Tag Archives: Tim Burke

Season Review 2017/18: Men

Finally we got a World Cup season where the Overall Title went to the final round! Thank you Johannes Thingnes Boe! Obviously it wasn’t enough to stop Martin Fourcade winning his seventh Total Score in a row but it created a lot more excitement for the fans.

Mr. Fourcade also won the small crystal globes for the Sprint, Pursuit and Mass Start and shared the Individual with Johannes. The Frenchman is incredible. He almost finished on the podium in every single World Cup race he started just missing the final one in Tyumen. How he can achieve such a level of consistency in this sport is beyond belief. Biathlon is one of the hardest sports in the world and he makes it look easy.

I do have a suspicion that he is actually a machine. Something like that one from Terminator 2 that used to turn into a silver puddle and then reform again. WADA should be checking for that! 😉

Johannes Boe did have a great season even though he couldn’t topple Fourcade. He had a few races where he seemed to get his pacing wrong going too fast on the first loop and letting it affect his shooting. He also played around with his shooting style too which lost him points along the way. He is still young though and he will learn and improve meaning next season could be amazing!

Third place in the Overall went to Anton Shipulin. It was a tough season for the Russian with all the things going on off the track and not being able to compete at the Olympics. He showed however that on his day he is a still a match for anyone.

Arnd Peiffer was the top German finishing fourth overall, Lukas Hofer had a great end to the season and finished fifth with Jakov Fak coming sixth.

There were only another five guys who managed to win a race this season. Tarjei Boe, Anton Shipulin, Julian Eberhard all took victories and Henrik L’Abee Lund and Maxim Tsvetkov won their first ever World Cup races.

There were some big improvements on the men’s side this season too. Antonin Guigonnat especially made a huge leap from someone who was drifting between the IBU Cup and the World Cup to a podium finisher. He got two third places and was 20th overall this season.

Fellow Frenchman Simon Desthieux had a solid season finally getting his first podium and was 8th overall. Andrejs Rastorgujevs has improved his shooting dramatically. It led to his second World Cup podium finish and 13th place overall. His first win won’t be far away.

The Olympic gold medals went to Arnd Peiffer in the Sprint, Johannes Boe in the Individual and Fourcade took the Pursuit and the Mass Start titles. Sebastian Samuelsson also had a great Olympic Games taking a silver medal in the Pursuit and gold in the relay. If he continues like this he will be a thorn in Martin’s side next season!

The men’s relay went to a stunning performance by the Swedish team that included Samuelsson as well as Peppe Femling, Jesper Nelin and Freddie Lindstroem.

The Rookie of the Year also went to France and Emilien Jacquelin. It was well deserved after his performances in Antholz particularly, finishing 5th in the Sprint and 6th in the Pursuit. He also got a spot on the French Olympic team which is very hard to do!

Norway won the Relay World Cup. Sweden were second and France third. The Norwegians also took the Nations Cup title.

The fun surprise of the season came from the Belgian relay team. Michael Roesch, Florent Claude, Thierry Langer and Tom Lahaye-Goffart provided a lot of excitement leading a couple of races and doing really well for a new team.

The sad part of the season came with the announcements of biathletes deciding to end their careers. Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke and Jaroslav Soukup have all hung up their rifles for good and we wish them well for the future. They will be missed.

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PyeongChang 2018: The Olympic Pursuits!

The Pursuit race – when the cream rises to the top. Unless you are Laura Dahlmeier of course and already at the top! That’s right she started first and she finished first! Laura led this one most of the way with a short visit from Anastasiya Kuzmina but it was a comfortable race for the double gold medallist.

She hit 19/20 and won by a margin of 30 seconds. She has mastered the winds of PyeongChang and that’s what made the difference. Kuzmina moved up to second and just managed to stay there beating Anais Bescond over the line by 0.2 of a second. Kuzmina missed 4 while Bescond only missed 1 shot and moved from 19th to claim the bronze medal.

Marte Olsbu was 4th, Hanna Oberg was 5th and Denise Herrmann was 6th. The biggest mover of the day was Rosanna Crawford who despite missing twice went from 53rd to 19th!

In the men’s race a certain Mr. Fourcade remembered that he is supposed to win races and put the Sprint debacle behind him. It was a close race up until the third shoot when Fourcade cleaned and all his rivals missed to leave him with a clear path to the gold medal.

