Tag Archives: Presque Isle

Tom Lahaye-Goffart: The Return!

Next in my series of catch ups with former biathlon23 interviewees is Tom Lahaye-Goffart. His first interview was 4 years ago when he was still a Junior! Now at age 23 (which is an excellent age) he has been competing on the IBU Cup and also on the World Cup in the relay.

Follow Tom on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram!

We last spoke 4 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

A lot of things changed for me during those 4 years. On the studies side, I graduated with a bachelor degree in Marketing and Communication, which means I can take a pause in my studies to focus 100% on biathlon! That’s a really good thing because I can completely rest between my training now (even if I didn’t work that much when I studied, but psssst, secret!). I also moved home, once again! I came back to my previous home in the South Alps but I took a flat in Villard De Lans to get the best training possibilities in France!

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with and were there any disappointments?

I’m really happy about last season! My goal was to be “back on track” after a pretty bad previous season, I didn’t expect anything in terms of results, I just wanted to feel good in what I do and not be disappointed about my races. It actually worked pretty well! My ski speed came back to normal, my shooting statistics increased a lot, and I got a few good results!
I was pretty happy with my individual race in Obertilliach in the IBU Cup. I knew I was able to do some great stuff but I never found the way to put everything together earlier, and it worked on that day! That was definitely a morale boost for the rest of the season!
On the bad side I was a bit frustrated not to get my chance on one of the individual races in the World Cup. I showed good shooting statistics all season long and didn’t get my chance to prove myself on the superior circuit. That was frustrating but that’s part of athlete life, you have to be patient!

You are part of everyone’s favourite relay team – Belgium! What is it like racing in that team?

I’m definitely proud to be part of that relay! It’s crazy how people adopted us after Hochfilzen and Oberhof 2 years ago! Being in that relay is really awesome, we don’t have that much pressure, we just do our best and we see at the finish line, and it’s always a good feeling to bother some “big nations”!

That foggy Oberhof Relay in 2018- tell us about it!

Actually that foggy relay is my worst memory as a biathlete! I wasn’t confident at all after the Hochfilzen relay, my shape was also pretty bad that season! And when you’re 21-years-old, you get the relay in 4th place as the last racer, it’s a really huge pressure on your shoulders. According to my self confidence on that day it was way too much for me, I completely cracked, made all the bad choices and lost 9 places to finish 13th! The contrast was so big at the end, everybody was so happy about the race, we led more than halfway, we got so much TV time, and I was crying on the shoulders of my sister because I f***ed up everything on that day. It took me months to get over it and find confidence again. I had so many nightmares about it! But I can say now that it gave me so much experience!

Jean-Guillaume Beatrix is Belgium’s coach now. Have you had much chance to work with him yet?

I have the chance to live really close to him now in Vercors, so I’m probably the luckiest one of the team because he can coach me on my sessions outside of training camps! So we work quite a lot together and try to find the things that can help me in shooting!

What are your plans for summer training?

The same as every biathlete I guess, lots of volume training! We will go with the Belgian team to the Summer World Champs in Minsk at the end of August, otherwise we were in Obertilliach in a camp in July, and then went to Antholz for few days to the World Championship’s location.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think that my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. I actually always try to understand everything around me, to see how things work, how to do it better and so on. It’s also a weakness because sometimes you have to do things naturally without questioning everything all the time! But my strengths and weaknesses are definitely on the mental side!

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal this season is to get to the World Cup. We are 3 athletes for 2 places, which means one will stay in the IBU Cup. After several years on it, I feel that it’s time to take a step further and discover real racing with the “big boys”. I really wish to compete in Östersund and Le Grand-Bornand, because it’s at the beginning of the season, which is the best period for me, and I’ve special connections with those places!

Is Presque Isle still your favourite track and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen your favourite biathlete?

I still like Presque Isle’s track, but my favourite track is definitely Oslo now! Skiing with a view of the Fjord is breathtaking, and reinforced by the feeling of skiing on an historical ski place!
OEB is still my favourite biathlete, he’s such a legend that I don’t even need to find arguments to justify that!

You put effort into your rifle design which is great! Have got a new design for this season or are you sticking with last year’s? Where do you get your ideas from for the designs?

I still don’t know if I will change my rifle’s design this year, I would like to but I don’t think I’ll have enough time for that! I usually have a few colors in mind and then ask around what would be the best. I always try to be original with a design that no one has. The fact is that since I chose silver, a few other athletes chose it too, so I guess I’ll change again. I hate to be in the norm!

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Still not!!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Michal Krcmar’s lions!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): USA
Favourite shooting range: Not Oberhof!
Lucky bib number: 9
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Too hard to chose between Michael Rösch/ Emilien Jacquelin and the Claude brothers!
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup/IBU Cup: I’ll get problems if I name a girl.. So… The womanizer Florent Claude, of course!
Best thing about being a biathlete: The purpose is easy, you have to push as hard as you’re dumb, and shoot the black!

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Mario Dolder: The Interview!

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Mario Dolder is a Swiss biathlete who was born on the 22nd of June 1990. He won a Youth/Junior World Championships bronze medal in the Sprint race in Canmore in 2009. His best result on the World Cup is 16th place from the Sprint race in Holmenkollen in 2015. He has taken part in 4 World Championships and his best overall finish in the Total Score is 46th which he achieved in Season 2014/15. He missed the first part of last season with an injury but came back to finish the season well.

