March 9th, 2014
On the second lap of today’s 12.5 k mass start, Darya Domracheva of Belarus sent a message that she was serious about winning her first World Cup competition of the weekend in Pokljuka, Slovenia.
Skiing with a pack of athletes who had shot clean through the first prone stage, Domracheva upped the pace and strung out the pack. Sure, she missed a shot on the next bout – but then she went on the warpath, and after a clean third stage was a clean leader. Loop after loop, she skied the fastest course times. Domrachave built her lead even further, so that when she missed a shot in the final standing she was all but guaranteed a victory (it helped that Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia, in second at the time, missed two shots of her own).
Domrachava looked exhausted and was gasping for air on the final loop – where finally her loop time dropped to seventh – but held on for the win and carried the Belorussian flag across the finish line.
Behind her, Olga Zaitseva of Russia had left the range in second place. But Kaisa Makarainen of Finland, the winner of yesterday’s pursuit, ate up her gap almost immediately, closing 18 seconds and blowing by Zaitseva on an uphill. She went on to cut into Domracheva’s lead, but was stuck in second place at the finish. She had put 13 more seconds on Zaitseva, who held on for third.
Rosanna Crawford of Canada, the lone North American starter in the 30-woman competition, ran into trouble right off the bat with four penalties in the first shooting stage. That put her in last place and with three more penalties in the first standing stage, for seven total, she stayed in 30th at the finish.No comments
March 2nd, 2014
It was a double victory for Russia on the first day of junior racing at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Youth/Junior World Championships in Presque Isle, Maine.
Evgeniya Pavlova was one of two women to clean the two-stage 7.5-kilometer sprint. Kelsey Joan Dickinson of the U.S. was the other in 22nd, 2:17 behind Pavlova in first. Pavlova edged Kazakhstan’s Galina Vishnevskaya by just 0.3 seconds for the win. Vishnevskaya placed second with a single standing penalty, and Germany’s Annika Knoll was 38.7 seconds back in third.
During the race, Pavlova took the lead over Knoll, then awaited her fate while Vishnevskaya took a half-second lead with a clean prone. The penalty put her 22 seconds behind with 1 k to go, but Vishnevskaya closed hard, coming within hundredths of a second of the win.
“I thought until the last meter that I might win,” Vishnevskaya said, according to an IBU press release. “My coaches told me on the tracks that I was getting closer all of the time.”
“I was very nervous watching as Galina came to the finish,” Pavlova said. “I still have not realized that I am World Champion.”
Temperatures were almost as cold as Friday at the start of the women’s race, rising from -11 at dawn to 5 degrees Fahrenheit at go-time, according to the press release. The wind was much less of an issue, however, with a gentle breeze blowing across the range.
Two Russians landed in the top three of the men’s 10 k sprint, with Alexander Povarnitsyn racing to the victory with a single standing penalty. Eduard Latypov took bronze with two misses, one in each stage, finishing 16.5 seconds after his teammate.
Norway’s Tore Leren was the only man to hit all 10 targets and notched second, 13.4 seconds back.
The Russian squad has been in Presque Isle for more than two weeks, and Povarnitsyn said training there has paid off.
“We had plenty of time to adjust to the nine-hour time difference,” he told IB. “We had plenty of time to learn these tracks, which are quite technical. Earlier this week, we worked on how to handle the technical turns.”
Canada’s Carsen Campbell led the North Americans in 14th with two standing penalties to finish 1:35.1 behind the winner.
As for the rest of the North American men, Canada’s Christian Gow placed 21st (2+0), American Tyler Mark Gustafson took 43rd (1+1), Canada’s Brett Davie was 49th (3+1), Jakob Ellingson of the U.S. was 53rd (1+1), Canada’s Stuart Harden was 54th (0+4), and American Jacob Dalberg was 56th (3+1).
After Dickinson, Canada’s Erin Yungblut placed 36th (1+1), American Tara Geraghty-Moats was 42nd (2+3), and Canada’s Rose-Marie Cote was disqualified.
February 14th, 2014
SOCHI, Russia – With her 34th-place performance in the 15 k individual race today, Susan Dunklee has qualified for the 30-woman mass start to be held on Monday here at the Olympics.
