Tag Archives: Rosanna Crawford

WC1: Oestersund 2015 Review!

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AT LAST! Winter is here and the withdrawal symptoms have gone – biathlon is back! As usual we kicked off the season in Oestersund, Sweden and this year we started with the Single Mixed Relay.

This time around it was poor Simon who suffered from the “Oestersund Curse of the Fourcades” when he failed to fire all his bullets and missed a penalty loop which cost the French team a victory. Simon and Marie Dorin Habert were winning by a margin but after a 3 minute time penalty they ended up 21st. This left the way clear for Norway to win with a team of Kaia Nicolaisen and Lars Birkeland. In second and taking their first ever relay podium was the Canadian pair of Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith and third were the German team of Maren Hammerschmidt and Daniel Boehm.

Next came the Mixed Relay which Norway controlled and won by a margin big enough for Tarjei Boe to pose in front of a car advert pleasing the sponsors immensely. Second came Germany and in third was the Czech Republic. It wasn’t the most exciting relay apart from the first takeover where Franziska Hildebrand, Vanessa Hinz and Ekaterina Yurlova managed to play skittles with each other and Jean Guillaume Beatrix and Freddie Lindstrom treated us to a sprint finish for 4th place.

On Wednesday the first individual race of the season got underway and coincidentally it was the Men’s Individual 20km! It was won by Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who had a great race shooting 20/20 to win his 95th race. He profited slightly from calmer conditions on the shooting range but that doesn’t take anything away from his victory. In second was Overall Title contender Simon Schempp and third was Alexey Volkov who also shot clear. Windy and snowy conditions made it a difficult day on the range with Martin Fourcade missing 5 shots to finish in 21st, Tarjei Boe missing 4 in 22nd and Anton Shipulin missing 3 to finish 16th. Svendsen came joint 4th with Quentin Fillon Maillet who was France’s top finisher in the race.

In contrast to Bjoerndalen the winner of the Women’s race collected her first ever win on the World Cup. Italy’s Dorothea Wierer shot clear to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time. Marie Dorin Habert put in a great skiing performance to come second and Olena Pidhrushna was third after coming out of retirement. Overall title hopefuls Tiril Eckhoff and Gabriela Soukalova finished 4th and 5th. Also in the Top 10 was Lisa Hauser getting her best finish of 8th on the World Cup.

On Saturday came the Sprints and they were held in windy conditions which meant shooting was very difficult. Fortunately for winner Martin Fourcade he can miss some targets and still win. This time everyone missed targets except one.In second was Arnd Peiffer and third was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen. The wind threw some new names into the TOP 20 with Macx Davies of Canada finishing 10th shooting 10/10. Raman Yaliotnau from Belarus was 15th and Jesper Nelin of Sweden was 16th.

In the Women’s race Gabriela Soukalova hit 10/10 to take the win denying Italy’s Federica Sanfilippo her first World Cup victory. Second is still an amazing result for her finishing ahead of a resurgent Olena Pidhrushna who was third for the second race in succession.

The Sprint result meant that Martin Fourcade would start the Pursuit 52 seconds before Peiffer and it would be very difficult to beat him, and so it proved as he won comfortably. Peiffer maintained his second place and Quentin Fillon Maillet finally got on the podium in third after two 4th place finishes.

You might have noticed I haven’t mentioned Kaisa Makarainen yet. She got off to an inauspicious start by her standards with a 24th and 10th place finish. She showed her class in the Pursuit though with a stunning final shoot and last lap to claim victory. Second was Dorothea Wierer and third was Franziska Hildebrand who couldn’t hold off Kaisa and her amazing skiing.

Others who did well in the Pursuits were Tarjei Boe who went from 29th to 4th, Dmitry Malyshko 34th to 7th, Evgeniy Garanichev 27th to 8th, Simon Fourcade 49th to 14th and Lars Birkeland 58th to 25th. For the women Marte Olsbu went from 26th to 7th, Eva Tofalvi from 60th to 19th, Megan Tandy from 46th to 25th and Nadezhda Skardino from 26th to 7th.

All in all it was a great start to the new season and we now head to Austria and Hochfilzen for round 2 with Martin Fourcade in the yellow bib for the men and Gabriela Soukalova for the women. It promises to be a great World Cup round!

