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World Cup 2016/17: Women’s Review!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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World Cup 2016/17: Men’s Review!

Well my season preview for the men started 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.”

My season review starts like this:

“Unsurprisingly I was right!”

Yes Monsieur Fourcade has done it again! He won his sixth Overall Title this season and he clinched it in Korea at World Cup 7. In an extraordinary season for Martin he won 14 races out of 26, finished on the podium 22 times and won all the small crystal globes in the Sprint, Pursuit, Individual and Mass Start. I ran out of words to describe his achievements a long time ago but what he has done this season is absolutely incredible and may never be repeated – unless he does it again next season! 😉

Fourcade ended the Total Score with 1322 points ahead of Anton Shipulin in second with 918 points and Johannes Boe in third with 812.

Rookie of the year went to Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson who was 43rd in the Total Score with 169 points in his first full World Cup season aged 19.

The season started way back in Oestersund at the end of November. The first race was the Individual and Martin Fourcade won that. (Just a word of warning this will be something of a theme throughout the review!) Second went to Johannes Boe and a surprise third to Vladimir Chepelin. The Sprint was next and another win for Fourcade with home favourite Freddie Lindstroem taking second and Arnd Peiffer third. Lastly was the Pursuit which Fourcade DIDN’T win! It went to Anton Babikov and was his first World Cup victory. Maxim Tsvetkov was second and Fourcade was third.

Next we went to Pokljuka where Martin Fourcade won the Sprint with Johannes Boe second and Anton Shipulin third. The Pursuit also went to Fourcade with Emil Hegle Svendsen second with his first podium in a while and Shipulin was again third.

Nove Mesto was next and guess what Martin Fourcade won the Sprint. Shipulin was second and Svendsen third this time. Fourcade also won the Pursuit with Shipulin staying in second and Quentin Fillon Maillet moving from 16th to 3rd. We had the first Mass Start of the season here which was also won by Fourcade. Simon Schempp got his first podium of the season in second and Anton Babikov was third.

After Christmas we headed to Germany and Oberhof. Here was when Martin Fourcade failed to get on the podium for the first time finishing 8th in the Sprint. He did have bib 23 so I think maybe he doesn’t like me! 😉 Julian Eberhard won the race with Michal Slesingr in second and Dominik Windisch third. It was so nice to have some different biathletes on the podium for a change. The Pursuit of course went to Fourcade and Arnd Peiffer went from 15th to second with Windisch staying in third. The final race was another Mass Start this time won by Simon Schempp with teammate Erik Lesser in second and Fourcade third.

We stayed in Germany with round 5 in Ruhpolding. Fourcade took yet another Sprint victory and he was joined on the podium by Eberhard in second and Svendsen in third. The Pursuit also went to Fourcade with Svendsen in second and Michal Krcmar getting his first ever podium finish in third.

By now it was pretty obvious who would win the Overall Title but apparently you still have to hold the rest of the races so we went to Antholz! This time Fourcade didn’t win a race! What a shock! Anton Shipulin who always does well here won the Individual with Fourcade in second and Serghiy Semenov third with his first podium of the season. We also had a Mass Start which Johannes Boe won giving him his first win of the season. Quentin Fillon Maillet was second and Anton Shipulin third.

In February came the World Championships in Hochfilzen. Really we would have expected Fourcade to dominate this but he didn’t. The Sprint race went to Benedikt Doll by just 0.7 seconds in front of Johannes Boe and Fourcade was third. He did win the Pursuit race with Boe taking another silver and the legend that is Ole Einar Bjoerndalen winning yet another medal taking the bronze. The Individual went to an amazing performance from Lowell Bailey who took gold in front of Ondrej Moravec in silver and Fourcade took another bronze. The Mass Start was won by Simon Schempp with Johannes Boe in silver again and Simon Eder taking bronze for the home nation.

I know Fourcade came away with a gold and 2 bronze medals from the individual races but considering how many races he has won on the World Cu we were expecting better. Especially if you compare him to Laura Dahlmeier who got 3 golds and a silver. He says he just wanted to win one gold at the event which he did but I think he may have left a little disappointed.

