Tag Archives: Norway

One ‘Eck hoff a biathlete!

Winner of three Olympic medals at her first attempt and more importantly winner of biathlon 23’s Rising Star award 2013/14 Tiril Eckhoff has had an amazing season. Born on the 21st of May 1990 she represents Fossum IF as well as the Norwegian national team. At 24 she has been on the scene a little while but last season saw her rise to the top of the biathlon ranks and start challenging the main contenders.

She stated her intentions early on in the season by finishing 5th in the Individual in Oestersund. She backed it up with third in the Pursuit in Annecy for her first ever podium on the World Cup and then took 4th in the Pursuit in Antholz to make her one of the ones to watch in Sochi. Her perceived inexperience in the top competitions didn’t hold her back as she came away with 2 bronze and 1 gold medal from Russia.

Her performances in the relays were excellent and backed up by some very talented and experienced teammates she won gold in the Mixed Relay and bronze in the Women’s relay. To prove she wasn’t just carried by the others but was an integral part of the victories, she also bagged herself an individual bronze medal in the Mass Start behind Domracheva and Soukalova.

Her great results didn’t finish there though as on her return to World Cup racing in Pokljuka she took two 5th place positions in the Pursuit and Mass Start when the rest of the Norwegian team seemed to be a bit jaded after the Olympics. She finished 9 times in the TOP 10 and maybe the only small disappointment from the season is that she couldn’t convert her great form into a win.

She has a lot of pressure on her shoulders competing for Norway and will have even more next year after her great results last season. That coupled with the retirements of Tora Berger and Ann Kristin Flatland makes her, along with Synnøve Solemdal, one of the top 2 female biathletes in her country. She will also have a new coach next season. It just happens to be a familiar face as it is her older brother Stian Eckhoff. It seems biathlon is a bit of a family affair in the Eckhoff household as her sister Kaja is also a biathlete.

So under the guidance of big bro next season Tiril will be looking to get that first World Cup win under her belt. I think she will have bigger ambitions than that though. If she continues her consistency from last season and adds some wins she has to be in contention for an individual Crystal globe if not the overall title. She will also be looking to win some more medals in the World Championships in Kontiolahti to keep her Olympic medals company. She won’t have it easy however as the Women’s competition is extremely strong. Whatever happens we already know that Tiril is one ‘eck hoff a biathlete!

Follow Tiril on Twitter: @TirilEckhoff

* to be ‘one heck of something’ means to be really good at something eg. Messi is one heck of a footballer.

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2013/14!

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Second only to the Oscars for drama and excitement the most highly anticipated awards of the year are here! In traditional biathlon23 style they are not exactly the standard awards you might have come to expect. I have decided not to bore you too much with the nominees and sometimes just go directly to the winners and the reasons why they won.Congratulations everyone for a great biathlon season 2013/14!!!


Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
She is much more popular with the fans than the New Zealand Winter Olympic selection committee(those dream ruining fiends!) with 426 hits and counting for Hurricane Murphy and crushing the likes of Fourcade, Svendsen, Bjoerndalen, Berger, Domracheva and Makarainen!
Winner: The lovely Miss Sarah Murphy.

Best Facial hair: Brendan Green came close with his moustache(eh..no he didn’t!!)but with a beautiful full beard giving Santa a run for his money(even though he shaved it off!).
Winner: Simon Fourcade

Best name:
I am a fan of Rastorgujevs (because it has a nice flow!). I also like Amanda Lightfoot(you need a light foot for skiing!), Leif Nordgren(could it be more nordic!),Meri Maijala(just sounds happy to me!)but then I discovered this guy.
Winner: Jaan Koolmeister

Best Team Performance: Lots of options here the Ukrainian Women’s Relay team, the Russians Men’s relay team for example but I am giving it to a team who have improved significantly on both the Men’s and Women’s side and are not one of the “big” biathlon countries.
Winner: Canada

