Tag Archives: Regina Oja

Maddie Phaneuf: The Return!

Photo courtesy of Maddie Phaneuf.

This season I am revisiting some of the biathletes I have interviewed in the past to see what has changed for them. The first ever interview on this blog was with US biathlete Maddie Phaneuf so she was the obvious choice to start with!!! 🙂

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Check out her website: https://www.maddiephaneuf.com/

We last spoke nearly 5 years ago!! What has changed for you since then?

So much has changed! I think I may have still been living in Maine the last time we spoke, or had just recently moved to Lake Placid. Either way, since then I’ve mostly been training full time for biathlon, I took a mini break this past season (from August – March) and lived in Boulder, Colorado during that time and didn’t focus on training. Then this March I moved back to New York State and have been training again full time for biathlon. I’m back in Lake Placid, living on my own and training with the local ski club, NYSEF.

You have recently opened up about having PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) caused by the Olympics. What happened and why did you decide to about it publicly?

Basically I got really sick during the Olympics right when I was told I would finally be racing. I was beating myself up about it for months following the Olympics, and chose to go to therapy to get better. I decided to speak up about it because I know a lot of fellow athletes struggle with mental health issues, but not a lot of people actually talk about it publicly. I hope that speaking out gives others the courage to seek help.

How have you been dealing with it?

Mostly therapy. Also realizing what I need in my everyday life to keep a good balance between sport and life. For me that looks like having my own space (a house) where there’s no sign of professional sport, and I can mentally check out from training. I also have a lot of friends who aren’t teammates. Overall, just having a good balance between training and everyday life.

What advice would you give to other athletes who might have similar issues?

The biggest advice would be: You’re not weak if you ask for help. Honestly, I should’ve been going to therapy since high school, it just took me until my absolute breaking point to finally seek help. Also, know that it’s not your fault if you feel depressed/anxiety/any other mental health issue – mental health is an illness.

The US women’s team was fantastic last season. Does that inspire you to get back out training and racing to be part of it?

DEFINITELY!! I watched every race this winter when I was away from the sport, and I missed racing so much. Watching them crush it at World Championships, and leading the Women’s Relay for 3/4 of the race was so inspiring. I was so happy and proud of my teammates this season, and I’m very excited to be back on the training grind and can’t wait to race alongside them in the coming seasons.

What are your plans for summer training?

So I’m back in Lake Placid, NY training full-time with NYSEF. I’ve been training since the last week of April, and have been having a lot of fun and have been feeling great so far! I’ll be doing a lot of rollerskiing, shooting, trail running, strength training, mountain biking, and everything in between! I’ll be traveling down to North Carolina for a week in August to spend time with my family for vacation, which I’m very excited about because there are beautiful beaches down there! But yeah, nothing too crazy for me this summer, just training in New York.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think strengths would be shooting well under pressure, fast shooting speed, and being able to move past bad races. My weaknesses are usually slower ski speed, balance, and wanting to go mountain biking or rock climbing during my rest days!

What are your goals for this season?

To have fun and be happy. Also to race internationally on the IBU Cup and World Cup. I’d love to see myself racing at World Championships this winter, but I have no expectations for my first season back since taking last winter off 😉

Is Canmore still your favourite track and Franziska Hildebrand your favourite biathlete?

I still love Canmore, but I think Antholz may be my current favorite. My favorite biathlete to watch race is Hanna Oberg because she’s so strong on the range.

Does your rifle have a name yet?

Haha not yet! I need suggestions…

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Canada
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova’s unicorn rifle!!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway’s always looks classy
Favourite shooting range: Martell, ITA
Lucky bib number: I don’t have one!
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Regina Oja – she gave me her clothes when my luggage didn’t arrive in Estonia!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Traveling the world and meeting new people from other countries.

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Soldier Hollow 2019: The Relays!

The final day’s racing in America was relay day! Really? Yes, relay! (try not to groan too much!)

It was the first time in the World Cup that the men raced the first legs and the women the second which is awesome! It made for great relays too so it’s a change that should stay with alternate starts M-W and W-M.

The single mixed relay was first. There were some strong teams in this one and it was the strongest who won. Lukas Hofer and Dorothea Wierer took gold for Italy with some great shooting with only 6 spares needed.

