Tag Archives: Yana Romanova

SMR: The reaction is Mixed!

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Last season saw the first ever Single Mixed Relay on the World Cup. The format has been tested before and we have the World Team Challenge in Germany between Christmas and New Year but this was the first time that it was an official World Cup event and worth points to the competing nations. In this article I wanted to review just how that went by exploring the purpose of the event and how successful it was.

Firstly though we need to understand exactly what the Single Mixed Relay is. Two biathletes from each country, one male and one female, form a team to take part in the relay. It is raced over a distance of 6km for the women and 7.5km for the men. It is very similar to the Mixed Relay where the biathletes each shoot in the prone and standing position before handing over to their partner. The penalty loop is shorter in this race at only 75 metres. The race is started by the women and finished by the men. The women will do 4 laps in the race and the men 5 as they must complete a whole lap after the final shoot.

So what is the purpose of this new race? It is the first new event to be added to the World Cup since the Mixed Relay was introduced in 2003. There are several different reasons why it has now been included as an event. The first is simply that it adds something new for the spectators and is a short and exciting race. The World Team Challenge has always been very entertaining to watch and now we can enjoy that excitement on the World Cup too. The second reason was, to quote IBU Race Director for the World Cup Borut Nunar, “to present one more team event where nations with only one good male and female athlete could have a strong chance for top rankings”. In other words to give some of the smaller teams a chance to get more Nation’s Cup points.

The first event was held in Nove Mesto and was won by Russia with a team of Volkov and Romanova. Second was Norway with Olsbu and L’Abee Lund and in third came the Ukraine with Dzhyma and Tyshchenko. The smaller teams had mixed fortunes. Japan did really well finishing 10th but Lithuania were 19th and Great Britain were 20th. Estonia didn’t enter a team, neither did Italy or The Netherlands.

Why was this? Well mainly because the event was scheduled on the same day as the Mixed Relay! The small teams don’t have enough biathletes to compete in both relays on the same day and in fact Nerys Jones and Kevin Kane of Great Britain and Fuyuko Suzuki of Japan were forced to compete in both events. So instead of being an event to help the smaller nations it actually became a hindrance! The teams prioritised the Mixed Relay and so couldn’t use the opportunity to gain any extra ranking points.

In the end it seemed to be more of a useful event for the top nations. It gave their biathletes that couldn’t get into the Mixed Relay team the chance to have a race and get even more ranking points for the Nation’s Cup. As we saw Russia won and Norway who were second went on to win the Mixed Relay later in the day. The problem lies in the scheduling of the event. If you can’t have it on the same day as the other relays though, when can you have it?

Well it wouldn’t be possible on the same day as the Sprint or the Individual as nearly all of the biathletes compete in these. That leaves the same day as a Pursuit or a Mass Start where just the TOP 60 or 30 biathletes take part. That would seem to be a better solution but then you have the issue of the tracks. That would mean 3 races in one day on the tracks and as we have seen in the last couple of years the venues are having difficulty providing good tracks because of the lack of snow and 3 races in a short space of time wouldn’t help the skiing conditions. Ideally the Single Mixed Relay would take place on a day with no other races but then it doesn’t last as long as the other relays and so might not be value for money for the spectators.

Overall the Single Mixed Relay serves the first purpose very well. It is new and exciting and something a bit different for fans and biathletes. The second purpose of helping countries gain more ranking points has yet to be seen. We have 2 Single Mixed Relays on the calendar this season in Oestersund and Canmore which are both scheduled on the same day as the Mixed Relays again. The strength of the big teams and scheduling problems mean that it won’t help the smaller teams much to improve their ranking. It is the same with all sports though. The bigger, richer teams will always have more money and be more successful than the smaller ones. Having said all of this we have only had one official race so far!! There is plenty of time to see just how well the event progresses over the next few seasons. We like new things in biathlon but in regards to this relay the reaction is Mixed!

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Nove Mesto: Czech it out!

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The World Cup is back after a weekend off and what a place to start again. Nove Mesto is fast becoming a top destination for the Biathlon World Cup. The spectators there over the weekend were amazing with huge crowds giving raucous but good natured support to not only the home team but to all the nations. If this continues hopefully it will soon become a permanent fixture on the biathlon calendar.

“Nove” in Czech means “new” and so it was the perfect place to showcase biathlon’s new format. The Single Mixed Relay had it’s official debut on Friday. It involved a man and woman from each team competing together in a format similar to that held in Schalke over Christmas. The men complete 7.5km and the women 6km with the usual prone and standing shoots. The penalty loop is half the size at just 75 metres.

