Tag Archives: Pokljuka

Anna Gandler: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Anna Gandler.


Anna Gandler is an Austrian biathlete. She was born in Hall in the Tyrol region on the 5th of January 2001. Last season she won the individual race at the IBU Junior Open European Championships in Hochfilzen. At the Youth World Championships in Lenzerheide she took the gold medal in the pursuit, after finishing 4th in the sprint, and also claimed the bronze medal in the individual. She finished in 15th place overall in the total score on the IBU Junior Cup.

Follow Anna on Instagram: anna_gandler
Like her Facebook page: Anna Gandler

Why did you become a biathlete?

First, I started with cross-country skiing, because my dad (Markus Gandler) was a very successful cross-country skier and he showed me the sport. The training was always a lot of fun. We always trained in Seefeld and there is a shooting range too. I think like every child, I was fascinated by the rifle, which was something special. A teammate of my dad, who has a cross-country school in Seefeld, gave me the opportunity to try shooting, although I was very young. Since then, I am a biathlete.

How do you assess last season overall? What was good and what was bad?

I have to say that overall, I am very satisfied with this season. The good things were the gold and bronze medals in the Youth World Championships and the gold medal in the Junior European Championships. The bad thing was the start of the season. I had problems with my muscles and could not find my performance.

What was your best or favourite race from last season and why?

My favourite race of last season was the pursuit of the World Championships in Lenzerheide. It was always a big dream, after the silver medal 2017 in Osrblie, to win a gold medal once. In addition, my family was there and it was such a great atmosphere.

What are your plans for summer training? Has the corona virus affected the plans or the way you train?

Corona only affected my training in the first weeks after the season. In Tirol, where I live, the rules were very strict. I trained a lot at home and I had luck because I have a dog, so I was allowed to go out sometimes too. Right now, everything is going according to plan.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think my strength is the shooting, because I can be really focused, especially in prone. My weaknesses are the pressure I put on myself before competitions and my nervousness.

What are your goals for this season?

The next season is my first junior year. So my goals for next season are:
– to win a medal (World Champion and European Championships) in the junior class. I think it is possible, if I stay healthy, because I also won the gold medal in the Junior European Championships in Hochfilzen this year.
– to start and make good results in the IBU Cup competitions again.

Who is your roommate on tour and do they have any bad habits (eg.snoring) or good habits (eg.tidy)?

Haha… my roommates change all the time, but usually I am with Lisa Osl, Kristina Oberthaler and Lea Rothschopf. No, they haven’t any bad habits… maybe I am the one who is snoring sometimes ;).

You are having a dinner party with 3 other biathletes. Who would you invite and why? What’s on the menu?

I think I would invite Dorothea Wierer, Johannes Boe and Dominik Landertinger, because I want to know more about their training and experiences and in addition, they make a nice and funny impression (Landi I also know a little bit). On the menu would be sushi or tacos. Maybe sushi as an appetizer and for main course tacos haha. I really like that :).

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

I play violin and I really like to do something with my animals at home. I also like cooking and trying out new recipes.

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

I really like the tracks which are in the woods like Pokljuka, Obertilliach or Oberhof, but honestly I don’t have a favourite one.

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

Oh I have many: When I was a kid I always said Magdalena Neuner and Christoph Sumann, because they achieved so much in their career. Now I am also a big fan of
– Dorothea Wierer, because she is so cool, her fast shooting is amazing and she is also interested in other things than sport, for example fashion.
– Laura Dahlmeier, it is amazing how many medals she won in such a short time and of course
– Dominik Landertinger. He has so often picked himself up and never gave up, also after his operation and always showed his performance when he needed it and his final lap was the best.

Does your rifle have a name?

No, but I just think about that.

Describe yourself in three words.

independent, tidy, ambitious

Quick fire choices:
Choose one:
skiing or shooting? I can’t decide, can I say both? 🙂
prone or standing? prone
against the clock or head to head racing? head to head racing
uphill or downhill? uphill (I am a bad downhiller)
mixed relay or women’s relay? both 🙂
morning or night? night
sun or snow? in winter snow and in summer sun 😉
roller skiing or cycling? roller skiing
alcohol or chocolate? definitely chocholate

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To biathlon, or not to biathlon…..

