Tag Archives: Winter Olympics

Franziska Hildebrand : The Interview!

Franziska Hildebrand is a German biathlete from Halle. She has won two races so far in her World Cup career both in Sprint races. She was victorious in her home race in Ruhpolding in 2015/16 and also in Hochfilzen in the same season. She has made the podium six times since her World Cup debut in 2011. With the German Women’s Relay team she has won two World Championship gold medals in Kontiolahti 2015 and Hochfilzen 2017. She was born on the 24th of March 1987 and has a twin sister called Stephanie.

Like her Facebook page: Franziska Hildebrand

Why did you become a biathlete?

This was accidental. First I tried various other sports like football and hockey. One day an article was published in the newspaper that the ski club of my hometown was looking for athletes. My parents took me to the training there and I liked it.

How do you assess last season? What were you happy about and what disappointed you?

The greatest moment for me was the moment I reached the line first for the German Relay team in PyeongChang with the German Flag. On the other hand I felt disappointed that I hadn’t reached a podium in the individual races.

You are part of the German Relay team that won gold in Hochfilzen and every relay on the World Cup. Why is the team so good?

We have a good atmosphere in the team, it is harmonious and we understand each other well. Everyone looks out for each other.

Do you have a favourite leg on the relay? Do you have any input into it or do the coaches make all the decisions?

My favourite leg is third. I also feel comfortable on the other legs but this is the one I like the most. Normally the coaches tell us the decision but they ask about the shape of the athletes.

Your shooting statistics are fantastic. Why are you so good at shooting? Is it natural talent, practice, hard work or a combination of things?

I think it`s a combination of natural talent and hard work. Talent is good but you still have to train again and again to keep this level.

You had some good results at the World Cup event in PyeongChang. Has that given you confidence for the Olympics? Do you like the tracks and range there?

I go with a positive feeling to Korea because of the good results I had there. I like the Asian culture and look forward to the Olympics. The tracks are nice and the range is good. I like it.

What have you been doing for summer training?

Recovery from an injury. In July I injured my ankle and it took time to heal. I did a lot of double polling and cycling because nothing else was possible. But it was nice to do something different from the other years.

Can you describe what it was like to win the Sprint race back in 2016 in Ruhpolding?

It was amazing. The victory there was a special moment for my career. To win in Germany in front of all the spectators was incredible.

You have your own fan club! What is that like and do they come and support you a lot?

It is a lot of fun. Every year we have a big fan club meeting where we all come together and meet each other. In my fan club are some very pleasant people who are crazy about biathlon and with whom I can have a lot of fun and who support me.

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

Katrin Apel. When I was watching Biathlon as a child she impressed me. She wasn’t the best all the time but she never gave up. And she was nice in her interviews.

Describe yourself in three words.

Persistent, colourful, freedom-loving.

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): France
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): New Zealand
Favourite shooting range: Le Grand Bornard
Lucky bib number: 17
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Benedikt Doll
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Clare Egan
Best thing about being a biathlete: The best thing is that I get to do what I am talented in and I love to do!

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Scott Dixon…The Third!!!

Like a boomerang, or slightly cooler ‘The Terminator’, Scott Dixon is back! In his third interview for Biathlon23 I have discovered that as well as being a biathlete Scott is now the author of a children’s book. He also dabbles in witchcraft which he claims is “card magic” but I am not so sure! He is currently trying to raise funds to help pay for the season. If you can help you can find the details here:
https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/biathlete-olympic-dream/

Like his Facebook page: Scott Dixon Biathlete

Last season-discuss! Not a great start due to illness but you got your World Cup PB in Oslo at the end. Talk us through the main points of last season.

The start of the season went about as badly as it could have as I was having heart problems. I had shot well in the Individual in Oestersund on a very windy day (16/20) but on the last lap, having already exerted myself for four agonising laps before, my heart decided to go into hyper drive and shot up to 199 bpm whilst standing still shooting my last five stand shots.

