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Season Review 2017/18: Biathlete23

WOW what a season it has been for Biathlete23! Wins, podiums and the small matter of an Olympic Gold medal!!! A return to Annecy the scene of our first ever victory and finally recognition from the IBU of the awesomeness of bib23 (see photo above). To top it all off there were three British biathletes in bib23 in the same season! You see hard work pays off in the end kids!

For anyone unfamiliar with Biathlete23 (where have you been?!) this blog follows the results of whichever biathlete happens to be in bib23 for each race. It treats them like one athlete and adds up the score to see how this biathlete would have performed over the year.

So far in Biathlete23 ‘s career:
Year 1: 802 points
Year 2: 948 points
Year 3: 760 points
Year 4: 921 Points

This season the points were down. With a total of 774 made up of 431 for the men and 343 for the women. That would put biathlete23 in 19th place in the Men’s Overall and 22nd place in the Women’s Overall.

However that doesn’t really tell the tale of biathlete23 this season. Last year there were no wins, this year there were two on the World Cup courtesy of Anastasiya Kuzmina in the Annecy Sprint and Martin Fourcade in the Ruhpolding Individual. There was also a podium from Antonin Guigonnat in the Ruhpolding Mass Start.

Great results but then came the Olympic Games in PyeongChang and Laura Dahlmeier. She only went and won gold in bib23 in the Women’s Sprint! AMAZING!!!

As an extra bonus for me Scott Dixon, Amanda Lightfoot and Scott Meenagh (at the Paralympic Games!) all wore bib23 this season! 🙂

I did seriously consider retiring biathlete23 after all that as I don’t think it will get much better, but then I guess I am more of a Bjoerndalen than a Neuner! The bib will be back!

This season started in Oestersund with Darya Domracheva the first biathlete to wear 23. She was 14th in the Individual. Volodymyr Siemkov was 78th in the Men’s Individual. In the Sprints Hilde Fenne was 18th and Maxim Tsvetkov 35th. In the Pursuits Marie Dorin Habert was 14th and Lukas Hofer 11th! Biathlete23 left Sweden with 113 points (men 36, women 77).

Next stop was Hochfilzen. It was a very exciting time for me with Scotland’s own Scott Dixon in bib23. He was 105th in the Sprint but I was just happy to see him in 23! Mona Brorsson was 81st in the Sprint and in the Pursuits Justine Braisaz was 35th and Sean Doherty 17th. That meant just 30 points (men 24, women 6).

The third round took place in the spiritual home of biathlete23, Annecy. Having won both Sprint races there 4 years ago hopes were high. Those hopes were not disappointed! Anastasiya Kuzmina won the Sprint race and secured the first win of the season and 60 points! In the men’s Sprint Vytautas Strolia was 49th. In the Pursuits Paulina Fialkova was 43rd and Sebastian Samuelsson was 36th. The Mass Starts saw Tatiana Akimova finish in 18th and Timofey Lapshin in 28th. That meant a points total of 101 (men 18, women 83).

After Christmas it was time for Oberhof. It wasn’t the best start to 2018! Galina Vishnevskaya was 70th in the Sprint and George Buta was 83rd. Sarah Beaudry was 51st in the Pursuit and Alexander Loginov was 18th. Biathlete23 got 23 points- how ironic!

You can’t keep a good bib down though and Ruhpolding was a triumph! Martin Fourcade won the Individual for win number two of the season. Iryna Kryuko was 11th. In the Mass Starts Synnoeve Solemdal was 11th and Antonin Guigonnat was 3rd!! Points galore – 152 to be exact (men 108, women 44).

The last round before the Olympics was of course Antholz. It got off to a great start with Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht finishing 6th in the Sprint and Simon Desthieux in 11th. Eva Puskarcikova was 30th in the Pursuit but Timofey Lapshin didn’t finish the race. Henrik L’Abee Lund was 11th in the Mass Start and Anais Chevalier was 26th. Total points were 119 (men 60, women 59).

The Olympics didn’t count towards World Cup points unfortunately but the team did well. Laura got gold in the Sprint and Vladmir Chepelin was 34th. In the Pursuits Jessica Jislova was 23rd and Jakov Fak 47th. In the Individuals we got another Brit in bib23 with Amanda Lighfoot who finished 73rd. Then came Fourcade. Just had to hit the last two targets for an easy win and a second gold but he missed two and finished 5th! Disappointing for him and me! The Mass Starts saw Lena Haecki in 23rd and Antonin Guigonnat in 19th.

