Tag Archives: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen

Tom Lahaye-Goffart: The Return!

Next in my series of catch ups with former biathlon23 interviewees is Tom Lahaye-Goffart. His first interview was 4 years ago when he was still a Junior! Now at age 23 (which is an excellent age) he has been competing on the IBU Cup and also on the World Cup in the relay.

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We last spoke 4 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

A lot of things changed for me during those 4 years. On the studies side, I graduated with a bachelor degree in Marketing and Communication, which means I can take a pause in my studies to focus 100% on biathlon! That’s a really good thing because I can completely rest between my training now (even if I didn’t work that much when I studied, but psssst, secret!). I also moved home, once again! I came back to my previous home in the South Alps but I took a flat in Villard De Lans to get the best training possibilities in France!

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with and were there any disappointments?

I’m really happy about last season! My goal was to be “back on track” after a pretty bad previous season, I didn’t expect anything in terms of results, I just wanted to feel good in what I do and not be disappointed about my races. It actually worked pretty well! My ski speed came back to normal, my shooting statistics increased a lot, and I got a few good results!
I was pretty happy with my individual race in Obertilliach in the IBU Cup. I knew I was able to do some great stuff but I never found the way to put everything together earlier, and it worked on that day! That was definitely a morale boost for the rest of the season!
On the bad side I was a bit frustrated not to get my chance on one of the individual races in the World Cup. I showed good shooting statistics all season long and didn’t get my chance to prove myself on the superior circuit. That was frustrating but that’s part of athlete life, you have to be patient!

You are part of everyone’s favourite relay team – Belgium! What is it like racing in that team?

I’m definitely proud to be part of that relay! It’s crazy how people adopted us after Hochfilzen and Oberhof 2 years ago! Being in that relay is really awesome, we don’t have that much pressure, we just do our best and we see at the finish line, and it’s always a good feeling to bother some “big nations”!

That foggy Oberhof Relay in 2018- tell us about it!

Actually that foggy relay is my worst memory as a biathlete! I wasn’t confident at all after the Hochfilzen relay, my shape was also pretty bad that season! And when you’re 21-years-old, you get the relay in 4th place as the last racer, it’s a really huge pressure on your shoulders. According to my self confidence on that day it was way too much for me, I completely cracked, made all the bad choices and lost 9 places to finish 13th! The contrast was so big at the end, everybody was so happy about the race, we led more than halfway, we got so much TV time, and I was crying on the shoulders of my sister because I f***ed up everything on that day. It took me months to get over it and find confidence again. I had so many nightmares about it! But I can say now that it gave me so much experience!

Jean-Guillaume Beatrix is Belgium’s coach now. Have you had much chance to work with him yet?

I have the chance to live really close to him now in Vercors, so I’m probably the luckiest one of the team because he can coach me on my sessions outside of training camps! So we work quite a lot together and try to find the things that can help me in shooting!

What are your plans for summer training?

The same as every biathlete I guess, lots of volume training! We will go with the Belgian team to the Summer World Champs in Minsk at the end of August, otherwise we were in Obertilliach in a camp in July, and then went to Antholz for few days to the World Championship’s location.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think that my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. I actually always try to understand everything around me, to see how things work, how to do it better and so on. It’s also a weakness because sometimes you have to do things naturally without questioning everything all the time! But my strengths and weaknesses are definitely on the mental side!

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal this season is to get to the World Cup. We are 3 athletes for 2 places, which means one will stay in the IBU Cup. After several years on it, I feel that it’s time to take a step further and discover real racing with the “big boys”. I really wish to compete in Östersund and Le Grand-Bornand, because it’s at the beginning of the season, which is the best period for me, and I’ve special connections with those places!

Is Presque Isle still your favourite track and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen your favourite biathlete?

I still like Presque Isle’s track, but my favourite track is definitely Oslo now! Skiing with a view of the Fjord is breathtaking, and reinforced by the feeling of skiing on an historical ski place!
OEB is still my favourite biathlete, he’s such a legend that I don’t even need to find arguments to justify that!

You put effort into your rifle design which is great! Have got a new design for this season or are you sticking with last year’s? Where do you get your ideas from for the designs?

