Tag Archives: Östersund

Maija Holopainen: The Interview!

Maija Holopainen is a Finnish biathlete who has recently become a coach. She was born in Liperi on the 22nd of February 1978. She made her World Cup debut in Oestersund in 2002 but now she has become coach of the Finnish Youth National team as well as at a high school in Vuokatti. Here she talks about what it’s like to coach biathlon.

You can follow Maija on Twitter: @MehisMaija

Why did you become a biathlete?

I was a cross country skier and was always better at freestyle because my mum didn’t know how to get my skis to work in classic. I wanted to try biathlon so I didn’t have to race in classic races anymore.

What is your best memory from your biathlon career?

There are a lot of good memories: training camps with the national team and friends, many World cup and IBU cup weeks. But maybe it’s my first two World Cup weeks in December 2002 in Östersund. It’s hard to choose, I have so many good memories with the biathlon family.

When did you become a coach and why did you want to do it?

My first season as a coach was in 2014/15 when I was still training and racing 100%, I only had some junior training camps. But in season 2015/16 I became a full time coach in Vuokatti- Ruka Urheiluakatemia (upper secondary school) and the Finnish biathlon association youth team coach.

I love biathlon and I have done almost nothing but biathlon since 1995, so it was natural for me to change from an athlete to a coach.

Who were your coaches when you were a biathlete? What did you learn from them that you now use as a coach?

I have had many coaches in my long biathlon career. I have learned most from Anatoly Khovantsev, Marko Laaksonen and Toni Roponen.

For example Marko taught me to train like a biathlete, not like a cross country skier or shooter. In Finland we have many good cross country coaches but they forget that we are biathletes.

You are coaching Juniors. Do you enjoy working with the young biathletes?

Yes, I really enjoy working daily with the juniors. It is very inspiring when they learn and progress at something. I think I can and want to help them most in growing as athletes.

How much time do you spend with the biathletes? Do you send them a programme to work through alone or do you see/speak to them every day?

I have some athletes who I help and write personal daily programmes for. I try to be with them as much as possible at training.

We have about 25 biathletes in Vuokatti who we see daily in our training and who we help daily in school time (from mid August to the first weekend in June). They all can get our training programme so we can train together and do some food biathlon training also.

In the Finnish Youth national team there are 10 athletes from our Vuokatti group, so I can see their training also in training camps.

What do you do before, during and after a race as a coach?

It depends whether I am the only coach or if we have two coaches in the races.

If I’m alone, I have to be in the range all the time. Before the race I normally test the skis with the girls and do some wax and grid testing (helping service) and zeroing with athletes, trying to get familiar with the wind. During the race I’m in the range giving some info to athletes or I’m on the skiing loop giving some intermissions or/and wind info from the range.

After the race I go through the race with the athletes, but only if they want to.

Would you like to be a coach on the World Cup one day?

Of course, I think I have similar goals to an athlete, going up step by step.

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

Antholz, I like the profile and altitude. It is always harder to shoot well at 1600 metres.

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

I have many 🙂
Ole-Einar, Liv-Grete and Frode. OEB because he is OEB, he wants to be better and better year after year. Respect.
Liv-Grete and Frode because of the skiing technique. Just so easy and fast.

Does your rifle have a name?
Frode.

Describe yourself in three words.

Worlds smallest biathlon coach. Maybe the craziest also.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation(not your own): Germany, they know how to coach biathlon.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Favourite shooting range: Antholz
Lucky bib number: 8
Funniest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Jon Kristian Svaland,Peter Sendel and of course Andi Stitzl he is my idol! Just watch him in the races!
Nicest coach on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: So many, it’s hard to pick, I have got help from so many coaches when I was an athlete. But maybe Cristian Stebler.
Best thing about being a coach: I can still work full time in a sport that I love. And give something back to our juniors about what I have learned in my long biathlon career.

