Tag Archives: Vladimir Iliev

Biathlete23 Season Review 2019/20!

This season has been a strange one for biathlete23. It is the lowest points total so far but then there were three races less than other years with Olso being cancelled. There were no wins and only one podium but the points scoring was amazingly consistent. In fact out of 42 races there were only 4 where biathlete23 was not in the points! I am not one to name and shame but let’s just say Clare Egan, Scott Gow, Lukas Hofer and Selina Gasparin have a lot of work to do in the summer! 😉

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
Year 5: 774 points
Year 6: 730 points (3 fewer races)

This season the points total was 730, made up of 386 for the men and 344 for the women. That would put biathlete23 in 17th place in the Men’s Overall between Lukas Hofer and Dmytro Pidruchnyi and 20th place in the Women’s Overall between Linn Persson and Mona Brorsson. It seems that Pidruchnyi and Brorsson are the benchmark as biathlete23 has finished alongside them both for two seasons in a row!

Way back in December in Oestersund Atrem Pryma was the first to wear the coveted bib23 in the sprint. He came 35th and Kamila Zuk was 28th in the women’s race. In the individuals Vetle Christiansen was 31st but Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht did the best coming 16th!

On to Hochfilzen where Clare Egan came 66th in the sprint but then Benedikt Doll was 11th! In the pursuits Lisa Vittozzi was 25th and Fabien Claude was 8th. A good round for the men.

Annecy saw 6 races starting with a 22nd place for Vladimir Iliev in the sprint which Emma Lunder followed with 36th for the women. Florent Claude was also 22nd in the pursuit and Janina Hettich was 31st. In the first mass starts of the season Vladimir Iliev was again in bib23 and finished 20th with Eva Kristejn Puskarcikova 15th!

After Christmas it was off to Oberhof! The sprint yielded 30th place for Larisa Kuklina and 12th for Benjamin Weger. In the mass start it was 27th for Lucie Charvatova and 28th for Felix Leitner.

Ruhpolding did not start well with 60th place for Scott Gow in the sprint. However Franziska Preuss was 14th to make up for it! In the pursuits Baiba Bendika was 26th and Raman Yaliotnau 27th. See what I mean about consistency!

Pokljuka was next on the calendar and in the men’s individual Evgeniy Garanichev was 35th but Selina Gasparin just missed out on points in 41st. Artem Pryma was 29th in the mass start and Katherina Innerhofer was 22nd.

In February we had the World Championships in Antholz. In the women’s sprint Mona Brorsson took 33rd place and then Tarjei Boe was 4th! So close to a medal – it was very exciting for a minute there! The pursuit saw Karolin Horchler take 15th place while Johannes Dale was 17th. In the individual Fuyuko Tachizaki was 34th and then Jakov Fak came …you guessed it ..4th! AHHH So close again! Can we make a medal for 4th place like tin or something?! Lastly came the mass starts and Ivona Fialkova finished in 25th and Ondrej Moravec was 11th. Points in every race at World Champs we can’t complain too much!

The 7th round of the World Cup was in Nove Mesto and finally, finally biathlete23 got a podium! It was home favourite Marketa Davidova who did it coming 3rd in the sprint! Unicorn power + bib23 = podium! Lukas Hofer however came 64th in the men’s race! Oh well swings and roundabouts! The mass starts saw Larisa Kuklina come home in 10th and Ondrej Moravec take 19th.

At the final round in Kontiolahti Klemen Bauer was 27th in the sprint while Aita Gasparin was 22nd. Jesper Nelin was 23rd in the mass start (a good place to finish!) and Lucie Charvatova was 28th.

Oslo was unfortunately cancelled due to the corona virus and I was tempted to give biathlete23 60 points for each race but in the end I decided that it wouldn’t be fair! 😉

Hopefully next season biathlete23 can get back to winning ways and maybe bag a few more medals!

See the full results on the Biathlete23 page of the blog.

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Oestersund 2019: Men’s Individual!

Dolph Lundgren would have been proud of the fight for medals in today’s Individual race! He would not have liked the weather much however with snow and really tricky wind conditions on the range.

It was not easy in Oestersund today but one man conquered the course and the shooting to win the gold medal. That man was Arnd Peiffer. He likes to show up for the big occasion and did so again today winning his first ever Individual. He shot the perfect 20/20 and skied very well to take the win by over a minute.