I still don’t know if I will change my rifle’s design this year, I would like to but I don’t think I’ll have enough time for that! I usually have a few colors in mind and then ask around what would be the best. I always try to be original with a design that no one has. The fact is that since I chose silver, a few other athletes chose it too, so I guess I’ll change again. I hate to be in the norm!

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Still not!!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Michal Krcmar’s lions!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): USA
Favourite shooting range: Not Oberhof!
Lucky bib number: 9
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Too hard to chose between Michael Rösch/ Emilien Jacquelin and the Claude brothers!
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup/IBU Cup: I’ll get problems if I name a girl.. So… The womanizer Florent Claude, of course!
Best thing about being a biathlete: The purpose is easy, you have to push as hard as you’re dumb, and shoot the black!

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PyeongChang 2017: The Pursuits!

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Saturday in PyeongChang was dedicated to the Pursuit races. The women went first and had conditions which were a little warm and so made the snow wet in places. The men had better skiing conditions later in the evening. There wasn’t a lot of wind to affect the shooting. There was also some excellent drumming and coordinated dance moves coming from the stands!

The women’s race was not that exciting in terms of the race for the victory. Dahlmeier and Eckhoff were together up to the first prone shoot and when Tiril missed Laura had the race all to herself. She hit 20/20 and was untouchable out front winning by over a minute.

Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who shot 10/10 in the prone and missed 2 shots in her third shoot. However she cleaned the final stand and was able to overtake Anais Bescond who had left the range just before her.

Bescond had a great race in third missing just 1 target but wasn’t able to keep up with Makarainen on the final loop despite shooting better than her. Eckhoff still managed to finish 4th even with 5 penalty loops and Susan Dunklee maintained her 5th place.

Gabriela Koukalova had a much better day missing 2 shots but finishing 8th from at start position of 21st. Marte Olsbu came from 24th to finish 9th. Irina Starykh came from 55th to finish 20th and Iryna Varvynets wento from 44th to 22nd.

In the men’s race Julian Eberhard started with a 40 second lead and managed to stay in front of the rest until the second prone shoot. He missed 2 shots there handing the lead to Martin Fourcade who like Dahlmeier never gave it up. He shot 20/20 to win by 35 seconds giving him his 12th win of the season. This equals the record of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and he still has more races left to try and beat it.

Fourcade was chased by a gang of Austrians. Eder, Landertinger and Eberhard were all trying in vain to catch him but all missed shots in the final standing. Sneaking up from behind was Anton Shipulin who had a magnificent race in bib23! He made up 21 places to come second hitting the perfect 20/20.

Third eventually went to Eberhard despite his 3 misses and teammate Eder was 4th. Anton Babikov moved from 41st to 15th, Henrik L’Abee Lund from 38th to 17th, Christian Gow went from 56th to 32nd and Anton Sinapov went from 60th to get some points in 39th.

Dahlmeier and Fourcade were outstanding today. Considering everything they have already won, especially Fourcade, their will to keep fighting and motivation to keep winning is extraordinary. We are very lucky to have them both racing in biathlon.

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Felix Leitner: The Interview!

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Felix Leitner is an Austrian biathlete born in Hall in Tirol on the 31st of December 1996. He recently competed in the Youth/Junior World Championships in Cheile Gradistei where he won gold in the Individual and Sprint races and bronze in the Pursuit. These were his first races in the Junior category but he already has a gold and silver medal in the Youth category in the Pursuit and Sprint from Raubichi last season.

You won double gold in Cheile Gradistei in your first World Championships as a Junior. How did you feel? Did you expect to do well or was it a bit surprising?

I felt really great. I knew that I was in good shape in running and I also felt good at the shooting range so I expected one or maybe two medals. But, I did not expect that I would be so successful.

Can you describe the races? Did you have any plan before the start about how you wanted to race?

In the Individual I was really nervous because I did not know how I should pace my race, but I did it really well. Instead at the shooting range I had an awesome feeling, that I would shoot 0 mistakes. I was really safe.
In the Sprint competition (my favourite competition) I knew that I could also win with 1 mistake, so I was not insecure after my shooting mistake in the standing. The last loop was really hard but I gave everything I had.
The Pursuit was really hard for me. I am not used to having so many races in such a short time. But because of my shooting I could get a medal again.
In the relay I absolutely wanted to exchange as first. My running was great but I had some problems on the shooting range (+3 shots).

