Tag Archives: Oslo 2016

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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World Champs 2016: The Mass Starts!

The Mass Starts were the final two races of these World Championships on Sunday. They didn’t let us down. It has been a great event in Oslo with lots of good racing and some exciting finishes.

Rounding of a fabulous World Championships for herself was Marie Dorin Habert who took gold with an amazing performance shooting 20/20 and winning by 7 seconds. She has won a medal in every race and now has gold in every event after winning the Sprint and Pursuit last season and the Individual and Mass Start this season. What a superb achievement!

Silver and bronze came down to a sprint finish between Laura Dahlmeier and Kaisa Makarainen. Dahlmeier took the silver which means that she also won a medal in every event she started here in Oslo. If she had been in the Mixed Relay team she would have matched Dorin Habert’s achievement. Makarainen was happy with bronze as that is her only medal of the Championships.

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In the Men’s race the lead changed many times with Shipulin in front after the first leg, then it swung to Simon Eder after the second shoot. By the third shoot Johannes Boe was in the lead but heading out of the range it was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in first. At the final shoot Fourcade attacked and reached the range first and hit 5/5 to head out first. You would have been forgiven for thinking he was on his way to gold but Johannes Thingnes Boe wasn’t having any of it! He chased him down and then beat him up the final climb before the finish line to claim gold. After finishing 4th three times in a row it was nice to see him win. Martin hung on to silver and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen took bronze. What an outstanding race to finish these Championships on!

It has been a wonderful World Championships especially for the French team and Marie Dorin Habert and Martin Fourcade in particular with their combined medal haul of 11! Anais Bescond took a silver too. Germany got medals in all the relays and Dahlmeier got gold, silver and 2 bronze medals. Dorothea Wierer got a silver for Italy, Sergey Semenov took bronze for Ukraine and Makarainen got bronze for Finland. Canada got a bronze medal in the Men’s Relay. Landertinger and Eder won silver and bronze for Austria.

Norway got 2 relay golds and an individual gold from Tiril Eckhoff and Johannes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen won a bronze. The big story for the home team however was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who finished with a gold, 2 silvers and a bronze. He was fantastic and at 42 has done an unbelievable thing. He is a legend and deserves all the success he has enjoyed at home in Norway. He certainly worked hard enough for it!

So that ends the World Championships in Holmenkollen and after the celebrations this evening everyone heads to Khanty Mansiysk for the final World Cup round. That’s right biathlon finishes next weekend! 😦 But if you want another bit of Championship action the Junior European Championships start on Wednesday in Pokljuka!! 🙂

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World Champs 2016: The Relays!

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Friday at the World Championships was Women’s Relay day. It was a fantastic day! What a great race the women put on. It was exciting from start to finish.

The Norwegian team of Synnoeve Solemdal, Fanny Horn Birkeland, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu took the gold medal and sent the crowd wild. They also made sure those gold jackets made by the Norwegian Biathlon Team didn’t go to waste! It was such a good performance by the home team and a thoroughly deserved victory. These ladies haven’t had the easiest time over the last few years for various reasons and I was happy to see them pick up the gold.

It was far from simple for them however. In a close race Finland handed over at the first exchange in the the lead thanks to Kaisa Makarainien’s opening leg. At the second exchange Rosanna Crawford handed over in first place for Canada followed closely by many teams. The third leg would prove to be pretty decisive as Tiril Eckhoff shot clean again and handed over a 23 second lead to Olsbu. Unfortunately for Marte she was being chased by Laura Dahlmeier and Marie Dorin Habert!

Oslbu had to use 2 spare rounds in both her shoots and came out of the range for the final time just 5 seconds in front of Dorin Habert who had skied fast and shot clean in the stand to overtake Dahlmeier. In a heroic ski Olsbu held off the Frenchwoman and crossed the line to the acclaim of the crowd and her teammates.

Silver went to the French team of Justine Braisaz, Anais Bescond, Anais Chevalier and Dorin Habert. The German team of Franziska Preuss, Franziska Hildebrand, Maren Hammerschmidt and Laura Dahlmeier took the bronze.

In 4th were Poland, 5th Ukraine, 6th Czech Republic, 7th Italy, 8th Kazakhstan, 9th Slovenia, 10th Sweden, 11th Russia, 12th Austria, 13th USA, 14th Slovakia, 15th Canada, 16th Switzerland, 17th Finland, 18th Belarus, 19th Japan, 20th Bulgaria, 21st Romania, 22nd China, 23rd Korea.

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The Men’s race wasn’t as close as the Women’s but the results were very exciting! Ole Einar Bjoerndalen got his gold medal as part of the Norwegian team alongside Tarjei Boe, Johannes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen. Emil also managed to vanquish the Relay from Sochi where he lost the gold medal and King Harald looked pleased with the Relay double.

The silver medal went to Germany with Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll, Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp. The bronze medal went to Canada, that’s right I said Canada! In a quite magnificent display they took third place with Scott and Christian Gow, Nathan Smith and Brendan Green. I can’t overstate how amazing an achievement that is for the Canadian Team and very well deserved.