Despite my form taking such a hit, I still skied quickly relative to my ski speed last year in both Slovenia and Nove Mesto. I had a good training phase over Christmas and was ready to go full speed into the next trimester with a positive attitude. We arrived in Germany and drove to Oberhof. Two days later I contracted the Noro virus, which I’m sure many people are familiar with… sixteen hours of being sick every hour. Nasty.

I was bed bound for four days, but still raced. This was silly, but I was still in disbelief my luck had taken such a turn and too stubborn to let the race go. It took some time to recover physically, and mentally from this bout of bad luck. But I did!


You are doing some training camps with the Swedish team. What’s it like working with Wolfgang Pichler? What differences do you think he has made for your biathlon?

Hard. Wolfgang is an incredible coach. He knows how to bring a team together, and he involves intense psychological elements in his training that are incredibly challenging. It is rare to meet someone so genuinely passionate about doing an excellent job. He’s punctual and has high expectations. What an opportunity it’s been training along side his athletes.

I feel my body developing all the time. I’m able to maintain higher speeds for longer, which I measure frequently on repeatable sessions.


You are back living and training in Lillehammer. What training have you been doing there and do you ever train with the British Nordic team there?

I live with Callum Smith who’s on the British Nordic team! However, we don’t get to train much together, usually the odd run here or there because our training differs a lot. We do eat together and compete to see who can make the best lasagna. Me of course, but his last one was pretty snazzy, I admit..

I don’t spend that much time in Lillehammer unfortunately because of the training camps. I’m usually recharging my batteries when I finally get back there. Although the training continues!

You are 23 this year and as everyone knows that is an important number in biathlon! What are your goals for this season?

Indeed it is!
Pursuits! The Olympic qualification is tough since we lost our top 25 spot on the nation cup score, so in order to qualify I need to make a couple of pursuit races.

British Biathlon is, as usual, going through a tough time but probably the worst in your career. You and Amanda Lightfoot have had to hand some of your funding back. What is going on and how else has it affected you?

It’s not the first time I’ve been told that it’s all doom and gloom by my National Governing Body (NGB), but it is the first time Amanda and I have had to financially bail them out. Of all the years this could happen, it was the Olympic season. However, it’s important that I focus on preparing my body to be the best it can be come the winter, and not allow these distractions to negatively influence my training.

You have launched a crowd funding campaign to help you with your costs this season. Tell us about it. What will the money go towards?

Our governing body is run by volunteers and they are unable to invest huge amounts of time in the search for sponsors or even planning the race season for example. Amanda and I have been assigned the job of sorting out travel arrangements in the season. Thankfully, Amanda is a guru when it comes to planning, and has come up with some very practical solutions to tough logistical issues. We’ve got a plan that works and brings us to the Olympic Games. But even with a plan in place, our governing body doesn’t have the funds to implement the plan. I set up a pledge sports campaign because I couldn’t afford the season, and if I missed a race I’d almost certainly miss the opportunity to compete at the Games.

So I set up a pledge for those who were interested in supporting me to the Olympic Games, and used it as an opportunity to expose my book to supporters.

You are now an author! Tell us about your children’s book ‘Pup the Brave’. Will you be writing anymore?

To some extent I am! It’s funny hearing that since it’s just a hobby. The idea originated from Katie, my girlfriend, when I asked her to tell me a story. She doesn’t like it so much when I randomly ask her to do that, but I persisted. I asked her to name a subject, or something, and she said “Puppy.”
“What’s the puppy doing?”
“Trying to cross a river.”
“Why?”
“There’s a bear chasing him.”
“Can he swim?”
“Do we have to do this?”
“Yes, can he swim?”
“No.”
“How does he cross?”
“Beaver builds him a dam…”

And so forth.

This continued for a little while and I liked the little story we created. We left it be, and one long bike ride in the hills, I thought about it again and for the next two weeks I didn’t let it rest, and had the poem completed, and had started sketching the images.

When I spend hours on end cycling and skiing, it can be advantageous to take my mind away from the discomfort. So I daydream about stories, plots and concepts and such like. Since I rarely get to see my little baby brother and sister, one and three years old, I decided I ought to write and illustrate a story for them. I used the Pup story as a template and set to daydreaming it into a plot and a story.

