Tag Archives: Tatiana Akimova

Season Preview 2017/18: Women

It’s almost time for the Women’s biathlon season to start. The first race is the Women’s Individual in Oestersund on the 29th of November. Last season was more or less a straight fight between Laura Dahlmeier and Gabriela Koukalova with Dahlmeier coming out on top winning the Overall Title for the first time.

It could be a similar situation this season but with the Olympics Games on the horizon the World Cup will not be the main focus for the majority of the biathletes. They will be concentrating on peaking for PyeongChang in February and we could even see some of them skipping World Cup races preferring to train for the Olympics.

It also means we could be losing a few of our favourites at the end of the season as the end of an Olympic cycle is a favoured time among sportspeople to retire.

Last season’s Total Scored ended like this:
1.Dahlmeier
2.Koukalova
3.Makarainen
4.Dorin Habert
5.Wierer
6.Braisaz
7.A.Chevalier
8.Dzhima
9.Hildebrand
10.Dunklee

Dahlmeier was impressive all year and crucially managed to stay fit and healthy for the entire season. She was a deserved winner of the big crystal globe and will start as favourite this season. However she didn’t have it easy.

At some points last season the top four were very close and Gabriela Koukalova pushed Dahlmeier the hardest. She is also a contender again this season but I fear she will be aiming solely for the Olympic medals and she has some health problems that could see her miss the first round in Sweden and possibly more.

It could be Kaisa Makarainen’s final season. She has spoken about retiring in the past and this may be the one she chooses to call it a day. Hopefully not but she also has a chance at the overall if she gets back some of her old consistency. Last season wasn’t her best but if she can sort out her shooting then it’s tough to beat her on the skis.

Marie Dorin Habert and Dorothea Wierer are very talented biathletes but I am not sure either can put together enough consistent performances to win the World Cup.

The French women’s team in particular had a great season with Justine Braisaz and Anais Chevalier also in the Top 10. They can’t win it yet but look for them to continue moving up the standings.

None of the other ladies have produced enough points scoring finishes over the whole season to win the overall but the likes of Yuliia Dzhima, Franziska Hildebrand and Susan Dunklee can certainly win races and take podiums when they are on form.

Outside the Top 10 we found Tiril Eckhoff and Marte Olsbu in 11th and 12th place. Eckhoff has been pretty disappointing since she won the Sprint gold at the Oslo World Championships. She has struggled to put together a good season but she is still young and can hopefully make the Top 10 this year.

I would expect improvement from Anais Bescond and now also Mari Laukkanen after her great end to last season. Selina Gasparin has shown glimpses of getting back to her best and we should look to see her moving up the rankings.

Franziska Preuss had a season disrupted by injury and she will also be in the mix for podiums if she returns on good form. The Italian women like Lisa Vittozzi and Alexia Runggaldier will also be hoping to build on their successful seasons last year.

There is of course a dark horse in the women’s side. A certain Darya Domracheva. She was 24th in the Total Score but missed a lot of the season after having her baby. If she regains her form from the Sochi Olympic year she will be a massive challenger to Dahlmeier and the others.

One nation that has had a terrible time lately is Russia. Their women’s team is not nearly as good as it has been and their top performer last season was Tatiana Akimova in 16th. They will be hoping to step up their game in this very important season.

One person who will be missing from the start line in Sweden is Teja Gregorin. The Slovenian has been suspended by the IBU after retesting of her samples from the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 came back as positive for a banned substance. A growth hormone was discovered in her blood and there will be a hearing at the end of this month to deal with it.

However we will concentrate on those who are racing and the action gets underway very soon. If this season is anything like last year on the women’s World Cup you will not want to miss a single race!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Advertisements

World Cup 2016/17: Women’s Review!

As is becoming more and more common the women’s World Cup was again more exciting and more closely fought than the men’s. The eventual winner was Laura Dahlmeier. She won a total of 10 races and has been the outstanding biathlete on the Women’s World Cup.