The first leg was tight with no one breaking away for the men. The second leg saw Wierer take the lead ahead of Julia Simon and Regina Oja.

The men’s leg was close once again with Lukas Hofer, Simon Eder and Rene Zakhna all together. Hofer needed a spare while the other two shot clean but at the exchange it was Eder ahead by a few seconds from Italy and Estonia.

The final leg came down to Wierer and Hauser who are both excellent shots. Hauser cleaned all 10 and Wierer needed a spare but her superior ski speed and super fast standing shoot meant she could give Italy the victory. Austria were second using just 2 spares (amazing!) and France were third despite a penalty loop from Antonin Guigonnat.

Germany were 4th, Norway 5th and Ukraine 6th.

The mixed relay was a battle between Norway, France and Germany the whole way. The men started first and Germany took an early lead with Erik Lesser shooting clean along with Quentin Fillon Maillet. Vetle Christiansen needed 2 spares for Norway. Luckily he had Johannes Boe on the second leg who made up all the time and shot clean to turn the race in Norway’s favour.

Simon Desthieux used 2 spares to keep France in touch and Bendikt Doll needed 3. Boe handed a good lead over to Tiril Eckhoff who managed to lose it all at her first shoot using all three spares letting a clean shooting Celia Aymonier catch her. The stand was even worse for Eckhoff who went on the penalty loop. Aymonier used 2 spares but Franziska Hildebrand shot clean to make up time for Germany.

The final leg saw Anais Chevalier shoot perfectly and ski home for a French victory. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland did all she could to catch up but after skiing too hard she also had a penalty loop to complete. Vanessa Hinz who was a late replacement held her nerve using only 2 spares to take second for Germany leaving Norway in third.

Switzerland were 4th, Sweden 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.

That concludes the North American World Cups. The next competition is the European Championships in Minsk which start on the 20th of February and then there is the small matter of the World Championships in Oestersund on the 7th of March!!!

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Canmore 2019: The Relays!

Freezing cold and windy, Simon Fourcade looking like a ninja, Evgeniy Garanichev looking like he was on his summer holidays and Michael Rosch flying all the way to Canada to race and getting lapped – the men’s relay ladies and gentlemen!!!

That’s right when everyone is taped literally everywhere (Susan Dunklee even did her toes!) and wrapped up as much as possible, Tyumen resident Evgeniy Garanichev made no adjustments to his normal attire! He took the first leg for Russia and was leading until his standing shoot when ironically he froze!! It took him ages to hit all 5 targets needing all 3 spares and handing Antonin Guiggonat the lead ahead of Lars Hegle Birkeland.

It proved to be a fight between France and Norway until the end. Vetle Christiansen got the better of Emilien Jacquelin on leg two despite the Frenchman using 1 spare to the Norwegians 2. The third leg saw a fantastic race from biathlon ninja (black face tape!) Simon Fourcade using 1 spare to Erlend Bjoentegaard’s 3. However the Norwegian got the better of the French thanks to their faster skiing and gave Johannes Boe a nice lead to take into the final leg.

Of course he smashed it hitting 10/10 and cruised to victory by over a minute from Quentin Fillon Maillet. Russia held on for third with Eduard Latypov, Alexander Loginov and Alexander Povarnitsyn along with Garanichev using 9 spares.

Austria had the chance to go for a podium but on the final leg Julian Eberhard had a nightmare with 3 penalty loops letting Germany into 4th. Austria were 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.

Home team Canada were 10th but after the first two legs from the Gow brothers they were in 4th which is a good sign for the future.

The women’s relay was another good one. Italy as usual started well with Lisa Vittozzi on the first leg shooting clean and taking the lead. Emilie Kalkenberg had a tough leg for Norway with 2 penalty loops. Vanessa Hinz and Anais Chevalier did well as did Estonia’s Regina Oja.

Nicole Gontier had a great second leg for Italy only needing one spare and maintained the lead. Justine Braisaz and Franziska Hildebrand kept their teams in it with good legs too. Ingrid Tandrevold started Norway’s comeback with a great leg using only 1 spare.

