Tag Archives: Synnøve Solemdal

Antholz 2020: The Relays!

I don’t know about you biathlon fans but I am worn out after two amazing relays at the world championships and we were just watching!

The women were first to race and what a dramatic relay they produced! As biathlon law dictates it was Lisa Vittozzi who put Italy into the lead after the first leg. (Can you remember a time when she didn’t put them in first place?!!)

She only used 1 spare on the prone and handed over to Dorothea Wierer with a healthy margin of almost 30 seconds over the Polish team with Kinga Zyblut and the Russians with Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht.

Wierer would extend that lead to almost a minute. She just used one spare in the prone and her standing shoot was unbelievable! Rapid and accurate – I suggest you watch it for yourself!

At the second exchange she handed over to Federica Sanfilippo. Behind her came Monika Hojnisz-Starega then Irina Starykh. San filippo did well in the prone using just 2 spares but the stand let her down. In the end she incurred 2 penalty loops and Italy were out of the running. Kamila Zuk on the other hand was fantastic using just one spare to put Poland into the lead at the final exchange.

Tiril Eckhoff was trying to make up time for Norway after two solid legs from Synnoeve Solemdal and Ingrid Tandrevold had left them in 5th but over a minute back. She just avoided the penalty loop in the prone using 3 spares but couldn’t avoid it in the stand.

However she skied so strongly on the final loop that she handed over to Marte Olsbu Roeiseland in third place just behind the Czech Republic. Sweden and Germany were closing in with great legs from Linn Persson and Franziska Preuss bringing them back into contention.

Magdalena Gwizdon took over for Poland at the front and she used 2 spares in the prone. Roeiseland and Oeberg cleaned to take over the lead together. Herrmann used 2 spares.

At the final shoot it Roeiseland was spectacular. With the pressure of a gold medal in her hands she shot clean and left the range by herself for a simple ski to victory and a 4th gold medal for her. Hanna Oeberg was the opposite. Unfortunately she ended up on the penalty loop and lost the chance of a medal.

Moving into the medal spots were the Ukraine with Olena Pihrushna and the Czechs with Eva Kristejn Puskarcikova. Unluckily for them they were being chased by Denise Herrmann who needed 2 spares in the stand but skis so fast that she caught and passed both of them on the tracks to secure the silver medal for Germany. Ukraine hung on for the bronze.

The Czech Republic were 4th, Sweden 5th and Switzerland 6th. Poland were 7th in the end after a fabulous team performance and Italy were 10th at the finish.

Next up were the men and it was another close race. The first leg went to Erik Lesser shooting perfectly to give Germany an early lead. It wasn’t a big lead though with Emilien Jacquelin right behind him!

Norway had to take an early penalty loop with Vetle Christiansen having trouble in the standing shoot. That left Italy and Ukraine in 3rd and 4th.

Martin Fourcade took leg two for France up against Philipp Horn. Both cleaned in the prone and despite using 1 spare to Fourcade’s perfect shoot in the stand it was Horn who handed over first but there was very little between France and Germany.

On the third leg Arnd Peiffer and Simon Desthieux went head to head. Remarkably they shot exactly the same score both needing a spare in the stand. It was Peiffer who was stronger on the tracks giving Benedikt Doll a 12 second lead for the final leg. Tarjei Boe meanwhile was moving Norway back up into third.

At the first prone Doll needed all 3 spares to just avoid a penalty loop. Quentin Fillon Maillet hit 5/5 to move into the lead. The final stand decided it with just 2 spares for Fillon Maillet versus a penalty loop for Doll. Johannes Boe used 1 spare for his final standing and was just 5 seconds behind Doll.

On the last loop Boe overtook Doll to take the silver for Norway with Germany settling for bronze. France’s gold medal was the first in the men’s relay at World Championship for Martin Fourcade which completed his set of wins in each event.

Russia were 4th, Slovenia 5th and Austria 6th.

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Oestersund 2019: The Relays!

Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg would have been very happy with today’s rallies…..what I am talking about!!! It was the relays and they won’t be happy at all since they were both won by their neighbours and great rivals Norway!

The women raced first and it was Italy as usual who handed over first at the exchange. Lisa Vittozzi is a first leg legend! She did use 3 spares today unusually for her but she still skied herself into the lead!