….that is the question!

Sport has never had to deal with a global pandemic before. It is an unprecedented time and difficult decisions have to be made. Last season the corona virus caused the World Cup round in Nove Mesto to be held with no fans. Kontiolahti was the same and was ended a day early and then Holmenkollen was cancelled altogether.

So what of this season? Will there be biathlon? Should there be biathlon? There is a real possibility that the season could be cancelled. Here are some of the difficulties our beloved sport will have to face in the very near future.

Winter
Biathlon is a winter sport and even though cases are falling in some places around the world and the peak in Europe is passed unfortunately viruses tend to spread more easily in the winter months. If there is a second wave of corona virus is most likely to be right around the time the biathlon season is due to begin.

Travel
With 9 rounds of the World Cup, a season opener and the World Championships on the schedule for the 2020/21 season it means travelling between 10 different countries (Germany has 2 races). One of the stops on the World Cup is in Beijing, China for the Olympic test event in February but the rest are all in Europe.

Biathletes do sometimes drive between venues that are closer together but they also fly to save time. This means going through airports that obviously have people from all over the world passing through them and so the virus can be spread more easily.

Different countries also have different rules for their borders and these could change at any moment if a cluster occurs in a certain place. This might lead to airports being shut down amid a localised lockdown or borders being closed with little warning.

Socially distant racing

It’s not really possible to socially distance in a biathlon race. Maybe in the sprint and individual it would be easier but not in the head to head races or obviously the relays. There is also the question of contact with wax technicians and physiotherapists as well as race officials and journalists. The shooting mats are also shared by all the biathletes on the range and could be a source of spread.

How will the prizes be awarded? The podium is not that big to stay separate especially for the relay teams and how can you award flowers and a medal from two metres away? (Well you could try and throw the medal around the neck I suppose!)

Fans
As we saw last season biathlon without the fans is just not the same. However if mass gatherings are still banned then biathlon will be held behind closed doors possibly for the entire season.

Solutions?
Hopefully by the time the season opener comes around on the 28th of November in Kontiolahti these issues will not be a problem and we can go racing normally but what if we can’t?

There are a number of things the IBU could try to make sure the season goes ahead. The most radical would be to entirely change the schedule. For example in Moto GP, Formula 1 and for the Champions League the authorities are holding races and matches at one venue multiple times. Biathlon could also do this. Germany already hosts 2 World Cups so why not 3 and that would be one race block in one country with much less travel and movement involved.

Kontiolahti, Nove Mesto and Holmenkollen missed out last season with no fans and cancellations so why couldn’t they hold two races this season instead of one? The World Championship are in Pokljuka and with Antholz and Hochfilzen not so far away they could also be held around the same time. Yes it would take a lot of reorganisation and some venues would miss out but it is a possibility.

As for racing we already have a biathlon bubble. The biathlon family tends to stick together throughout the season competing, travelling and staying in local accomodation around the venues together. This should reduce the likelihood of transmission from outside sources.

Testing the biathletes and their teams and the officials regularly to make sure no one is spreading the virus will no doubt have to happen. If they were tested before returning from the breaks in the season like at Christmas or before World Championships it would find anyone who may have picked up the virus from returning home or seeing family.

However this throws up another issue about what happens if someone tests positive during a World Cup round or after coming back from the breaks? Obviously they would have to self isolate for 2 weeks but would their entire team have to do the same or the entire tour?

Travel could be made standard with all teams using chartered flights like they do already between some venues or if they choose to drive they could be always with the same people in the cars and also in the hotels at the venues. Or we could have a biathlon bus fleet!

Hopefully all the venues have been stocking up on personal protective equipment as the officials will need to wear gloves and masks when dealing with biathletes and their equipment like at the rifle checks or when fitting the transponders.

The fans is a tricky issue if there are no mass gatherings allowed in the winter. The fans make biathlon but it is still pretty watchable without them. The last two races of the season were incredible even without the crowd (but would have been even better with them!) because of the intense drama on the tracks.

Other sports have crowd noise played into the stadium to generate an atmosphere which is an option as some teams already do this in training to simulate race conditions. Also the number of spectators could be reduced to allow for more social distancing.

