Tag Archives: Oestersund

Christian Gow: The Interview!

Christian Gow is a Canadian biathlete who was born on the 28th of March 1993 in Calgary. He was part of the team who won Canada’s first ever relay medal at the 2016 World Championships in Oslo when they took bronze. His best finish to date on the World Cup is 21st in the Pursuit. His older brother Scott is also a biathlete.

Like his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GowBrothersBiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I decided to compete in biathlon after trying it out at a Summer camp at Canada Olympic Park in the summer of 2001. I had so much fun at the camp and I was offered a chance to join a program in the fall, so I signed up and have been loving it ever since!

You were 21st in the Pursuits in Oestersund and Oberhof. Why are you so good in the Pursuit? Is it your favourite event?

I think the pursuit suits me well as a racer. I perform a lot better when I am able to ski with other people and I can manage the pressure of shooting in a group. I would say the pursuit is my favourite event, it is fast-paced, exciting, and the reason for several of my best results!

You went to your first Olympics in PyeongChang. What was that experience like? Were you happy with your performances there?

The Olympics were an incredible experience. I feel so fortunate that I was able to go, I have memories from there that I will never forget. I was happy with my Individual and relay performances, not as happy with my Sprint.

You won World Championships bronze in the Men’s Relay in Oslo. What do you remember about that race? How did it feel to stand on the podium with your brother? Also do you just perform well in places that start with ‘O’?

I feel like I remember every detail of that race, it was such a special and amazing day. I remember being really happy with my opening leg and getting more and more nervous the longer that we stayed at the front. Being on the podium was the best experience ever, and sharing it with my brother made it even better. Haha, I have never thought about it, but maybe that’s what it is!

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan up until December?

We have been in Canmore for most of the Spring and Summer except for a last minute camp out to Quebec because the smoke from forest fires was so bad. It has been routine training with a focus on volume in the earlier months. Our focus now is shifting more towards intensity and getting ready to race.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals are to continue building on my season from last year. I had a really good season with several new personal bests and I would like to continue that trajectory.

What’s it like training, competing and travelling with your brother? Do you get on well?

It’s great having Scott on the team with me. We get along really well and it is nice to always have each other for company.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

I like to read, play video games, and mountain bike.

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

I really like the course in Obertilliach (another O 😉 ), I have good memories racing there. On World Cup my favourite venue is probably Hochfilzen. Its a beautiful area and almost always nice weather.

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

Ole Einar is my favourite biathlete. The first thing I learned about biathlon when I was starting was that he was the best in the world and so I always looked up to him.

Does your rifle have a name?

It does not.

Describe yourself in three words.

Outgoing, personable, dedicated.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): France
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Favourite biathlon siblings (not yourselves!): The Fourcades
Lucky bib number: None
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rosch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travelling the world and doing what I love.

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Herbert Cool: The Interview!

Herbert Cool is a former Dutch biathlete who was born in Rotterdam on the 9th of February 1985. He retired from biathlon in 2012, which was far too soon!, with a top finish of 50th in both the Sprint and Pursuit races at the 2008 World Championships in Oestersund. After retiring he began commentating on biathlon for Dutch Eurosport.

Follow Herbert on Twitter: @CoolHerbert

Why did you become a biathlete?

My father loves to go cross country skiing. As we have no snow in the Netherlands we used to spend our vacations in Germany and the Czech Republic. I got into the sport as well, enjoyed it, enjoyed racing against the local youth and sometimes even beating them. Age 18 I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Bled, Slovenia. I came 9th in the Sprint which was great. We hardly ever trained on snow, only roller skiing and some shooting in a shooting range without a roller ski loop. This made me realize I had a talent for the sport and made me decide to pursue a professional career in biathlon. At age 19 I moved to the US to train with the US Junior team in Minnesota. A year after, I moved to Ruhpolding and stayed there for 6 years.

What are your best memories from your biathlon career?