Next was Kontiolahti where Simon Schempp was 8th in the Sprint and Federica Sanfilippo 46th. In the Mass Starts Freddie Lindstrom was 15th and Celia Aymonier 24th. The points from Finland were 77 (men 60, women 17).

Holmenkollen was round 8 and Norwegians made up 3 of the 4 biathletes in 23. Synnoeve Solemdal was 48th in the Sprint but Arnd Peiffer was 6th! Ingrid Tandrevold was 23rd in the Pursuit and Erlend Bjoentegaard was 34th. The points were 52 (men 45, women 7).

The final round was in Tyumen and half the team were Russian. Kalev Ermits was 78th in the Sprint but Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht was 21st. Evgeniy Garanichev and Katherina Innerhofer were both 23rd in the Pursuits! Spooky! Anton Babikov was 15th in the Mass Start and Galina Vishnevskaya was the final biathlete23 of the season and she was 25th. The total points were 80 (men 30, women 50).

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Season Review 2017/18: Men

Finally we got a World Cup season where the Overall Title went to the final round! Thank you Johannes Thingnes Boe! Obviously it wasn’t enough to stop Martin Fourcade winning his seventh Total Score in a row but it created a lot more excitement for the fans.

Mr. Fourcade also won the small crystal globes for the Sprint, Pursuit and Mass Start and shared the Individual with Johannes. The Frenchman is incredible. He almost finished on the podium in every single World Cup race he started just missing the final one in Tyumen. How he can achieve such a level of consistency in this sport is beyond belief. Biathlon is one of the hardest sports in the world and he makes it look easy.

I do have a suspicion that he is actually a machine. Something like that one from Terminator 2 that used to turn into a silver puddle and then reform again. WADA should be checking for that! 😉

Johannes Boe did have a great season even though he couldn’t topple Fourcade. He had a few races where he seemed to get his pacing wrong going too fast on the first loop and letting it affect his shooting. He also played around with his shooting style too which lost him points along the way. He is still young though and he will learn and improve meaning next season could be amazing!

Third place in the Overall went to Anton Shipulin. It was a tough season for the Russian with all the things going on off the track and not being able to compete at the Olympics. He showed however that on his day he is a still a match for anyone.

Arnd Peiffer was the top German finishing fourth overall, Lukas Hofer had a great end to the season and finished fifth with Jakov Fak coming sixth.

There were only another five guys who managed to win a race this season. Tarjei Boe, Anton Shipulin, Julian Eberhard all took victories and Henrik L’Abee Lund and Maxim Tsvetkov won their first ever World Cup races.

There were some big improvements on the men’s side this season too. Antonin Guigonnat especially made a huge leap from someone who was drifting between the IBU Cup and the World Cup to a podium finisher. He got two third places and was 20th overall this season.

Fellow Frenchman Simon Desthieux had a solid season finally getting his first podium and was 8th overall. Andrejs Rastorgujevs has improved his shooting dramatically. It led to his second World Cup podium finish and 13th place overall. His first win won’t be far away.

The Olympic gold medals went to Arnd Peiffer in the Sprint, Johannes Boe in the Individual and Fourcade took the Pursuit and the Mass Start titles. Sebastian Samuelsson also had a great Olympic Games taking a silver medal in the Pursuit and gold in the relay. If he continues like this he will be a thorn in Martin’s side next season!

The men’s relay went to a stunning performance by the Swedish team that included Samuelsson as well as Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin and Freddie Lindstroem.

The Rookie of the Year also went to France and Emilien Jacquelin. It was well deserved after his performances in Antholz particularly, finishing 5th in the Sprint and 6th in the Pursuit. He also got a spot on the French Olympic team which is very hard to do!

Norway won the Relay World Cup. Sweden were second and France third. The Norwegians also took the Nations Cup title.

The fun surprise of the season came from the Belgian relay team. Michael Roesch, Florent Claude, Thierry Langer and Tom Lahaye-Goffart provided a lot of excitement leading a couple of races and doing really well for a new team.

The sad part of the season came with the announcements of biathletes deciding to end their careers. Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke and Jaroslav Soukup have all hung up their rifles for good and we wish them well for the future. They will be missed.

