Tag Archives: Simon Fourcade

Shawna Pendry: The Interview!

Photo courtesy of Shawna Pendry.

Shawna Pendry is a 17-year-old British biathlete who is based in France. She was born in England but moved to France aged four. She started cross country skiing when she was eight and biathlon at eleven in Font-Romeo where Simon and Martin Fourcade started. Last season was her first competing internationally on the IBU Junior Cup.

Check out her website: https://shawna-pendry.site123.me/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I became a biathlete because my best friend cross country skied and it looked fun so I also joined the ski club, a few years later we started shooting and I loved it! Since then I have been doing biathlon.

How do you assess last season overall? Were you happy with it? Was there anything you were disappointed with?

Last season was my first season competing in international races so it was pretty scary but I also learned so much. I am happy because at each competition I had the impression that I was getting better and stronger but also because I reached one of my main goals that was to qualify for a pursuit race. I am not disappointed with anything because I know that with every mistake I made I also learned something.

How do you manage going to school with training and competing in biathlon?

It is hard to do both school and sport especially in winter because I am away so often on competitions but I am lucky to got to a “sporting school” were most of the students are like me so the teachers are very helpful, and then when I am away I have to try and work even if all I want to do is ski and sleep.

It’s not easy being a British biathlete. How are you funded and do you get support from the BBU or train with any of the British team?

I do receive financial support from the BBU who with the aid from their IBU funding cover the majority of my travel and accommodation costs during the race season. I still need to fund my equipment which I do with the aid of my parents and I am always looking for external help like crowdfunding or grants just like the ‘Vincent Budge Award’ from the British Skiers Trust that I am very proud to have just received.
Training wise I train with my local team and I will join the British team for an on snow training camp in the autumn, apart from that I do not do any training with them as I need to stay at school this season.

What is it like training where Martin and Simon Fourcade started? Have you ever met them?

It is really inspiring coming from where Martin and Simon started because I tell myself that they have become some of the best biathletes in the world so why could I not maybe some day? I have already met both of them and they’re really nice, I actually trained just next to Martin the other week when he came back home.

What are your plans for summer training?

For this summer I am training mostly at Font-Romeu and I have 3 training camps with my local team that I am looking forward to.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strengths are my motivation and determination and my weaknesses are being impatient and skiing up hills.

What are your goals for this season?

My main goal for the upcoming season is to represent Team GB at the Lausanne Youth Olympic games. I also want to qualify myself to as many pursuits as possible!

If you have any time after school and training what do you like to do in your free time?

I love cooking, especially cakes and cookies (they taste so good after a hard training!) and I also like reading.

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

Yes, my favorite track is at Sjusjøen in Norway because that is where I shot my first 10/10 in competition and qualified to my first pursuit race, and because Norway is so pretty!

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

My favorite biathlete would either be Tiril Eckhoff or Ingrid Tandrevold because they are both inspiring women and they make biathlon look fun.

Does your rifle have a name?

No it doesn’t but I think if it did it would be something like Gwendolyn or Bernadette!

Describe yourself in three words.

Determined / organized / impatient .

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): the one with unicorns
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Finland
Favourite shooting range: Sjusjøen
Lucky bib number: I don’t have one.
Funniest biathlete on the Junior Cup/Nicest biathlete on the Junior Cup: I don’t really know anyone because I’m shy, come and say hi next season if you’re reading this!
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travelling to awesome places and missing school for it!

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Spring Things 2019!

It’s summer! Not a biathlon fans favourite season is it? But it means there is only autumn between now and winter! Before the biathlon23 summer season of interviews starts it’s time to remind you what things happened in spring. That’s right -it’s Spring Things!!!

Retirements:

Well we all got a shock in May when Laura Dahlmeier announced her retirement at the age of 25! (How dare she!!) It was pretty well known that she wouldn’t be a Bjoerndalen and carry on forever but we thought we could get another Olympics out of her at least! Gabriela Koukalova who hasn’t raced for 2 seasons confirmed that she won’t be coming back and so is another biathlon pensioner!

Other retirements in spring included Henrik L’Abee Lund who joins Bjoerndalen and Svendsen in putting his feet up on the Norwegian sofa. Canada’s Erin Yungblut also ended her career as did Finland’s Laura Toivanen.

Relationships:

It was a spring of weddings this year with Eva Puskarcikova tying the knot. Russian pair Nikita Porshnev and Anastasiia Morozova also got married to each other. Monika Hojnisz married another Polish nordic star cross-country skier Maciej Starega.