For sure the first year in the US was the most fun. Obviously it is a great experience to live there on the whole, especially after finishing school. I got to see a lot of the country and was surprised about the large Nordic community it has, not to mention the beautiful cross country tracks. Also, the team was great. Just a bunch of young people wanting to make it in a sport that wasn’t normal in the country they came from. I guess we shared this experience, even though our countries were so far apart. We shared the troubles with funding, we shared having to travel away from your own country to be able to do what you love. And we had a great coach, Vladimir Cervenka, who is still coaching the US Juniors in Minnesota. Of course there were many great memories after that year, but things became a bit more serious, more like a job.

How did you become a commentator for Eurosport and how long have you been doing it?

Unfortunately I didn’t qualify for the Vancouver Olympics. The Dutch Olympic Association wants biathletes to be top 8 in the world, which obviously is a requirement similar to countries like Germany or Norway. However, there is hardly any funding and no talent development whatsoever. I really hope this will change and I am putting energy into this myself, but for now it is unrealistic to expect any talent from the Netherlands (nor is it realistic to expect youth to become interested in the sport, there simply are no facilities). Eurosport gave me a call; whether I would be interested in joining their biathlon commentator during the Olympics. I did, and it was a lot of fun. After I decided to quit in 2012 I pretty much became their new biathlon commentator. I still enjoy it a lot, and nowadays do some other sports as well as some presenting in front of the camera. For example during the 2018 Olympics. It’s a lot of fun and it enables me to stay on top of the sport that I love.

Did you find the transition from biathlete to commentator difficult? Was it harder or easier than you thought? Do you ever run out of things to say? 😉

I think it was the fact that I could become the biathlon commentator at Eurosport that helped me in the transition. You have to understand, I am a city boy. I was born and raised in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Definitely worth a visit if you have the time. So living in Ruhpolding was about as far away from living in the city as possible. Although I often miss the beautiful nature in the Alps (and the snow, obviously) I also really wanted to go back to Rotterdam. And I’m not just a commentator, I also own a sports management agency. We are into sports marketing, event management and athlete management. For example, this year we will bring a large group of Dutch biathlon fans to the World Team Challenge in Gelsenkirchen for the first year. You’d be surprised how many Dutch people love watching biathlon. When it comes to winter sports, speed skating is obviously the number 1 by far, but I would say biathlon is the second most popular winter sport on television here!
(Definitely not running out of things to say 😉 )

How much and what kind of research do you do before the races?

Honestly, I hardly do any research. I simply love the sport so much that I read and see everything no matter what. Before a race, I obviously do my preparation work, but that doesn’t take a lot of time this way.

Do you have some favourite/memorable races or moments that you have commentated on? Why were they special?

My relationship with the US team runs like a red line through my career. First I moved to Minnesota to train with the US Juniors. After that I moved to Ruhpolding where I was fortunate enough to have Ricco Gross coach me and help me a lot. He helped me connect to the US World Cup team -they waxed his ski’s during that time- and I ended up going with them in some of their training camps as well as travelling with them throughout the winter. A great setup for which I am still very grateful to both Ricco Gross, Bernd Eisenbichler, their high performance director and the team as a whole. It was during the time Tim Burke did very well, he even led the World Cup total score during Christmas, and I roomed up with them and learned a lot. So to answer the question, during the Hochfilzen World Champs there was the epic individual race men’s race. Moravec was in the lead, Lowell Bailey started really late. He shot well, and the finish loop was so intense. I think I screamed during my commentary and for sure I wasn’t very objective, but I didn’t care. It was such a great win for Lowell and I felt a lot of joy, especially seeing all of the wax techs and coaches celebrating afterwards. You know how hard they all work for it and how much effort goes in behind the scenes.

Is biathlon popular in The Netherlands? Can you tell us something about the current biathletes from the Netherlands.