She gave Nicole Gontier a five second lead over the Ukraine, the USA and home team Sweden after 10/10 shoots from Anastasiya Merkushyna and Linn Persson and just the 1 spare from Susan Dunklee. Germany with Vanessa Hinz went on the penalty loop but Norway were not too far off with a solid leg from Synnoeve Solemdal with 2 spares used.

Gontier had a great leg hitting all 10 targets as did Clare Egan for the USA leaving them neck and neck at the exchange. They were followed by Vita Semerenko, Mona Brorsson and Ingrid Tandrevold who hit 10/10 for Norway.

The third leg saw Joanne Reid hold the lead for the USA after the prone ahead of Alexia Runggaldier, Anna Magnusson, Yuliia Dzhima and Tiril Eckhoff.

Magnusson cleaned the stand to put Sweden in the lead, Reid needed 1 spare, Dzhima 2 and Eckhoff and Runggaldier went on the penalty loop!

That gave Hanna Oberg a 17 second lead at the final exchange. She was followed out by Emily Dreissigacker, Valj Semerenko and Marte Olsbu Roeiseland. Oberg needed 2 spares in the prone, the USA were clean and Ukraine and Norway took 1 spare each.

Roeiseland and Semerenko passed Dreissigacker on the tracks to move into second and third place for the final crucial shoot. Oberg was first in but needed all her spares. Roeiseland threw caution to the wind and went for it hitting all 5 and skiing to the gold medal for Norway. Sweden took silver and Semerenko needed 1 spare to safely claim the bronze medal. Unfortunately Dreissigacker went on the penalty loop twice and eventually finished in 9th but it was an amazing race from the US ladies.

Germany were 4th, Russia 5th and Slovakia 6th.

The day was tinged with sadness however as it was Rosanna Crawford’s final race for Canada who finished 14th. She will be greatly missed on the World Cup. 😦

The men raced later and victory again went to Norway who have won gold in every single relay at the World Championships!

The first leg was very close between a lot of the teams with some good shooting on the range. It was Matvey Eliseev who handed over first though for Russia with Lukas Hofer and Antonin Guigonnat close behind. The top ten teams were all within around 10 seconds of each other with Erik Lesser and Lars Birkeland keeping Germany and Norway in the mix.

The gaps stared to appear after leg 2 with France taking the lead thanks to Quentin Fillon Maillet. However he was followed closely by Vetle Christiansen in second and Jesper Nelin in third. Roman Rees for Germany (3 spares) and newcomer Nikita Porshnev for Russia (2 spares) both had solid legs.

On the third leg Tarjei Boe did really well using just 2 spares in the stand to give his brother a 43 second lead for the last lap. Simon Desthieux went on the penalty loop but still managed to tag Martin Fourcade in second place. He left at the same time as Bendikt Doll after a great leg from Arnd Peiffer moved Germany into third. Martin Ponsiluoma used 2 spares to put Sweden in fourth. Dmitry Malyshko kept Russia in the hunt also with 3 spares.

Johannes Boe shot clean on the prone to extend his lead. Fourcade cleaned and Doll needed 1 spare but they were still locked together in the podium positions. Samuelsson used 3 spares and was passed by Rok Trsan who put Slovenia into 4th!

Boe used all 3 spares in the stand but it was enough to seal victory and yet another gold for Norway. Doll used 1 spare but Fourcade ended up with 2 penalty loops. That left Germany in a comfortable silver medal position. Bronze was still up for grabs and with a perfect leg from Alexander Loginov it went to Russia.

The Czech Republic moved up to 4th, Slovenia were 5th and France 6th.

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Ruhpolding 2019: The Relays!

Tissues! I need tissues! Michael Roesch raced for the final time in Ruhpolding. He is loved by everyone – the fans and his fellow biathletes mainly for his sense of humour and being such a nice guy. He will be sorely missed by the biathlon family!

Back to the race and what do we know about the men’s relay in Ruhpolding? That’s right Norway always win! So of course Norway won! With a team of Lars Helge Birkeland, Vetle Christiansen, Tarjei Boe and Johannes Boe they got their fifth win in a row here.

It was a tight race however. Mr Roesch finished on a high shooting clean on the first leg for Belgium. Six teams came to the first exchange together- Ukraine, France, Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic and Germany.

Christiansen put Norway in the lead using one spare and Martin Fourcade handed over in second place. Tarjei Boe needed two spares in the standing which let France, Germany and Austria catch up to the leaders.