It is a tricky time for sport and the problems mentioned here hopefully will not come to pass. We all want biathlon to go ahead as normal this winter but it’s likely that it will have to make some changes. The possibility of behind closed doors races is probably the most likely scenario but at least that would be better than no biathlon at all!

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Irene Cadurisch: The Interview!

Irene Cadurisch is a Swiss biathlete. She was born on the 23rd of October 1991. She is known on the World Cup for her fast shooting and she finished an incredible 8th at the PyeongChang Olympic Games in the Sprint. She has suffered from a knee injury in recent years and also had to have an operation this summer. She is the anchor leg of the Swiss Women’s Relay team who finished 5th in Oslo last season and 6th at the Olympics.

Like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cadurisch.irene/
Check out her website: http://www.irene-cadurisch.ch/

Why did you become a biathlete?

When I was 16 or 17 our cross country skiing group in my home valley had a biathlon training. I tried it and I liked it.

Tell us about your 8th place in the Olympic Sprint! That was amazing! Can you describe your race and how you felt at the end?

I knew I was in shape before the races. I was very focused in the whole preparation time. The race day was like other race days. I tried to enjoy it. And it was working. To do my own race not worrying about others was my goal. While in the race I felt that I could hold my pace. In the first shooting I did a mistake but I kept fighting. It was a great race with not too much suffering, but pushing.

How do you assess your season on the World Cup last year? Are you happy with your progress? What do you need to work on?

Yes I am happy. Of course I didn’t have the greatest results but I saw my progress. And this was very important for me. My hard work since my knee injury paid off.

You shoot really fast! How are you able to do that? Is it natural for you or is it something you work on?

I was working on that since beginning with biathlon. But I have problems, when I try to change the rhythm. So there is a lot of work to do.
While shooting I don’t feel that I shoot fast. In my head it is all step by step in slow-motion. After the race they tell me if it was fast or not.

The Swiss women’s team is making great progress. You were 5th in the Relay in Oslo. Do you like the Relays and what do you think the team can do this season?

Of course I like the relay. Nowhere else is the whole team honestly happy or upset all together. We have to work good and hard. The podium is a goal.

You have a new coach this season (Sandra Flunger). Have you started working with her yet? Has she introduced anything new?

Yes the training rhythm changed. Every coach has a different way to be. We are happy with Sandra and try to learn and grow.

What are your plans for summer training?

I had an operation in the middle of July. My Hallux valgus (bunions) on both feet were always infected (also last winter) and now I had to do it. So I will not be able to train for 2 months. It is not an easy summer and it will be a hard preparation time. I try to stay positive and work hard. It will pay off.

What are your goals for this season?

Before the operation I wanted to continue my progress. But now I just want to come back strong and do my best in this short preparation time. Then I can see what happens. The World Championships are of course in my mind.

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

I don’t have favourites no. I like a lot: Hochfilzen, Antholz, Pokljuka, Oslo, Kontiolahti, Grand Bornand, of course Lenzerheide, Ridnaun and Obertilliach 😉

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

I don’t have favourites. Every athlete has his thing where I think: “wow this is really cool or strong”. But of course Bjørndalen will stay the King.

Does your rifle have a name?

No. But when I think about it, she would be Victoria.

Describe yourself in three words.

Home/Family person, Nature lover, I am an honest person.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):
France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): I like the natural ones.
Favourite ski suit design: Odlo has great suits.
Favourite shooting range: Lenzerheide
Lucky bib number: 1 in Pursuit 😉 (I don’t have a favourite)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Anna Maka, Poland
Best thing about being a biathlete: Be focused in the right time.

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Valera Patotski: The Interview!

Photo Credit: Tumashov/IBU

Valera Patotski is a biathlon journalist who works for the IBU. He covers the Junior Cup and Youth/Junior World Championships. He is Russian but lives in Norway which are about the best credentials you can have for covering biathlon! Currently finishing his journalism degree he is the mastermind behind the IBU Junior Twitter and Snapchat accounts and also contributes to the IBU magazine.

Follow Valera on Twitter: @ValeraPatotski
And on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valera.patotski/

Why do you love biathlon?
I think I could write a book on why I love biathlon, there are so many reasons, but mainly; because the sport is so unpredictable, everything can change in a matter of seconds. All the different disciplines, which is extremely fun to watch.
And the engaging community.

