Tag Archives: Open European Championships 2016

Paulína Fialková!

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Slovakia’s Paulína Fialková enjoyed her best ever season in biathlon in 2015/16. She achieved her best result on the World Cup and became a senior medallist for the first time.

Paulina was born in Brezno on the 25th of October 1992. Her younger sister Ivona is also a biathlete. With just two years between them they often compete against each other.

In the absence of Anastasiya Kuzmina, Fialková really stepped up a level last season. In Ruhpolding she finished 6th in the Sprint race to record her top finish on the World Cup so far and she also came 7th in the Individual. She recorded another six Top 25 finishes to end the season 36th in the Total Score. The previous year she was 74th so you can see how much she has improved in only a year.

Not content with doing well on the World Cup she arrived in Tyumen for the Open European Championships full of confidence. In the Mixed Relay on the first day she helped her team of Jana Gerekova, Matej Kazar and Martin Otcenas to win the silver medal. Then she waited until the final day to secure her own silver medal when she came second in the Mass Start.

At 24 she is still young in biathlon terms but looks to have a bright future ahead of her. She has already had a taste of the Olympic Games when she competed in Sochi and has taken part in 3 senior World Championships with a top finish of 23rd in Oslo last time around.

However it is not easy to be successful on the Women’s World Cup as it is incredibly competitive. It’s tough for all the women but she will be hoping to add more Top Ten finishes to her C.V in the coming season and there is no reason why she couldn’t grab a first podium. With the return of teammate Kuzmina this season she will also have to fight to maintain her place in the Slovak Mixed Relay team.

It could be a really good year for Fialková and the whole Slovak Team. They have some good experience with Gerekova and Kuzmina and also promising young talent like the Fialková sisters. The men are looking strong too with good results last season for both Kazar and Otcenas. Hopefully Paulína Fialková can play her part in making Team Slovakia even more successful!

Like Paulina’s Facebook page: Paulína Fialková (sportsperson)

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Garanichev: Russia’s Pocket Rocket!

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Competition is fierce if you are a Russian biathlete. The sport in Russia is hugely popular and there are many excellent Russian biathletes. One of them is Evgeniy Garanichev. At 1 metre 69 centimetres he is one of the smaller biathletes on the World Cup but it hasn’t stopped him being very successful.

Garanichev was born on the 13th of February 1988 in Novoilinskiy, Russia. He currently lives in Tyumen and this was the place where he achieved great success last season. In the Open European Championships he won gold in the Mixed Relay, gold in the Sprint and silver in the Pursuit just losing out to his teammate Anton Babikov.

The medals in Tyumen are not the only ones he has won however. Back at his home Olympics in Sochi 2014 he won the bronze medal in the Individual but unfortunately wasn’t chosen for the Men’s Relay team and so missed out on a gold medal. It was a good event for him and although there is now a cloud hanging over many of the Russian athletes in terms of doping no accusations have yet been made against the biathletes from Sochi. He also won 3 medals in the Universiade back in 2011, silver in the Mixed Relay and two bronze for the Sprint and Pursuit.

At the World Championships in Oslo last season his best result was 6th place in the Sprint event. There could have been the possibility of a medal for Garanichev but maybe his appearance and results in Tyumen was one competition too many and tired him out a little. He still achieved some really good results there finishing in the Top 25 of every event.

Overall on the World Cup he finished as the 7th best biathlete. He was also in 7th place on the Total Score the previous year which is his best place finish to date. In his career he has only ever won one World Cup race which was back in Holmenkollen in season 2011/12 when he took the Sprint race. However he has had many podium places.

Now aged 28 Garanichev has a few big seasons ahead of him. We have the World Championships in Hochfilzen and then the Olympic Games in South Korea. As a new father he will have to juggle training and family life but the next two seasons will probably be his last chance to win more medals and to propel himself into the Top 5 biathletes.

Firstly however he has to become Russia’s top biathlete and so needs to become more consistent to overhaul Anton Shipulin. Only then can he set his sights on beating the likes of Fourcade, Boe and Schempp to those all important medals. He may not be the biggest biathlete from Russia but this pocket rocket has the chance to be a really successful one!

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Open European Championships 2016!

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The 2016 Open European Championships were held in Tyumen in Siberia. The programme was a short one with a Single Mixed Relay and a Mixed Relay held on Day 1. That was followed by a Sprint then a Pursuit and finally a Mass Start all in the space of 5 days.