Check out his website: http://www.mariodolder.ch/
You can like his Facebook page: Dolder Mario
He’s got his own Fan club too: http://www.mariodolder-fanclub.ch/

Why did you decide to become a biathlete?

I love to be active in nature and doing sports. My parents taught me cross-country skiing. I did some races and once I tried biathlon. I had a lot of fun and decided to start a biathlon career.

How do you assess last season? Were you pleased with your results?

In summer 2015 I had two knee injuries and lost a lot of power. Therefore my first race was in Ruhpolding in January. My shape wasn’t good and the races were bad. In February my shape was much better and I was 24th two times in Presque Isle…pretty good results for me.

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

We have had a good summer of training with the Swiss-Team. We trained a lot in Andermatt, our training base, but also in Crete, Antholz, Obertilliach, Ruhpolding and Oberhof.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: Prone Shooting, Sprint races

Weakness: My inconsistency

What are your goals for this season?

A Top 15 finish on the World Cup.
To finish in the Top 40 on the World Cup overall.

The Swiss men’s team is improving. Do you think you can do well in the relays next season?

We are looking forward to the relays. Especially in the relay at the World Championships in Hochfilzen. We will try to beat our best result from Kontiolahti (7th).

You took part in the Single Mixed Relay in Canada. Do you like this new event?

For me it is a fun competition for entertainment, but not needed on the World Cup.

You have your own fan club! Do they come to a lot of races? Can you hear them on the tracks?

Normally they visit two or three races each season. The support is very good! For sure…they are the loudest of all. 😉

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

Antholz. I love the profile and the landscape.

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

Berni Leitinger (AUT)- he had a really serious illness two years ago. But he fought like a lion, and now he is back on the track! RESPECT!!!

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Focused, calm, good-humoured.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Belgium
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: 22
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Kauri Koiv
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Alexia Runggaldier
Best thing about being a biathlete: Season-End Party in Khanty 😉

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Galina Vishnevskaya!

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You may not be able to spell it but you should probably recognise the name. Galina Vishnevskaya is one of the up and coming biathletes on the Women’s World Cup and is definitely someone you should be looking out for next season.

She was born on the 10th of February 1994 in Semey, Kazakhstan and has already had a very successful junior career. She has two medals from the Youth Olympics in 2011 which were held in Innsbruck. She won silver in the Sprint race there and followed it up with bronze in the Pursuit.

She has also won 7 Youth/Junior World Championships medals. In 2011 she won her first medal which was a bronze in the Individual in Nove Mesto. A year later in Kontiolahti she took silver in the same event. In 2013 in Obertilliach she won silver again but this time in the Pursuit. Her best result came in Presque Isle in 2014 when she won gold in the Pursuit after getting the silver in the Sprint. She took another two medals in Raubichi in 2015 winning silver in the Pursuit and bronze in the Individual.

So as you can see Vishnevskaya did very well as a junior but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will translate to the senior World Cup. However in her case she has proved that she can also compete with the top biathletes. She has 12 Top 40 finishes to her name so far including two results in the Top 20. Her personal best result to date came in Ruhpolding last season where she was 15th in the Individual. She also managed 18th place in Presque Isle in the Sprint race.

In the Total Score last season she was 41st. Considering she is only 22-years-old that is very impressive. At 20 she went to Sochi for her first taste of Olympic action and her best result was 41st. She competed in Oslo at the Senior World Championships for the first time and finished every race inside the Top 25.

Vishnevskaya is a young biathlete and doesn’t come from one of the bigger biathlon nations but she will still be a dangerous competitor in the coming season. Her target must be to get into the Top 10 and finish consistently in the Top 20. If she stays healthy and injury free I see no reason why she can’t finish in the Top 20 overall. In fact with a little bit of luck we could see her on the podium or even take her first World Cup victory.

Along with her teammates Darya Usanova, Anna Kistanova and Alina Raikova she will be hoping to improve on their great result from the Women’s Relay in Oslo at the World Championships of 8th. She will also be trying to gain some more Nations Cup points in the Mixed and the Single Mixed Relays alongside Yan Savitsky, Anton Panton and Maxim Braun.

It is an important season coming up with the World Championships in Hochfilzen and it’s less than two years until the next Olympic Games in PyeongChang. They provide a great opportunity for Vishnevskaya to gain some valuable experience that will help her in her desire to win medals in the future and also to perform well for her country and help biathlon continue to grow in Kazakhstan. She is a good shot like most of her Kazakh teammates and with an improvement in her ski speed it could be an exciting two years for her.

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Ross Burton: Biathlon Photographer!

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Photo credit: Elena Sobol

As you know biathlon23 likes to look at all aspects of biathlon not just the biathletes. This time I am bringing you an interview with a biathlon photographer. Ross Burton from America has been taking pictures of biathletes on the World Cup for 6 years and has kindly taken the time to tell us exactly what that is like.

He also jointly runs the website Biathlon News International: http://www.biathlonnewsinternational.com/
The site also has a Facebook Page: Biathlon News International

Why do like biathlon?

