Tag Archives: Nove Mesto

Carine Leijn: The Interview!

Carine Leijn is a Dutch biathlete who was born on the 11th of March 1999. She raced on the Junior World Cup last season achieving a best result of 46th in the Individual in Lenzerheide. She also raced in the Junior Open European Championships in Nove Mesto as well as the Youth World Championships in Brezno-Orsblie. Her big sister Lilian also used to be a biathlete until she recently gave up the sport leaving Carine as the only female Dutch biathlete.

Follow her on Twitter: @CarineLeijn
on Instagram.com/carine.leijn
and Facebook: Biatleijn
Website: http://www.leijn.eu/

Why did you become a biathlete?

Besides the fact that biathlon is just plain awesome, I have two older sisters who used to do biathlon. So you could say it runs in the family. So when my parents were around 30 years old they started cross country skiing. And we grew up going to Sweden every winter to do cross country skiing in the snow. We also practised on these plastic ski mats in Gouda (yes yes Gouda from the cheese). It’s hard to imagine what it looks like and even harder to describe its appearance, so I’ll leave it at that. Eventually the Dutch ski federation asked my oldest sister if she was interested in doing biathlon. Since then our family was in love.

How do you assess last season? You raced in the Junior World Cup and at the Youth World Championships. What were they like?

Last season started out pretty good in Lenzerheide and Hochfilzen. I had overall good races and felt good on the skis. Last season was supposed to be promising. With sneak peeks of my good races I was excited to see what more I could do at the Junior cups and The Youth World Championships. Sadly my nightmare came true after the Christmas break, at the first day of the IBU-IOC training camp in Slovenia I got sick. Not the “I don’t feel so good but I will train anyway even if coach said not to cold” but the real deal 39 degrees, hot and cold am I dead yet fever! So I had to take a lot rest and a lot of Slovenian honey to get back on my feet. So the races in Pokljuka and in NMNM were kind of doomed before I even started because they were directly after this camp. Then I got home for a few weeks to prep for the Youth World Champs. I was feeling a bit more in shape but not as good as I was before. In Slovakia the conditions weren’t the best, a lot of rain, wind and soft snow. Swimming was almost faster than skiing on the tracks. No but in all seriousness taking into account the short period of time Osrblie had to organize everything they did a really good job. At all the venues the people were so nice and kind. It was a great experience to be able to compete at the Junior cup with so many countries. I learned so much which I am really grateful for.

Do you have a favourite race from last season? Which one was it and what was special about it for you?

My favourite race was in Hochfilzen, before I got sick. There were a few factors which made it really special for me. I really liked the tracks, the up and downhills, tricky curves and the high speed. So I was testing my skis and all of a sudden I heard Dutch people and realized they were talking to me. They told me they just moved to Hochfilzen and asked me if I was going to compete in the Junior cup. They told me they were going to try to come and watch the race. The next day they actually showed up, wished me good luck and cheered for me from the tribunes. So in that Sprint I shot clean, had the best skis and gave everything I had. So this was really my favourite race from last season.

You can also race in the Single Mixed Relay with Jarl Hengstmengel. Do you like that event?

The Single Mixed Relay was really something on its own. I never did a competition like this before but I really liked the fact that you’re a team against all the other countries. Also the girls start in a mass start which I’d never done before, so that was really awesome. This Single Mixed Relay was when I was had just started training a few days after my fever. So I was dying during the whole race. It was good that we had a little rest in between when the boys were racing. But Jarl and I agreed beforehand that no matter what happened we weren’t going to do the penalty loop and we were going to beat the Belgian team. We succeeded at both so we were quite happy with our race.

It’s not easy being a Dutch biathlete. What are the hardest things about it? What are the good things?

No it sure isn’t. The hardest of thing of all is that I always have to train alone. Given that I am the only girl at this point, there isn’t a training group it’s just me. I used to have my sister as a training partner but when she quit I really had to do it on my own. One of the good things about being a Dutch biathlete is I think the IBU-IOC camps. Because The Netherlands isn’t a major country in biathlon we get invited, along side other small countries, to these camps. My motivation really gets a boost from these camps. You meet a lot of new people and go to places that are really awesome. But for me most important thing is the fact that you train in a group which is really important because no matter how hard you work you can’t always do it on your own.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life?

At this point I’m still in high school. I split the year before my senior year in 2 years. So I had more time to train, this was in the last school year. But next year I’ll be a senior and hopefully will be graduating high school. My high school is really cooperative with my sport. They help me with my school planning and I get a lot of guidance. As for my social life, my friends support me all the way and help me stay motivated for school and for training. They help me study when I miss a lot of school due to races or a training camp.I really love having my friends around and I don’t have the idea that biathlon is in the way of that.

Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Not particularly. I’ve never been a person who likes to go out or something like that. So I don’t miss it and it’s not something I would want to do. Because I really grew up in the sport I am used to making certain sacrifices.

What are your goals for next season and further into the future?

My big goal for next season is to qualify again for the Youth World Championships. And to not get sick during the season. And for further in to the future it isn’t that easy to say. I think we all dream really big, which is a good thing. But we have to have goals in between to keep our feet on the ground. For now I hope I will make a lot of progress in the Junior cup over the next years and who knows what we can achieve with hard work, passion and big dreams.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What will you be working on over the summer?

I think one of my strengths is that I am mentally able to push myself to the very end, during training or a competition. My weakness is my speed on the shooting range, and my shooting time which I am currently working on. The less time you spend on the shooting range the better.

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

Pokljuka for sure, the track in the winter is really fast with quick turns which is really fun. Also I’ve been there so many times that every time I get there it feels like coming home which feels really special to me.

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

Darya Domracheva. Since I was little she has been my favourite. I always watched the races, looked at her skiing with her perfect technique and wanting to be like her. So I was really excited last season when she was making a comeback in Oberhof. I can’t wait to find out what she’ll do next season.

Does your rifle have a name?

I don’t think I got the note stating this was a thing… It is a thing! A biathlon23 thing! 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

chaotic – resilient – hard worker

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Finland
Favourite shooting range: Hochfilzen
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Tarjei Bø
Best thing about being a biathlete: The food in all the different countries.

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Sebastian Samuelsson: The Interview!

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With the World Championships starting in Hochfilzen on the 9th of February I spoke to a biathlete who will be making his first appearance at the Senior event. Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson has burst on to the World Cup this season and has six Top 25 finishes already. He is from Sollefteå and was born on the 28th of March 1997. His best result on the World Cup so far is 13th from the Sprint race in Nove Mesto just before Christmas.

Follow Sebastian on Twitter: @SebbeSamuelsson
Read his blog (Swedish): http://sebastiansamuelsson.se/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started cross-country skiing when I was nine years old. A year later the Swedish Biathlon Championships were held in Sollefteå where I lived. I watched the competitions and immediately wanted to try it out. I did and have liked it ever since!

This is your first season on the World Cup. What has it been like?

An adventure! I never expected that I would do this well in my first year and I am just trying to enjoy every minute! The competitions are similar, but everything is bigger and the big crowds make it a really nice party.

Your best result so far on the World Cup was 13th in the Nove Mesto Sprint. Can you describe the race? Did you think you would do so well so quickly?

It was the third week of World Cup competitions for me, and not being used to it, I was tired. I did not feel so well in the days before. The zeroing was really bad and all this made me feel more nervous than before. We had really good skis that day and I skied behind Simon Schempp on the first loop, that gave me confidence. Zero in the prone and still feeling strong. The coaches screamed that I was skiing like the leaders so I knew that I was doing a good race. One miss in the standing and then I made my best final loop this year. I never expected to be 13th with a penalty loop in good conditions and that is why it was so fun!

Wolfgang Pichler is your coach and moved you onto the World Cup. What is he like as a coach and what has he helped you to improve?

He is demanding, but in a good way. He is very ambitious and always gives 100 %. He is one of the best coaches I have had. The best thing with Wolfgang is that you learn what it really takes to be a world-class athlete. There are no shortcuts, just hard training! He helps me improve in many ways.

You did not race in Oberhof. Was that planned or did you just eat to much at Christmas? 😉

Ha ha, both. I ate a lot, but it was already planned that I would skip Oberhof to prepare myself for the World Championships in Hochfilzen.

You will be taking part in your first Senior World Championships in Hochfilzen. Are you excited or nervous? Have you raced there before? What are your personal goals for the races?

Not so nervous, not yet at least. Just excited, it will be so much fun! I have never been there before. If I make one Top-20 I will be more than happy.

The whole Swedish Team are doing really well this season. Do you think you have a chance of a medal in the Relays in Hochfilzen?

We have all improved a lot! I think we have a good medal chance in all three relays.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think I am quite a good all rounder. I have to improve on all parts to become a world-class athlete!

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

Hallstaberget in Sollefteå of course! It is where I do most of my training. The course is hard and the shooting range is good. You should visit me and try it out!

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

Hmm, I think I would give a different answer depending on when you ask me. But I will go with Johannes Bö, he is young and always aiming for first place!

