Tag Archives: Sochi Olympics

Ross Burton: Biathlon Photographer!

burton
Photo credit: Elena Sobol

As you know biathlon23 likes to look at all aspects of biathlon not just the biathletes. This time I am bringing you an interview with a biathlon photographer. Ross Burton from America has been taking pictures of biathletes on the World Cup for 6 years and has kindly taken the time to tell us exactly what that is like.

He also jointly runs the website Biathlon News International: http://www.biathlonnewsinternational.com/
The site also has a Facebook Page: Biathlon News International

Why do like biathlon?

I was a cross-country skier in the early 70’s. The Army National Guard had a biathlon team, and I joined the Guard so I could get paid for skiing. We had wooden skis, bamboo poles, Remington 513T rifles, and it was classic only. After 3-4 years, I went into the active Army, and that was the end of biathlon. Then the Internet changed everything. Biathlon is
and was a small sport in the USA, as I believe it is in the UK. Before the Internet, there was virtually no information about biathlon, except for maybe 5 minutes coverage during the Olympic broadcasts. After the Internet came, there was plenty of information, even full races on the IBU Eurosport channel.

I decided I wanted to attend a World Cup in 2009, and a German friend suggested Ostersund. I went, and it was a life-changing experience for me. I decided I wanted to move my photography in that direction. At about the same time, a Russian friend, Raniya Kutumova, and I decided to build an English-language news website to enhance interest in
biathlon in the USA. The news website was not particularly successful in generating interest in the USA, but it was marvelously successful in other parts of the world, largely Germany and Russia, despite the fact that it’s in English.

I have been an Olympics fan all my life, and never in my fondest dreams did I ever think I would be paid to go to the Olympics (Sochi.) So, one could say that I have had a life-long interest in biathlon as a competitor, volunteer, journalist and photographer.

How long have you been a photographer and when did you start doing it in biathlon on the World Cup?

I am not a life-long professional photographer. I started working professionally in biathlon during 2010 when my friend Per-Ole Lindell, manager of the Finland team, needed some pictures featuring their new Viessmann sponsorship.

What kind of camera do you have? Do you mainly do digital photography? Have you thought about using a drone?

I have two Nikon D4’s and lenses from 14mm to 400mm focal lengths. Everyone does digital now. I have never thought of using a drone, but I have nightmares of a drone going out of control and landing in the range or on a biathlete.

How often do you go to World Cups and how do you choose which ones to attend?

Between 2-4 World Cups or two World Cups and the World Championships or Olympics. I choose based on time available from USA commitments, money, and logistics.

Where are you going this season and why?

Hochfilzen for sure because it’s the World Championships this year. Looking at Pokjluka and Nove Mesto for World Cups because of favorable logistics.

Do you get to enjoy the races or are you too busy trying to get good shots?

Mostly too busy, but for the first-in, first-win races like the pursuit, relay and mass start I’m always at the finish line, so it’s fun to see the winners and the celebrations. My finest moment was seeing my friends Darya Domracheva and Nadya Skardino win their Olympic medals for Belarus.

Are there a lot of other photographers working on the World Cup? Are you competitive like the biathletes to see who can get the best pictures or is there a good camaraderie?

Yes, there are numerous photographers who attend the World Cups. Of course, we all want to get the best pictures for our customers, but we all are great friends. There is no photographer who won’t take the time to share what they know about the best locations they have found, or the fastest workflow, or anything else that might be a help other photographers.

Since I know a bit about biathlon, I think it’s important to help photographers who are not that familiar with biathlon. We can explain how the races go, which are the big stars, and other things they might consider important. I don’t know how many times I have been asked, “which one is Bjoerndalen?” by new or unfamiliar photographers.

What do you do with the photos? Who do you sell them to? Do you keep some for yourself?

I keep enough for myself to post on my website, http://www.biathlonnewsinternational.com, but I am always working for some team or some photo agency. I have worked for several foreign photo agencies, but Team Finland is my best customer. I have worked for them since 2009. In fact, the last issue of the Finland Biathlon Magazine has a four-page spread
of just my pictures. It can be seen at biathlon.fi.com. Most of the winter cover shots on the magazine are mine too.


What is the best/favourite photo you have taken in biathlon?

The Finland team picture which appears in the header of my Biathlon News International Facebook page.

What is your favourite biathlon venue – for pictures and for racing?

Pictures: Presque Isle. Racing: Holmenkollen

Does your camera have a name?

Yep, Camera 1 and Camera 2.

Describe yourself in three words.

