Tag Archives: Nicole Gontier

The Biathlon23 Awards 2016/17!!!

awards
It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their fourth year! As usual they are not your typical awards. In fact they are even more la-la than LA-LA Land! Luckily I double checked all the envelopes as I discovered Gabi Koukalova’s name in the Best Facial Hair category – OOPS!!! 😉 Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Shockingly this award was almost won by a ski technician. Now I love the ski/wax techs but they are forbidden from winning awards! Andrew Chisholm is the culprit proving very popular among his fellow Canadians. This had to be stopped and there was only one way to it. Interview a German! Luckily for me one of them agreed to do it and since it’s biathlon a German can beat anyone! This one also went on to become World Champion in the Sprint in Hochfilzen! (That’s what biathlon23 interviews can do for you!)
Winner: Benedikt Doll

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“biathlon23”: This is happening more often! It’s a worry! 😉
“little bit too much girly habert dorin”: Outrageous behaviour from a girl!!!
“martin fourcade and final lap of relay. did he cheat?” Yes he cheats in every race by being faster on skis and better at shooting than everyone else – Damn him!
“is aiden miller one of the fastest people”: I think it’s still Usain Bolt!
“simon fourcade has child”: I don’t think he can!
“van damme biathlon”: Well Belgium are always looking for biathletes!
“tarjei bø party”: I want to go!
“tarjei bö shirtless”: The party just got better!
“lisa theresa hauser high heels”: Not when she is skiing I hope!

Winner:“anton panton biathlon”: It’s Pantov! Anton Pantov! It must be the rhyming here that made me cry laughing so that’s why it wins!

Best Facial Hair:
Talk about famine to feast. Last season there was obviously some sort of offer on shaving items as there was hardly a whisker to be seen but this year the beard is back! It’s not just the biathletes either some of the coaches have beards and even the new IBU TV guy. Well sorry gents but this is a biathlete only award. The French put up a good fight this season with Simon Fourcade and also Antonin Guigonnat trying to become an extra on “Vikings”. The Canadians have Macx Davies trying to defend his title and a hidden gem in the IBU Cup with Matthew Neumann’s wonderful effort. The Germans tried but I’m sorry to say failed with Erik Lesser and Arnd Peiffer attempting the goatie but with little success. Klemen Bauer always has a great beard. Benni Weger was a strong candidate but the winner has a great beard to go with a great personality and also some great form!
Winner:Michael Roesch

Best earrings:
A strong category this season. There are a lot of ladies wearing earrings to compete and so it was a tough decision. Kaisa Makarainen has her snowflakes as does Tiril Eckhoff. There were a lot of ladies choosing long earrings this year. They are brave, I mean imagine if they got caught in your harness – AHH!!! The ones I liked best however were small blue earrings that actually looked like real flowers.
Winner:Nicole Gontier

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This year’s award has to be shared for a magnificent two person effort. Picture the scene. The Men’s Relay in Pokljuka, the first lap, a herd of biathletes hurtling down the hill. Sergey Bocharnikov of Belarus falls and Tuomas Gronman of Finland skis into him and goes flying through the air and lands on his face! Fortunately both were OK but it was a spectacular crash to watch.
Winner: Thomas Gronman and Sergey Bocharnikov

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
Again this has to go to a Boe! This year it’s Johannes but he does have to share it with Gabi! Asked at a press conference in Hochfilzen about Valentine’s Day he put his arm round Gabi and said he had everything he needed for Valentine’s Day. To which she replied that he would have to wait a few days because her husband was there! So funny and very cheeky as usual! (actually Gabi saying that Laura Dahlmeier ‘runs like a horse’ was also in contention!)
See the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLI4rZgjECE
Winner: Johannes Boe and Gabriela Koukalova

Best biathlon video:
There is only one possibility. Filmed in a bathroom at the World Championships (no it’s not that get your mind out of the gutter!) by the American team. Please feel free to ignore most of it except of course the part where Maddie Phaneuf talks about this blog! Fame at last! It’s all about 23! 🙂
(Actually you should watch all the videos they did as it’s a great behind the scenes view with some raw emotions too.)
see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UdHH16RR8c&feature=youtu.be
Winner: US biathlon women’s team

Best rifle design:
It’s been a lean year for rifle design. I mean biathletes have all summer to come up with a idea and then we get a blue,black or red rifle or a wooden stock. Come on people! We have a few saviours thankfully. Erik Lesser has a design that I think is miners. Joanne Reid has a naked lady! (Don’t look kids!). Andrejs Rastorgujevs has his like a zebra in case we do safari biathlon! Anastasiya Kuzmina has gone a bit psychedelic. Jaroslav Soukup has his kids on there (AWW!). Shipulin and Gasparin still have their cool rifles from last season but the winner is a lady who has a cat’s face on her stock. You can just see the eyes staring at you when she shoots. It’s PURR-fect! 😉
Winner: Darya Usanova