It’s a difficult subject at the moment. The Dutch ski federation has chosen not to invest in talent development. One of the reasons is that the Dutch Olympic Association will only send a biathlete to the Olympics if he or she is around top 8 in the world. This is almost impossible to achieve in general, but especially with no funding, no facilities (no snow) and, very important, no athletes who are already on a World Cup level. You need to train with athletes who are at least as good as you on a daily basis. A good example is Chardine Sloof; she is a talented biathlete who got introduced to the sport because she lives in Sweden. She became a Junior World Champion for the Netherlands, which is crazy. Luck hardly has any influence on the sport of biathlon, if you become Junior World Champion you are talented. Period. After that she struggled with some physical issues and the funding stopped. She decided to switch to the Swedish team. A good decision, because she is surrounded by great athletes, the right culture and great facilities as well. She achieved 3 top 15 results during the Oberhof World Cup 2 seasons ago, really great stuff. I hope we will see more of her in the upcoming season.

Do you have any predictions for the up coming season? Anyone we should be looking out for to do well?

As always after an Olympic season we saw some big names quit. Of course we will miss Domracheva for example. She has one of the best techniques on the women’s side and is of great added value to the exposure of biathlon due to her personality. On a personal note I will miss Bjoerndalen, because he was my idol when I was a biathlete myself. I think Johannes Thingnes Boe will again be a little bit better and more solid this time, although he did admit to not training as much as he should have done in spring. But it will be interesting to see whether Fourcade can take another overall World Cup. I think it’s Boe’s time now. And the Swedes will be strong. They have the momentum after their successful Olympics. Of course there is a big difference between having nothing to lose and being one of the favourites, so this will be a role they will have to get used to. On the women’s side I think Dahlmeier will be very strong, if she stays healthy on her way to December. But I’m afraid that if she wins a lot, she will quit after this winter, which would be a big loss to the sport. I would also keep an eye on Lisa Vittozzi, she made big steps last season and is still very young.

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

I loved Östersund. Great atmosphere downtown, great energy on the whole and tracks that suited me. Long uphills that you really had to dig into. Antholz is everybody’s favorite, not only because of the great food and kind people. I always joke during my commentary that they somehow always seem to have a lot of snow, yet the sun is always shining!

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

Bjoerndalen, because he made biathlon into the sport it is today. He pulled it out of cross country skiing’s shadow. His technique was perfection. Someone who also has great balance and style on ski’s is Simon Fourcade, I love watching him ski. When it comes to fighting spirit you have to mention Kaisa Makarainen. Such a great athlete, a fierce competitor on the tracks and a great person once she crosses the finish line.

Did your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, passionate, calm.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Right now: Belgium!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin’s carved rifle looks great.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Not sure which year, and a bit of a different sport, but I loved the suit the Norwegian cross country team had in the last seasons Bjorn Daehlie was racing.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Being active in a worldwide sport that is still small enough to be a small community, and the closeness to nature.
Best thing about being a commentator: Sharing what you love with viewers who really discover your sport -and how great it is. Because biathlon wasn’t really known in the Netherlands, viewers can ask me question through Twitter during the race. This works out great and gives me the chance to bring the sport closer to the Dutch audience.

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The Biathlon23 Awards 2016/17!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Junior Biathlete of the Year:

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

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

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Oestersund 2016: The Relays.

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Finally! You wait ages for a biathlon race and two come along at once! That’s right biathlon is back and the season got under way in Oestersund, Sweden. The Mixed Relay started us off and that was followed a little later by the Single Mixed Relay just to ease everyone in gently.

What I thought might be an appetizer followed by a main course actually turned out to be a main course followed by the cheeseboard instead of the dessert platter. What I am trying to say is that the Mixed Relay was better than the Single Mixed Relay (unless you prefer French cheese!).

The Mixed Relay got off to a good start with the women fighting for the lead. In the end it was the USA’s Susan Dunklee who made the hand over in first place but with less than 7 seconds covering the Top 5 teams. The second leg saw Dorothea Wierer hit the front and she handed over a lead of around 5 seconds from Birkeland and Dahlmeier.

Lukas Hofer maintained Italy’s lead up until his standing shoot which was heartbreaking. Having cleared the first 4 targets he thought the 5th was down and almost had his rifle back on his back when he saw taht it wasn’t! He then had to reset his position and preceded to miss all three spares and go on the penalty loop. Taking advantage was the evergreen Bjoerndalen who gave Norway a 17 second cushion over Doll of Germany.