On the third leg Dorothea Wierer had a lead over Anais Bescond and Denise Herrmann. However after using 2 spares on the stand she left the range with a 26 second lead which incredibly Herrmann made up and passed her to put Germany in the lead with Dahlmeier on the last leg. Tiril Eckhoff put Norway back into contention with just 1 spare needed from her.

At the first prone Dahlmeier need 2 spares but left the range before Sanfilippo got her first shot away. Julia Simon had problems using all 3 spares. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland had no issues hitting all 5 and moving into third behind Italy.

The wind had a massive influence on the final stand. Dahlmeier went on the penalty loop but still came out in the lead after the others also had issues having to shoot carefully. Sanfilippo also went on the penalty loop. Julia Simon came out best moving from second to fourth and Roeiseland stayed in third.

Dahlmeier skied home for first place but unfortunately for Simon she couldn’t hold off Roeiseland who overtook her to give Norway second with France getting third.

Italy were 4th, Switzerland were 5th and Austria were 6th.


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Canmore 2019: The Individuals!

So it’s a bit cold in Canada. There is a polar vortex so it’s around -20 to -30 degrees, basically what the people from Siberia call summer temperatures! 😉 Anyway such cold meant some changes to the schedule for the athletes health and also for the fans who have to watch in freezing temperatures!

The Individuals were shortened as per the new rule that was brought in this summer (good timing there, eh!). Excitingly named the Short Individual, for the men it was 15km and the women 12.5km to reduce the race time and therefore the exposure to the cold. There was a 45 second penalty for a miss instead of the usual minute.

None of which had a bearing on the winner of the men’s race! Of course Johannes Bow won again but this time he blew the entire field away! He won the race shooting clean by 2 minutes and 10 seconds which is almost unheard of in an individual! He was outstanding.

Norway got second place too with Vetle Christiansen. He missed 2 shots but was still able to get his career best result. Alexander Loginov was third also with 2 misses.

Norway were also in 4th with Lars Birkeland equalling his personal best with 1 miss. Dominik Windisch was 5th and Simon Eder 6th both missing 2.

There were plenty of PB’s elsewhere in the field with Peppe Femling shooting 20/20 in 9th proving that stabbing yourself in the leg with your ski pole isn’t all bad! 😉 Home favourite Christian Gow got his top finish in 10th, Tomas Krupcik in 12th, Eduard Latypov in 15th, Taras Lesiuk in 32nd, Sergey Korostylev in 42nd and Xingyuan Yan in 44th.

In the women’s race there was a titanic battle for first place. Lisa Vittozzi and Marketa Davidova continued their excellent recent form both hitting 20/20. However it was not enough to win the race for either of them as Tiril Eckhoff was amazing making up 20 seconds on the final loop after missing 1 shot to win her first race of the season.

Davidova finished second skiing faster than Vittozzi in third. 4th place went to Franziska Hildebrand with 20/20, Ingrid Tandrevold was 5th with 1 miss and Vanessa Hinz was 6th with 1 miss in bib23!!!

There were also personal bests for Julia Schwaiger in 10th with 20/20, Emilie Kalkenberg in 21st, Regina Oja in 23rd, Thelka Brun-Lie in 37th and Leisan Biktasheva in 40th.

The cold weather did provide some excellent glove action with Sergey Semenov and Dorothea Wierer in particular rocking the mittens! Not to forget the face tape in a variety of “bright” colours!!! 😉

The relays are now going to be on Friday after the changes because of the cold conditions.

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Regina Oja: The Interview!

Regina Oja is an Estonian biathlete. She was born in Tallinn on the 31st of January 1996. She made her biathlon debut in 2013 and raced on the World Cup for the first time in 2016. Last season she spent most of her time competing on the World Cup and raced at the Open European Championships in Ridnaun where she finished 4th in the Single Mixed Relay. She can also be found racing the first leg for the Estonian Women’s Relay team.

Like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/reginabiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started with many activities such as dancing, gymnastics and swimming and afterwards skiing. For a long time I did swimming and skiing at the same time but in the end it was skiing I chose, I had really good friends and training partners and that’s what became decisive. When I got older my father took me to shoot and showed me how everything works. It was really interesting for me and it didn’t take long until I raced my first biathlon race. It was during summer and in running. The first day I shot really well and got 1st place. The second day in one range I shot 5 penalties but ran 4 penalty laps, so I got +2mins and ended up somewhere at the back of the list. However it was really interesting for me, I started to wonder if I could get my own rifle so my father said, that if I wanted my own rifle I had to start doing biathlon more often. So that’s when I started to race in biathlon races more often than cross-country and so it went. 🙂

Last season was your first major season on the World Cup. How do you assess your season?

