Tag Archives: Sochi

Lee In-bok!

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Now that those pesky Summer Olympics are over we can look forward to the real Olympics – The Winter Games! I mean is sport without snow even sport at all? Well that’s for the philosophers among you to decide but someone who will be looking forward to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang more than most people is Lee In-bok.

The South Korean biathlete will have the opportunity to compete in a home Olympic Games, a chance that not many sportspeople get. Lee was born in the North Jeolla Province of South Korea on the 30th of March 1984.

He is a vastly experienced member of the South Korean team. He has already competed at two Olympic Games for his country in Vancouver and Sochi. His best result at the Olympics was 65th place in the Sprint race in Vancouver.

He has also taken part in six biathlon World Championships starting in Antholz in 2007 going through to Oslo Holmenkollen last season. His best result for these Championships was 71st in the Sprint race in Nove Mesto in 2013.

On the World Cup he has achieved two Top 60 positions to date but is still waiting for his first points scoring finish. He was 53rd in the Hochfilzen Individual race in 2008/09 which is his career best result. He was also 60th in 2007/08 in the Sprint race at home in PyeongChang.

It will be a very important couple of seasons for Lee In-bok. He will be nearly 34 when the Olympics take place and so he will have to make sure he stays fit so that he can arrive at his home Games in good form.

This season he should be looking to grab a few more Top 60 finishes and obviously the best chance to do this is in the races that he is guaranteed to start – the Sprint and the Individual. There is also the chance to compete in Hochfilzen, the scene of his best finish to date, in the World Championships. Hopefully he can achieve another good result there to boost his confidence before he goes into the Olympic year.

As you will see from his results he won’t be threatening the podium in PyeongChang but it is a chance for him to get his own best result and with the motivation of a home crowd it could see him make it into the Top 40 in one of the events. Possibly more importantly it will give him the chance to showcase biathlon to his fellow Koreans and hopefully make it more popular and encourage more interest and investment in the sport there.

Only three people can win medals in any one race at the Olympics but they are, or should be, about a lot more than that. It is a chance for all the biathletes to show where all their hard work and training has got them and to hopefully encourage more people to take up the sport. It’s about participation and fairness and unity. Not everyone can win a medal but everyone who takes part and especially those like Lee In-bok who are competing in their own country can try and give the best performance of their career.

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Karin Oberhofer: The Interview!

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Karin Oberhofer is an Italian biathlete who was born on the 3rd of November 1985 in Brixen. She made her international debut in 2005 and her best result to date on the World Cup is second place from the Sprint race in Hochfilzen 2014. She has an World Championship bronze medal from the Mass Start in Kontiolahti 2015 and also won bronze in the relay there. She has another bronze medal in the Mixed Relay from the Sochi Olympics.

Like her Facebook Page: Karin Oberhofer (sportsperson)
Check out her website: http://www.karinoberhofer.com/en/

Why did you become a biathlete?

In the beginning I liked cross country skiing and I decided to go the Sport Oberschulzentrum in Mals to do it. When I was there in Mals I was at school with some biathletes and thought I would like to try to do it. I have loved this sport since the beginning and it became my big passion.

How do you assess last season? Were you happy with it or a little disappointed that you didn’t get an individual podium?

Last season was quite strange for me for many reasons. Anyway I know that I did my best as always. All the athletes would like to reach the podium but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out as we would like. Even if I didn’t reach the individual podium I won the relay in Hochfilzen with my team and it was absolutely terrific!!!

You won the relay in Hochfilzen last season. Can you describe your leg and how it felt at the end when you won? Are you happy the World Championships are in Hochfilzen?

As I mentioned before, it was extraordinary! I will remember that victory forever. I don’t want to comment only on my leg: all four of us had a great race. I guess that a victory like that in the relay is an huge result also for all our coaches that do an excellent job every day. We were all very satisfied and happy.

Regarding the World Champs in Hochfilzen, I think it will be a great event. But every day is different, especially in biathlon, and if you mean that we will have more chance because we won there last season… no, no more chance than the others!!!