I do this all the time, and it’s definitely a direction I’d like to take after my Biathlon career. I have two more books planned for my little brother and sister, then I hope to publish the fiction material I spend even more time writing and thinking about.

You will be appearing on an episode of Sky 1’s ‘A League of Their Own’. Can you tell us anything about that or is it top secret?

Shh! who told you that?

Nah, it’s no secret! I am and I can’t wait to see it. I think I was a bit funky on camera, but I can guarantee that you’ll love the show when you watch it, which as biathlon fans you must! It was a surreal experience but thoroughly enjoyable. I hope it raises the profile of biathlon in the UK.

Have you got a name for your rifle yet?

I’m afraid not. I may have to for our next interview! What next interview?!! No name no chance!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Sweden
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Fillon Maillet. He made it himself!
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Germany. It’s very German, and I like suits that represent the flag well.
Favourite shooting range: Ruhpolding
Lucky bib number: 106 (since I often get the last bib, I might as well make it my lucky one!)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup:Tiio Söderhielm. He’s in his thirties, but you’d think he was only twenty.
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Erik Lesser is always extremely friendly. He always says hello when most other people don’t notice us little guys. A special mention to all the Swedes. I couldn’t pick any one of them over the rest, and you asked for only one, but they all mutually win that title (future in diplomacy?).
Best thing about being a biathlete: In a race, the order people enter the shooting range for the final time is so vastly different to the order everyone finishes in. So much can change in the closing stages of the competition by pulling the trigger at the wrong time.

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Spring Things!


(Introducing the new target for 2017/18- ONLY JOKING!)

Shut up! I know it’s Summer but I have been on Spring Break – WOO HOO! NO, not the American college one, the one where I have a biathlon rest to prepare for the new season. As it’s an Olympic and Paralympic season I had an extra month of rest! The fingers needed a scribbling break! 😉

So this is where I catch you up on some of the things that happened in the Spring – the Spring Things! In true Spring style we started with a birth. Martin Fourcade welcomed his second daughter, Ines, at the end of last season. Then Miriam Goessner announced her pregnancy. Of course the Fourcade brothers are very competitive and Simon announced the birth of his first child, a boy called Adam, at the end of May.

At the opposite end of biathlon we had some retirements. Switzerland’s Ivan Joller, Romania’s Eva Tofalvi and Slovakia’s Jana Gerekova all announced the end of their biathlon careers. Gerekova’s was the most unexpected but she said her knees couldn’t take another year. On the bright side though she got married.

Italy’s Lukas Hofer got a nose job. It’s about time I hear you all thinking! How dare you! It was an operation to help with breathing difficulties not for cosmetic purposes! Behave yourselves! 😉

Training got underway at the start of May. The Polish ladies with new coach Tobias Torgersen went to Mallorca to train as did Spain’s Victoria Padial. It was Tenerife for the Ukrainian women and Cyprus for the Swedish team. The Canadian and American teams stayed at home as it’s they only time they get to spend there! The German men went to the Italian Alps. The Italians went to France and France stayed in France! The next time biathletes tell you how hard the sport is don’t believe them. It’s just one long holiday! 😉

Unless of course you decide to train on a bike. First Teja Gregorin had a small fall and scraped her knee which isn’t so bad but then Anais Chevalier got hit by a car and broke her collarbone. Simon Fourcade also had his now annual issue with drivers threatening him. It’s a dangerous business training on the roads!

Speaking of training there are rumours of Ole Einar and Martin Fourcade having a camp together. That won’t be competitive at all! Not content with equalling and beating some of Ole’s records in biathlon Martin is trying to win the family battle with 2 daughters to Ole’s 1! He might get some free samples from Darya’s new clothing range but there is no way he will be allowed in the motor home!

Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen did their first orienteering race. The Norwegian Team stood next to some cars – they seem to do that a lot!