Next we moved to PyeongChang and to the Olympic track. Here Julian Eberhard took his second win of the season in the Sprint race with Lowell Bailey in second continuing his good form. Fourcade was third which meant that he clinched the Overall Crystal globe for the 6th time. To celebrate he went on to win the Pursuit race with Anton Shipulin coming from 23rd to second and Julian Eberhard holding on for third.

Kontiolahti replaced Tyumen for round 8. A new venue but the same winner. Martin Fourcade won the Sprint by 0.6 seconds from Ondrej Moravec in second. It was Fourcade’s 13th victory breaking the record in the men’s field for most races won in a season. Emil Hegle Svendsen came third. The Pursuit race went to Arnd Peiffer with Simon Eder in second and Svendsen taking third again.

The final round of the World Cup was in Holmenkollen, Oslo. The Sprint was won by home favourite Johannes Boe with Martin Fourcade second and Anton Shipulin third. The pursuit went to Shipulin with Fourcade second and Johannes Boe third. The final race of the season was of course won by Martin Fourcadejust like the first one! Andrejs Rastorgujevs was second getting his first podium finish on the World Cup and Simon Eder was third.

With the individual races not being very competitive as we might like the Relays provided some different results. They were won by France, Norway, Germany and France again on the World Cup and by Russia at the World Championships.

The Single Mixed Relays went to France in Oestersund with a team of Fourcade and Dorin Habert, and to Austria in Kontiolahti with Simon Eder and Lisa Hauser.


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Holmenkollen 2017: The Sprints!

It is the final World Cup round in Holmenkollen and it’s just like school before you break up for the holidays. With most of the big prizes already decided there is a bit of craziness in the air. We had Serafin Wiestner with underwear over his ski suit (like Superman) in training after losing a bet with his coach. Anton Babikov trying to throw snowballs at a Russian TV interview and Michal Krcmar falling out of his hotel window (it was very low to the ground).

Finally on Friday we got a little more serious for the Sprint races. The Women’s Sprint threw up a lot of surprises. We had another brand new winner with Finland’s Mari Laukkanen winning her first ever race on the World Cup. She shot clean to win by almost 8 seconds. Second place went to Justine Braisaz getting her second podium of the season also hitting 10/10. Her teammate Anais Bescond had a good race hitting the perfect score finishing in third.

The big surprise was that Gabriela Kouklava won the Sprint Title. She finished 4th with 1 miss but rival Laura Dahlmeier finished down in 31st with 3 misses all in the prone. Those results meant that Gabi won the small crystal globe by just 5 points!

Some of the younger women coming up from the IBU Cup also had a good day. There were personal bests for Austria’s Julia Schwaiger in 14th, France’s Julia Simon in 25th and Russia’s Victoria Slivko in 30th.

The Men’s race was less surprising! Johannnes Boe shot 10/10 and skied really well to win the race by over 13 seconds. Second place went to Martin Fourcade who has chosen to race this weekend despite the imminent arrival of his second child. He missed his last standing target but skied his way to the podium.

Third place went to Anton Shipulin who at one point was ahead of Fourcade but lost a lot of time on the tracks possibly because of his late start bib giving him trickier conditions. He hit 10/10 but was 8 seconds behind Fourcade in the end. He was also just 0.2 of a second ahead of Dominik Landertinger in 4th so he did well to stay on the podium!

Fredrik Gjesbakk got his personal best on the World Cup in 25th as did Slovenia’s Miha Dovzan in 34th. In his final race of the season Great Britain’s Scott Dixon also improved his best result to 65th!

Tomorrow we have the final Pursuit races and we will see if Laura Dahlmeier can hang on to that title!

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Mass Starts!

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It’s the final day of what has been an outstanding World Championships in Hochfilzen and what a day it was. The Mass Starts are always great to watch and the two races today were no exception.

