Tag Archives: Obertilliach

Rene Zahkna: The Interview!

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Rene Zahkna is an Estonian biathlete who was born on the 2nd of October 1994 in Võru. He made his World Cup debut in 2014 and achieved his first Top 40 result last season. He had a successful junior career winning medals at the Youth Olympics in 2012, the Junior World Championships in 2013 and in the Junior European Championships in 2014 and 2015. He also loves emojis! 😉

You can like his Facebook page: Rene Zahkna (Sportsperson)

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

When I was about 8 years old and my father was the head coach of the national biathlon team, I got to shoot other biathletes’ rifles and I was instantly hooked by shooting. In my hometown I actually tried many different sports from judo to volleyball but I got the first taste of biathlon competition when I was 12 years old. I wasn’t good at shooting but I could ski fast and when I got my fifth place medal (for kids, the top 6 got medals), I told myself that this is what I’m going to be good at.

What was it like competing at home in the Summer World Championships? Were you pleased with your performances?

I was really happy that the SBWCH was in Estonia and I had no problems with motivation. But what I did have, was huge problems with my new rifle stock. I got a new French rifle stock but I just couldn’t hit the prone targets with a high pulse. Sprint 2+0, pursuit 3+3+0+1. Then I realised, there is no chance I’m going to compete with this stock in winter. So now I’m back to my old stock which is working perfectly and I even had camouflage printed on it.

You got your best finish on the World Cup in the Ruhpolding Individual last season. Can you describe the race? How did it feel getting your first points finish?

Skiing wise I got lucky because it stopped snowing at the end of the race, so the snow conditions got really good for me, most of the top athletes started at the front. To be honest, I really was planning to shoot clean and I was bit frustrated when I missed the last shot of the second shooting. 34th place with 2 penalties, I was really happy and pumped up. I continued racing well in Antholz, where I got a point from the pursuit.

How do you assess last season overall? Were you happy with your results?

Last season competition-wise went well, I wasn’t expecting points after my military service and 2 injuries. But I gained weight 😐 when in service, so I’m also working on that.

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

I have done everything our coach has planned plus extra body strengthening but health-wise, everything is not going according to plan. I’ve been sick🤒😷 in all three training camps in Obertilliach 😩

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is precise and fast shooting and my weakness is the other quite important thing, skiing 😅

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

I can’t tell you yet where my ultimate favourite track is because there are still places I haven’t been to but so far Antholz is very cool because of the wide and fast track, there are no huge hills where you just want to stop and die 😵

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

Emil Hegle Svendsen because of his skiing style, he can glide perfectly.

Does your rifle have a name?

Does anyone have a name for a rifle? 😂 (Of course they do!)

Describe yourself in three words.

I LOVE football.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): France 2013
Favourite shooting range: Otepää
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Kauri Kõiv
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Kaisa Mäkäräinen
Best thing about being a biathlete: Freedom

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Mario Dolder: The Interview!

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Mario Dolder is a Swiss biathlete who was born on the 22nd of June 1990. He won a Youth/Junior World Championships bronze medal in the Sprint race in Canmore in 2009. His best result on the World Cup is 16th place from the Sprint race in Holmenkollen in 2015. He has taken part in 4 World Championships and his best overall finish in the Total Score is 46th which he achieved in Season 2014/15. He missed the first part of last season with an injury but came back to finish the season well.

Check out his website: http://www.mariodolder.ch/
You can like his Facebook page: Dolder Mario
He’s got his own Fan club too: http://www.mariodolder-fanclub.ch/

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I love to be active in nature and doing sports. My parents taught me cross-country skiing. I did some races and once I tried biathlon. I had a lot of fun and decided to start a biathlon career.

How do you assess last season? Were you pleased with your results?

In summer 2015 I had two knee injuries and lost a lot of power. Therefore my first race was in Ruhpolding in January. My shape wasn’t good and the races were bad. In February my shape was much better and I was 24th two times in Presque Isle…pretty good results for me.

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

We have had a good summer of training with the Swiss-Team. We trained a lot in Andermatt, our training base, but also in Crete, Antholz, Obertilliach, Ruhpolding and Oberhof.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: Prone Shooting, Sprint races

Weakness: My inconsistency

What are your goals for this season?

A Top 15 finish on the World Cup.
To finish in the Top 40 on the World Cup overall.

The Swiss men’s team is improving. Do you think you can do well in the relays next season?

We are looking forward to the relays. Especially in the relay at the World Championships in Hochfilzen. We will try to beat our best result from Kontiolahti (7th).

You took part in the Single Mixed Relay in Canada. Do you like this new event?

For me it is a fun competition for entertainment, but not needed on the World Cup.

You have your own fan club! Do they come to a lot of races? Can you hear them on the tracks?

Normally they visit two or three races each season. The support is very good! For sure…they are the loudest of all. 😉

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

Antholz. I love the profile and the landscape.

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

Berni Leitinger (AUT)- he had a really serious illness two years ago. But he fought like a lion, and now he is back on the track! RESPECT!!!

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Focused, calm, good-humoured.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Belgium
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: 22
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Kauri Koiv
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Alexia Runggaldier
Best thing about being a biathlete: Season-End Party in Khanty 😉

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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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Leandro Lutz: The Interview!