Tarjei handed over to Johannes with a tiny lead of under a second. He was neck and neck with Benedikt Doll but took the lead after the prone. However he needed 3 spares in the stand to Doll’s 1 and so they left the range together.

Behind these two it was a battle between Simon Desthieux and Julian Eberhard for third place. Johannes attacked on the steep uphill and pulled away from Doll to give Norway the victory. Norway used 8 spares in total.

The German team were second with Roman Rees, Johannes Kuehn, Arnd Peiffer and Doll using 6 spares. There was a sprint finish for third with Desthieux coming out on top. The French team of Emilien Jacquelin, Fourcade, Quentin Fillon Maillet and Desthieux used 9 spares.

Austria were 4th, Russia 5th and Sweden 6th. Roesch’s Belgian team finished 19th.

The women’s relay was on Saturday and what do we know about the women’s relay in Rupholding? France haven’t won here for ages. So obviously France won! The team of Julia Simon, Anais Bescond, Justine Braisaz and Anais Chevalier used only 4 spares to take the victory for the first time here in 25 years.

Unsurprisingly Italy took an early lead with Dorothea Wierer shooting clean. However Simon was right with her after hitting 10/10 and Norway’s Synnoeve Solemdal did the same in third.

Anais Bescond was steady on the second leg using 1 spare and handed over to Braisaz ahead of Italy and Slovakia who moved up after a great leg from Paulina Fialkova.

Braisaz used 2 spares but was fast enough to complete both shoots before the others had fired a round. Tiril Eckhoff had a super leg moving Norway into second and Preuss brought Germany into it handing over in third.

That was how the race finished with neither Marte Olsbu Roeiseland nor Denise Herrmann able to catch Anais Chevalier. One spare was the difference between second and third with 2 spares needed by Norway and 3 by Germany on the last standing.

Sweden were 4th, Russia 5th and Slovakia 6th with Kuzmina moving them up from 16th on the final leg.

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Season Review 2017/18: Biathlete23

WOW what a season it has been for Biathlete23! Wins, podiums and the small matter of an Olympic Gold medal!!! A return to Annecy the scene of our first ever victory and finally recognition from the IBU of the awesomeness of bib23 (see photo above). To top it all off there were three British biathletes in bib23 in the same season! You see hard work pays off in the end kids!

For anyone unfamiliar with Biathlete23 (where have you been?!) this blog follows the results of whichever biathlete happens to be in bib23 for each race. It treats them like one athlete and adds up the score to see how this biathlete would have performed over the year.

So far in Biathlete23 ‘s career:
Year 1: 802 points
Year 2: 948 points
Year 3: 760 points
Year 4: 921 Points

This season the points were down. With a total of 774 made up of 431 for the men and 343 for the women. That would put biathlete23 in 19th place in the Men’s Overall and 22nd place in the Women’s Overall.

However that doesn’t really tell the tale of biathlete23 this season. Last year there were no wins, this year there were two on the World Cup courtesy of Anastasiya Kuzmina in the Annecy Sprint and Martin Fourcade in the Ruhpolding Individual. There was also a podium from Antonin Guigonnat in the Ruhpolding Mass Start.

Great results but then came the Olympic Games in PyeongChang and Laura Dahlmeier. She only went and won gold in bib23 in the Women’s Sprint! AMAZING!!!

As an extra bonus for me Scott Dixon, Amanda Lightfoot and Scott Meenagh (at the Paralympic Games!) all wore bib23 this season! 🙂

I did seriously consider retiring biathlete23 after all that as I don’t think it will get much better, but then I guess I am more of a Bjoerndalen than a Neuner! The bib will be back!

This season started in Oestersund with Darya Domracheva the first biathlete to wear 23. She was 14th in the Individual. Volodymyr Siemkov was 78th in the Men’s Individual. In the Sprints Hilde Fenne was 18th and Maxim Tsvetkov 35th. In the Pursuits Marie Dorin Habert was 14th and Lukas Hofer 11th! Biathlete23 left Sweden with 113 points (men 36, women 77).

Next stop was Hochfilzen. It was a very exciting time for me with Scotland’s own Scott Dixon in bib23. He was 105th in the Sprint but I was just happy to see him in 23! Mona Brorsson was 81st in the Sprint and in the Pursuits Justine Braisaz was 35th and Sean Doherty 17th. That meant just 30 points (men 24, women 6).

