Tag Archives: Zina Kocher

Spring Snapshot 2016!

spring16

Seriously – you try and take a couple of months holiday from biathlon to refresh the mind and get excited again for a new season but it won’t let you! There is no escape! Here is a snapshot of just some of the things that happened in April and May in the world of biathlon.

So obviously the biggest news story was that the Biathlon23 Awards 2015/16 broke all records to become the most read post on my blog!!! Less exciting but equally important was of course the news that Old-sorry-Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will continue competing until the Olympics in 2018 or maybe even forever! There is no stopping that man. Good news for men’s biathlon but he has managed to ruin the upcoming women’s season by impregnating former KGB operative Darya Domracheva and robbing us of her presence until probably January. How dare he! After the announcement that Kaisa Makarinen also intends to compete until 2018 (while building a house at the same time!) we won’t get to see her go head to head with Dasha for a while longer.

Dasha isn’t the only one expecting a baby though. Magdalena Neuer with her customary speed is having her second child and Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska is pregnant with twins.

Gabriela Soukalova changed her name by 1 letter, not just for fun of course, she got married to Petr Koukal making her Koukalova! Dmitry Malyshko also married in the Spring break. Congratulations all round! 🙂

With all that good news we also have some bad news too. Klaus Siebert, former German biathlete and coach of Germany, China and Belarus, died after a long battle with cancer. Two Ukrainian biathletes Artem Tyshchenko and Snizhana Tisyeyeva were involved in a serious car crash on the 2nd of May. Thankfully Tisyeyeva is out of intensive care after being treated for burns and Tyschenko was released from hospital after a head injury.

Tyshchenko was again in the news when he had his suspension for doping lifted as did Eduard Latypov as their samples were consistent with having stopped taking Meldonium before it was banned. This wasn’t the case for Romania’s Eva Tofalvi and Olga Abramova who also tested positive for the drug. All four cases are still on going.

Krystyna Guzik has a shoulder injury which needs surgery and means she will be out for 2 months.

In lighter news all the biathletes were off on their holidays and were making us all jealous with their social media pictures. Martin Fourcade went to Morocco, brother Simon went to Mauritius and Reunion. Laura Dahlmeier chose a nice relaxing holiday climbing in the Himalayas! Dominik Windisch took a little European road trip. Dorothea Wierer went to the Caribbean. Johannes Boe went to London and Klemen Bauer turned up at the World Snooker Final in Sheffield. I can’t go through everyone but I am sure they all had nice breaks!

There has also been some changes in the coaching department with the news that Siegfried Mazet was leaving the French team. It was no secret where he was going and he is now the shooting coach for Norway’s men who also announced Egil Kristiansen as their ski coach. France have replaced Mazet with Franck Badiou. Elsewhere Alfred Eder returns to the Belarusian women’s team, Valeriy Medvedtsev is the Russian Women’s new coach, Finland’s new coach is Antti Leppavuori and Juraj Sanitra takes charge of the Ukranian men’s team. Thomas Fusko is the new Slovak biathlon President and Erlend Slokvik has the job for Norway.

There have also been some retirements from the sport. Canadians Zina Kocher, Scott Perras and Audrey Vaillancourt have all decided to end their biathlon careers. They are joined by Americans Annelise Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker. Also retiring are Italy’s Christian De Lorenzi and Christian Martinelli, German Andi Birnbacher, Ivan Tcherazov of Russia, Austria’s Fritz Pinter, Marine Bolliet of France and Natayla Burdyga who is retiring for the second time!

To be fair I have probably forgotten many other things that happened but as Ross said to Rachel, “WE WERE ON A BREAK!”

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Kocher: One more round in her maga-Zina?

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It’s not everyone who gets to fulfil their dreams. For example my dream of world domination is not going very well at the moment! My second dream of ruling the world of biathlon has been equally unsuccessful! One person who has been lucky enough to fulfil theirs however is Zina Kocher. After being inspired by the Winter Olympics held in Alberta in 1988 she dreamed of competing for Canada at the Games one day. She has done it 3 times.

Like my dream of ruling the world, becoming a professional athlete who is good enough to be selected to compete for your country is not an easy task. In fact it takes a huge amount not just of talent, but also of motivation and determination. Zina Kocher has all 3 three of these in spades! (I do not!)

Zina has a very animal based background. She was born in Red Deer, Alberta on the 5th of December 1982. At age 7 she joined the Jackrabbit cross country ski program and she also killed a bear when she was three. No wait a minute that was Davy Crocket – easy mistake to make! 😉 She took up biathlon at age 15 and after high school moved to Canmore to train with the Rocky Mountain Racers (who disappointingly seem to have no animal connection at all!)