He shot 19/20 and won by only 12 seconds in the end but he did slow down to celebrate and do a bit of flag waving. The fight behind him was where the real race was. From the group behind Fourcade only two held their nerve to shoot clean and so it came down to a ski race between Sebastian Samuelsson and Benedikt Doll.

Doll had the lead out of the range but Samuelsson basically stalked him round and it seems he loves this course as he skis it faster than everyone else. He overtook Doll and held him off to take the silver medal at 20-years-old. The Swede shot 19/20 coming from 14th to 2nd and the German also hit 19/20 to claim bronze. I was very happy to see these guys on the podium as they have both done interviews for my blog!!!

Tarjei Boe was 4th, Simon Schempp 5th and Benjamin Weger was 6th. Tim Burke had a great race moving from 47th to 17th.

Tuesday is a day off and the Games continue on Wednesday with the Women’s Individual.

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Oberhof 2018: The Sprints!

Now that I have managed to write 2018 in the title and not 2017 we can get on with the Women’s Sprint from Oberhof!

The year may have changed but the form of Anastasiya Kuzmina has not! She took her third victory of the season in the Sprint and again by a big margin.

The conditions were not too bad after heavy snow on Tuesday and then rain storms on Wednesday. The only issue today was the wind in the range, a common problem in Oberhof, and it ruined a lot of standing shoots for the ladies.

In the end Kuzmina won by 35 seconds. She missed 1 target in the prone and looked very impressive. She has never had a season like this before with such consistent success. Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who also had 1 miss in the stand for her. It’s not many people who can take that much time from Kaisa with the same shooting score!

Third place went to Veronika Vitkova with her first podium since the 2014/15 season. It’s not such a surprise that she did it here as she now has a win, two seconds and a third place finish in Oberhof. She loves the place!

Franziska Hildebrand was 4th with 9/10, Justine Braisaz was 5th with 8/10 and Weronika Nowakowska was 6th with her best finish since having twins.

There were some personal bests today too with Linn Persson coming home 8th shooting 10/10. Sarah Beaudry was 23rd also hitting all 10. Japan’s Sari Furuya was 29th with 2 misses and Mun Ji Hee of Korea was 30th with 1 miss. The only other person to hit the perfect 10 was Julia Ransom who equalled her personal best of 9th.

Spare a thought for poor Julia Simon of France who had a nasty trip and looked like she suffered an injury.

The men raced on Friday and well it was wet. A bit of a miserable day in Oberhof with some gusts of wind thrown in for good measure. Surprise, surprise Martin Fourcade won this one. It is however just his third victory this season in the 4th World Cup. His overall rival Johannes Boe could have won this too but he missed two shots on the prone when Fourcade hit 10/10 but was just 10 seconds behind. That only left him in third however as teammate Emil Hegle Svendsen took second. He shot clean to finish 8 seconds behind Fourcade.

It’s only Svendsen’s second World Cup this season after missing Hochfilzen and Annecy. Also shooting clean in 4th was Tim Burke! Yes finally Tim is back at the sharp end with a great performance at his home away from home in Oberhof. Tarjei Boe was 5th with 1 miss and Lukas Hofer was 6th also with 9/10.

It will be a tough day for Fourcade in the Pursuit on Saturday with 3 Norwegians chasing him down!

Jakov Fak shot clen today in 7th as did Matvey Eliseev in 21st. Jeremy Finello hit all the targets in 27th, Tuomas Gronman did the same in 45th and Scott Dixon also hit 10/10 in 87th place.

Poor Edin Hodic of Serbia had a problem when his harness came off his rifle after a fall and he couldn’t finish the race.

The Pursuit races on Saturday should be very interesting with a lot of people having trouble shooting in the Oberhof range and with wet tracks it could be a great watch!

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J.J Hensley: The Interview!