The third round took place in the spiritual home of biathlete23, Annecy. Having won both Sprint races there 4 years ago hopes were high. Those hopes were not disappointed! Anastasiya Kuzmina won the Sprint race and secured the first win of the season and 60 points! In the men’s Sprint Vytautas Strolia was 49th. In the Pursuits Paulina Fialkova was 43rd and Sebastian Samuelsson was 36th. The Mass Starts saw Tatiana Akimova finish in 18th and Timofey Lapshin in 28th. That meant a points total of 101 (men 18, women 83).

After Christmas it was time for Oberhof. It wasn’t the best start to 2018! Galina Vishnevskaya was 70th in the Sprint and George Buta was 83rd. Sarah Beaudry was 51st in the Pursuit and Alexander Loginov was 18th. Biathlete23 got 23 points- how ironic!

You can’t keep a good bib down though and Ruhpolding was a triumph! Martin Fourcade won the Individual for win number two of the season. Iryna Kryuko was 11th. In the Mass Starts Synnoeve Solemdal was 11th and Antonin Guigonnat was 3rd!! Points galore – 152 to be exact (men 108, women 44).

The last round before the Olympics was of course Antholz. It got off to a great start with Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht finishing 6th in the Sprint and Simon Desthieux in 11th. Eva Puskarcikova was 30th in the Pursuit but Timofey Lapshin didn’t finish the race. Henrik L’Abee Lund was 11th in the Mass Start and Anais Chevalier was 26th. Total points were 119 (men 60, women 59).

The Olympics didn’t count towards World Cup points unfortunately but the team did well. Laura got gold in the Sprint and Vladmir Chepelin was 34th. In the Pursuits Jessica Jislova was 23rd and Jakov Fak 47th. In the Individuals we got another Brit in bib23 with Amanda Lighfoot who finished 73rd. Then came Fourcade. Just had to hit the last two targets for an easy win and a second gold but he missed two and finished 5th! Disappointing for him and me! The Mass Starts saw Lena Haecki in 23rd and Antonin Guigonnat in 19th.

Next was Kontiolahti where Simon Schempp was 8th in the Sprint and Federica Sanfilippo 46th. In the Mass Starts Freddie Lindstrom was 15th and Celia Aymonier 24th. The points from Finland were 77 (men 60, women 17).

Holmenkollen was round 8 and Norwegians made up 3 of the 4 biathletes in 23. Synnoeve Solemdal was 48th in the Sprint but Arnd Peiffer was 6th! Ingrid Tandrevold was 23rd in the Pursuit and Erlend Bjoentegaard was 34th. The points were 52 (men 45, women 7).

The final round was in Tyumen and half the team were Russian. Kalev Ermits was 78th in the Sprint but Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht was 21st. Evgeniy Garanichev and Katherina Innerhofer were both 23rd in the Pursuits! Spooky! Anton Babikov was 15th in the Mass Start and Galina Vishnevskaya was the final biathlete23 of the season and she was 25th. The total points were 80 (men 30, women 50).

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Antholz 2018: The Pursuits!

Sunny Saturday in Antholz hosted both the Pursuit races. The women were first and treated us to another good race.

It was quite a tight race up to the final shoot. Eckhoff and Dahlmeier started first and second but both missed on the first prone to let Darya Domracheva and Anais Bescond catch up with them after they both shot clear.

At the second prone Dasha and Tiril missed and Laura and Anais shot clean giving them the lead. By this time Dorothea Wierer was also coming into the picture after starting 7th.

At the third shoot Bescond missed 2 and was out of the picture. However Laura, Dasha and Tiril hit all five. Wierer missed 1 and headed to the penatly loop.

So it was all to come down to the last shoot, just the way we like it! This time it was Laura who held her nerve and hit all 5 to take a comfortable lead and the victory. Dasha missed 1 and Tiril 2. This gave Wierer her chance hitting the final 5. It would be a ski race for second. Dasha was holding on but in an accidental clash on one of the final turns Dasha knocked Doro’s pole out of her hand and so decided not to contest the finish leaving Wierer to claim second.

It showed outstanding sportswomanship and was very fair from Domracheva. Eckhoff stayed in 4th with Kaisa Makarainen storming into 5th from a start of 26th with 2 misses. Galina Vishnevskaya, despite her team being raided by Austrian police in the morning, shot clean and went from 14th to 6th.