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

My goals were 1-2 medals. I totally achieved it.. 🙂

You have raced on the IBU Cup this season and you were 10th in the Sprint in Nove Mesto. What was that race like? Did it help you to prepare for the Junior World Championships?

The first day in Nove Mesto was super. I like that course.
I needed some races for the YJWCH, but it also was really important for my self-confidence.

What are your plans for the rest of the season? What are your goals for next year?

Just now I don’t know what my next races are, but my next big goal for this season is the Junior European Championships in Pokljuka. I want to fight for medals again.
My goal for next season is to get better and better, and then we will see.

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

My brother is a ski jumper and in the same club they also had biathletes so I tried it and I still love it. I enjoy it probably because of the mix of running and shooting.

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

At the moment I go to school at Schigymnasium in Stams. But I am in the last class and I will be happy when I can only focus on sport.

Does your rifle have a name?

No name for my rifle no.

Describe yourself in three words.

Love my friends!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: HOCHFILZEN
Favourite biathlete (past or present): LANDERTINGER, BJOERNDALEN, FOURCADE
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): SPRINT
Favourite/best race of your career so far? INDIVIDUAL YJWCH 2016
Favourite food: PASTA (RECHEIS)
Favourite sports team: TG FLOX
Favourite TV show: CIRCUS HALLI GALLI

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Biathlete23: Season 2014/15 Review!

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After the excitement of a debut season your next full year on the World Cup can be difficult. There are no excuses you know what it’s all about now. Mostly you just want to improve your performances and results from the season before. It’s been an up and down year for biathlete23 but thankfully no one suspended for doping which is always good news. In case you don’t know this blog follows the fortunes of whoever is lucky enough to be drawn in bib 23 throughout the season and calculates the points to see how they compare to the real biathletes. Last year there were 2 wins from the bib from Selina Gasparin and Johannes Thingnes Boe which were coincidentally on the same day and were also their debut wins!

This year got off to a slow start no doubt due to the pressure that biathletes suffer when they learn they are in bib 23 and have to represent the blog. It may also be from fear of repraisals from me. If you think the Norwegian coaches are tough you haven’t seen anything yet! In Oestersund the biathletes in 23 were Diana Rasimoviciute, Simon Desthieux, Dmitry Malyshko,Juliya Dzhyma, Jitka Landova and Lowell Bailey which yielded a total of 64 points. Not the best results ever but it was still early days.

On to Hochfilzen and happy days! Kaisa Makarainen was drawn in bib 23 and went on to win the Sprint! The first win of the season is always sweet. It was backed up by a solid 17th place for Krasimir Anev. In the Pursuits Luise Kummer failed to score any points but Maxim Tsvetkov was 21st and meant a total of 104 points from the round.

The last races before Christmas came in Pokljuka and I was lucky enough to get home favourite Teja Gregorin into bib 23! She didn’t disappoint coming home in 7th and for the men Simon Eder took 11th place. Fredrik Lindstrom finished 12th in the Pursuit but bad luck struck when Tiril Eckhoff pulled out of the race. In the Mass Start Quentin Fillon Maillet got 12th and Fanny Horn 21st which meant leaving Slovenia with 115 points.

Luckily for her Tiril Eckhoff got to make up for her DNS in Pokljuka by finishing 13th in the Sprint in Oberhof. Backing her up in 10th was Artem Tyshchenko. Fanny Horn did the business again getting 29th in the Mass Start and Vladimir Iliev kept up the points scoring with 19th in the men’s race which gave a points total of 93. It was then on to Ruhpolding where we started with the women’s Sprint and a fourth place from Valj Semerenko! In the men’s race it was over to legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who was 15th. It’s always a pleasure to see Ole Einar in bib 23! On to the Mass Starts with Lisa Hauser taking 21st and Vladimir Iliev, in his second appearance in 23, coming home 30th. Biathlete 23 left Germany with 100 points from round 5.