BANG BANG BANG BANG! That’s right I am the crucial 4th shot on U.S author J.J Hensley’s 5 shots blog tour. (It’s usually the 1st or 5th shot that is crucial in biathlon but from now on it’s the 4th!). It may surprise you to hear that biathlon has been used as the basis of a crime fiction novel, but it has! Hensley has wisely decided that biathlon would be a good backdrop for his latest novel Bolt Action Remedy. It is his 4th novel and obviously his best as it has biathlon in it! J.J is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service which is the primary reason for me saying nice things about his book 😉 I got the chance to read it before it is released on the 2nd of October and had a chat with him about it.

http://www.hensley-books.com
Blog – Steel City Intrigue https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
Twitter: @JJHensleyauthor


The Review:
Set in a wintery Pennsylvania, a 43 year-old veteran is tasked with finding the murderer of businessman Peter Lanskard. I know what you are thinking but it’s not Ole Einar Bjoerndalen! Although he could probably solves crime too if he wanted! It’s actually ex-cop Trevor Galloway who has to tackle a crime that has been unsolved for over a year and is as tricky as trying to pick the winner of the Women’s Overall World Cup.

The circumstances of the shooting mean that only someone who can shoot well and ski fast could have done it. Do we know anyone who can do that? Of course! The first person you would suspect is a biathlete! They all have rifles and some of them look pretty murderous when they miss targets on the final standing shoot.

Unluckily for Galloway there is a biathlon camp in the area full of suspects and so just like Martin Fourcade in a Pursuit race the killer is not easy to catch. The owner of the biathlon camp comes under suspicion not only for murder but also for fictitiously coming 4th in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. Ricco Gross will not be pleased about that! Not only did he miss the podium in that race but now a fictional biathlete has stolen his result.

Galloway’s already difficult task is made harder by demons from his former job as a policeman who specialized in narcotics. He comes across a bit like a biathlete in the Individual race. He tries to handle everything all on his own, he occasionally finds himself in the middle of the woods, there is shooting involved and you don’t know what’s going on right up until the end!

In summary if you like biathlon and crime thrillers then this is the book for you. I could say ‘give it shot’, or ‘it hits the target’ but I don’t do biathlon puns!!! 😉 It would be perfect for a flight – say if you are going somewhere far away ….like PyeongChang! 😉

The Interview:
How did you discover biathlon and why do you like it?

While I was an agent with the U.S. Secret Service, I worked protective operations at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was there for a couple of months, so I was exposed to a great number of sports not typically popular in the United States. I loved the combination of endurance and skill demonstrated by biathletes and that always stuck with me. I have so much admiration for what those athletes can do.

Why did you decide to base your book around biathlon?

My first novel, Resolve, was set against the backdrop of a marathon. Ever since writing that book, I’ve wanted to write another mystery that somehow involved an endurance sport. I weighed doing something with triathlons and cycling, but nothing seemed to work. Then it finally dawned on me. If I was going to write a murder mystery tied to an endurance sport, then use one in which everyone already has a gun! Biathlon was the perfect fit and using it gives me a chance to introduce the sport to many of my readers.

Why did you choose Bolt Action Remedy as the title? Did you consider any others before you settled on that like ‘Death by Biathlon’ or ‘Catch point 22’?!! 😉

Titles come to me in odd ways. I know many authors who struggle with titles even after finishing a manuscript. As soon as I started writing the manuscript, I decided on Bolt Action Remedy. I like strong titles that convey decisiveness and what is more decisive than solving a problem with a rifle?

Tell us a bit about the book. If you are a fan of biathlon why should you read it?

I can pretty much guarantee it will be one of the top-selling biathlon-related mysteries in 2017. And probably 2018. Possibly 2019 too. As far as I can tell, the market I am entering is fairly small.
The main focus of the book is not biathlon, so I think it will be enjoyable to those who know the sport and others who cannot even ski (like me). If you are a die-hard fan of biathlon then I think you will enjoy how the skills demonstrated on the course are integrated into the story. The novel starts with the murder of a prominent businessman and the crime had to have been committed by someone extremely talented in two areas: skiing and shooting. When former narcotics detective Trevor Galloway discovers the crime scene is adjacent to a biathlon training facility, his suspect list gets real long, real fast.

The main character is an ex-cop who likes to run. You are an ex-cop who likes to run. Where on earth did you get the inspiration for Trevor Galloway? Do you put any of yourself into your characters or do you use former colleagues or criminals you have arrested?