Biggest improver: A difficult category as so many people have done well. I chose the winner because she won 2 European silver medals, got her first TOP 20 finish, is the only woman who represents her country and she funds herself.
Winner: Victoria Padial


Best save (from a fall):
A difficult one as there were 2 beautiful pirouettes from Martin Fourcade and Tarjei Boe in Hochfilzen but as one was alone and the other in the middle of a group there is only one choice.
Winner: Tarjei Boe

Best quote in a press conference: Annecy. Winning on Martin Fourcade’s home patch “it’s not everyday you can beat Martin but it’s cool that I can do it here in his cave in France!” I like that he said it while sitting right next to him!
Winner: Johannes Thingnes Boe


Best Twitter follower(of me)
: Only one winner in this category. He followed me on Twitter without me having to a)follow him b)ask him to do it and c)write a post about him (although this will be fixed in the summer!)
Winner: Peter Dokl

Best Tweeter: Easy! Always spots something funny at the tracks or on his travels.
Winner: Tobias Arwidson

Best Facebooker: Has to go to the man who shares everything from his holidays to his coffee breaks, from his races to his home town of Mrkopalj(the Croatian tourist board love him and so do we!)
Winner: Jakov Fak

Best rifle design: For the Olympics. The Slovenian colours with the mountain design – very cool!
Winner: Klemen Bauer

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Literally a shoot out between the Boe brothers. Tarjei with orange, Johannes with gold. You have to have balls to race with a gold rifle and he backed it up with 5 wins and orange does clash with red.
Winner: Tarjei Boe

Best ski suit: Standing out from the other teams normal block colour with bit of a stripe here and there. Especially like the leg design incorporating the national flag.
Winner: Great Britain


Worst ski suit:
Generally for having the same design most years without deviation from red with a splash of black. Nothing wrong with it but needs a change!
Winner: Norway

Rising star:Another super difficult category and I almost gave it to several others but getting good results and holding your place in the Norwegian team and winning an Olympic gold and 2 bronze are so hard to do in your first Games. Also replacing Tora Berger isn’t going to be a piece of cake either!
Winner: Tiril Eckhoff

Best vocal performance: I know what you are thinking it’s between Soukalova and Bailey, right?WRONG! A man in a dress singing “Breaking The Law” like he was born to do it!
Winner: Bjorn Ferry

Luckiest: Some may call it skill and his whole race up to the finish was but the ending was a little bit lucky. Let’s say it’s lucky he didn’t start celebrating gold any earlier in the Olympic Mass Start or he would have given it to Fourcade!
Winner:Emil Hegle Svensden

Unluckiest: Falling at the first World Cup round (on a lump of frozen mud while running and not even a skiing injury)and pretty much wrecking her Olypmic hopes. Still it turned out OK in the end with a podium and baby on the way but unlucky in biathlon terms.
Winner: Marie Dorin Habert

Biggest disappointment:I wanted this to be the cancellation of the races due to fog and wind but something else got in the way 😦
Winner: Biathletes caught doping


Best biathlete blog:
Lots of biathletes have blogs these days but because she is retiring and won’t be eligible again as well as it being very good of course I chose this lady.
Winner: Sara Studebaker

Best biathlete website: More and more biathletes are getting fancy websites but one of the first I discovered and really liked the entry page(even though he later changed it!)belongs to this guy.
Winner: Lukas Hofer

Biathlon23’s performance of the season: A very difficult choice but you can’t look past 3 gold medals in one Olympics creating history for her country.
Winner: Darya Domracheva

These are all my own ideas so feel free to Facebook or Tweet me if you have any of your own thoughts! The funnier the better please!

Biathlon23 in true biathlon style is having a little post season break before I get back into writing articles again. But don’t worry like the biathletes I will be back around May with weekly posts to keep you going through the long, barren biathlon free summer!:-)

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Flying Sircus!