There were other good performances from Lisa Vittozzi who went from 40th to 9th with 1 miss, Maren Hammerschmidt who missed 4 but moved from 49th to 24th and Synnoeve Solemdal who went from 53rd to 29th with 3 misses. Apart from Vishnevskaya two other women shot 20/20 and they were Alexia Runggaldier and Kaia Nicolaisen.

The men raced next and it was an altogether different race. Actually no it wasn’t, it was exactly the same as the Pursuit race in Annecy. Johannes Boe started with a lead of around 12 seconds and finished the race with a lead of around a minute. Johannes was incredible shooting 20/20 and cruising to victory.

It helped that Martin missed on the very first prone to give him a more comfortable cushion early on but he looked unbeatable today.

Martin held on to second hitting 19/20. Antholz Shipulin obviously had to move up on to the podium as he usually does here. He managed to pass Peiffer who went down 1 place to 4th.

There real show behind Boe came from his teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen. He started in 32nd place but shot 20/20 and moved all the way up to 5th. Emilien Jacquelin was again impressive missing just 2 shots to finish in 6th.

The Norwegians had a great time today with Erlend Bjoentegaard moving from 36th to 11th with 2 misses and L’Abee Lund went from 38th to 23rd. Dominik Landertinger went from 49th to 22nd, Michal Slesingr from 55th to 24th and Michael Roesch from 40th to 26th.

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Oestersund 2017: The Sprints!

Another race, another new winner on the Women’s World Cup!

Well we knew it was just a matter of time before the Herrmannator started picking of the other biathletes! That’s right Germany’s Denise Herrmann in only her second season as a biathlete has won her first World Cup race.

You could see it coming a mile away in the Sprint. She is super fast on skis after ‘crossing’ over from cross country skiing and was always going to win the short distance race if she could shoot clean or miss just one target. Today she missed one in Oestersund and ran away with the victory. She won a Sprint race over on IBU Cup 1 in Sjusjoen and she did it again in Sweden with a margin of 15.2 seconds over her rivals.

Those rivals shot clean which shows her superiority on the skis. Justine Braisaz was second with 10/10 and Yuliia Dzhima took her second podium in 2 races finishing third. Fourth place went to Synnøve Solemdal who will now wear the yellow bib in the Pursuit. What a turn around in her fortunes! She also shot clean as did Italy’s Lisa Vittozzi in 5th. Kaisa Makarainen missed 1 target and was 6th.

The Semerenko twins finished 21st and 22nd both shooting 9/10 but Vita was 0.5 of a second faster than Valj. I wonder if she was the twin that was born first!! 😉

We had to wander right back to 50th place to find a personal best and that went to Russian youngster Svetlana Mironova. Slovenia’s Ukska Poje was 57th matching her PB from the Oestersund Individual. At least she is consistent! Canada’s Megan Bankes also got a best World Cup finish in 60th and made the Pursuit on Sunday.

In the men’s race on Saturday it was just like having a new winner as Tarjei Boe took his first win since 2013! Illness has ruined the last few seasons for him and it was fantastic to see him back on the top step of the podium. It wasn’t easy for him though as he had to ski I think beyond his limit to win this one.

Martin Fourcade had 1 miss and set the pace and didn’t look like he could be beaten. Tarjei in bib 94 also missed 1 target but he managed to win by just 0.7 of a second. Erik Lesser completed the podium in third 3 seconds back from Fourcade.

Fourth place went to Emil Hegle Svendsen also with 9/10. Simon Schempp was fifth with 1 miss and Mario Dolder of Switzerland got his best ever World Cup finish in 6th with a clean shoot.

Germany’s Johannes Kuehn got his career best result in 9th. Canada’s Scott Gow improved his PB by 1 place finishing 16th and Estonia’s Rene Zahkna equalled his best in 34th. Emilien Jacquelin of France again finished in the points in 37th in his second ever World Cup start.

On Sunday both Pursuits take place and they are shaping up to be great races! Don’t miss them!

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Oestersund 2017: The Individuals!

The first individual event of the 2017/18 season got underway on Wednesday with well… the Individual! The women raced first and in the the absence of Laura Dahlmeier (cold) and Gabi Koukalova (calf injury) there were podiums up for grabs!