I was a cross-country skier in the early 70’s. The Army National Guard had a biathlon team, and I joined the Guard so I could get paid for skiing. We had wooden skis, bamboo poles, Remington 513T rifles, and it was classic only. After 3-4 years, I went into the active Army, and that was the end of biathlon. Then the Internet changed everything. Biathlon is
and was a small sport in the USA, as I believe it is in the UK. Before the Internet, there was virtually no information about biathlon, except for maybe 5 minutes coverage during the Olympic broadcasts. After the Internet came, there was plenty of information, even full races on the IBU Eurosport channel.

I decided I wanted to attend a World Cup in 2009, and a German friend suggested Ostersund. I went, and it was a life-changing experience for me. I decided I wanted to move my photography in that direction. At about the same time, a Russian friend, Raniya Kutumova, and I decided to build an English-language news website to enhance interest in
biathlon in the USA. The news website was not particularly successful in generating interest in the USA, but it was marvelously successful in other parts of the world, largely Germany and Russia, despite the fact that it’s in English.

I have been an Olympics fan all my life, and never in my fondest dreams did I ever think I would be paid to go to the Olympics (Sochi.) So, one could say that I have had a life-long interest in biathlon as a competitor, volunteer, journalist and photographer.

How long have you been a photographer and when did you start doing it in biathlon on the World Cup?

I am not a life-long professional photographer. I started working professionally in biathlon during 2010 when my friend Per-Ole Lindell, manager of the Finland team, needed some pictures featuring their new Viessmann sponsorship.

What kind of camera do you have? Do you mainly do digital photography? Have you thought about using a drone?

I have two Nikon D4’s and lenses from 14mm to 400mm focal lengths. Everyone does digital now. I have never thought of using a drone, but I have nightmares of a drone going out of control and landing in the range or on a biathlete.

How often do you go to World Cups and how do you choose which ones to attend?

Between 2-4 World Cups or two World Cups and the World Championships or Olympics. I choose based on time available from USA commitments, money, and logistics.

Where are you going this season and why?

Hochfilzen for sure because it’s the World Championships this year. Looking at Pokjluka and Nove Mesto for World Cups because of favorable logistics.

Do you get to enjoy the races or are you too busy trying to get good shots?

Mostly too busy, but for the first-in, first-win races like the pursuit, relay and mass start I’m always at the finish line, so it’s fun to see the winners and the celebrations. My finest moment was seeing my friends Darya Domracheva and Nadya Skardino win their Olympic medals for Belarus.

Are there a lot of other photographers working on the World Cup? Are you competitive like the biathletes to see who can get the best pictures or is there a good camaraderie?

Yes, there are numerous photographers who attend the World Cups. Of course, we all want to get the best pictures for our customers, but we all are great friends. There is no photographer who won’t take the time to share what they know about the best locations they have found, or the fastest workflow, or anything else that might be a help other photographers.

Since I know a bit about biathlon, I think it’s important to help photographers who are not that familiar with biathlon. We can explain how the races go, which are the big stars, and other things they might consider important. I don’t know how many times I have been asked, “which one is Bjoerndalen?” by new or unfamiliar photographers.

What do you do with the photos? Who do you sell them to? Do you keep some for yourself?

I keep enough for myself to post on my website, http://www.biathlonnewsinternational.com, but I am always working for some team or some photo agency. I have worked for several foreign photo agencies, but Team Finland is my best customer. I have worked for them since 2009. In fact, the last issue of the Finland Biathlon Magazine has a four-page spread
of just my pictures. It can be seen at biathlon.fi.com. Most of the winter cover shots on the magazine are mine too.


What is the best/favourite photo you have taken in biathlon?

The Finland team picture which appears in the header of my Biathlon News International Facebook page.

What is your favourite biathlon venue – for pictures and for racing?

Pictures: Presque Isle. Racing: Holmenkollen

Does your camera have a name?

Yep, Camera 1 and Camera 2.

Describe yourself in three words.

Lucky, Lazy, Ludicrous.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation: A tie between the USA and Finland
Favourite biathlete: Long Past: Dennis Donahue Recent Past: Agnieszka Cyl Present: Peter Dokl Future: Jessika Rolig and Auli Kiskola.
Favourite race(sprint,pursuit etc.): The single gender relay
Favourite ski suit design: Belarus, two years ago.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Past, Bjoern Ferry, by a mile! Present: Tarjei Boe
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Tie between Johanna Talihaerm and Kadri Lehtla. The rest of the Estonian women are all very nice too.
Best thing about being a photographer: Pragmatically, free food. Emotionally, seeing my pictures published in worldwide circulation.

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Clare Egan: The Interview!

Clare Egan is an American biathlete from Cape Elizabeth in Maine. She was born on the 19th of November 1987. She is part of the US Women’s Relay Team and has taken part in two World Championships. She had three Top 40 points finishes last season and achieved her personal best so far of 16th. This meant that she came 67th in the Total Score at the end of the season an improvement of 29 places from season 2014/15.

Like her Facebook Page: Clare Egan Biathlete
Read her blog: http://lclareegan.blogspot.co.uk

How did you discover biathlon and why did you want to become a biathlete?