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Well it’s not technically ridiculous and not even that bad but as almost everyone has gone boring this season someone has to win. I don’t want to be too harsh, she may be short of money and that’s why she used her grandmother’s flowery wallpaper to cover her rifle including the barrel!
Winner: Veronika Vitkova

Best ski suit:
There has been a noticeable improvement in this years ski suits. I particularly like Estonia, Korea, Japan and the Czech Republic. The Norwegians and Great Britain have done well too. The winner was actually hard to choose for a change but I went with this country because I like the design and the colours and they deserve praise for getting rid of those pixelated trousers from last season!
Winner: Austria

Worst ski suit:
Well there is a clear winner this year but first I must commend some previous winners for improving their suits. Not France of course because theirs still sucks! Lithuania however have made major improvements in colour abandoning the yellow/green horror for a lovely shade of red. China came close to getting this award but avoided it by at least using the colours of their flag. However the winners was an easy choice. They have chosen the colour of the phlegm you cough up when you have a chest infection and matched it with silvery grey. None of these colours are on the country’s flag and hopefully it will never been seen again!
Winner: Romania

Best range decoration:
Oestersund got us started with range decoration this season by throwing some shells (the wrong size by the way) on to a pile of snow! Creativity at it’s best! PyeongChang got in on the action with a rabbit watching the shooting (FYI rabbits don’t like rifles!). The clear winner however is the digger and the penguin. Not that much to do with biathlon to be fair but good work nonetheless.
Winner:Ruhpolding

Best TV turn:
You may have noticed at the start of Sprint and Individual races the biathletes pop up with a TV turn at the left bottom corner of your screen. Most of them either cross their arms or put their arms on their hips. Luckily we have 2 creative rebels to entertain us. Vladimir Semakov of Ukraine does the 2 thumbs up and the winner who is 100% biathlon at all times makes a gun with his fingers for shooting!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Best Biathlete23:
Difficult this season without a win for bib23. We have had 3 podiums. Susan Dunklee was third and Anton Shipulin and Justine Braisaz were both second. How do you choose between them? You don’t! I have gone left field for this one. A biathlete who contacts the blog to say they are in bib23 in the first race of the season and then goes on to achieve their personal best wearing it deserves the title! It doesn’t matter if it’s World Cup, IBU Cup or the Junior World Cup. In this case 14th in the Junior Men’s Individual in Lenzerheide!
Winner: Tom Lahaye-Goffart

Biggest Improver:
One person in particular has had an amazing season. This season she has progressed from an athlete who would move between the IBU and World Cup to a regular on the World Cup. She got her first ever World Cup podium in Nove Mesto where she came second in the Sprint. She won her first ever race in the Pursuit a day later. She was also on the podium in Antholz coming second in the Individual and again in PyeongChang when she was 3rd in the Sprint. She won a bronze medal in the Sprint at the World Championships. Last season she was 39th in the Total Score and this season she was 7th. You can see the clear improvement!
Winner: Anais Chevalier

Best Team Performance:
There can only be one winner in this category. Winning every Women’s Relay of the season and the World Championships is a remarkable achievement. I mean it helps to have Laura Dahlmeier on the anchor leg but they can even win without her as was proved in PyeongChang.
Winner: German Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This one comes from the World Championships. Dominik Landertinger’s final lap in the Men’s Relay was a strong contender but there could only be one winner for me. Winning the Individual race for the USA was an outstanding achievement. A perfect shooting performance and a excellent ski meant he deserved all the accolades he got. However this award is actually for the whole Championships. He was also 4th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the Mass Start. After being overtaken in these races and losing positions his win in the Individual showed some amazing mental fortitude as well as his obvious talent.
Winner: Lowell Bailey

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
So it has to come down to Martin Fourcade vs. Laura Dahlmeier. That’s a race I would love to see! Martin now has 6 Overall Titles in a row and won an amazing 14 races this season. Dahlmeier won the Overall Title for the first time and won 5 gold and 1 silver medal at the World Championships. She also won 10 races this season and was a fantasic anchor in the Women’s Relay team. Basically I think it comes down to the more competitive nature of the women’s field as to why I chose this winner and that the first World Title is often the hardest.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

IPC biathlete of the Year:
I think this is the hardest award of all to choose with 3 categories of men and women there are a lot of possibilities. This year I have chosen someone who dramatically claimed his first ever biathlon World Title at the final World Cup round in Japan in the final race. He also won two gold medals at his home World Championships in Finsterau in the sitting category. Also he likes biathlon better than cross-country which is very important!
Winner: Martin Fleig

Junior Biathlete of the Year:

A very tough category especially as there is now a Junior World Cup as well as World Championships. I chose this guy because of his consistency over the season as well as his obvious talent in skiing and shooting. He won the Overall Title on the Junior World Cup and silver at the European Junior Championships in the Individual. He also won silver in the Sprint at the World Championships and helped his team to Relay gold.
Winner: Kirill Streltsov

Youth Biathlete of the Year:
This was a duel between two biathletes again. Irene Lardschneider and Claude 3 or Emilien as he is also known. They have both competed on the Junior World Cup. They both won 2 gold medals at the Youth World Championships in the Sprint and Pursuit. One of them also won a bronze medal with their team in the Relay so for that and the fact that they have a great surname here is the winner.
Winner: Irene Lardschneider

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Karin: Ober the moon!

oberhofer

Last season was a very memorable one for Italy’s Karin Oberhofer. It was by far her best ever season on the World Cup and at the World Championships. At 29 Karin has found success a little later than some biathletes but she still has many years to try and improve even more.

Karin was born in Brixen on the 3rd of November 1985. She is currently Italy’s second best ranked biathlete behind Dorothea Wierer. Last season she finished 10th in the Total Score which was a huge 30 place jump from 40th the season before.

The improvement is mainly due to the fact that Karin is now a regular in the Top 10 on the World Cup and had started to make appearances on the podium. In Hochfilzen she got her career best result of second in the Sprint race. She backed that up with 7 more Top 10 finishes and pushed herself up the rankings.

It’s not just on the World Cup where she has been finding success however. Back at the Olympics in Sochi she came 4th in the Sprint and took a bronze medal in the Mixed Relay with teammates Wierer, Dominik Windisch and Lukas Hofer. At the World Championships in Kontiolahti she went one better and managed to get onto the podium by winning the bronze medal in the Mass Start and was able to repeat bronze but this time in the Women’s Relay again with Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi and Nicole Gontier.

She does have another bronze medal from the Women’s Relay in Nove Mesto at the 2013 World Championships. She is probably getting a bit tired of bronze now and must be desperate for a change of colour to silver and most of all gold!

That could happen for Karin if she continues her great form from last season. With Domracheva missing it opens up the possibility of biathletes like her to upgrade their medals and also to take a position on the podium in the World Cup. She will face tough competition to do this and not least from her own teammates. The Italian Women’s team were great last season and hopefully they will all improve again this time round.

Medals are a definite possibility for Karin in the World Championships in Oslo and not just in the Relays. She has always been quite a reliable shooter and has improved her ski speed a lot over the last year. In fact she was one of the top ten fastest skiers in 2014/15 and if she can continue her progress she could have an even better season to come. If she does this I am sure Italy and Karin will be Ober the Moon!

You can like Karin’s Facebook page: Karin Oberhofer
You can look at her website(in German/Italian): http://www.karinoberhofer.com/

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2014/15!!!

awards

It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their second year! It has now taken over from the Oscars as the best awards around! As usual they are not your typical awards and there are a few new categories too. Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Who says the Americans don’t know what biathlon is?! A lot of them read the winning interview. There was strong competition from fellow American Susan Dunklee and Great Britain’s Scott Dixon but there is only one winner this year. We just can’t get Phaneuf!
Winner: Maddie Phaneuf

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:
Why does Vita Semerenko like biathlon?” ..erm I don’t know ask her!
Martin Olsbu” – sorry about that MARTE!
Emil Svendsen prince” – news to King Harald!
biathlon Musgrave” – we live in hope!
Julia Soukalova” – maybe Gabriela’s sister?!!!
feet Darya Domracheva” – I can confirm that yes she has them, 2 in fact!
Jakov Fak beard” It’s lovely but what do you need to know about it?!
Winner: “What does Tiril Eckhoff mean?” Good question!

Best Facial hair:
A hotly contested award this year. We had season long beards from the likes of Jakov Fak, Klemen Bauer and Daniel Mesotitsch and the part time beard appearance from last year’s winner Simon Fourcade. However in Oestersund we had 2 normally clean shaven contenders, in full beard Lowell Bailey and Zorro/Don Juan style from Tobias Arwidson. Just for the concept, growing and sculpting efforts and more importantly making me laugh out loud!
Winner: Tobias Arwidson.

Best earrings:
Again there were many contenders in this category. Veronika Vitkova brought the pink earrings, Gabriela Soukalova had some pretty heart shaped ones too but the winner has to be snowflakes for snowsports!
Winner: Darya Domracheva.