While the format was new the winners were not. Russia won the first ever race with a team of Yana Romanova and Alexey Volkov. They won by over 21 seconds from Norway who fielded a team of Marte Olsbu and Henrik L’Abee Lund. Juliya Dzhyma and Artem Tyshchenko came in third for the Ukraine. The best thing about it for me was the fact that Japan came in 10th! When is the last time you saw them in the Top Ten of a relay event! It is a great opportunity for the smaller nations to compete more often and with more possibilities to do well.

Later on Friday we had the normal Mixed Relay. This time Norway went one better and won the race. The Bø brothers brought home the victory with some good shooting and fast skiing. The home nation were 4 seconds behind in second place and Ukraine completed the podium in third consigning Russia to fourth. The USA finished in 7th which was excellent for a team without Tim Burke or Lowell Bailey. The team did very well and anchorman Sean Doherty just missed out on 6th by a tiny margin just pipped at the post by Germany’s Benedikt Doll. France started off very well with Anais Bescond and Marie Dorin Habert putting them in the lead at the half way point but Simon Fourcade had a leg to forget which put them out of contention.

On Saturday we moved on to the Sprint races. In the Women’s race some outstanding shooting and a good ski time saw Laura Dahlmeier take her first ever World Cup victory. The 21 year old held her nerve and managed to beat her teammate Franziska Hildebrand by just 1 second. It may have helped that she was wearing bib 23!!! Hildebrand had a fantastic race and second was a personal best for her. In third was home favourite Veronika Vitkova who gave the crowd even more reason to cheer loudly!

In the Men’s race Jakov Fak finally did what he has been threatening to do for a while and won the race! Behind him came the super consistent Simon Schempp and in third getting on the podium for the first time this season was Jean Guillaume Beatrix. There were also some great perfomances by Nathan Smith 7th and Leif Nordgren 16th who both got their best results to date and Coline Varcin 8th and Lisa Vittozzi 19th did likewise in the Women’s race.

The Pursuits were the last races of the weekend and provided the crowd with a great show. The Women’s Pursuit was hotly contested and in the end Darya Domracheva came through to win with her main rival for the Overall title Kaisa Makarainen behing her in second place. Third went to Laura Dahlmeier who has been on the podium in the last three races. Gabriela Soukalova had a great chance to win when leading into the final shoot but she missed two and finished 5th. Hildebrand shot on Vitkova’s target on the final shoot due to the heavy snow that was falling and the wind on the range. She lost alot of time but got it back after the race and was given 11th place. Vanessa Hinz and Iryna Kryuko both got their best results on the World coming in 4th and 10th. Romania’s Eva Tofalvi had an amazing race coming from 24th to finish in 8th place and similarly Luise Kummer went from 29th to 12th.

In the Men’s race we had a similar podium to the Sprint with Fak holding on to his lead to win with Schempp again in second. Martin Fourcade finished 4th to gain points over rival Shipulin but gave them away to Schempp. Nathan Smith again produced a great race to improve his personal best to 5th, Simon Desthieux came from 34th to 15th and Sven Grossegger moved from 37th to 18th. Antonin Guigonnat made up 20 places from 45th to 25th as did Svendsen going from 43rd to 23rd.

Nove Mesto has turned into a fantastic venue for biathlon. With crowds of over 30,000 everyday and challenging tracks it is fast becoming a favourite venue for biathletes and spectators alike. The success of the Czech team obviously helps fill the stadium but the whole weekend was a great success from the new format Single Mixed Relay to the excitement of the final Pursuit races. We now move from the new to the old and head to Norway and Oslo Holmenkollen. The race for the yellow bib is hotting up with Domracheva and Schemmp continuing to catch up to Makarainen and Fourcade. It will be a very interesting round of the World Cup but if you missed Nove Mesto you should really consider going next year to Czech it out!

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Tyrolean Triumphs!

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Hurrah for Antholz! Real snow and lots of it and amazing scenery to enjoy on the way around the tracks. In unchivalrous style it was gentlemen first as we began round 6 with the Men’s Sprint. After winning last year’s sprint here in a tie with home boy Lukas Hofer, Simon Schempp decided that he was sick of sharing and decided to win the race for himself! A fantastic display by the German saw him shoot clean and with the second fastest ski time he wrapped up victory in some style. Behind him came Evgeniy Garanichev who replaced Anton Shipulin as top Russian for the day and after him came Jakov Fak in third. Fak did have the opportunity to win this race but missed his last shot in the standing and so had to settle for the bottom step of the podium. Benjamin Weger continued his fine form with his best result of the season and Brendan Green got his best result ever coming in fifth.