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

I have already done a lot of training together with the Italian World Cup Team. Now we are in Ramsau (AUT) for the first training on snow and then, before the start of competitions, we will go to Antholz for some days, Senales and finally to Norway. But you know my training for winter season 16/17 started in the second week of May, every day with no vacation, no weekends except for a couple of days in September. A lot of training with the national team in different venues but also a lot of “hard working days” in my beautiful area: Sud Tirol.

What are your goals for this season?

I would like to be healthy for all the season in order to be constant in my results. My big goal is to improve my performance and myself but also to enjoy my beautiful job: both in skiing and in shooting. All the time my goal is to do my best and improve myself, to reach better results in my body, to touch the limit and to move this limit every season a bit further!

You have an Olympic bronze medal from Sochi in the Mixed Relay and a World Championship bronze medal in the Women’s Relay. Why do you think Italy is now so good at relays?

Because we are a great group and we have worked very hard together every day for some years. Together we grow as athletes thanks to the great support of all our staff.

What kind of food do you eat when you are training?

First of all I like eating healthy! I love good food and I take into consideration a lot the quality of the food. I like to try new food and also to cook new dishes.

I eat all kinds of food and I also have a couple of great food producers from my area that support and supply me with their healthy products all year long: Bakery Profanter and Kiku Apples.

I spend a lot of days away from home but anyway I have always with me, even during the winter season, some typical crispy bread (schüttelbrot) and fresh apple juice. It’s a small part of my kitchen that I bring with me always and I feel like I’m at home 😉

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

Sincerely.. no. I like to change and, as I mentioned before every day is different. I don’t have a special feeling with one specific venue. There are a lot of great places and every venue has something special.

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

I appreciate a lot of biathletes but I can’t say that I have one favourite in particular.

I have great respect for the biathletes that, even after great success and satisfaction, “stay on the ground” and continue to consider that the small things are important and don’t look down on you from the top.

Does your rifle have a name?

After your question, yes 😉 I have just given a name to my rifle: Joy! : )))

Describe yourself in three words.

Natural – Persistent – crazy 😉

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):NORWAY
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): MINE 😉
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): SWITZERLAND
Favourite shooting range: NONE
Lucky bib number: 13 (from Mass Start of Kontiolahti 2015)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: BOE BROTHERS
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: I think there are many nice biathletes on the World Cup.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Biathlon is like life, up and down but you have to do your best always and never give up. You don’t know how it will go but this is biathlon and this is what I like!

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Galina Vishnevskaya!

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You may not be able to spell it but you should probably recognise the name. Galina Vishnevskaya is one of the up and coming biathletes on the Women’s World Cup and is definitely someone you should be looking out for next season.

She was born on the 10th of February 1994 in Semey, Kazakhstan and has already had a very successful junior career. She has two medals from the Youth Olympics in 2011 which were held in Innsbruck. She won silver in the Sprint race there and followed it up with bronze in the Pursuit.

She has also won 7 Youth/Junior World Championships medals. In 2011 she won her first medal which was a bronze in the Individual in Nove Mesto. A year later in Kontiolahti she took silver in the same event. In 2013 in Obertilliach she won silver again but this time in the Pursuit. Her best result came in Presque Isle in 2014 when she won gold in the Pursuit after getting the silver in the Sprint. She took another two medals in Raubichi in 2015 winning silver in the Pursuit and bronze in the Individual.

So as you can see Vishnevskaya did very well as a junior but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will translate to the senior World Cup. However in her case she has proved that she can also compete with the top biathletes. She has 12 Top 40 finishes to her name so far including two results in the Top 20. Her personal best result to date came in Ruhpolding last season where she was 15th in the Individual. She also managed 18th place in Presque Isle in the Sprint race.

In the Total Score last season she was 41st. Considering she is only 22-years-old that is very impressive. At 20 she went to Sochi for her first taste of Olympic action and her best result was 41st. She competed in Oslo at the Senior World Championships for the first time and finished every race inside the Top 25.

Vishnevskaya is a young biathlete and doesn’t come from one of the bigger biathlon nations but she will still be a dangerous competitor in the coming season. Her target must be to get into the Top 10 and finish consistently in the Top 20. If she stays healthy and injury free I see no reason why she can’t finish in the Top 20 overall. In fact with a little bit of luck we could see her on the podium or even take her first World Cup victory.