Can you describe your typical day when you are working at the Junior Cup?

I wake up, check social media for updates, comments, stats. Then I eat breakfast and rush to the stadium. I arrive at the stadium in advance of the athletes so I can prepare for the upcoming training or competition. Upon arriving I already have a plan on what I want to produce and how I want to do it. When the first athletes are arriving I leave the press centre and start producing content for Snapchat and Twitter. Often videos need editing so during zeroing I regroup at the press centre to edit and upload the content. Then I run out for the competitions and continue to produce content. After competitions I do interviews. When everyone has left the stadium I head back to the hotel, and usually continue with video concept shooting or writing from the hotel bed. Sometimes the day ends with some billiards or table tennis with the athletes. More or less this is a typical day for me.

Do you have a favourite/memorable race(s) that you have covered? Why was it special?

The Single mixed relay in JOECH 2018 is the most memorable one. It was just a very intense and close battle for the podium. What made the competition so special is that France who crossed the finish line first was disqualified due to Emilien Claude using one extra spare round during his last shooting.

My favourite competition is the youth relay from YJWCH 2018. Just a super exciting competition that ended with Sweden’s Elvira Oeberg beating Finland’s Heidi Nikkinen for the gold medal at the finish line.

Who should we be watching next season from the Juniors? Any big stars in the making?

In fact, many. I have seen a lot of talented young athletes, and I am confident that soon some of them will shine on the big stage. I would point out Emilien Claude, Igor Malinovskii, Elvira Oeberg and Sophia Schneider. They are all very skilled biathletes with a great future ahead of them.

I also would like to add that it is very cool that we see more and more Juniors and first year seniors at the World Cup.

Which biathlete would you really love to interview and what would you ask them?

I would love to do a 5-hour interview with Martin Fourcade. To try to understand his mind set a little bit better. I think he is mentally two steps above his competitors.
Poor Martin! 😉

There is a lot more coverage of biathlon on social media now. Do you enjoy that side of it or do you prefer writing articles?

The IBU became more visible on social media in 2016 and I feel very honoured that I took part in that “renovation”. I enjoy working with social media it is a very different way of bringing biathlon to the people. If I had to pick a side between social media and classic articles, I would go with social media.

You are still a student. What would you like to do in the future?

I still have one year left of my bachelor in journalism. When I’m finished I would like to continue working with winter sport and social media.

When I am IBU President and you are my Vice President (VP the VP!) what would you like to see change in biathlon?

I wish there were more races on the calendar as I cannot get enough of biathlon.

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

I have to go with Pokljuka here, I have been there two times. They have a great stadium and usually great weather. The staff who work with hosting the competitions are very professional and kind.

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

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, he was one of the reasons I started following biathlon back in 2007. I remember him beating Raphael Poiree when I attended in my first ever biathlon competition. It was quite something!

If you had a rifle what would you call it?

Shakespeare

Describe yourself in three words

confident, funny, empathetic

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Biathlon family
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): all-time favourite Norway (2016), but currently Czech Republic has a great ski suit design.
Funniest biathlete: Tom Lahaye
Nicest biathlete: Joscha Burkhalter
Best media centre: Holmenkollen
Favourite biathlon journalist (not yourself!): Rene Denfeld and Giulio Gasparin, you cannot have one without the other. You mean like Tweedledum and Tweedledee? 😉
Best thing about being a biathlon journalist: Travel around the world, original right?

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Carine Leijn: The Interview!

Carine Leijn is a Dutch biathlete who was born on the 11th of March 1999. She raced on the Junior World Cup last season achieving a best result of 46th in the Individual in Lenzerheide. She also raced in the Junior Open European Championships in Nove Mesto as well as the Youth World Championships in Brezno-Orsblie. Her big sister Lilian also used to be a biathlete until she recently gave up the sport leaving Carine as the only female Dutch biathlete.

Follow her on Twitter: @CarineLeijn
on Instagram.com/carine.leijn
and Facebook: Biatleijn
Website: http://www.leijn.eu/

Why did you become a biathlete?