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Tyumen 2018: The Sprints!

It’s the final weekend of the World Cup already! How did that happen?

We are in Tyumen. Well some people are and some people are not. As Russia is not yet compliant with anti-doping rules some biathletes have chosen to boycott the final World Cup round. Also all the samples from the biathletes taken here will be sent back to Germany for testing. Wouldn’t like to be sitting next to the person on the plane who has all the urine samples in their hand luggage!!

Anyway back to the racing. The final Sprints took place on Thursday and Friday. The men raced first and in a massive shock Martin Fourcade won the race! I mean when does that happen? Oh yes every weekend that’s right! The man is phenomenal!

He shot clean and skied fast to take the victory by 33 seconds. Second place was a bit of a surprise though with Simon Desthieux getting his first ever podium finish. He also shot clean and finished just 0.3 of a second ahead of Freddie Lindstrom who was third.

The shooting conditions were ideal with the top seven finishers hitting 10/10. Someone who didn’t however was Johannes Boe. He managed to miss 2 on the prone to throw away his chances of winning the sprint crystal globe!

Andrejs Rastorgujevs was 4th, Erik Lesser 5th and Maxim Tsvetkov and Quentin Fillon Maillet tied for 6th place.

Martin Fourcade won the Sprint title by just 2 points in the end from Johannes Boe. He also secured the Overall Title for the seventh year in a row. I have decided that he is quite good at biathlon! 😉

The Women raced on Friday and it was a really close run thing which doesn’t happen that often in the Sprints. Darya Domracheva won this one hitting 10/10 to beat Kaisa Makarainen by just 1.2 seconds. Kaisa also hit the perfect 10. Third place went to Tiril Eckhoff who missed 1 target in the prone.

Anais Bescond was 4th, Lisa Vittozzi 5th and Laura Dahlmeier was 6th.

Anastasiya Kuzmina was 12th with 3 misses but it was enough to give her the Sprint title and the small crystal globe. The fight for the Overall Title continues to the Pursuit.

There was also some personal bests today for Estonia’s Meril Beilmann and Regina Oja in 40th and 50th. Moldovia’s Anna Ghilenko was 60th meaning she qualified for her first ever Pursuit.

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PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Men’s Relay

Wow it has been a fantastic two weeks of biathlon in PyeongChang. Possibly the best ever Olympic Games for biathlon in terms of exciting races and all the different nations who picked up medals.

Today was the final race (sniff,sniff) but it was another good one. The conditions were much better for the men than the women but curiously only one team avoided the penalty loop for the men and three did for the women!!!

The golden team today was Sweden. They were fantastic from start to finish. Let’s start at the start though and the first leg saw Germany firmly in control of the race with a great leg from Erik Lesser. He used 1 spare in the stand and produced a brilliant ski to hand over with a comfortable lead.

Matej Kazar did a great job for Slovakia hitting 10/10, Austria were up there with Tobias Eberhard, Sweden were in the mix after 1 spare from Peppe Femling, Artem Pryma for Ukraine hit 10/10 and Lars Birkeland had a solid start for Norway using 2 spares. It was France who were the major casualty with Simon Desthieux having a disaster with 2 penalty loops on the stand.

Leg 2 saw Benedikt Doll keep Germany’s lead until the stand where he did 2 penalty loops letting all the following teams back into the race. It was the Czech Republic with Michal Slesingr who took advantage using just 1 spare. Jesper Nelin and Simon Eder were still towards the front along with Tarjei Boe.

Jaroslav Soukup was on the third leg for the Czech team but he was being chased by Sebastian Samuelsson, Johannes Boe and Julian Eberhard three of the fastest skiers there are!

Eberhard cracked first with 2 penalty loops on his standing shoot, Soukup had to do one too but Samuelsson and Boe just used 1 spare each and were neck and neck at the exchange. Arnd Peiffer did a great job for Germany hitting 10/10 and putting them back up to third. It was good to see after his Mixed Relay meltdown. Meanwhile Martin Fourcade’s efforts to haul back time failed when he also incurred a penalty loop probably from skiing too hard.

So the final leg came down to Fredrik Linstrom against Emil Svendsen. Now we all remember what happen to Emil in Sochi on the last leg when he took Norway from 1st to 4th so he must have been nervous! They matched each other on the prone and behind them Simon Schempp needed all three spares and so the gold medal was between Norway and Sweden.