We like the Individual because it is the one race when your skis can’t really get you out of trouble. You have to shoot well. That’s exactly what the winner did. In a very cold Oestersund (-11 degrees) Nadezhda Skardino shot 20/20 to win her first ever World Cup race. Not only that but she wore the coolest pair of gloves while doing it. Standard up to the fingers and then woolen! 🙂

Second place went to Norway’s Synnøve Solemdal. She also hit all the targets but finished 2.9 seconds behind Skardino. It was fantastic to see her on the podium after a tough few years last with illness. Third place went to Yuliia Dzhima who also shot clean but was 12 seconds behind the winner.

Valj Semerenko was 4th also hitting all 20 targets with Paulina Fialkova 5th and home favourite Mona Brorsson in 6th.

Canada’s Julia Ransom was 9th hitting all the targets to get her best ever finish on a World Cup. Linn Persson did the same in 15th for her personal best. Britain’s Amanda Lightfoot missed just one target on her way to her best ever World Cup finish in 31st.

Eleven women cleared all the targets in this race which is exceptional shooting from the ladies.

The men had slightly warmer conditions on Thursday with a balmy minus 5. The race was dominated by Johannes Boe who shot clean and fast to win the race by over 2 minutes. It was his speed and accuracy on the range that was particularly impressive. Quentin Fillon Maillet was second also hitting 20/20 but was a long way off Boe’s ski time.

Martin Fourcade was third missing 2 targets. He actually skied faster than Boe but even if he had hit 20/20 he wouldn’t have won. This is because he wasn’t fast enough on the range and lost a lot of time settling for his first shot.

Julian Eberhard was 4th with 1 miss, Anton Babikov was 5th with a perfect shoot and 6th place went to Lukas Hofer with 2 misses.

There were some really good performances today from the youngsters. Felix Leitner got his best World Cup result in 28th. Emilien Jacquelin finished 35th on his World Cup debut.

On his first World Cup start Latvia’s Oskars Muiznieks was 48th. His previous best was from the World Championships back in 2013 when he was 112th!

Six men shot the perfect 20/20 with Anton Pantov, Benjamin Weger and Jakov Fak hitting all the targets.


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World Champs 2016: The Relays!

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Friday at the World Championships was Women’s Relay day. It was a fantastic day! What a great race the women put on. It was exciting from start to finish.

The Norwegian team of Synnoeve Solemdal, Fanny Horn Birkeland, Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu took the gold medal and sent the crowd wild. They also made sure those gold jackets made by the Norwegian Biathlon Team didn’t go to waste! It was such a good performance by the home team and a thoroughly deserved victory. These ladies haven’t had the easiest time over the last few years for various reasons and I was happy to see them pick up the gold.

It was far from simple for them however. In a close race Finland handed over at the first exchange in the the lead thanks to Kaisa Makarainien’s opening leg. At the second exchange Rosanna Crawford handed over in first place for Canada followed closely by many teams. The third leg would prove to be pretty decisive as Tiril Eckhoff shot clean again and handed over a 23 second lead to Olsbu. Unfortunately for Marte she was being chased by Laura Dahlmeier and Marie Dorin Habert!

Oslbu had to use 2 spare rounds in both her shoots and came out of the range for the final time just 5 seconds in front of Dorin Habert who had skied fast and shot clean in the stand to overtake Dahlmeier. In a heroic ski Olsbu held off the Frenchwoman and crossed the line to the acclaim of the crowd and her teammates.

Silver went to the French team of Justine Braisaz, Anais Bescond, Anais Chevalier and Dorin Habert. The German team of Franziska Preuss, Franziska Hildebrand, Maren Hammerschmidt and Laura Dahlmeier took the bronze.

In 4th were Poland, 5th Ukraine, 6th Czech Republic, 7th Italy, 8th Kazakhstan, 9th Slovenia, 10th Sweden, 11th Russia, 12th Austria, 13th USA, 14th Slovakia, 15th Canada, 16th Switzerland, 17th Finland, 18th Belarus, 19th Japan, 20th Bulgaria, 21st Romania, 22nd China, 23rd Korea.

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The Men’s race wasn’t as close as the Women’s but the results were very exciting! Ole Einar Bjoerndalen got his gold medal as part of the Norwegian team alongside Tarjei Boe, Johannes Boe and Emil Hegle Svendsen. Emil also managed to vanquish the Relay from Sochi where he lost the gold medal and King Harald looked pleased with the Relay double.