Johannes Boe wouldn’t give up that lead with some fast shooting and skiing. Second place went to Germany with a bearded Arnd Peiffer. (Do you think he is after some kind of award!) In third place came Italy after a great leg by Dominik Windisch who beat Anton Shipulin in a sprint to the line to save teammate Hofer from a bad evening! France were 5th, Sweden 6th, Czech Republic 7th, USA 8th, Switzerland 9th and Ukraine 10th.

Next up came the Single Mixed Relay. France put in their top team of Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin-Habert and they really dominated the race. They were never out of the top three teams in any leg. They won by 16 seconds and it could have been more with a few more hits from Dorin Habert. In second place was a strong Austrian team of Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder who both shot really quickly and well just using 2 spares between them.

Third went to Germany with Preuss and Lesser. The race for the minor places was actually better with Sweden eventually taking 4th, Kazakhkstan taking 5th, Switzerland came from 18th place to 6th, Canada were 7th, Russia 8th, Ukraine 9th and Belarus 10th. If you are wondering what happened to Norway, Ingrid Tandrevold fell on the first of her loops and they never recovered and came home 11th.

So that concludes the first days racing of World Cup 1 in Oestersund. The next race is on Wednesday and it’s the Women’s Individual followed by the Men’s race on Thursday!

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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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Vladimir Chepelin!

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The Belarus Team has been getting stronger and stronger over the last few years. It is mainly the women who have been grabbing all the headlines with fantastic results from Darya Domracheva and Nadezhda Skardino in particular but the men’s team are doing well too.

Vladimir Chepelin is one of those who has stepped up his performances. He was born on the 15th of July 1988 and made his biathlon debut in 2011. Last season was one of his best so far.

On the World Cup he started the season well by coming 23rd in the opening round in Oestersund in the Individual. Overall he finished in 47th place in the Total Score. However it was in Oslo Holmenkollen at the World Championships where he really showed what a good biathlete he is.

In the Sprint race he finished in a fantastic 13th place which is his highest finish in a biathlon race to date. He dropped 10 places in the Pursuit to 23rd but another Top 25 finish is impressive. The Indiviual wasn’t as successful and he ended the race in 56th but in the Mass Start which is one of the toughest races he came back to take 13th place again equaling the personal best he set earlier in the week. Considering his top result in Kontiolahti at the last World Championships was 38th you can see he has made a significant step forward.

The coming season could be a good one for Chepelin. It would be great to see him take part in the Single Mixed Relay possibly with Skardino to see what they could do. However last season they were both in the Mixed Relay but without Domracheva they might do better in the Single as they are very capable of getting a podium. It’s much harder in the Mixed Relay to do well against the bigger nations but in the Single Mixed Relay the smaller nations have a better chance of success especially with a strong pair.

Individually Chepelin will be hoping to get his first Top Ten finish on the World Cup. He needs more consistency if he wants to improve his overall standing but I think he could break into the Top 30 overall this season. His shooting can be a bit erratic but if he can reduce the number of missed targets and stay healthy throughout the season it could be his best one yet.

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Lucie Charvátová: The Interview!

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Lucie Charvátová is a Czech biathlete who was born on the 1st of February 1993 in Hradec Kralove. She made her international debut in biathlon in 2013 and competed at the World Junior Championships in 2014 and the World Championships in 2016. Her personal best result came last season in Hochfilzen when she finished 5th in the Sprint and ended the season in 31st place overall.

Like her Facebook page: Lucie Charvátová (Sportsperson)

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

When I was about 10 years old I started to do cross country skiing. I was quite good at it, I took part in the World Junior Championships in the youth and junior categories and I even raced during the World Championships in Val di Fiemme in 2013 as a junior. Furthermore, I also won the biathlon race during the “Children’s Winter Olympic Games” in the Czech Republic and a lot of people told me that I had a talent for shooting. When the situation became worse in cross country skiing in the Czech Republic and one of the most popular winter sports started to rise, I decided to change to biathlon in the Spring of 2013. Spectators love biathlon due to its popularity, variety and attractiveness. Good training conditions for the biathlon team in the Czech Republic support the fact that I am happy to be a biathlete. The start of my biathlon training was hard – I had to learn how to shoot and on top of that, all the training lasts much longer than in cross country skiing. But my third biathlon competition was in the World Cup, so I am confident that I chose the right sport for me.

