Tag Archives: Russian biathlon

Garanichev: Russia’s Pocket Rocket!

garan

Competition is fierce if you are a Russian biathlete. The sport in Russia is hugely popular and there are many excellent Russian biathletes. One of them is Evgeniy Garanichev. At 1 metre 69 centimetres he is one of the smaller biathletes on the World Cup but it hasn’t stopped him being very successful.

Garanichev was born on the 13th of February 1988 in Novoilinskiy, Russia. He currently lives in Tyumen and this was the place where he achieved great success last season. In the Open European Championships he won gold in the Mixed Relay, gold in the Sprint and silver in the Pursuit just losing out to his teammate Anton Babikov.

The medals in Tyumen are not the only ones he has won however. Back at his home Olympics in Sochi 2014 he won the bronze medal in the Individual but unfortunately wasn’t chosen for the Men’s Relay team and so missed out on a gold medal. It was a good event for him and although there is now a cloud hanging over many of the Russian athletes in terms of doping no accusations have yet been made against the biathletes from Sochi. He also won 3 medals in the Universiade back in 2011, silver in the Mixed Relay and two bronze for the Sprint and Pursuit.

At the World Championships in Oslo last season his best result was 6th place in the Sprint event. There could have been the possibility of a medal for Garanichev but maybe his appearance and results in Tyumen was one competition too many and tired him out a little. He still achieved some really good results there finishing in the Top 25 of every event.

Overall on the World Cup he finished as the 7th best biathlete. He was also in 7th place on the Total Score the previous year which is his best place finish to date. In his career he has only ever won one World Cup race which was back in Holmenkollen in season 2011/12 when he took the Sprint race. However he has had many podium places.

Now aged 28 Garanichev has a few big seasons ahead of him. We have the World Championships in Hochfilzen and then the Olympic Games in South Korea. As a new father he will have to juggle training and family life but the next two seasons will probably be his last chance to win more medals and to propel himself into the Top 5 biathletes.

Firstly however he has to become Russia’s top biathlete and so needs to become more consistent to overhaul Anton Shipulin. Only then can he set his sights on beating the likes of Fourcade, Boe and Schempp to those all important medals. He may not be the biggest biathlete from Russia but this pocket rocket has the chance to be a really successful one!

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A long way to Malysh-GO!!!

malyshko

You would assume that Dmitry Malyshko has been on the World Cup for a long time now but in fact he only made his debut in 2011. At 28 he is reaching his prime as a biathlete and it will be a big season coming up for him. Born in Sosnovy Bor in the Leningrad region of Russia, Dmitry is now an established member of the Russian national team.

He enjoyed early success on the World Cup stage as he got his first podium in his first season with a third place finish in Kontiolahti. His second season 2012/13 was his best so far as he won twice doing the double in the Oberhof Sprint and Pursuit races. He also took two second place results that season in the Hochfilzen Pursuit and the Ruhpolding Mass Start. He narrowly missed out on a medal in the Nove Mesto World Championships coming in fourth in both the Pursuit and the Relay. Despite not getting a medal it was an impressive season for him and he finished 8th in the Total Score in only his second year on the World Cup.

Since then however his results have not been so good. Of course he was part of the relay team which won gold on home soil in the Sochi Olympic Games and it was a fantastic performance along with teammates Anton Shipulin, Alexey Volkov and Evgeny Ustyugov. Individually however the best he could do in Sochi was 20th in the Mass Start. He did get a couple of 4th place finishes on the World Cup too but no podiums.

Last season he returned to the podium once with third place in the Oberhof Mass Start but he didn’t enjoy a good World Championships in Kontiolahti with his best result there a 34th place in the Sprint. Compared to his teammate Anton Shipulin he didn’t have a successful season. As a Russian biathlete you have massive pressure on your shoulders to do well as there are a lot of other athletes in line to take your place.

Dmitry has shown however that he does have the talent to match the results of compatriot Shipulin but he seems to lack the consistency of his teammate. He seems to perform well as part of the Relay team but needs to show that form more often individually. Shipulin has been criticised for training away from the rest of the Russian team but it hasn’t done him any harm looking at last season’s performances. Maybe Malyshko could try a similar tactic as he needs to do something to help his chances. His ski speed last year was down on previous years and his shooting stats were outside of the TOP 20 men on the tour.

As a young man he looked up to biathletes such as Bjoerndalen, Poiree, Fischer and Cherezov. The consistency of Cherezov is what he should be trying to emulate. He could also take inspiration from the others in the way that they were not afraid to try different training methods, take risks and to try new things. He missed one World Cup round last season but that doesn’t account for his worst ever finish in the Total Score of 31st.

Dmitry has a big season ahead of him. If he could recapture his form of 2 years ago he will be back challenging at the front of the biathlon field. He is very capable of doing this as he is a really talented biathlete. He needs to take some inspiration from what Shipulin has achieved and have the self belief to know that he can perform at a similar level to his teammate. It’s imperative that he improves next season as places in the Russian team are very hard to keep. However I have faith that he can do it because anyone who describes their favourite food as good steak and potatoes has a long way to Malysh-GO!!!