When I was 25, I was a slightly bored cross-country skier, questioning whether to continue with the sport. It was perfect timing when US Biathlon’s regional development coach, Algis Shalna, asked if I wanted to learn how to shoot. He is a former Lithuanian biathlete who was part of a gold medal-winning relay team for the Soviet Union. I took him up on his offer because I was inspired by the success of biathletes Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee, who, like me, started shooting after university and trained in Craftsbury, Vermont with the Green Racing Project ski team. I had a great experience working with Algis and learning the skills of shooting, so it was a good fit.

You had a really good season last year getting your personal best result of 16th in the Oestersund Sprint. Can you describe that race?

I went into that race with only one goal: to shoot well. I took my time making 10 good shots, and the downhill range approach helped me make that happen. I just wanted to make the pursuit but it was a nice surprise to clean a World Cup race for the first time and get my first top-20.

You also got two great results at your home race in Presque Isle. What was it like competing at home? Did you feel the pressure or did you enjoy it?

I had two great races in Presque-Isle, finishing 32nd in the sprint and then 23rd in the pursuit. I did not feel more pressure than usual, because biathlon is not well known in the US. But I am glad I had the experience of doing a biathlon World Cup in my home country and home state. Even though Presque-Isle is a 6-hour drive from where I grew up, there were some familiar faces in the crowd. My whole team did great that weekend, including Susan’s 2nd place in the sprint, and we were very proud.

Annalise Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker have both retired. How do you think the women’s team will cope with losing two great biathletes?

I really miss Annelies and Hannah even more than I thought I would. It is a very different team environment without those two! They lived and trained in Lake Placid, where our national team is based and where I live. Now that they are not here, I am one of the senior members of the team so I am learning how to be in that role. I miss them not only at training but also outside of training because they are great friends. Now, Susan and I are joined on the national team by two talented biathletes, Maddie Phaneuf and Joanne Reid, both of whom have already raced World Cups, so I have no doubt that our team will continue to move forward and improve, following in the footsteps of Hannah and Annelies.

What did you learn about yourself last season? Are you working on anything specific that you want to improve for the coming season?

I put a lot of pressure on myself, so I am working on staying relaxed and focussing on the positive aspects of each performance. In terms of specific biathlon skills I am working on my standing shooting and physical strength.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to consistently make the pursuits and score World Cup points. I would also like to qualify for a mass start!


Who has been the biggest inspiration or supporter of your biathlon career and why?

I think Algis Shalna, my first biathlon coach, is the person most responsible for where I am now. I learned so much from him even though we only worked together for one year. I wrote everything down in a little book that I travel with all winter so I can remember the most important basic lessons he taught me.

You sang in a biathlonworld video last season with Lowell and Jean-Gui. Have you always sung? Are you replacing Gabriela and will we see more of your singing next season?!

Gabriela was a little busy winning the overall World Cup title! I was just her substitute. I love singing and playing music with other people so I am always ready for the next video. I learned many instruments growing up… I don’t do anything super well, but I can do a little bit of everything.


Do you have a favourite race (sprint, pursuit etc.)? Which is it and why?

I like anything that is head-to-head, so pursuits and relays are my favorite so far. I hope to do a mass start one day because I think that would be my favorite.

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

Andrea Henkel Burke!!! She is a great athlete, a great person and a great mentor. We are so lucky to have her living in Lake Placid.

Does your rifle have a name?

She is called Rifey.


Describe yourself in three words.

outgoing, energetic, pig-lover

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Everybody is great
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Johannes Thingnes Boe’s pink rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Belarus 2015 World Championships
Favourite shooting range: Ostersund, because the approach is downhill!
Lucky bib number: 11
Best use of the IBU Athlete Guidebook: checking out who is single, hot and has interesting hobbies.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Stefani Popova (BUL) and Amanda Lightfoot (GB)
Best dancers on the World/IBU Cup: 1st Place: Team Manager from Kazakstan (AMAZING!!!), 2nd Place (tie): Lithuanian biathletes Gabriele Lescinskaite and Vytautas Strolia.
Best World Cup food: dense hot chocolate available in Italy and Slovenia
Friendliest Wax Tech: Gregoire Deschamps
Favourite song on stadium playlist: “Walking on sunshine”
Most annoying song on stadium playlist: “Hey baby I wanna know if you’ll be my girl”
Best thing about being a biathlete: Having the opportunity to represent the best side of my country, when the world often only sees the worst.

(Please note Clare added some of her own quick fire questions here! If only all the biathletes were so conscientious!:-)

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Andrew Chisholm: The Interview!

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Andrew Chisholm is a Canadian ski technician and former biathlete. He was born in Calgary on the 17th of November 1991 and started biathlon at age 13. He recently retired from the sport and is now preparing the skis for his former teammates.

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewkchisholm

You gave up biathlon and became a ski technician. Why was that?