She didn’t have it all her own way though. In the Total Score Dahlmeier finished with 1211 points. Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova with 1089 points and Kaisa Makarainen was third with 971 points.

Laura won the small crystal globe in the Pursuit and the Individual but despite leading in the Sprint and Mass Start standings she lost them both to Koukalova at the final World Cup round. Gabi won the Sprint Title by 5 points and the Mass Start Title by 9 so you can see how close the competitions were.

Rookie of the year went to Sweden’s Hanna Öberg who was 47th in the Total Score with 128 points and had three Top 10 finishes.

It was not an easy task for Dahlmeier to win the big crystal globe and that started back at the end of November in Oestersund. The Individual was the first race and was won by Dahlmeier with Anais Bescond in second and a surprise in third with Darya Yurkevich getting her first ever podium. The Sprint was next and this time Marie Dorin Habert took first place from Kaisa Makarainen in second and Gabriela Koukalova in third. The Pursuit race went to Koukalova with Dahlmeier in second and Dorothea Wierer in third. With all the big guns looking in good form it was an exciting start to the season.

We then headed to Pokljuka where this time Dahlmeier won the Sprint from Justine Braisaz in second and Marte Olsbu in third. Dahlmeier made it a double in the Pursuit followed by Kaisa Makarainen and Eva Puskarcikova who took her first ever podium finish in third.

Next came Nove Mesto and we had a brand new winner of the Sprint with Tatiana Akimova winning her first race. Anais Chevalier came second to get her first podium finish and Susan Dunklee was third. In the Pursuit Chevalier moved up a place to win the first race of her career. Wierer was second and Akimova third. Two new winners that weekend was great for the Women’s World Cup. The Mass Start belonged to Koukalova in front of her home crowd with Dahlmeier second and Wierer third.

After the Christmas break it was on to Oberhof and Koukalova took another victory this time in the Sprint with Makarainen second and Dorin Habert third. Dahlmeier chose to miss the first two races here and the Pursuit went to Dorin Habert with Koukalova second and Makarainen third. Koukalova won the Mass Start with Dahlmeier returning to race coming second and Eva Puskarcikova coming third for the second time this season.

We remained in Germany but moved to Ruhpolding for round 5. Makarainen took her first win of the season in the Sprint from Koukalova in second and Dahlmeier in third. Kaisa made it a double by winning the Pursuit with Koukalova second again and Dorin Habert in third.

The last World Cup before the World Championships was in Antholz where Dahlmeier won the Individual with Chevalier in second and Alexia Runggaldier taking her first ever podium finish in front of her home crowd. The Mass Start saw Nadine Horchler win her first ever race on the World Cup coming from 30th to 1st. Dahlmeier finished second and Koukalova third.

The World Championships were dominated by Dahlmeier. The first race was the Sprint and it was the only race she didn’t win! Gabriela Koukalova took this one winning her first gold medal at a World Championships. Dahlmeier got the silver with Anais Chevalier taking bronze. In the Pursuit it was gold for Dahlmeier and Darya Domracheva surprised everyone by winning the silver coming from 27th to 2nd. The bronze went to Koukalova. The Individual was Dahlmeier’s too this time with silver going to Koukalova and bronze to Alexia Runggaldier. The Mass Start was Laura’s 3rd individual gold medal, Susan Dunklee got the silver and Kaisa Makarainen the bronze. Dahlmeier also won 2 more gold in the relays and so from six races she won 5 gold medals and 1 silver. Amazing!

She was to continue her great form at the Olympic test event in PyeongChang winning the Sprint and the Pursuit. Tiril Eckhoff got her first podium of the season coming second in the Sprint with Anais Chevalier in third. Makarainen was second in the Pursuit with Anais Bescond in third.

