Tag Archives: Norwegian Biathlon

Karoline Erdal: The Interview!

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Karoline Erdal is a Norwegian biathlete who was born in Förde on the 15th of November 1997. She skis for her hometown club Förde IL. She recently took part in the Youth/Junior World Championships in Cheile Gradistei where she won gold in the Youth Women’s Sprint race and bronze in the Youth Women’s Relay with teammates Kristina Skjevdal and Emilie Kalkenberg. Her brother Ole Martin Erdal is also a biathlete.

You can follow Karoline on Twitter: @Karolineerdal

You won a gold and a bronze medal in Cheile Gradistei. Can you describe how it felt to win those medals?

The feeling was amazing! I was really satisfied with the races and I felt my shape was good.

What do you remember about the races? Can you describe them?

The Sprint was the individual race I was looking forward to competing in. I knew my shape was good and with good shooting, it would be a good race. I started as number two, and the minutes after I crossed the finish line waiting for the other competitors was really thrilling. But I made it, and I was so happy!

The relay was really hard. My legs were a bit heavy, but I was determined to give it all in the last race. My teammate, Emilie, exchanged as number six, and I knew I had to give it all on the track. The shooting was pretty good and I managed to take the team up to third place. I am really proud of my team and everyone did a great job!

Did you have any goals before you went to Romania and did you achieve them?

I had a goal to take an individual medal and perform four good races where I was satisfied with my own performance. I think I achieved them, and I have learned so much from this trip.

Norway has a lot of biathletes. How were you selected for the YJWCH? Did you have selection races?

The competition in Norway is pretty strong, that means that a ticket to YJWCH is a big achievement. We had four competitions that counted for the selection. Out of these four, we could stroke one competition, which means that only three of them count. The competition was really hard!

How did you prepare for the Championships?

I prepared like I would do for normal races in Norway. Having good training sessions with good focus and keep myself free from illness.

What are your goals for the future?

My goals for the future are to make progress every year, and eventually compete on the IBU and World Cup. For next season the goal is the YJWCH!

Why did you become a biathlete and why do you like the sport?

I became a biathlete mostly because of my family. We have always been an active family, and my father competed in biathlon before. When my brother started as a biathlete I wanted to try it myself, and I loved it! He is a big inspiration to me.
I like the sport because of the constant excitement and the combination between skiing and shooting. Nothing is decided before the athlete crosses the finish line.

Do you combine sport with your education or are you concentrating only on biathlon at the present?

At the present I am living in Geilo and going to high school where I combine school and biathlon.

Does your rifle have a name?

My rifle has no name.

Describe yourself in three words.

Kind, stubborn and strong-willed.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:
Holmenkollen
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Tarjei Boe
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Sprint or Mass Start
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Sprint YJWCH 2016
Favourite food: Taco and steak
Favourite film: Fast and Furious 7
Favourite sports team: The Norwegian biathlon team!
Favourite TV show: Prison Break at the moment!

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Martin Femsteinevik: The Interview

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Today’s subject is young Norwegian biathlete Martin Femsteinevik. He was born on the 16th of February 1994 and took part in last year’s Youth/Junior World Championships where he achieved a best placed finish of 5th in the Junior Men’s Individual race. He is obviously very passionate about biathlon and is a pretty inspirational young man as you will soon read!

You can follow Martin on Twitter: @MFemsteinevik

Biathlon is really popular in Norway and therefore really competitive. Why did you want to be a biathlete and how hard is it to get into the team?

I tried biathlon for the first time when I was 6 years old. My dad had a biathlon rifle from when he was young, and I got to try it then. After those shots I really thought this was fun, and it was something I wanted to do more of. So when I was 7 years old (almost 8) I started to compete in biathlon races. After the first race I was so happy and satisfied that I wanted to continue my career. And after that it has just become more and more biathlon for me.
I got another motivational boost were I really said to myself that I want to be among the best biathletes in the world when I was 13.5 years old. At that time I was diagnosed with leukemia (blood cancer) and one of the first things I thought and said to myself was that I am gonna get through this, and come back to biathlon to be one of the best athletes in the world. And I think that when I was sick I saved up so much motivation to come back to biathlon that I could go on for many more years.

It is really hard to get into the Norwegian national team in biathlon. There are many good athletes in Norway that have never been on a national team, but still could have been high on the lists in the IBU cup or even taken points in the World cup. Because of this top Norwegian biathletes always try to become better and develop both their strong and weak sides. This means that Norwegian biathlon still can be really good for more years.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

This season is the first season I am not attending any school. So it will be a new experience for me. In the last seasons I have attended a secondary school were we had training between lessons four times a week. This has really helped me, both with getting through my education with some motivation to perform well in school, and to make me a better biathlete.
Outside biathlon I do not have a social life like other persons of my age. I come from a really small place in the western part of Norway, and most of my friends are or have been biathletes. So I´m social with friends at competitions and training camps. Some might say that I am losing something when I´m so dedicated to my sport, but for me biathlon is life and therefore I think that I´m not losing anything.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

I have some local companies that are funding me, but I also take some of the cost myself. However the Norwegian biathlon union has a lot of money, so when we are traveling to training camps with the national junior team NSSF pays the travel, accommodation and food. And also when competing in Junior World Champs IBU cup or World Cup NSSF pays for everything. So that means that you do not have to be really rich to be a biathlete in Norway.
When it comes to equipment athletes on national teams get clothes from NSSF´s clothing sponsor SWIX and when it comes to boots and skis I have a contract with Rossignol.