Antholz came next and it wasn’t the highest scoring round. Daniel Mesotitsch failed to score any points coming 45th in the Sprint. Juliya Dzhyma did better in 30th for the women. The Pursuit saw 2 Czech biathletes race with Gabriela Soukalova in 21st and Michal Krcmar in 24th. That only meant a total of 48 points for bib 23.

Just like after Hochfilzen biathlete23 doesn’t take disappointing results lying down -oh no! Laura Dahlmeier stepped up in Nove Mesto and won her first World Cup race and 60 points! Woo hoo second win of the season. It was Emil Hegle Svendsen’s turn next but he failed to get any points finishing 43rd in the men’s race. We can rely on the Czechs though and another one Eva Puskarcikova got 14th in the Pursuit and Simon Fourcade went one better and came home 13th. Another 115 points gained.

In Oslo we saw Juliya Dzyhma in bib 23 for the third time this season and she used the occasion to perform well. She came in 6th in the Individual to earn some vital points to make up for Ondrej Moravec who was 70th staining the Czechs good form in the bib. In the Sprint Kadri Lehtla was 28th and another appearance for Vladimir Iliev saw him finish 27th. 65 points was the total from that weekend.

So it was on to Kontiolahti and as the result counted towards World Cup total score it was important to have some biathletes in the points here too. The Sprint races were first and Daria Virolaynen came in 21st and Dominik Windisch was 35th. In the Pursuit we had Ondrej Moravec, making up for Oslo, who was 9th and Megan Heinicke in 28th. For the Individual Anna Magnussen was 72nd and Tim Burke 31st. Lastly we had the Mass Start and Jana Gerekova was 12th for the women and in the men’s race my old pal Brendan Green was in bib23 once again. That’s the Olympics and now the World Championships where he found himself in bib 23! That’s why he is the unofficial ambassador for bib23 (unpaid position!). He finished 21st and meant total points from Kontiolahti were 130.

On to the final round and Khanty Mansisyk. The last chance to score points and see where biathlete 23 would have finished in comparison to the other biathletes in the total score. The first races were the Sprints and for the men Simon Fourcade was 8th. Why he chose this one occasion not to come 4th I don’t know!!! For for the women Elise Ringen was 47th which meant no points. In the Pursuit race Tiril Eckhoff was back and got 17th while Florian Graf got 18th place. The final races were the Mass Starts and biathlete 23 regular Juliya Dzhyma finished in 18th and Sergey Semenov was 26th. The final points total from Russia was 119.

So where did that leave us at the end of the season. Well like the real biathletes you have to deduct your two worst finishes from your total but as biathlete 23 had more than 2 non points scoring finishes it wasn’t necessary!!! The final total for the men was 467 which would have put them in equal 20th place in the overall with the exact same score as Jean Guillaume Beatrix! The women’s total was 481 and left them between Daria Virolaynen in 16th and Susan Dunklee in 17th in the overall. The big question however was did they do better than last year?

Last year’s total score for the men and women combined was 754 points. This year it is 948! An improvement of 194 points. Although last year the Olympics didn’t count towards the overall so that will account for some of the difference but even if you deduct the World Championship points of 130 the score would be 818 points so it is still a better year than the first! The women’s score last year was 407 and the men’s was 347. Good news the results improved! The coach is very happy!!!

Special thanks goes to all the biathletes who are lucky enough to be drawn in bib23 and that have scored points for biathlete 23! Juliya Dzhyma has been in bib23 a record 4 times this year! A great team player! Obviously the biggest thanks has to go to the two athletes who won in bib 23 Kaisa Makarainen and with her debut win Laura Dahlmeier! Biathlete 23 will return next year and who knows maybe we can win 3 races and sneak into the TOP 10! 🙂

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World Champs 2015 Review: Men

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After many days of anticipation and then the opening ceremony, action finally got underway in the 2015 Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti. The first race took place on Thursday afternoon and saw 26 teams take part in the Mixed Relay. The conditions were really tough with warm temperatures making the snow wet and it looked like it was up to the biathletes knees!!!