I consider it okay. It wasn’t anything super good but I didn’t have high hopes either. I wished to race all season long and that’s what I accomplished. Of course I wanted to race well in every race, the beginning was hard and many new races and disciplines, but after New Year I think it started to look better for me. I learned a lot and started to feel better again. It was a long season and definitely different than my other seasons have been, to begin and start the season on the World Cup was new for me but something I really wanted and worked for.

You were 4th in the Single Mixed Relay at the ECH in Ridnaun with Rene Zakhna. Were you happy with that race or disappointed to just miss a medal?

Yes, we were happy. I didn’t think so much about missing out on a medal because it was either way a surprise race for us. Of course we wanted to do well but I had already raced the whole of January and also 3 races in Ridnaun ( Individual, sprint and pursuit) before the Single Mixed so I really started to feel tired. I wanted to keep calm and not think about results. It was a good race and I’m happy we managed to achieve 4th place, of course a medal would have been something completely different but that would have meant better shooting and skiing from both of us. 🙂

In Kontiolahti you raced in the Single Mixed Relay and the Mixed Relay on the same day. How difficult is that physically and mentally?

At first I didn’t think it would be a big deal, I knew what I said “yes” to and I was prepared. The hardest part was lack of time between the two races and also in the warm up before the second race, my body was already relaxed and recovering from the first race and it was hard to do zeroing and warm up again in such a short time. It was just something I haven’t done before. It wasn’t that bad and I had time to prepare myself for that situation. I knew I had 2 races before the races and when I arrived at the stadium that’s what I went to do. It was just to keep a positive and open mind about the situation and everything. My team helped a lot and were very supportive.

What are your plans for summer training?

To raise the training hours and a little bit of a different training method than before. I have done a lot more running than earlier years and I will start roller skiing more from September. I have had a tendency for some things to come up in autumn so this is what we’re now trying to anticipate and start with some training a little bit later than usual.

What are your goals for this season?

Of course to do better than last year. I have now seen and felt my weak spots and how things worked last year so I can be more aware now. I want to stay healthy and get in shape when it’s most needed.

It seems you like the colour pink. Any plans for a pink rifle for next season? Or maybe a pink harness? Or pink gloves? 😉

Pink is not my favourite colour, it has just happened that I have many things in pink. I don’t want a pink rifle, I think it’s too much. I have a pink harness and magazines, these details I’m okay with pink. I like colour and would rather choose something colourful instead of black. Often things are either in black, pink or something like yellow, green or blue. Then I choose pink, but not because it’s my favourite color but because it’s the prettiest of the choices I have. 🙂

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

I really liked to race in Ruhpolding and in Kontiolahti last year. I don’t know if these are my favourite, I still have many places to discover but these are what I remember the most from last season. 🙂

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

Magdalena Neuner, always has and always will be. She was so natural and pure wow. I like everything about her.

Does your rifle have a name?

Usually I say rifle when I talk about it but it’s also called Tessa. I don’t call it that way though, it’s just there.

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling, honest and strong.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy
Favourite shooting range: in Solleftea, Sweden
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Lena Häcki
Best thing about being a biathlete: The Biathlon Family

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Tyumen 2018: The Sprints!

It’s the final weekend of the World Cup already! How did that happen?

We are in Tyumen. Well some people are and some people are not. As Russia is not yet compliant with anti-doping rules some biathletes have chosen to boycott the final World Cup round. Also all the samples from the biathletes taken here will be sent back to Germany for testing. Wouldn’t like to be sitting next to the person on the plane who has all the urine samples in their hand luggage!!

Anyway back to the racing. The final Sprints took place on Thursday and Friday. The men raced first and in a massive shock Martin Fourcade won the race! I mean when does that happen? Oh yes every weekend that’s right! The man is phenomenal!

He shot clean and skied fast to take the victory by 33 seconds. Second place was a bit of a surprise though with Simon Desthieux getting his first ever podium finish. He also shot clean and finished just 0.3 of a second ahead of Freddie Lindstrom who was third.