Besides the fact that biathlon is just plain awesome, I have two older sisters who used to do biathlon. So you could say it runs in the family. So when my parents were around 30 years old they started cross country skiing. And we grew up going to Sweden every winter to do cross country skiing in the snow. We also practised on these plastic ski mats in Gouda (yes yes Gouda from the cheese). It’s hard to imagine what it looks like and even harder to describe its appearance, so I’ll leave it at that. Eventually the Dutch ski federation asked my oldest sister if she was interested in doing biathlon. Since then our family was in love.

How do you assess last season? You raced in the Junior World Cup and at the Youth World Championships. What were they like?

Last season started out pretty good in Lenzerheide and Hochfilzen. I had overall good races and felt good on the skis. Last season was supposed to be promising. With sneak peeks of my good races I was excited to see what more I could do at the Junior cups and The Youth World Championships. Sadly my nightmare came true after the Christmas break, at the first day of the IBU-IOC training camp in Slovenia I got sick. Not the “I don’t feel so good but I will train anyway even if coach said not to cold” but the real deal 39 degrees, hot and cold am I dead yet fever! So I had to take a lot rest and a lot of Slovenian honey to get back on my feet. So the races in Pokljuka and in NMNM were kind of doomed before I even started because they were directly after this camp. Then I got home for a few weeks to prep for the Youth World Champs. I was feeling a bit more in shape but not as good as I was before. In Slovakia the conditions weren’t the best, a lot of rain, wind and soft snow. Swimming was almost faster than skiing on the tracks. No but in all seriousness taking into account the short period of time Osrblie had to organize everything they did a really good job. At all the venues the people were so nice and kind. It was a great experience to be able to compete at the Junior cup with so many countries. I learned so much which I am really grateful for.

Do you have a favourite race from last season? Which one was it and what was special about it for you?

My favourite race was in Hochfilzen, before I got sick. There were a few factors which made it really special for me. I really liked the tracks, the up and downhills, tricky curves and the high speed. So I was testing my skis and all of a sudden I heard Dutch people and realized they were talking to me. They told me they just moved to Hochfilzen and asked me if I was going to compete in the Junior cup. They told me they were going to try to come and watch the race. The next day they actually showed up, wished me good luck and cheered for me from the tribunes. So in that Sprint I shot clean, had the best skis and gave everything I had. So this was really my favourite race from last season.

You can also race in the Single Mixed Relay with Jarl Hengstmengel. Do you like that event?

The Single Mixed Relay was really something on its own. I never did a competition like this before but I really liked the fact that you’re a team against all the other countries. Also the girls start in a mass start which I’d never done before, so that was really awesome. This Single Mixed Relay was when I was had just started training a few days after my fever. So I was dying during the whole race. It was good that we had a little rest in between when the boys were racing. But Jarl and I agreed beforehand that no matter what happened we weren’t going to do the penalty loop and we were going to beat the Belgian team. We succeeded at both so we were quite happy with our race.

It’s not easy being a Dutch biathlete. What are the hardest things about it? What are the good things?

No it sure isn’t. The hardest of thing of all is that I always have to train alone. Given that I am the only girl at this point, there isn’t a training group it’s just me. I used to have my sister as a training partner but when she quit I really had to do it on my own. One of the good things about being a Dutch biathlete is I think the IBU-IOC camps. Because The Netherlands isn’t a major country in biathlon we get invited, along side other small countries, to these camps. My motivation really gets a boost from these camps. You meet a lot of new people and go to places that are really awesome. But for me most important thing is the fact that you train in a group which is really important because no matter how hard you work you can’t always do it on your own.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life?

At this point I’m still in high school. I split the year before my senior year in 2 years. So I had more time to train, this was in the last school year. But next year I’ll be a senior and hopefully will be graduating high school. My high school is really cooperative with my sport. They help me with my school planning and I get a lot of guidance. As for my social life, my friends support me all the way and help me stay motivated for school and for training. They help me study when I miss a lot of school due to races or a training camp.I really love having my friends around and I don’t have the idea that biathlon is in the way of that.

Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

Not particularly. I’ve never been a person who likes to go out or something like that. So I don’t miss it and it’s not something I would want to do. Because I really grew up in the sport I am used to making certain sacrifices.