The race got off to a great start with Fuyuko Suzuki taking the lead after 2 shoots for Japan. Veronika Vitkova took the Czech Republic into the lead however in the first exchange and it was then Soukalova and Domracheva who were in contention in the second leg. Domracheva handed over to Chepelin for Belarus and he managed to hold on to the lead in his leg to send Liadov out first for the final leg. Unfortunately for him he only had an 11 second lead and couldn’t hold off Moravec from the Czech Republic who came home first to win gold for his country. He was followed by Martin Fourcade who made up a lot of time to bring France home for silver and Tarjei Boe continued his brother Johannes’ good work by hanging on for bronze despite a penalty loop from Eckhoff. Belarus were fourth by an agonizing 4 seconds. The Finnish team put in a great display for the home crowd and were in with a podium shot going into leg 3. They ended in 9th which was a 7 place improvement on their start of 16th.

On Saturday we had the Sprint competition. Conditions were better but still far from ideal for the 129 biathletes. This didn’t seem to bother Johannes Thingnes Boe however as he went out and won! It easy to forget that this is his first ever start in an individual event in a Senior World Championships and he couldn’t have done any better on his debut. There was more good news for the Boe family as big brother Tarjei shot clean to come home to win bronze. It was guaranteed to be a good night out in Styrn, the boys home town, on Saturday! Splitting up the family however was the history making Nathan Smith. He took the silver and is the first Canadian man to win a World Championship medal. He has been getting closer and closer to the podium all year and timed his best ever result to perfection. It wasn’t a great day for some of the big favourites with Martin Fourcade in 12th, Anton Shipulin in 18th, Emil Svendsen in 36th and Simon Schempp in 77th!

Johannes went into the Pursuit as favourite but he had a total nightmare missing 8 shots and finished 31st. On the other hand Germany’s Erik Lesser had a magnificent race. He shot clear and he controlled the pace from the front after the first shoot. He showed remarkable mental strength to hold his nerve shooting not only the perfect 20/20 but he shot fast as well. He always performs well on the big occasion and can now add World Championship gold to his Olympic silver. In second was Anton Shipulin who paced the race well and shot 19/20. At the final shoot when the guys in contention for the final two places missed around him he and Tarjei Boe kept their cool and fought it out on the track for the remaining medals. It was obvious that Shipulin had the upper hand on the skis but it might have been different if Boe had been on his top ski form. Even so he won his third bronze in three races. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen produced a good race to finish in 5th as did Vladimir Iliev who was 6th.

The men had three days of rest before they had the Individual 20km. Normal service was resumed with Martin Fourcade winning yet again! He is very hard to beat at this race. Emil Hegle Svendsen tried his best to do that but he just doesn’t have the ski speed this season. Martin skied 1 minute 20 seconds faster than him as he missed 1 shot but still won comfortably. What was joy for one Fourcade was anguish for the other. Simon took the lead early in the race and shot clear to suggest a podium place would be his. It wasn’t to be however as Ondrej Moravec with 1 missed shot out skied him to take the bronze medal by five seconds. It is the second time Simon Fourcade has finished 4th at this World Championships which must be horribly frustrating for him but on the bright side this is his best season for a long while. Sergey Semenov finished 5th to secure the small Crystal Globe in the Individual for Ukraine. There were also good performances from Lee Jackson of Great Britain in 39th and Alex Almoukov of Australia in 43rd. It was also good to see Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi rolling back the years in 12th adding to his other 2 TOP 30 finishes here.

The Relay was next up and it was won by a dominant German team to match the gold from their Women’s team. They only used 3 spare rounds and were always in the TOP 3. After Arnd Peiffer’s excellent third leg they controlled the race and no one else could catch them. The team of Erik Lesser, Daniel Boehm, Peiffer and Simon Schempp meant a very happy medal ceremony for Germany. In silver medal position came Norway with Emil Hegle Svendsen, Tarjei and Johannes Boe helping Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to his 40th World Championship medal. He was the only one of them not to use a spare round and led after his leg so he is still showing those youngsters how it’s done! I am happy to report that France were third finally getting Simon Fourcade onto the podium and preventing his nervous breakdown after finishing 4th twice already. Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Quentin Fillon Maillet and little brother Martin did a good job!