Anais Chevalier will miss the season after she announced that she is pregnant with her first child. Congratulations to all of them!

In tragic news young Russian biathlete Artemii Khasankaev passed away.

Coaching carousel:

As usual we had the annual swapping of biathlon coaches. Sometimes I think they just put all the names in a hat and then the countries pick them out like a raffle!

Michael Greis left the US men’s team and is now coaching the Polish women’s team after Nadiya Bilova stepped down for health reasons. Norwegian Vegard Bitnes takes over the US men’s team.

Also in North America Mathias Ahrens is no longer coaching the Canadian national team but will coach for Biathlon Alberta.

Wolfgang Pichler retired from Sweden and was replaced by Anders Byström who will be the National Team Manager and Johannes Lukas who takes over the position of National Team Coach.

Russia have added another coach with the appointment of Maxim Maksimov as assistant to the head coach.

Simon Fourcade is the new coach of the French Junior team.

And if you have followed all that you deserve a medal! Not an Olympic one of course maybe just a bronze from a World Cup round! 😉

Injuries:

The bike strikes again this time with Erik Lesser falling off and breaking his collarbone. Vetle Christiansen had surgery to correct an issue with his left knee. Anna Magnusson also had an operation on a ligament in her left hand. Tiril Eckhoff had a rollerski accident ending with an enormous lump on her hip.

Other things of spring:

Martin Fourcade announced that he will be hosting a nordic festival over the weekend of the 31st of August in Annecy. He has ingeniously called it the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival! How did he come up with that! 😉
Most of the big stars in biathlon will be there including Johannes Boe! Imagine if he beats Fourcade in his own competition!!!

Kaisa Makarainen, Liza Vittozzi and Dorothea Wierer will be competing along with many of the French biathletes amongst others.

We also had the excitement of the Giro d’Italia finishing a stage in the Antholz biathlon arena watched on by all the Italian biathletes. It was nice to see but we don’t really want to encourage other sports that are not as good as biathlon, do we!

Dorothea Wierer also put in an appearance at the Moto GP race in Mugello getting a photo with some guy called Marquez. Better still she also got a photo with Herbert Cool the former Dutch biathlete and now biathlon commentator who is moonlighting at the Moto GP in the summer!

The IBU announced a few changes with prize money now being awarded to the top 20 finishers instead of the top 15. Why stop there? Shouldn’t it be the Top 40 – if you get a point, you get a prize!

They have also introduced a “season opening” to open the 2020/21 season in Kontiolahti. (They get their naming ideas from Martin Fourcade!) I think this is basically just an extra World Cup round that they can’t call World Cup 1 as Oestersund was already given the title!

The IBU also held a gender equality conference in Poland which is an excellent initiative. Biathlon is one of the most gender equal sports when it comes to the athletes but has a long way to go with a lack of female coaches and women in leadership positions.

Last but certainly not least the IPC have announced that Para-biathlon will have it’s own World Championship this season for the first time! They will take place in Oestersund from the 11th to 15th March 2020 without a cross-country skier in sight!!!
(Up until now cross-country and biathlon have had combined World Championships.)

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Canmore 2019: The Relays!

Freezing cold and windy, Simon Fourcade looking like a ninja, Evgeniy Garanichev looking like he was on his summer holidays and Michael Rosch flying all the way to Canada to race and getting lapped – the men’s relay ladies and gentlemen!!!

That’s right when everyone is taped literally everywhere (Susan Dunklee even did her toes!) and wrapped up as much as possible, Tyumen resident Evgeniy Garanichev made no adjustments to his normal attire! He took the first leg for Russia and was leading until his standing shoot when ironically he froze!! It took him ages to hit all 5 targets needing all 3 spares and handing Antonin Guiggonat the lead ahead of Lars Hegle Birkeland.

It proved to be a fight between France and Norway until the end. Vetle Christiansen got the better of Emilien Jacquelin on leg two despite the Frenchman using 1 spare to the Norwegians 2. The third leg saw a fantastic race from biathlon ninja (black face tape!) Simon Fourcade using 1 spare to Erlend Bjoentegaard’s 3. However the Norwegian got the better of the French thanks to their faster skiing and gave Johannes Boe a nice lead to take into the final leg.

Of course he smashed it hitting 10/10 and cruised to victory by over a minute from Quentin Fillon Maillet. Russia held on for third with Eduard Latypov, Alexander Loginov and Alexander Povarnitsyn along with Garanichev using 9 spares.

