Tag Archives: Robert Sircus

Raubichi: Give Youth a Chance!

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For this year’s Youth/Junior World Championships all eyes will be turning to Belarus. The home of Darya Domracheva will be hosting this year’s Championships in Raubichi, a purpose built winter sports complex just 20km North East of Minsk. The Junior WC was first held in 1997 in Forni Avoltri Italy followed by the Youth WC in 2002 in Ridnaun also in Italy. You might recognise some of the former winners. If you are good enough to get a medal here you are joining some illustrious company.

Medalists from the YJWC’s include Andrea Henkel, Olga Vilhukina, Darya Domracheva, Magdalena Neuner and Dorothea Wierer. Some former male champions include Simon Fourcade, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Anton Shipulin, Lukas Hofer, Simon Eder and Jean Guillaume Beatrix to name but a few! This year’s races start with the Youth Men and Women’s Individual on the 18th of February and end on the 24th with the Men’s and Women’s Junior Relays.

The Youth section of the championships is open to athletes who are under 18. To qualify as a Junior you must be between the ages of 19 and 21 by the 31st of December which is the cut-off date for the age ranges. Each country has their own selection criteria by which they select the eligible athletes. Last year’s competition took place in Presque Isle, USA and showcased some great young talent that is coming through in biathlon.

The two biathletes who stood out in the Youth category were American Sean Doherty and Italian Lisa Vittozzi. Curiously they both achieved exactly the same results with both winning gold in the Sprint and Pursuit and silver in the Individual. Other impressive performers were Julia Schwaiger of Austria who won the Individual and Germany’s Anna Weidel who was second in the Sprint and Pursuit behind Vittozzi. France sent a strong team and reaped the rewards with two individual medals, one each for Julia Simon (bronze in the Sprint) and Estelle Mougel (bronze in the Pursuit) and team gold in the Youth Relay. Stand outs among the young men were Germany’s Marco Gross and Russia’s Dmitrii Shamaev who were 2nd and 3rd respectively in both the Sprint and Pursuit. Another young Russian, Yaroslav Kostyukov, won the Individual and Russia also won the relay ahead of Canada and Finland.

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There were equally good performances from people just outside the medals who will be pushing to get on the podium this time around. America’s Maddie Phaneuf, Estonia’s Tuuli Tomingas and Russian pair Liliya Davletshina and Maria Ivanova will all be hoping to medal in the Women’s competition although some will be making the move to Junior level. The young Canadian guys will be looking for some individual medals to add to a very impressive Relay silver as will the young Finns who were third.

Last year’s Junior competitions were a little more evenly spread in terms of medalists. On the Womens side a Russian, Evgeniya Pavlova, won the Sprint, a Kazakh Galina Vishnevskaya won the Pursuit and Luise Kummer a German won the Individual. Austria and Canada also had success with Lisa Hauser and Sarah Beaudry. As for the junior men Russia’s Alexander Povarnitsyn won Sprint gold and Pursuit silver. The French team won gold with Fabien Claude in the Pursuit and silver and bronze in the Individual from Aristide Begue and Dany Chavoutier. Norway also turned up at this point with Tore Leren taking Individual gold and Sprint silver with Jarle Midthjell Gjoerven adding Pursuit bronze. The Junior Relays were dominated by the German Team who won both the men’s and women’s races.

Some of these biathletes will be competing again in Raubichi and some are now too old and will be hoping to move to the IBU Cup and hopefully the World Cup for their respective countries. One thing is for sure there is a lot of good young talent in biathlon at the moment and there will surely be new names that come to the fore in Raubichi especially in the Youth Category.

What is important to remember though is that it’s not all about medals and success. For the majority of the biathletes that take part it is great experience for them and hopefully a stepping stone to greater things. You don’t have to win at this level to be a great biathlete just ask Martin Fourcade. For many of the youngsters taking part it is not only a challenge to be selected but just to be able to get to the venue. Many are partly funded or not funded at all and have to raise their own money just to pay for flights, accomodation and food. They all deserve your support and so keep an eye out for all the results not just the TOP 3. So if you don’t normally pay much attention to the Youth and Junior biathletes now is your chance. You never know you could be watching future World and Olympic champions in the making. What are you waiting for – Give Youth a Chance!