I am sad to report the apparent break up of the biathlon band. We saw nothing of them last season and now that Gabi is married and Lowell has a young daughter it seems Jean-Gui has found himself a new band with Baptiste Jouty on drums!

Oh and Freddie Lindstrom got a cat!

There were many other biathletes doing many other things too but I couldn’t cover everything!

Finally there has been no news about the McLaren Report and if anything will happen to the Russian Biathlon Union or their biathletes. You may remember they handed back the World Cup round in Tyumen and the Youth Junior World Championships but it looks like the Summer World Championships will go ahead in Chaykovskiy, Russia in August.

You will be pleased to know that July sees the return of the infamous biathlon23 interviews. Since I neglected them a bit last season and will do so again in this Olympic season it is only fair that I start with some of the young biathletes. Since nearly everyone is going to retire after PyeongChang it’s good to meet them early! 😉

Hopefully I will be catching up with some para biathletes each month too as it is also the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang in March!

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Lee In-bok!

LeeIB

Now that those pesky Summer Olympics are over we can look forward to the real Olympics – The Winter Games! I mean is sport without snow even sport at all? Well that’s for the philosophers among you to decide but someone who will be looking forward to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang more than most people is Lee In-bok.

The South Korean biathlete will have the opportunity to compete in a home Olympic Games, a chance that not many sportspeople get. Lee was born in the North Jeolla Province of South Korea on the 30th of March 1984.

He is a vastly experienced member of the South Korean team. He has already competed at two Olympic Games for his country in Vancouver and Sochi. His best result at the Olympics was 65th place in the Sprint race in Vancouver.

He has also taken part in six biathlon World Championships starting in Antholz in 2007 going through to Oslo Holmenkollen last season. His best result for these Championships was 71st in the Sprint race in Nove Mesto in 2013.

On the World Cup he has achieved two Top 60 positions to date but is still waiting for his first points scoring finish. He was 53rd in the Hochfilzen Individual race in 2008/09 which is his career best result. He was also 60th in 2007/08 in the Sprint race at home in PyeongChang.

It will be a very important couple of seasons for Lee In-bok. He will be nearly 34 when the Olympics take place and so he will have to make sure he stays fit so that he can arrive at his home Games in good form.

This season he should be looking to grab a few more Top 60 finishes and obviously the best chance to do this is in the races that he is guaranteed to start – the Sprint and the Individual. There is also the chance to compete in Hochfilzen, the scene of his best finish to date, in the World Championships. Hopefully he can achieve another good result there to boost his confidence before he goes into the Olympic year.

As you will see from his results he won’t be threatening the podium in PyeongChang but it is a chance for him to get his own best result and with the motivation of a home crowd it could see him make it into the Top 40 in one of the events. Possibly more importantly it will give him the chance to showcase biathlon to his fellow Koreans and hopefully make it more popular and encourage more interest and investment in the sport there.

Only three people can win medals in any one race at the Olympics but they are, or should be, about a lot more than that. It is a chance for all the biathletes to show where all their hard work and training has got them and to hopefully encourage more people to take up the sport. It’s about participation and fairness and unity. Not everyone can win a medal but everyone who takes part and especially those like Lee In-bok who are competing in their own country can try and give the best performance of their career.

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Vladimir Chepelin!

chepelin

The Belarus Team has been getting stronger and stronger over the last few years. It is mainly the women who have been grabbing all the headlines with fantastic results from Darya Domracheva and Nadezhda Skardino in particular but the men’s team are doing well too.

Vladimir Chepelin is one of those who has stepped up his performances. He was born on the 15th of July 1988 and made his biathlon debut in 2011. Last season was one of his best so far.

On the World Cup he started the season well by coming 23rd in the opening round in Oestersund in the Individual. Overall he finished in 47th place in the Total Score. However it was in Oslo Holmenkollen at the World Championships where he really showed what a good biathlete he is.