Austria had the chance to go for a podium but on the final leg Julian Eberhard had a nightmare with 3 penalty loops letting Germany into 4th. Austria were 5th and the Czech Republic 6th.

Home team Canada were 10th but after the first two legs from the Gow brothers they were in 4th which is a good sign for the future.

The women’s relay was another good one. Italy as usual started well with Lisa Vittozzi on the first leg shooting clean and taking the lead. Emilie Kalkenberg had a tough leg for Norway with 2 penalty loops. Vanessa Hinz and Anais Chevalier did well as did Estonia’s Regina Oja.

Nicole Gontier had a great second leg for Italy only needing one spare and maintained the lead. Justine Braisaz and Franziska Hildebrand kept their teams in it with good legs too. Ingrid Tandrevold started Norway’s comeback with a great leg using only 1 spare.

On the third leg Dorothea Wierer had a lead over Anais Bescond and Denise Herrmann. However after using 2 spares on the stand she left the range with a 26 second lead which incredibly Herrmann made up and passed her to put Germany in the lead with Dahlmeier on the last leg. Tiril Eckhoff put Norway back into contention with just 1 spare needed from her.

At the first prone Dahlmeier need 2 spares but left the range before Sanfilippo got her first shot away. Julia Simon had problems using all 3 spares. Marte Olsbu Roeiseland had no issues hitting all 5 and moving into third behind Italy.

The wind had a massive influence on the final stand. Dahlmeier went on the penalty loop but still came out in the lead after the others also had issues having to shoot carefully. Sanfilippo also went on the penalty loop. Julia Simon came out best moving from second to fourth and Roeiseland stayed in third.

Dahlmeier skied home for first place but unfortunately for Simon she couldn’t hold off Roeiseland who overtook her to give Norway second with France getting third.

Italy were 4th, Switzerland were 5th and Austria were 6th.


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Oberhof 2019: The Pursuits!

Wins are like buses. You wait ages for one and then two come along at once. That was the way for Lisa Vittozzi who added the pursuit title to the sprint from Thursday. She performed well in the windy conditions to keep the lead from start to finish despite missing two targets. However most of the field missed more so she held the lead.

Anastasiya Kuzmina worked her way up to 2nd from 7th but with 4 misses didn’t have enough to catch Vittozzi on the skis. Anais Chevalier was third with 5 misses.

Dorothea Wierer had a strange old race. She moved from 24th to 5th but managed to fall along with Anais Bescond while taking a drink on the downhill. Bescond took her revenge however just pipping Wierer on the line to take 4th.

Franziska Preuss had an amazing race going from 45th to 6th. Kaisa Makarainen made up 20 places to finish 22nd.

That leaves Wierer still in the Overall lead by 42 points from Vittozzi who moves into second place.

The men had even tougher conditions with heavy and wet snow coming down. It made for a fun race though except for Dominik Windisch who had a crash and snapped his skis!

It went down to the final shooting with Johannes Boe vs. Martin Fourcade. Just like old times! This time Johannes came out on top with a fast shooting Fourcade missing 2 shots to Boe’s 1. It was Boe’s first win in Oberhof.

It also cost him a podium as Arnd Peiffer and Lukas Hofer both shot clean and worked together to keep Fourcade in 4th place on the final loop. It came down to a sprint finish for 2nd and 3rd and Peiffer came out on top. Loginov was 5th and Simon Desthieux 6th.

Simon Fourcade, making a welcome return to the World Cup, had a great race. He started in 46th and finished in 16th with 1 miss. Maxim Tsvetkov went from 56th to 24th also hitting 19/20.

Johannes now has a lead of 130 points ahead of Loginov with Martin Fourcade up to third but a massive 200 points behind Boe.

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Christian Gow: The Interview!

Christian Gow is a Canadian biathlete who was born on the 28th of March 1993 in Calgary. He was part of the team who won Canada’s first ever relay medal at the 2016 World Championships in Oslo when they took bronze. His best finish to date on the World Cup is 21st in the Pursuit. His older brother Scott is also a biathlete.

Like his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GowBrothersBiathlon/

Why did you become a biathlete?

I decided to compete in biathlon after trying it out at a Summer camp at Canada Olympic Park in the summer of 2001. I had so much fun at the camp and I was offered a chance to join a program in the fall, so I signed up and have been loving it ever since!

You were 21st in the Pursuits in Oestersund and Oberhof. Why are you so good in the Pursuit? Is it your favourite event?