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Aiming for the Top: Season Preview Women 2015/16

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After the news that last season’s champion Darya Domracheva has decided to take the season off to recover from mononucleosis we have been denied the chance to see her go head to head again with Kaisa Makarainen. Bad news for us but good news for Kaisa as she is the now the clear favourite to regain the Overall Title. It will be difficult for the other female biathletes to challenge her due to her superior ski speed but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be trying their best to beat her.

The main competition to Kaisa will come from the Ukraine, Germany, The Czech Republic, Italy, France and hopefully Norway. Last season’s third place biathlete in the Total Score was Valj Semerenko. It was her best season to date and it seems she did better without her twin sister Vita who might miss another season due to injury.

The biggest challenge to Kaisa could come from Germany and not just from 1 biathlete but possibly from 3. Franziska Hildebrand was 5th in the Total Score last season, Laura Dahlmeier was 8th and Franziska Preuss was 9th. They are all young, hungry biathletes and if they can produce their form from last season and put some more consistent points scoring races together they will be a real threat. Dahlmeier looks the most dangerous as she has shown she is capable of winning races but her inexperience may count against her.

Veronika Vitkova and Gabriela Soukalova were 4th and 6th respectively last season and both have the talent to improve their positions. If Soukalova has a better start to the season we could see her on the podium much more often and hopefully she has concentrated more on her summer training this year than her commercial deals. Vitkova will be looking for more wins and more podiums and could end up on the Overall podium at the end of the year although I’m not sure it will be on the top step.

Dorothea Wierer, 7th last season, and Karin Oberhofer,10th, constitute the danger from Italy. Both had fantastic seasons and with a few more good results they could both move up the rankings. They can challenge Makarainen in individual races but I am not sure if they can sustain it over an entire season.

Someone with possibly the best chance of stealing the crystal globe from the clutches of Makarainen is France’s Marie Dorin Habert. She finished 15th in the Total Score but didn’t compete in all the races after having her first child. However when she did turn up she was on the best form of her life. Strangely she won her first race just last season so it may be a bit premature to call her a title contender but she has what it takes to outscore Kaisa if she maintains last season’s form and can consistently be on and around the podium.

Another first time mum is making her way back into biathlon and Selina Gasparin will be hoping to copy the success of Habert. You may also note that the Russian biathletes are completely absent from the Top 10 with Ekaterina Glazyrina their best biathlete in 13th. I can’t really see any of the Russian women in the hunt for the crystal globe this season either.

Tiril Eckhoff is Norway’s big hope in the Total Score. She was 11th last year and she will be under pressure to perform this season. She has the talent to win races and be very competitive but seems to lack the consistency required to compete for the Overall Title. She may also be focussing her season on her home World Championships.

It will also be a big year for the North American ladies. They get to race at home this season with World Cups in Canmore and Presque Isle. The likes of Rosanna Crawford, Megan Tandy, Susan Dunklee and Hannah Dreissigacker will be desperate to do well in front of their home crowd.

Away from the Overall winner there is some young talent to keep an eye on. Ukraine’s Iryna Varvynets looks like a good prospect along with the French pair Enora Latuilliere and Justine Braisaz. Germany’s Luise Kummer and Austria’s Lisa Theresa Hauser were impressive last season and Elisa Gasparin will be looking to build on her good form as will Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi.

It’s hard to see past Makarainen for the Overall Title but it is biathlon and anything can happen. It should be an exciting season in the women’s races with lots of new young talent coming through who will be trying to get a podium or break into the Top 10 or Top 20. We can look forward to a lot of fantastic women Aiming for the Top!

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Nathan Smith: The Interview!

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Season 2014/15 was a historic one for Canada’s Nathan Smith. He became the first Canadian to win a World Championship medal when he took silver in the Sprint in Kontiolahti. He then went on to win his first race in the Pursuit in Khanty Mansiysk at the last round of the World Cup. Nathan was born in Calgary on the 25th of December 1985. This season he has the chance to race at a home World Cup in Canmore in February the town where he currently lives.

You can like Nathan’s Facebook Page: Nathan Smith Fanpage

Why did you want to become a biathlete?