What are your goals for next season and further into the future?

My big goal for next season is to qualify again for the Youth World Championships. And to not get sick during the season. And for further in to the future it isn’t that easy to say. I think we all dream really big, which is a good thing. But we have to have goals in between to keep our feet on the ground. For now I hope I will make a lot of progress in the Junior cup over the next years and who knows what we can achieve with hard work, passion and big dreams.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What will you be working on over the summer?

I think one of my strengths is that I am mentally able to push myself to the very end, during training or a competition. My weakness is my speed on the shooting range, and my shooting time which I am currently working on. The less time you spend on the shooting range the better.

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

Pokljuka for sure, the track in the winter is really fast with quick turns which is really fun. Also I’ve been there so many times that every time I get there it feels like coming home which feels really special to me.

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

Darya Domracheva. Since I was little she has been my favourite. I always watched the races, looked at her skiing with her perfect technique and wanting to be like her. So I was really excited last season when she was making a comeback in Oberhof. I can’t wait to find out what she’ll do next season.

Does your rifle have a name?

I don’t think I got the note stating this was a thing… It is a thing! A biathlon23 thing! 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

chaotic – resilient – hard worker

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Finland
Favourite shooting range: Hochfilzen
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU/Junior Cup: Tarjei Bø
Best thing about being a biathlete: The food in all the different countries.

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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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Julia Ransom: The Interview!

ransom

Julia Ransom is a Canadian biathlete who was born on the 4th of February 1993 in Penticton. She made her international debut in 2009 and finished last season 52nd in the Total Score. Her personal best finish to date is 19th place which she achieved twice last season, first in the Antholz Pursuit and again in Canmore this time in the Sprint.

Follow Julia on Twitter: @Jooliawoolia
Take a look at her website: http://juliaransom.ca/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I have been cross country skiing for as long as I can remember, thanks to my parents enrolling me in the Telemark Jackrabbits Program and then later the Telemark Racing Team. Our little team of 12 year olds were skiing by the range one day and were called over to try shooting. I was hooked after that! What 12 year old wouldn’t like shooting with skis on?

You got your equal personal best result in Canmore last season. Can you describe the race and what it felt like racing at home?

It was so special to post a personal best at home in front of my family and loved ones. Besides religiously watching the Eurosport live feed at two or three in the morning, my parents have never seen me race World Cups in person, let alone enjoy a race from the comfort of a snack and beer tent! I also had extended family, my boyfriend, and neighbours come out to cheer which made the whole day that much better!

You had a great season last year with personal best of 19th and a 20th place finish in the World Championships. Why do you think you did so well?

The boys make fun of me for loving almost everything in Norway… Madshus, Gravlax, trolls, you name it. It’s only fitting to have my best results there! Joking aside, I think last season’s results can be attributed to a culmination of careful planning, hard work, and a determined attitude from the entire Canadian Team and support staff. Everyone came to training ready to bring it and raise the bar from the day before. We have jelled a lot as a team and that has shown through not only personal bests, but team bests.

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

This summer has been awesome! It started off with a women’s volume camp in my hometown, Kelowna. Anais Bescond joined us and we all stayed at my parents house. Mama Ransom had fresh baking waiting for us after almost every training session and kept “Wine Camp” living up to its name. In August, the team ventured down south and had a fantastic training camp at the Snow Farm in New Zealand. We enjoyed perfect snow conditions and amazing food, simply walking out the doors to the trails. It was particularly special for me because my boyfriend came out to help out with the team and enjoy some skiing before heading back to school. We also snuck in a little mini vacation on the North Island before the camp started. I have just finished training with the team in Park City, Utah one of my favourite camps. It’s great altitude exposure and usually a few extra weeks of ‘summer’ before the snow track is laid down in October.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: Finding coffee shops with Rosanna.
Weaknesses: the dessert buffet in Pokljuka.

What are your goals for this season?

My goal this season is simply to better those 19th places. Top 10 would be pretty sweet!

In the past you have done some volunteer coaching. Are you still doing that and why is it important to you? Would you like to become a coach in the future?

I love coaching young kids. They are a breath of fresh air with their keenness to learn and excitement to just get outside and play! I don’t see myself becoming a professional coach, but I will definitely keep volunteering with kids sport.