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Hanna Öberg: The Interview!

oberg16

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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Östersund: Swede Emotions!

swede emotions

It’s back! Biathlon came back with a bang in Östersund! Wow and what a Mixed Relay they delivered for us to get the new season underway. They kept us guessing right until the end but as usual “the shark” Martin Fourcade waited until the last moment to seize his prey(you can almost hear the music from Jaws as he sneaks up behind people!!!). Norway came in second despite a penalty loop and the German team were third. A great win for France and a great opening race. Well OK so it wasn’t great for everyone just ask Ondrej Moravec and Jakov Fak among others but everyone has their bad days even the best.

Which is exactly what happened to Fourcade himself in the Individual Race! Another Östersund meltdown on the shooting range to add to his collection. It’s how he likes to start the season! At the opposite end of the scale was Emil! Wow one of the best shooting performances I have seen from Svendsen and he was the only man to shoot 0. Second was a surprising yet brilliant display from Serhiy Semenov and it was great to see Michal Slesingr back on the podium after a rough year last season. Italian youngster Thomas Bormolini made a rather impressive World Cup debut finishing 19th.

Unfortunately for the other women in the Individual race star of last year’s Olympics Darya Domracheva seems to be continuing her amazing form into this season. Her ski speed is great as usual but she is shooting really well too. She took the win and was followed by Kaisa Makarainen who is also in great form and this race will probably set the tone for an ongoing battle between these two over the season. Valj Semerenko produced a clear shoot to come in third. Home girl Elisabeth Hoegberg gave the crowd something to cheer about finishing 9th and two World Cup debutants made it look easy by finishing in the TOP 20, France’s Enora Latuilliere in 13th and Luise Kummer of Germany in 18th.

Everyone had Friday off for good behaviour and so we had to wait until Saturday to see the first Sprints of the season. The men started things off and the real Martin Fourcade showed up again after his 81st place in the Individual and won easily with 28 seconds to spare! I was also happy to see Moravec and Fak recovering from their Relay nightmare on the range to both shoot clean and come home second and third. The women’s Sprint saw Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff storm home to win her first ever World Cup race. I am sure her brother and coach Stian will be trying to take all the credit – you know what brother’s are like! The Czech Republic’s Veronika Vitkova took second further adding to the her teams fantastic start to the season and third was Kaisa Makarainen. Latuilliere again showed what a great young talent she is by coming 10th.

So that left us with just the Pursuit races to go and the men’s looked like it was going to be an easy win for Fourcade. Bless him though he missed his first two shots to make it exciting for us to watch but inevitably he still won. Anton Shipulin produced a very calm and collected race to get second and Emil Svendsen came home third to keep the yellow bib on his back. Canada’s Nathan Smith ran a great race until the final shoot when I think the exertions of keeping up with Svendsen caused him to miss 3 shots and he ended up 16th. Back down the field a little there were some tremendous performances from Dominik Landertinger 30th-5th, Andi Birnbacher 22nd-7th, Klemen Bauer 26th-12th, Freddie Lindstrom 36th-13th and Vetle Christiansen 45th -15th!

The women’s race was won in great style by Kaisa Makarainen. On the third shoot when everyone around her was missing targets she took her time and used all her valuable experience to shoot clear and ski to victory. Valj Semerenko continued her good form by beating Dorothea Wierer into second although the Italian is just coming back from illness. Other impressive moves came from Ekaterina Glazyrina 20th-9th, Franziska Preuss 22nd-9th, Susan Dunklee 41st-19th and Elise Ringen 55th-23rd!

Östersund proved to be a bit of a roller coaster ride throughout the week with people performing well one day and terribly the next but that’s the first races of the season for you! We are now off to Hochfilzen where there is currently no snow but luckily in Austria you can just go up a mountain and get some! Kaisa and Emil have come out best from the weekend and will wear the yellow bibs but it’s still very early in the season. After all the ups and downs in Sweden the others will be hoping for a bit more consistency. It has been quite the week in Östersund and with all the drama on the range it has been full of Swede Emotions!

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