Tag Archives: Russia

Login on to Loginov!

loginov

Alexander Loginov is biathlon’s new young hot shot. Along with Johannes Thingnes Boe he is the future of men’s biathlon. The two of them have brought their Junior rivalry up into the Senior ranks. It will be very interesting to see how the two of them do after pretty successful debut seasons.

Alexander Viktorovich Loginov was born in Saratov, a major port on the Volga River in Russia on the 31st of January 1992. He had a quite astonishing Junior Career winning 4 gold medals and 7 bronze across 4 years. In 2010 in Torsby at 18 he won gold as part of the relay team. The following year in Nove Mesto he helped defend that title and took two bronze medals finishing third in both the Sprint and Pursuit. He won another 3 bronze medals in 2012 in Kontiolahti in the Sprint, Individual and Relay before winning 2 gold and 2 bronze in Obertilliach.

In the meantime he was also winning more medals in the European Championships. In 2012 in Brezno-Osrblie he was first in the Individual and Pursuit and second in the Sprint and Mixed Relay. Then in 2013 in Bansko he took gold in the Sprint, Pursuit and Individual. Not a bad way to start your career in biathlon!

He made his long awaited debut on the World Cup in the 2012/13 season in Holmenkollen and started with a bang! He came 5th in the Sprint and 3rd in the Pursuit getting his first podium and also came 15th in the Mass Start just for good measure. He also helped himself to a 12th place in the Sprint in Sochi and two wins with the Relay team in Annecy and again in Sochi. A pretty decent debut year!

He had a good full season on the World Cup last year. Although not making the same kind of impact as old rival Johannes Boe, who won five races, he had a solid if not spectacular season. He made 2 appearances on the podium both in second place, one in the Sprint in Kontiolahti and one in the Holmenkollen Pursuit. He also made the Top 15 another six times and made one appearance at his home Olympic Games in Sochi coming 30th in the Individual.

Alexander has had a really good biathlon career up to now. He has made a great transition into Senior biathlon and if he doesn’t win a race next season I will be very surprised. I think the more established biathletes will need to watch out for him and I am hoping he can continue his battles with Boe the younger from their Junior days. He will also be a threat at the World Championships and the more experience he gets at the top level the more dangerous he will be. It won’t be long before you are all Login on to Loginov!

Update: Since writing this article Loginov has had a positive sample for doping dating from November 2013 but only tested in November 2014.

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The Road to Sochi.

E. ON IBU Biathlon World Cup - Sochi

As The Hollies used to sing “The road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to – who knows where”. Well we do know where, it’s to Sochi but why everyone is obsessed with the road I don’t know. It’s pretty far away – I suggest you fly!

Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai on the Black Sea coast near the Russia-Georgia border close to the Caucasus Mountains. It has a population of just under 350,000 which makes it Russia’s largest resort city and has a subtropical climate of hot summers and mild winters. If you are lucky enough to be going there for the Winter Olympics there are many things to do to fill in the time between events.

Sochi has two aquariums, a zoo and a Dolphinarium. It has many different museums and if history is your thing you can tour some local Byzantine ruins or visit Stalin’s old summer home. Legend has it that his ghost still wanders its halls at night- so don’t go there at night! Instead you can enjoy the many bars,clubs and casinos in the city.For the nature lover there is also Sochi National Park where you can go to the top of Mount Akhun and if you are brave in February you can go to one of the beaches or take a boat tour.

If you are going to watch the biathlon you will be heading for the Laura Stadium. You can find it to the northwest of the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort. There you will find a world-class 9,600 seater stadium, the courses for biathlon and cross country skiing, the shooting range and a warm-up area. A World Cup round was held in Sochi in March 2013 as a test for the Olympics and it proved to be a very difficult track. Despite that it was a hit with most of the biathletes.

Martin Fourcade said: “The stadium is really huge and the track is hard. This course was made for strong skiers and I’m happy about it.”Raphael Poirée liked the location saying that: “There is so much wood around. Nowadays they cut the wood at the stadiums, so it is not natural.” Tora Berger commented that: “The track is really nice and difficult. I’m looking forward to starting here; it is going to be real fun. At the same time, it might be the most difficult track I’ve ever seen. The uphills are very demanding.”

If you are wondering about the name of the stadium it is named after the nearby River Laura. The name of the river is based on a legend of a young girl, Laura, who chose death over living with an old prince she did not love. After running away from the prince, Laura jumped into the river and Murat, Laura’s lover, could not live with the pain of their parting and jumped in after her. Not the happiest of endings but I am hoping none of the biathletes do the same if they have a bad day on the shooting range!

So The Road to Sochi has been long and winding but there is not much further to travel now. The first event is the Men’s 10km Sprint on the 8th of February. If you are going as a spectator you will have a great time in a great city but please don’t take the road – fly!