It’s thanks to your hairdressing skills that Nathan Smith won his World Championship medal. Do the rest of the team get you to cut their hair now too?

Haha! I only really feel confident doing one hair style, so that limits my clientele.

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

My favourite course is Oberhof because it seems to produce the best Youtube Crash videos.

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

I will have to say Anais Bescond. After getting to know her more this past year, I’ve learnt that she is not only a successful athlete, but a fun-loving, genuine, and humble person.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Nathan Smith. He made his own stock and always surprises me with his carbon fibre skills.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Czech Republic
Favourite shooting range: Holmenkollen
Lucky bib number: Obviously, 23! (YES!)
Best thing about being a biathlete: The lifestyle.

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2021: The Controversial Championships!

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Just when you are getting ready for the new season with interviews and posts about biathlon –the sport and the sportspeople – BOOM! the IBU delegates vote Tyumen as host of the World Championships in 2021. So what you may ask. Well unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months Russia have got themselves into a little bit of trouble.

With the publication of the McLaren Report into state sponsored doping by the Russians at the Sochi Olympics you would think most sports federations would avoid them like the plague. Not so the IBU. We have a World Cup round there in March, The Youth/Junior World Championships 2017 in Ostrov and now the World Championships in Tyumen in 2021.

To be fair all of these events were organised before the McLaren Report was published except the awarding of the World Championships to Tyumen which was voted on this past weekend at the IBU Congress.

Many people including Erland Slokvik, President of Norwegian Biathlon, and Canadian coach Roddy Ward have been vocal in their amazement at this decision and it does seem a strange one. There are many questions that need answers. For example why was Tyumen allowed to continue as a candidate after the IOC actively discouraged Individual Sports Federations from holding future events in Russia and to look for alternative hosts. Well it’s because they gave the green light to any event in which the bidding process had already begun.

I don’t have so much of a problem with this as the bid from Tyumen was started a long time ago and I am sure a lot of people have put a lot of time and effort into it. However there were another two candidates who did the same. Pokljuka and Nove Mesto were also competing to host in 2021.

So why then did the delegates decide to choose a Russian host? A question I am not sure I can answer with any certainty but here are some of the reasons put forward so far. Out of a possible 49 votes Tyumen won 25 and it is speculated that they came from the smaller Asian nations and the old Eastern Block countries. It is suggested that these countries maybe aren’t as concerned about Russia’s issues as the Western countries are.

Russia is a huge biathlon nation. It’s no coincidence that the three languages of the IBU are English, Germany and Russian. The sport is incredibly well supported there and with such popularity of course comes money.

It doesn’t surprise me that many are angry at the Tyumen decision. It did surprise me however who was not. The biathletes! Their reactions range from silence to congratulations on the winning bid. It made me wonder why when many biathletes speak out against anti-doping they would show support for an event in a country whose anti-doping agency has been declared unfit for purpose. Tyumen hosts a very lucrative end of season “Race of Champions”…

Apart from all the World Championships controversy we are still waiting to hear if any action will be taken against Russia. The McLaren Report alleges that 10 samples from biathletes were tampered with in Sochi. One of the team, Alexander Loginov, is already serving a suspension for doping but as yet we have heard nothing about any other potential positive samples. The Russians had a team of 12 in Sochi.

Yesterday IBU President Anders Besseberg stated that Tyumen could possibly lose the World Championships if these retested samples come back positive. The IBU are not doing themselves any favours in it’s handling of both these situations. The IPC provides a good example and an interesting contrast.

All in all it’s an unsavoury mess and doesn’t reflect well on any of the parties involved. The fans don’t want to be talking and reading about this. They want to be getting excited for a new season and planning what World Cup round to go and thinking about who is going to do well. They do not want to watch their sport become mired in controversy. Yes the fans, remember us? It would be nice if someone would occasionally!

It’s hard to see any of this being resolved anytime soon and I imagine it won’t end satisfactorily for anyone. However I was thinking if I start doping now, in 5 years’ time I could maybe win a gold medal in Tyumen and not get got caught……just a thought!

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Macx Davies: The Interview!

