Tag Archives: Sochi Olympics 2014

The Road to PyeongChang? Seriously?

Apparently there is something going on next year in February and March. Not sure what it is but maybe it’s one of those new reality TV shows about survival. People keep talking about the road to PyeongChang. I don’t know about you but the only road I know that goes to PyeongChang runs through North Korea so maybe I am right!

Of course not! It’s the Winter Olympics and Paralympics! If nuclear war hasn’t broken out by then the eyes of the biathlon world will turn to South Korea. There are other ‘so-called’ sports taking place too but none of interest to us! 😉

PyeongChang is a county in the Gwangwon province of South Korea. It is located in the Taebaek mountain region and is around 180km east of the capital Seoul. Happy 700 PyeongChang is the slogan of the area. The average height of the region is 700 metres above sea level and apparently this is the optimal elevation to live at. Expect lots of elderly spectators at the biathlon then.

The biathlon races will take place at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre which will also be used for sports such as cross country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. Or as I call them biathlon’s annoying little cousins! 😉

The arena has 4500 seats and room for 3000 people to stand giving an official capacity of 7500. The altitude difference for the tracks is from 749 to 796 metres. They weren’t joking about the height of the area!

There will be 11 biathlon events taking place. On the 10th of February is the Women’s Sprint followed by the Men’s Sprint on the 11th. Both Pursuit races take place on the 12th. The 14th and 15th are for the Women’s and Men’s Individuals respectively. The Mass Starts are on the 17th and 18th. The Relays are all at the end of the programme with the Mixed Relay on the 20th, the Women’s Relay on the 22nd and excitingly the Men’s Relay on the 23rd!!! An auspicious day indeed! 😉

The races will all be held in the evening local time which means if you are watching in Europe they will be on mid-morning or early afternoon when everyone is at work. If you are watching in North America they will be on very early morning when you are asleep! Great news!

Defending their title (because let’s face it no one remembers who won in Sochi!) will be Anastasiya Kuzmina and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen in the Sprints, Darya Domracheva and Martin Fourcade in the Pursuits and the Individuals and Domracheva and Emil Hegle Svendsen in the Mass Starts. Hoping to hang on to the Relay titles will be Norway in the Mixed Relay, Ukraine in the Women’s Relay and Russia in the Men’s Relay.

It should be a great Olympic Games and it will be followed in March from the 9th to the 18th by the Paralympics. There will be 18 biathlon events over 3 categories. Men and women compete in the visually impaired races, the standing races or the sitting races depending on their impairment.

They will race over 3 distances which are the short, middle and lndividual. The short distance is 6km for the women and 7.5 for the men. The middle distance is 10km or 12.5km and the Indvidual is 12.5km or 15km.

The champions from Sochi in the short distance for the women were Russia’a Mikhalina Lysova (VI), Alena Kaufman (standing) and Germany’s Andrea Eskau (sitting). For the men it was the Ukraine’s Vitaliy Lukyanenko (VI),Russia’s Vladislav Lekomtsev (standing) and Russia’s Roman Petushkov (sitting).

The middle distance gold medals were won by Lysova and Kaufman and Germany’s Anja Wicker in the sitting race. The men’s were won by Lukayenko, Russia’s Azat Karachurin and Petushkov. The Individual titles went to Russia’s Iuliia Budaleeva, Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova and Russia’s Svetlana Konovalova. Winning for the men were Russia’s Nikolai Polukhin, Ukraine’s Gyrgorii Vovchynskyi and Petushkov completeing his clean sweep in the sitting races.

At the time of writing it is unknown whether the Russian team will be allowed to compete in PyeongChang as they are currently banned after the McLaren Report findings. The decision will be made in September by the International Paralympic Committee and will be an important one as you can see where a lot of the medals tend to go!

There are less than six months to go before the Games get underway. The biathletes are already quite far along the road to PyeongChang. However I would recommend booking a flight. Seriously!!! 😉

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Advertisements

Paulína Fialková!

pfial

Slovakia’s Paulína Fialková enjoyed her best ever season in biathlon in 2015/16. She achieved her best result on the World Cup and became a senior medallist for the first time.

Paulina was born in Brezno on the 25th of October 1992. Her younger sister Ivona is also a biathlete. With just two years between them they often compete against each other.

In the absence of Anastasiya Kuzmina, Fialková really stepped up a level last season. In Ruhpolding she finished 6th in the Sprint race to record her top finish on the World Cup so far and she also came 7th in the Individual. She recorded another six Top 25 finishes to end the season 36th in the Total Score. The previous year she was 74th so you can see how much she has improved in only a year.

Not content with doing well on the World Cup she arrived in Tyumen for the Open European Championships full of confidence. In the Mixed Relay on the first day she helped her team of Jana Gerekova, Matej Kazar and Martin Otcenas to win the silver medal. Then she waited until the final day to secure her own silver medal when she came second in the Mass Start.

At 24 she is still young in biathlon terms but looks to have a bright future ahead of her. She has already had a taste of the Olympic Games when she competed in Sochi and has taken part in 3 senior World Championships with a top finish of 23rd in Oslo last time around.

However it is not easy to be successful on the Women’s World Cup as it is incredibly competitive. It’s tough for all the women but she will be hoping to add more Top Ten finishes to her C.V in the coming season and there is no reason why she couldn’t grab a first podium. With the return of teammate Kuzmina this season she will also have to fight to maintain her place in the Slovak Mixed Relay team.

It could be a really good year for Fialková and the whole Slovak Team. They have some good experience with Gerekova and Kuzmina and also promising young talent like the Fialková sisters. The men are looking strong too with good results last season for both Kazar and Otcenas. Hopefully Paulína Fialková can play her part in making Team Slovakia even more successful!

Like Paulina’s Facebook page: Paulína Fialková (sportsperson)

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Garanichev: Russia’s Pocket Rocket!

garan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!