For information on Sochi see:
http://www.sochicityguide.com/everything-about-sochi/things-to-do-in-sochi
For information about the Laura Stadium see:
http://www.sochi2014.com/en/spectators-place-laura-cc-bt-center/

The Swede Smell of Success!

oestersund

Well that’s Oestersund over for another year. A disrupted calendar due to high winds but pretty interesting all the same. It began what feels like about 10 years ago with the mixed relay. The Czech Republic won with a very solid performance from all 4 athletes and with a little help from Martin Fourcade who proved he is in fact human and not just a lean, mean, biathlon machine.

He soon put all that behind him though by winning the Individual by over 2 minutes with an “in your face doubters” kind of display. What’s most remarkable about this guy is that after a disaster in the relay and 4 days to sit and dwell on it he comes out and shoots clear. His mental strength is unbelievable and you can’t help but be impressed by the way he handled the situation. We know his physical ability but to have that mental toughness is why he will be so hard to beat this season. Many people would have crumbled after the relay but he comes out even stronger and wins the Sprint too just for good measure. Four-midable!

On the women’s side Tora Berger didn’t get off to a great start either. She also had a bit of a shocker in the relay. Like Fourcade she worked her way back on to the podium finishing 3rd in the Sprint.Elsewhere Gabriela Soukalova started where she finished last season with an impressive performance in the Individual and Ann Kristin Flatland had a great race to win the Sprint. It was great to see Marie-Laure Brunet get the podium that her amazing shooting deserves and Olga Zaitseva making it in there too after a rocky start for Team Russia. Slovakia also earned a podium through Kuzmina.

Special mentions have to go to the French men’s team especially Jean-Guillame Beatrix for his 4th place in the Sprint and Baptiste Jouty for an amazing 13th place in the same race.In fact the French men had 5 finishers in the TOP 40. Also to Fredrik Lindstrom for restoring some home pride in a tough meet for the Swedes. What might have been if he hadn’t fallen we will never know but I like to think he would have won. Tim Burke also hit some early season form in the Sprint and his fellow North American JP Le Guellec proved that he must really like Oestersund by getting a 4th place in the Individual to follow his Sprint win last year. The Austrian men also performed very well in the Individual with Eder in second, and Mesotitsch in third after competing in Idre in the IBU Cup.

The Italians also had some great results from both the men and women. Oberhofer and Weirer both finished in the TOP 10 -a first for Italy and Hofer and De Lorenzi repeated the feat for the men. Kadri Lehtla was the only woman to shoot clear in the Individual and earned her a career best 15th place. Andorra’s Laurie Soulie was also having the race of her life in that event right up until the final shoot.If she hadn’t missed 3 targets she could have made the TOP 5.

On the other hand it was a bit of a disappointing weekend for the big guns from Norway and Russia especially on the men’s side with no podiums for either team.If you are a fan of theirs though you shouldn’t worry too much. I think they both have a master plan that involves peaking in time for the Olympics and if last season’s World Championships are anything to go by the Norwegians at least will be bang on form for Sochi.

It was unfortunate that both the Pursuits were cancelled. It seems my powers of weather forecasting are brilliant as I did predict a hurricane in my last post! Not to worry though the fun starts again in Hochfilzen on Friday. Fourcade, Soukalova, Flatland and the Czech relay team leave Oestersund with the Swede smell of success but can they repeat it in Austria? You’ll have to wait and see!

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Of Para-mount Importance.

zaripov

Everyone is talking about the Sochi Winter Olympics. Who will take home the gold? Svendsen or Fourcade? Berger or Zaitseva? Whoever wins it’s going to be exciting stuff, but please don’t forget that there are 2 Olympic Games in Sochi next year. From the 7th to the 16th of March the Paralympic Games is also taking place.

Biathlon has been a Paralympic sport since 1988 when it was introduced in the Innsbruck Games for athletes with physical impairment. Since 1992 athletes with visual impairment have also been able to compete.

The program consists of 12 events, 6 for men and 6 for women. The athletes are divided into 3 categories which are standing,for those who are able to use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers, sitting and visually impaired. Athletes in the sitting category use a sit-ski or mono-ski to compete. It consists of a fitted chair over a single ski and makes use of a suspension device to help minimize wear and tear on the athlete’s body.

Athletes who are visually impaired use an electronic rifle which allows them to aim by hearing. The increasingly louder acoustic signals emitted as the rifle is pointed towards the centre of the target mean that the athletes aim by sound instead of sight. They are also accompanied by a sighted guide and are recognised as a team by the awarding of duel medals.

The men and women compete in the Pursuit and Individual races. They also compete over the same distances, around 3km in the Pursuit and 12.5km in the Individual, apart from the women’s sitting individual which is slightly shorter at 10km.

The growth of biathlon since 1988 has been very promising. In the first year there were only 3 medal events and no female competitors. In the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver there were 12 medal events competed for by 18 different countries made up of 61 male and 34 female biathletes. The competitors come from the usual biathlon countries like Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Norway and also Canada and The U.S. amongst others.