I didn’t know anything about biathlon when I started. I already cross country skied with Foothills Nordic, and of course as a 10 year old boy, when I found out that there was a similar sport with guns…

Has last season sunk in yet? You won World Championship silver in Kontiolahti and your first World Cup race in Khanty! Does that put more pressure on you to win and get podiums or is it just more motivation to do better? And do you like places that start with “K”?

Yeah I’d say it took a while but after a good month of training I felt pretty settled by the beginning of June. No one has been putting pressure on me, but I would obviously like to continue the success with more podiums. I also understand that results at World Championships are vitally important for my team’s funding. I never thought of that before, but yes, I guess I have had quite a bit of luck in places starting with K.

As a native of Calgary there must have been a Stampede of media and journalists wanting a piece of your time after the World Champs! (see what I did there!) What is it like suddenly getting more attention than normal?

I did get a little more attention than normal, but to me honest it was pretty underwhelming. They are only interested for a day or two and then move onto the next story. Most sports journalists in Calgary unfortunately haven’t really gotten exposed much to biathlon and therefore don’t go out of their way to get a story.

Your win means some more funding for Canadian biathlon and gave you the chance to go to Norway for the Blink Festival. You must be really proud that your medal can also help your teammates but do you remind them of it occasionally and get them to make your breakfast etc? 😉

My team mates actually remind ME of it way more than necessary. Whenever I’m doing something well, or different, there are always teasing comments. Maybe I should start swinging my weight around more to get breakfast made. I’ll try that at the next camp.

What training have you done so far and what is the plan for the rest of the break?

So far I’ve done training camps in Jasper, Norway, and Vermont. Both the Jasper and Norway camps were new settings for me. Jasper was focused on volume, altitude, and exploring a new place close to home. Norway was awesome for training with athletes from other countries, and racing under high pressure in Blink Festival. We have our last camp of the year starting in about 3 weeks in Utah. I always enjoy training there on the long, empty roads and mountain passes.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.

Usually we race in the afternoon or evening so I don’t have to wake up too early. A leisurely sleep until maybe 830 or 9, then head down to breakfast which is usually buffet style. I always go for eggs and oatmeal, as well as bacon if it’s there. Before leaving to the race site I grab a quick light lunch, usually a little pasta but not too much meat.

I always try to fit in a short 10 minute dry fire session at the hotel where I can visualize the race with shooting. Its also important for me to go for a little 20 minute jog and stretching session to make sure my back won’t start hurting during the race later.

You won a biathlon23 Award for best improver last season! A great honour! What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season so you have a chance of winning the award again?

I think my biggest strength is shooting speed. I can pretty consistently be one of the fastest on a given day. I’ve been working really hard on my uphill climbing over the last couple years and its been paying off. A couple of my team mates are really strong at that so they push me.

You are lucky to be able to train in a great place like Canmore. How excited are you that there will be a World Cup round there this season? Does it give you an advantage knowing the tracks so well?

I’m really excited for it. It’s a huge opportunity to showcase our sport and race in front of all our family and friends. I don’t think knowing the tracks will be much of an advantage, but it will definitely be an advantage to sleep in my own bed, eat normal food, and have no travel.

Canada has some really great biathletes at the moment. What are your goals for the season personally and what do think the team can achieve in terms of relay performances?

Personally, I’m hoping for a couple more medals next year, with a special emphasis on World Championships and the Canmore races. Our team showed consistent results of 5-9th most of the season in relays, so I think with another year of experience we can regularly get into the prize ceremony. I’d also really like to team up with Rosanna and try a single-mixed relay. I think we could do pretty well.

I recently saw a photo of you standing next to a big pick up truck that had your name on it!! What’s that all about?

Yeah, I’ve been super lucky to be supported by Canmore Chrysler, who are lending me a Ram 1500. Its a lot bigger than my old car and I’m still getting used to parking it in tight spaces.

Is your nickname really Harry Potter? Personally I don’t think you look like him but maybe it’s because you are a wizard at biathlon? 😉

It’s true. That got started when I was probably 15 years old. Maybe I looked more like him back then. Its also been apparently abbreviated to Potts, which the wax techs label my skis with.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Deliberate, Relaxed, Patient

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track:Canmore or Kontiolahti
Favourite biathlete (past or present):Ole Einar Bjørndalen
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc):Mass Start
Favourite/best race of your career so far? World Champs silver
Favourite food: Wraps and Root Beer
Favourite sports team: Calgary Stampeders
Favourite TV show: Castle

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Rosanna Crawford: The Interview!

