for Sweden keeping them near the front.

Behind Windisch was Sebastian Samuelsson who left Freddie Lindstrom to chase Thierry Chanal for the win. They both shot clean in the prone and the Italian had a 30 second lead. However in the stand he had to take a penalty loop when Lindstrom needed just 1 spare and he won the race comfortably in the end.

It was a brilliant win for the Swedes in horrible conditions. The Italians held on to second and out of the fog appeared Tarjei Boe to put Norway on the podium. They did 3 penalty loops earlier on but Boe brought them back with a good leg while others moved backwards.

Russia were 4th, France 5th and Germany came back to 6th. We were also treated to the Thuringian dumpling song by Michael Roesch at the end of the race to make up for not being able to see it!!!

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