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Leandro Lutz was born on the 5th of January 1982 in Brazil. He is a biathlete and also a cross-county skier (well everyone makes mistakes!) He currently competes in both disciplines and in biathlon he made his debut on the IBU Cup in 2009.

Follow Leandro on Twitter: @leandrolutz
Like his Facebook page: Leandro Lutz Biathlete & Cross Country Skier

A biathlete from Brazil! How did that happen? Tell us how you discovered biathlon and why you became a biathlete?

It all started a long time ago. I was a road cyclist in Europe at the beginning of the 2000s and saw the guys training for cross-country skiing during the cycling off-season to keep fit and it caught my attention. But I kept cycling and just tried cross-country in 2008 when I was cycling training in Germany. After that I returned to Brazil (2009), contacted our Snow Sports Federation (CBDN) and started training with roller skis by myself. That year I did some tests at CBDN and since them I have been part of the Brazilian Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Teams and I started racing in our Austral Season in July/August 2009.

Why a biathlete? Because it unites two opposing sports and combines the endurance sport (which I always practiced) and the precision sport (where the mind is very important). And of course, it’s extremely challenging.


Do you get any support from any sport institutions in Brazil? How do you fund yourself?

I have some support from CBDN and the Brazilian Ministry of Sports.

Also from my great partner Team Out There (Bjorn and Kris Hanson), a sports project from a family business (outthereshop.com) in Rice Lake-Wisconsin(USA) that helps athletes from all over the world (XC, Biathlon, Ski Jump and Nordic Combined) with sponsorship, contacts, promotion, gear and other means.

And of course my family helps me a lot. Here in Brazil I’m a lawyer and I worked really hard planning and saving money for my journey to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Now I’m a full time athlete thanks to the hard work that I did some time ago.

Can you tell me about last season, what races did you take part in and what results did you get?

My last season was really good with some personal bests and good times on snow. I did the first 3 IBU Cups (Idre, Ridnaun and Obertilliach) and after that I focused on cross-country training and races (my main goal for the 2018 Winter Olympics).


What are your plans for summer training?

I’m looking to spending more time in Europe training with top athletes and enjoying more time on snow. Also, I hope to go to the IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships in Otepää.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: My endurance and focus.

Weaknesses: My technique and efficiency (it was not easy to start alone).

What are your goals for this season?

For biathlon I probably will race IBU Cups 4, 5 and 6 and the European Championships, hoping for below 200 points.

For cross-country my goals are qualifying for the 2017 XC World Championships and “B” Olympic Criteria with lots of personal bests.

Who has been the biggest inspiration or supporter of your biathlon career and why?

My family for all their support and my 2nd family Bjorn and Kristin Hanson for their vision and love of sport.

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

Obertilliach. It used to be our base in Europe and it was my first track in Europe, I think I know every inch of it!

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

Bjoerndalen, he is the King!

Does your rifle have a name?

I just call it “my Izhmash” and it’s left handed.

Describe yourself in three words.

Focused, hard worker and determined.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):
Italy
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Germany
Favourite shooting range: Obertilliach
Lucky bib number: 22 (23-1) 😉
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Karoly “Charlie” Gombos
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Christofer Eriksson,Pietro Dutto and Tobias Arwidson.
Best thing about being a biathlete:The challenge, the atmosphere and the big biathlon family.

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Dahlmeier: Climbing to the Top!

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Where do you suppose biathletes go on their holidays? After a long, hard season you might imagine they would go somewhere hot, to the beach or somewhere exotic. Not Laura Dahlmeier, she spent her off season climbing. Not just in any mountain range though –she went to the Himalayas!

It’s no wonder she is such a fantastic biathlete. If you can climb up huge mountains in life or death situations you can manage shooting down five targets from 50 metres away. The concentration required for climbing and the amount of pressure you are under must make biathlon look like child’s play! Actually considering her age and her results she does seems to be making biathlon look much easier than it really is.

Laura was born on the 22nd of August 1993. After a successful junior career, in the 2012/13 season she won three gold and one silver medal at the Junior World Championships in Obertilliach, she made an almost seamless transition on to the World Cup. Her first season saw her finish 35th in the Total Score and she has improved every year since then and was 6th last season.

The highlight of her career so far also came last season at the World Championships in Oslo. She won gold in the Pursuit race and won 5 medals in total with silver in the Mass Start and bronze in the Sprint, Individual and Relay. These can be added to the 2 medals she won the previous year in Kontiolahti, gold in the Relay and silver in the Pursuit, to give her 7 World Championship medals before she is 23-years-old.

It is quite remarkable how well she has done for such a young woman. She also managed to take a double victory in her home race in Ruhpolding last season by winning the Pursuit and the Mass Start. She performs well in every single event whether she is against the clock in the Sprint and Individual or head to head her with other biathletes in the Pursuit and Mass Start.

If she has one weakness however it appears to be her health. For the past two seasons she has missed the opening round of the World Cup in Oestersund. This has put her at a disadvantage as there are a lot of points to be gained in the first round and so she starts the season playing catch up to the other biathletes. Maybe she is overtraining during the summer or perhaps she spends too much time up cold mountains but it would be great to see her compete over an entire season.