Along with her teammates Darya Usanova, Anna Kistanova and Alina Raikova she will be hoping to improve on their great result from the Women’s Relay in Oslo at the World Championships of 8th. She will also be trying to gain some more Nations Cup points in the Mixed and the Single Mixed Relays alongside Yan Savitsky, Anton Panton and Maxim Braun.

It is an important season coming up with the World Championships in Hochfilzen and it’s less than two years until the next Olympic Games in PyeongChang. They provide a great opportunity for Vishnevskaya to gain some valuable experience that will help her in her desire to win medals in the future and also to perform well for her country and help biathlon continue to grow in Kazakhstan. She is a good shot like most of her Kazakh teammates and with an improvement in her ski speed it could be an exciting two years for her.

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2021: The Controversial Championships!

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Just when you are getting ready for the new season with interviews and posts about biathlon –the sport and the sportspeople – BOOM! the IBU delegates vote Tyumen as host of the World Championships in 2021. So what you may ask. Well unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months Russia have got themselves into a little bit of trouble.

With the publication of the McLaren Report into state sponsored doping by the Russians at the Sochi Olympics you would think most sports federations would avoid them like the plague. Not so the IBU. We have a World Cup round there in March, The Youth/Junior World Championships 2017 in Ostrov and now the World Championships in Tyumen in 2021.

To be fair all of these events were organised before the McLaren Report was published except the awarding of the World Championships to Tyumen which was voted on this past weekend at the IBU Congress.

Many people including Erland Slokvik, President of Norwegian Biathlon, and Canadian coach Roddy Ward have been vocal in their amazement at this decision and it does seem a strange one. There are many questions that need answers. For example why was Tyumen allowed to continue as a candidate after the IOC actively discouraged Individual Sports Federations from holding future events in Russia and to look for alternative hosts. Well it’s because they gave the green light to any event in which the bidding process had already begun.

I don’t have so much of a problem with this as the bid from Tyumen was started a long time ago and I am sure a lot of people have put a lot of time and effort into it. However there were another two candidates who did the same. Pokljuka and Nove Mesto were also competing to host in 2021.

So why then did the delegates decide to choose a Russian host? A question I am not sure I can answer with any certainty but here are some of the reasons put forward so far. Out of a possible 49 votes Tyumen won 25 and it is speculated that they came from the smaller Asian nations and the old Eastern Block countries. It is suggested that these countries maybe aren’t as concerned about Russia’s issues as the Western countries are.

Russia is a huge biathlon nation. It’s no coincidence that the three languages of the IBU are English, Germany and Russian. The sport is incredibly well supported there and with such popularity of course comes money.

It doesn’t surprise me that many are angry at the Tyumen decision. It did surprise me however who was not. The biathletes! Their reactions range from silence to congratulations on the winning bid. It made me wonder why when many biathletes speak out against anti-doping they would show support for an event in a country whose anti-doping agency has been declared unfit for purpose. Tyumen hosts a very lucrative end of season “Race of Champions”…

Apart from all the World Championships controversy we are still waiting to hear if any action will be taken against Russia. The McLaren Report alleges that 10 samples from biathletes were tampered with in Sochi. One of the team, Alexander Loginov, is already serving a suspension for doping but as yet we have heard nothing about any other potential positive samples. The Russians had a team of 12 in Sochi.

Yesterday IBU President Anders Besseberg stated that Tyumen could possibly lose the World Championships if these retested samples come back positive. The IBU are not doing themselves any favours in it’s handling of both these situations. The IPC provides a good example and an interesting contrast.

All in all it’s an unsavoury mess and doesn’t reflect well on any of the parties involved. The fans don’t want to be talking and reading about this. They want to be getting excited for a new season and planning what World Cup round to go and thinking about who is going to do well. They do not want to watch their sport become mired in controversy. Yes the fans, remember us? It would be nice if someone would occasionally!

It’s hard to see any of this being resolved anytime soon and I imagine it won’t end satisfactorily for anyone. However I was thinking if I start doping now, in 5 years’ time I could maybe win a gold medal in Tyumen and not get got caught……just a thought!

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Pidhrushna: The second coming!