Kontiolahti was next for World Cup 8. This time it was Eckhoff who won the Sprint finishing ahead of Dahlmeier to win her first race of the season. Dahlmeier did enough however to win her first ever Overall Title and the big crystal globe. Darya Domracheva was third. The Pursuit was won by Dahlmeier with Marie Dorin Habert in second and Lisa Vittozzi getting her first podium on the World Cup in third.

The final round was held in Holmenkollen, Oslo. We had a new winner in the Sprint race with Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever World Cup race. Second place went to Justine Braisaz and teammate Anais Bescond was third. Laukkanen did the double winning the Pursuit too with Koukalova in second and Braisaz third. The final race of the season was the Mass Start which home favourite Tiril Eckhoff won. Koukalova took second to secure the Mass Start Title and Kaisa Makarainen was third.

Strangely with such a competitive women’s field all the Women’s Relays were won by one team and that was Germany. The Mixed Relays went to Norway and France on the World Cup and Germany at the World Championships.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Hochfilzen 2017: The Women’s Relay!

h17wr

Winter is back! Which is lucky as biathlon is a winter sport and it is February. There were snowy and windy conditions for the Women’s Relay today and it was another fantastic race. I think we have been spoiled in Hochfilzen by the standard and excitement of the races.

In the Women’s Relay France got off to the best start with Anais Chevalier on leg 1 using just 1 spare and handing over to Celia Aymonier in the lead. She was followed closely by Lisa Vittozzi with 1 spare and Vanessa Hinz with 2 spares needed. Poland with Magdalena Gwizdon were in 4th and Nadezhda Skardino had Belarus in 5th. Russia were in 6th and Iryna Varvynets was in 7th for Ukraine.

The second leg started well for Aymonier but on the stand she needed 3 spares and just avoided the penalty loop. This gave Italy the chance to take the lead with Federica Sanfilippo needing just 1 spare to hand over in first. In second were Germany with Maren Hammerschmidt followed by Yuliia Dzhima and Aymonier.

The third leg was where the race turned. Franziska Hildebrand who hasn’t had the best Championships so far hit 10/10 to put Germany in a commanding position. She was followed by Anastasiya Merkushyna who used 1 spare putting the Ukraine into second, France went into third thanks to Justine Braisaz and Irina Starykh moved Russia up to 4th with the Czech Republic going into 5th with a good leg from Veronika Vitkova and Italy were 6th after Alexia Runggaldier’s leg.

Hildebrand handed over the lead to Laura Dahlmeier, which is the last thing you want if you aren’t on the Germany team! She was being chased by Olena Pidhrushna, Marie Dorin Habert, Gabriela Koukalova and Tatiana Akimova. Amazing!

Akimova dropped out early after having a nightmare on the first prone and taking a penalty loop. Dahlmeier used 1 spare and the others all shot clear to bring them all closer to the leader. It was a very tense final shoot and Dahlmeier needed 2 spare rounds but still managed to get away in the lead. Pidhrushna , Dorin Habert and Koukalova all went clear, Wierer missed 1 but shot so fast you hardly noticed so it came down to a ski race.

Koukalova was in silver position but she looked tired or myabe her skis weren’t good but she never loooked like she could hold on. So it came down to Dorin Habert and Pidhrushna to decide the medals. Unfortunately for them Dahlmeier was too strong to catch in first so they fought it out for silver and bronze.

Olena Pidrushna had a fantastic leg. I think she saved something on her first 2 loops and skied so well that Dorin Habert couldn’t get passed her.

It was a great race with Germany taking gold and Dahlmeier winning her 4th gold medal in Hochfilzen and her 10th World Championship medal in a row. Silver went to a terrific Ukrainian team with the best shooting score using just 4 spares altogether and bronze went to France.

The Czech Republic were 4th, Italy 5th, Sweden 6th, Poland 7th, Slovakia 8th, Belarus 9th and Russia 10th.