The silver medal was a surprise with Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev getting his first podium and first World Championship medal. This is his best event as he is a great shot but is not normally fast enough on the skis to hit the top. Toady he was and he had to be after missing 1 target.

In the end he only won the silver by 0.4 of a second from Tarjei Boe. He also shot 19/20 and fought to the finish line to try and get the silver. He just missed out but I’m sure he is happy with a medal and beating his little brother must have been nice too.

There were a few tough moments out there on the range today with Sebastian Samuelsson getting very unlucky with the wind causing him to miss 1 shot and finishing 4th just missing the podium in his home Championships. Andrejs Rastogujevs was having a great race and was challenging for gold until his final shoot when he missed 2 in the standing and was eventually 13th. Lukas Hofer was 5th with 2 misses and Simon Desthieux was 6th with 3.

Only one man other than Peiffer hit the perfect 20/20 and that was Vetle Christiansen. He looked so tired on his final leg and couldn’t manage to grab a podium finishing in 8th.

It was a good day for another Bulgarian with Dimitar Gerdzhikov getting a personal best in 21st with 19/20.

Tomorrow’s race will see a little bit of biathlon history made when the first ever World Champions in the Single Mixed Relay will be crowned.

Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

European Champs 2019: Raubichi!

We are back in Belarus for the Open European Championships! Minsk-Raubichi is the location which held the Youth/Junior World Championships back in 2015.

A lot of the World Cup athletes who skipped the North American World Cup races were there to prepare for World Championships so there was a good mix of World Cup, IBU Cup and Junior biathletes.

The first races were the individuals held on Wednesday in windy, snowy conditions. The men raced first and master of the individual Bulgaria’s Krasimir Anev took the gold medal. He missed just one shot to claim the title ahead of Tarjei Boe in second and Endre Stroemshiem in third. Boe missed 3 targets and Stroemshiem 2.

The women’s race was won by Olympic champion Hanna Oberg with an evil wind blowing in the range. Despite 3 misses she skied well to take the victory. Yuliia Zhurakov missed just one shot in bib23 to take the silver! Bronze went to home racer Iryna Kryuko with 2 misses.

Thursday was relay day with both the single mixed and mixed relays. They both came down to the final leg.

In the single it was Russia who took the win despite a penalty loop from Evgeniya Pavlova on the third leg. Her teammate Dmitry Malyshko turned it round in the final leg in some tricky shooting conditions. In fact Norway could have won this but Endre Stroemshiem had a nightmare on the final stand and did three penalty loops.

Behind Russia were the Swedish duo of Anna Magnusson and Jesper Nelin using 6 spares to take the silver medal. Bronze went to the young French team of Lou Jeanmonnot and Aristide Begue also with 6 spares required.

In the mixed relay we had a similar situation with home team Belarus in the lead at the final exchange with Germany in second and Sweden 20 seconds behind in third. However Sebastian Samuelsson on the last leg turned it around and gave Sweden the gold medal with teammates Emma Nilsson, Mona Brorsson and Martin Ponsiluoma. They needed 8 spares with Samuelsson using just one of those to take victory.

Philipp Horn anchored Germany to silver with a perfect leg. He wasn’t fast enough to match Samuelsson on the skis but second was a good result with the team of Nadine Horchler, Jannina Hettich and Lucas Fratzscher.

The bronze medal went to the home team Belarus with a team of Dzinara Alimbekava, Hanna Sola, Raman Yaliotnau and Sergey Bocharnikov.

Saturday was the day for the sprints and the men raced first and had the better conditions again with less wind. It was Tarjei Boe who took the title with 1 miss. Luckily his pesky little brother wasn’t here to ruin victory this time!!! He finished 10 seconds ahead of Jesper Nelin who shot 10/10. Also shooting clean in third was Dmitry Malyshko.

He just got the bronze by 0.4 of a second from Aristide Begue who also cleaned the targets and was very unlucky not to podium but it was an impressive race from him considering those who finished ahead of him are all World Cup biathletes. Home racer Sergey Bocharnikov was 5th and Vladimir Iliev was 6th.