There were definitely multiple reasons as to why I quit, but one big reason was that I was just struggling to improve and keep my performances at a level I found acceptable. I’m not a small guy by any means, so I struggled a lot with the big climbs. I ended up becoming a ski technician a little bit by accident. I was attempting a transition into sliding sports (I was hoping to be a bobsleigh brakeman for the 2015/16 season) and I was actually hitting all of the testing numbers that I needed to do so (weight lifting, sprinting, jumps, throws, etc), but I ended up having a brutal hamstring injury a few days before the official tryout day. I couldn’t even walk properly, and I knew it was going to be a long road for proper recovery, so I asked our then head technician Tom Zidek if I could try to get on board with the wax team and he took me on right away. What I was thinking would be a little bit of part time work turned into an incredible opportunity, and I’m more than grateful for it!

Can you describe your typical race weekend?

We arrive a few days before the first race, get the skis cleaned and zeroed with the same wax for testing, and then it becomes a bit of a cycle of testing, cleaning, waxing, repeat! Race day is just a repeat of that process except we will test the wax and best skis for the day and get those skis out to the athletes on time.

What are the best and worst things about being a ski technician?

I honestly love everything about being a ski technician. Everything from the skiing, the testing, being on tour, the creativity we can use to try and gain an edge over the other nations… all I’ve really done is apply my love of competition to ski teching instead of racing!

The worst parts might be the long time away from your family and friends, but with how well you can keep in touch with Skype or Facetime nowadays, it’s not so bad. You have a bit of a family on the road too.

Are you responsible for certain biathletes skis or do help with them all?

I help with them all. Some days each tech will take on a certain athlete with the testing, but the team works as a whole to make sure everyone has the best skis possible.

Have you ever had any waxidents? (accidents with wax)

I’ve burned my arm with the iron once, dumped over base cleaner a few times… The only real accident I can remember was once I waxed an athlete’s skis differently that we had tested to be best, but there was plenty of time to re-wax them the way we had agreed on!

Is the world of wax very secretive? Have you ever been tempted to go and spy on what the other teams are doing? Do they spy on you?

Kind of. No. Not sure.


Do you ever get wax truck envy or are you happy with Canada’s set up?

I don’t get envy at all, we are able to do a pretty good job with what we have. I’m mostly happy with the set up, there are a few things I would have done differently if I was designing it all from the ground up, but I think that would be the same for anyone. Everyone has their own vision!

Do you have any good waxing tips for the non-expert?

Yeah, remember to do it 😉 In terms of race waxing, I’d say make sure you brush and wipe down your skis well. It doesn’t matter how fast your wax is if you don’t finish it properly!

Canada had a great season in 2015/16 with a World Championship bronze for the Men’s Relay Team and a Single Mixed Relay podium. Is it a coincidence that this happened in your first season? How much credit are you taking for the success?

With a question like that I feel like you’ve been hearing some rumours! I’d definitely say it was a coincidence. I won’t deny that I brought something new to the team, but I can’t take very much credit at all. It was the culmination of several years of hard work done by the athletes, coaches, staff, and tech crew before me. In my opinion it had been a long time coming and it just happened to all come together the year that I joined the team.

Did your rifle have a name?

Nope!

Describe yourself in three words.

I am terrible at things like this so I asked some of my best friends outside of biathlon and this is what they came up with:

“Is remarkably average.” (You can really feel the love with that one…)

Maybe the best three words that describe me are probably “Up to something”

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlete (past or present): The Canadians. I grew up training and racing with them, having them as role models, or both!
Favourite biathlon track: Whistler.
Favourite event: (sprint, pursuit etc): Pursuit
Best race you have prepared skis for: Best result: Ostersund Single Mixed Relay (also my first race with the team)
Most Fun: Relays at Presque Isle
Best skis: Obertilliach IBU Cup

Favourite wax tech: Can’t choose just one!
Favourite wax truck (not your own): The French team. They have one of the best ventilation systems in my opinion.
Favourite ski suit design (any nation): For the last season, I think the Finnish had the best.
Favourite rifle design: I liked my old stock that I built with the Van Halen style paintjob, but Nathan Smith’s is probably #1 for me right now.

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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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The Biathlon23 Awards 2015/16!!!

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It’s back! That’s right the Biathlon23 awards are now in their third year! And guess what Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won one!! Only joking biathlon is a lot harder than surviving a CGI bear attack! 😉 As usual they are not your typical awards and there are a few new categories too. Obviously the same rigorous system was used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
Last year’s post that was read by the most people was about an American.This year it is a Brit. It’s great to see the growing interest in the smaller biathlon nations where most of the population haven’t heard of the sport let alone who competes in it. This lady especially deserves your support as she was all alone this season on the Women’s World Cup as Britain’s only female representative.
Winner: Amanda Lightfoot

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“Tarjei Boe Marine” : Someone has taken RamBoe too seriously!
“Simon Fourcade’s diet”: Snails and frogs legs mostly! 😉
“Johannes Boe why pink rifle”: My sentiments exactly!
“Benjamin Eder”, “Manuela Goessner”, “Galina Schwaiger”: My favourite biathletes!
“Martin and Simon Fourcade warfare”: I knew they didn’t like each other really!
“where is Laura Dahlmeier?”: I don’t know I haven’t seen her!
“funny welle strand horn”: I think there is a Norwegian biathlete in there somewhere!
” olgan of awesome race 2015″: erm ….!
Winner:”Emil Hegle Svendsen secret weapon”: It’s the amazing hair! It’s dandruff free you know. 😉