Nicest person in biathlon:
There are many reason why this person wins. He helps out biathlonworld.tv with all their songs and appears in almost every video (taking advantage of his kind nature obviously!), he helps the French team win relay medals, he eats Cheerios for breakfast. Most of all though he didn’t even try to punch Anton Shipulin in the face when he ruined his chances of a first win in Pokljuka! He was philosophical with a “shit happens” response! Well done!
Winner: Jean Guillaume Beatrix

Best Team Performance:

There were some great team performances this year. The amazing shooting from the Ukrainians and the fantastic Czech Women’s relay team were in contention. However after the World Championships there can only be one winner with both the Men’s and Women’s Relay teams winning gold. That is true teamwork!
Winner: Germany

Biggest improver:
His previous best result was an 8th place last year but this year he has been in the TOP 10 on six occasions and saved his best for the World Championships where he won a silver medal on his first ever trip to the podium. He then went on to Khanty Mansiysk where he won his first ever World Cup race in the Pursuit. We knew he could shoot but it turns out he can also ski as well. Obviously he has put a lot of effort into improving his skiing and it’s paid off with this award!!!
Winner: Nathan Smith

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This guy did get hurt but thankfully not too badly. He had concussion and scrapped much of his handsome face off but made a full recovery to take part in his home World Championships.For the fall on the downhill in Pokljuka the award has to go to the greatest face plant in biathlon history.
Winner: Olli Hiidensalo

Best quote in a press conference:
Erik Lesser was asked after winning the Pursuit in the World Championships what he would do with the special lock he was awarded. He couldn’t think of an answer but someone else kindly obliged saying “Erik has seen 50 Shades of Grey, he knows exactly what to do with the lock!” Ha, ha it was brilliant! Thanks.
Winner: Tarjei Boe

Best Tweeter:
There are a few candidates for this award. Tobias Arwidson is a regular tweeter of funny stuff but lately has become far too obsessed with food!;-) Martin Fourcade tweets a lot of pictures of himself and I mean A LOT! Nerys Jones likes to show everyone just how much she loves coffee. Chardine Sloof and Amanda Lightfoot often appear in each others photos on Twitter. The winner though keeps us up to date on everything. Training, eating, her sponsors, her van and sometimes even biathlon! And just about anything else you can think of!
Winner: Victoria Padial

Best Facebooker:
So again Martin Fourcade is great at keeping us up to date with everything on social media with posts almost everyday but here at Biathlon23 we think he has won enough already this year!!! The award goes to one of his fellow countrymen however. Not only do we get updates from this guy but also a short video recap complete with awesome soundtrack! I don’t know where he finds the tunes but they are always good ones!
Winner: Antonin Guigonnat

Best rifle design:
So most rifles go for the design on the stock. There are a range of fancy colours and stickers and things but one lady has taken it further. In an audacious move she has decorated the barrel with white to get a nice black and white design. We like your style!
Winner: Eva Puskarčíková

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
There are some very odd choices of rifle colour but none more so than a kind of “pea” green.
Winner: Nicole Gontier

Best ski suit:
A few options here. The Norwegians followed my advice and added a splash of colour to their suit. Great Britain had another good one. I liked the look of Finland’s too. I like that Slovenia have put some blue and white in to counteract the neon yellow. For design and colour combination which is similar in style to Slovenia but with more blue and less yellow.
Winner: Estonia

Worst ski suit:
Well France and Sweden didn’t seem to change theirs at all! Italy went from blue to red but they are all still good designs. For the colour alone which is a horribly suspicious shade of yellow.
Winner: Lithuania

Rising star:
I had to give this one to a youngster who has made a huge breakthrough this year. She broke her foot in the summer and started the season late but still got her first 2 wins on the World Cup as well as grabbing 4 podiums in a row! She also helped her relay team to World Championship gold and won Pursuit silver for herself. She is one of the best shots on the whole tour and at only 21 there is a lot more to come from her.
Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

Best vocal performance:
Well this category was won last year by Bjorn Ferry with his retirement tune “Breaking the Law”. As there seems to have been no raucous singing caught on camera this year it has to be a straight battle between Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Or does it? I suddenly remembered the Christmas video when they were joined by Lukas Hofer and Darya Domracheva singing some Christmas songs. For awkward hand placement as well as his lovely singing voice there is only one victor!
Winner: Lukas Hofer

Biggest disappointment:
Well unfortunately it’s the same as last year!
Winner: More doping scandals.

Best biathlete blog:
There is one reason and one reason only why this blog is the winner. The section known as Pepp-talk! It’s a Swedish blog but when you translate it into English the title changes to Pepper-talc and totally ruins the awesome play on words. Biathlon 23 loves nothing better than a good play on words!
Winner: Peppe Femling – femling.se

Best biathlete website:
A clear winner here for 2 reasons. The first is the picture of the cowboy leaning against the biathlon targets. Cool! Secondly there is a shop and regular readers will know of my obsession with the pencil case!!Check it out yourself! http://www.edersam.com
Winner: Simon Eder

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
This was a hard one to choose. There were many outstanding performances this year. I had to choose one and so I went for probably the biggest surprise and against the odds win. After not even making her country’s team for the Sprint at the World Championships she was drawn in bib 93 for the Individual and was given no chance of winning. No one told her that of course and she produced the performance of her life shooting 20/20 and skiing well to take the gold medal.
Winner: Ekaterina Yurlova