I try to put myself in the shoes of most of my characters, but I certainly relate to this protagonist more than with some of my previous creations. I don’t share Galloway’s addiction issues, but we have somewhat similar backgrounds and we both are often perceived as extremely stoic. In fact, the nickname he carries throughout the novel – the Tin Man – comes from my days of training federal investigators. Some students thought I came across so serious and unforgiving during various practical exercises, they called me the Tin Man.
I always work in some bits and pieces from real life when writing a book. Some of the character names I have used over the years Kevin Shand, Mike Hartz, and Tina Lambert, to name a few, are all variations of people I have known throughout my life. I am AWFUL at making up character names, so if we were ever friends or coworkers then there is a decent chance you will end up in a book. It is entirely possible I might kill you, but that is just the way it goes.

Did you do a lot of research about biathlon for the book? Where did you get your information?

In addition to conducting a lot of research online, I corresponded with biathlete Curt Schreiner who competed for the U.S. in the Olympics. He was extremely helpful and helped me with some of the more technical details. The book is still a work of fiction, so there are going to be some areas in which I do not do justice to the sport, but Curt really helped to keep me from totally embarrassing myself.

You were in the secret service and they say Darya Domracheva was allegedly in the KGB. Can you see why a biathlete might do well in that type of job?

It makes sense that many biathletes have backgrounds in law enforcement, military, or the intelligence community. I read somewhere that it was normal for Darya to be given a rank in the KGB because all the biathletes in Belarus were sponsored by the agency. I think in many instances, people who have type-A personalities are drawn to high-level athletics and fields like law enforcement. It is not surprising there is great overlap between biathlon and those other fields in which endurance and marksmanship are so important.

My North American readers will no doubt be able to purchase Bolt Action Remedy in all good book shops but what about the rest of the world? Will it be out in e-book form? Where can they get it?

It is already out there for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and iBooks (iTunes) in paperback and ebook formats. I am also hoping to have it produced as an audiobook by the end of 2017.

Links:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734461
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946502049
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bolt-action-remedy-jj-hensley/1126694509?ean=2940158962875


You must have had a rifle. Did it have a name?

Surprisingly, I never had much use for a rifle. As a police officer, I was issued a Sig Sauer P229 pistol and Remington 870 Shotgun. I carried the same weapons when I was with the Secret Service, with the addition of occasionally carrying a Heckler and Koch MP-5 submachine gun. So, I had to consult with a friend of mine named Sam Lerch to gain some understanding of non-biathlon rifles. But, to get back to your question – I never named any of my weapons. In fact, many would be surprised to know this, but I do not even like guns.

Describe yourself in three words.

Resilient, Self-deprecating, Dad

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlete:
Tim Burke
Favourite biathlon nation: Have to go with U.S.
Favourite biathlon event (sprint,pursuit etc): Individual
Favourite author: Raymond Chandler
Favourite book (not your own!): Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Favourite writing implement(pen, laptop etc): Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Best thing about being an author: Creating something from nothing and watching it all come to life.

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Praise for BOLT ACTION REMEDY:

” It’s a good read, but is it as good as say a blog all about biathlon? I don’t think so!” – Anon

“J.J. Hensley is a crime writer who deserves readers’ attention and trust, because beyond his ever-stronger prose, he brings his ex-badge carrier’s street smart eyes to this hard world we live in. Hensley goes beyond clichés to the heart of his fiction and his characters, and delivers stories worth your time. Put him on your READ list.” —James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor and recipient of the Raymond Chandler medal and the Grand Prix du Roman Noir.

“In Trevor Galloway, J.J. Hensley has given us a deliciously flawed hero whose unique gift makes him a phenomenal investigator, but also leaves him teetering on the razor thin edge of genius and insanity. In Bolt Action Remedy, the reader follows Galloway on a chilling journey into the snowy world of biathlon as well as into the shadowy vortex of his wounded mind where neither he nor the reader knows at what point reality ends and hallucination begins. Hensley weaves a captivating tale while providing an authentic voice and a dash of ironic humor.” —Annette Dashofy, USA Today bestselling author of the Zoe Chambers Mysteries.

“Fast-paced and funny, Bolt Action Remedy is an action-packed thriller that will keep readers guessing from the first to the final page.” —Rebecca Drake, author of Only Ever You.

“Bolt Action Remedy is the real thing: fast, dangerous, and with a unique setting used in interesting ways. Oh, and another thing: It’s entertaining as hell.” —Andrew Pyper, International Thriller Writers Award-winning author of The Damned and The Demonologist.