When they arrived for the final shoot the wind suddenly got up and both missed their first shots. Lindstrom hit the other 4 but Emil missed another. With 1 spare Lindstrom hit the last target and the gold belonged to Sweden. Emil couldn’t hit his final target with the spares and had to go on the penalty loop.

Schempp couldn’t capitalize on Svendsen’s error and ended up on the penalty loop himself. He had enough time to still take the bronze medal, with Norway in silver and Sweden with just 7 spare rounds and no penalty loops were well deserved gold medallists.

Austria were 4th, France 5th and the USA were 6th.

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PyeongChang 2018: Olympic Mixed Relay!

Yet another dramatic biathlon race in PyeongChang. The Mixed Relay did not disappoint – well it did disappoint Germany but they aren’t short of medals, are they?!

The Italians were the first team to take the lead in this race. The brilliant Lisa Vittozzi, who should get a special gold medal for her performance, shot 10/10! She was so quick and accurate she made Martin Fourcade look like a beginner! Vanessa Hinz for Germany and Marie Dorin Habert did the same but Vittozzi handed over in the lead.

Marte Olsbu needed spares and put Norway on the back foot. Mona Brorsson ended Swedish hopes with 3 penalty loops and Paulina Fialkova did 5. I can only assume there was a problem with her rifle.

That left Dorothea Wierer at the front closely followed by Laura Dahlmeier and Anais Bescond. Bescond missed 1 in the prone but Wierer and Dahlmeier cleaned to give them a gap. In the stand Dahlmeier missed 1 while Wierer and Bescond needed all their spares.

Dahlmeier handed over a comfortable lead to Erik Lesser meanwhile Tiril Eckhoff went on the penalty loop for Norway and Dasha brought Belarus up to 4th.

Lesser had a straightforward leg just requiring 1 spare in the stand. It was the same for Lukas Hofer but Simon Desthieux for France hit 10/10. While that was going on Johannes Boe had dragged Norway right back to the front needing 1 spare but skiing fast.

Arnd Peiffer, a late replacement for the ill Simon Schempp, was out in front with Martin Fourcade, Emil Svendsen and Dominik Windisch chasing him down.

Peiffer had a nervous prone shoot needing 2 spares, Fourcade hit 5 and Svendsen and Windisch both used a spare. Fourcade was then left alone to hunt down Peiffer and challenge for the gold.

In the end it was heartbreak for Sprint gold medallist Peiffer as he went on the penalty loop on the stand. With Fourcade hitting 5 gold was assured for France. Svendsen used 1 spare to put Norway into silver medal position and Windisch used 2 which meant came out of the range just in front of Peiffer.

With gold and silver decided it was a race for bronze. It came down to a sprint and Windisch took it on the line. The German team protested that he had changed line in the straight and impeded Peiffer but after an agonising wait the jury decided that Peiffer didn’t have slow down due to Windisch’s actions and the bronze stayed with Italy.

Belarus were fantastic finishing 5th and Finland had a great run in 6th. Much will be made of Martin Fourcade winning a 5th gold medal but he is part of the team and they left him in a fabulous position. Occasionally Fourcade lets himself down like in the Idividual race but he rarely lets his team down and he didn’t today.

Spare a though for Arnd Peiffer and the German team though as it’s a tough thing to happen to anyone.

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Antholz 2018: The Mass Starts!

Can you believe the Mass Starts in Antholz on Sunday were the last World Cup races before the Winter Olympics!!! Where has this season gone?!

We had two more good races to watch before we all look towards South Korea. The women went first and conditions had changed overnight. No more lovely sun but a whole lot of snow!

The first shoot didn’t really tell us much about the race as half of the field cleared the first prone. Dorothea Wierer and Denise Herrmann were a little quicker on the range than the others and took an early lead in the second loop.

At the second shoot Wierer cleared again but Herrmann missed two. It was now Kaisa Makarainen, Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht and Valj Semerenko who took up the chase after the Italian.

Wierer cleared again at shoot three to maintain her lead. Kaisa missed 2 but Anastasiya Kuzmina had now entered the picture hitting five with Vanessa Hinz, Franziska Preuss and Semerenko following her after they had hit 15/15.