Lucky, Lazy, Ludicrous.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation: A tie between the USA and Finland
Favourite biathlete: Long Past: Dennis Donahue Recent Past: Agnieszka Cyl Present: Peter Dokl Future: Jessika Rolig and Auli Kiskola.
Favourite race(sprint,pursuit etc.): The single gender relay
Favourite ski suit design: Belarus, two years ago.
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Past, Bjoern Ferry, by a mile! Present: Tarjei Boe
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Tie between Johanna Talihaerm and Kadri Lehtla. The rest of the Estonian women are all very nice too.
Best thing about being a photographer: Pragmatically, free food. Emotionally, seeing my pictures published in worldwide circulation.

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Johanna Talihärm: The Interview!

Talihärm

Johanna Talihärm is an Estonian biathlete who was born on the 27th of June 1993 in Tallinn. She is a part of the Estonian Women’s Relay Team and last season she broke into the TOP 40 on the World Cup. She has a brother who is also a biathlete. Next season she will be trying to get into that TOP 40 more often and score some more points if she can sort out her prone shooting!

Blog:http://www.johannablogi.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: @johannataliharm
Facebook: Estonian Fantastic Four in the biathlon world

How popular is biathlon in Estonia?

Biathlon used to be in the shadow of cross county skiing which is “the national sport” in Estonia, but we are gaining popularity now.
You can help too by following Estonian fantastic four on Facebook!

You achieved your best career result last season at the World Championships in Kontiolahti coming 39th in the Sprint in difficult conditions. How good did that feel and how much confidence has it given you for next season?

I had a rough start for the 2014/15 season. Then I started to feel better, gained energy and confidence during the season and was finally prepared to give my best in the World Championships. After 3 penalties in prone I thought the race is over, but I got myself together again and pushed as hard as I could and cleaned the standing. I never thought I had a chance for points with 3(!!!) penalties, I was super happy that I finally reached the top 40 goal I had had for so long. It showed me how much more is possible with clean shooting.

The Estonian Women’s Team seem to be very good friends. How nice is it to travel and compete in such a good atmosphere?

I don’t even want to imagine how hard and boring it would be if we didn’t get along so well. I feel so lucky to be able to call my teammates my best friends. It is great to share the emotions, no matter if they are good or bad with them immediately. To explore the world with them! And of course to race in the same relay team!

What are your plans for summer training?

We have a new team coach with whom I personally have worked since last August. We’re mostly training in Otepää, where we have an amazing center with a 6km rollerski track with two shooting ranges.

What are your goals for next season?

To improve technique and balance, to hit more targets and shoot faster.

Describe your typical race day. What time do you get up? What do you eat? etc.

It depends on what time the race starts. Usually our races are in the afternoon so I like to sleep longer, have breakfast, then go for a run and have an light lunch and get ready to go to the stadium. I eat “normal food” but avoid milk products because they don’t suit my stomach.

What are your strengths as a biathlete and what are your weaknesses? Do you have anything that you specifically want to improve before next season?

I am quite a slow shooter, and also much worse in prone than standing. Ski wise I want to improve balance and technique.

Sportspeople are famous for being superstitious. Do you have any superstitions? Do you always put your right/left ski on first or wear the same underwear on race day?!

I usually wear my favorite pieces of clothing, but just because they are the most comfortable. Also I have a routine of warm up exercises, which I do every time before the start.

How difficult is it to keep up with the WADA rules for doping? Is it hard to keep track of all your food, supplements and medicines etc?

It comes with time, and now we have a database made by the Estonian anti-doping where we can search for all the medicines sold in Estonia to see if they are allowed or not.

I don’t want to criticize but you are Johanna and your brother is called Johan which shows a lack of imagination by your parents!!!;-) Does this ever cause any confusion because your names are so similar?

You are not the first one to ask this question. Both Johan and Johanna are very common names in Estonia and Scandinavia so usually there is no problem. Our parents just wanted them to be similar for both siblings and international.

Does your rifle have a name?

I usually call it “rifle” or “gun” 🙂

Describe yourself in three words.

Smiling, independent, lively.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Oslo
Favourite biathlete (past or present):The whole biathlon family is super friendly and fun, it would be a shame to pick just one.
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): pursuit and relay
Favourite/best race of your career so far? First ever clean shooting at the Sochi Olympics
Favourite food: chocolate
Favourite singer/band: can change daily
Favourite film: 1+1 (The Intouchables)
Favourite TV show: news or any other show that is not read in some language that I can’t understand.