The first event was the Single Mixed Relay on Wednesday. With home team Russia dominating the IBU standings it was no big surprise when they won by a comfortable margin of 38 seconds. The team of Victoria Slivko and Anton Babikov were untroubled from the start and led the entire race. There only slip up was Babikov using 4 spares on his final loop as the pair hadn’t missed a single target up to that point. The silver medal went to the German Team of Luise Kummer and Matthias Dorfer who needed 7 spares and in bronze medal place were Norway with Ingrid Tandrevold and Vetle Christiansen.

Later in the day came the Mixed Relay and what an exciting race it was! It was won in the end by Russia by 0.1 of a second. On the final loop Evgeniy Garanichev started in third place 42 seconds behind the leading team Germany. Florian Graf had a nightmare on the first prone shoot incurring 3 penalty loops and left Russia and Slovakia to fight for the gold medal. Unfortunately for Slovakia Martin Otcenas couldn’t hang on to the lead and was just beaten on the finish line. The team of Anastasia Zagoruiko, Olga Iakushova, Matvey Eliseev and Garanichev made it a great first day in Tyumen for the big home crowd. Silver medals went to Paulina Fialkova, Jana Gerekova, Matej Kazar and Otcenas. Third place went to Norway’s team of Sigrid Neraasen, Bente Landheim, Henrik L’Abee-Lund and Haavard Bogetveit.

After Russian clean sweep in the Relays it was the German ladies chance to get in on the act on Thursday in the Sprint race. Nadine Horchler beat her sister Karolin and her teammate Annika Knoll to make it gold, silver and bronze for Germany. Fast skiing by Nadine denied her sister gold as Karolin shot clean and she didn’t but was much quicker on the track. A clean shoot by Knoll ensured a bronze and an all German podium.

The Men’s Sprint however swung back in the direction of the Russians with Evgeniy Garanichev fresh from his heroics in the Mixed Relay taking gold. He missed one shot but had a great ski to beat Norway’s Henrik L’Abee-Lund by 5 seconds. L’Abee-Lund shot clean as did Russia’s Anton Babikov in third but they couldn’t match the pace of Garanichev. Florian Graf recovered from his Relay debacle to finish in 4th and he hit all the targets this time which shows a lot of courage.

Friday was a rest day but if we hadn’t already been entertained enough then came the Pursuit races on Saturday. They were great! The Women’s race was won by Nadezhda Skardino who did her best to try and lose after shooting clean on the first three shoots she missed 2 on the final standing shoot and in the end won by 7.4 seconds from Karolin Horchler who won her second silver medal. Third place was really exciting as Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold came from 16th to snatch third place away from home biathlete Anastasia Zagoruiko by just 0.3 of a second. The sprint to the line left the Norwegian with her first Senior medal and the Russia in tears. As Tandrevold is currently Biathlon23 Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year it was very pleasing to see her compete so well in the Senior race.

You might not think that the Men’s Pursuit could top that – but it did! In an amazing head to head battle between the Russian pair of Evgeniy Garanichev and Anton Babikov they shot exactly the same score 19/20 and both missed their one target on the final shoot. Then in the Sprint for the line Babikov just beat his teammate by 0.1 of a second to claim his second gold of the Championships. Garanichev added silver to his 2 golds and in third was Florian Graf on the road to redemption from the Relay disaster.

The final races on Sunday were the Mass Starts and again provided plenty of entertainment. The Women’s race was won by Luise Kummer of Germany who kept a cool head and shot well to take the gold medal. Second went to Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova who was able to ski away from any challengers on the final loop. Bronze went again to Ingrid Tandrevold who this time passed 2 Russians to win on the line again this time breaking Iakushova’s heart. Tandrevold is probably not that popular in Russia!!!

The Men’s race was another cracker. Going into the last shooting we had Matthias Bischl, Anton Babikov and Henrik L’Abee-Lund in the lead. Coming out of the final shoot we had Florian Graf, Jaroslav Soukup and Babikov at the front. Misses from the leading three and probably tiredness from Babikov allowed Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev to catch up to him and take the bronze medal with Graf out skiing Soukup for gold. It was a sweet victory for Graf after his troubles on day 1.

Well the Open European Championships in Tyumen have been absolutely fantastic this year. All the races have been full of incident, with great performances and nail biting finishes. The Russians and the Germans came out best but didn’t have everything their own way. The World Championships start in Oslo next week and they really have a lot to live up to after this. What a great event it has been!