To finish we had the Mass Start which proved to be a very good race to end with. Jakov Fak took gold in a great race which went all the way to the finish line. In second came Ondrej Moravec to add silver to his gold and bronze to complete the set. Third place went to surprise, surprise Mr. Bronze himself Tarjei Boe who leaves with 5 medals. He beat teammate Bjoerndalen who was fourth but he had an excellent race shooting clean and always up at the front.

So that’s all from Kontiolahti. It has been a great World Championships and France came out on top of the medal table in front of Germany and Norway. I am sure the biathletes are glad to see the back of the “Wall” as they have been up it about a million times now but they can’t rest yet! It’s on to Khanty Mansisyk for the last World Cup of the season!


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In Oslo – NO(r)WAY!

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Well after a million pictures of the Holmenkollen jump on the biathletes social media pages and an equal amount of beautiful Oslo sunrises/sunsets we started the Women’s Individual race in a cloud of fog!!! That’s right the World Cup is back in Norway for the last round before the World Championships come along in March. Missing in the Oslo fog was most of the Norwegian men’s team with Svendsen and Tarjei Boe sick and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen choosing to skip the round!

Kaisa Makarainen got bib number 2 for the race and she crossed the line in first blowing away all the competition with 20/20 on the range and super fast skiing. It made the rest of the race a little predictable as you knew no one could beat her. Darya Domracheva missed one target which meant that she could only finish second and in by now what is becoming quite a familiar looking podium Veronika Vitkova was third. The conditions on the range were good when the fog cleared and so there was some excellent shooting from the field. Along with Makarainen there were another 9 scores on the range of 20/20 from Vitkova, Juliya Dzhyma, Iryna Varvynets, Megan Heinicke, Audrey Vaillancourt, Laura Dahlmeier, Monika Hojnisz, Jialin Tang and Emma Nilsson.

The men’s race turned out the same! Martin Fourcade stared in bib number 1 and won the race with clean shooting and so we knew no one could beat him! In second place was Evgeniy Garanichev and in third was Sergey Semenov who both also shot the perfect score. Jakov Fak skied the fastest of everyone but 2 missed shots meant he couldn’t challenge Fourcade for the win. He did come in fourth which was a great effort with 18/20. Seven men in all hit all the targets. Joining the TOP 3 were Benjamin Weger, Maxim Tsvetkov, Poland’s Lukasz Szczurek who set a personal best of 51st and Peppe Femling who achieved his personal best result of 21st.

There was a rest day on Friday and so the Sprints took place on Saturday. The women went first and Darya Domracheva did the perfect race to come home first. Laura Dahlmeier got her 4th podium in a row finishing in second ahead of Marie Dorin Habert who got her first podium of the season and is going in Kontiolahti in fantastic form. Kaisa Makarainen unfortunately missed 3 shots and could only finish 24th which means that Domracheva takes over the yellow bib and leads Makarainen by 10 points. The USA’s Hannah Dreissigacker got her PB in the race in 16th place as did the Ukraine’s Iana Bondar who was 14th.

In the men’s race Martin Fourcade thought he had another victory in the bag but he was beaten by 3 seconds by Germany’s Arnd Peiffer who won his first race since the 2011/12 season and relegated Fourcade into second. Less telemark landings off the bridge and more sprinting for the line Martin – lesson learned! It didn’t cost him any points in the overall as he finished ahead of Shipulin in third and Schempp who was 13th. Lars Helge Birkeland was the best of the home team coming in 5th and elsewhere there were personal bests for Switzerland’s Mario Dolder in 16th and Estonia’s Kalev Ermits in 20th.

The final day of competition on Sunday was for the relays. In the women’s race The Czech Republic won yet again and are red hot favourites for the World Championships. They are an impressive team and are solid on each leg with each women doing their very best for their country. Second was Italy who did a great job especially in legs 2 and 3 with the less experienced members of the team Gontier and Sanfilippo keeping them in touch with the leaders. France were third with top shooting in legs 3 and 4 as Varcin and Dorin Habert used no spares. Germany had the chance to win with Miriam Goessner doing a great job on leg 3 and showing fantastic mental strength on her standing shoot to hand over to Dahlmeier in second place. She couldn’t keep that position however and the Germans were 4th. The Estonian team had an exceptional race and used only 1 spare round between all four women and saw them take 12th place.

