Tag Archives: Ruhpolding

Thierry Langer: The Interview!

Thierry Langer is a Belgian biathlete who was born in Malmedy on the 24th of October 1991. He is regular on the IBU Cup and last season raced on the World Cup for the Belgian Men’s Relay Team. Not only is he a biathlete but he also competes in cross-country skiing and is studying chemistry. It’s safe to say he is quite busy!

Like his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thierrylangerbiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

When I was 14 years old a small group practised the sport already for a couple of years. I took part in the cross country events in Belgium every year so they suddenly invited me to try biathlon. That was when I tried it in a summer camp in Winterberg (Germany) for the first time. I liked the sport better than cross country skiing, athletics or football which I was practising back then. I stuck to it until now after I saw some progression and received a lot of support from my parents.

Unusually for the Belgian team you are actually Belgian! How have things changed for you with Roesch and Claude joining the team?

For me personally this is probably why I am still doing biathlon. I got new motivation to become as good as them or probably beat them one day. But also with them joining the whole Biathlon Federation became more professional every year and so did I. I learned a lot in this time and had my first professional winter season last year which was exciting.

The Relays were amazing to watch last season. What were they like from your perspective?

In Hochfilzen I was pretty nervous watching them on the warm up lap when I saw us in front. When I started my race all of this was gone. I was so focused on skiing that the crowd wasn’t really bothering me. In Oberhof it was easier. It wasn’t a new situation, so I knew what to do and I think it also worked out better for me with only one penalty loop in those special conditions.

You made the Belgian Olympic Team but for cross country skiing! How was your experience in PyeongChang?

It was amazing. I already had the chance to take part in every big event in biathlon and cross country skiing, but the Olympics were something special having every nation and almost every winter sport around. I really enjoyed the month in PyeongChang. I hope to qualify in 2022 again, but this time for the biathlon competitions.

How do you manage your season between competing on the IBU Cup, the World Cup and in cross country?

The last season was indeed a hard season. I had several weekends racing in different places which isn’t very ideal, but it was necessary to qualify for the Olympic Games. I raced for example in Campra, Switzerland, travelled seven hours after the race to start the day after in the relay in Oberhof. In the end it all worked out fine, I was fit when I had to be and I also had my best season ever but this is not for every year.

Do you think you will always do both biathlon and cross country or will you concentrate on just one sport in the future?

I will concentrate on biathlon for sure, but this doesn’t mean that I won’t compete at cross country races anymore. If there are some free weeks that I can fill with cross country races I will definitely do that.

What are you doing for summer training?

I like running, roller skiing or mountain biking. Otherwise the usual visits to the gym and the shooting range.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to get some good shooting results again this season. This is something which suffered a bit with all the cross country races. I want to repeat my 15th place at the IBU Cup again and probably get the chance to do some more World Cups beside the relay races. But in general repeating the good results of last season should be my main goal.

You also study chemistry. How difficult is it to balance studying and training? Can you make your own gunpowder? 😉

I better not tell that to anyone 😉 … but I’m more interested in waxing and the skis. This is also the topic of my Masters thesis.
After several years at the University I got used to the rhythm and how I can get free time for the sport. A huge factor is also the German system which makes it a lot easier to be flexible. After all I’m far from training like the pro’s but that’s why every training has to be effective and I think this works quite well so far.


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

Duszniki Zdroj, Poland. I enjoyed the track a lot during the ECH.

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

Raphael Poiree, he was my favourite when I was young for no reason.

Does your rifle have a name?

No

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined , quiet and clumsy.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Germany
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: None
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rösch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Erik Lesser / Arnd Peiffer
Best thing about being a biathlete: Unforgettable moments during this time.

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Herbert Cool: The Interview!

Herbert Cool is a former Dutch biathlete who was born in Rotterdam on the 9th of February 1985. He retired from biathlon in 2012, which was far too soon!, with a top finish of 50th in both the Sprint and Pursuit races at the 2008 World Championships in Oestersund. After retiring he began commentating on biathlon for Dutch Eurosport.