11th Norway
12th Kazakhstan
13th Switzerland
14th USA
15th Finland
16th Canada
17th Slovenia
18th Korea
19th Estonia
20th Japan
21st Lithuania
22nd Bulgaria
Austria were disqualified.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Hochfilzen 2017: The Mixed Relay!

h17mr

It’s here! Finally the 2017 World Championships have begun in Hochfilzen! After what feels like about 7 years since the last World Cup round in Antholz the action got underway on Thursday with the Mixed Relay.

Under sunny skies and with a little bit of wind the women got us started in the afternoon. The Italian team with Lisa Vittozzi taking the first leg got off to the best start. She shot clear and handed over in first place in front of Marte Olsbu who used 1 spare and Lisa Hauser who used 2. The USA were in 4th after a great opening leg. They were followed by Mari Laukkanen, Anais Chevalier and Vanessa Hinz.

It was then the turn of Dorothea Wierer, Laura Dahlmeier, Marie Dorin Habert and Kaisa Makarainen to go head to head. Unusually for her Dahlmeier needed 4 spares as did Makarainen, Wierer used 3, Dorin Habert 2 and Akimova was the best shot with just 1 spare required putting Russia into 5th. Tiril Eckhoff put Norway out of contention by going on the penalty loop on the prone.

The women were all very evenly matched at the front with Dahlmeier putting Germany into the lead just in front of Dorin Habert for France and Dorothea Wierer for Italy. However it was all change when the men took over for the third leg. It looked like France had thrown their medal chances away when Quentin Fillon Maillet had to take a penalty loop on his standing shoot. The others were doing much better with Arnd Peiffer hitting 10/10, Lukas Hofer missing just 1 and Alexander Loginov using 3 spares.

Somehow Fillon Maillet managed to hand over to Martin Fourcade still in medal contention and he and Anton Shipulin would stick to each other like glue for the rest of the race in their efforts to chase down Dominik Windisch in second and Simon Schempp who was in first place.

Schempp was too far in front for them to catch and he just needed 1 spare in the standing and so could not be caught. The German team all put in fantastic legs and were well deserved winners of the gold medal. In the final standing Dominik Windisch needed 2 spares and his opponents hit all the targets and so it came down to a ski race between Fourcade and Shipulin for the silver and bronze medals.

They were locked together until the finish where Fourcade took a rather wide line into the straight and forced Shipulin to check his sprint to change lanes which effectively gave France the silver medal and spoiled a sprint finish up to the line. Fourcade knows that Shipulin has a better sprint finish than him and used his tactics wisely to beat him.

Italy came 4th after a great race from their quartet. 5th went to the Ukraine, 6th to Sweden, 7th to the Czech Republic, 8th to Norway, 9th to home team Austria and 10th to Finland.

11th Kazakhstan
12th Slovakia
13th Canada
14th Switzerland
15th Japan
16th USA
17th Bulgaria
18th Slovenia
19th Korea
20th Romania
21st Estonia
22nd Belarus
23rd Poland
24th Lithuania
25th Latvia

P.S On the podium the Russians refused to shake Martin Fourcade’s hand accusing him of disrespecting and knocking over Alexander Loginov at the third exchange. At the press conference Anton Shipulin said that he was defending his teammate and that’s why he wouldn’t shake hands. It emerged that the Russian Federation had asked for special sanctions against Fourcade for a social media comment he made about Loginov’s success at the European Championships reminding people he had served a two year drug ban.

On the video of the changeover Fourcade did ski over Loginov’s ski and knock him down but as one was slowing down and the other speeding up it looked like an accident. Fourcade seemed to just be trying to pass him quickly to catch up with the leaders rather than deliberately hitting him. It’s unlikely that Fourcade would jeopardize his teams chances to make a point that he can do off the track if he wanted.

Hopefully it will not spill over to the rest of the competition.  Although the comments section of the press conference video have been removed and the IBU have issued a statement to ask the fans to calm down so I don’t think we have heard the last of this!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Antholz 2017: Mass Start/Relay 1!

ant17wms

Saturday was a different day on the biathlon calendar with the women racing the Mass Start and the men racing the Relay. Maybe they should do it more often as they were two fantastic races!