Does your rifle have a name?

No. If someone has any ideas, let me know.
( As you are Swedish may I suggest Gunnar Riflesson! 😉 )

Describe yourself in three words.

Positive, ambitious and happy.


Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Great Britain with Scott Dixon and Amanda Lightfoot of course! We train with them during summer and autumn.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Hallstaberget, Sollefteå
Lucky bib number: 19, still waiting to get it at the World Cup.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Outside of our team, Simon Fourcade is the one I have spoken with the most.
Best thing about being a biathlete: All the nice people and the chance to challenge yourself.

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Nove Mesto 2016: The Mass Starts!

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Well that was an amazing end to a fantastic few days in Nove Mesto. Gabriela Koukalova winning the Mass Start in front of her home crowd was great! She couldn’t have thought of a better way to say thank you to all the super Czech fans who turned out in huge numbers to support their team.

The Mass Start races can only be described in the form of a palachinky (Czech style filled crepe). The men’s race was the savoury version- tasty but not quite satisfying , the women’s was the sweet version filled with strawberries and covered in cream – absolutely delicious!

Martin Fourcade won again! Missed 1 prone target, won by over 8 seconds, has 56 wins and 101 podium finishes, is 158 points ahead in the Total Score. Nothing else to say.

Second place went to Simon Schempp who out skied Anton Babikov who was third. Jean Guillaume Beatrix probably should have finished on the podium but in the last shoot he apparently though he had missed a target but he hadn’t and so did an unnecessary penalty loop. He was in bib23 so this blog is not pleased with Jean-Gui!!!

Further back Johannes Boe had a fall when he was fighting to reach the podium on the final loop finishing 9th. Ondrej Moravec fixed his rifle that he broke in a fall in the Pursuit and came home in 4th.

The Women’s race was great to watch and Gabriela Koukalova was outstanding. With huge pressure on her from both the other biathletes and the noisy crowd she held her nerve on the shooting range only missing 1 target to claim victory. It wasn’t easy however as Laura Dahlmeier came storming back after 2 misses on her first prone shoot. If the race had been a bit longer she might have won. Saying that only a fool would have overtaken Gabi in Nove Mesto. They wouldn’t have left the stadium alive if they had! In third was Dorothea Wierer who thawed out her trigger finger overnight. She missed 1 but couldn’t match the ski speed of the first two. Vanessa Hinz was very impressive in 4th (I am sure wearing bib23 helped!)

All in all it has been a great World Cup round with good racing and great crowds. The IBU need to make Nove Mesto Na Morave a permanent stop on the World Cup!

It has all gone too fast though, don’t you think?! Three World Cups are finished already! Fourcade continues in yellow as does Dahlmeier who has a 98 point lead over Kaisa Makarainen.

The next round starts in Oberhof on the 5th of January. Don’t forget to look out for a treat from Biathlon23 between Christmas and New Year. Hope you all have a great time over the holidays! I know Martin Fourcade definitely will!

Big thanks to Czech Biathlon Fan @BiathlonFanCZ, Jonas Oškinis and Jára Vykoukles Doležal for the Czech cuisine assistance!

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Nove Mesto 2016: The Pursuits!

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I don’t know what the French team are eating in Nove Mesto but I think it might be vepřo knedlo zelo(roast pork with dumplings) because something is powering their amazing performances. This time they took a double victory winning both the Men’s and Women’s Pursuits.

Martin Fourcade gave another accomplished performance and won his 6th race this season. To be at such a good level on such a consistent basis is phenomenal. He is head and shoulders above the rest at the moment. Having said that I would love someone to beat him! I am perfectly happy for him to win the overall title as he is clearly the number one biathlete in the world right now but I would love to see him replaced on the top step occasionally.

That’s easier said than done of course. He only missed one target and won the race by 30.2 seconds. Anton Shipulin stayed in second with 2 misses and with Svendsen not starting the race, Quentin Fillon Maillet took advantage and his place on the podium shooting clean and moving from 16th to 3rd. He beat Simon Schempp in a sprint finish to take revenge for losing to Schempp in their last sprint finish battle in Ruhpolding!

Schempp showed some better form today though and also shot clean to move from 17th to 4th. Michael Roesch had another good race and got another 6th place from a start position of 30th, another Frenchman Jean Guillaume Beatrix went from 31st to 8th, Evgeniy Garanichev went from 41st to 11th and home favourite Michal Slesingr moved up from 44th to 19th.