“Bolt Action Remedy marks the welcome return of J.J. Hensley’s trademark blend of breathless action, haunting atmosphere and sly wit.” —Gwen Florio, award-winning author of Montana and Disgraced.

“Strap yourselves in. This author guides you to the conclusion through twists, turns, and drops that will leave you so engrossed, you lose track of time.” —Lucie Fleury Dunn, Movies in my Mind Book Reviews.

 

Season 2016/17 Preview: Men

Oestersund, Pokljuka, Nove Mesto, Oberhof, Ruhpolding, Antholz, PyeongChang, Tyumen and Olso! Are you ready? It’s almost time for the new biathlon season to begin! That means it must be time for a season preview too so here it is!

Looking back over previous previews they all read more or less like this. Martin Fourcade is the red hot favourite. If he stays fit and healthy all season he will win the Overall Title for the 6th year in a row. Potential challengers are Johannes Thingnes Boe, Tarjei Boe, Emil Hegle Svendsen, Simon Schempp and Anton Shipulin. They are all capable of beating Fourcade in a single race but don’t seem to have the consistency over a whole season to win the big Crystal globe.

Preview finished!

Only joking! As the top places are nearly always the same for the men I decided that this year’s preview should move away from the elite and see what’s happening a little bit behind them. Who are the up and coming biathletes to look out for? Who could get their first win or first podium? Who should be doing better? That’s what I am going to look at before season 2016/17 gets under way.

It’s sometimes hard to believe but there are some well established biathletes who have yet to win a race on the World Cup. The most famous is probably Simon Fourcade. He has achieved many podium results but never higher than second. Surely this season he will get to the top step. Fellow Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet has also come within a toenail of winning but again second place is his best result. Germany’s Benedikt Doll will be hoping to grab his first win. Tim Burke is another who will want to come first instead of second place as will Sergey Semenov and Benjamin Weger.

Expect a strong season from the Austrian team. Simon Eder was 5th last season in the overall title and Dominik Landertinger was 9th. With Julian Eberhard getting his first win and Sven Grossegger achieving a personal best of 5th they will be a dangerous squad this year.

Hoping to get their first taste of the podium are Andrejs Rastorgujevs who has a few 4th positions to his name already. Klemen Bauer also has a personal best of fourth as does Simon Desthieux and Krasimir Anev.

Scoring points on a more consistent basis will be the goal for biathletes like Mario Dolder, Leif Nordgren, Macx Davies, Kalev Ermits and Martin Otcenas.

Make sure you look out for some of the younger biathletes this season who will be trying their best to impress their coaches and the fans. Watch out for Sean Doherty to continue his rise to the top. The likes of Rene Zahkna, Rok Trsan and Fabien Claude will be pushing hard to do well. Keep an eye out too for Sebastian Samuelsson who has been picked for the Swedish team to make his debut in Oestersund and Felix Leitner who will start his first World Cup race for Austria.

On the other hand it’s about time Freddie Lindstrom had a better season. We haven’t seen him on the podium since 2013. Lukas Hofer didn’t have a great season individually either and it would be good to see him back on form. Jakov Fak will be hoping to improve as will Ondrej Moravec.

There are many more biathletes to watch out for but too many to mention here. The Germans are always dangerous with Peiffer and Lesser showing some good form in patches last time.

Last but not least expect new dad Ole Einar Bjoerndalen to pop up with a few podium finishes and don’t be surprised if he adds more World Championships medals to his vast collection in Hochfilzen. That’s if he can cope with the sleepless nights of course!

Hopefully it will a great season with some more first time winners and some great races. The title race might not be close but we can look forward to some great battles in individual races. Bring it on boys!!!

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Marcel Laponder: The Interview!

laponder

Marcel Laponder was born in Pretoria, South Africa on the 23rd of May 1978. He competed for Great Britain after he moved to the UK when he was 21 and joined the British Army. It was through the army that he discovered biathlon and took up the sport in 2005. He made his World Cup debut in 2008 and his best result was 57th place which came in the Sprint race in Khanty-Mansiysk in season 2010/11. Unfortunately he has had to announce his retirement from the sport due to commitments with the army.

You can like Marcel’s Facebook Page: Marcel Laponder Biathlete


What was your best or favourite race from your biathlon career?