The silver medal went to Germany with Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll, Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp. The bronze medal went to Canada, that’s right I said Canada! In a quite magnificent display they took third place with Scott and Christian Gow, Nathan Smith and Brendan Green. I can’t overstate how amazing an achievement that is for the Canadian Team and very well deserved.

At the first exchange it looked like Germany were in control with a great leg from Erik Lesser. However Tarjei Boe on the second leg for Norway and his brother Johannes on the third left Svendsen with a comfortable lead of 30 seconds. All he had to do was shoot well and he did to secure gold. The Germans used 5 spares but couldn’t fight the Norwegians on the tracks. Christian Gow and Brendan Green shot clean in legs 1 and 4 and the team only used 5 spares in total.

The French and Russians were never really in the race and the penalty loop for Austria didn’t help their chances. They finished 4th with the Czech Republic in 5th, 6th Russia, 7th Sweden, 8th USA, 9th France, 10th Switzerland, 11th Italy, 12th Slovakia, 13th Bulgaria, 14th Estonia, 15th Belarus, 16th Ukraine, 17th Slovenia, 18th Romania, 19th Finland, 20th Kazakhstan, 21st Poland, 22nd Japan, 23rd Lithuania, 24th Belgium, 25th Latvia.

So the Relays are done and the locals go home happy with 2 gold medals. Tomorrow is the last day of these World Championships 😦 but they end with the Mass Starts 🙂

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WC7: Canmore Review 2016!

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Biathlon has swum across the pond this season to take the World Cup across to North America! The first stop is in Canada and we found ourselves in beautiful Canmore. With stunning views and plenty of snow we got to experience biathlon in a winter wonderland.

The first race to take place here was the Men’s Sprint on Thursday. It was won by Martin Fourcade who shot clean to win the race by a comfortable 15.7 seconds. Anton Shipulin came second also shooting clean and Simon Schempp was third with 10/10 too. In fact there were a lot of zero scores on a great day for doing biathlon. Fourth place went to Austria’s Julian Eberhard who missed 2 shots but is skiing amazingly fast. He finished 45 seconds behind Fourcade but if he ever hits all the targets he will be able to beat him. The Austrian Men’s team are in great form at the moment with Simon Eder and Dominik Landertinger in fifth and sixth. Macx Davies was top Canadian in his home race with clean shooting in 25th place.

The Women’s race on Friday threw up a few surprises in part due to the windy conditions. Olena Pidhrushna won for only the second time in her long career. She shot clean and finished 7.5 seconds ahead of Poland’s Krystyna Guzik. Maybe everyone should retire and then make a comeback! It has certainly done Pidhrushna good. It was also Guzik’s second time finishing in second place which is her top finish so far. In third was Dorothea Wierer with yet another podium. The biggest surprise though came in the form of Latvia’s Baiba Bendika who shot clean and finished in 5th place which is a huge personal best for her. Her previous best was 41st so these are also her first ever World Cup points. Germany’s Karolin Horchler also got a personal best in 9th as did France’s Celia Aymonier in 13th.

Saturday began with the Men’s Mass Start and if you thought it was windy on Friday, Saturday was worse! The start of the race had to be delayed due to the strength of the wind. There was a happy ending through the gale though as Italy’s Dominik Windisch won his first ever race on the World Cup. He missed 4 shots but managed to out ski his competitors on the final loop to taste victory for the first time. Second place went to Benedikt Doll who also missed 4 shots and in third was Quentin Fillon Maillet.

The ladies race was slightly calmer although not for Italian fans as they were very excited to see an Italian double as Dorothea Wierer claimed victory! She missed one shot and finished ahead of her rivals for the overall title. Marie Dorin Habert was second and Gabriela Soukalova third. Gabi has certainly enjoyed her time in Canmore as she had time to cross the line backwards to entertain the fans!

The weather was kinder on Sunday for the Relays. We began with Single Mixed Relay and France put out their World Team Challenge winners Martin Fourcade and Marie Dorin Habert. They won by a comfortable margin of 45 seconds and led the race from start to finish. In fact it would have been more surprising if they hadn’t won. Austria also put out a strong team of Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder their best shooters and it paid off as they finished second. Completing the podium in third were the Norwegian duo of Hilde Fenne and Lars Helge Birkeland proving that you don’t need the A team!!