With calm wind conditions and a lovely sunny day it was a great day to race. The Women’s Mass Start was won by a clean shooting German…and it wasn’t Laura Dahlmeier! Giving the German selectors a massive headache before the World Championships was Nadine Horchler. She normally competes more on the IBU Cup and goes up and down to the World Cup but that may not be the case anymore after taking her first ever win.

She started with bib 30 which meant she was the last person to qualify to race today and she overtook the whole field to win with an outstanding performance. She shot clean and then on the final loop she skied past Gabriela Koukalova to take the win by just over 3 seconds. Second place went to teammate Dahlmeier who also passed Koukalova on the final lap but the Czech held on to third. She had a tough race having to take 3 different poles and missing 2 targets.

It was also unlike Dahlmeier to miss 3 shots but I think Horchler was quite pleased she did!

Tatiana Akimova had the early lead in this race after the first two prone shoots but her standing shoots let her down. That left Koukalova to take her time and clean the standing shoots to put her into the lead but she couldn’t hold on to it and a brave final lap from Horchler gave her the win.

Elsewhere Sweden’s Anna Magnusson came 7th getting her personal best missing just one target, Kaia Nicolaisen shot clean and took 9th and Alexia Runggaldier continued her fine form at home finishing 6th with 1 miss.

The Men’s Relay was next and gave us a fantastic sprint to line and a photo finish to decide the winner! Of course if there is a sprint finish there can only be two people involved. The two who are always in sprint finishes and in fact are two of the best at doing it – Simon Schempp and Emil Svendsen.

This time Schempp came out on top and led team German to the victory. They were separated by just 0.1 of a second at the end. The early stages of this race had Russia in control after the first two laps with Tsvetkov and Garanichev racing really well.

The third loop began with Malyshko, Johannes Boe and Peiffer all together but by the end it was Boe who passed a 17 second lead to Svendsen. Boe and Peiffer missed just 1 shot each and Malyshko needed 4 spares which put Russia out of contention for the win.

With Svendsen requiring 2 spares to Schempp’s 1 it made the final loop into an exciting ski race. Schempp who can claim to be one of the best sprinters around grabbed the win on the line to give his team of Erik Lesser, Benedikt Doll and Arnd Peiffer the perfect end to the day.

Norway’s team of Svendsen, Boe, Lars Birkeland and L’Abee Lund now have a first and second place in the last 2 Relays with arguably not their strongest team. Russia with Tsvetkov, Garanichev, Malyshko and Anton Babikov stayed in third place.

The American team of Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Leif Nordgren and Sean Doherty had a great race finishing in 6th from bib 24 and the Swedes with Stenersen, Nelin, Samuelsson and Lindstrom were 9th from bib 22.

Tomorrow the races are the opposite way around with the Men’s Mass Start and the Women’s Relay so let’s hope they are just as exciting as today!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Nove Mesto 2016: The Pursuits!

nm16mp

I don’t know what the French team are eating in Nove Mesto but I think it might be vepřo knedlo zelo(roast pork with dumplings) because something is powering their amazing performances. This time they took a double victory winning both the Men’s and Women’s Pursuits.

Martin Fourcade gave another accomplished performance and won his 6th race this season. To be at such a good level on such a consistent basis is phenomenal. He is head and shoulders above the rest at the moment. Having said that I would love someone to beat him! I am perfectly happy for him to win the overall title as he is clearly the number one biathlete in the world right now but I would love to see him replaced on the top step occasionally.

That’s easier said than done of course. He only missed one target and won the race by 30.2 seconds. Anton Shipulin stayed in second with 2 misses and with Svendsen not starting the race, Quentin Fillon Maillet took advantage and his place on the podium shooting clean and moving from 16th to 3rd. He beat Simon Schempp in a sprint finish to take revenge for losing to Schempp in their last sprint finish battle in Ruhpolding!