Follow Herbert on Twitter: @CoolHerbert

Why did you become a biathlete?

My father loves to go cross country skiing. As we have no snow in the Netherlands we used to spend our vacations in Germany and the Czech Republic. I got into the sport as well, enjoyed it, enjoyed racing against the local youth and sometimes even beating them. Age 18 I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Bled, Slovenia. I came 9th in the Sprint which was great. We hardly ever trained on snow, only roller skiing and some shooting in a shooting range without a roller ski loop. This made me realize I had a talent for the sport and made me decide to pursue a professional career in biathlon. At age 19 I moved to the US to train with the US Junior team in Minnesota. A year after, I moved to Ruhpolding and stayed there for 6 years.

What are your best memories from your biathlon career?

For sure the first year in the US was the most fun. Obviously it is a great experience to live there on the whole, especially after finishing school. I got to see a lot of the country and was surprised about the large Nordic community it has, not to mention the beautiful cross country tracks. Also, the team was great. Just a bunch of young people wanting to make it in a sport that wasn’t normal in the country they came from. I guess we shared this experience, even though our countries were so far apart. We shared the troubles with funding, we shared having to travel away from your own country to be able to do what you love. And we had a great coach, Vladimir Cervenka, who is still coaching the US Juniors in Minnesota. Of course there were many great memories after that year, but things became a bit more serious, more like a job.

How did you become a commentator for Eurosport and how long have you been doing it?

Unfortunately I didn’t qualify for the Vancouver Olympics. The Dutch Olympic Association wants biathletes to be top 8 in the world, which obviously is a requirement similar to countries like Germany or Norway. However, there is hardly any funding and no talent development whatsoever. I really hope this will change and I am putting energy into this myself, but for now it is unrealistic to expect any talent from the Netherlands (nor is it realistic to expect youth to become interested in the sport, there simply are no facilities). Eurosport gave me a call; whether I would be interested in joining their biathlon commentator during the Olympics. I did, and it was a lot of fun. After I decided to quit in 2012 I pretty much became their new biathlon commentator. I still enjoy it a lot, and nowadays do some other sports as well as some presenting in front of the camera. For example during the 2018 Olympics. It’s a lot of fun and it enables me to stay on top of the sport that I love.

Did you find the transition from biathlete to commentator difficult? Was it harder or easier than you thought? Do you ever run out of things to say? 😉

I think it was the fact that I could become the biathlon commentator at Eurosport that helped me in the transition. You have to understand, I am a city boy. I was born and raised in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Definitely worth a visit if you have the time. So living in Ruhpolding was about as far away from living in the city as possible. Although I often miss the beautiful nature in the Alps (and the snow, obviously) I also really wanted to go back to Rotterdam. And I’m not just a commentator, I also own a sports management agency. We are into sports marketing, event management and athlete management. For example, this year we will bring a large group of Dutch biathlon fans to the World Team Challenge in Gelsenkirchen for the first year. You’d be surprised how many Dutch people love watching biathlon. When it comes to winter sports, speed skating is obviously the number 1 by far, but I would say biathlon is the second most popular winter sport on television here!
(Definitely not running out of things to say 😉 )

How much and what kind of research do you do before the races?

Honestly, I hardly do any research. I simply love the sport so much that I read and see everything no matter what. Before a race, I obviously do my preparation work, but that doesn’t take a lot of time this way.

Do you have some favourite/memorable races or moments that you have commentated on? Why were they special?

My relationship with the US team runs like a red line through my career. First I moved to Minnesota to train with the US Juniors. After that I moved to Ruhpolding where I was fortunate enough to have Ricco Gross coach me and help me a lot. He helped me connect to the US World Cup team -they waxed his ski’s during that time- and I ended up going with them in some of their training camps as well as travelling with them throughout the winter. A great setup for which I am still very grateful to both Ricco Gross, Bernd Eisenbichler, their high performance director and the team as a whole. It was during the time Tim Burke did very well, he even led the World Cup total score during Christmas, and I roomed up with them and learned a lot. So to answer the question, during the Hochfilzen World Champs there was the epic individual race men’s race. Moravec was in the lead, Lowell Bailey started really late. He shot well, and the finish loop was so intense. I think I screamed during my commentary and for sure I wasn’t very objective, but I didn’t care. It was such a great win for Lowell and I felt a lot of joy, especially seeing all of the wax techs and coaches celebrating afterwards. You know how hard they all work for it and how much effort goes in behind the scenes.