Making up ground from behind after an early penalty was Darya Domracheva. At the final stand Wierer missed 2 targets and all the others missed 1 to leave the door open for the chasers. It was Dasha who took the opportunity hitting 5/5 to lead out of the range. Kuzmina was a few seconds behind her but Dasha made a decisive break and never looked back.

It was her first win of the season and she is looking on great form for the Olympics. Could she do a double treble in the style of Usain Bolt? It’s looking possible now!

Kuzmina held on for second with Kaisa Makarainen hunting almost everyone down with her ski speed to finish third.

Marte Olsbu was 4th, Laura Dahlmeier 5th and Maren Hammerschmidt 6th.

The men’s race avoided the snowfall but still had heavy tracks to ski on. Martin Fourcade and Johannes Boe started out in front but Johannes missed 2 at the first shoot and Martin cleaned. His teammate Simon Desthieux left the range first followed by Fourcade and Anton Shipulin.

At the second shoot both Martin and Anton missed 1 target which let the clean shooting Arnd Peiffer and Emil Svendsen take over the lead. It didn’t last though as at shoot three Emil missed 2 and Arnd 3!! Of course Fourcade shot clean and raced into the lead.

By now it was Tarjei Boe who was behind Fourcade but he had a group of five chasing him for second place. The last shoot saw Martin miss a target but none of the chasers managed to clean so he was free to ski to victory.

That left Tarjei and teammate Erlend Bjoentegaard to fight it out for second. They both went on the penalty loop but it was Tarjei who was faster on the skis and took second place. Third was Bjoentegaard’s first World Cup podium and he has rediscovered his early season form.

Benedikt Doll was 4th, Johannes Kuehn was 5th which was his career best finish and Johannes Boe was 6th after missing 5 targets!

The World Cup takes a break until March for the Olympics with Kaisa Makarainen in the yellow bib just 15 points ahead of Anastasiya Kuzmina. Martin Fourcade stays in yellow for the men with a 54 points lead over Johannes Boe.

Next race is on the 10th of February! The Women’s Olympic Sprint!!!!
(That’s if you don’t count the Open European Championships, 2 Para-nordic World Cups, IBU Cup 6, Junior Cup 3 and the Junior European Championships!) 😉


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Annecy 2017: The Pursuits!

The Pursuits can be strange races, can’t they? In Annecy we had two leaders with comfortable margins out in front of the races, but by the end one had trebled their lead while the other lost all the time on the first shoot!

Unfortunately for Anastasiya Kuzmina she was the one who lost the lead. She started 34 seconds ahead of Laura Dahlmeier but missed 3 targets in the first prone. Sometimes the pressure of leading tells and mistakes are easy to make. That left Dahlmeier to lead the rest of the race quite easily hitting 15/15 on the first three shoots.

However she missed her last shot on the final stand and left the door open for Kuzmina to retake the lead. Again the pressure was high and she also missed her final target. That meant that Dahmeier took her first win of the season and left Kuzmina in second place.

Third place went to Lisa Vittozzi who shot 19/20. Vita Semerenko looked like third place was hers shooting 15/15 and skiing steadily. On the last shoot she missed 3 which is very unusual for her and let Vittozzi in.

Selina Gasparin was 4th, Denise Herrmann stayed in 5th and Susan Dunklee moved up to 6th for her best result so far this season.

Emma Lunder had a fantastic race coming from 34th to 18th to get her best World Cup result. Tiril Eckhoff went from 50th to 24th and Ekaterina Avvakummova went from 53rd to 31st.

In the men’s race Johannes Boe was incredible! He won the race without missing a target and by a margin over over a minute! He has done the double double in Annecy after winning the Sprint and Pursuit there in 2013.

Martin Fourcade stayed in second missing 2 targets. He only has one chance left to secure a home win in the Mass Start. Anton Shipulin moved up from 6th to third with just 1 miss.

Alexander Loginov went from 18th to claim 4th, Simon Schempp dropped to 5th and Simon Desthieux was 6th.

Clean shooting was the key to success today. Lowell Bailey hit 20/20 to move from 35th to 14th, Florent Claude did the same going from 36th to 18th for a big personal best. Jeremy Finello hit all the targets moving from 54th to 21st also getting his best World Cup finish. Latvia’s Oskars Muiznieks missed 1 shot while going from 51st to 35th for his career best result. Lukas Hofer also missed just 1 target and went from 40th to 7th!

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