The shooting conditions were ideal with the top seven finishers hitting 10/10. Someone who didn’t however was Johannes Boe. He managed to miss 2 on the prone to throw away his chances of winning the sprint crystal globe!

Andrejs Rastorgujevs was 4th, Erik Lesser 5th and Maxim Tsvetkov and Quentin Fillon Maillet tied for 6th place.

Martin Fourcade won the Sprint title by just 2 points in the end from Johannes Boe. He also secured the Overall Title for the seventh year in a row. I have decided that he is quite good at biathlon! 😉

The Women raced on Friday and it was a really close run thing which doesn’t happen that often in the Sprints. Darya Domracheva won this one hitting 10/10 to beat Kaisa Makarainen by just 1.2 seconds. Kaisa also hit the perfect 10. Third place went to Tiril Eckhoff who missed 1 target in the prone.

Anais Bescond was 4th, Lisa Vittozzi 5th and Laura Dahlmeier was 6th.

Anastasiya Kuzmina was 12th with 3 misses but it was enough to give her the Sprint title and the small crystal globe. The fight for the Overall Title continues to the Pursuit.

There was also some personal bests today for Estonia’s Meril Beilmann and Regina Oja in 40th and 50th. Moldovia’s Anna Ghilenko was 60th meaning she qualified for her first ever Pursuit.

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Antholz 2018: The Sprints!

It was a beautiful day in Antholz on Thursday for the women’s Sprint with sunshine and no wind. With surprising weather comes surprising results and no one was more surprising than the winner!

Tiril Eckhoff, who has had a pretty average season so far, finally put everything together today and won the Sprint race. She started late in bib 71 but crucially she shot clean for the first time this season and with her ski speed she beat Laura Dahlmeier into second by 12 seconds.

We all know how good Tiril can be on her day, it’s just that those days don’t come often enough.

Dahlmeier also hit 10/10 as did Veronika Vitkova in third place. Vitkova has shown some fantastic form since Christmas and took her third podium of the season. Darya Domracheva missed 1 but is skiing well and finished 4th.

Anais Bescond hit the perfect 10 in 5th and Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht did the same to finish 6th.

There was also some personal bests in the race today from Julia Simon in 12th, Jessica Jislova in 15th, Laura Toivanen in 33rd, Kamila Zuk in 51st, Emily Dreissigacker in 59th, Regina Oja in 61st, Johanna Skottheim in 66th, and Fanqui Meng in 68th.

Some of the bigger names are missing this weekend for Olympic preparation like the Swedish and Polish women. That handed World Cup debuts to Felicia Lindqvist of Sweden who was 63rd and also Canada’s Nadia Moser who was 85th.

The top two fighting for the Overall Title, Kuzmina and Makarainen, were 18th and 26th respectively.

There were no surprises in the men’s Sprint. The race was between Johannes Boe and Martin Fourcade. A common theme for this season. We just have to wait to see who wins. This time it was Johannes. It was a little windier on Friday for the men and it showed in the early shooting.

Johannes missed 1 in the prone but skied like a maniac to win the race by 12.8 seconds. Fourcade hit the perfect 10 but was only second. After looking tired in Ruhpolding last week Johannes recovered well and put in a great skiing display. I mean who misses a shot and beats Fourcade when he has a clear shoot? Only Johannes!

Third place went to Arnd Peiffer. He also shot clean but just beat Anton Shipulin into 4th. Shipulin missed 1 but was only 4 seconds from the podium. Remember though that Anton loves Antholz!

Emilien Jacquelin was a fantastic 5th. He started in bib 94 but cleaned 10/10 and skied really well to take his personal best finish and some flowers! His amazing form this season probably means that a big French name is going to miss the Olympics!

Sixth place went to Lars Birkeland with 10/10 continuing his good form this season and justifying his place at the Olympics ahead of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Apart from Jacquelin there were a few more personal bests in the field. Volodymyr Siemakov was 12th, Andrzej Nedza- Kubiniec was 51st and Vladislav Vitenko was 52nd. There were also some World Cup debuts from Linas Banys of Lithuania in 103rd and Canada’s Aiden Millar in 107th.

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