So who should you look out for in the games next year? Well as it’s in Russia here are a couple of medal contenders for the home country. Irek Zaripov(pictured above) was born on March 27, 1983, in Sterlitamak. He lost both legs in a motorcycle accident at aged 17. He has taken part in 2 Paralympic games in Turin and Vancouver, the latter being much more successful as he won 4 gold medals and 1 silver in biathlon and cross-country skiing sitting events. He received the Order of Merit from the Russian President and he is an ambassador for the Sochi Games. In 2011 he won another 6 medals this time in the IPC Biathlon and Cross Country Skiing World Championships in Russia and therefore is one of the favourites to medal in March.

For the ladies there is fellow Russian Mikhailina Lysova. Competing in the visually impaired section she works with her guide Alexey Ivanov. Now that her nemesis Germany’s Vernea Bentele has retired Lysova has a great chance winning in Sochi. She finished 3rd in both the Pursuit and Individual in Vancouver behind Bentele but in the 2011 World Championships she won gold in both biathlon events and also silver in the relay. Her main competition will come from fellow Russian Elena Remizova so the home country can look forward to a lot of potential medals.

So please remember after you have finished cheering for your countrymen and favourites in February don’t forget to watch the Paralympic Games in March. It’s of para-mount importance!

For information about the Paralympic Games see: http://www.paralympic.org/Events/Sochi2014

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Gold in her Zaits?

zaitseva

It’s a huge year for all the Russian biathletes but Olga Zaitseva probably has a little bit more pressure on her shoulders than the others. She is by far the most experienced biathlete in the team and she was the top female Russian in the Total Score last year coming 11th overall. Therefore the team will be looking to her to deliver medals in Sochi.

Olga Alekseyevna Zaitseva was born on May 16th, 1978 in Moscow. She began her career in 1994 and has won 2 Olympic gold medals, both in the relay, and a silver in the Mass Start in Vancouver. In the World Championships she has 3 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals.

However a pretty dismal display in last year’s World Championship by the Russian team (with the exception of Shipulin) doesn’t bode very well for their chances in Sochi. Surely next season is all about peaking for Sochi and I would have though the World Championships would be the perfect practice for getting that right. In the end it meant the sacking of yet another coach, the third in 3 years for the Russian Biathlon Union.

So what does this mean for Olga? Well she has the hopes of a nation on her shoulders and she showed quite good form in Sochi back in March when she was second in the Individual event. A first place in Oberhof in the Pursuit and a third place in the Mass Start in Ruhpolding means she is capable of beating the other women on any given day. The biggest hurdle will be producing the performance when it counts – at her home Olympics.

At the moment it looks as if Russia’s best chance for gold will come in the relay events but if Olga can produce her top form next February she will also have a chance of an individual medal possibly in the 15km Individual or the Mass Start. Whatever my assessment of her chances I’m sure that Olga definitely has gold in her Zaits!

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Ant – holz Shipulin!

shipulin

Anton Vladimirovich Shipulin not only has the best name for a bond villain ever but is also a fantastic biathlete! He was born on August 21, 1987 in Tyumen, Russia and shares the biathlon limelight with older sister Anastasiya Kuzmina.

Last year was pretty successful for Anton. He won 2 medals at the World Championships in Nove Mesto, a silver in the mass start and a bronze in the pursuit. He was named Russia’s top male biathlete for helping them to Nation’s Cup victory as well as finishing 3rd in the pursuit standings and in the top ten of the total score.

He lists his favourite event as the mass start but recently he has picked up better results in the pursuit and sprint races. I don’t know what his favourite track is but I would hazard a guess at it being Antholz- Anterselva in Italy. Why do I think this? Well his results there have always been good. Last year he won both the sprint and pursuit races, the year before he was 2nd in the mass start and the year before that he took another victory in the sprint.

So what is it about Antholz that makes Anton produce these great results? The area is at altitude so maybe he performs better in those conditions. The Russian team often train there too, sometimes in between World Cup events and so that’s another reason why he is so good there. Or maybe it’s just that different athletes perform better on certain tracks and Antholz is his. I bet he wishes the Olympics were being held there as he would have a great chance of winning medals.

However they are being held in Sochi and as a Russian biathlete there is huge pressure on Anton and the rest of the team to be successful at their home Olympics. Last year seemed like a big training run for them to prepare for this season. I really hope the home team can get some good results in Sochi as I know biathlon is really popular in Russia and the biathletes have put a lot of work in to prepare for it already. For Anton it’s a great chance to take a medal in front of his home fans. All you need to do is pretend you are in Antholz, Shipulin!

I know a few Russians read the blog so большое спасибо!

Selected Results:

1st Pursuit 2012/13 Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
1st Sprint 2012/13 Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
1st Sprint 2010/11 Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
2nd Mass Start 2012/13 Nove Mesto (CZE)
2nd Mass Start 2011/12 Antholz-Anterselva (ITA)
3rd Pursuit 2012/13 Nove Mesto (CZE)

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