I have to say a huge thank you and good luck to Maddie Phaneuf, Robert Sircus, Martin Femsteinivik, Brian Halligan and Mateusz Janik who were all kind enough to do interviews for me in the build up to these Championships! I know you will all do your best and I will be behind you all the way! Tom Lahaye-Goffart and Jarl Hengstmengel won’t make it but better luck for next time!

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Robert Sircus: The Interview!

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Next under the Biathlon23 microscope is Great Britain’s Robert Sircus. The 19 year old has already competed in 1 World Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle. Here he answers questions about what is like being a young biathlete.

You can follow Robert on Twitter: @robarvidsircus
You can also find him on Facebook: Robert Sircus Biathlete!

As a British athlete you have chosen a really tough sport to compete in. Why did you want to become a biathlete instead of another type of sportsman like a football or tennis player?

I started biathlon when I was ten because I thought rollerskiing looked like fun. Since then I have come to enjoy competing and pushing myself to be a better athlete. I chose biathlon over other sports because I love the sheer variety of the training – if I did most of my training as rollerskiing or running or cycling I would get bored of the sport but because we do so much that is different it keeps it interesting.

How do you balance training and competing with your education and social life? Are there things you would like to do but can’t because of training?

It is tough balancing training with studies but the staff at Edinburgh University are really understanding and do what they can to aid me. As a member of the University’s performance sport programme I am also able to train alongside other athletes in similar positions. Finding time for socialising is a bit harder but I always try to spend as much time as possible with friends.

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me might involve getting up early for a morning training session and going straight from there to morning lectures. I might get a short break in the afternoon but then it’s back to studies followed by a quick meal and a longer training session. I might then get some time to relax in the evening provided I do not have too much homework.

Do you receive any funding? If not how do you pay for equipment, travel etc?

I do not get much funding since biathlon is such a small sport in the UK. I get a bit from some sports charities and some help from a few local companies. I also get some equipment from Fischer and Team Out-There as well as free contact lenses from my local opticians but everything else has to be paid for by myself.

Will you be competing in Raubichi in the World Youth/Junior Championships? What is the selection criteria for your country?

I am going to Junior World’s this year. I was selected -along with Sam Cairns and Scott Dixon following the two World/IBU Cup selection races in Beitostolen in November. The fourth man will be selected after some more races in January.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a biathlete?

The best thing about being a biathlete is having the opportunity to travel to places I would otherwise never get to visit and meeting other athletes from other nations. There are really no negatives as far as I am concerned although it is a shame when I don’t get to go out with friends.

What would you like to change about biathlon? (the rules, equipment, schedule etc).

I would like to see a proper sprint event brought into biathlon like they have in cross-country since at the moment there isn’t really any event for shorter distance athletes and I think it could be exciting to watch.

Who is your role model? (in biathlon or in general)

Dave Smith who is a Paralympic athlete from my home-town is easily the most inspirational person I have ever met and he has had a massive impact on my approach to training and competition over the past few years. My coach Mike Dixon who has coached me since I first started biathlon has been a great role model for me over the years and is still my first port of call for advice or support.

To learn more about Dave Smith see his website: http://www.davidasmith.co.uk/

You have spent some time training in Norway with the Norwegians. What was that like and how has it made you a better biathlete?

My year in Norway was an incredible experience both culturally and in training. The biggest factors were having other biathletes surrounding me who pushed me every day, making me a much better athlete than I was before I started my time there, and having regular competition throughout the Winter for the first time in my life so now I am much more settled when I line up to start a race.

Does your rifle have a name?

I have often considered naming my rifle to make it more personal but I have never come up with any good names. I am open to any suggestions.