If she can stay healthy for the coming season she will be in with a very good chance of winning her first Overall Title. With Domracheva missing again and Kaisa another year older she has the possibility to compete with the likes of Soukalova, Dorin Habert and Wierer to win the big Crystal Globe. There is also another World Championships in Hochfilzen and she will be hoping to add to her already impressive haul of medals there.

She will turn 23 before the start of the season and although she is younger than a lot of the favourites she will be among the challengers to take Gabriela Soukalova’s title. Her shooting is amazing and her ability to handle pressure for a person of her age is outstanding. Make no mistake Dahlmeier is climbing her way to the very top!

Laura has her own website: http://www.laura-dahlmeier.de

Like her Facebook page: Laura Dahlmeier (Sportsperson)

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Aristide Bègue: The Interview!

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This week I was lucky enough to interview France’s Aristide Bègue. Born on the 16th of August 1994 in Beauvais he has just returned from the Junior World Championships in Raubichi where he won gold in the Individual 15km and bronze in the Junior Men’s Relay. Earlier in the season he also won gold in the Junior Individual 15km race at the Open European Championships in Otepaa as well as silver in the Mixed Relay.
Those medals are added to his already impressive collection of 2 silver medals from Presque Isle 2014 (Individual and Relay), his gold and bronze (Individual and Relay) from the Youth World Championships in Obertilliach 2013 and another 2 gold medals (Individual and Relay) from Kontiolahti 2012. It is safe to say that he is really good at the Individual and the Relay!

You can follow Aristide on Twitter: @Aribeguu
He is on Facebook: facebook.com/AristideBegue
He has his own website: http://www.aristidebegue-font-romeu.fr/

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I wanted to become a biathlete because I had seen the races of biathlon when I was a child and Simon Fourcade inspired me.

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?

Thanks to my faculty (STAPS of Font-Romeu) I can study and train every day.
The high-level sport asks for a seriousness in our life (I do not often party with friends) but I succeed in doing things which I enjoy. Furthermore, sport is a passion so I do something I like every day.

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

I have the chance to have institutions which help me in my financing (my city Font-Romeu, my region, my department). So, thanks to my good results, I have several sponsors who give me money to live and do my sport (Colas, Altiservice ..)

You have had a really great season winning medals at the Junior Open European Championships and at Junior World Championships. Explain why you are so good at the Individual please! Do you have a favourite race from this season and why?

I had the opportunity to get good results this season. During the Championships of Europe and the World, I managed to make perfect races and perfect shooting (20/20) and thanks to that I have won gold medals. I have no secret to making a success of the Individual but I know how to excel during these races because they are long and difficult and it pleases me. Furthermore, as I am not skiing fast enough to win sprints, I give everything to the Individual because it is the race which favors me because I fire well.

Did you set specific goals for the Junior World Championships in Raubichi? Did you achieve them all?

I wanted to make a success of my last championships in the Junior category and it is what I did. My objectives are filled because I progressed in skiing and I got closer to the best.

What did you learn about yourself, you technique, your shooting etc. from the Championships and what are you plans going forward to improve?

I exceeded my expectations because I learnt to fire faster and to ski faster. It confirms to me that the work I have done was good quality and that it is necessary to continue like that.

The competition in the French team is really high. How difficult do you think it will be to progress to World Cup level and do you have a long term plan on how to get into the World Cup team?

The competition is rough but it is rewarding. I am going to work on the race of the 10km sprint because it is the most important race in Seniors. I am going to work to go to the IBU Cup and perform well enough to go to the World Cup as quickly as possible.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

To be a biathlete is cool because our job is to train every day, so if you are passionate about sport like me it’s the perfect job.

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

As that is not possible, I am going to work with my characteristics and work to improve my weak points while keeping my key strong points. I admit to admiring the ski speed of my friend Fabien Claude.

What’s your typical day like?

One day of training begins by waking up at 7 am, eating a sportsman’s breakfast then first training (ski and shooting) between 9 am and 11 am. Then I eat, I have a nap to be on form and go to training again between 3 pm and 5 pm. Then I can visit the physio then eat food by 7 pm and sleep at 9 pm.

Do you get the opportunity to train with Martin Fourcade and the World Cup team? Have they given you any good tips or advice? Is Martin worried that you could be better at the Individual than him? 😉

I have good feeling with the athletes of the World Cup but we don’t see each other often but when we make do train together I can ask some advice but the best advice, it is from the experienced staff. I won the Individual but it was in the Junior category so Martin Fourcade does not have to fear. He even congratulated me and I think that he is happy to see the young French biathletes winning medals.

Does your rifle have a name?

LOL! No, it’s not a person, I like using it in my sport but that’s all.

Describe yourself in three words.

Little, Determined, Attached to my family and friends.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:Raubichi

Favourite biathlete (past or present):Martin Fourcade

Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc):The relay

Favourite/best race of your career so far? Individual race of World Junior Championships 2015 in Raubichi.

Favourite sports team:USAP (rugby team of Perpignan)

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