The women got underway on Friday and there was no stopping Darya Domracheva who shot clean and took another victory from second place Kaisa Makarainen. In third was Laura Dahlmeier who stood on the podium for the first time on the World Cup. There were also career bests for Lena Haecki in 12th and another German Luise Kummer in 13th.

Next came the Pursuit races and the men’s was quite a treat! The lead changed several times due to missed shots but in the end it came down to another close finish and Simon Schempp came out on top again. This time he just pipped Simon Eder and Garanichev in second and third. That made it a double double for Schempp in Antholz as he repeated his Sprint and Pursuit victories from last season. The women’s race saw Darya Domracheva sweep majestically round the tracks as she won easily. The other podium positions however was were all the excitement was at. A highly impressive Daria Virolaynen was second and Kaisa Makarainen was third despite missing 5 targets! She out skied Hildebrand on the last loop to prevent the German getting on the podium. It was incredible skiing from Kaisa once again.

Others who made a big impression in the Pursuit races were Martin Fourcade who made up 20 places from 25th to 5th. Erik Lesser came from 19th to 6th, Daniel Boehm went from 30th to 12th and Austria’s Sven Grossegger started 54th and finished 27th. On the women’s side the amazing Marie Dorin Habert went from 19th to 5th and Yana Romanova also did well coming from 42nd to 27th.

On the final day we had the Relays. The men started us off and Norway had a pretty comfortable journey to victory shooting and skiing really well. Simon Schempp anchored the Germans to second capping off a great couple of weeks for himself and France minus Martin Fourcade completed the podium in third. The women went in the afternoon and were unlucky with the conditions as they suffered from strong winds which affected the shooting range. The German ladies coped best and a very composed final leg from Laura Dalmeier secured them the win. In second came the ever impressive Czech Republic and Ukraine won the battle with Russia to come in third.

So the World Cup now moves on to Nove Mesto and begins again on the 6th of February. The race for the men’s overall title is heating up with Schempp moving up to second and closing in on Martin Fourcade. Domracheva has also closed the gap on Makarainen after a fruitful weekend of racing for the chasers. The season is getting exciting again after what looked like a procession for Fourcade and Makarainen. Both now have serious challengers for the big Crystal globes. Domracheva and Schempp are looking in good form and will take a lot of confidence from their Tyrolean Triumphs!

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A season in bib 23! The results!

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Wow from the first, Diana Rasimovicuite, to the last, Serhiy Semenov, the bearers of “the bib” have given me a roller coaster first season in 23! From the highs of 2 wins in 1 day to the lows of the doping scandal “biathlete23” has given me more fun, excitement and disappointment than I could ever have imagined before I started all this back in November.

For those of you unfamiliar with biathlete23 I decided that as a feature on my blog I would follow whichever athlete was wearing bib 23 and record their scores and see how they did. This led to a great new way for me to watch biathlon and to get to know some of the less well known biathletes.

For the first representative to score me some points was pretty great! To most 19th position doesn’t mean a whole lot but for me it was my first 22 points! That was the only point score I got in Oestersund in fact from 4 races. In Hochfilzen I was celebrating my first podium from Irina Starykh but that was wrecked after Christmas with her positive drugs test. Fortunately the lovely Gabriela Soukalova took a 9th place in the Pursuit and Evigeny Garanichev got me 7 points in the Men’s race.

But then came Annecy, the wonderful Annecy! The first two races were Sprints and were won by Selina Gasparin and Johannes Thingnes Boe who were both wearing bib 23!!! Maximum 120 points! To say I was delighted would be the understatement of the year! Two more points finishes from Garanichev and Gregorin took my total to 169 points for the weekend! Finally I was getting some good scores!

In Oberhof 5 out of the 6 biathletes in 23 scored points; Alexander Loginov and Daniel Boehm for the men and Vita Semerenko, Weronika Nowakowska and Krystyna Palka for the women.In Ruhpolding Teja Gregorin and Simon Desthieux grabbed me 43 points from the Pursuits.The last round before the Olympics in Antholz saw 46 points scored by Franziska Preuss and Yan Savitskiy.