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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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HO HO HOchfilzen!

hochfilzen

It’s close enough to Christmas to get away with that title,right? Well either way we got a few pre-Christmas treats from the biathletes this weekend in Hochfilzen. It all kicked off with the women in the Sprint which saw Selina Gasparin taking her and Swizerland’s first win on the World Cup with a great skiing and shooting performance. Some great shooting also saw Veronika Vitkova match her best result so far in second and Irina Starykh taking her top result finishing third. I was especially pleased about Irina Starykh as she just happened to be wearing bib 23!

It was followed by the men and Lars Berger stormed back onto the World Cup by winning the Sprint with an amazing skiing performance after starting out on the IBU Cup.He managed to beat Martin Fourcade into second and a resurgent Ole Einar Bjoerndalen into third. It’s great to see Berger doing well again for his fun personality if nothing else. I would also like someone to check Bjoerndalen’s birth certificate to make sure he really will be 40 next month.I don’t know how he does it! Whatever his parents fed him when he was young I want some of it!

On Saturday we had the first men’s and women’s relays of the season. The Ukrainian women’s team put in a stellar performance to win. All of their athletes did a great job but Julia Dzhyma stands out for her overall performance over the weekend. They were followed by Germany and France but Norway were noticeably absent from the podium. Over on the men’s side however the Norwegian men won with a dominant display and a characteristically great last leg from Svendsen. Sweden took a great second place with Bergman striking like a cobra into the stadium to fight off the Russian charge and leave them in third.

On to Sunday and the Pursuit. A great race from Solemdal gave her a second victory in Hochfilzen and made up for another difficult day on the shooting range for Tora Berger. Dzhyma took a fantastic second place thanks to some great shooting and Poland’s Palka made up 8 places to finish third. Unsurprisingly Martin Fourcade won the men’s race followed by Svendsen and Boe. Just a little tip for the Norwegians you can’t give Fourcade a 40 second lead in a Pursuit if you want a chance of winning it! Having said that both the Norwegian guys have stepped up a gear from Oestersund and it’s just a pity they won’t be competing in France this coming weekend.

For the home crowd Cristoph Sumann gave them something to cheer about getting 5th in the Sprint and 7th in the Pursuit. They got 4th in the men’s relay too but unfortunately Simon Eder couldn’t carry on his form from last week in Oestersund and Dominik Landertinger didn’t perform as well as he would have hoped at home. The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews.

Standouts for me from Hochfilzen have to be Simon Schempp and the German team in general. Schempp finished 8th in the Sprint, 6th in the Pursuit and 6th in the relay. Daniel Boehm and Arnd Peiffer got 2 TOP 20 finishes and the women were second in the relay. Julia Dhzyma as I mentioned before had a good weekend all round finishing first in the relay, second in the Pursuit and fifth in the Sprint. The big movers in the Pursuit were Alexis Boeuf and Benjamin (Darth) Weger gaining 20 and 34 places respectively and the Semerenko twins and Gabriela Soukalova(Bib23) who started 22,23 and 24 and finished 7,8,9.

So after HO HO Hochfilzen now all thoughts turn to France and a first visit to Annecy. None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy!

P.S Has anyone else noticed the interviewer in the IBU official Press Conference always asks a question with the word “surprise” in it. I can’t watch them properly because it makes me laugh everytime I hear it! Listen out for it in Annecy!

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Targeting success! Season Preview: Men

biath

It’s that time of year again folks! After an eternity (well just summer and autumn really) biathlon is back! The season kicks off on Sunday in Oestersund with the mixed relay followed by the Individual,the Sprint and finally the Pursuit. So the boys will be back on track with all guns blazing-literally! It’s a big season for everyone with the Olympics starting in a mere 3 months so what can we expect form the men’s side this year?

Well as you might have guessed the big favourite has to be Martin Fourcade. Five Chrystal globes last season and a handful of medals from the World Championships makes him the guy they will all be gunning for. Unfortunately for the others like a French wine he seems to be getting better with age.

What about his main competition this season. Well the top two on his tail have to be the Russian ladies favourites from Norway Emil Hegle Svendsen and Tarjei Bø. These boys will be very hard to beat as illness hit seasons for both of them last year were still better than most others full seasons.

Beyond these three who else is left to challenge. There is a whole team from Russia who can do well but with their main aim the home Olympics in Sochi I can’t see them putting too much effort into winning a Chrystal Globe. Elsewhere we have the Germans. A poor season last year by their own high standards should see a highly motivated Peiffer, Birnbacher and co. launch a major attack on the podiums this year.

We should also see continually improving athletes like Jakov Fak and Dominik Landertinger being a challenge to Fourcade’s dominance and closer to home he will have to watch out for his French teammates and of course his own brother. Have I forgotten someone? Oh yes – young Ole Einar Bjørndalen! You can never count him out for a race win but a Globe will be much more difficult.

What I like best though about the opening round of the IBU World Cup is that no one really knows what shape they are going to be in at the start and it can throw up some unexpected results. Take the first Sprint podium last year which saw JP Le Guellec win his first race and Alexis Boeuf and Cristoph Sumann take second and third.

So who is going to win the prizes this time round? Well looking into my Chrystal Globe I can see victory for……now that would be telling!!! All I know for sure is that it’s going to be one hell a season with so many male biathletes at the top of their game and all competing for the few Olympic medals on offer. My advice – just sit back and enjoy the show and whoever wins the Globes and medals will thoroughly deserve them all!

Good luck guys!

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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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