The final race in Canada was the Mixed Relay and similar to the Single Mixed Relay it was dominated by one team. This time it was the German team of Hildebrand, Preuss, Peiffer and Schempp. They only required 4 spare rounds and won by over a minute. Second place was taken by the Italians who have had a remarkable round in Canmore. Wierer, Oberhofer, Hofer and Windisch even survived a penalty loop to finish ahead of third placed Norway. Olsbu, Solemdal, Os and Bogetveit just beat the American team by 2 seconds. It was a great performance from the US Team who head to their home race next week. Home team Canada also had a great race ending their home World Cup round in sixth place.

It has been a good few days in Canmore with great organisation and facilities. There have also been good supportive crowds and all that was missing really was a home podium. The weather was difficult with the unpredictable wind which biathletes hate but we spectators love and it threw up some different results and winners. We leave Canmore with Martin Fourcade and Gabriela Soukalova still in the yellow bibs and now we move across the border to the USA to Presque Isle in Maine and I am sure they will do a great job just like Canmore did. When are we coming back?!!! 🙂

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Gianluca Marcolini: The Interview!

marcolini

Gianluca Marcolini from Frassinoro, Italy is one of the top ski technicians working in biathlon at the moment. Previously he worked in cross country skiing and was ski technician to the likes of Stefania Belmondo and Dario Cologna. In 2013 he switched to biathlon to work with the Russian team in the run up to and during the Sochi Olympics. In 2014 he took up a position with the Norwegian team and he kindly took some time to talk to me about his job.

You can follow Gianluca on Twitter: @marcolinigluca

How did you become a ski technician? Are you just a frustrated athlete or do you prefer the equipment/technical side?

I’ve always been a lover of ski wax and skis as a child, I was an athlete as a young man but always with the passion of a ski technician.

You currently work for Norway. How does an Italian gets a job waxing for the Norwegians?

I work for Norway and I’m proud to work for them. It is the most I can ask, a dream come true. I consider myself privileged to have the honour to work for the number 1 nation in the world.

Have you ever had waxidents (accidents with wax)?

I’ve never had problems with my work, I have always tried to use the maximum precautions.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to be a ski technician?

The advice I could give to a person who wants to start the job of ski/wax tech is just to have a lot of passion and love the job.

What are the best and worst things about being a ski technician?

The best things are when your team wins and I’m able to do my job well. The worst thing for me doesn’t exist if you are supported by a group of wax techs, coaches, staff and athletes with whom you can talk openly, even when you are wrong, to try to find the mistake because that’s the only way you can grow positively.

How much input do biathletes have when choosing wax for skis? Who makes the final decision?

I think it’s important to have a good feeling with the athletes when testing skis both in training and before the race. The final decision for the selection of cross-country skis is taken between the ski technician and the athlete, but many times it takes just the ski tech to choose the skis and the products to be used on the racing skis.

Are you responsible for preparing all the skis or are you assigned to certain biathletes?

I mainly follow three athletes, Johannes Bø, Tarjei Bø and Synnøve Solemdal, but the whole group of ski technicians work together in harmony and help each other.

Describe your typical race weekend? What are your responsibilities, how much time do you spend waxing, tests, etc.?

I do not help on the tracks or shooting range during the race. I think the hours we spend in the ski room are already a lot. There is no timetable to start and finish it’s just when you think you’ve achieved the result you wanted. I sometimes go to help the coaches on track to give supplies to athletes.

Is the world of wax quite secretive? Do you have special formulas that you don’t want other teams to know about?

I try to do my work based on my experience and my professionalism. If I have any product or solution that I feel is good I want only my team using it and I don’t want it to be disclosed to the other teams.

What do you do in summer? Roller skis don’t need wax so what to do until the start of the new season?

In summer I talk with the ski companies, I go to the companies to research and test new skis for next season to try to always have the top skis.

The Italian biathlon team is doing really well right now. Why do you think that is?

I think that the Italian team is working very well both on shooting and on their physical abilities. When the Italians are strong in the race I’m happy, but I’m much happier when the Norwegians win.

Quick fire questions:

Favourite track biathlon: Holmenkollen
Favourite biathlete (past or present): Johannes Bo
Favorite event: (sprint, pursuit, etc.): all of them
Favourite Ski Tech: all of them
Favorite food: Pizza
Favourite singer/band: U2
Favorite Movie: Fast and Furious 6
Favorite team sport: cycling
Favourite TV show: quark

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