Is biathlon popular in The Netherlands? Can you tell us something about the current biathletes from the Netherlands.

It’s a difficult subject at the moment. The Dutch ski federation has chosen not to invest in talent development. One of the reasons is that the Dutch Olympic Association will only send a biathlete to the Olympics if he or she is around top 8 in the world. This is almost impossible to achieve in general, but especially with no funding, no facilities (no snow) and, very important, no athletes who are already on a World Cup level. You need to train with athletes who are at least as good as you on a daily basis. A good example is Chardine Sloof; she is a talented biathlete who got introduced to the sport because she lives in Sweden. She became a Junior World Champion for the Netherlands, which is crazy. Luck hardly has any influence on the sport of biathlon, if you become Junior World Champion you are talented. Period. After that she struggled with some physical issues and the funding stopped. She decided to switch to the Swedish team. A good decision, because she is surrounded by great athletes, the right culture and great facilities as well. She achieved 3 top 15 results during the Oberhof World Cup 2 seasons ago, really great stuff. I hope we will see more of her in the upcoming season.

Do you have any predictions for the up coming season? Anyone we should be looking out for to do well?

As always after an Olympic season we saw some big names quit. Of course we will miss Domracheva for example. She has one of the best techniques on the women’s side and is of great added value to the exposure of biathlon due to her personality. On a personal note I will miss Bjoerndalen, because he was my idol when I was a biathlete myself. I think Johannes Thingnes Boe will again be a little bit better and more solid this time, although he did admit to not training as much as he should have done in spring. But it will be interesting to see whether Fourcade can take another overall World Cup. I think it’s Boe’s time now. And the Swedes will be strong. They have the momentum after their successful Olympics. Of course there is a big difference between having nothing to lose and being one of the favourites, so this will be a role they will have to get used to. On the women’s side I think Dahlmeier will be very strong, if she stays healthy on her way to December. But I’m afraid that if she wins a lot, she will quit after this winter, which would be a big loss to the sport. I would also keep an eye on Lisa Vittozzi, she made big steps last season and is still very young.

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

I loved Östersund. Great atmosphere downtown, great energy on the whole and tracks that suited me. Long uphills that you really had to dig into. Antholz is everybody’s favorite, not only because of the great food and kind people. I always joke during my commentary that they somehow always seem to have a lot of snow, yet the sun is always shining!

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

Bjoerndalen, because he made biathlon into the sport it is today. He pulled it out of cross country skiing’s shadow. His technique was perfection. Someone who also has great balance and style on ski’s is Simon Fourcade, I love watching him ski. When it comes to fighting spirit you have to mention Kaisa Makarainen. Such a great athlete, a fierce competitor on the tracks and a great person once she crosses the finish line.

Did your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

Ambitious, passionate, calm.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Right now: Belgium!
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin’s carved rifle looks great.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Not sure which year, and a bit of a different sport, but I loved the suit the Norwegian cross country team had in the last seasons Bjorn Daehlie was racing.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Being active in a worldwide sport that is still small enough to be a small community, and the closeness to nature.
Best thing about being a commentator: Sharing what you love with viewers who really discover your sport -and how great it is. Because biathlon wasn’t really known in the Netherlands, viewers can ask me question through Twitter during the race. This works out great and gives me the chance to bring the sport closer to the Dutch audience.

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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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Paulína Fialková: The Interview!

Paulína Fialková is a Slovakian biathlete who won three medals at the recent Summer World Championships in Russia. She won silver in the Sprint and Mixed Relay and bronze in the Pursuit. Last season she achieved her personal best result of 5th on the World Cup in Kontiolahti and finished 31st in the Total Score. She was born on the 25th of October 1992 in Brezno and her younger sister Ivona is also a biathlete.

