Tag Archives: Paulina Fialkova

Season 2016/17 Preview: Women

ot16gs

It’s almost time! Just a few days until the start of the brand new biathlon season and it’s time for the women’s preview!
Unlike the predictable Men’s World Cup the Women’s World Cup is really exciting! It’s very hard to choose a winner this season and it should be a great one to watch.

Last season saw Gabriela Soukalova win her first ever Overall Title but I’m sorry to say there is no chance of Soukalova winning this season. Why not? Only because she has changed her name to Koukalova!!! She has every chance of winning again but it will be far from easy.

This season they are lining up to win the big Crystal Globe. With Darya Domracheva missing the start of the season after giving birth to her first child in October the race for the title will be between five or six biathletes.

As defending champion Koukalova will be the favourite this season. However it is often said that retaining a title is more difficult than winning the first one. She will have a lot more expectation on her shoulders this time and that means added pressure. Her committments outside of training may also play a factor if she hasn’t had enough time to prepare properly for the races.

Challenging Gabi will be of course Kaisa Makarainen who happily decided to continue her biathlon career. She is the most experienced of all the contenders and has won the overall title twice before. However she was the favourite last season and she didn’t deliver struggling with her shooting. She is still the fastest skier though and that will give her a big chance.

After the experience of Kaisa we have the youth of Laura Dahlmeier. She had a great season last year on the World Cup and at the World Championships. She is a fantastic shot and copes well under pressure. The biggest barrier to Laura however is her health. She usually misses one or two World Cup rounds through illness and you can’t give away that many points if you want to win the overall.

Marie Dorin Habert was amazing last season and pushed Gabi all the way coming second in the Total Score just 46 points behind. If she repeats her success then she possibly has the best chance of winning the overall title. If she can add a little more consistency she could make it a double World Title for France alongside Fourcade.

Trying to stop all of these ladies will be Dorothea Wierer. She won the small Crystal Globe for the Individual last season and was third overall on the World Cup. She was however over 100 points behind the winner. This means she needs to improve her points scoring over the whole season. Even if she doesn’t win the races she has to finish ahead of her main rivals as often as possible. The Mass Start was probably her weakest event last season but if she can improve her head to head racing she will have an opportunity to take the title.

There are others who we expect to do well like Tiril Eckhoff. She didn’t have a great World Cup last time and finished 11th overall. She will need to work on her shooting to move forward as we know she is a great skier. Franziska Hildebrand will be hoping to better her 5th place in the Overall and if she has a similar season this year she just might do it.

Further down the field Susan Dunklee will be hoping to win her first World Cup race after coming second in Presque Isle last time. Rosanna Crawford will be doing her best to get that elusive first podium finish to improve her personal best of 4th.

Looking to see a big improvement in results will be the Russian women’s team who had a hard time last season. Teja Gregorin and Valj Semerenko will also be hoping for better results this season.

Keep an eye out for the youngsters doing well this season. Galina Vishnevskaya, Lucie Charvatova, Julia Schwaiger, Paulina Fialkova, Ingrid Tandrevold and Lisa Vittozzi will all be out to impress.

There are a lot of others biathletes who will want to have a good season like Karin Oberhofer, Julia Dzhyma, Krystyna Guzik, Olena Pidhrushna, Veronika Vitkova, Anais Bescond and Franziska Preuss and others who will be missing like Weronika Nowakowska and Vita Semerenko but it should be a really exciting season for the women and I can’t wait for it to start!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Advertisements

Paulína Fialková!

pfial

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)

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

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.

wc16pu1

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!:-)

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Open European Championships 2016!

oech16

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!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

FIN-spirational ladies!

kontio

I always like to see home biathletes do well in their home races. It’s not an easy thing to do as there is more pressure to do well in front of your home crowd and also your friends and family. However both Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen managed just that in Thursday’s first Sprint race. Kaisa came home in first and Mari was third with Russia’s Olga Zaitseva separating them in second. Kaisa skied amazingly well as she missed a shot while the others were clear. Elsewhere Magdalena Gwizdon appeared in the TOP 10 where we haven’t seen her for a while finishing ninth and a double Slovak attack saw Paulina Fialkova and Jana Gerekova finish tenth and eleventh.

In the Men’s Sprint Johannes Boe claimed his third win of an extremely impressive debut season on the World Cup although skiing two legs just behind second placed Martin Fourcade surely helped his cause a little. Having said that he shot incredibly fast and clean and seems to like the tracks. One to watch out for in next year’s World Championships in Kontiolahti. In third place was Arnd Peiffer who will be rueing his 1 missed shot as a clear shoot would have seen him win comfortably. His fellow countryman Benedikt Doll looked really good finishing in ninth and Serafin Weistner scored his first World Cup points by coming 29th.

Saturdays Sprints ended up the same as Thursday with Johannes and Kaisa winning again! The rest of the podiums were different though with Alexander Loginov and Lowell Bailey on the men’s side and Tora Berger and Gabriela Soukalova on the women’s. For Loginov and Bailey it was their career best results with Loginov taking significantly less time than Bailey! I was really happy to see Lowell finally get up on the podium and now he has broken his duck I hope we will see him there again soon.

An eleventh place finish from Martin Fourcade was enough to win him the crystal globe for the Sprint. That man must have a huge mantelpiece to fit all his globes on!! Carl Johann Bergman got into the TOP 5 and Lars Helge Birkeland finished in the TOP 10. Another great race from Susan Dunklee saw her finish in eighth and Anna-Karin Stroemstedt came in 19th.

I am getting slightly bored of writing this but on Sunday in the Pursuits Johannes Boe and Kaisa Makarainen won again! To be fair young Johannes tried his best to worry us by missing 4 targets in the final shoot but he had enough time in hand and mistakes from others meant that victory would be his. These two have been far and away the best biathletes in Kontiolahti and thoroughly deserve their massive points haul.

Second was sufficient for Martin Fourcade to take the Overall title for the third year in a row which is quite outstanding. Bjorn Ferry was third and must be wondering why he is retiring at the end of the year. All other biathletes take note-announce you are retiring at the end of next season and you will win lots of races! Look what it did for Bjoerndalen. Now he isn’t retiring his results are getting worse.(Although that could also be a tough season and he is no spring chicken!)

The women’s podium was completed by Darya Domracheva and Olga Zaitseva. Domracheva came from 20th to second but looked too tired to try and outski Kaisa. Other performances of note in the Pursuits came from Anais Chevalier 30th to 8th, Marte Olsbu 43rd to 11th, Magdalena Gwizdon 36th to 12th and Yana Romanova 33rd to 13th. For the men it was Andrejs Rastorgujevs 41st to 6th, Christoph Sumann 45th to 11th, Freddie Lindstrom 29th to 13th, Benedikt Doll 22nd to 7th and Simon Schempp 21st to 9th.

Now we are going to Norway for the last three races of the season 😦 The men’s titles are pretty well wrapped up but the women’s are all to play for. The races in Kontiolahti were great and well attended, a good sign for the World Champs next year and hopefully we will see more home glory there for the FIN-spirational ladies!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter!
Like biathlon23 on Facebook!