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I love Lucy!

glanville

Even as the youngest female competitor at the Sochi Olympics and only the third Australian woman ever to represent her country at the Games Lucy Glanville is probably still not a name people are very familiar with. Australia isn’t the first country that springs to mind when you think of biathlon but it actually has a thriving scene. Obviously with the weather they have it’s hard to convince people to take up a winter sport but they do get snow especially in the ironically named “Hotham”.

Lucy is one of a small band of Australians making a name for themselves in biathlon. Along with Alex Almoukov, Dyllan Harmer and Daniel Walker they are doing a great job representing a country that is not a typical winter sports competitor. The Australians are sports mad though and you know no matter what the sport they will always give it their all.

Lucy was born on the 16th of October 1994 and currently lives in Sydney where she is studying a degree in Art History at Macquarie University majoring in Russian studies. She is a clever one that Glanville as she spends a lot of time in Russia, as that is where the team trains in the summer, so she can combine biathlon and her education.

She was the first female biathlete from Australia to go to an Olympics since Nagano 1998. So you can see how hard it is for Australians to compete in biathlon but also how well Lucy is doing to have qualified aged only 19. Her best finish in Sochi was 78th in the Individual and she came 82nd in the Sprint. She has also competed at 2 Senior World Championships in Nove Mesto and Ruhpolding as well as in the Youth/Junior World Championships.

So as the new season approaches what might we see from Lucy this year. Well like all of the smaller biathlon nations funding is hard to come by and it’s especially important for Australians. Travel and accomodation eats up a lot of their money as they have to stay in Europe for an extended period to compete. It’s not like they can pop home for the weekend! Like many others Lucy will probably spend her time between the IBU Cup and the World Cup. Hopefully she can make more appearances on the World Cup and can improve on her best finish of 78th from Sochi.

A push into the TOP 60 would be excellent progress for the youngster and some better results on the IBU cup are achievable. Mostly it is gaining experience that will help her in the future and an appearance at the World Championships in Kontiolahti can only add to this. She is of course still eligible for the Junior World Championships and will be looking to do well in Raubichi, Belarus. Speaking of young biathletes there are a couple of other girls from Australia, Sabrina Howell and Gabriele Hawkins, who in the future might give Australia the chance to compete in the relays and give Lucy a chance to enter more races.

Continual improvement is all that we want to see from Lucy in the up coming season. It’s a difficult sport and it’s fiercely competitive but she has the talent and determination to do well. You have to respect her for coming to Europe to compete and it also means she can add a few dollars to her lessons(being a professional biathlete!) as she is also a qualified cross-country ski coach! So if you Aussies want a lesson or two you know who to ask! For Lucy it will be another tough season but she is doing a great job which is why I love Lucy and you should too!:-)

Have a look at Lucy’s website: http://lucyglanville.com.au/

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Solo Soulié!

soulie

What a season Laure Soulié has been having! In Ruhpolding she achieved her two best results ever on the World Cup finishing 22nd in the Pursuit and an incredible 9th in the Individual. These result also meant she qualified for the Olympics in Sochi. It seems that being Andorran is working out better than being French for Soulie.

Born in Andorra la Vella in Andorra on the 28th of April 1987, Laure originally competed for France through her French mother. This was mainly due to the fact that there was no Andorran biathlon team to compete for at the time. She studied Sports studies in the French Alps and went on to win a bronze medal for France in the Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle in 2006.To this day her best friends remain from the French team, Marie-Laure Brunet and Marine Boillet. She is also lucky enough to be able to continue training with the French women’s top team.

However in she was offered the chance by her home country Andorra to compete for them and so became their only biathlete. An easy decision to make but maybe a difficult one to live with. We all know the struggles that small nations can have in terms of funding and facilities and so it is not as easy as it might have been to stay with France who have more athletes, coaches and sponsors to work with.

It seems so far that this decision has paid off. A fantastic season this year has seen Laure claim her first ever Top 10 result which is a big step up for an athlete whose previous best result was 26th and most of her other finishes were outside the TOP 30. It isn’t an easy feat in biathlon to make it into the Top 10 especially if you are the only biathlete from your country. Hopefully these performances will inspire the young people of Andorra to become more involved in the sport. After her qualification for the Sochi Olympics they definitely have a great role model to look up to.

She also had a great role model as her brother Francois Soulie represented Andorra in the Olympics in cross country skiing. Her Olympics however didn’t go as well as her form suggested they might. She finished 67th in the Sprint in Sochi and 48th in the Individual.
She has done remarkably well though because it’s difficult to be your country’s sole representative. She is lucky to still enjoy the support of the French team but she has proved that it’s not so bad being Solo Soulie!

You can follow Laure on Facebook.

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