The Olympics was fun to watch for bib 23. I didn’t really expect a medal at my first attempt but I got very close when Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle finished 4th in the Women’s Mass Start. However like Starykh before her my joy was short lived as she too tested positive for an illegal substance and was disqualified. My best results were from Yan Savitshiy who finished 20th in the Men’s 20km Individual for the men and Veronika Vitkova who was 6th in the Women’s Individual. My favourite athlete from the Olympics though has to be the awesome Mr. Brendan Green who represented 23 in the Pursuit. He finished 35th but was kind enough to photograph his bib and send it to me and you can see it at the top of this post and on my Facebook and Twitter accounts! Thanks Brendan!

Back to the World Cup and I was keen to get back scoring some big points. Pokljuka didn’t disappoint as 98 points were added to my total from Jana Gerekova, Tim Burke, Tomas Kaukenas, Zina Kocher and Serhiy Semenov. To Kontiolahti next where a strong team of Christoph Sumann, Tiril Eckhoff, Simon Eder, Susan Dunklee, Jean-Guillaume Beatrix and Julia Dzhyma scored an impressive 114 points!

Holmenkollen was our final stop and biggest points haul of the season! I had the great privilege of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen racing in bib 23(by this time I had gotten over the fact that he won Olympic Sprint gold in bib 24 – the traitor!). The rest of the biathletes were overall winner Kaisa Makarainen who I like to think was inspired in her Pursuit performance by number 23 to get to fourth and help her win the big Crystal Globe!!! The others were Dominik Landertinger, Yana Romanova and Serhiy Semenov(he loves bib 23 -always in it!). They scored 119 points to take my grand total up to 754 points for the season, 347 from the men and 407 from the women. These put me in 25th place in the Men’s overall between Daniel Boehm and Tim Burke and 14th in the Women’s between Teja Gregorin and Franziska Hildebrand. Not bad for a debut season in biathlon!

A big thanks to all the biathletes who have been lucky enough to wear bib 23 – you have all been fantastic with some obvious exceptions! You have to take the rough with the smooth though!It has been really enjoyable supporting whoever has been in bib 23 this season. I don’t really have favourites among the biathletes so this way I can support different ones in each race and I have learned about biathletes that I previously knew little of. It’s a great way to find out more about all the biathletes and a really nice way to show support for all of them.I had no idea quite how interesting it would be to follow a bib number throughout the season but I have loved it. I can’t wait for next season to start so I can do it all over again and I hope some of you will join me along the way supporting biathlete23!! I just hope I can beat the Total Score for this season!!! GO BIATHLETE23!

For full results and participants please see my page Biathlete23
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FIN-spirational ladies!

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I always like to see home biathletes do well in their home races. It’s not an easy thing to do as there is more pressure to do well in front of your home crowd and also your friends and family. However both Kaisa Makarainen and Mari Laukkanen managed just that in Thursday’s first Sprint race. Kaisa came home in first and Mari was third with Russia’s Olga Zaitseva separating them in second. Kaisa skied amazingly well as she missed a shot while the others were clear. Elsewhere Magdalena Gwizdon appeared in the TOP 10 where we haven’t seen her for a while finishing ninth and a double Slovak attack saw Paulina Fialkova and Jana Gerekova finish tenth and eleventh.

In the Men’s Sprint Johannes Boe claimed his third win of an extremely impressive debut season on the World Cup although skiing two legs just behind second placed Martin Fourcade surely helped his cause a little. Having said that he shot incredibly fast and clean and seems to like the tracks. One to watch out for in next year’s World Championships in Kontiolahti. In third place was Arnd Peiffer who will be rueing his 1 missed shot as a clear shoot would have seen him win comfortably. His fellow countryman Benedikt Doll looked really good finishing in ninth and Serafin Weistner scored his first World Cup points by coming 29th.

Saturdays Sprints ended up the same as Thursday with Johannes and Kaisa winning again! The rest of the podiums were different though with Alexander Loginov and Lowell Bailey on the men’s side and Tora Berger and Gabriela Soukalova on the women’s. For Loginov and Bailey it was their career best results with Loginov taking significantly less time than Bailey! I was really happy to see Lowell finally get up on the podium and now he has broken his duck I hope we will see him there again soon.

An eleventh place finish from Martin Fourcade was enough to win him the crystal globe for the Sprint. That man must have a huge mantelpiece to fit all his globes on!! Carl Johann Bergman got into the TOP 5 and Lars Helge Birkeland finished in the TOP 10. Another great race from Susan Dunklee saw her finish in eighth and Anna-Karin Stroemstedt came in 19th.

I am getting slightly bored of writing this but on Sunday in the Pursuits Johannes Boe and Kaisa Makarainen won again! To be fair young Johannes tried his best to worry us by missing 4 targets in the final shoot but he had enough time in hand and mistakes from others meant that victory would be his. These two have been far and away the best biathletes in Kontiolahti and thoroughly deserve their massive points haul.