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Rosanna Crawford was born on the 23rd of May 1988 in Canmore. She is currently the top ranked female biathlete from Canada after finishing 21st in the Total Score on the World Cup last season. Her sister is Olympic gold medalist in cross country skiing Chandra Crawford. This year is a special one for the Canadian team as they have a home World Cup to look forward to in February and it’s extra special for Rosanna as in it’s her home town.

You can follow Rosanna on Twitter: @RosannaCrawford
She has a Facebook Page: Rosanna Crawford

Why did you want to become a biathlete? Is it so you didn’t have to compete against your sister in cross country? 🙂

I started cross country skiing at a young age and was able to try biathlon at the age of 10, I had lots of friends who were doing it, and really enjoyed the challenge. Chandra actually started in biathlon but she was not a very good shooter, she switched over to just cross country when she was 16!

You achieved your best result of 4th last season. Is your goal to get on the podium this season and how much would you love to do it in Canmore?

Definitely my goal is to be on the podium next year, to have that happen in Canmore would be pretty special!

You went to the Blink Festival for the first time and won the Super Sprint! How pleased were you with that and does it give you a lot of confidence turning up in the home of biathlon and showing them how it’s done?!!

It was a really fun event. All the athletes are a bit more relaxed in the training season! But it was cool to go head to head with some of the best in the world. You can’t look too much into these races. We will never encounter a 9 minute flat race course, or a 40 minute uphill on the World Cup, so it’s just fun to practice some head to head shooting!

What training have you done so far and what is the plan for the rest of the break?

The training varies a lot over the summer and fall months, we train from May (on snow where we can find it) to the middle of November when the race season starts. So there is lots of roller skiing, we spend time on the roller ski treadmill and playing in the mountains. Canmore is a great place to train full time, there is so many activities we can do.

How to you cope being away from home for so long during a season? Do you get homesick and what’s it like living out of a suitcase for up to 6 months a year?

It’s hard, but I am lucky that I found my boyfriend on the National team! Brendan Green and I have been together almost 6 years now, so being able to share our triumphs and disappointments makes it a lot easier! I miss my dog Moki a lot while on the road!

Your sister started Fast and Female. Are you involved in that too and what do you think of the work that it’s doing?

I think it’s an amazing organization and I try to participate in as many events as I can!
For more information on Fast and Female here is the website: https://www.fastandfemale.com/

I saw you and Brendan went on a tour in the North West Territory to talk to kids about biathlon. Can you tell us about it and how important is it for you to be able to do those kinds of things?

We are so lucky to get to travel the world and do something we are passionate about, so it’s really important to Brendan and I to give back to the community and try and inspire the next generation to follow their dreams!

Is there any chance of seeing you and Brendan doing the Single Mixed Relay this season or is that too much pressure on the relationship?!!!

Hmm hopefully! Depends on what our World Cup team looks like and if every Single Mixed and normal Mixed Relay are on the same day!!

Your favourite number is 23 and so is mine. When are you going to get bib23?!! Do you think it might guarantee victory for us?

Haha I sure hope so!!! 🙂

Does your rifle have a name?

No😦

Describe yourself in three words.

Caring, compassionate, stubborn (according to Brendan)

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Antholz (for the sunshine) Pokljuka (race course)
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Magdalena Neuner
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit
Favourite/best race of your career so far? My 5th place in the pursuit in Hochfilzen last year! Moving from 34th – 5th was pretty incredible!
Favourite food: Pizza!
Favourite singer/band: Taylor Swift
Favourite film: Maleficent, but I try to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least once a year!
Favourite sports team: I don’t follow many team sports!
Favourite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy


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Trans-Atlantic Turmoil!

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The season is still over 4 months away but already there is trouble brewing over the World Cup schedule for the year. This season marks a return to racing in North America with World Cup 7 in Canmore, Canada and World Cup 8 in Presque Isle, USA. Great news for North American fans of biathlon but the decision hasn’t gone down quite as well with everyone.

Firstly we heard from World Cup holder Darya Domracheva who said she would be skipping the events to concentrate on the World Championships in Oslo. This basically means she won’t be defending her title and after having been recently diagnosed with mononucleosis she is unlikely to change her mind.