The wind picked up a little more for the women’s sprint but was no where near as bad as in the individuals. This race went to Sweden with a fantastic race from Mona Brorsson. She shot clean and skied well to grab the gold medal by 37.5 seconds. The silver medal went to Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht with 1 miss and Hanna Oberg took bronze despite missing twice in the stand.

Svetlana Mironova was 4th, Karoline Knotten was 5th and Fabienne Hartweger 6th.

The final races of the competition were Sunday’s pursuits. With the Swedish team deciding not to race so they could head home for World Championships preparation there were medals up for grabs.

It meant that with no Jesper Nelin in the men’s race Tarjei Boe’s 11 second lead turned into a 35 second lead from Dmitry Malyshko. He made the most of that cushion staying out front the whole race and just missing his very last shot on the final shoot. It was a pretty lonely race for him.

Behind Boe we got some action. There were a few changes of position on the first three shoots but the last stand was decisive. Only two of the top six shot clean and they were Matvey Eliseev and Haavard Bogetveit. After doing one penalty loop Sergey Bocharnikov was in third but Bogetveit’s clean shoot meant he could catch and pass him on the tracks. Eliseev took silver and Bogetveit bronze.

Bocharnikov was 4th, Andrejs Rastorgujevs 5th and Malyshko 6th.

The women’s race was very similar with no Brorsson or Oberg it gave Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht a ten second lead at the front. With her perfect shooting on the first three shoots she build up a lead that no one could catch. She also missed 1 on her final stand but skied home with a 38 second winning margin.

Second and third was also decided on the final shoot. Iryna Kyruko, Nadine Horchler, Dunja Zdouc and Evgeniya Pavlova all hit 5/5 to overtake Karoline Knotten who missed 1 and Fabienne Hartweger who missed 3. Kryuko had a good enough lead to take the silver to the delight of the home crowd. Zdouc left the range in third but was caught by Horchler who took bronze.

Zdouc was 4th, Knotten 5th and Pavlova 6th.

Follow biathlon23 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Holmenkollen 2017: The Pursuits!

We had the final Pursuits of the season in Holmenkollen on Saturday. It was still windy but sunny and the conditions caused a little difficulty like they did in the Sprint.

Mari Laukkanen was amazing today. She won the Pursuit comfortably and was never troubled by anyone else for the lead. Her only mistake was missing a target on her final standing shoot but she had enough of a gap to second not to bother her too much. She is on fantastic ski form and her shooting is the best it’s ever been. After winning the Sprint, her first ever victory yesterday, she was full of confidence starting the Pursuit.

If you listened to a certain commentary team however you may have thought differently. They gave her no chance at the start and didn’t see her winning even after she hit 15/15 on the first 3 shoots. Please remember biathletes are not just their statistics! It’s not a case of ski stats + shooting stats = result. There is a lot more to it as Mari showed today.

Second place went to Gabriela Koukalova who shot the perfect 20/20 to move from 4th onto the podium. Third place went to Justine Braisaz who missed 4 shots and gave her no chance of fighting for the win. Teja Gregorin finished 4th, her best performance of the season, missing just 1 target. Lisa Hauser came from 22nd to 5th hitting 20/20 and Marte Olsbu was top Norwegian in 6th.

Kaisa Makarainen moved from 27th to 7th, Laura Dhalmeier went from 31st to 9th to win the Pursuit title and Lisa Vittozzi went from 46th to 16th.

The Men’s race was just between the top three from the Sprint. Johannes Boe, Martin Fourcade and Anton Shipulin. They were pretty closely matched right up to the final shoot. Fourcade and Boe both missed 1 in the first prone, then Shipulin missed in the first stand so it all came down to the final shoot!

This was where Mr. Pursuit showed just how good he is in this event. Shipulin shot clean and the other two both missed a target. Shipulin won by 5 seconds but Fouracde and Boe had to fight it out on the tracks for second. Fourcade attacked on the uphill and Boe didn’t have the energy to match him. That makes 21 podiums for Fourcade this season.

Freddie Lindstrom moved from 15th to 4th shooting 20/20, Lukas Hofer went from 21st to 5th and Julian Eberhard went from 10th to 6th.