Like her Facebook page: Paulína Fialková
Follow her on Instagram: paja.fialkova

Why did you become a biathlete?

Because I was too hyperactive as a child and my parents chose biathlon as the right solution.

You got your personal best result of 5th last season in the Kontiolahti Pursuit coming from 37th with clean shooting. What do you remember about that race and what were your emotions at the finish line?

I had quite strong back pain before the race. I took some medicine for the pain and I knew, I will shoot 4×0 today. I was really happy after the race because of pushing my personal limit higher and especially with the clean shooting.

You went to the summer World Championships and won 3 medals. Is it good preparation and did it give you a lot of confidence for this coming season?

I had a hard summer preparation and it was important for me to know how the training was going. I did it not for confidence but for experience. I will never be old enough to gain more experience. Every time I wear my start number I can learn something new.

What other training have you done over the summer? Is there anything specific you have been trying to improve?

I changed a little bit my skiing technique and after shooting analysis also my rifle settings. I hope it will work.

What are your goals for this season on the World Cup?

To be better…I mean more points, hoping for some podiums.

You had some good results at the PyeongChang World Cup. Do you like the tracks and the range there? Have you set any goals for the Olympic Games?

I really liked PyeongChang. There are hard uphills and it satisfies me. The shooting range was windy but after the downhill.

What’s it like to be on the same team as your sister. Do you get on well or fight like all other families!? 😉

No fighting, just supporting 🙂 She does a great job as my sparring partner in the team!

Brezno-Osrblie is your home track and it hosts the IBU Cup races most years. Would you like to see a World Cup going there in the future? Is biathlon popular in Slovakia like it is next door in the Czech Republic?

I hope for the World Cup in Osrblie but it seems to be very far away. Biathlon in Slovakia is also becoming more and more popular.

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

Osrblie because I know every centimetre very well.

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

Maybe Magdalena Neuner. She was not thinking only about the sport, when she said stop, she really stopped her career.

Does your rifle have a name?

No.

Describe yourself in three words.

Aspiring, combative, hard working.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Italy
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Mine
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Our new one for 2017/2018.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 44
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Matej Kazár
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Dorothea Wierer
Best thing about being a biathlete: It’s my dream job!

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Martin Fleig: The Interview!

Martin Fleig is a German para biathlete who competes in the sitting category. In February he won double gold in biathlon at his home World Championships in Finsterau. His victories in the 12.5km middle distance and the 15km Individual were were followed with bronze in the 7.5km Sprint event. He also won bronze in the 15km cross country race. He won the biathlon Overall World Cup last season and is the current world number one. The 28-year-old was born with spina bifida and fluid on the brain.

Like his Facebook Page: Martin Fleig
Check out his website: http://www.martin-fleig.de/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started with cross country skiing. One day, I guess I was 14 years old or so, I tried biathlon. I really did not like it! A few years later I had the chance to get my own rifle, so I could shoot much more easily because the rifle fit me perfectly. My first competitions were not really good, but I found my motivation to go ahead with doing biathlon. And over the years the fun came too.

You became double World Champion in biathlon at your home Championships in Finsterau last season. Can you describe the feeling and what do you remember about the races?

It’s really difficult to describe. I guess I had a really good feeling before the first race started. I knew that I was in really good shape and the races at the World Cups before the Worlds were also very good for me. So I was able to start the Worlds with confidence. During the first race I often thought about my training at home at the Notschrei Nordic Center. I told myself all the time ‘you can do it, just do it like in your training’. I knew I just had to remember my shootings from the past and in my training before doing it clean. Honestly, at the 15k race I did not know about my comfortable situation by being the leader by almost 3 minutes. It was strange for me when I missed one shot because I was sure that my chance to take a medal was over. But after I finished the last shooting I heard the stadium commentator said something like‚ ‘Dont worry about your missed shot, Martin. You are still in the lead!’ That was really cool because I knew that I would be able to win a medal again.