In the Sprint race he finished in a fantastic 13th place which is his highest finish in a biathlon race to date. He dropped 10 places in the Pursuit to 23rd but another Top 25 finish is impressive. The Indiviual wasn’t as successful and he ended the race in 56th but in the Mass Start which is one of the toughest races he came back to take 13th place again equaling the personal best he set earlier in the week. Considering his top result in Kontiolahti at the last World Championships was 38th you can see he has made a significant step forward.

The coming season could be a good one for Chepelin. It would be great to see him take part in the Single Mixed Relay possibly with Skardino to see what they could do. However last season they were both in the Mixed Relay but without Domracheva they might do better in the Single as they are very capable of getting a podium. It’s much harder in the Mixed Relay to do well against the bigger nations but in the Single Mixed Relay the smaller nations have a better chance of success especially with a strong pair.

Individually Chepelin will be hoping to get his first Top Ten finish on the World Cup. He needs more consistency if he wants to improve his overall standing but I think he could break into the Top 30 overall this season. His shooting can be a bit erratic but if he can reduce the number of missed targets and stay healthy throughout the season it could be his best one yet.

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Karin Oberhofer: The Interview!

oberhofer2

Karin Oberhofer is an Italian biathlete who was born on the 3rd of November 1985 in Brixen. She made her international debut in 2005 and her best result to date on the World Cup is second place from the Sprint race in Hochfilzen 2014. She has an World Championship bronze medal from the Mass Start in Kontiolahti 2015 and also won bronze in the relay there. She has another bronze medal in the Mixed Relay from the Sochi Olympics.

Like her Facebook Page: Karin Oberhofer (sportsperson)
Check out her website: http://www.karinoberhofer.com/en/

Why did you become a biathlete?

In the beginning I liked cross country skiing and I decided to go the Sport Oberschulzentrum in Mals to do it. When I was there in Mals I was at school with some biathletes and thought I would like to try to do it. I have loved this sport since the beginning and it became my big passion.

How do you assess last season? Were you happy with it or a little disappointed that you didn’t get an individual podium?

Last season was quite strange for me for many reasons. Anyway I know that I did my best as always. All the athletes would like to reach the podium but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out as we would like. Even if I didn’t reach the individual podium I won the relay in Hochfilzen with my team and it was absolutely terrific!!!

You won the relay in Hochfilzen last season. Can you describe your leg and how it felt at the end when you won? Are you happy the World Championships are in Hochfilzen?

As I mentioned before, it was extraordinary! I will remember that victory forever. I don’t want to comment only on my leg: all four of us had a great race. I guess that a victory like that in the relay is an huge result also for all our coaches that do an excellent job every day. We were all very satisfied and happy.

Regarding the World Champs in Hochfilzen, I think it will be a great event. But every day is different, especially in biathlon, and if you mean that we will have more chance because we won there last season… no, no more chance than the others!!!

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

I have already done a lot of training together with the Italian World Cup Team. Now we are in Ramsau (AUT) for the first training on snow and then, before the start of competitions, we will go to Antholz for some days, Senales and finally to Norway. But you know my training for winter season 16/17 started in the second week of May, every day with no vacation, no weekends except for a couple of days in September. A lot of training with the national team in different venues but also a lot of “hard working days” in my beautiful area: Sud Tirol.

What are your goals for this season?

I would like to be healthy for all the season in order to be constant in my results. My big goal is to improve my performance and myself but also to enjoy my beautiful job: both in skiing and in shooting. All the time my goal is to do my best and improve myself, to reach better results in my body, to touch the limit and to move this limit every season a bit further!

You have an Olympic bronze medal from Sochi in the Mixed Relay and a World Championship bronze medal in the Women’s Relay. Why do you think Italy is now so good at relays?

Because we are a great group and we have worked very hard together every day for some years. Together we grow as athletes thanks to the great support of all our staff.

What kind of food do you eat when you are training?

First of all I like eating healthy! I love good food and I take into consideration a lot the quality of the food. I like to try new food and also to cook new dishes.

I eat all kinds of food and I also have a couple of great food producers from my area that support and supply me with their healthy products all year long: Bakery Profanter and Kiku Apples.