Best Facial hair:
I wanted to give this to the magnificent beard of Martin Johnsrud Sundby and then I remembered he isn’t a biathlete! Damn you Sundby! The biathlon beards seem to have been quite absent this season. Martin Fourcade was growing a beard for a bet, not shaving until he shot clean. He cheated and shaved it before he shot clean though and that kind of attitude does not win you awards Monsieur! The winner kept his beard all through the season and through dancing with Russian media and film making with the Norwegians!
Winner:Max Davies

Best earrings:
There were many contenders this year. Everyone seems to be wearing them now. They are probably trying to win this award! Kaisa Makarainen had nice ones as did Olena Pidhrushna and many others. This year however the winner is someone who has gone for patriotism, and has more than one pair, with earrings in red, white and green.
Winner: Dorothea Wierer

Nicest person in biathlon:
I was really tempted to give this to last year’s winner again Jean-Gui Beatrix because he was nice enough to do an interview for me although it took him ages!! However he failed to acknowledge the role of this interview in getting him his first ever World Cup win in Pokljuka! That’s not nice! The winner has in fact done 2 interviews for my blog already and I am sure he will do more if I ask. He always remains positive even in a team struggling for finance and did I mention the most important fact – he is Scottish!! 😉
Winner: Scott Dixon

Best Team Performance:
A difficult choice this season. France were strong contenders for their World Championship results. Norway won both Relay golds in Oslo. However I expect that kind of stuff from those teams. What I didn’t expect was a small biathlon nation to go and win a bronze medal in the Men’s Relay. An exceptional performance from all four biathletes when everything just went right on the day. Excellent shooting and cool heads from Brendan Green, Nathan Smith, Scott Gow and Christian Gow.
Winner: Canadian Men’s Relay Team

Biggest Improver:
This year’s award goes to someone who has made a big impression in Season 2015/16. He has gone under the radar until now possibly because of the strong results of his teammates. His best result last season on the World Cup was a 15th place. His best result this season was 5th. His best performance at a World Championships previously was 57th. This season is was also 5th. His shooting has been amazing this season and if he keeps improving it won’t be long until we see him on the podium. Arguably the strongest male biathlete on the Czech Team this season.
Winner:Michal Krcmar

Best fall:
We don’t like to see biathletes fall. That’s a total lie we love it as long as they don’t get hurt! This year’s victor went all out to get this award. In Presque Isle he came to the bottom of a slope on a corner and went straight into a tree and got concussion. Raising the bar and proving that if you don’t go to hospital you won’t win this award!
Winner:Arnd Peiffer

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
One year this award won’t go to one of the Boe brothers but it won’t be this year! Tarjei strikes again winning this for the second year in a row. Commenting on younger brother Johannes winning two races and getting a second place in Presque Isle he said “I’m glad Fourcade beat him yesterday or he would be flying already over the Atlantic Ocean!”
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ_x4JT2W-Y
Winner:Tarjei Boe

Best biathlon video:
There are a lot of biathletes making videos of training and they are really good. The French do the most with Antonin Guigonnat, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Alexis Beouf all posting some good stuff. This inaugural award however doesn’t go to a biathlete at all. It goes to a TV station and reporter for his amazing explanation of biathlon in song with some help from the Norwegian biathletes!
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThZRndkxA-E
Winner:NRK and Nicolay Ramm

Best World Cup Round:
The World Cup was a bit different this season as we missed Oberhof for lack of snow and had 2 rounds in Ruhpolding. In Khanty Mansiysk 2 races were cancelled due to strong winds and there were problems with snow elsewhere. One place that had no problems with snow or weather and hosted a great World Cup round with good organisation and the beautiful backdrop of the Three Sisters (the mountains not the Gasparins!). We haven’t been there for a while but hopefully we will go back soon!
Winner: Canmore

Best rifle design:
Another tough category this year but it comes down to two. Selina Gasparin with her rifle of flames which was designed in a competition and Anton Shipulin’s dragon rifle. Both are very cool and any other season Gasparin would have had this award but come on his rifle is carved like a dragon!A DRAGON!!!
Winner:Anton Shipulin

Most ridiculous rifle colour:
Some advice for you Johannes, pink and ginger clash my friend. The gold was good last season but pink! It ‘s not even a nice shade of pink! What were you thinking?
Winner: Johannes Thingnes Boe

Best ski suit:
There were actually very few contenders for this award but Great Britain put out a good design as usual and I do like Estonia’s too. The Norwegians have finally taken my advice and added some extra colour to the red with their excellent World Championships suit. However the winner I think represents their country well. Classic white and blue with a swirling pattern within the blue sections which I hope depicts the many lakes of the country in question.
Winner:Finland

Worst ski suit:
On my God! Where do I even start with this one. It was like the designers had a competition to see who could come up with the worst suit. This is such a difficult decision but let’s look at the “offenders”. First Russia with the weird pixelated trousers. Followed by Sweden and the Ukraine with the weird pixelated trousers. Then came America with the weird pixelated trousers and also the colours of orange and purple which on TV made them look like Russia! The cold war begins again! Canada didn’t want to miss out either with their tribute to “Where’s Wally (Waldo)? So I didn’t like a lot of the suits this season but for my initial reaction to the this one (“what the hell is it that?”) and contrasting it with the greatness of their previous suit I chose the winner – or more appropriately the loser. Blue with what looks like a red, white and yellow attack by an out of control marker pen!
Winner:France