You won both biathlon races at the World Cup round in PyeongChang. Do you like the tracks and range there? What are you goals for the Paralympic Games?

Oh yes, I really do like the tracks and also the place itself. About my goals, I am really not able to say something directly about that. Let us first start the new season and the first World Cup races and maybe then we could say a bit more about what we could expect at the PWG. All I can say now is, that I train really hard and do my best to be prepared for it! We also have to wait and see what the Russian guys will be able to do if they come back because we should not forget that those guys are the strongest skiers in the world!
(The Russian Team are currently banned by the IPC from all competitions following the McLaren Report into state sponsored doping at the Sochi Olympics.)

What have you been doing for summer training? Do you mostly train alone or with your teammates?

I have put my training into a new level. More hours overall than last year and some more technical training. We are doing a good mix of muscle and athletic training, skiing technique and also some other kinds of stamina training like handcycling, roller skiing or swimming. Most of the time I train with my Mother or alone. Twice a week I train with some teammates or with the head coach, Ralf Rombach or Michael Huhn.

Is your sit-ski custom made? Do you have the same one for roller skiing or do you need two? What is the most challenging thing for you in terms of skiing in the sit-ski?

Yes, it has been made by a firm called Rapp & Seifert – Sanitätshaus und Orthopädietechnik GmbH. A BIG thanks to those guys who make it possible for me to do my sport so successfully!!! For the upcoming season they have built me a new, much lighter sledge. So yes, now I have got two of them. To ski in the sitting position is very challenging in general. For me, the fast corners on a track are the most challenging ones.

Can you describe for my readers how you shoot from a sit-ski?

If I come to the shooting range, a coach has got my rifle in his hands and he chooses a shooting lane. Then I come to that lane, let myself fall down on my left side and the coach gives me the rifle and I can begin to shoot. After the shooting (5 targets), I get up by myself and go ahead with the next loop of 2,5km or 3km.

More and more of your fellow athletes are doing both a winter and summer sport now. Have you ever considered turning to the ‘dark side’ of summer sport? What sport would you do?

Well, I really admire those who handle both kinds of summer and winter sports at this high level. For me, in my situation it is impossible to imagine doing so. But IF I think about which summer sport I would do, it would be wheelchair races I guess. But I am not really sure about that, it is just a thought.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon and cross country?

I love photography! I prefer to be outside, no matter if I do sport or something else. To be outside gives me a feeling of freedom. And if I go outside to take photos, I can really get my mind free from all around me. It makes me feel very satisfied. I mostly photograph things like insects, flowers or things in nature.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite track: Ruhpolding
Favourite biathlete (IPC or IBU): Vanessa Hinz, Simon Schempp
Favourite shooting range: Oberhof
Lucky bib number: 10
Funniest biathlete on the World Cup: Martin Fourcade
Nicest biathlete on the World Cup: Laura Dahlmeier
Best thing about being a biathlete: The ability to manage the difference between skiing and shooting.

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Scott Dixon…The Third!!!

Like a boomerang, or slightly cooler ‘The Terminator’, Scott Dixon is back! In his third interview for Biathlon23 I have discovered that as well as being a biathlete Scott is now the author of a children’s book. He also dabbles in witchcraft which he claims is “card magic” but I am not so sure! He is currently trying to raise funds to help pay for the season. If you can help you can find the details here:
https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/biathlete-olympic-dream/

Like his Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete

Last season-discuss! Not a great start due to illness but you got your World Cup PB in Oslo at the end. Talk us through the main points of last season.

The start of the season went about as badly as it could have as I was having heart problems. I had shot well in the Individual in Oestersund on a very windy day (16/20) but on the last lap, having already exerted myself for four agonising laps before, my heart decided to go into hyper drive and shot up to 199 bpm whilst standing still shooting my last five stand shots.