IPC biathlete of the Year:
America’s Andy Soule (sitting)was a contender for this with 2 silver medals in the IPC World Championship at home in Cable. The Russian pair of Nikolay Polukhin and Andrey Tokarev (visually impaired) won 3 gold medals at the World Championships but the worthy winner also winning 3 golds in biathlon and 3 golds in cross country is Ukraine’s remarkable athlete in the standing category.
Winner: Oleksandra Kononova

Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year:
A really difficult decision this one as we had some stellar performances from the Juniors this year. Aristide Begue dominated the Individual races, Galina Vishnevskaya had a great year, Alexsandr Dediukhin really impressed as did Lena Arnaud. The Youth category was also really strong with Kirill Streltsov, Darya Blashko, Julia Schwaiger and Felix Leitner all having great World Championships. However I am awarding it to a young lady from Norway who won 4 medals in 4 races in Raubichi in the Youth category, a gold, silver and 2 bronze.
Winner: Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold.

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Global Success! Season 2014/15 Review: Women

dasha15

The Women’s season turned out as we had expected before a rifle was even fired. Kaisa Makarainen and Darya Domracheva would fight it out for the overall title and they did so right up until the end of the season. They both started well and in the first race, the Individual in Oestersund, Domracheva won from Makarainen in second. Both finished in the TOP 5 in the Sprint and Makarainen won the Pursuit with Domracheva in 4th. This meant that there wasn’t much to choose between them after Round 1.

We then headed to Hochfilzen where Kaisa really laid down a marker and won both races with Darya losing some ground. In Pokljuka they were neck and neck again with Darya beating Kaisa in both the Sprint and Pursuit but then came the first Mass Start of the season and it proved to be a disaster for Darya. She crashed into another biathlete when exiting the penalty loop and could not finish the race. Kaisa took full advantage and won the race giving her 60 points whilst Darya scored 0.

After Christmas in Oberhof we were expecting more of the same. In fact they had similar results again with Darya leaving with slightly more points. In Ruhpolding Darya came out firmly on top taking a first and second place finish and piling the pressure on Kaisa. Antholz again was a battle between the two with Darya taking both wins and Kaisa a second and a third place. Nove Mesto couldn’t really separate them either with both women in the Top 10 of the Sprint and Darya winning the Pursuit from Kaisa in second. It looked like the same story in Oslo too with Kaisa winning the Individual and Darya in second but in the Sprint Darya won and Kaisa could only finish in 24th place which meant the yellow bib changed hands just before the World Championships. Kaisa had been in yellow for most of the season but now Darya took over by just 10 points.

With the World Championships counting towards the overall title there was even more pressure on both of them to do well in Kontiolahti before the final round in Khanty Mansiysk. However the task of competing for the overall title and World titles was always going to be difficult. In fact only Kaisa took a medal and it was bronze. Darya did however manage to extend her lead to 21 points by finishing ahead in most of the races.

So it was left to Khanty Mansiysk and three races to decide the destination of the Overall Title. Kaisa drew first blood and won the Sprint closing the gap on Domracheva, who was third, down to just 9 points. Darya hit back hard though in the Pursuit finishing first with Kaisa back in fourth to virtually guarantee the Overall Title barring total disaster in the final Mass Start. Kaisa did manage to win the small Crystal globe for the Pursuit by just 1 point from Darya and Valj Semerenko who was third. The last race saw Darya take 4th place which was more than enough for her to win her first ever big Crystal Globe! It also saw Franziska Preuss win the small globe for the Mass Start.

Away from the two title contenders there were some excellent performances from some of the other ladies. Veronika Vitkova showed what a classy biathlete she is. She won her first ever race this season in the Oberhof Sprint and proved it was no matter of luck as she has been on the podium another five times. She has also played a vital role in both the Mixed and Women’s relay team for the Czech Republic along with Gabriela Soukalova who after a sluggish start had a good end to the season.

Laura Dahlmeier is another woman who has impressed greatly this season. She took her debut World Cup win in the Nove Mesto Sprint race and got another 6 podiums before winning the final race of the season in Khanty Mansiysk. She is probably the best shot of all the women and at the age of just 21 she will have a lot more success to look forward to. Her German teammates have all improved too especially Franziska Preuss and Vanessa Hinz. Together with Franziska Hildebrand they make a fearsome Relay team as we found out in Kontiolahti. They also won the Nation’s Cup and had 3 biathletes in the TOP 10 of the total score.

Making good strides forward this season was also the Italian Women’s team. Dorothea Wierer and Karin Oberhofer have enjoyed their best ever seasons and the likes of Nicole Gontier, Lisa Vittozzi and Federica Sanfilippo are there to back them up. Marie Dorin Habert had a shortened season after giving birth to her first daughter in September. She made a stunning return to the World Cup finishing on the podium and then went on to dominate the World Championships winning 2 gold medals. The French newcomers Justine Briasaz and Enora Latuilliere also look like becoming very good biathletes.