I think the pursuit suits me well as a racer. I perform a lot better when I am able to ski with other people and I can manage the pressure of shooting in a group. I would say the pursuit is my favourite event, it is fast-paced, exciting, and the reason for several of my best results!

You went to your first Olympics in PyeongChang. What was that experience like? Were you happy with your performances there?

The Olympics were an incredible experience. I feel so fortunate that I was able to go, I have memories from there that I will never forget. I was happy with my Individual and relay performances, not as happy with my Sprint.

You won World Championships bronze in the Men’s Relay in Oslo. What do you remember about that race? How did it feel to stand on the podium with your brother? Also do you just perform well in places that start with ‘O’?

I feel like I remember every detail of that race, it was such a special and amazing day. I remember being really happy with my opening leg and getting more and more nervous the longer that we stayed at the front. Being on the podium was the best experience ever, and sharing it with my brother made it even better. Haha, I have never thought about it, but maybe that’s what it is!

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan up until December?

We have been in Canmore for most of the Spring and Summer except for a last minute camp out to Quebec because the smoke from forest fires was so bad. It has been routine training with a focus on volume in the earlier months. Our focus now is shifting more towards intensity and getting ready to race.

What are your goals for this season?

My goals are to continue building on my season from last year. I had a really good season with several new personal bests and I would like to continue that trajectory.

What’s it like training, competing and travelling with your brother? Do you get on well?

It’s great having Scott on the team with me. We get along really well and it is nice to always have each other for company.

What are your hobbies away from biathlon?

I like to read, play video games, and mountain bike.

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

I really like the course in Obertilliach (another O 😉 ), I have good memories racing there. On World Cup my favourite venue is probably Hochfilzen. Its a beautiful area and almost always nice weather.

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

Ole Einar is my favourite biathlete. The first thing I learned about biathlon when I was starting was that he was the best in the world and so I always looked up to him.

Does your rifle have a name?

It does not.

Describe yourself in three words.

Outgoing, personable, dedicated.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Shipulin
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): France
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Favourite biathlon siblings (not yourselves!): The Fourcades
Lucky bib number: None
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Michael Rosch
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade
Best thing about being a biathlete: Travelling the world and doing what I love.

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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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Biathlon23 Awards 2017/18!!!

awards

Welcome to the 5th anniversary of the Biathlon23 awards! (imaginary fanfare!) I know, I am as surprised as you that it has lasted this long! This year we have a couple of special guests giving out awards. I couldn’t afford much so no Leo DiCaprio or Jennifer Lawrence. Instead we have the winner of the OLYMPICKS (my Olympic competition) and also the runner-up. Look out for their awards below. It could be the first and last time I let anyone else run amok on my blog! Their awards are all their own work! Mine are of course subject to the the same rigorous system used to ensure fairness in the nominations and winners – I pick them and it’s totally biased! Read, enjoy and feel free to disagree! 🙂

After the news that Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is retiring, these awards are dedicated to him for being such an amazing competitor and a fabulous servant to the greatest sport in the world. Thanks Ole, will will miss you!

Most hits on the blog (so most popular):
At one point this was going to a para-biathlete which I was very excited about considering it was Scotland’s Scott Meenagh but then the Olympics happened! A certain lady became very, very, very popular after some good performances finishing 5th in two races. In fact she now has the most popular interview on my blog ever and by a very long way. She also got her first podium finishing second in the last race of the season. I hope all the attention is due to how good she is at biathlon and not how beautiful she is but that may be wishful thinking!

Winner: Paulina Fialkova

Strangest search on the blog:
I love people! I love them because they are strange! Here is a selection of some of the strangest searches on the blog this season! I get a lot about gossip, boyfriends/girlfriends of biathletes and people looking for nude pictures! Sorry wrong blog for all that but there is always some gold in between! For example:

“Paralympic biathlon, Brittany Hudak skiing in 2018, biathlon 2018 Paralympic Games”: YES! I will make you all love para-biathlon! ALL OF YOU!
“nationality of 2018 Olympic sprint skier Bolshanov”: That is f#####g cross-country! Get off my blog!
“dorothea wierer the blast”: I’ve got nothing!
“how to pronounce einar bjoerndalen’s name”: I believe it is ‘Ole’ like the Spanish!
“anton guigonnat, elisa vitozzi, samulson biathlon”: How they will be known from now on!
“klemen bauer nude”: I suspect it was Klemen himself searching for this!
“größe paulina fialkova”: She is neither big nor fat! 😉
“andre chisholm”: Canada’s wax tech Andrew just became all European and sexy sounding! 😉
“linstrum bistholon switzerland”: Makes perfect sense to me!