The men’s race gave us some fabulous entertainment where Shipulin and Schemmp treated us to yet another sprint finish! This time Shipulin won to give Russia the victory by 0.2 seconds. In third were an impressive Austrian team with Landertinger hitting good form in time for Kontiolahti. The Canadian team were 5th which is their best ever finish in a relay but home team Norway were a disappointing 9th missing a lot of big names.

So now all eyes turn to Finland for the World Championships and thoughts of yellow bibs and crystal globes are replaced by gold, silver and bronze medals. It has been a good round in Oslo with up and downs for many biathletes. There were a few surprises too with Peiffer winning, Kaisa losing the yellow bib and the Norwegian team not getting any podiums. If you had told me that last week I would have said in Oslo – NO(r)WAY!

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A RELAY great ending to the Olympics!

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Well that’s it! It’s over for another 4 years. What a great Games it has been and for Martin Fourcade, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen,Darya Domracheva, Anastasiya Kuzima and Emil Hegle Svendsen they get to say they are Olympic champion for the next 4 years until we get to Pyeongchang 2018!!!

The last races were they relays and we started with the first ever Mixed Relay to be included in the Winter Olympics. Unsurprisingly it was won by Norway and meant that Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the greatest ever Winter Olympian winning his 13th medal. It was nice to see both him and Tora Berger take gold together in what is their last ever Olympics. Svendsen and Eckhoff also picked up their second medal of the Games. The Czech Republic were second winning their 5th Olympic biathlon medal in Sochi. It meant another silver for Moravec to take his total to three, a second medal for both Soukalova and Soukup and a first for Veronika Vitkova. Taking a well deserved bronze was Italy. Some assured performances from Wierer, Oberhofer and Dominik Windisch meant that Lukas Hofer had a pretty straight forward final leg to clinch the medal.

Next was the Women’s Relay which saw a well deserved and quite poignant, given the problems in their country, gold medal go to Ukraine. The team of Vita and Valj Semerenko, Olena Pidrushna and Julia Dzhyma were fantastic. It just shows you though how small the margins are in biathlon between winning and losing. On the third leg Valj Semerenko hit the last shot with her last spare round. If she had missed the Ukraine wouldn’t even have got a medal. She hit it under tremendous presssure and they went on to clinch gold. Russia came in second with a strong team of Yana Romanova, Olga Zaitseva, Ekaterina Shumilova and Olga Vilukhina. In third were Norway giving Tora Berger and Tiril Eckhoff their third medals of the Games and a first for Fanny Horn and Ann Kristin Flatland.

The best relay was saved for last however as on the final shoot of the Men’s Relay there were still 4 teams in contention for gold. Russia, Norway, Germany and Austria all came in to the range together. If you were going to put your house on who would hold their nerve between Svendsen, Shipulin, Schempp and Landertinger you would go for Svendsen every time. However he was the one who buckled under the pressure and allowed the other three to fight it out for gold while he went on the penalty loop. In the end Anton Shipulin took gold for the home nation in a fitting end to an amazing Olympic Games for biathlon. Along with Alexey Volkov, Evgeny Ustyukov and Dmitry Malyshko they final gave the great crowds in the Laura stadium what they had been waiting for – a Russian victory. The silver went to the German team of Erik Lesser, Daniel Boehm, Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp. Bronze went to a deserving Austrian team of Cristoph Sumann, Simon Eder, Daniel Mesotitsch and Dominik Landertinger.

That is the Olympic Games in Sochi over as far as biathlon is concerned. It has been fantastic with great racing, great crowds and great biathletes. We only have another 4 years to go until the next one in South Korea but it is a little sad that we are saying goodbye to some fantastic biathetes like Bjoerndalen, Berger, Henkel, Ferry, Bergman, Zaitseva, Mesotitsch and Sumann who have either announced their retirement or are very unlikely to compete in another Olympics. They still have the rest of the season to go and I am just happy we had a RELAY great end to the Olympics!

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