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Olena Pidhrushna is only 29! It feels like she has been around for ages! We even thought she had retired at the end of season 2013/14 but it turns out she was just on a break. She came back at the beginning of last season looking better than ever.

Pidhrusha was born in Poland on the 9th of January 1987 but obviously competes for Ukraine. Her debut season on the World Cup was back in 2008/09 where she finished 52nd in the Total Score. Last season was her best ever as she finished 7th in the Overall and won her first World Cup race taking the victory in the Sprint race in Canmore. She also finished on the podium twice with two third places in the Oestersund Individual and the Sprint.

Taking a year off where she worked for a time as Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports and had a baby seems to have worked wonders for Pidhrushna. She looked to be back to the form that helped her to win a World Championship title in Nove Mesto in 2013. There she won the gold medal in the Sprint and that same season finished 8th in the Total score by claiming another four Top 4 finishes on the World Cup.

Of course she is probably best known for her part in the Ukrainian Women’s Relay team who won the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. She took the final leg in the race and used all her experience using only 1 spare round to beat the Russian team by 26 seconds. At the start of a time of political turmoil between the two countries it had a lot of significance beyond that of just sport.

So will she be able to repeat her success next season? She is up against some very strong competition but she has the chance to move up the rankings if she continues last season’s form. Her best events seem to be those against the clock rather than head to head racing as many of her best results come in the Sprint races. This is where she has picked up most of her points, in fact she was 5th in the Sprint standing last season but dropped to 7th in the Pursuit and Mass Start rankings.

If she can improve her results in those events it will give her a good chance of getting into the Top 5 overall. She also has opportunities to add to her World Championship medal in Hochfilzen. She has a great chance of a medal in the Sprint of course and also in the Relays as Ukraine has a strong Women’s team and may also contend in the Mixed Relay. It seems that taking a year off from competing has done Pidhrushna a lot of good and she actually looks like a better biathlete in her second coming!

Like Olena’s Facebook page: Olena Pidhrushna – Fanpage

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Jean Guillaume Beatrix: The Interview!

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French biathlete Jean Guillaume Beatrix was born on the 24th of March 1988. He was World Junior Champion in the Individual in 2008 and he won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014 in the Pursuit. He has 4 World Championship medals, 3 silver and 1 bronze, all from the Relays with his French teammates. He is also a member of the biathlon band!

You can like Jean Guillaume’s Facebook Page: Jean-Guillaume Beatrix (Sportsperson)

Your name contains the word “beat” so obviously it was your destiny to become a musician! Why did you ignore that destiny and become a biathlete instead?

I’m actually a sportsman because I failed to be a musician! I used to dream about being a rock star, and used to play music when I was in my early teens. But I had to admit that I didn’t have much talent for that.

You won the Bronze medal in Sochi in the Pursuit. How did that feel? Did you have a feeling before the race that you could get a medal? Do you wear it a lot around the house! 😉

I remember that I was in top shape during the Olympic Games, and confident in the shooting. But I didn’t have any feeling about the result or medal before the race.
Now the medal is in a box, I tend to forget it.

You also won 2 silver medals in the Relays at the World Championships in Kontiolahti. However your form individually probably wasn’t what you were hoping for. Have you learned anything from that in preparation for the World Champs in Oslo?

Being in good shape in March is a real challenge for me. For sure I had to change several things in my preparation and let’s see if I made the correct choices.

Your top result on the World Cup is 2nd. What do you need to do to convert that into a win? Are you missing a bit of luck or is there anything mentally that you need to change?

I don’t consider myself “unlucky”, I’ve just never been the strongest so far! My opponents are very strong, so I have to be perfect if I want to have a chance to win a race. That’s a big challenge and it gives me a lot of motivation.

You took part in the first official Single Mixed Relay. What do you think of the format and do you think it’s a good addition to the biathlon programme?

That was very interesting, I’m really happy and proud to take part in this race. I think it can bring a kind of “game” to biathlon, but I don’t want the classic races to disappear.

What training have you done so far this summer and what’s the plan until the start of the season?

Everything is right, following the plan. Great details!Thanks! 😉

You have said that you eat sugary cereal for breakfast in an IBU video which makes me very worried for the health of your teeth!! What do you normally eat when you are training and does that change on race day?