Schempp showed some better form today though and also shot clean to move from 17th to 4th. Michael Roesch had another good race and got another 6th place from a start position of 30th, another Frenchman Jean Guillaume Beatrix went from 31st to 8th, Evgeniy Garanichev went from 41st to 11th and home favourite Michal Slesingr moved up from 44th to 19th.

In the Women’s race Anais Chevalier managed to move a step up onto the top of the podium after finishing second yesterday in the Sprint. She missed 1 target to win her first ever race on the World Cup by 9.5 seconds. Second place went to Dorothea Wierer who seems to love a fight back up the field in the Pursuits coming from 7th, which she managed with a frozen finger! Third place went to yesterday’s winner Tatiana Akimova.

There were some other good results for Yuliia Dzhima who went from 34th to 13th, Lisa Vittozzi from 38th to 14th and Galina Vishnevskaya from 41st to 20th. Reigning World Cup winner Koukalova improved from 13th to 8th and Veronika Vitkova went from 16th to 12th to give the huge crowd something to cheer!

I am sure the French team will be enjoying a few glasses of pilsner or maybe budvar this evening but they also have the Mass Starts to race tomorrow. Will they be on the podium again or can someone else grab the glory?

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Nove Mesto 2016: The Sprints!

nm16ws

Hurray! The World Cup is bock in Nove Mesto Na Morave and it’s about time too. With the stands packed with around 30,000 fantastic fans it’s a great place to go racing. We started on Thursday with the Men’s Sprint and Martin Fourcade won again! That’s all three Sprint races he has won so far this season, 5 out of 6 victories in individual races and he has been on the podium in every single race! Unbelievable! The only race he didn’t win was the won I predicted he would definitely win so for the sake of biathlon I am absolutely sure he will win the Pursuit! 😉

In second place was Anton Shipulin who shot clean but was still beaten by Fourcade by 1.6 seconds and Martin missed a target. A more encouraging result however was Emil Hegle Svendsen in third who also missed 1 target but was only 6.5 seconds back. It seems having Fourcade’s old coach and the same skis is paying off. If he eats a few plates of svíčková (sirlion with vegetables) in Nove Mesto he will surely be able to beat him! It should make an interesting Pursuit race.

Johannes Boe was 4th and Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev had a fantastic race finishing 5th. Home hero Ondrej Moravec was 8th giving the crowd more reason to shout and Julian Eberhard missed 3 targets but was still 9th only 28.6 seconds behind the winner. In 13th place was young Swede Sebastian Samuelsson who missed 1 target and was 38.2 seconds behind Fourcade. He will be 20 in March!

The Women’s race took place on Friday and much like some řízek (triple coated schnitzel) there was a triple surprise on the podium. Taking her first ever win was Russia’s Tatiana Akimova. She shot clean and won the race by 4.3 seconds. In second place with her career best finish on the World Cup was France’s Anais Chevalier who also shot clean just beating the USA’s Susan Dunklee into third by 0.8 of a second. Dunklee also shot clean and grabbed her first podium of the season (the power of bib23!).

The French women’s team was really impressive as they had five biathletes in the Top 12 with Braisaz in 6th, Bescond in 8th, Dorin Habert in 11th and Aymonier in 12th. The top Czech was Gabriela Koukalova who was 13th but she missed 3 targets in the standing shoot. With 29,000 fans cheering every shot there is a lot of pressure on her to perform well and I think she will improve on that in the Pursuit.

Speaking of the Pursuit I think both races should be very exciting with only a few seconds separating the top biathletes in both the men’s and women’s races. Don’t miss them!

I now have a strange desire to buy a pair of bright orange trousers but I am not sure why! 😉 So while I pop to the shops you can enjoy the rest of the weekend in Nove Mesto!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!