Valj Semerenko in the absence of her twin sister had a very consistent season. She made a lot of podiums and was excellent on the shooting range. She eventually finished third in the total score and won the Mass Start at the World Championships. Rosanna Crawford from Canada had a really strong season too getting her personal best result of 4th in the Pokljuka Sprint as well as 7 Top 20 finishes . America’s Susan Dunklee had a good year too and Hannah Dreissigacker achieved her personal best result of 14th at the final round in Russia.

It has been a great year for Women’s biathlon. The fight for the Overall Title went right down to the final round and at the World Championships the rest of the pack showed just how good they are. Next year should be even better with more women coming through to challenge. We don’t know if Makarainen will retire or not yet but Darya Domracheva will have plenty of competition either way. It will be a long summer waiting for the season to start again but Darya has a lot of time to enjoy her Global Success!

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World Champs 2015 Review: Women

dorin wc

After many days of anticipation and then the opening ceremony, action finally got underway in the 2015 Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti. The first race took place on Thursday afternoon and saw 26 teams take part in the Mixed Relay.The conditions were really tough with warm temperatures making the snow wet and it looked like it was up to the biathletes knees!!!

The race got off to a great start with Fuyuko Suzuki taking the lead after 2 shoots for Japan. Veronika Vitkova took the Czech Republic into the lead however in the first exchange and it was then Soukalova and Domracheva who were in contention in the second leg. Domracheva handed over to Chepelin for Belarus and he managed to hold on to the lead in his leg to send Liadov out first for the final leg. Unfortunately for him he only had an 11 second lead and couldn’t hold off Moravec from the Czech Republic who came home first to win gold for his country. He was followed by Martin Fourcade who made up a lot of time to bring France home for silver and Tarjei Boe continued his brother Johannes’ good work by hanging on for bronze despite a penalty loop from Eckhoff. Belarus were fourth by an agonizing 4 seconds. The Finnish team put in a great display for the home crowd and were in with a podium shot going into leg 3. They ended in 9th which was a 7 place improvement on their start of 16th.

Saturday was the first single competition and we began as usual with the Sprint. It was tough conditions for the ladies and it was a hard race. France took gold with a fabulous performance from Marie Dorin Habert. A good time to get her first ever win! She gave birth to her daughter in September and then became a World Champion in March! Little Adele has a very inspirational mum! In second place came Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska-Zemniak. Another great performance and the only biathlete to shoot clean. Bronze medal went to the ever consistent Valj Semerenko who has had a fantastic season. There were 3 Polish ladies in the TOP 10 with Guzik in 5th and Gwizdon in 7th and 2 Germans with Dahlmeier in 4th and Hildebrand in 10th. The favourites for the race did not have such a good day however with Domracheva in 25th and Makarainen in 35th both missing 5 targets.

The Pursuit came on Sunday and had similar outcome to the Sprint. Marie Dorin Habert again skied herself to victory. She missed 3 shots but had enough time to win in front of Laura Dahlmeier by 15 seconds. Coming out of the range after the final shoot the Russian Ekaterina Shumilova was in third position after hitting 20/20. Heartbreakingly for her she fell on the downhill and Weronika Nowakowska swept past her to take her second medal of the Championships in bronze. Makarainen and Domracheva put up a better show finishing in 12th and 7th respectively.

The women had two days off to recover and it really did them the world of good as they produced one of the beat Individual races for a long time. Gabriela Soukalova set the pace and moved into first position with 1 miss. Dorothea Wierer put in a strong challenge also missing 1 and was 1.6 seconds behind Soukalova and went into second. Then came Kaisa Makarainen who put in the ski of her life in the last loop to make up for her 2 misses and just pipped Wierer to go into second, just 1.2 seconds behind Soukalova. She made up over 30 seconds from the range to the line which was absolutely remarkable. So we though that is our podium Soukalova, Makarainen and Wierer. Someone however had other ideas! Starting from bib number 93 and shooting clear Ekaterina Yurlova came through to win the race by 23 seconds. An outstanding performance by the Russian and her first ever win! What a race it was! You have to feel sorry for Wierer missing out on a medal by 0.4 seconds but it was also great to see Makarainen taking a medal at home.

From the Individual race we moved to the team race and the Women’s Relay. After a competitive start with a few changes of the lead it was on the third leg that the tables were turned in favour of one team. That team was Germany and Vanessa Hinz was fantastic shooting quickly and accurately when the others around her, The Czech Republic and Italy, missed. She gave Laura Dahlmeier a lead and she held on to it. It’s a strong young team from Germany and after a lot of criticism from their own country they did a great job. With Franziska Hildebrand and Franziska Preuss they could go on to win many more relays. In second was a valiant France adding another medal to Marie Dorin Habert’s haul! Justine Braisaz had a tough leg going on the penatly loop after her first shoot but stormed back to give the team a chance. With Anais Bescond and Enora Latuilliere they are also a team for the future. In bronze were Italy and they really deserved a medal as Dorothea Wierer, Karin Oberhofer, Nicole Gontier and Lisa Vittozzi have all had great seasons.