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

I hope so, but there haven´t been any qualifying races yet. We will have three weekends of Norwegian cup, with a total of six races where the four best races count in the qualifying. The races will be in early December, early January and mid/late January.

What the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

The best thing about being a biathlete is that I get to do what I love every day.
I cannot come up with anything that I will name as the worst thing about being a biathlete because I like almost everything about it.

If you could steal one characteristic from another biathlete, what would it be, who from and why?

I would steal Martin Fourcade´s way to ski. The way he plays and tries different techniques during a race, from sprinting the last few hundred meters before the shooting to just relax in the middle of a small group on the last lap. He has the ability to change his plans depending on how he and the athletes around him perform. And I think that this is one of the reasons that he has become the best overall biathlete for the last three seasons.

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

Today I can´t come up with anything that I want to change about biathlon. The IBU have done a really great job by making biathlon an extremely TV-friendly sport with short skiing courses and man vs. man shootouts on the shooting field. So people think that it is very exciting. Here in Norway most people that I speak with tell me that they think biathlon is the most exciting sport to watch on the TV because nothing is settled until the last shot is fired, anything can happen. And that is what is so good about biathlon. And now the TV-companies make sure we get brilliant pictures both from the shooting range and the track, so I think that biathlon is good as it is today. But we must of course try to develop and evolve biathlon further when that is necessary.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

In biathlon Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is a big role model for me. He has competed in the absolute world class for over 20 years, since before I was born. This means that from the very first time I tried biathlon he was among the best in the world, and he has been that ever since. Also he is Norwegian, and to have a person like him to look up to for a young biathlete has been great. He is extremely detail oriented and everything he does is planned so that he can perform as well as possible. I think that this is what has made him so good. He has always looked at what he can do better and tried to develop himself and his equipment as fast as possible. And this is one of the main reasons I have him as a role model because he has done so much for biathlon in his career.

What’s your typical day like?

I normally wake up 7.30 then breakfast. Start the first training session between 8.30 and 9.00. Lunch 11.00 – 12.00. Relaxing until next training session. 15.30 – 16.00 second training session. 18.00 dinner 22.00 go to bed.

Norway has many world class biathletes. Do you ever get to train with Bjoerndalen or Svendsen or do they help you with tips and advice? Does Emil give free shampoo to everyone?

As I live in western Norway I do not see the world class Norwegian biathletes so often. Most of them live in the eastern part of Norway, about 7 hours travel by car from where I live. But I sometimes meet them when we are on training camps. But I do not train with them or get tips from them now. I guess they are occupied with themselves, and trying to do their best to get ready for a new season.
I have not gotten any shampoo from Emil yet! hehe

Does your rifle have a name?

No I have not given my rifle a name. But considering the time I use to take care of it I might have to give it a name soon. But for now its just the rifle.

Describe yourself in three words.

Impatient, detailed, vigilant

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Nordic heritage center (Presque Isle)

Favourite biathlete (past or present): Raphaèl Poirèe

Favourite event:(sprint, pursuit etc): Mass start / Relay

Favourite/best race of your career so far? Junior Norwegian championships 2013 (2 individual golds, and best leg time on the relay)

Favourite food: «Pinnakjøtt» traditional Norwegian christmas food, sheep meat with potatoes and mashed turnips

Favourite singer/band: The Killers

Favourite film: James Bond: Skyfall

Favourite sports team: Real Madrid FC

Favourite TV show: Top Gear

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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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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!!!

HO HO HOchfilzen!

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It’s close enough to Christmas to get away with that title,right? Well either way we got a few pre-Christmas treats from the biathletes this weekend in Hochfilzen. It all kicked off with the women in the Sprint which saw Selina Gasparin taking her and Swizerland’s first win on the World Cup with a great skiing and shooting performance. Some great shooting also saw Veronika Vitkova match her best result so far in second and Irina Starykh taking her top result finishing third. I was especially pleased about Irina Starykh as she just happened to be wearing bib 23!

It was followed by the men and Lars Berger stormed back onto the World Cup by winning the Sprint with an amazing skiing performance after starting out on the IBU Cup.He managed to beat Martin Fourcade into second and a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into third. It’s great to see Berger doing well again for his fun personality if nothing else. I would also like someone to check Bjoerndalen’s birth certificate to make sure he really will be 40 next month.I don’t know how he does it! Whatever his parents fed him when he was young I want some of it!

On Saturday we had the first men’s and women’s relays of the season. The Ukrainian women’s team put in a stellar performance to win. All of their athletes did a great job but Julia Dzhyma stands out for her overall performance over the weekend. They were followed by Germany and France but Norway were noticeably absent from the podium. Over on the men’s side however the Norwegian men won with a dominant display and a characteristically great last leg from Svendsen. Sweden took a great second place with Bergman striking like a cobra into the stadium to fight off the Russian charge and leave them in third.