Second was sufficient for Martin Fourcade to take the Overall title for the third year in a row which is quite outstanding. Bjorn Ferry was third and must be wondering why he is retiring at the end of the year. All other biathletes take note-announce you are retiring at the end of next season and you will win lots of races! Look what it did for Bjoerndalen. Now he isn’t retiring his results are getting worse.(Although that could also be a tough season and he is no spring chicken!)

The women’s podium was completed by Darya Domracheva and Olga Zaitseva. Domracheva came from 20th to second but looked too tired to try and outski Kaisa. Other performances of note in the Pursuits came from Anais Chevalier 30th to 8th, Marte Olsbu 43rd to 11th, Magdalena Gwizdon 36th to 12th and Yana Romanova 33rd to 13th. For the men it was Andrejs Rastorgujevs 41st to 6th, Christoph Sumann 45th to 11th, Freddie Lindstrom 29th to 13th, Benedikt Doll 22nd to 7th and Simon Schempp 21st to 9th.

Now we are going to Norway for the last three races of the season 😦 The men’s titles are pretty well wrapped up but the women’s are all to play for. The races in Kontiolahti were great and well attended, a good sign for the World Champs next year and hopefully we will see more home glory there for the FIN-spirational ladies!

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A RELAY great ending to the Olympics!

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Well that’s it! It’s over for another 4 years. What a great Games it has been and for Martin Fourcade, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen,Darya Domracheva, Anastasiya Kuzima and Emil Hegle Svendsen they get to say they are Olympic champion for the next 4 years until we get to Pyeongchang 2018!!!

The last races were they relays and we started with the first ever Mixed Relay to be included in the Winter Olympics. Unsurprisingly it was won by Norway and meant that Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the greatest ever Winter Olympian winning his 13th medal. It was nice to see both him and Tora Berger take gold together in what is their last ever Olympics. Svendsen and Eckhoff also picked up their second medal of the Games. The Czech Republic were second winning their 5th Olympic biathlon medal in Sochi. It meant another silver for Moravec to take his total to three, a second medal for both Soukalova and Soukup and a first for Veronika Vitkova. Taking a well deserved bronze was Italy. Some assured performances from Wierer, Oberhofer and Dominik Windisch meant that Lukas Hofer had a pretty straight forward final leg to clinch the medal.

Next was the Women’s Relay which saw a well deserved and quite poignant, given the problems in their country, gold medal go to Ukraine. The team of Vita and Valj Semerenko, Olena Pidrushna and Julia Dzhyma were fantastic. It just shows you though how small the margins are in biathlon between winning and losing. On the third leg Valj Semerenko hit the last shot with her last spare round. If she had missed the Ukraine wouldn’t even have got a medal. She hit it under tremendous presssure and they went on to clinch gold. Russia came in second with a strong team of Yana Romanova, Olga Zaitseva, Ekaterina Shumilova and Olga Vilukhina. In third were Norway giving Tora Berger and Tiril Eckhoff their third medals of the Games and a first for Fanny Horn and Ann Kristin Flatland.

The best relay was saved for last however as on the final shoot of the Men’s Relay there were still 4 teams in contention for gold. Russia, Norway, Germany and Austria all came in to the range together. If you were going to put your house on who would hold their nerve between Svendsen, Shipulin, Schempp and Landertinger you would go for Svendsen every time. However he was the one who buckled under the pressure and allowed the other three to fight it out for gold while he went on the penalty loop. In the end Anton Shipulin took gold for the home nation in a fitting end to an amazing Olympic Games for biathlon. Along with Alexey Volkov, Evgeny Ustyukov and Dmitry Malyshko they final gave the great crowds in the Laura stadium what they had been waiting for – a Russian victory. The silver went to the German team of Erik Lesser, Daniel Boehm, Arnd Peiffer and Simon Schempp. Bronze went to a deserving Austrian team of Cristoph Sumann, Simon Eder, Daniel Mesotitsch and Dominik Landertinger.

That is the Olympic Games in Sochi over as far as biathlon is concerned. It has been fantastic with great racing, great crowds and great biathletes. We only have another 4 years to go until the next one in South Korea but it is a little sad that we are saying goodbye to some fantastic biathetes like Bjoerndalen, Berger, Henkel, Ferry, Bergman, Zaitseva, Mesotitsch and Sumann who have either announced their retirement or are very unlikely to compete in another Olympics. They still have the rest of the season to go and I am just happy we had a RELAY great end to the Olympics!

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