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Hanna Öberg: The Interview!

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Hanna Öberg is a Swedish biathlete who was born on the 2nd of November 1995 and currently lives in Östersund. She recently competed in the Youth/Junior World Championships in Cheile Gradistei where she won double gold in the Junior Women’s Sprint and Pursuit. She also won a silver medal in the Junior Women’s Relay with teammates Sofia Myhr and Anna Magnusson.She has raced on the IBU Cup this season in Idre.

You can follow her on Twitter: @hannaaaoberg
You can look at her website: http://www.hanna-oberg.se/

You won double gold in Cheile Gradistei. Can you describe how it
felt to win those medals?

After the first gold in the Sprint I was so happy and for so many reasons. I knew that with a good day both on the track and on the shooting range I could be fighting for a medal but a gold felt a little bit unbelievable. After the finish I cried a lot. All the hard work I have laid down it finally paid off. And of course it was huge for me to share the podium with Anna Magnusson(bronze), we have been friends for a long time and we come from the same small city in Sweden. We are good friends but also tough competitors.

To win the second gold in the Pursuit was just crazy too. To win one gold was more than I ever could imagine so to win the second gold was just unbelievable.

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

Before the Sprint I was very nervous. I had a good feeling before the race and knew I had a good chance for a great result. The skiing felt solid on the first two laps and after zero misses in the prone I came in to the standing shooting with a little bit shaky legs. Actually I wasn’t so nervous on the range but with the legs starting to shake I took some extra breaths before firing the last shot. After leaving the range I got to know that I had a lead of 17-18 seconds before Anna and Lena Häcki. I went pretty hard on the first half of the last loop hoping to get some extra power at the end. I have heard of people getting energy they didn’t know they had when they are chasing medals. But it never came to me so the second half of the last loop was really hard. I was so tired after finishing the race and I only realized later that it was as tight as 0.6 seconds.

After the sprint I was satisfied and felt that I had nothing to lose in the Pursuit. Actually I would have been happy just to finish in the top ten. My body was really tired so I knew that I had to shoot well to hang on to the podium. And all of sudden I had shot zero three times and was coming in to the range in the lead and I liked the situation. It was so easy to shoot that day and without any nervousness I cleaned the targets again. This was the first time for me to shoot zero four times in a competition. Just the right day to do it on!

How did you prepare for the World Championships? Have you done any races on the IBU Cup for example?

I raced at the IBU Cup in Idre at the beginning of the season but after that it has just been a couple of races in the Swedish cup. Before the YJWCH I hadn’t raced at all for over a month. I was just focusing on training towards the Championships.

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

I will race at the European Championships in Tyumen and after that maybe the last IBU Cup but nothing is set yet. Next year is my first as a senior and then I hope I will race my first World Cup.

The Swedish Women’s team have had a difficult time in the last few years. You seem to be doing a lot better now as a team. What do you think has changed?

There have been some years with not so many of the junior girls taking the step up to a good senior level. There are not so many biathletes in Sweden. But now there are a lot of young girls my age who have been pretty much on the same level and this has pushed everyone of us to get even better. Furthermore the Swedish biathlon confederation took some of us younger girls into the A-team last year and this year with Wolfgang Pichler coming back as coach we have progressed a lot.

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

My father did biathlon when he was young but not at such a high level. In 2005 he and a couple more people started a biathlon club in my home town and so it was natural for me to start with biathlon. Since then it has been clear to me it is biathlon I want to do. I like the sport because of its complexity. It’s not just to ski fast or shoot clean. You have to ski well, shoot well and also to shoot pretty fast. It’s so much more exciting than just cross-country skiing.

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

This year I have been taking some courses at the University alongside my training and competing. Mostly because of economic reasons but also because I think it’s good to have something else to focus on sometimes.

Does your rifle have a name?

Ha ha, no it doesn’t.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, Purposeful and positive.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Östersund
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Helena Ekholm and Magdalena Neuner
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Mass Start
Favourite/best race of your career so far?: The YJWCH Sprint in Romania.
Favourite food: Some good medium cooked meat with roast potatoes and mushroom sauce.
Favourite singer/band: Music isn’t quite my thing..
Favourite film: The Nicholas Sparks based films are really good!
Favourite sports team: I don’t really know.
Favourite TV show: I must sound really boring but I don’t watch so much TV.

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