On to Sunday and the Pursuit. A great race from Solemdal gave her a second victory in Hochfilzen and made up for another difficult day on the shooting range for Tora Berger. Dzhyma took a fantastic second place thanks to some great shooting and Poland’s Palka made up 8 places to finish third. Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade won the men’s race followed by Svendsen and Boe. Just a little tip for the Norwegians you can’t give Fourcade a 40 second lead in a Pursuit if you want a chance of winning it! Having said that both the Norwegian guys have stepped up a gear from Oestersund and it’s just a pity they won’t be competing in France this coming weekend.

For the home crowd Cristoph Sumann gave them something to cheer about getting 5th in the Sprint and 7th in the Pursuit. They got 4th in the men’s relay too but unfortunately Simon Eder couldn’t carry on his form from last week in Oestersund and Dominik Landertinger didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped at home. The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews.

Standouts for me from Hochfilzen have to be Simon Schempp and the German team in general. Schempp finished 8th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the relay. Daniel Boehm and Arnd Peiffer got 2 TOP 20 finishes and the women were second in the relay. Julia Dhzyma as I mentioned before had a good weekend all round finishing first in the relay, second in the Pursuit and fifth in the Sprint. The big movers in the Pursuit were Alexis Boeuf and Benjamin (Darth) Weger gaining 20 and 34 places respectively and the Semerenko twins and Gabriela Soukalova(Bib23) who started 22,23 and 24 and finished 7,8,9.

So after HO HO Hochfilzen now all thoughts turn to France and a first visit to Annecy. None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy!

P.S Has anyone else noticed the interviewer in the IBU official Press Conference always asks a question with the word “surprise” in it. I can’t watch them properly because it makes me laugh everytime I hear it! Listen out for it in Annecy!

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The Swede Smell of Success!

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Well that’s Oestersund over for another year. A disrupted calendar due to high winds but pretty interesting all the same. It began what feels like about 10 years ago with the mixed relay. The Czech Republic won with a very solid performance from all 4 athletes and with a little help from Martin Fourcade who proved he is in fact human and not just a lean, mean, biathlon machine.

He soon put all that behind him though by winning the Individual by over 2 minutes with an “in your face doubters” kind of display. What’s most remarkable about this guy is that after a disaster in the relay and 4 days to sit and dwell on it he comes out and shoots clear. His mental strength is unbelievable and you can’t help but be impressed by the way he handled the situation. We know his physical ability but to have that mental toughness is why he will be so hard to beat this season. Many people would have crumbled after the relay but he comes out even stronger and wins the Sprint too just for good measure. Four-midable!

On the women’s side Tora Berger didn’t get off to a great start either. She also had a bit of a shocker in the relay. Like Fourcade she worked her way back on to the podium finishing 3rd in the Sprint.Elsewhere Gabriela Soukalova started where she finished last season with an impressive performance in the Individual and Ann Kristin Flatland had a great race to win the Sprint. It was great to see Marie-Laure Brunet get the podium that her amazing shooting deserves and Olga Zaitseva making it in there too after a rocky start for Team Russia. Slovakia also earned a podium through Kuzmina.

Special mentions have to go to the French men’s team especially Jean-Guillame Beatrix for his 4th place in the Sprint and Baptiste Jouty for an amazing 13th place in the same race.In fact the French men had 5 finishers in the TOP 40. Also to Fredrik Lindstrom for restoring some home pride in a tough meet for the Swedes. What might have been if he hadn’t fallen we will never know but I like to think he would have won. Tim Burke also hit some early season form in the Sprint and his fellow North American JP Le Guellec proved that he must really like Oestersund by getting a 4th place in the Individual to follow his Sprint win last year. The Austrian men also performed very well in the Individual with Eder in second, and Mesotitsch in third after competing in Idre in the IBU Cup.

The Italians also had some great results from both the men and women. Oberhofer and Weirer both finished in the TOP 10 -a first for Italy and Hofer and De Lorenzi repeated the feat for the men. Kadri Lehtla was the only woman to shoot clear in the Individual and earned her a career best 15th place. Andorra’s Laurie Soulie was also having the race of her life in that event right up until the final shoot.If she hadn’t missed 3 targets she could have made the TOP 5.

On the other hand it was a bit of a disappointing weekend for the big guns from Norway and Russia especially on the men’s side with no podiums for either team.If you are a fan of theirs though you shouldn’t worry too much. I think they both have a master plan that involves peaking in time for the Olympics and if last season’s World Championships are anything to go by the Norwegians at least will be bang on form for Sochi.

It was unfortunate that both the Pursuits were cancelled. It seems my powers of weather forecasting are brilliant as I did predict a hurricane in my last post! Not to worry though the fun starts again in Hochfilzen on Friday. Fourcade, Soukalova, Flatland and the Czech relay team leave Oestersund with the Swede smell of success but can they repeat it in Austria? You’ll have to wait and see!

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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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