Next we heard from the three Top Norwegian men who are considering missing the two World Cup rounds to concentrate on their home World Championships. There is a two and a half week break between Presque Isle and Holmenkollen but it seems that this isn’t enough for them. Emil Hegle Svendsen wishes the races were in Europe and Tarjei Bø hates the way that it has been set up so there is a strong chance that they will remain at home. Johannes Thingnes Bø is of a similar opinion saying that not everyone is going to go to the North American rounds. With coach Egil Gjelland describing it as a “headache” the likelihood is that they won’t be the only ones thinking about their participation.

Do they have a point? Is the schedule a bad one? Well there was some discussion about putting the North American rounds at the start of the season so there has been concern about it for some time. This was deemed unworkable however as the first 2 stops in Oestersund and Hochfilzen can guarantee snow whether from the sky, storage or stolen from the mountains. It wouldn’t be great if everyone went to Canada at the start of the season and then the races were cancelled. There is also the matter of money. Quite a few of the smaller nations will probably not be able to afford to attend these rounds due to travel and accomodation costs and so holding them at the start would be a disadvantage to them.

In reality there is not another space on the calendar for these events. It’s not as if you could go there another year instead as the future World Championships are also in Europe. So what then is the point of going at all? Well there are many reasons. The Canadians and Americans have to come over to Europe and stay there for anything up to six months which incurs huge accommodation costs. They can’t go home for the weekend! If they are lucky they might get home over Christmas but then they have to suffer jet lag when they come back. They are also doing very well at the moment and deserve some home races.

Usually the World Cup goes to North America once every 4 or 5 years so it is only right and fair that they get the opportunity to grow the sport there by hosting events. Not to mention the great facilities and amazing scenery that they can boast. The IBU have also decided to put Canmore first because of the great access to Calgary airport with many flights from Europe and then Presque Isle second to make the return flight to Europe shorter. So they have tried really hard to make the transition back to Europe as easy as possible which in reality they didn’t have to do.

On the other hand you can understand some of the Norwegians concerns. It is a long journey and the different time zones not only between Europe and Canada but also between Canmore and Presque Isle mean it will be hard on the body clock. Their main worry of course is being in the best shape possible for the World Championships. It is not often you get to race those at home and let’s face it they do have very good chances of winning medals! However they might change their minds closer to the time if one of them is in with a chance of winning the Overall Title.

No one has officially pulled out of the race yet as it is far too early to do so. However if they do it will be a real shame for the North American spectators not to see such great biathletes racing. On the other hand it might increase the chances of the home biathletes like Nathan Smith, Rosanna Crawford, Tim Burke and Susan Dunklee winning or making the podium at their home races!!!

In an ideal world everyone would go to race in Canada and the US. I am afraid however that there will be some absences and the Norwegians are the likeliest to skip the rounds. They should be careful though because if they are not competing at the top level before the Championships they might not arrive in Holmenkollen in top race condition. I am sure Martin Fourcade, if he is fit and healthy, will be in North America and he could also go to Oslo and make Svendsen and the Bø brothers regret their decision. It would be nice if a Canadian or American wins a medal in Norway too just to show it can be done!! There is still a long time until we get to these races but I don’t think it will be last we hear of the Trans-Atlantic turmoil!

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Global Success! Season 2014/15 Review: Women

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The Women’s season turned out as we had expected before a rifle was even fired. Kaisa Makarainen and Darya Domracheva would fight it out for the overall title and they did so right up until the end of the season. They both started well and in the first race, the Individual in Oestersund, Domracheva won from Makarainen in second. Both finished in the TOP 5 in the Sprint and Makarainen won the Pursuit with Domracheva in 4th. This meant that there wasn’t much to choose between them after Round 1.

We then headed to Hochfilzen where Kaisa really laid down a marker and won both races with Darya losing some ground. In Pokljuka they were neck and neck again with Darya beating Kaisa in both the Sprint and Pursuit but then came the first Mass Start of the season and it proved to be a disaster for Darya. She crashed into another biathlete when exiting the penalty loop and could not finish the race. Kaisa took full advantage and won the race giving her 60 points whilst Darya scored 0.