Despite my form taking such a hit, I still skied quickly relative to my ski speed last year in both Slovenia and Nove Mesto. I had a good training phase over Christmas and was ready to go full speed into the next trimester with a positive attitude. We arrived in Germany and drove to Oberhof. Two days later I contracted the Noro virus, which I’m sure many people are familiar with… sixteen hours of being sick every hour. Nasty.

I was bed bound for four days, but still raced. This was silly, but I was still in disbelief my luck had taken such a turn and too stubborn to let the race go. It took some time to recover physically, and mentally from this bout of bad luck. But I did!


You are doing some training camps with the Swedish team. What’s it like working with Wolfgang Pichler? What differences do you think he has made for your biathlon?

Hard. Wolfgang is an incredible coach. He knows how to bring a team together, and he involves intense psychological elements in his training that are incredibly challenging. It is rare to meet someone so genuinely passionate about doing an excellent job. He’s punctual and has high expectations. What an opportunity it’s been training along side his athletes.

I feel my body developing all the time. I’m able to maintain higher speeds for longer, which I measure frequently on repeatable sessions.


You are back living and training in Lillehammer. What training have you been doing there and do you ever train with the British Nordic team there?

I live with Callum Smith who’s on the British Nordic team! However, we don’t get to train much together, usually the odd run here or there because our training differs a lot. We do eat together and compete to see who can make the best lasagna. Me of course, but his last one was pretty snazzy, I admit..

I don’t spend that much time in Lillehammer unfortunately because of the training camps. I’m usually recharging my batteries when I finally get back there. Although the training continues!

You are 23 this year and as everyone knows that is an important number in biathlon! What are your goals for this season?

Indeed it is!
Pursuits! The Olympic qualification is tough since we lost our top 25 spot on the nation cup score, so in order to qualify I need to make a couple of pursuit races.

British Biathlon is, as usual, going through a tough time but probably the worst in your career. You and Amanda Lightfoot have had to hand some of your funding back. What is going on and how else has it affected you?

It’s not the first time I’ve been told that it’s all doom and gloom by my National Governing Body (NGB), but it is the first time Amanda and I have had to financially bail them out. Of all the years this could happen, it was the Olympic season. However, it’s important that I focus on preparing my body to be the best it can be come the winter, and not allow these distractions to negatively influence my training.

You have launched a crowd funding campaign to help you with your costs this season. Tell us about it. What will the money go towards?

Our governing body is run by volunteers and they are unable to invest huge amounts of time in the search for sponsors or even planning the race season for example. Amanda and I have been assigned the job of sorting out travel arrangements in the season. Thankfully, Amanda is a guru when it comes to planning, and has come up with some very practical solutions to tough logistical issues. We’ve got a plan that works and brings us to the Olympic Games. But even with a plan in place, our governing body doesn’t have the funds to implement the plan. I set up a pledge sports campaign because I couldn’t afford the season, and if I missed a race I’d almost certainly miss the opportunity to compete at the Games.

So I set up a pledge for those who were interested in supporting me to the Olympic Games, and used it as an opportunity to expose my book to supporters.

You are now an author! Tell us about your children’s book ‘Pup the Brave’. Will you be writing anymore?

To some extent I am! It’s funny hearing that since it’s just a hobby. The idea originated from Katie, my girlfriend, when I asked her to tell me a story. She doesn’t like it so much when I randomly ask her to do that, but I persisted. I asked her to name a subject, or something, and she said “Puppy.”
“What’s the puppy doing?”
“Trying to cross a river.”
“Why?”
“There’s a bear chasing him.”
“Can he swim?”
“Do we have to do this?”
“Yes, can he swim?”
“No.”
“How does he cross?”
“Beaver builds him a dam…”

And so forth.

This continued for a little while and I liked the little story we created. We left it be, and one long bike ride in the hills, I thought about it again and for the next two weeks I didn’t let it rest, and had the poem completed, and had started sketching the images.

When I spend hours on end cycling and skiing, it can be advantageous to take my mind away from the discomfort. So I daydream about stories, plots and concepts and such like. Since I rarely get to see my little baby brother and sister, one and three years old, I decided I ought to write and illustrate a story for them. I used the Pup story as a template and set to daydreaming it into a plot and a story.