In the Women’s race Anais Chevalier managed to move a step up onto the top of the podium after finishing second yesterday in the Sprint. She missed 1 target to win her first ever race on the World Cup by 9.5 seconds. Second place went to Dorothea Wierer who seems to love a fight back up the field in the Pursuits coming from 7th, which she managed with a frozen finger! Third place went to yesterday’s winner Tatiana Akimova.

There were some other good results for Yuliia Dzhima who went from 34th to 13th, Lisa Vittozzi from 38th to 14th and Galina Vishnevskaya from 41st to 20th. Reigning World Cup winner Koukalova improved from 13th to 8th and Veronika Vitkova went from 16th to 12th to give the huge crowd something to cheer!

I am sure the French team will be enjoying a few glasses of pilsner or maybe budvar this evening but they also have the Mass Starts to race tomorrow. Will they be on the podium again or can someone else grab the glory?

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Season 2016/17 Preview: Men

Oestersund, Pokljuka, Nove Mesto, Oberhof, Ruhpolding, Antholz, PyeongChang, Tyumen and Olso! Are you ready? It’s almost time for the new biathlon season to begin! That means it must be time for a season preview too so here it is!

Looking back over previous previews they all read more or less like this. Martin Fourcade is the red hot favourite. If he stays fit and healthy all season he will win the Overall Title for the 6th year in a row. Potential challengers are Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Simon Schempp and Anton Shipulin. They are all capable of beating Fourcade in a single race but don’t seem to have the consistency over a whole season to win the big Crystal globe.

Preview finished!

Only joking! As the top places are nearly always the same for the men I decided that this year’s preview should move away from the elite and see what’s happening a little bit behind them. Who are the up and coming biathletes to look out for? Who could get their first win or first podium? Who should be doing better? That’s what I am going to look at before season 2016/17 gets under way.

It’s sometimes hard to believe but there are some well established biathletes who have yet to win a race on the World Cup. The most famous is probably Simon Fourcade. He has achieved many podium results but never higher than second. Surely this season he will get to the top step. Fellow Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet has also come within a toenail of winning but again second place is his best result. Germany’s Benedikt Doll will be hoping to grab his first win. Tim Burke is another who will want to come first instead of second place as will Sergey Semenov and Benjamin Weger.

Expect a strong season from the Austrian team. Simon Eder was 5th last season in the overall title and Dominik Landertinger was 9th. With Julian Eberhard getting his first win and Sven Grossegger achieving a personal best of 5th they will be a dangerous squad this year.

Hoping to get their first taste of the podium are Andrejs Rastorgujevs who has a few 4th positions to his name already. Klemen Bauer also has a personal best of fourth as does Simon Desthieux and Krasimir Anev.

Scoring points on a more consistent basis will be the goal for biathletes like Mario Dolder, Leif Nordgren, Macx Davies, Kalev Ermits and Martin Otcenas.

Make sure you look out for some of the younger biathletes this season who will be trying their best to impress their coaches and the fans. Watch out for Sean Doherty to continue his rise to the top. The likes of Rene Zahkna, Rok Trsan and Fabien Claude will be pushing hard to do well. Keep an eye out too for Sebastian Samuelsson who has been picked for the Swedish team to make his debut in Oestersund and Felix Leitner who will start his first World Cup race for Austria.

On the other hand it’s about time Freddie Lindstrom had a better season. We haven’t seen him on the podium since 2013. Lukas Hofer didn’t have a great season individually either and it would be good to see him back on form. Jakov Fak will be hoping to improve as will Ondrej Moravec.

There are many more biathletes to watch out for but too many to mention here. The Germans are always dangerous with Peiffer and Lesser showing some good form in patches last time.

Last but not least expect new dad Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to pop up with a few podium finishes and don’t be surprised if he adds more World Championships medals to his vast collection in Hochfilzen. That’s if he can cope with the sleepless nights of course!

Hopefully it will a great season with some more first time winners and some great races. The title race might not be close but we can look forward to some great battles in individual races. Bring it on boys!!!

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Monika Hojnisz: The Interview!

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Monika Hojnisz is a Polish biathlete who was born on the 27th of August 1991 in Chorzów. Monika made her international debut in 2007. She has won medals at the World Championships, the Open European Championships and the Universiade. Her best result on the World Cup is 4th place and she came 26th in the Total Score last season which is her highest finish to date.

Like her Facebook Page: Monika Hojnisz – Oficjalna Strona

Why did you become a biathlete?