After Christmas in Oberhof we were expecting more of the same. In fact they had similar results again with Darya leaving with slightly more points. In Ruhpolding Darya came out firmly on top taking a first and second place finish and piling the pressure on Kaisa. Antholz again was a battle between the two with Darya taking both wins and Kaisa a second and a third place. Nove Mesto couldn’t really separate them either with both women in the Top 10 of the Sprint and Darya winning the Pursuit from Kaisa in second. It looked like the same story in Oslo too with Kaisa winning the Individual and Darya in second but in the Sprint Darya won and Kaisa could only finish in 24th place which meant the yellow bib changed hands just before the World Championships. Kaisa had been in yellow for most of the season but now Darya took over by just 10 points.

With the World Championships counting towards the overall title there was even more pressure on both of them to do well in Kontiolahti before the final round in Khanty Mansiysk. However the task of competing for the overall title and World titles was always going to be difficult. In fact only Kaisa took a medal and it was bronze. Darya did however manage to extend her lead to 21 points by finishing ahead in most of the races.

So it was left to Khanty Mansiysk and three races to decide the destination of the Overall Title. Kaisa drew first blood and won the Sprint closing the gap on Domracheva, who was third, down to just 9 points. Darya hit back hard though in the Pursuit finishing first with Kaisa back in fourth to virtually guarantee the Overall Title barring total disaster in the final Mass Start. Kaisa did manage to win the small Crystal globe for the Pursuit by just 1 point from Darya and Valj Semerenko who was third. The last race saw Darya take 4th place which was more than enough for her to win her first ever big Crystal Globe! It also saw Franziska Preuss win the small globe for the Mass Start.

Away from the two title contenders there were some excellent performances from some of the other ladies. Veronika Vitkova showed what a classy biathlete she is. She won her first ever race this season in the Oberhof Sprint and proved it was no matter of luck as she has been on the podium another five times. She has also played a vital role in both the Mixed and Women’s relay team for the Czech Republic along with Gabriela Soukalova who after a sluggish start had a good end to the season.

Laura Dahlmeier is another woman who has impressed greatly this season. She took her debut World Cup win in the Nove Mesto Sprint race and got another 6 podiums before winning the final race of the season in Khanty Mansiysk. She is probably the best shot of all the women and at the age of just 21 she will have a lot more success to look forward to. Her German teammates have all improved too especially Franziska Preuss and Vanessa Hinz. Together with Franziska Hildebrand they make a fearsome Relay team as we found out in Kontiolahti. They also won the Nation’s Cup and had 3 biathletes in the TOP 10 of the total score.

Making good strides forward this season was also the Italian Women’s team. Dorothea Wierer and Karin Oberhofer have enjoyed their best ever seasons and the likes of Nicole Gontier, Lisa Vittozzi and Federica Sanfilippo are there to back them up. Marie Dorin Habert had a shortened season after giving birth to her first daughter in September. She made a stunning return to the World Cup finishing on the podium and then went on to dominate the World Championships winning 2 gold medals. The French newcomers Justine Briasaz and Enora Latuilliere also look like becoming very good biathletes.

Valj Semerenko in the absence of her twin sister had a very consistent season. She made a lot of podiums and was excellent on the shooting range. She eventually finished third in the total score and won the Mass Start at the World Championships. Rosanna Crawford from Canada had a really strong season too getting her personal best result of 4th in the Pokljuka Sprint as well as 7 Top 20 finishes . America’s Susan Dunklee had a good year too and Hannah Dreissigacker achieved her personal best result of 14th at the final round in Russia.

It has been a great year for Women’s biathlon. The fight for the Overall Title went right down to the final round and at the World Championships the rest of the pack showed just how good they are. Next year should be even better with more women coming through to challenge. We don’t know if Makarainen will retire or not yet but Darya Domracheva will have plenty of competition either way. It will be a long summer waiting for the season to start again but Darya has a lot of time to enjoy her Global Success!

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‘Fil-zen you in!