The Women got us off to a great start in the morning with a really close race. Susan Dunklee had an amazing first leg to lead after shooting clean on the first prone. She was followed by Laura Dahlmeier and a host of others including Koukalova, Dorin Habert and Wierer. Makarainen missed 1 target on her first shoot.

In fact Wierer had a tough start to the race losing her pole on the opening lap. Teja Gregorin also has a fall so there was a bit of chaos going on behind the leaders!

After the second prone there were still 8 women who hadn’t missed a target and Dunklee was still leading on the tracks.

The third shoot proved decisive in thinning out the medal contenders and left Dunklee, Dahlmeier, Koukalova and Dorin Habert together.

The final shoot saw Dunklee clear first hitting 20/20 followed by Dahlmeier who shot the same score. Dorin Habert and Koukalova both missed leaving a showdown on the tracks between the American and the German. Kaisa Makarainen hit all 5 in the final shoot to leave her to chase down the bronze medal.

Dahlmeier in the end proved too strong for Dunklee on the tracks and won her 5th gold medal of the Championships becoming the first women to do so. She only missed her 6th by 4 seconds in the Sprint. She is a remarkable biathlete and must now be considered one of the best ever.

Dunklee got America’s second medal in silver with a sensational shooting performance. It has been a fantastic competition for the US team. Bronze went to Kaisa Makarainen who skied like the wind passing all her rivals on the final climb winning her only medal here. It was such a good race to finish off the Championships for the women.

The afternoon saw the men’s race and wow what a competition. It was so close all the way to the final shoot where anyone of about 10 biathletes could have won. The early stages were full of great shooting which kept the field extremely close together. The Austrians Simon Eder and Dominik Landertinger were in the mix which made things very exciting for the home crowd.

An incredible 14 biathletes shot 10/10 on the prone shoots. One person who didn’t was Martin Fourcade who missed on the first prone meaning he had to ski fast to catch the others.

Seven biathletes shot 15/15 after the first stand leaving Simon Eder, Simon Schempp, Johannes Boe, Lowell Bailey, Dominik Landertinger and Krasimir Anev at the front. They were joined by Fourcade who had made up the time from his earlier miss.

So it all came down the the final shoot! It was so exciting. Eder cleared, then Schemmp cleared, then Lowell Bailey cleared leaving those three in the medal positions. Johannes Boe missed one and Fourcade missed two. Then it came down to a ski race. Schemmp obviously learned his lesson from yesterday and this time he attacked up the hill to get a gap from Eder. Behind them Johannes Boe was flying and he overtook Bailey and even caught up and passed Eder.

Schempp cruised to the finish getting his first individual win here in Hochfilzen, Boe took his third silver and Simon Eder stayed in third to grab another bronze for the home nation.

Well sorry but as the cartoons say that’s all folks! It has been a fabulous World Championships. Laura Dahlmeier goes home with 5 gold medals and a silver. Germany have 8 medals in total, 7 gold and 1 silver to top the medal table. Happily Austria got in on the action too with the 2 bronzes and so sent the public away happy.

If you are still hungry for more action the Youth/Junior World Championships starts on Wednesday in Brezno-Orsblie!!

I am going for a lie down now! 🙂

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Men’s Relay!

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It was back to sunshine for the Men’s Relay at the Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen. We had a field of 26 starting the race and it was another great one.

The first leg went very well for all the top teams. Erik Lesser had a great leg shooting 10/10 and handing over in the lead. He was followed by Jean Guillaume Beatrix who also hit 10/10. Lowell Bailey continued his good form with just 1 spare needed, Bjoerndalen needed 2 spares as did Hofer and Volkov. Pyrma and Mesotitsch used 1 each so it was all pretty close at the first exchange. Andrejs Rastorgujevs went out very fast on the first leg for Latvia and was leading up until the standing when he ended up on the penalty loop!

Benedikt Doll took over for Germany and although he used 1 spare on the prone he used 3 on the stand and risked a penalty loop. Quentin Fillon Maillet had a much better leg than in the Mixed Relay and used only 1 spare. Maxim Tsvetkov, Dominik Windisch and Sergey Semenov were all brilliant shooing 10/10. Emil Svendsen used 1 spare as did Leif Nordgren but Julian Eberhard needed 4. All of that left France just in the lead in front of the chasing pack.