The final race for the Women was the Mass Start. It was a good one too with Valj Semerenko coming out on top with excellent shooting hitting 20/20 to win gold for the Ukraine. Behind her in silver came an ecstatic Franziska Preuss with her first solo medal and in third was Karin Oberhofer who ran out an exhausted Darya Domracheva for the bronze.

That’s all from Kontiolahti where the big surprise was that Domracheva failed to win a medal and Kaisa Makarainen only got 1. It just shows that competing for the Crystal Globe and trying to win World Championships is extremely difficult. It was really Marie Dorin Habert’s Championships winning 2 golds and a silver and a breakthrough moment for the young German girls. However we are not finished yet! It’s on to Khanty Mansiysk for the final World Cup round. There are globes yet to be won!

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In Oslo – NO(r)WAY!

oslo2015

Well after a million pictures of the Holmenkollen jump on the biathletes social media pages and an equal amount of beautiful Oslo sunrises/sunsets we started the Women’s Individual race in a cloud of fog!!! That’s right the World Cup is back in Norway for the last round before the World Championships come along in March. Missing in the Oslo fog was most of the Norwegian men’s team with Svendsen and Tarjei Boe sick and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen choosing to skip the round!

Kaisa Makarainen got bib number 2 for the race and she crossed the line in first blowing away all the competition with 20/20 on the range and super fast skiing. It made the rest of the race a little predictable as you knew no one could beat her. Darya Domracheva missed one target which meant that she could only finish second and in by now what is becoming quite a familiar looking podium Veronika Vitkova was third. The conditions on the range were good when the fog cleared and so there was some excellent shooting from the field. Along with Makarainen there were another 9 scores on the range of 20/20 from Vitkova, Juliya Dzhyma, Iryna Varvynets, Megan Heinicke, Audrey Vaillancourt, Laura Dahlmeier, Monika Hojnisz, Jialin Tang and Emma Nilsson.

The men’s race turned out the same! Martin Fourcade stared in bib number 1 and won the race with clean shooting and so we knew no one could beat him! In second place was Evgeniy Garanichev and in third was Sergey Semenov who both also shot the perfect score. Jakov Fak skied the fastest of everyone but 2 missed shots meant he couldn’t challenge Fourcade for the win. He did come in fourth which was a great effort with 18/20. Seven men in all hit all the targets. Joining the TOP 3 were Benjamin Weger, Maxim Tsvetkov, Poland’s Lukasz Szczurek who set a personal best of 51st and Peppe Femling who achieved his personal best result of 21st.

There was a rest day on Friday and so the Sprints took place on Saturday. The women went first and Darya Domracheva did the perfect race to come home first. Laura Dahlmeier got her 4th podium in a row finishing in second ahead of Marie Dorin Habert who got her first podium of the season and is going in Kontiolahti in fantastic form. Kaisa Makarainen unfortunately missed 3 shots and could only finish 24th which means that Domracheva takes over the yellow bib and leads Makarainen by 10 points. The USA’s Hannah Dreissigacker got her PB in the race in 16th place as did the Ukraine’s Iana Bondar who was 14th.

In the men’s race Martin Fourcade thought he had another victory in the bag but he was beaten by 3 seconds by Germany’s Arnd Peiffer who won his first race since the 2011/12 season and relegated Fourcade into second. Less telemark landings off the bridge and more sprinting for the line Martin – lesson learned! It didn’t cost him any points in the overall as he finished ahead of Shipulin in third and Schempp who was 13th. Lars Helge Birkeland was the best of the home team coming in 5th and elsewhere there were personal bests for Switzerland’s Mario Dolder in 16th and Estonia’s Kalev Ermits in 20th.

The final day of competition on Sunday was for the relays. In the women’s race The Czech Republic won yet again and are red hot favourites for the World Championships. They are an impressive team and are solid on each leg with each women doing their very best for their country. Second was Italy who did a great job especially in legs 2 and 3 with the less experienced members of the team Gontier and Sanfilippo keeping them in touch with the leaders. France were third with top shooting in legs 3 and 4 as Varcin and Dorin Habert used no spares. Germany had the chance to win with Miriam Goessner doing a great job on leg 3 and showing fantastic mental strength on her standing shoot to hand over to Dahlmeier in second place. She couldn’t keep that position however and the Germans were 4th. The Estonian team had an exceptional race and used only 1 spare round between all four women and saw them take 12th place.