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To Austria this week and between eating strudel, singing all the songs from The Sound of Music and getting into trouble for outrageous stereotyping there was just about time for some biathlon! Generally speaking shooting clean in a Sprint Race means you have a good chance of winning it. Not however if you happen to be racing against Kaisa Makarainen! At the moment she can afford a miss and still win, much to the consternation of Karin Oberhofer. The Italian produced a great race, shooting clean, that ended with her first ever podium. Second place is fantastic for the Italian but it would have been first but for Makarainen’s amazing ski speed. In third was Tiril Eckhoff who is rapidly emerging as a real contender for the Chrystal Globe. Other ladies who impressed were France’s Justine Braisaz who on her World Cup debut finished 17th. Enora Latuilliere continued her good progress in 20th the German ladies had 3 in the TOP 10 -Hildebrand 5th, Hinz 6th and Preuss 10th.

The men’s race was a bit of a surprise even before it began with Fourcade and Bjoerndalen choosing to go in group 4 with the later starters. This was to take advantage of colder conditions making a faster track. It didn’t work and Johannes Thingnes Bø skied round like a rocket beating the field by 14 seconds. The Germans also did well here completing the podium with Simon Schempp in second and Andi Birnbacher third. Home favourite Dominik Landertinger just missed the podium coming in fourth. Elsewhere Dutch biathlete Joel Sloof qualified for his first ever Pursuit by coming in 52nd and Romania’s Cornel Puchianu matched last weeks 28th place to equal his best result.

Saturday saw the first Men’s and Women’s Relays of the season. Well they were definitely worth the wait. The Women’s race was one of the best I have seen in a long time. The lead changed several times and there were so many good performances and of course a few bad ones which made it all the more exciting. The Germans carried their great Sprint form over and were so calm and collected for such a young team especially Preuss who was on the last leg. Kummer also did well on the first leg and Hildebrand and Hinz were strong in between. It did look like Russia might cruise to victory but Glazyrina had a total meltdown on the range and handed the win to Germany. Domracheva outskied Vitkova to take second, an exceptional result for them and the Czechs were impressive in third. Italy’s chances of a podium were ruined by some bad shooting from Gontier and Tiril Eckhoff pulled of a miracle to get Norway back to 5th after starting her leg in 14th!

The Men’s race was characterised by some excellent shooting. The Russians won by only using one spare round which is incredible! Lapshin was the culprit missing one target but we can forgive him! The French also shot well only using 4 spare rounds and Norway came in third despite Birkeland and Tarjei Bø both needing all three spares in their standing shoots on legs three and four. Austria and Germany had a sprint for fourth where Landertinger beat Schempp to the line and Canada finished in sixth,a good result for them.

Sunday was Pursuit day and a dominant Kaisa Makarainen was untroubled on her way to victory. She missed 1 shot but won with time to spare. In second was Ekaterina Glazyrina who recovered in incredibly quick time from her relay disaster and also just missed 1 target. In third was France’s Anais Bescond with her best result of the season so far. She had the strength at the end to hold off Podchufarova who was 4th and a magnificent Rosanna Crawford who came from 34th to finish 5th which is a career best result for her. Other good performances came from Monika Hojnisz (POL) 40th-11th, Nadezhda Skardino (BLR) 36th-12th, Annelise Cook (USA) 50th-33rd and Daria Virolaynen (RUS) 51st-35th!

The men ended the weekend with a shocking result! Yes Martin Fourcade won – that hardly ever happens!;-) Actually he wouldn’t have won if Johannes Bø hadn’t missed two targets in his third shoot when he was well in control of the race. Simon Schempp was second proving he has a last found some consistency and Jakov Fak came in third holding off the challenge from a tired looking Johannes Bø. Vladimir Iliev added to his 19th place in the Sprint with an 11th place here which is great news for Bulgarian biathlon and other good races were had by Quentin Fillon Maillet (FRA) 45th-15th, Fredrik Lindstrom 47th-22nd and Leif Nordgren (USA) 51st-37th.

Overall Hochfilzen was a great race weekend and thank god they got the snow to let it go ahead. Kaisa Makarainen extended her lead in the yellow bib and Martin Fourcade will wear the men’s next week after wrestling it from Svendsen. Thursday is when we race again in Pokljuka and with the great results form the Slovenia biathletes the home crowd will be really looking forward to it. The biathlete will be looking forward to a sneaky Kremna Rezina(delicious Slovenian dessert!) down in Bled too! I really enjoyed all the races in Austria and I also enjoyed ‘Filzen you in!

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