Tag Archives: Oslo Holmenkollen

Alexia Runggaldier: The Interview!

Alexia Runggaldier had a fantastic season in 2016/17. At the World Championships in Hochfilzen she won the bronze medal in the Individual race. At her home round of the World Cup in Antholz she got her first ever podium coming third, again in the Individual, and also helped the Italian Women’s team to third place in the Relay in the same weekend. She was born in Bressanone on the 27th of November 1991 and her younger sister Carmen is also a biathlete.

Like her Facebook Page: Alexia Runggaldier
Follow her on Twitter: @AlexiaMRTmx

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete thanks to my father and the Ski Club of Val Gardena. When I was a little girl, I practiced Alpine Skiing. One day my dad brought me to try some Cross Country Skiing and after this experience I knew that I wanted to do this. My Ski Club let me try shooting and I noticed that biathlon was a very fascinating and exciting sport. At the age of 18 the sport department of the Police hired me and that made it possible for me to became a professional biathlete!

You had a great World Championships. Can you describe your bronze medal winning race in Hochfilzen? What do you remember about it? How did you feel?

It was a strange race, because I didn’t feel so good on the skis and I lost a pole on the 4th loop. During the race, after loosing the pole, I was thinking ‘oh no today it will not be my day’ but at the end of the race I was starting to hope that it would be my day! 🙂 I was very happy and I enjoyed every moment!

It was your first full season on the World Cup and you had an amazing round in Antholz. What was it like to be on the podium twice at home? Were all your friends and family there to see it?

It was an indescribable feeling to be for the first time in an Individual race on the podium and this at home. I was crying tears of happiness and relief. And then three days after the second podium came with my teammates and this was the best way to conclude an amazing weekend! Yes, my parents did a weekend of partying and also my friends came to cheer for me. The atmosphere in Antholz was very special to me!

You improved a lot last season. Why do you think that happened? Have you changed anything in training? Is it your shooting that is better or the skiing or both?

I think I improved a lot last season, because I started to listen to my body and I’ve found a way of training that is good for my body and my characteristics. I think I mostly improved in skiing but also in shooting.

The Italian women’s team is really strong right now and you have a great relay team. Do you think you can win a medal in PyeongChang?

I hope so! 🙂

What are your personal goals for the Olympics? What do you think of the course and range in PyeongChang?

My personal goals for the Olympics are to be in good shape in order to be able to give my best. I think that the course is quite hard but I like it and also the range is not that easy.

What have you been doing for summer training?

We had good summer preparation. With the team, we had a lot of training camps in France, Germany, Austria, Italy and also in Norway for some skiing. The good weather made it possible to train well…although it was too hot sometimes!

If it’s possible can you try and describe your process when you are shooting? Is it all automatic or are you thinking everything through all the time? How do you try and stop thinking about the other athletes and what is happening in the race?

During the race the process of shooting most of the time is automatic. On the range the movements that have been trained during summer training come out, but sometimes when I’m tired and the shape is not so good I have to think about some processes.
During a race a lot is happening, but the best thing is to focus on myself and to do my race.

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

My favourite biathlon track is Hochfilzen or Oslo.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, simple, bright.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Simon Schempp
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Of course Italy 😉
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 59
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Giuseppe Montello
Best thing about being a biathlete: The life we can live. We have the chance to travel a lot, seeing new places and meeting a lot of nice people.

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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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Some Scheduling Suggestions!

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Some of my readers and I have been wondering lately why biathlon has a World Championships every year? We have the Olympic Games every four years and in the three years between there is always a World Championships in biathlon. I had not really considered it much before last season but with the IBU deciding to have two races in North America followed by the World Championships in Norway it got me thinking.

As you will know some biathletes chose to skip one or both of the World Cups in Canmore and Presque Isle to concentrate on the chances of doing well in Oslo at the World Championships. This wasn’t very good for the hosts of these World Cups as you want as many of the best biathletes competing to give the sport more coverage and a boost in popularity in other countries. It also wasn’t good for the biathletes whose minds would no doubt wander to thoughts of gold medals elsewhere and worry that all the long haul travel might affect their preparations.

So what could be done to resolve this? Well just in case I am ever in charge of the IBU (it could happen!) I thought about what I would do. Firstly I would make the World Championships every 2 years. For example for the next cycle you would have the Olympics in 2018, the World Champs in 2019, a break in 2020, a World Champs in 2021 and then the Olympics again in 2022. Not only that I would also change the World Cup schedule itself – that’s right I would be a sweeping reformer!!

Currently we start the season in Oestersund then go to Hochfilzen and Pokljuka before Christmas. Recent years have seen a lack of snow at the start of the season so I would start in Russia. Either Tyumen or Khanty Mansiysk could host the opening round as they are more likely to have snow. It also gets the longest journey out of the way when the biathletes are freshest. The second round can go to Antholz and the third remain in Pokljuka.