2011 Altenberg IBU Cup Pursuit race where I shot 0 0 0 0 going from 51st to 35th place and a then still active German Athlete said ”how did you do that dude!” That athlete was Daniel Graf who later was to become my coach.


What is your best memory from your biathlon career?

Too many… every race is special and is a honour and privilege to start in. One of those memories would be qualifying for the World Championships pursuit race in Khanty Mansiysk. This year getting my first chance to start the Relay as the first leg in the relay mass starts. The past season’s team atmosphere and camaraderie was memorable.

What advice would you give to young people who would like to become a professional biathlete?


The difference between making it and not is having the correct mind set. Biathlon is brutal not only physically but also full of disappointments which is over come by being mentally strong and having the confidence to believe you can achieve it. What you think will have a huge affect as this translates in to not only shooting reaction but also how you approach training and racing. Of course this alone is no guarantee and the correct smart hard training comes with it and of course a little bit of talent and luck.

You know Scott Dixon and Amanda Lightfoot very well. How do you think they will do this season?

Scott is still young and still has a bright future ahead of him, his strength in the past like his father has been his shooting. As long as Scott can keep securing sponsorship then he is the future of British Biathlon. His focus this season will be to qualify for the next OWG.

Amanda has the hunger for Biathlon. Her training program is brutal and for this she needs to be a tough cookie which she achieves by being mentally strong which also shows in her aggressive racing style. As long as Amanda keeps competing for a bit longer then she has it in her to one day to potentially achieve a top 30 or better. It is not a question if rather a question of when she will achieve it. This past season alone there was at least one opportunity where she nearly achieved this. Don’t forget she started really late in the sport, compared to other athletes who started when they were kids and compared to Amanda who would still be in their teens in terms of training years, then what she has achieved is pretty impressive.

What’s the situation in the Men’s Team this year? Will there be enough guys for the Relay team? What about for the IBU Cup?

Last year we were not able to enter all the relay events due to Jacko and Kevin who retired, also funding was limited for the far flung events in America. This has meant that as a nation we have dropped a start slot in the World Cup. One of the usual World Cup men will probably also be racing on IBU Cup due to the start slot this year. If there is enough qualified athletes then GBR could potentially enter the Relay on the World Cup although the priority this year is OWG. For IBU Cup we have upcoming athletes who are being trained by ex Olympian athlete Lee Jackson (Jacko). So his athletes will most likely fill the available IBU Cup spots.


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

Hochfilzen. I love the course with the fast technical corners and the short up and downs. It has a hard range approach which makes things interesting, I feel at home there and generally have always had descent results in Hocky. Also Forni Avoltri is a track which I love, it is an IBU Cup course. A small venue which has a hard track tucked away in the mountains with stunning scenery.

Perhaps not really a track but location. Frassinoro, Italy, which hosts the Frassinoro Summer biathlon festival, super friendly biathlon loving town and a great event with Italian flair.


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

Marie Dorin Habert and Tim Burke must be some of the humblest athletes and this I respect. Simon Fourcade I also like and is an athlete that I would really like to see do well.

Does your rifle have a name?

Hmm no

Describe yourself in three words.

Hmm I didn’t know so I asked three people:
my wife says: chilled out
Scott says: reliable
Amanda says: honest

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): I need to mention two, Canada and Norway
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Quentin Fillon Maillet has a sweet rifle stock.
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): I really like the suit of Finland this year.
Favourite shooting range: Hochfilzen
Lucky bib number: 23 🙂
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Ha easy… Scott Dixon…watching him attempting to pack his bag to travel to the next event is entertainment for hours.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Karoly Gombos from Hungry always easy to talk to and approachable. The Japanese coaches are probably some of the friendliest on circuit.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Hard question to pin point, so many small things that add up. Being able to train in beautiful locations, the people and places that I meet and see. The race atmosphere created by the crowds. Its a hard sport with so many variables and just being given the chance to see if I can do it makes it worth it.

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WC8: Presque Isle Review 2016!

pi16

Scarily it’s World Cup Round 8 already – the final one before the World Championships! We were in Presque Isle in Maine, USA for this one and the conditions were great for the first races that took place on Thursday.