I do this all the time, and it’s definitely a direction I’d like to take after my Biathlon career. I have two more books planned for my little brother and sister, then I hope to publish the fiction material I spend even more time writing and thinking about.

You will be appearing on an episode of Sky 1’s ‘A League of Their Own’. Can you tell us anything about that or is it top secret?

Shh! who told you that?

Nah, it’s no secret! I am and I can’t wait to see it. I think I was a bit funky on camera, but I can guarantee that you’ll love the show when you watch it, which as biathlon fans you must! It was a surreal experience but thoroughly enjoyable. I hope it raises the profile of biathlon in the UK.

Have you got a name for your rifle yet?

I’m afraid not. I may have to for our next interview! What next interview?!! No name no chance!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Fillon Maillet. He made it himself!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Germany. It’s very German, and I like suits that represent the flag well.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 106 (since I often get the last bib, I might as well make it my lucky one!)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup:Tiio Söderhielm. He’s in his thirties, but you’d think he was only twenty.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Erik Lesser is always extremely friendly. He always says hello when most other people don’t notice us little guys. A special mention to all the Swedes. I couldn’t pick any one of them over the rest, and you asked for only one, but they all mutually win that title (future in diplomacy?).
Best thing about being a biathlete: In a race, the order people enter the shooting range for the final time is so vastly different to the order everyone finishes in. So much can change in the closing stages of the competition by pulling the trigger at the wrong time.

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Michael Rösch: The Interview!

Michael Rösch is a Belgian biathlete who used to be a German biathlete that now trains with the Swiss Team. When he isn’t confused about who he is he does a bit of shooting and skiing. He was born in Pirna on the 4th of May 1983 and his father Eberhard Rösch was also a successful biathlete. Michael has an Olympic gold medal from Turin 2006 when he competed for Germany in the Men’s Relay, and 3 bronze medals from the World Championships also from the Men’s Relay. He has won two World Cup races, the Khanty-Mansiysk Sprint in 2005/06 and the Ruhpolding Pursuitin 2006/07. He has had a difficult couple of years but came back on good form as a Belgian last season! Current holder of the Biathlon23 Best Facial Hair award, he loves his beard and also the exclamation mark!!!!! 😉

Michael is currently crowd funding to help him get to the Olympics and to pay for the season. You can get some really cool things from him if you are able to donate. You can find the page here (in German):
https://www.ibelieveinyou.ch/ibiy/src/#!/projectdetail/12326/fotobomb-fuer-pyeong-chang

Like his Facebook Page: Michael “Ebs” Rösch
Check out his website: http://www.michael-roesch.de/

Why did you become a biathlete? Did your Dad make you do it?! 😉

Of course my Dad was my idol and I started at 6 years old to do biathlon! Early on we saw that there was a talent and we focused on competing in biathlon until I was 16, then I was lucky to finish school and started in the police school of sport and could do my education and training together! At 19 I finished police school and trained 100%!
And of course I liked it as a kid to ski and shoot!!!

Last season was great for you with two 6th place finishes. The first in Pokljuka was emotional, the second in Nove Mesto was impressive going from 30th to 6th! What are your memories from those two races?

Yes two different races with the same result. In Pokljuka I was not so confident after bad results in Östersund so I started without pressure and the key was a good Sprint the day before! 16th and only 1.15min (or so) behind. I knew this range suited me and in Pokljuka I had my first time 0-0-0-0 in 2007 I guess. So everything was perfect that day. Good skiing and good shooting. I actually started to believe I could make the top 10 and in the last loop I was crying in the last kilometers because I thought of Klaus Siebert and my rifle man who had both died just before that 😦 but that pushed me so hard and I was fighting like hell!!!
In Nove Mesto it was more crazy, because in the Sprint I was with the same gap (1.15min or so) 30th. The level was amazingly high but I could make it and I was so proud to beat Rastorgujevs on the last loop! My dad was on the loop and it pushed me to make it!!!!