After Christmas we normally go to Oberhof and then Ruhpolding followed by Antholz. Sorry Germans I know biathlon is massive there but it is growing in many other places now so you would get one World Cup rotated between Oberhof one year and Ruhpolding the next. Round 5 would go to Nove Mesto which has to become a permanent fixture on the World Cup due to its huge popularity and amazing World Cup from the season before last. Round 6 switches to Hochfilzen. All three countries border each other therefore minimising travel time and costs.

The final three rounds would be a tour of Scandinavia with Round 7 in Kontiolahti, round 8 in Oestersund and the final round in Oslo. Again all counties that border each other. I know what you are thinking. What about Canmore, Presque Isle, Annecy and the other countries that can host biathlon like Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Poland to name a few? Fear not I have a cunning plan for that!

The year that there would be no World Championships in my schedule would be the year where we could boldly go where no biathlete has gone before, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations! Oh no, wait a minute, that’s the opening to Star Trek but Captain Kirk had the right idea!

In a season without a World Championships we could probably squeeze in 3 more World Cup rounds. So you could potentially have 3 World Cups across Canada and America or even further afield in Asia possibly Korea, Japan and China. You could also mix and match the established World Cup rounds with others in for example Annecy, Otepaa, Cheile Gradistei, Bansko or Brezno-Orsblie.

You could point out that usually there are only 3 or 4 people who are capable of winning the Overall biathlon title so if there is no World Championships what incentive is there for the other biathletes. Well there is also the possibility in the free year of having a “Tour de Biathlon”-I came up with that name and idea myself, I have not copied it from anywhere!!! 😉

You could take three or four venues that are not too far apart and hold a series of races across them with a nice cash incentive for the winners of each event and the overall tour. You could even throw in some classic ski races like in olden times biathlon and also some pure shooting knockout competitions as well as team events. These are just suggestions there could be many ways of doing it.

So there you have it, an alternative biathlon season. Obviously there are probably many reasons of money, sponsorships deals and logistics that might not make such ideas feasible but as I still don’t work for the IBU (but it really could happen!) they are not my problem!! If anyone from the IBU is reading this you can copy it if you like although you will have to use the name “The Tour de Biathlon23!!”

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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 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 Pursuits!

Sunday saw both of the Pursuit races in the World Championships with the Men’s race first and the Women’s race later. Martin Fourcade was defending a lead from the Sprint of 27 seconds and Tiril Eckhoff had a lead of 15 seconds.

Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade kept most of his advantage and won his third gold medal at these Championships. He did miss 3 targets but they were on the final two shoots when he already had enough of an advantage so made no difference to the race. He even had time to receive congratulations from his team and grab a French flag to cross the finish line with. His win means that he picks up the Sprint and Pursuit Crystal Globes and also the Overall Title for the fifth time in his career.

It seems that Fourcade’s summer training in Oslo has worked out better for him than the Norwegians! However they did better in the Pursuit with Bjoerndalen defending second place to get another silver medal. The man is incredible and is probably already considering changing his mind about retirement! In third place was Emil Hegle Svendsen who missed only 1 target coming from 17th to get the bronze medal. He beat Johannes Boe into 4th place and that’s two days in a row he has just missed the podium. To be honest he doesn’t seem to be on his usual ski form.

Other impressive performances came from Jakov Fak who came from 39th to 5th getting back into form to defend his Mass Start title. Erik Lesser went from 19th to 7th, Anton Shipulin from 45th to 9th, Nathan Smith from 46th to 15th, Yan Savitsky from 40th to 19th, Tarjei Boe from 54th to 31st, Thomas Bormolini from 56th to 37th and Jaroslav Soukup from 60th to 41st.

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The Women’s race was won as I thought it would be by Laura Dahmeier. She looked back on form with her skiing in the Sprint and her shooting is excellent. She hit 20/20 to win by nearly 50 seconds. In second place was Dorothea Wierer who missed 2 targets and third was Marie Dorin Habert who missed 3. In fact these two got a bit tangled up coming out of the range but it had no bearing on the result. Yesterday’s heroine Tiril Eckhoff finished 17th missing 7 targets although it wasn’t a surprise. I think she used all her energy celebrating her Sprint win and she would have had a lot of media commitments last night.

Other good displays came from Juliya Dzhyma who went from 31st to 9th, Fanny Horn Birkeland from 42nd to 19th, Paulina Fialkova from 49th to 23rd, Dunja Zdouc from 58th to 28th and Magdalena Gwizdon from 55th to 30th.

So now we have two rest days before the Women’s Individual on Wednesday and the Men’s on Thursday. Will Fourcade be able to get his 4th gold medal? Can anyone stop him? Who will take gold for the Women? Will Soukalova be able to do it or will Wierer continue her great form in the Individual? It’s all very exciting!:-)

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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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