My breakfast is nearly always the same during the race days, I just have a bit less appetite. And that’s true, I must be careful about my teeth because I’m a real sugar addict.

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’d like to improve my shooting statistics, it’s really important! I’m usually strong on the track in December and January, I’d like to keep this good shape until March and it should be a nice winter.

You won the biathlon23 Award for Nicest Person in Biathlon mainly for your reaction to the “Pokljuka Incident”. Is it hard to control your emotions in situations like that or are you quite calm? Did you go back to the hotel and smash your guitar in secret?!!!

Actually I don’t respect people who get angry and lose control of themselves in hard or unfair situations. That’s very important for my self-esteem to stay calm, so you’ll never see me breaking anything because I’m angry. I’m honored to win that award, especially because many biathletes deserve it.

You are a member of the biathlon band with Lowell Bailey and Gabriela Soukalova. Do you enjoy doing that? Is it a nice distraction from racing? When do we get to hear you sing? 🙂

I’m very lucky to play music with them, I enjoy it very much. It’s a perfect distraction and I hope that we will continue. But I don’t have the level to sing, sorry…

Does your rifle have a name?

When I was a teenager, my rifle’s name was “Charlene”, just like the soldier in Full Metal Jacket. Fortunately, since then I’ve become mentally sane 🙂 so now my rifle has no name.

Describe yourself in three words.

Curious, itinerant, phlegmatic

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon track: Antholz
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Evgeny Ustyugov
Favourite event (sprint, pursuit etc): Mass start
Favourite/best race of your career so far? Mass start in Pokljuka
Favourite food: Haribo!
Favourite singer/band: Lowell and Gabriela
Favourite film: Kubrick’s films
Favourite sports team: The Czech girls biathlon team!
Favourite TV show: I never watch TV.

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Elite Elisa!

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With big sister Selina taking a year off to have a baby, Elisa Gasparin really stepped up for Switzerland and enjoyed her best season so far in 2014/15. The 23-year-old got some of her top results on the World Cup as well as impressing at the World Championships in Kontiolahti.

Elisa was born on the 2nd of December 1991 in Samedan. She is the younger sister of Olympic silver medallist and World Cup winner Selina, and the older sister of Aita. In fact the sisters made history together back in 2012 at the Hochfilzen World Cup by becoming the first three siblings to take part in a Relay together.

Elisa first showed us her potential back in Sochi at the Winter Olympics in 2014 where she finished an excellent 8th in the Sprint race. She even finished ahead of her older sister in the race as Selina was 13th. That was her only TOP 10 finish to date but a great confidence boost for her.

Last season was very impressive from the young Swiss biathlete. She achieved her personal best result of 11th on the World Cup in the Sprint in Khanty Mansiysk. This, added to another seven Top 20 finishes meant that she ended the season in 23rd place in the Total Score. A remarkable improvement of 31 places from the year before.

She also had a good World Championships in Kontiolahti. She finished every race in the Top 25 coming 25th in the Mass Start, 22nd in the Individual, 13th in the Sprint and 15th in the Pursuit. Most of her good results from last season came in the Sprint races which suggests that she prefers the shorter distance and racing against the clock.

This season she will be looking forward to the return of Selina and being able to race in Relays with both her sisters once again. If she continues her good form we might see some improved results from both the Swiss Women’s and Mixed Relay teams. Her main goal for this season must be to break into the Top 10 on the World Cup and put together a string of consistent results in the TOP 20. She is capable of doing this and in the Sprint especially she could even be pushing for a place on the podium.

It must be nice for Elisa to have both her sisters racing with her and travelling together in periods away from home. The three Gasparins have also done some great things to help develop biathlon in Switerland. They have built two shooting targets near their childhood home and also established three more ranges around Switzerland.

Elisa will be excited for the start of the new season to see how much she has progressed over the summer. She is still young and has plenty of time to improve but this season is a good opportunity to take a step forward and try and make Top 10 finishes her regular result. It won’t be easy but she has more experience now and has a good chance of doing it. It won’t be too long before Elisa joins the elite!

Elisa has her own website: http://www.gasparin.ch/
You can like her Facebook Page : Elisa Gasparin (Community Page)

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