Andrejs Rastorgujevs had a good race going from 23rd to 10th (YEAH!), Michal Krcmar from 28th to 13th, Dominik Windisch from 40th to 15th, Artem Pryma from 39th to 21st, Lowell Bailey from 44th to 23rd, Vladimir Iliev from 58th to 29th and Vetle Christiansen from 53rd to 30th.

Don’t cry but tomorrow is the final day of the World Cup season! It’s the Mass Starts though so it should be a good one!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

OECH 2017: Duszniki Zdroj!

oech17

The Open European Championships got underway in Duszniki Zdroj in Poland on Wednesday with the Individual races. With a brand new stadium and good weather conditions it made it a good day to race.

The results of both races were a bit controversial however and to be fair you could see it coming. Alexander Loginov won the Men’s Individual and Irina Starykh won the women’s race. Both have just returned to the sport after serving 2 year suspensions for doping violations. According to the rules they were caught, they have served their suspensions and are free to compete again. However against the backdrop of alleged Russian state sponsored doping and the IBU biathletes threatening action if the IBU doesn’t crack down on doping it makes an uncomfortable situation for the governing body.

Whatever you feel about the outcome of the race they were the winners and performed the best on the day. They have both been doing well on the IBU Cup so it wasn’t a big surprise that they won. The silver medal for the men went to Bulgaria’s Krasimir Anev who shot 20/20 and bronze went to Alexey Slepov who also shot the perfect score.

In the Women’s Individual silver went to Russia’s Svetlana Sleptsova, who has also been involved in doping in the past, and bronze to Anastasiya Merkushyna from the Ukraine who both missed 1 target.

Both Sprint races took place on Friday and in the men’s race Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev won his first race and his first title despite 1 missed target. He finished 5 seconds ahead of Loginov who won silver and 16 seconds ahead of teammate Krasimir Anev who won bronze. They both shot 10/10 which makes Iliev’s performance a very good one.

In the women’s race in the afternoon Ukraine’s Yuliia Dzhima won gold by 27 seconds shooting 10/10. Silver again went to Sleptsova who also shot clean and the bronze went to Starykh with 1 miss.

On Saturday both Pursuit races were held and Irina Starykh won yet again. She shot 20/20 which means she hasn’t missed a target yet in 3 races. Silver medal went to Yuliia Dzhima who missed 2 targets, one in each standing shoot to finish 20 seconds behind. Third place went to Sleptsova who had 1 miss. It means over the 3 races only 4 women have won all 9 medals. Ingrid Tandrevold had a great race a bit further back coming from 48th shooting clean to end up 16th.

The men’s race was again dominated by the Russians. Loginov took gold again shooting 19/20 to beat compatriot Evgeniy Garanichev by 28 seconds. Garanichev had a great race starting 17th and taking the silver medal shooting 19/20. Andrejs Rastorgujevs finally made it on to the podium missing 4 shots and having to pass another Russian Volkov on the final lap to take the bronze medal. The Sprint winner Iliev missed 6 targets and finished in 11th place.

The final day of racing on Sunday was for the Relays. Unsurprisingly they were both won by the Russians. First it was the Single Mixed Relay and Garanichev and Daria Virolaynen who used 7 spare rounds finished 6.3 seconds ahead of Norway who also used 7. Tandrevold and Christiansen held on to silver in front of home favourites Krystyna and Grzegorz Guzik who finally gave the home fans something to cheer winning bronze.

The Mixed Relay gold went to the team of Starykh, Sleptsova, Volkov and Loginov. They finished 36 seconds ahead of silver medalists Norway with a team of Erdal, Huber, Bjoentegaard and Gjesbakk. Bronze medal went to the Ukrainians with a team of Merkushyna, Dzhima, Zhyrnyi, and Tkalenko despite Dzhima going on the penalty loop and Tkalenko being in second until Gjesbakk overtook him on the final downhill.

That concludes the Open European Championships which were dominated by Russia. Thankfully some others from the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Latvia and Norway got in on a bit of the action! It will be interesting to see if the likes of Loginov and Starykh get named on the World Championships team for Hochfilzen which starts on the 9th of February.

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!

Open European Championships 2016!

oech16

The 2016 Open European Championships were held in Tyumen in Siberia. The programme was a short one with a Single Mixed Relay and a Mixed Relay held on Day 1. That was followed by a Sprint then a Pursuit and finally a Mass Start all in the space of 5 days.