Best vocal performance:
There weren’t many to choose from this season! Maybe Gabi was too busy winning the Overall Title to do any singing. However we did get some nice seasonal songs at Christmas from someone that I didn’t even know could sing.
Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ_x4JT2W-Y
Winner:Clare Egan

Rising star:
This young lady is, at 19-years-old, an up and coming talent in the French Team and that is a pretty difficult thing to do as they have a lot of very good biathletes. Her previous best result on the World Cup was 14th place and this season she improved that to 4th. She won a silver medal with the Women’s Relay Team at the World Championships and has achieved 8 Top 20 finishes on the World Cup. She is an excellent shot and I expect her to get her first World Cup podium next season.
Winner:Justine Braisaz

Best biathlete23:
A straight fight between two Frenchmen! Quentin Fillon Maillet and Martin Fourcade. QFM was the first biathlete in bib23 this season and provided a photo of the bib which I stole for my profile picture! He was also 4th which was the best result until the World Championships where Fourcade won gold in bib23 in the Individual. A difficult choice but – I love gold!!!
Winner: Martin Fourcade

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
Another impossible task to choose a winner. Martin Fourcade’s Individual at the World Championships, Johannes Boe’s Mass Start gold medal, Ole Einar and Marie Dorin Habert in Oslo are just a few. We also had great races in the Mass Starts from Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Dominik Windisch and especially Erik Lesser in Ruhpolding. The award is going to a woman who didn’t have a great season but when under maximum pressure she delivered. At her home World Championships in front of the King she shot 10/10 and won the gold medal in the Sprint. She is brave and never gives up and is amazing at handling huge pressure.
Winner:Tiril Eckhoff

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
This award should go to Martin Fourcade. He won the Overall Title for the 5th time in a row and 4 gold medals at the World Championships. But then you have 42-year-old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who won a race on the World Cup and 4 World Championship medals. The award is not going to either of them though. It’s going to a woman who worked hard all season, was very consistent and raced in a more competitive field. She won the Overall Title for the first time for herself and her country and also took 3 of the 4 small globes. Most importantly she did it all with a smile on her face!
Winner:Gabriela Soukalova

IPC biathlete of the Year:
The Russian’s won every single category on the World Cup in biathlon this season so it’s no surprise that the award goes to a Russian. The men’s standing category is very competitive just now and the winner was pushed all the way by a rapidly improving Benjamin Daviet of France and only won the title in the final race of the season in Vuokatti in Finland.
Winner:Vladislav Lekomtsev

Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year:
Yet another tough decision. At World Juniors Felix Leitner and Hannah Oberg both took double gold. Viktar Kryuko did the same in the European Juniors. In the Youth category Harald Oeygard won 2 gold and 1 bronze medal. Igor Malinovskii and Viacheslav Maleev won a gold medal and 2 silvers each. Karoline Erdal won medals as did Emilie Kalkenberg, Alina Pantova and Marina Sauter. However I have to give this award to someone who won bronze, silver and gold at the World Junior Championships taking his total up to an historic 10 Youth/Junior titles. He has also been competing and doing very well on the World Cup all season with a top finish of 13th in his home World Cup in Presque Isle.
Winner:Sean Doherty

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Biathlete23: Season Review 2015/16

biathlete23GOLD

For anyone unfamiliar with Biathlete23 this blog follows the results of whichever biathlete happens to be in bib23 for each race. It treats them like one athlete and adds up the score to see how this biathlete would have performed over the year.

In the first year the total for the men and the women was 802 and last year the total was 948. Excellent a bit of progress! Not this season however. Biathlete23 in 2015/16 had a bit of a “Tiril Eckhoff” season. Full of early promise, mostly disappointment but ending in surprising success!

That’s right Biathlete23 got off to a promising start in Oestersund with Quentin Fillon Maillet wearing 23 in the first race. He also shared a photo of his bib and rifle as he was so excited to be number 23! 😉 He was 4th and the other biathletes also did well meaning we left Sweden with 149 points.

In Hochfilzen Anton Shipulin also got 4th and 2 of the 3 others scored points to make a decent total of 85. Pokljuka wasn’t a great success with 48 points and a top result of 18th from Julian Eberhard.

World Cup 4 in Ruhpolding was better with Susan Dunklee getting a 6th place finish with the others making up 95 points. The second round in Ruhpolding yielded 70 points with another top finish of 6th this time from Evgeniy Garanichev. Antholz was a good round with Anais Bescond in 4th and a points total of 83.

Canmore wasn’t great for bib23 with only 51 points and a best finish of 22nd from Karin Oberhofer. In Presque Isle there was just one more point with 52 and a finish of 15th for Andi Birnbacher.

So biathlete23 went into the World Championships in Oslo with confidence pretty low and in the first 5 races only scored points in one race with Anton Babikov taking 21st place. This led to some pretty desperate action from the coach who decided to change the Twitter hashtag from #biathlete23 to #biathletevingttrois hoping to steal a little of the French success.