Biathlon was not my favourite sport when I was young but I used to try a lot of different kinds of sports, for example swimming, handball, running, light athletics! When I was twelve years old I tried to step on skis for the first time. Next I had contact with the rifle and I started my first race! I think that the main reason why I became a biathlete was competition, adrenaline, pressure and the fight. 🙂

You got your best result last season in Canmore in the Sprint. Can you describe the race? Were you happy with last season overall?

I was feeling great over the snow. 🙂 It was an easy ski for me. I was lucky and happy. In spite of these feelings I don’t remember too much.

You won a World Championship bronze medal in 2013 in the Nove Mesto Mass Start. What was it like? Do you remember how you felt during and after the race?

It was my first mass start at such big event as the World Championships so before the race I was really nervous but I knew that I needed to do my best. And… I did it!!! I remember only my last loop when I was third and nobody was behind me! My only dream was to see the finish line! At the finish I couldn’t believe it … but I will never forget that day.

Poland has a really strong women’s team at the moment. Why do you think you are doing so well? Will you miss Weronika Nowakowska this season?

Weronika was a strong part of our team but now she is a happy mother of two boys and she will miss this season. But I believe that we will still fight for good, high places. 🙂

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

The main training has been cycling, roller skiing, shooting, long walking in the mountains, and from time to time skiing in the Oberhof tunnel to have some contact with the skis.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength – no stress – I think it helps me during my race.
My weakness – sometimes I’m much too lazy.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to keep my focus on shooting. I know that this is an important point to be on the top, and I know that I can still improve my shooting level.

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

I love training in Obertilliach! There is a beautiful view and a lot of places to do good training!

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

Tarjei Boe- just!!! I can’t explain my choice. 😛

Does your rifle have a name?

NO

Describe yourself in three words.

Shy, helpful, a little bit lazy and I love coffee!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norwegian Team
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Martin Fourcade
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Switzerland
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: 25 – It was my start number in Nove Mesto
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Boe Brothers
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Gabriela Soukalova
Best thing about being a biathlete:I can visit a lot of wonderful places

Galina Vishnevskaya!

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You may not be able to spell it but you should probably recognise the name. Galina Vishnevskaya is one of the up and coming biathletes on the Women’s World Cup and is definitely someone you should be looking out for next season.

She was born on the 10th of February 1994 in Semey, Kazakhstan and has already had a very successful junior career. She has two medals from the Youth Olympics in 2011 which were held in Innsbruck. She won silver in the Sprint race there and followed it up with bronze in the Pursuit.

She has also won 7 Youth/Junior World Championships medals. In 2011 she won her first medal which was a bronze in the Individual in Nove Mesto. A year later in Kontiolahti she took silver in the same event. In 2013 in Obertilliach she won silver again but this time in the Pursuit. Her best result came in Presque Isle in 2014 when she won gold in the Pursuit after getting the silver in the Sprint. She took another two medals in Raubichi in 2015 winning silver in the Pursuit and bronze in the Individual.

So as you can see Vishnevskaya did very well as a junior but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will translate to the senior World Cup. However in her case she has proved that she can also compete with the top biathletes. She has 12 Top 40 finishes to her name so far including two results in the Top 20. Her personal best result to date came in Ruhpolding last season where she was 15th in the Individual. She also managed 18th place in Presque Isle in the Sprint race.

In the Total Score last season she was 41st. Considering she is only 22-years-old that is very impressive. At 20 she went to Sochi for her first taste of Olympic action and her best result was 41st. She competed in Oslo at the Senior World Championships for the first time and finished every race inside the Top 25.

Vishnevskaya is a young biathlete and doesn’t come from one of the bigger biathlon nations but she will still be a dangerous competitor in the coming season. Her target must be to get into the Top 10 and finish consistently in the Top 20. If she stays healthy and injury free I see no reason why she can’t finish in the Top 20 overall. In fact with a little bit of luck we could see her on the podium or even take her first World Cup victory.

Along with her teammates Darya Usanova, Anna Kistanova and Alina Raikova she will be hoping to improve on their great result from the Women’s Relay in Oslo at the World Championships of 8th. She will also be trying to gain some more Nations Cup points in the Mixed and the Single Mixed Relays alongside Yan Savitsky, Anton Panton and Maxim Braun.

It is an important season coming up with the World Championships in Hochfilzen and it’s less than two years until the next Olympic Games in PyeongChang. They provide a great opportunity for Vishnevskaya to gain some valuable experience that will help her in her desire to win medals in the future and also to perform well for her country and help biathlon continue to grow in Kazakhstan. She is a good shot like most of her Kazakh teammates and with an improvement in her ski speed it could be an exciting two years for her.

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