The first event was the Single Mixed Relay on Wednesday. With home team Russia dominating the IBU standings it was no big surprise when they won by a comfortable margin of 38 seconds. The team of Victoria Slivko and Anton Babikov were untroubled from the start and led the entire race. There only slip up was Babikov using 4 spares on his final loop as the pair hadn’t missed a single target up to that point. The silver medal went to the German Team of Luise Kummer and Matthias Dorfer who needed 7 spares and in bronze medal place were Norway with Ingrid Tandrevold and Vetle Christiansen.

Later in the day came the Mixed Relay and what an exciting race it was! It was won in the end by Russia by 0.1 of a second. On the final loop Evgeniy Garanichev started in third place 42 seconds behind the leading team Germany. Florian Graf had a nightmare on the first prone shoot incurring 3 penalty loops and left Russia and Slovakia to fight for the gold medal. Unfortunately for Slovakia Martin Otcenas couldn’t hang on to the lead and was just beaten on the finish line. The team of Anastasia Zagoruiko, Olga Iakushova, Matvey Eliseev and Garanichev made it a great first day in Tyumen for the big home crowd. Silver medals went to Paulina Fialkova, Jana Gerekova, Matej Kazar and Otcenas. Third place went to Norway’s team of Sigrid Neraasen, Bente Landheim, Henrik L’Abee-Lund and Haavard Bogetveit.

After Russian clean sweep in the Relays it was the German ladies chance to get in on the act on Thursday in the Sprint race. Nadine Horchler beat her sister Karolin and her teammate Annika Knoll to make it gold, silver and bronze for Germany. Fast skiing by Nadine denied her sister gold as Karolin shot clean and she didn’t but was much quicker on the track. A clean shoot by Knoll ensured a bronze and an all German podium.

The Men’s Sprint however swung back in the direction of the Russians with Evgeniy Garanichev fresh from his heroics in the Mixed Relay taking gold. He missed one shot but had a great ski to beat Norway’s Henrik L’Abee-Lund by 5 seconds. L’Abee-Lund shot clean as did Russia’s Anton Babikov in third but they couldn’t match the pace of Garanichev. Florian Graf recovered from his Relay debacle to finish in 4th and he hit all the targets this time which shows a lot of courage.

Friday was a rest day but if we hadn’t already been entertained enough then came the Pursuit races on Saturday. They were great! The Women’s race was won by Nadezhda Skardino who did her best to try and lose after shooting clean on the first three shoots she missed 2 on the final standing shoot and in the end won by 7.4 seconds from Karolin Horchler who won her second silver medal. Third place was really exciting as Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold came from 16th to snatch third place away from home biathlete Anastasia Zagoruiko by just 0.3 of a second. The sprint to the line left the Norwegian with her first Senior medal and the Russia in tears. As Tandrevold is currently Biathlon23 Youth/Junior Biathlete of the Year it was very pleasing to see her compete so well in the Senior race.

You might not think that the Men’s Pursuit could top that – but it did! In an amazing head to head battle between the Russian pair of Evgeniy Garanichev and Anton Babikov they shot exactly the same score 19/20 and both missed their one target on the final shoot. Then in the Sprint for the line Babikov just beat his teammate by 0.1 of a second to claim his second gold of the Championships. Garanichev added silver to his 2 golds and in third was Florian Graf on the road to redemption from the Relay disaster.

The final races on Sunday were the Mass Starts and again provided plenty of entertainment. The Women’s race was won by Luise Kummer of Germany who kept a cool head and shot well to take the gold medal. Second went to Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova who was able to ski away from any challengers on the final loop. Bronze went again to Ingrid Tandrevold who this time passed 2 Russians to win on the line again this time breaking Iakushova’s heart. Tandrevold is probably not that popular in Russia!!!

The Men’s race was another cracker. Going into the last shooting we had Matthias Bischl, Anton Babikov and Henrik L’Abee-Lund in the lead. Coming out of the final shoot we had Florian Graf, Jaroslav Soukup and Babikov at the front. Misses from the leading three and probably tiredness from Babikov allowed Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev to catch up to him and take the bronze medal with Graf out skiing Soukup for gold. It was a sweet victory for Graf after his troubles on day 1.