It was of course a masterstroke! The coach is a genius! Who got bib23 in the Men’s Individual –Martin Fourcade! I knew there was a very good chance of a medal and Fourcade didn’t let me down! Even though he missed one target he skied his heart out to make sure that biathlete23 would claim their first ever medal at a major Championships and that medal was GOLD!!! Let’s just say there was a lot of celebrating in the biathlete23 camp that evening! 😉

With that success and a few more good results afterwards the points total from Oslo was 113. So it was on to the final World Cup Round in Khanty Mansiysk . Unfortunately things went back to normal there and there was only 1 points scorer from the 4 races which was Alexey Slepov in 27th place!

So in the end the total points score was 760. The Men scored 436 points which would have put them in 18th place in the Total Score between Lowell Bailey and Michal Slesingr. The Women’s points total was 324 making them 25th in the Total Score between Selina Gasparin and Maren Hammerschmidt.

Overall it’s not been a great World Cup season for biathlete23. It’s the tricky third season on the World Cup that all biathletes suffer from! 😉 Fortunately a gold medal can save anyone’s season! Biathlete23 will have a nice holiday and then a hard summer of training to come back better next season! Hopefully we can beat the points total and get some wins on the board. We also have a new unofficial ambassador (unpaid position) Quentin Fillon Maillet to work with Brendan Green! Merci for the photo QFM!!!

For the full results see the biathlete23 page on this blog.

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WC7: Canmore Review 2016!

can16

Biathlon has swum across the pond this season to take the World Cup across to North America! The first stop is in Canada and we found ourselves in beautiful Canmore. With stunning views and plenty of snow we got to experience biathlon in a winter wonderland.

The first race to take place here was the Men’s Sprint on Thursday. It was won by Martin Fourcade who shot clean to win the race by a comfortable 15.7 seconds. Anton Shipulin came second also shooting clean and Simon Schempp was third with 10/10 too. In fact there were a lot of zero scores on a great day for doing biathlon. Fourth place went to Austria’s Julian Eberhard who missed 2 shots but is skiing amazingly fast. He finished 45 seconds behind Fourcade but if he ever hits all the targets he will be able to beat him. The Austrian Men’s team are in great form at the moment with Simon Eder and Dominik Landertinger in fifth and sixth. Macx Davies was top Canadian in his home race with clean shooting in 25th place.

The Women’s race on Friday threw up a few surprises in part due to the windy conditions. Olena Pidhrushna won for only the second time in her long career. She shot clean and finished 7.5 seconds ahead of Poland’s Krystyna Guzik. Maybe everyone should retire and then make a comeback! It has certainly done Pidhrushna good. It was also Guzik’s second time finishing in second place which is her top finish so far. In third was Dorothea Wierer with yet another podium. The biggest surprise though came in the form of Latvia’s Baiba Bendika who shot clean and finished in 5th place which is a huge personal best for her. Her previous best was 41st so these are also her first ever World Cup points. Germany’s Karolin Horchler also got a personal best in 9th as did France’s Celia Aymonier in 13th.

Saturday began with the Men’s Mass Start and if you thought it was windy on Friday, Saturday was worse! The start of the race had to be delayed due to the strength of the wind. There was a happy ending through the gale though as Italy’s Dominik Windisch won his first ever race on the World Cup. He missed 4 shots but managed to out ski his competitors on the final loop to taste victory for the first time. Second place went to Benedikt Doll who also missed 4 shots and in third was Quentin Fillon Maillet.

The ladies race was slightly calmer although not for Italian fans as they were very excited to see an Italian double as Dorothea Wierer claimed victory! She missed one shot and finished ahead of her rivals for the overall title. Marie Dorin Habert was second and Gabriela Soukalova third. Gabi has certainly enjoyed her time in Canmore as she had time to cross the line backwards to entertain the fans!

The weather was kinder on Sunday for the Relays. We began with Single Mixed Relay and France put out their World Team Challenge winners Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin Habert. They won by a comfortable margin of 45 seconds and led the race from start to finish. In fact it would have been more surprising if they hadn’t won. Austria also put out a strong team of Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder their best shooters and it paid off as they finished second. Completing the podium in third were the Norwegian duo of Hilde Fenne and Lars Helge Birkeland proving that you don’t need the A team!!

The final race in Canada was the Mixed Relay and similar to the Single Mixed Relay it was dominated by one team. This time it was the German team of Hildebrand, Preuss, Peiffer and Schempp. They only required 4 spare rounds and won by over a minute. Second place was taken by the Italians who have had a remarkable round in Canmore. Wierer, Oberhofer, Hofer and Windisch even survived a penalty loop to finish ahead of third placed Norway. Olsbu, Solemdal, Os and Bogetveit just beat the American team by 2 seconds. It was a great performance from the US Team who head to their home race next week. Home team Canada also had a great race ending their home World Cup round in sixth place.

It has been a good few days in Canmore with great organisation and facilities. There have also been good supportive crowds and all that was missing really was a home podium. The weather was difficult with the unpredictable wind which biathletes hate but we spectators love and it threw up some different results and winners. We leave Canmore with Martin Fourcade and Gabriela Soukalova still in the yellow bibs and now we move across the border to the USA to Presque Isle in Maine and I am sure they will do a great job just like Canmore did. When are we coming back?!!! 🙂

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