She made the World Junior Team the first year and the rest is history! She has gone on to compete in 3 Olympic Games including a home one in Vancouver and an incredible 11 World Championships. In season 2006/7 she came third in the Individual Race in Oestersund on the World Cup and became the first Canadian to stand on the podium in over a decade.

The best result she achieved in the Olympics was actually this year in Sochi. She came 25th in the Pursuit race there. The Canadian Women’s relay team finished 8th in Sochi which is a great improvement from 17th in Turin and 15th in Vancouver. Zina was in all of these teams and last season saw the Canadian ladies grab an amazing 4th place finish in the relay in Annecy up against some really strong opposition. Along with Rosanna Crawford, Megan Imrie and Megan Heinicke, Zina has helped make the team one to watch out for next season. Although there is a place up for grabs after Mehan Imrie’s retirement.

It’s not just in the relay that the Canadian ladies help each other out though. In 2009 she was part of a nude fundraising calendar called the Bold, Beautiful, Biathlon calendar along with fellow biathletes Megan Tandy, Sandra Keith, Rosanna Crawford and Megan Imrie. As well as raising funds for the biathletes it was a chance for them to promote the image of a healthy athletic body for young girls. What is also impressive is that at the time Kocher was in fact a fully funded biathlete and did it to help her fellow biathletes.

This season will see Zina take part in her 12th World Championships in Kontiolahti. The Canadian team as a whole had a great last season and they will all be looking for further improvement this time around. Their relay teams have realistic chances of winning medals at the Championships and Zina will provide the experience for them. With 3 Olympic Games under her belt already she will be a great help to the Canadian squad as well as wanting to improve her own performances. I don’t know what her plans for the future are but might she go for another Olympics in Pyeonchang – has Kocher got one more round in her maga-Zina? I hope so! It would be amazing to see her at a 4th Games!

Check out Zina’s website: http://zinakocher.com/
Follow her on Twitter: @ZinaKocher
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A season in bib 23! The results!

sochi

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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Le Guellec: CAN he do it?

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I for one was quite surprised when Jean-Philippe Le Guellec won last season’s opening Sprint race in Oestersund. Not because of JP winning, because he has always had the potential to do it, but because he was the first Canadian man to stand on the podium let alone win a race at the World Cup.

Canada is well known for Winter Sports especially their impressive alpine skiing team so you would have thought they would have had a few more successes since Myriam Bedard won double Olympic gold in 1994. The truth is though that biathlon is a sport traditionally dominated by Europeans and in fact Canada only boasts one other athlete, Zina Kocher, who has reached the podium. Coincidentally she did this in Oestersund too finishing 3rd in the Individual in 2006.
However the North Americans are fighting back with Tim Burke’s silver medal in Nove Mesto and JP’s debut win. They are progressing slowly but surely and hopefully will challenge the traditional biathlon giants like Norway, Russia and Germany this season.

Le Guellec was born on the 31st of July 1985 in Kingston, Canada and grew up in Quebec making him fluent in English and French. He started doing biathlon at the age of 13 in the Canadian Royal Air Cadet Movement and after 2 years Daniel Lefebvre recruited him to race in the civilian program. He began competing in biathlon in 1999 and joined the national team in 2003. He enjoyed a successful junior career winning 3 medals at the Junior World Championships. He has competed in 2 Olympic Games and was obviously inspired by his home Games in Vancouver where he finished a creditable 6th in the Sprint, his highest finish in that event at the time.
He started to make his presence felt in the 2008/9 season where he finished in the Top 10 twice and finished a career high 32nd in the Total Score. Despite his first win last season he finished a slightly lower 35th overall. He did however finish in the Top 40 of every discipline last year and helped Canada to 16th spot in the Nation’s Cup.

So what about this season for JP? Well not resting on his laurels he has been training with a Swedish cross-country sprint specialist on his ski technique. This is in an effort to better his efficiency, power and fluidity on skis. In July he headed to Canmore to an annual test to see if all the new training has paid off. Without going into detail I am happy to report that both his skiing and shooting have shown a marked improvement. With a decent summer of training behind him JP looks like he will be heading into next season in good shape.

So can he be the first Canadian man to win a medal at the Sochi Olympics? Well he is a good outside bet for a podium in at least one of the events and he has had his best results so far in the Sprint. CAN he do it? Let’s hope so! It would be great for Canadian and North American biathlon if he could!

Have a look at JP’s website in English and French: http://www.jpleguellec.biz/en/home.php

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