I spend a lot of days away from home but anyway I have always with me, even during the winter season, some typical crispy bread (schüttelbrot) and fresh apple juice. It’s a small part of my kitchen that I bring with me always and I feel like I’m at home 😉

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

Sincerely.. no. I like to change and, as I mentioned before every day is different. I don’t have a special feeling with one specific venue. There are a lot of great places and every venue has something special.

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

I appreciate a lot of biathletes but I can’t say that I have one favourite in particular.

I have great respect for the biathletes that, even after great success and satisfaction, “stay on the ground” and continue to consider that the small things are important and don’t look down on you from the top.

Does your rifle have a name?

After your question, yes 😉 I have just given a name to my rifle: Joy! : )))

Describe yourself in three words.

Natural – Persistent – crazy 😉

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own):NORWAY
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): MINE 😉
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): SWITZERLAND
Favourite shooting range: NONE
Lucky bib number: 13 (from Mass Start of Kontiolahti 2015)
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: BOE BROTHERS
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: I think there are many nice biathletes on the World Cup.
Best thing about being a biathlete: Biathlon is like life, up and down but you have to do your best always and never give up. You don’t know how it will go but this is biathlon and this is what I like!

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Monika Hojnisz: The Interview!

hojnisz

Monika Hojnisz is a Polish biathlete who was born on the 27th of August 1991 in Chorzów. Monika made her international debut in 2007. She has won medals at the World Championships, the Open European Championships and the Universiade. Her best result on the World Cup is 4th place and she came 26th in the Total Score last season which is her highest finish to date.

Like her Facebook Page: Monika Hojnisz – Oficjalna Strona

Why did you become a biathlete?

Biathlon was not my favourite sport when I was young but I used to try a lot of different kinds of sports, for example swimming, handball, running, light athletics! When I was twelve years old I tried to step on skis for the first time. Next I had contact with the rifle and I started my first race! I think that the main reason why I became a biathlete was competition, adrenaline, pressure and the fight. 🙂

You got your best result last season in Canmore in the Sprint. Can you describe the race? Were you happy with last season overall?

I was feeling great over the snow. 🙂 It was an easy ski for me. I was lucky and happy. In spite of these feelings I don’t remember too much.

You won a World Championship bronze medal in 2013 in the Nove Mesto Mass Start. What was it like? Do you remember how you felt during and after the race?

It was my first mass start at such big event as the World Championships so before the race I was really nervous but I knew that I needed to do my best. And… I did it!!! I remember only my last loop when I was third and nobody was behind me! My only dream was to see the finish line! At the finish I couldn’t believe it … but I will never forget that day.

Poland has a really strong women’s team at the moment. Why do you think you are doing so well? Will you miss Weronika Nowakowska this season?

Weronika was a strong part of our team but now she is a happy mother of two boys and she will miss this season. But I believe that we will still fight for good, high places. 🙂

What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?

The main training has been cycling, roller skiing, shooting, long walking in the mountains, and from time to time skiing in the Oberhof tunnel to have some contact with the skis.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength – no stress – I think it helps me during my race.
My weakness – sometimes I’m much too lazy.

What are your goals for this season?

I want to keep my focus on shooting. I know that this is an important point to be on the top, and I know that I can still improve my shooting level.

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

I love training in Obertilliach! There is a beautiful view and a lot of places to do good training!

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

Tarjei Boe- just!!! I can’t explain my choice. 😛

Does your rifle have a name?

NO

Describe yourself in three words.

Shy, helpful, a little bit lazy and I love coffee!

Quick fire Questions:

Favourite biathlon nation (not your own): Norwegian Team
Favourite rifle design (any biathlete): Martin Fourcade
Favourite ski suit design (from any nation): Switzerland
Favourite shooting range: Pokljuka
Lucky bib number: 25 – It was my start number in Nove Mesto
Funniest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Boe Brothers
Nicest biathlete on the World/IBU Cup: Gabriela Soukalova
Best thing about being a biathlete:I can visit a lot of wonderful places