Well the Open European Championships in Tyumen have been absolutely fantastic this year. All the races have been full of incident, with great performances and nail biting finishes. The Russians and the Germans came out best but didn’t have everything their own way. The World Championships start in Oslo next week and they really have a lot to live up to after this. What a great event it has been!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

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!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

WC3: Pokljuka Review 2015!

pokl15

How did that happen? Three World Cup rounds have past already! The latest in Slovenia in lovely Pokljuka. The first race got underway on Thursday and was the Men’s Sprint.

It was a pretty lively affair too to kick off the weekend with Simon Schempp winning his second Sprint in a row and crucially out-shooting and out-skiing Martin Fourcade. Fourcade finished in 5th missing one shot. In second place was Ole Einar Bjoerndalen who at 41 shows no sign of slowing down. Another perfect shoot saw him finish 15 seconds off the lead. Third place went to Evgeniy Garanichev who was just 0.2 of a second faster than teammate Alexey Slepov who achieved his best ever result in 4th. In fact the Russians had 5 biathletes in the Top 12 places. The Canadian Team also did well getting all their biathletes into the Pursuit with Christian Gow getting a personal best of 37th.

On Friday it was the Women’s turn and they served up yet another treat for us in the Sprint. Marie Dorin Habert claimed her first ever World Cup victory (hard to believe, right!) beating Laura Dahmeier by just 1.1 seconds. In third was Franziska Hildebrand maintaining her great form from Hochfilzen. In fact all 6 German women finished in the TOP 15 which is quite remarkable. They were joined in the TOP 15 by 3 Czechs (Vitkova, Soukalova and Puskarcikova) and 3 Poles (Guzik, Hojnisz and Gwizdon). Susan Dunklee got in on the action too in 6th with her best finish of the season so far. Hilde Fenne of Norway also got a personal best result in 18th.

Saturday saw the Men’s and Women’s Pursuit races and both of them turned into a neighbourhood feud between France and Germany! For the men it was Simon Schempp versus Martin Fourcade. Schempp was so impressive in his calmness in the shooting range and didn’t let the huge pressure applied by Fourcade put him off. He won with a clean shoot and really proved his credentials as an Overall Title contender. Fourcade had to settle for second after 1 miss and Anton Shipulin valiantly tried to catch up but was too far behind and took third.

For the Women the fight was between Laura Dahlmeier and Marie Dorin Habert. They were inseparable up until the lap before the final shoot where unfortunately Dorin Habert fell and couldn’t recover enough to challenge right up to the finish. Dahlmeier took her second win of the season and Kaisa Makarainen got herself onto the podium in third for some much needed points. The Germans may have won the battle but the French are ahead in the war with Fourcade and Dorin Habert both ending the day in the yellow bibs.

They weren’t the only ones to do well in the Pursuits however. Simon Fourcade went from 33rd to 10th continuing his amazing Pursuit form! Freddie Lindstrom went from 30th to 14th, Jean Guillaume Beatrix from 32nd to 15th, Dmytro Pidruchnyi from 43rd to 19th, Brendan Green from 46th to 30th, Vladimir Iliev from 50th to 37th even with a fall in the home straight! For the ladies Olga Pudchufarova went from 37th to 14th, Teja Gregorin from 47th to 21st,Olga Abramova from 52nd to 28th, Marte Olsbu 48th to 29th and Natalya Burdyga from 55th to 37th.

The first Mass Starts of the season rounded off the events in Pokljuka. The men were first and Jean Guillaume Beatrix was the only man to shoot 20/20 and won the race by 0.3 of a second from Emil Hegle Svendsen in a sprint finish. It was Jean-Gui’s first ever win on the World Cup and extremely well deserved as he probably would have won this same race last season if he hadn’t been “Shipulined” up the final hill! Bjoerndalen continued his remarkable form coming home third just beating Schempp in a photo finish. Andi Birnbacher (5th), Simon Desthieux (6th) and Dominik Windisch (10th) all got their best results of the season so far.

The women’s race ended the action before the Christmas break and was won in style by Kaisa Makarainen who managed victory even with 1 miss. Gabriela Soukalova shot clear to take second as did Olga Podchufarova who was third giving the Russian women’s team a much needed boost.