At the first exchange it looked like Germany were in control with a great leg from Erik Lesser. However Tarjei Boe on the second leg for Norway and his brother Johannes on the third left Svendsen with a comfortable lead of 30 seconds. All he had to do was shoot well and he did to secure gold. The Germans used 5 spares but couldn’t fight the Norwegians on the tracks. Christian Gow and Brendan Green shot clean in legs 1 and 4 and the team only used 5 spares in total.

The French and Russians were never really in the race and the penalty loop for Austria didn’t help their chances. They finished 4th with the Czech Republic in 5th, 6th Russia, 7th Sweden, 8th USA, 9th France, 10th Switzerland, 11th Italy, 12th Slovakia, 13th Bulgaria, 14th Estonia, 15th Belarus, 16th Ukraine, 17th Slovenia, 18th Romania, 19th Finland, 20th Kazakhstan, 21st Poland, 22nd Japan, 23rd Lithuania, 24th Belgium, 25th Latvia.

So the Relays are done and the locals go home happy with 2 gold medals. Tomorrow is the last day of these World Championships 😦 but they end with the Mass Starts 🙂

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World Champs 2016: The Individuals!

The Women’s Individual race was held on Wednesday and was moved forward to an earlier start due to fear of the dreaded Oslo fog! The race was completed and so it was a good decision.

France once again came out on top .The team are having an outstanding World Championships. Marie Dorin Habert got tired of Martin Fourcade getting all the gold medals and so decided she wanted one for herself. She won the race by just over 12 seconds missing only 1 target. If that wasn’t enough for the French in silver medal position was Anais Bescond who also hit 19/20. They started in bibs 50 and 52 so finished close together and enjoyed congratulating each other in the finish area. Third place went to Laura Dahlmeier who missed 2 targets and finished 1 minute 17 seconds behind the winner.

Dorothea Wierer finished in 8th place and that meant that she won the small Crystal Globe for the Individual thanks to her 2 victories earlier in the season. It was by a small margin in the end as only 2 points separated her from Dorin Habert in second. Another Italian Alexia Runggaldier was 10th getting a career personal best. Of the whole field of 94 biathletes only 2 shot the perfect score of 20/20. Those were Canada’s Julia Ransom and Estonia’s Meril Beilmann.

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On Thursday we had the Men’s 20km Individual and surprisingly Martin Fourcade missed a target but unsurprisingly he still won. He did have the power of bib23 to help him though!!! This means that he has won 4 Individual races in a row at major Championships which is incredible. He also won the small globe for the Individual along with his 4th gold medal. He is so greedy! 😉

Silver medal went to Dominik Landertinger who always seems to perform well in big events. He shot 20/20 but couldn’t match Fourcade on the tracks missing gold by 5 seconds. Third went to fellow Austrian Simon Eder who also shot 20/20 but faded on his skis towards the end. Fourth place went to Johannes Boe for the third race running – poor guy!

There were personal bests for Michal Krcmar who was 5th shooting 20/20 and Scott Gow in 18th missing his last 2 shots. The perfect score was also achieved by Vitaliy Kilchytskyy, Michail Kletcherov, Peppe Femling and Karol Dombrovski.

Well another two good races and another two victories to the French who are dominating these World Championships. There are only 4 races left – the 2 Relays and the 2 Mass Starts. Can Fourcade get 6 gold medals? Will France win all the remaining races? We will have to wait and see!

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World Champs 2016: The Sprints!

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On Saturday we had both Sprint races at the World Championships in Holmenkollen. The Men’s race took place first in the morning and the Women raced in the afternoon.

The Men’s race was a masterclass in biathlon from probably the two best biathletes of all time. Martin Fourcade was imperious shooting clean and skiing fast to win the race by nearly 27 seconds. He was bib 8 and so spent the rest of the race watching everyone else fall by the wayside and fail to seriously challenge him. His closest challenger I am pleased to report was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who took the silver medal which is amazingly his 30th Championship medal. He looked fit and slim and if only he wasn’t 42 I think the gold could have been his. I told you he would win a medal, didn’t I! In third place was an excellent Sergey Semenov. After his strong performance in the Mixed Relay is was no surprise he shot clean to win bronze.

It wasn’t such a good day for some other biathletes though. Johannes Boe missed a target and finished just off the podium in fourth. A terrible place to finish in your home World Championships. Still at least he did better than big brother Tarjei who had a nightmare and finished in 54th missing 4 shots. Emil Svendsen missed 1 target but finished in 17th at 1 minute 15 seconds from the winner. Anton Shipulin had a bad race in bib 1. Simon Schempp fell on the finishing straight after catching his pole on his ski and lost valuable seconds for the Pursuit race. His teammate Arnd Peiffer shot clean but could do no better than 7th.

