Valera Patotski is a biathlon journalist who works for the IBU. He covers the Junior Cup and Youth/Junior World Championships. He is Russian but lives in Norway which are about the best credentials you can have for covering biathlon! Currently finishing his journalism degree he is the mastermind behind the IBU Junior Twitter and Snapchat accounts and also contributes to the IBU magazine.
Follow Valera on Twitter: @ValeraPatotski
And on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valera.patotski/
Why do you love biathlon?
I think I could write a book on why I love biathlon, there are so many reasons, but mainly; because the sport is so unpredictable, everything can change in a matter of seconds. All the different disciplines, which is extremely fun to watch.
And the engaging community.
Can you describe your typical day when you are working at the Junior Cup?
I wake up, check social media for updates, comments, stats. Then I eat breakfast and rush to the stadium. I arrive at the stadium in advance of the athletes so I can prepare for the upcoming training or competition. Upon arriving I already have a plan on what I want to produce and how I want to do it. When the first athletes are arriving I leave the press centre and start producing content for Snapchat and Twitter. Often videos need editing so during zeroing I regroup at the press centre to edit and upload the content. Then I run out for the competitions and continue to produce content. After competitions I do interviews. When everyone has left the stadium I head back to the hotel, and usually continue with video concept shooting or writing from the hotel bed. Sometimes the day ends with some billiards or table tennis with the athletes. More or less this is a typical day for me.
Do you have a favourite/memorable race(s) that you have covered? Why was it special?
The Single mixed relay in JOECH 2018 is the most memorable one. It was just a very intense and close battle for the podium. What made the competition so special is that France who crossed the finish line first was disqualified due to Emilien Claude using one extra spare round during his last shooting.
My favourite competition is the youth relay from YJWCH 2018. Just a super exciting competition that ended with Sweden’s Elvira Oeberg beating Finland’s Heidi Nikkinen for the gold medal at the finish line.
Who should we be watching next season from the Juniors? Any big stars in the making?
In fact, many. I have seen a lot of talented young athletes, and I am confident that soon some of them will shine on the big stage. I would point out Emilien Claude, Igor Malinovskii, Elvira Oeberg and Sophia Schneider. They are all very skilled biathletes with a great future ahead of them.
I also would like to add that it is very cool that we see more and more Juniors and first year seniors at the World Cup.
Which biathlete would you really love to interview and what would you ask them?
I would love to do a 5-hour interview with Martin Fourcade. To try to understand his mind set a little bit better. I think he is mentally two steps above his competitors.
Poor Martin! 😉
There is a lot more coverage of biathlon on social media now. Do you enjoy that side of it or do you prefer writing articles?
The IBU became more visible on social media in 2016 and I feel very honoured that I took part in that “renovation”. I enjoy working with social media it is a very different way of bringing biathlon to the people. If I had to pick a side between social media and classic articles, I would go with social media.
You are still a student. What would you like to do in the future?
I still have one year left of my bachelor in journalism. When I’m finished I would like to continue working with winter sport and social media.
When I am IBU President and you are my Vice President (VP the VP!) what would you like to see change in biathlon?
I wish there were more races on the calendar as I cannot get enough of biathlon.
Do you have a favourite biathlon venue? Where is it and why?
I have to go with Pokljuka here, I have been there two times. They have a great stadium and usually great weather. The staff who work with hosting the competitions are very professional and kind.
Who is your favourite biathlete (past or present) and why?
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, he was one of the reasons I started following biathlon back in 2007. I remember him beating Raphael Poiree when I attended in my first ever biathlon competition. It was quite something!
If you had a rifle what would you call it?
Describe yourself in three words
confident, funny, empathetic
Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Biathlon family
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Marketa Davidova
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): all-time favourite Norway (2016), but currently Czech Republic has a great ski suit design.
Funniest biathlete: Tom Lahaye
Nicest biathlete: Joscha Burkhalter
Best media centre: Holmenkollen
Favourite biathlon journalist (not yourself!): Rene Denfeld and Giulio Gasparin, you cannot have one without the other. You mean like Tweedledum and Tweedledee? 😉
Best thing about being a biathlon journalist: Travel around the world, original right?
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