So that’s it 3 World Cup rounds down already and we go into the Christmas and New Year break with Martin Fourcade and Gabriela Soukalova in the yellow bibs! Biathlon is back on the 7th of January in Oberhof and I hope you have all asked Santa for some snow this Christmas!

Biathlon23 hopes you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Look out for a special post over the holidays – it’s a cracker!! 🙂

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Aiming for the Top! Season Preview Men 2015/16

fourcade2015

Can you believe it! It’s that time of year again! With only 3 days until the first World Cup of the 2015/16 season in Oestersund it’s time to preview the chances of the male biathletes. I could make this very short and say four time Total Score winner Martin Fourcade will win again but that is not very fair on the other biathetes and you never know he might not win!

Chances are he will though! Fourcade is the red hot favourite to make it five in a row and it is going to be very difficult for the others to challenge him. His amazing speed on the skis and the mental strength he possesses to take his time on the shooting range to make sure he hits the targets are an irresistable combination. However there are some ways in which he could slip up this season.

Firstly he is a new dad and sleepless nights can take their toll on even the best! Also the fact he might find it more difficult to be away from home. His plans to compete in cross country which were ruined by last season’s mononucleosis have been resurrected and we don’t know how that could affect him physically. It might not do him any favours mentally either if he doesn’t perform well. Remember he is used to winning but that won’t come easily in cross country.

So who will be out to capitalise should Fourcade have any issues. Well we just have to look at last season’s Top 10 in the Total Score to find our main contenders. In second place was Russia’s Anton Shipulin. He had his best season ever finishing 64 points behind Fourcade. If he can make a few more podiums this time and crucially beat Fourcade in some more races it will boost his chances of winning. If he carries on as he did last season he will be a genuine threat.

In third last year with a late run of excellent results was Slovenia’s Jakov Fak. He commented himself that winning races does make a big difference to your chances! Now that he has discovered that is how racing in fact works hopefully he will be able to do just that. He can match Fourcade on skis but he needs to make sure his shooting is more consistent because if he hits all the targets he is very difficult to beat.

In fourth place was the real revelation of last season Germany’s Simon Schempp. After getting his first victory the season before he really improved getting more victories and more podiums to put him in contention for the title . A weak end of season however meant he lost out on third place to Fak. He will have learned a lot from that and will be dangerous again this time around.

Shockingly we have to wait until fifth position in the Total Score to find our first Norwegian – how times have changed! Johannes Bø took this position making him the strongest threat from Norway last season. His youth and inconsistency meant he couldn’t mount a credible challenge to win the Overall but that could change this time round. He is unbelievably fast on skis but at times he is reckless on the shooting range. His super confidence is great to see though and although he may not win the Overall I think he will move up on to the podium this time around.
Big brother Tarjei Bø will be looking to recapture his end of season form from last season and will hope to be challenging at the top again if he stays free of illness.

Rounding off the Top Ten were Czech pair Ondrej Moravec (6th) and Michal Slesingr(8th), Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev in 7th, Emil Hegle Svendsen in 9th and Eril Lesser from Germany in 10th. Of these I don’t think any are capable of challenging Fourcade except for Svendsen. He normally finishes second to Fourcade so last year would have been a big shock to him finishing in 9th place. With the World Championships being held in Oslo though the Overall Title might not be a top priority for him.

There will be others out to add to their success from last season by getting more wins and podiums under their belts like Nathan Smith,Arnd Peiffer and Vladimir Iliev. Others will be trying to recover from a disappointing season like Lukas Hofer, Fredrik Lindstrom and Dominik Landertinger.

Away from the usual suspects look out for some newer faces to appear toward the front of the races. Slovakia’s Martin Otcenas will be aiming for some more points scoring finishes. Serafin Weistner of Swizerland will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Benjamin Weger. Slovenia’s Rok Trsan showed a lot of potential last season too. French youngster Antonin Guigonnat will be trying to step up from the IBU Cup and America’s Sean Doherty will want to make good progress this season.

It should be an exciting season to come whatever happens in the race for the big Crystal Globe. We have been waiting all summer to see how the biathletes will do this season. With a couple of races in North America too it will be a different kind of World Cup and hopefully a memorable one. I hope to see a lot of the men Aiming for the TOP!

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!