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No it’s not a preview of Monty Python’s summer reunion! It is in fact my rather catchy title for this article about Great Britain’s Robert Sircus. Robert was born on the 1st of December 1995 and will soon be competing for Great Britain in the upcoming Youth/Junior World Biathlon Championships. He will be competing in the Youth Men category in Presque Isle in Maine, U.S.A. This will be his first appearance at this level.

Born in Yeovil, he moved up to Scotland and started training at the Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic ski club and attended Kingussie High School. A familiar route for a lot of the young civilian British biathletes. The Cairngorms is one of the best places in the U.K to train and compete in biathlon under the careful eye of the legend that is Mr. Mike Dixon. He has also recently become a member of Team Out There Biathlon and Nordic which gives support to athletes from countries who stuggle with funding. Other members of the team include Victoria Padial (Spain), Leandro Lutz (Brazil) and Sarah Murphy (New Zealand).

Like the cross country skier Andrew Musgrave and biathletes like Selina Gasparin he has been lucky enough to be able to go to Norway to train and compete and benefit hugely from the coaching and facilities there. He moved to Sirdal last August to train alongside junior Norwegian biathletes under the guidance of National coach, Roger Grubben. Just two months later he took part in the Norwegian Summer Biathlon Championships, becoming the first British youth biathlete ever to compete in that event. It saw him competing against Norwegian biathletes (and we all know how good they are) from the elite biathlon schools like Geilo, Lillehammer and his own in Sirdal. In the first event, the 7.5km Sprint, he managed to finish in seventh place and then came eleventh in the following day’s Pursuit. Remarkable results considering the level of competition.

It showed a marked improvement from his results in the European Youth Olympic Winter festival in 2013 where he finished 74th in the Individual and 72nd in the Sprint. He said of that experience “I think I still expect too much of myself, I think I need to stop doing that before I can improve. I need to relax more and enjoy the competition and the experience more.” For one so young he sounds like a pretty intelligent guy but he has to be careful not to lose his competitiveness.You need to learn from such performances and do everything possible to improve from them. Robert has proven that he has the ski speed to compete but he needs to improve his shooting on the range. Missed targets have cost him some top finishes in various races but it’s generally easier to improve your shooting than skiing so he’s got it the right way round.

So on to Presque Isle where he will be joined in the Youth events by Lachlan Cowie and Scott Dixon will also be there competing with the Juniors. Accompanied by coach Carl Carrier, it is a great chance for Robert to measure his performances against the best young biathletes in the world and see how he measures up. To be honest British biathlon could use a boost after all the funding issues. That is another discussion however and he just needs to concentrate on his own races. Good luck to all three of the guys going off to represent Great Britain in America and be sure to keep an eye out for the Flying Sircus!

Robert has his own Twitter and Facebook pages where you can follow him.
You can also read his blog entries on the British Biathlon blog:

http://britishbiathlon.blogspot.co.uk/


Team Out There and Nordic are also on Facebook and Twitter. Their website is:

http://outthereshop.com

For more info on The Cairngorms Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club see their website:
http://www.cbnsc.co.uk/

The Youth/Junior World Championships take place in Presque Isle USA from the 27th of February to the 7th of March.

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UnBølievable Annecy : Le Grand Børnand!

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World Cup round 3 in Annecy was dominated by the new “golden boy” of Norwegian biathlon Johannes Thingnes Bø. An extraordinary performance by the 20 year old saw him win the Sprint and Pursuit double by 33 and 37.5 seconds respectively.I always expected him to win a World Cup race but not this soon and not in such a dominant style! He also helped a weakened relay team to a fifth place on Friday. He has certainly announced himself as a real threat this year and I hope he can be consistent because I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do against his brother and Svendsen and a Martin Fourcade in better shape. Never short of confidence he stated after his Sprint win that “It is cool to beat Martin here.” He is a real contender now and I think the bigger names in the Norwegian team should start to worry about their places for Sochi.