The men’s race gave us some fabulous entertainment where Shipulin and Schemmp treated us to yet another sprint finish! This time Shipulin won to give Russia the victory by 0.2 seconds. In third were an impressive Austrian team with Landertinger hitting good form in time for Kontiolahti. The Canadian team were 5th which is their best ever finish in a relay but home team Norway were a disappointing 9th missing a lot of big names.

So now all eyes turn to Finland for the World Championships and thoughts of yellow bibs and crystal globes are replaced by gold, silver and bronze medals. It has been a good round in Oslo with up and downs for many biathletes. There were a few surprises too with Peiffer winning, Kaisa losing the yellow bib and the Norwegian team not getting any podiums. If you had told me that last week I would have said in Oslo – NO(r)WAY!

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Ober and out!

oberhof 2015

Unlike last year when there was no snow-berhof this time we were lucky enough to have the first real snow of the season in Germany. The races got underway on Wednesday with the Women’s Relay. It was a great race which saw the Czech Republic win for the first time in 17 years. Well worth the wait though as Veronika Vitkova beat a determined Anais Bescond and the French team into second. Darya Domracheva made sure that Belarus would come third holding off valiant attempts from Norway, Italy and the Ukraine to snatch the last place on the podium. Unfortunately for the hosts they had a penalty loop on the very first shoot which put them out of contention immediately. Maybe I shouldn’t mention it but they were also beaten at home by rivals Austria!

The Men’s Relay on Thursday was horrible! Not the race but the weather. It was delayed due to fog and when it did start it was wet,windy and foggy – no fun for biathletes or spectators. The racing itself was good although marred by a large number of falls the worst coming from the Czech Republic’s Michal Krcmar who couldn’t finish his leg. In the end Russia came through to win their third relay in a row. In a close finish Anton Shipulin continued his great pre-Christmas form by sprinting away from Bjoernadalen leaving Norway in second. France took the last place on the podium showing they don’t even need Martin Fourcade as Quentin Fillon Maillet was an excellent replacement. Home team Germany were fourth and Finland were exceptional coming in 9th from a start position of 24th. Sweden were disqualified when Tobias Arwidson only shot 9 times instead of 10!

On Friday we had the Women’s Sprint. After a great race in tough conditions the Czech Republic’s Veronika Vitkova crossed the line first for the second race in a row and took her first ever World Cup win. She had to ski really well to secure the victory over Italian pair Dorothea Wierer and Nicole Gontier who were second and third respectively. In fact the Italians had five finishers inside the TOP 60. The Ukraine’s Natalya Burdyga is also worthy of a mention as the only other women apart from Gontier to shoot clean. On the other hand favourites Makarainen and Domracheva had days to forget on the range.

The Men’s race suffered again from difficult conditions with heavy overnight rain making most of the snow disappear and windy conditions affecting the shooting. In fact the race was delayed until the afternoon so they could work on the tracks and the loop was also shortened. This didn’t stop Martin Fourcade however who took the win after an extended Christmas break. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen was second getting his 170th podium and Timofey Lapshin was third making it three times on the podium for him! Benedikt Doll gave the crowd something to shout about by being the best German in 8th. Benjamin Weger was 5th and Estonia’s Roland Lessing was excellent in 7th. Switzerland’s Serafin Weistner got his best career finish coming in 28th.

On Sunday we managed to get two races in one day – hurrah! They were of course the total chaos that is the Mass Start! People missing targets, others falling, great recoveries and total meltdowns! Out of the madness however emerged Martin Fourcade and Darya Domracheva to claim victory. Fourcade was followed home by Russian pair Shipulin and Malyshko and Vitkova capped of a fantastic week with second place beating Tiril Eckhoff in third. The wind played a big part in the Men’s race and Martin kept very calm especially on the final shoot and went clear. Jana Gerekova did the same in the Women’s race but didn’t have the ski speed to compete at the front. She eventually finished fifth but if there was any justice in the world she would have come first!! Krasimir Anev of Bulgaria also had the best race of his career in fourth place and Franziska Preuss 6th, Benedikt Doll 8th and Simon Schempp 10th finally gave the huge crowdd something to cheer about.

There has been a lot of criticism about Oberhof this week from the biathletes. However you can’t predict the snow conditions and all the venues have been struggling this season. The wind is always a big factor in Oberhof and they have known that for many years so they just need to get on with it. I understand that sometimes it’s just a matter of luck there who wins and loses but that’s the nature of the place. The fans love to see how the conditions can turn races on their head and give others a chance to do well. It makes it all the more exciting and as paying customers they are the most important people in biathlon. If it wasn’t for fantastic fans turning up in big numbers and in horrible weather there wouldn’t be any biathlon! So that’s all from the first installment of the German races. It’s straight off to Ruhpolding for the next World Cup round. Biathlon 23 Ober and out!

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