Quick Fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: I loved Voss but Ruhpolding is also very special to me since it is where I did my first ever biathlon race.
Favourite biathlete (past or present): I don’t really have a favourite although, like I said before, Mike Dixon has always been a big inspiration for me.
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): I love the pursuit because I think it is the most exciting race as an an athlete.
Favourite/best race of your career so far? The one that gave me the best feeling was the sprint at the 2013 Norwegian Summer Championships where I finished in 7th place which surprised all of the Norwegian athletes who didn’t believe Brit’s could ski. However that has since been surpassed. The race which gave me the best feeling was the mass start at the British Trials this year. The shooting wasn’t my best ever but I have never felt stronger on the skis and the satisfaction of knowing I had done enough to qualify for the IBU cup team was fantastic.

Favourite singer/band: It varies from day to day but I really like groups like Imagine Dragons and The Script
Favourite film: The Departed
Favourite sports team: Liverpool FC and Glasgow Warriors RFC
Favourite TV show: Game of Thrones

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Flying Sircus!

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No it’s not a preview of Monty Python’s summer reunion! It is in fact my rather catchy title for this article about Great Britain’s Robert Sircus. Robert was born on the 1st of December 1995 and will soon be competing for Great Britain in the upcoming Youth/Junior World Biathlon Championships. He will be competing in the Youth Men category in Presque Isle in Maine, U.S.A. This will be his first appearance at this level.

Born in Yeovil, he moved up to Scotland and started training at the Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic ski club and attended Kingussie High School. A familiar route for a lot of the young civilian British biathletes. The Cairngorms is one of the best places in the U.K to train and compete in biathlon under the careful eye of the legend that is Mr. Mike Dixon. He has also recently become a member of Team Out There Biathlon and Nordic which gives support to athletes from countries who stuggle with funding. Other members of the team include Victoria Padial (Spain), Leandro Lutz (Brazil) and Sarah Murphy (New Zealand).

Like the cross country skier Andrew Musgrave and biathletes like Selina Gasparin he has been lucky enough to be able to go to Norway to train and compete and benefit hugely from the coaching and facilities there. He moved to Sirdal last August to train alongside junior Norwegian biathletes under the guidance of National coach, Roger Grubben. Just two months later he took part in the Norwegian Summer Biathlon Championships, becoming the first British youth biathlete ever to compete in that event. It saw him competing against Norwegian biathletes (and we all know how good they are) from the elite biathlon schools like Geilo, Lillehammer and his own in Sirdal. In the first event, the 7.5km Sprint, he managed to finish in seventh place and then came eleventh in the following day’s Pursuit. Remarkable results considering the level of competition.

It showed a marked improvement from his results in the European Youth Olympic Winter festival in 2013 where he finished 74th in the Individual and 72nd in the Sprint. He said of that experience “I think I still expect too much of myself, I think I need to stop doing that before I can improve. I need to relax more and enjoy the competition and the experience more.” For one so young he sounds like a pretty intelligent guy but he has to be careful not to lose his competitiveness.You need to learn from such performances and do everything possible to improve from them. Robert has proven that he has the ski speed to compete but he needs to improve his shooting on the range. Missed targets have cost him some top finishes in various races but it’s generally easier to improve your shooting than skiing so he’s got it the right way round.

So on to Presque Isle where he will be joined in the Youth events by Lachlan Cowie and Scott Dixon will also be there competing with the Juniors. Accompanied by coach Carl Carrier, it is a great chance for Robert to measure his performances against the best young biathletes in the world and see how he measures up. To be honest British biathlon could use a boost after all the funding issues. That is another discussion however and he just needs to concentrate on his own races. Good luck to all three of the guys going off to represent Great Britain in America and be sure to keep an eye out for the Flying Sircus!

Robert has his own Twitter and Facebook pages where you can follow him.
You can also read his blog entries on the British Biathlon blog:

http://britishbiathlon.blogspot.co.uk/


Team Out There and Nordic are also on Facebook and Twitter. Their website is:

http://outthereshop.com

For more info on The Cairngorms Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club see their website:
http://www.cbnsc.co.uk/

The Youth/Junior World Championships take place in Presque Isle USA from the 27th of February to the 7th of March.

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