The other biathletes who shot 10/10 apart from the three medallists and Peiffer were Leif Nordgren, Anton Babikov, Cornel Puchianu,Oleksander Zhyrnyi, Kauri Koiv, Michail Kletcherov,Mikito Tachizaki, Vassiliy Podkorytov, Maxim Braun and Mehmet Ustuntas.

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If the crowd weren’t already happy enough with Bjoerndalen’s silver medal they were ecstatic after the Women’s race. Home favourite Tiril Eckhoff shot 10/10 and won the race by 15 seconds. She has turned a disappointing season into the best season of her life! The silver medal went to last year’s champion Marie Dorin Habert who also shot clear but was out skied by Eckhoff. Bronze medal went to Laura Dahlmeier who missed one shot. It was a fantastic performance by Eckhoff. Her season has not been great and her shooting has let her down time after time but in the race with most pressure on her she delivered. The noise from the crowd when she hit a target was phenomenal and she did so well to cope with it. It was an outstanding display.

Mona Brorsson got her career best result in the race shooting clean and finishing 6th. Most of the big names in the Women’s field made the top ten with Soukalova in 4th, Wierer 5th, Makarainen 9th and Hildebrand 10th which makes for a very interesting Pursuit race.

There was a lot of good shooting from the Women with clear rounds for Eckhoff, Dorin Habert, Wierer, Brorsson, Vitkova, Hildebrand, Iryna Varvynets, Jialin Tang, Hannah Dreissigacker, Ingela Andersson, Teja Gregorin, Susanne Hoffmann, Terezia Poliakova, Jessica Jislova, Emilia Yordanova, Meril Beilmann and Hyesuk Hwang.

That concludes the Sprint races and they were both great to watch. It was great to see Bjoerndalen do so well and Sergey Semenov was fantastic. Can anyone beat Fourcade in the Pursuit tomorrow? Probably only himself! The Women’s race has the makings of a classic though. Could it be another gold for Norway or France or will Germany get a first gold? It’s anyone’s race for the ladies. Don’t miss it!

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World Champs 2016: The Mixed Relay!

We are in Oslo for the first race of the 2016 World Championships! It was the Mixed Relay and it was a fantastic opening race in Holmenkollen!

The first leg was great. The USA led the race after Susan Dunklee’s excellent performance on the range and the tracks. She handed over in first place to Hannah Dreissigacker. Marte Olsbu of Norway, under a lot of pressure from the home fans, had an amazing opening leg leaving the final shoot in first place but handing over to Tiril Eckhoff in second just a small distance behind the USA. The team in third at the first exchange were the Ukraine with Valj Semerenko just ahead of Franziska Preuss in fourth and Anais Bescond in fifth.

The second leg was very close with Eckhoff, Marie Dorin Habert, Franziska Hildebrand, Dreissigacker and Olena Pidhrushna all in the hunt for the lead. Eckhoff was the poorest shot of them all missing 2 in the prone and 2 in the stand. Dorin Habert shot clean in the prone and brought herself up to the front alongside Hildebrand. Unfortunately just after she passed Hildebrand she fell on the downhill going under the bridge which allowed Hildebrand to retake the lead. Coming in to the exchange however Ukraine, France, Germany and Norway were all together.

The men took over in the third leg with Johannes Boe, Arnd Peiffer, Sergey Semenov and Quentin Fillon Maillet racing head to head. This was when I noticed the Norwegian technique of touching the skier at the exchange on the bottom to start the next leg. Interesting! This leg couldn’t seperate the four leading teams even though Fillon Maillet missed 3 in the stand he caught up again on the skis. It was surprising that none of the teams tried to break away from him as letting Martin Fourcade start his leg at the same time as the others would not prove to be a good idea.

The fourth leg as usual was crucial. Tarjei Boe, Simon Schempp and Dmtyro Pidruchnyi stayed with Fourace up to the first shoot where Boe missed 3 targets and looked like leaving Norway without a medal. The race then became between Fourcade and Schempp who both missed one target in the stand and so it came down to a ski race and you knew there would only be one winner. Schempp held on as long as he could but in the end Fourcade was too strong and just about had time to do his signature telemark landing over the bridge. Back in third Pidruchnyi missed 2 in the stand and Boe shot clean and fast to take Norway back into third position.

Special mentions to Belarus who used only 1 spare round, Austria for using 3 spare rounds and the USA who used 5.

It was a great race to start the World Championships. The French Team were excellent and deserved to win although I did feel sorry for the Ukraine who did so well up until the final shoot. I thought the others team would have done more to try and break the French Team before they got to Fourcade but they proved too strong. The Sprints are next on Saturday! I can’t wait!

As for the other teams:
Austria 5th Czech Republic 6th Russia 7th
Italy 8th Belarus 9th USA 10th
Canada 11th Sweden 12th Slovenia 13th
Switzerland 14th Kazakhstan 15th Bulgaria 16th
Slovakia 17th Finland 18th Japan 19th
Poland 20th Estonia 21st Romania 22nd
Lithuania 23rd Korea 24th Latvia 25th

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