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Macx Davies in a Canadian biathlete who was born in Calgary on the 24th of December 1992. He made his international debut in 2011 and last season in Oestersund he achieved his personal best result when he came 10th in the Sprint race. He is also renowned for his dancing skills (see Russian TV), his biathlon movie (see Norwegian TV) and of course his beard which won him Best Facial Hair 2015/16 in the Biathlon23 Awards.

You can like his Facebook page: Macx Davies Biathlete.

Who spells Macx with a C? Explain yourself or at least your parent’s decision?!

First off, yes my name is spelt M-A-C-X, and my parents actually switched my name when I was very young from Mckenzie, which was my name at birth, because there was a lot of girls being named Mckenzie at the time. So they changed it to Macx and kept the C to be a little different.

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I decided to become a biathlete because cross country skiing became very predictable and fitness based. But when I tried biathlon for a summer in 2006 I realized that here was a sport similar to cross country skiing with the unpredictability of shooting, and after a year of biathlon I was hooked (even though that first year and many more after I was terrible at shooting).

You got 10th place in the Oestersund Sprint last season. Can you describe the race and how you felt at the end getting your best ever result?

The race in Oestersund this year was the craziest race of my life. First thing, starting bib #99, which is the well known number of Canadian hockey star Wayne Gretzky, was very special for me. But to then go out and forget to load one of my magazines, which I only realized after my first shooting, made it a very crazy day, as I was just trying to figure out how I could get another from my coaches. But after a lap of yelling at my wax techs, I was told they had a spare magazine waiting for me in the range. So I could relax as I skied the last hundred meters into my standing shooting. However I was given a magazine that didn’t fit into my rifle… Luckily I had 5 spare rounds on my rifle and I single loaded each shot. Now if you remember it was a very windy day and nobody was shooting great, but through all this confusion I pulled off a perfect day on the range and was very surprised when my wax techs told me I was in 10th after the shooting. After I heard that I knew that I had to ski as hard as I could, and I managed to hold the position all the way to the finish line. After the race I was stunned, it took more than a week for me to realize just how good that race was. And thinking about it now I still don’t believe how well I did!

What are your plans for summer training?

Summer training is going to be a little different this year, normally we stay around Canmore, Canada for most of the summer, but the team is trying something new and we are spending 3 weeks in New Zealand on snow in August. Then we will head back home for some good training before going to Salt Lake City in the US for another 2 weeks in the fall then back to Canmore to be on snow in October.

What are your goals for this season?

For this season I was shooting for an individual Top 6 and multiple Top 16 finishes as well as some more podium relay performances for Canada.

Canadian biathlon is doing really well right now. Why do you think that is?

Canada is lucky to have some amazing athletes at the top end of the sport for the last few years. To me is all comes from finally figuring out the combination of training that works for us, as well as having a few role model athletes to follow, the likes of JP Le Guellec, Nathan Smith, Brendan Green and Scott Perras.

You won the Biathlon23 Award for Best Facial Hair last season. Is that your biggest achievement to date? Will you be trying to retain your title?

I was surprised to win the award for best facial hair, but now that I know it is possible I will be trying every year! I would say the reward is equal to my Oestersund sprint race.

You starred in a Norwegian video at the World Championships in Oslo. Do you regret stopping for an interview now? What did you think of the video?

I LOVED that video! I was the perfect touch to that amazing day at the World Championships! I am so happy that I stopped for the interview and only hope everyone else liked it as much as the whole Canadian Team did.

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

My favourite biathlon track is Oberhof, because I find crazy weather always works to my advantage. Though Pokljuka to me is the best skiing track with a bit of everything.

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

My favourite biathlete is Bjorn Ferry, he showed me that you can be among the best and still have a great sense of humour.

Does your rifle have a name?

I have never named my rifle actually. Though I might have to think of one…..

Describe yourself in three words.

Macx in three words, “Is The Man”. I’m just joking, here are three words: Determined, Powerful, Relaxed.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Nathan Smith(designed his own, then made it himself)
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): France their 2015 suits
Favourite shooting range: Nove Mesto
Lucky bib number: 99
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Christian Gow
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Martin Fourcade
Best thing about being a biathlete: the lifestyle, exercise, travel and friends.

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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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