The third leg is usually where things can be decided. Anton Babikov didn’t put a foot wrong shooting 10/10 and put Russia firmly in control of the race. Behind him Simon Eder, Arnd Peiffer, Simon Desthieux and Vladimir Semakov all needed to use 3 spares. Tarjei Boe ended Norway’s chances by going on the penalty loop on his standing shoot. Italy’s Guiseppe Montello had a fine leg using just 1 spare.

That left us with the final leg to go and Anton Shupulin in the lead. He was chased by Martin Fourcade and after him came Dominik Landertinger and Simon Schempp. Italy and Ukraine were left fighting for the minor placings with Thomas Bormolini and Dmytro Pidruchnyi racing for 5th and 6th.

Shipulin was comfortable on the prone hitting all 5 to maintain his lead. Fourcade also hit them all but Landertinger and Schempp both needed 1 spare. So that left one fight for gold and silver and another for bronze. Shipulin missed a target in the stand but hit quickly with his spare to keep a gap over Fourcade who again shot clean. Landertinger needed a spare but Schempp didn’t and they were together leaving the range.

Shipulin went out hard and Fourade couldn’t catch him giving Russia their first gold of these Championships. France took silver but there was a great fight for bronze.

It looked like Schemmp was going to sit in behind Landertinger and use his sprint finish to beat him. Landi had other ideas and when they got to the final climb he threw everything at it going up like a rocket. He managed to break Schempp and held the gap all the way to the line and gave Austria their first medal at their home World Championships. It was great and the hosts deserved a medal for putting on a great show here in Hochfilzen. Plus Germany have got loads of medals already -it’s time to share!

Fourth place went to Germany, Italy were amazing to get 5th, Ukraine were 6th, the USA were excellent in 7th inspired by Lowell Bailey, Norway were 8th, Bulgaria took 9th and the Czech Republic 10th.

11th Sweden
12th Slovakia
13th Canada
14th Kazakhstan
15th Japan
16th Switzerland
17th Romania
18th Slovenia
19th Belarus
20th Finland
21st Estonia
22nd Latvia
23rd Korea
24th Poland
25th Lithuania
26th Great Britain

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Women’s Relay!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hochfilzen 2017: The Men’s Individual!

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What can I say about the Men’s Individual in Hochfilzen! What a fantastic race and an even better result! Another fine day at the World Championships and history was made!

Lowell Bailey won the Men’s Individual! He became the first ever American to win a biathlon World title. In fact biathlon is the only winter sport that America has never won a World Title in. Not anymore! Thanks to outstanding shooting from Bailey he will go down in the history books and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. He has been unlucky this week finishing 4th in the Sprint and 6th in the Pursuit but finally in the Individual no one could beat him. It’s his first ever win having a previous best of second.

He managed to out ski Ondrej Moravec, who took the silver, by 3.3 seconds. Moravec also shot 20/20 but had started earlier than Bailey. In fact Bailey was bib 100 and so kept us hanging on right until the end.

Bronze went to Martin Fourcade who couldn’t make it 4 Individual World Titles in a row. He missed 2 shots but still did really well to finish in third place. He has a medal in every race so far.

Fourth went to Erik Lesser with 1 miss, 5th to Sergey Semenov also with 1 miss. In 6th place was Michal Krcmar who shot 20/20, 7th went to Anton Shipulin with 2 misses and in 8th was Johannes Boe also with 2 misses. In 9th was another Norwegian Lars Birkeland with a single miss and 10th went to Benjamin Weger also with 19/20.

Home team Austria finished with Eder in 12th, Eberhard in 14th and Mesotitsch in 15th. They will be desperate to do well in the Relay and the Mass Start to win Austria a medal.

Emil Svendsen was back in action after collapsing at the end of the Sprint race and he finished 27th. Further back Great Britain’s Scott Dixon grabbed a personal best in 69th with 2 missed targets.

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