Elsewhere and playing second fiddle to the Bø show was the great performance of Selina Gasparin who won her second Sprint race in a row. They are like buses those Swiss you wait ages for a win and 2 come along at once. There was also another first time winner on the women’s side. Valj Semerenko took the Pursuit race by maintaining her composure in the final shoot and finished in front of Irina Starykh and Tiril Eckhoff who both finished a career best second and third. In the Sprint race second place went to Kaisa Makarainen and third to Valj Semerenko. The women’s competition is fantastic this year mainly thanks to the amount of amazing biathletes around just now and without last year’s dominance from Tora Berger we are getting some superb racing.

Back to the men and behind Bø in the Sprint came Ondrej Moravec and Martin Fourcade. Following him in second and third in the Pursuit where Erik Lesser and Anton Shipulin. Lesser coming home for a career best finish for him as well. Another stand out result for the men has to be Canada’s Nathan Smith who finished 8th in the Pursuit after starting the year on the IBU Cup.

In the relays the German women’s team put in a great performance to win . The younger members,Preuss,Hildebrand and Dahlmeier, were especially solid on the shooting range and did well in the individual races too. Ukraine got another podium and now have to be the favourites to win gold in Sochi. Norway took third and the Canadian team did an incredible job to get their best ever result of fourth. For the men Russia came back into form with a great finish from Anton Shipulin to sprint past Schempp and take the win. It was also good to see Austria in third to put a disappointing Hochfilzen firmly behind them.

Speaking of disappointment it was a rough weekend for the French team with only Martin Fourcade’s third place to cheer about. However they have a great venue in Annecy. The tracks and the shooting range may not be the most difficult on tour but they make for great close racing that I personally love to watch. It was an UnBølievable weekend for Johannes Bø but it was also a successful one for Annecy. I can’t wait to go back!

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year! We will catch up again in Oberhof!!

P.S For new readers or anyone who is unfamiliar with the blog- a)what’s wrong with you? and b) no seriously, what is wrong with you?- I always keep an eye on whoever is wearing bib 23 and this weekend bib 23 won the men and women’s Sprint races!!!!YES!!!

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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Johannes: The next big Thing!

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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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Bjørn winner!

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What can you write about Ole Einar Bjørndalen that hasn’t already been said? The man is a legend! He is the King of Biathlon and the best biathlete of all time. He has won about a million medals in his 100 year career (slight exaggeration but it feels like that sometimes!)

Ole Einar Bjørndalen was born in Drammen, Norway on the 27th January 1974 although he now lives in Austria. He won his first junior medal in 1992 and made his debut on the World Cup in 1993. To cut a long story short he then went on to win everything there is to win! He has a record 11 Olympics medals in biathlon, he has won the overall title six times and has more World Championship medals than he knows what to do with!

An unbelievable career which will culminate in his last ever biathlon season this year. He has announced that he will hang up his biathlon skis at the end of this season after competing in his 6th Olympic Games. He will be 40 years old by the time Sochi comes around and if he keeps his fitness up he will surely be able to add to his medals haul in the Norwegian relay team.

Strangely for an older athlete Bjørndalen has maintained his ski speed but seems to have suffered more with his shooting. Really you would expect the opposite to happen, the legs to go before the eyes. Hopefully he will maintain this for next year but unfortunately I can’t see him winning any individual races. The likes of Fourcade, Svendsen, Bø and Shipulin are just too strong for Ole to compete with now.

What I would love though is for someone to fire up the flux capacitor and get the DeLorean to take these guys back to around 2002 and see them compete against Bjørndalen at his best. What a race that would be! And you could even throw in Raphaël Poirée and Sven Fischer just to add some more spice! However until time travel is actually invented it will just have to be raced in my head, but who would win?

Well you can’t look past Bjørndalen. At his peak I think he could beat anyone past or present. After all he is a Bjørn winner!

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