Your personal best result is 5th from the Sprint race in Hochfilzen last season. Can you describe the race and how you did you feel at the end?

I often used to hear the sentence… “ once if you hit..” And that was that day. My success depends on shooting, because my legs are usually fast. On the prone shooting I missed once, but the standing shooting was clear. Before the last lap, I really hoped to be in 10th place, but in the last uphill our coach shouted at me that I could reach the medals! But my legs couldn’t work more… I finished in 5th place, 3 seconds from the bronze medal. I was happy, before the start nobody had expected such a good result and people around me were as delighted as I was! Now that it is over, I remember the race in Hochfilzen as one of the best days of the whole season.
The most bizarre recollection, which I will never forget is that before the whole World Cup season (before the competitions in Östersund) I cut part of my shooting finger and up until Hochfilzen I had stitches in my finger and I almost had no feeling in it.

You had an amazing season in 2015/16. Did you change anything before the season? Why do you think you did so well?

That’s true. In fact, I took part in all the World Cup starts and my overall result was 31st place. But I think the main reason is that it was my third season in biathlon. In the first two years, I had to learn everything from the beginning so I believe that I have made good use of all my training. However, I am still not as good a shooter as those who started with shooting when they were young. My greatest weakness is still in shooting and I think that further improvements won’t come so fast as during the first two years. Every race in season 15/16 was a new experience, I met new people and I saw new places. The winter season ran away so fast and I can’t wait for the new season to start now.

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

We had some hard summer training camps with our team, the first part of summer in the Czech Republic and in August, we were in France in Prémanon. I have focused on my shooting. However, my weakness of unbalanced shooting, which appeared during the winter season, is probably in my head so I also try to solve this problem with my psyche. But this is “a long distance run”… I am really looking forward to winter preparation before the season because it will be a bit closer to the first competitions. I hope that snow conditions will be good and final training is going to start well.

What are your goals for this season?

I would be happy to reach at least the same result as last year and to gain some World Cup points. I am not overambitious, but rather quite pessimistic, and I accept the situation as it is. The World Championship is in my favourite place, Hochfilzen, so I hope that I can achieve some good results there.

Are you excited to compete in Nove Mesto this season?

I have to admit that the shooting range in Nove Mesto is not my favourite one (it is quite windy), but on the other hand I like the tracks there. I hope that the upcoming winter will be severe and freezing and Nove Mesto will have enough snow to organize an unforgettable competition. Fans in the Czech Republic are amazing and they love biathlon so I think that in Nove Mesto, there will be a great atmosphere. My grandma and parents who will cheer me on the track are surely more excited than I am.

Gabriela won the Overall last season. What is she like as a teammate? Does she give you advice? Do you feel some pressure to be really successful like her?

We work as a team together and share advice. Gabi has more work in the background of the sport – with sponsors etc. and in this way she loses a lot of energy necessary for training. It is in the background of all successful sportsmen lives, but everybody has to set their own limits. I don’t feel any pressure, I want to work on my own, and we will see how it goes.

Do you have a favourite biathlon race (sprint, pursuit, etc.)? Which is it and why?

I really like the Sprint because there are only two shootings. You know, when the race has four shootings, there is a bigger probability to spoil it – in my case. But I also got some good results in the Pursuit. It is a contact race which requires tactics and I really enjoy fighting face to face on the track.

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

I’ve never had any sport idol. I think that it isn’t necessary to have some “model” and to do exactly the same things as him/her. Everybody is a unique personality and they should do what they think is the best for them.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, it doesn’t. Sometimes when I shoot bad I call it by some swear words…

Describe yourself in three words.
 
Dutiful, intelligent, pessimistic, home loving, nature lover…

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Ondřej Moravec – he has the Czech lion as the national emblem
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Austria
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: every odd number
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: All of the Norwegian men’s team.
Best thing about being a biathlete: When you are the owner of a rifle, others can think that you could kill them!

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