Winner:“french biathlete Anais Chevalier fires her rifle”: Well yes every couple of kilometeres in fact! It’s kind of what biathletes do! 😉

Best Facial Hair:
Some strong competition coming from the para-biathletes this season with Collin Cameron and Aaron Pike sporting some majestic full beards. The IBU had the usual suspects, last year’s champ Michael Roesch and Benjamin Weger. However this year there is only one choice. At the Olympics a mad Italian decided to dye his moustache in the colours of the Italian flag. I guess he really wanted this award!

Winner: Lukas Hofer

Best earrings:
Ladies you have been disappointing this year with the earring choices. None have inspired me much. In fact this season it’s not even a woman who will win this. It’s not even an earring! For some reason someone thought it would be a good idea to get their nose pierced. But not on the side, oh no, through the middle. Doing his best impression of a bull and risking getting it caught on something ripping his whole nose off, for bravery it has to go to the American!

Winner: Leif Nordgren

Best fall:
It turns out falls are better when you see them on TV and not in real life. The best one on TV this season was in the Oslo Men’s Sprint. It was the mighty who fell breaking a ski pole and you just know all the other biathletes were happy to see that even he makes mistakes! Well I was anyway. Admit it you were secretly pleased too! 😉 Of course he falls just as well as he skis and so got up and still made the podium!

Winner: Martin Fourcade

Best quote in a press conference/interview:
The question was “The teams ran 151 penalty loops and you shot 10/10 today, what was your secret?”
The answer was ” From now on I will shoot with closed eyes! Maybe it’s better, maybe it was the secret!”
I knew it! I knew that’s what most biathletes do! Now I have the proof!
Also watch for Lukas Hofer’s reaction to the question! 😉
You can watch it here from about 3:48.

Winner: Dominik Windisch

Best biathlon video:
There exists in the darkest corner of France, I believe it’s commonly known as the Savoie region, a collection of odd winter sports people who make crazy videos of a nordic nature. Their third installment of ‘One of Those Nordic Days’ is another madcap showcase of all things on snow. They seem to have strange obsession with minions and chainsaws but c’est la vie! Worryingly they seems to have included people who are not biathletes in it! Once they sort this out they will surely win an Oscar!
You can watch it here. (Look out for a certain Simon Fourcade as Rambo!)

Winner: Team Suitcase sorry I mean Valoche! 😉

Best rifle design:
Another disappointing rifle design season. I mean seriously people you have all summer to come up with a design and then choose one block colour or a wooden stock. YAWN! Two people did make the effort thankfully! Marketa Davidova went for pink with unicorns! Amazing! However it wasn’t quite enough to win. Taking inspiration from teammate Anton Shipulin’s dragon, this lady has a tiger carved into the front of her rifle! RAAR! (That’s meant to be a tiger by the way!)

Winner: Svetlana Mironova

Flower Gatherer of the season: (awarded by Nuno Magalhães, Portugal winner of the OLYMPICKS!)

Biathlon’s flower ceremony, which rewards the individuals placed between 4th and 6th in every World Cup event, is very unique to the sport and the spark for a particular cocktail of feelings, ranging from the satisfaction of a job well done to the pain of falling just short of the podium. It stands to reason then that, taken in the context of a whole season, claiming a litany of flower bouquets is both a reflection of consistency throughout the year and a fair bit of bad luck.

Thus, in order to identify the biathletes that fell most frequently into this grey area, I went back to the final standings of every non-relay WC race contested in 2017-18 and tallied the points for every male and female competitor, distributing 3-2-1 points for each fourth, fifth and sixth position.

Lisa Vittozzi (2 fourths, 2 fifths, 0 sixths (2-2-0), 10 pts) and Kaisa Makarainen (1-2-3, 10 pts) share the top spot for the women. On the men’s side, Benedikt Doll (3-0-0, 9 pts), Arnd Peiffer (1-1-5, 10 pts) and Emil Hegle Svendsen (3-1-0, 11 pts) put up a good fight, but the award ultimately belongs to a German with (3-2-1, 14 pts), who I hope will find some solace after a season that featured several near misses, no WC podiums for the first time since 2012-13, and that heart-breaking photo-finish defeat to Martin Fourcade in PyeongChang.
He might have to be nicknamed the florist from now on! 😉

Winner: Simon Schempp

Best ski suit:
Norway receives a special commendation for their suit. It’s always good. The Czech Republic I also like. Canada almost won this in an excellent comeback from the ‘Where’s Wally (Waldo)’ debacle! There was a lot of red, white and blue suits this season but one stood out for me above the rest. Paulina Fialkova told me it was her favourite and it’s mine too.