Why did you decide to compete for Belgium? What is the process of changing nationality? Did it involve eating a lot of chocolates and watching Tintin? 😉

After the cut with the German Federation I decided to change and start for Belgium! For me the first priority was to find a federation where I could get a passport and permission to start in the World Cup! Afterwards it was a disaster to get the passport, I needed to wait almost 2.5 years and the process took such a long time and I couldn’t race. I missed the Olympics in Sochi, I lost my job as a police officer and I lost almost all my sponsors! So the situation was difficult, I had no money but big motivation to show myself to show those who didn’t believe in me and especially those who supported me in this hard time that I could come back!
The process is pretty normal, I sent my files and data to Belgium and then I needed to wait until the process was finished.
OK it took a long time but anyway now I’m happy that I can show my potential on the World Cup!!!!!!
Biathlon is not as important in Belgium as chocolate or beer or fries. 😉

You train with the Swiss team. What have you been doing with them for summer training? What is it like having your old teammate Jörn Wollschläger as your coach? Is he nicer to you than the Swiss guys?! 😉

The Swiss team was one of the major keys in my progress! The team took me with open arms and I felt like I had found my second family there! We push each other to higher limits and we are all good friends! I am 100% with the team (Hotel, Camps, Competition , ski service etc.) so that’s the most important thing for me to know I am safe and can focus 100 percent on sport!!!
Actually it’s funny that Jörn is my coach now because we were teammates and roommates in 2005/06 🙂
I follow his plan 100% and he has helped me a lot!!!!!
Of course his main priority is the Swiss team but we have known each other so long and he supports me like everybody else!!!!
The summer training is mostly long easy trips and hard intervals! I changed my training methods to the Swiss plan and it worked very well!!!!
The camps are mostly in Switzerland so I am often away from home and it’s very expensive there but that’s what I need to do to be successful 😉

At the last Olympics you competed in you won a gold medal in the relay in Turin. 12 years later what are your goals for PyeongChang?

First of all my goal is to start in Korea!!! Not everybody would survive that path which I had to take. So I am proud to have kept my spirit and now my dream will come true with my second Olympics 12 years later with pain and suffering I reach my goal !!!
I don’t know if a medal is realistic but you never know what can happen in sport and especially in Olympic races!!!

You are one of the more experienced biathletes. Do you think the sport has changed much over the years (good or bad) and what changes would you like to see in the future?

I have seen a lot in my career, athletes have come and gone. Some of my generation are still there some are retired. I think sport in general is in a change! I still want to stand for the attributes like fighting, social connection, fairness etc. I would like to see that sport is not only about money and cheating . Sport is the biggest good we have and we should respect this!

Why are you known as “Ebs“?

My Dad’s name is Eberhard and his nickname is EBS so they called my Dad Ebs and I am little Ebs 🙂

Let’s talk beards. You won the Biathlon23 Award for best Facial Hair last season. Will the beard stay for next season? Do you want to retain your title? Is there beard competition with you and Benjamin Weger?

Of course I will keep my beard!!!!!!!!!! If I make a podium I will maybe shave it! (So I hope I only get 4th hahahahahaha).
No it’s nice that people recognise me with my beard and I like that Benjamin has one too so we can talk about beard balm and stuff like girls 😉 I actually found an awesome barber shop nearby in Dresden and I have an appointment to make my beard nice!!!
It’s not a competition it’s a lifestyle!!!!!!!!!

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

Oberhof (best fans), Ruhpolding (first World Cup victory ), Antholz (best atmosphere), Oslo (best location), Tyumen (best of Russia).

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

Sven Fischer (he taught me a lot when we were roommates).

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope 😉

Describe yourself in three words.

Funny, respectful, ambitious

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Switzerland
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Anton Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Norway
Favourite shooting range: Oslo
Lucky bib number: 13
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Me 😉
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Me 😉
Best thing about being a biathlete: You ski in tights in the forest in circles and shoot at black targets… and people love it and cheer for it????? That’s cool …

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