The Men’s Sprint came first and was won by a refreshed Johannes Thingnes Boe.He skipped the last round in Canmore and flew out with big brother Tarjei for this one. That was a good decision! He won by over 27 seconds shooting clean. In second was Anton Shipulin who beat Martin Fourcade into third by only 1 second. However Anton shot clean and Martin missed a target. The Swiss team had a great race with a personal best for Serafin Weistner in fifth and teammate Benjamin Weger was sixth with by far his best result of the season. Thirteen may be unlucky for some but not Sean Doherty who got his career best result on the World Cup at home fresh from winning 3 medals at the World Junior Championships.

The Women’s race was up next and was won by Total Score leader Gabriela Soukalova which obviously means she extended her lead in the race for the Overall Title. She is a very popular biathlete but possibly not in Preque Isle as she beat home favourite Susan Dunklee into second place. The fans can’t be too upset though as that is Susan’s best ever result and she saved it for them. Third place went to Krystyna Guzik who is having a great time in North America taking 2 podiums in 2 weeks. Kaia Nicolaisen got a personal best in 9th as did Celia Aymonier in 11th.

Friday saw both the Pursuit race and again the men raced first. The weather conditions were much more difficult for this one with some wind and a lot of cold around -16. Martin Fourcade was again victorious beating Johannes Boe into second and Anton Shipulin remained in third. Fourcade missed 2 shots and the others missed three but the big difference was when they missed. Martin cleared the final shoot and the others didn’t which is so often how he wins. Erlend Bjoentegaard raced into 5th for a personal best. Estonia’s Kalev Ermits came from 19th to 11th to earn his career best result.

Other impressive Pursuit races were had by Tim Burke who went from 20th to 7th, Vladimir Iliev 21st to 8th, Alexander Polvarnitsyn 28th to 10th, Oleksander Zhyrnyi 31st to 16th, Dmytro Rusinov 49th to 33rd and Daniel Boehm 54th to 37th. It wasn’t a good race however for Arnd Peiffer who came off the tracks at a corner and hit a tree. He was taken to hospital with suspected concussion.

In the Women’s race, despite being critical of holding the round in Presque Isle, Gabriela Soukalova made it a double victory! Second place went to Kaisa Makarainen who moved up from 5th and in third place was Marie Dorin Habert despite missing 5 targets. Mona Brorsson achieved a peronal best finishing in 17th as did Tatiana Akimova who was 19th.

Other women with good Pursuit results were Lisa Hauser who went from 28th to 12th, Franziska Preuss 36th to 14th, Ekaterina Shumilova 39th to 16th, Anais Chevalier 50th to 21st, Lisa Vittozzi 46th to 29th and Dunja Zdouc 52nd to 30th

Both the Men’s and Women’s Relays were held on Saturday. Originally the Women’s Relay was scheduled for Sunday but low temperatures below -20 degrees were forecast and the races cannot take place below that temperature. The Men’s race was full of excellent shooting. Norway were the winners using only 7 spares with Lars Helge Birkeland, Erlend Bjoentegaard and the Boe brothers. France were second using only 2 spares rounds but even with Desthieux and Beatrix shooting clean in legs 3 and 4 they couldn’t match the Norwegians. Third place went to Germany who used 11 spares to beat Russia for the final podium place by 6 seconds. The USA were 5th in their home race their best Relay result of the season.

The Women’s race started 2 hours after the Men and consequently finished in the dark! Maybe they should have pushed the schedule forward as the only light seemed to be a torch across the finish line! The winners of the race were the Czech Republic who even with a penalty loop crossed the beam of light first. The team of Eva Puskarcikova, Lucie Charvatova, Gabriela Soukalova and Veronika Vitkova will get a good confidence boost ahead of the World Championships. The race for the remaining podium places was really tight. In a Sprint finish Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine lunged over the line 0.2 of a second ahead of Germany’s Karoline Horchler to grab second. Poland had to settle for fourth with Krystyna Guzik just half a second behind.

So that’s it for our journey to North America. Fourcade and Soukalova continue in yellow (as usual!!). It has been an enjoyable 2 weeks and Presque Isle did a good job of hosting and brought the cold that has been missing this winter as well as a penalty loop that goes around a building! Now everyone heads back to Europe for 2 weeks of recovery and preparation for the World Championships with the first race on the 3rd of March. Don’t miss it!

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