Winner: Slovakia

Worst ski suit:
Russia in maroon? Germany in green and yellow? Some strange colour choices this season. Belarus dressing like frogs for the Olympics! However one suit stood out (quite literally) from the rest and that was the bananas on skis. Strangely it grew on me over the season, kind of like mould on cheese, but not enough to avoid this award. I think it’s just the block yellow that does it. Throw a bit of blue in somewhere. Not even Zlatan would be seen head to toe in yellow!

Winner: Sweden

Best Biathlete23:
The easiest decision I have ever had to make for these awards! Turn up at the Olympics, win a gold medal in the first race. What a star! She couldn’t have done it without the bib though!

Winner: Laura Dahlmeier

Biggest Improver:
This goes to a biathlete who has always been good but this season looked like the real deal. Before this year she only had 1 podium finish to her name. This season she got three plus another three fourth place finishes. At the Olympics she was 4th in the Mass Start, 6th in the Sprint and 11th in the Pursuit. She won a bronze medal as part of the Mixed Relay team and her shooting has been exceptional. She moved from 27th to 6th in the Total Score and it’s just a matter of time before she wins her first race. I’m sure it won’t be long until she becomes Italy’s number one biathlete.

Winner: Lisa Vittozzi

Best Team Performance:
This one was pretty obvious to me. As a fan of biathlon I like biathletes who shoot well and I like to see them beat the teams who can ski faster than them. The conditions were exactly right for this at the Olympics with the weather levelling the playing field. The two biathletes who would normally be seen as weaker really shone and the team shot better than anyone else on the day in a victory for shooting over ski speed. Although it does help if you have Darya Domracheva on last leg for the skiing! 😉

Winner: Belarus Women’s Relay Team

Biathlon23’s performance of the season:
After finishing 7th in the Sprint and 5th in the Pursuit at the Olympics it wasn’t a surprise to see this person do well in the Individual. It was a surprise that she won it! One of just three women who shot the perfect 20/20 the 22-year-old turned in a faultless performance in the ultimate test of a biathlete. Actually there was one small fault, she was wearing bib 24!

Winner: Hanna Öberg

IBU Biathlete of the Year:
I know what you are thinking Martin Fourcade will win this! WRONG! It must be Kaisa then! WRONG again! They are always at the top either winning or very close to it. This season we saw a biathlete who despite having 2 Olympic gold medals was never that great on the World Cup. Previously she had won 5 World Cup races in her entire career and she now she has won 5 in one season. She has shown much better consistency just missing out on the Overall by 3 points but winning the Sprint and Pursuit titles. Oh and she won 3 medals at the Olympics, a gold and 2 silvers!

Winner: Anastasiya Kuzmina

IPC Para-biathlete of the Year:
There were so many amazing performances by the biathletes at the Paralympic Games that it’s almost impossible to choose a winner. There were many multiple medallists and some stunning performances. I am giving it to someone who got six medals in six races (even though 3 were in cross country I will overlook such treachery just this once). He won his first biathlon Paralympic title and also a silver and bronze in the two other biathlon races hitting 49 out of 50 targets. He added another silver and two bronze in the sport we don’t like to mention. Apart from that has done two biathlon23 interviews which also helps when it comes to winning awards! 😉

Winner: Mark Arendz

Junior Biathlete of the Year:
A difficult decision for this award as there are a lot of good Juniors around at the moment. The winner finished second in the Junior World Cup Overall but actually with the same points as the winner. She also won a gold medal in the Women’s Relay at the Junior World Championships as well as two bronze medals in the Sprint and Pursuit. She won a race on the World Cup in the Obertilliach Sprint and was third in the Mixed Relay there too. She grabbed another podium in Nove Mesto also coming third in the Sprint. At just 21 she looks like a great prospect for France and dare I say it, is already better than her big brother Aristide! 😉

Winner: Myrtille Begue

Youth Biathlete of the Year: (awarded by Jeff Mattarocci, USA runner-up in the Olympicks)

I’ll choose a member of the US Biathlon Team. She is an under 16 athlete, who regularly competes with the Youth ladies and can hold her own with them. She just came off a great US Biathlon Championships, where she won every race she entered, two as a youth and one as an under 16. The future looks good for the US ladies team! 🙂
We will have to keep an eye out for her!

Winner: Lexie Madigan

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