Tag Archives: Simon Fourcade

Nicole Gontier: The Interview!

Nicole Gontier is an Italian biathlete from the Aosta Valley. The 27-year-old made her World Cup debut in 2012 and achieved her personal best result in 2015 when she finished third in the Oberhof Sprint. She has 2 bronze medals from the World Championships in 2013 and 2015 as a member of the Women’s relay team. She has represented Italy twice at the Olympics in Sochi and PyeongChang.

Follow Nicole on Instagram

Why did you become a biathlete?

I started to do biathlon thanks to my father and my grandfather who were in charge of the Aosta valley biathlon and also thanks to the atmosphere and training of the coaches of Aosta valley biathlon.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season I was happy about my shape on skis, I had good feelings but I have to improve my shooting on the range.

The World Championships are in Antholz! How excited are you about that?

I’m really happy that the World Championships will be in Antholz. I really like there and I hope that it will be sunny and it will be perfect. The Italian ambience is the best.

The Italian women have a really strong team at the moment. What are your expectations for the World Championships in particular the women’s relay?

Yes the Italian women are really strong but for the moment I expect nothing. I prefer to concentrate on training and then I will see my shape with the first races!

What have you been doing for summer training?

In summer we train on the shooting range and with the roller ski,running,hiking and with the bike.

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

Like I said before I don’t have any goals. My goal is to improve myself and I work for this, then I will see in winter where I am.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is that my head is really hard to break so I continue to work hard also in the worst moments because I love what I do. My weakness is that I don’t really trust in me! I will have to trust more in my abilities.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read, to study, to knit and to stay with my dog! The best is to stay on the sofa with him watching the TV. I like to travel in Italy and to discover new little places and eat the special dish and drink the local wine.

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

I really like Antholz, it is a hard track but I had good feelings with it.

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

I really respect Martin Fourcade, he always has the situation under control and he does what he wants. I like so much Doro(Wierer) and Lisa (Vittozzi)! They are really strong.

Does your rifle have a name?

Ahah.. no for the moment no, we have a relationship of love and hate.

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling,stubborn,sweet.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): French
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Lukas Hofer – last year’s rifle
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Italy’s suits of last year’s Championship
Lucky bib number: Mmm… I don’t have one.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Sarah Beaudry
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade (but he stopped).
Best thing about being a biathlete: We never get bored!

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Jake Brown: The Interview!

Jake Brown is an American biathlete from Minnesota. The 27-year-old was a cross country skier until 2016 when he saw sense and became a biathlete! His progress has been rapid making his World Cup debut last season and scoring his first point when he finished 40th in the Antholz Sprint.

Follow Jake on Instagram.

Why did you become a biathlete?

I have always been a strong skate distance skier and had always wanted to try biathlon- I got the chance after racing NCAA skiing through the US Biathlon’s development program of post-collegiate cross-country skiers. Growing up I loved running, training, and pushing my limits, seeing how hard I could go. Yet I was still drawn to the great moments of team sports, like the buzzer beater in a basketball game or the 2-out at-bat in the bottom of the baseball’s ninth inning. I love that biathlon has a bit of both.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy with? Was there anything that disappointed you?

Last season surpassed my expectations for 2018-2019. I had previously raced in four IBU cups, and so was shooting for a full IBU Cup season with the goal of making top-15s and a dream goal of racing our home World Cup in Utah. I hit 15th in my first IBU Cup race and spent most of the season racing World Cups, plus World Championships. It was a season I won’t forget!

I was really happy with how I trained last year, both in preparation for and throughout the winter. However, this year I’ll seek to do a better job of staying healthy. Lucky for me, sickness struck mostly during breaks in the race schedule last year, but I don’t think the frequency with which I was getting sick would be sustainable in the long term. I want to be more intentional this year about keeping sleep, nutrition, and healthy habits a priority.

You got to race at a home World Cup in Soldier Hollow for the first time last season. What was that like?

I was glued to the 2002 Olympics which were held in Salt Lake (with XC and Biathlon at Soldier Hollow) when I was 10, so to get to race there last year was special. Biathlon is growing in the US, and hosting a World Cup in close proximity to a metro area like Salt Lake City is a great way to spread the hype for this sport.

Your best result was in Antholz where the World Championships are being held! Is that a good track and range for you? Do you like the altitude?

In general I like racing hilly courses, and a lot of courses at altitude tend to have hills. Antholz has a good variety of terrain and is definitely tough, I like that. I needed at least three breaths between shots last year, so I wouldn’t say the range is easy for me, but I enjoyed racing there last year and look forward to racing there again- what a beautiful place.

We thought Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke had finished biathlon but they are both still working with the US team. How important is it for you to still have them around?

It’s been great. We in the US often need to recruit Europeans to lead our programs, and we do benefit from having European coaches. But Lowell and Tim have as much experience as anyone, and they understand better than anyone the challenges that American biathletes face. Lowell, having spent a year in Montana leading the Cross-Cut program at the club level, and Tim, now in a development-director role, are more invested in the grassroots growth of biathlon in the US, not just trying to fast track college skiers to the World Cup (as I was). I think that’s important long term.

What have you been doing for summer training?

I dealt with lower body injuries this spring, so I did a ton of upper body aerobic training early on: mostly Ski-Erg with a little surf-ski paddling with Paul Schommer. In late June I was able to get back on roller skis and double pole plus introduce a bit a gravel biking. I’ve never been a big cyclist, but I found I really enjoy long solo gravel riding for my over distance workouts in the Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

What are your goals for this season?

-Increase my shooting consistency and dial in my mental approach.
-Help our team crack the top 10 in Nations Cup for both World and IBU Cup

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

A few of my strengths are hilly courses, pushing myself on the last loop, and staying positive. A few current weaknesses are staying healthy, shooting speed and shooting consistency.

What are your hobbies?

Reading, helping out with the junior ski programs at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, exploring, water skiing, and playing sports.

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

Valcartier, Quebec. It’s a Nor-Am course on a military base, I love it because it is really challenging yet has great flow. It’s a narrow track through the forest with big climbs and fun, windy, wooded descents.

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

I don’t have a favorite, but I like it when an underdog puts it all together and wins- it was sweet to see Lowell win in 2017 and Dominik Windisch win last year.

Does your rifle have a name?

Nope.

Describe yourself in three words.

I love sports.

Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Estonia
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): The Unicorn one
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Russia’s black, blue, and pink suit from last year.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 77
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Jules Burnotte, Canada
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Simon Fourcade, France
Best thing about being a biathlete: Becoming mentally stronger every day.

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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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