The top 15 ranked biathletes in the world are guaranteed spots, as well as any other medalists from the Olympics so far. The 13 remaining spots are handed out to the athletes who have done best in the sprint, pursuit, and individual races combined. With 14th place in the sprint and 18th place in the pursuit in addition to her result in the individual, Dunklee earned bib number 26.
In doing so, Dunklee is making history before she even starts the race: since the event’s introduction at the 2006 Olympics, no American woman has ever qualified for the mass start.
Megan Imrie of Canada is the fourth reserve if any athletes decline their entry. At least two athletes on the start list, Andrea Henkel of Germany and Olga Vilukhina of Russia, sat out today’s individual race due to illness.
Darya Domracheva of Belarus, who has won two gold medals at this Games so far, is the defending World Champion in the discipline.
Notably included on the list are Swiss sisters Selina and Elisa Gasparin; Switzerland, too, has never before been represented in the discipline at the Olympics. Notably not include is Synnøve Solemdal of Norway, who had a podium finish in a World Cup mass start in Oberhof, Germany, earlier this season, but is having a poor Olympic showing so far.No comments
February 13th, 2014
SOCHI, Russia – There are two ways to qualify for the 30-man mass start at the Olympics. The first is through steady results all season, and landing in the top 15 of the World Cup Total Score. The second, and significantly more nerve-wracking, way is to compete your heart out at the Games themselves and be among the next 15 best skiers in the sprint, pursuit, and individual.
Five North Americans made this second, more arduous way, work for them. With strong performances at the Games, Nathan Smith, Jean Philippe Le Guellec, and Brendan Green of Canada earned their way into Sunday’s 15 k. And Americans Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke did the same, snagging the last two spots available in the race.
Burke earned his spot because five Russians made the cut, but Olympic starts are limited to four athletes per country in each race.
As such, North America will make up fully 1/6 of the field in the prestigious mass start.
The North Americans are on the rise. Four years ago in Vancouver, Burke and Jeremy Teela represented the U.S. in the mass start, while Le Guellec was the only Canadian to qualify. And four years before that, American Jay Hakkinen was the only one to represent the western hemisphere.
Other interesting notes from the start list: Norway’s Tarjei Bø, who won the mass start at the last World Championships, did not earn a start right. His younger brother Johannes Thingnes Bø did, and told NRK that he wished his brother could have the start instead. Neither Bø has had a top ten at this Olympics so far; Johannes is ranked 7th in the World Cup and Tarjei 17th.
Germany’s usual top racer, Andreas Birnbacher, is also not on the list.
The start list, as it currently stands, is posted here.No comments
February 9th, 2014
SOCHI, Russia – The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has announced that Lithuanian biathlete Karolis Zlatkauskas has waived his right to have his “B” sample analyzed after an “A” sample tested positive for a prohibited substance two weeks ago.
At the time, the IBU released information that three biathletes had tested positive for banned substances. That included two Russians and a Lithuanian. The Russian website Championat discovered that the two Russians were Ekaterina Iourieva and Irina Starykh; Starykh has resigned from the national team as her provisional suspension would have prevented her from competing at the Olympics. Her “B” sample was opened on Monday and no final results have yet been released.
This is the first time that Zlatkauskas has been identified in the media. At 28 years old, the Lithuanian was an Olympian in 2006 but has few top international results. His best finish on the World Cup this season was 67th in a sprint in Hochfilzen, Austria. He was not Lithuania’s selection for their Olympic team: instead it was Tomas Kaukenas who earned that honor with two top-50 World Cup finishes this season. He placed 48th in yesterday’s Olympic 10 k sprint.
The IBU reports that Zlatkauskas tested positive for recombinant erythropoetin (EPO), a common blood-doping drug. He has admitted his mistake and the disciplinary hearings will begin without consulting the “B” sample.
It has not yet been released which substances the two Russian biathletes tested positive for, but this adds momentum to the widespread assumption that it was also EPO.
Zlatkauskas’s urine sample was collected on December 19 in Obertilliach, Austria, in an out-of-competition test, and was analyzed by the Austrian national anti-doping association.
“Mr. ZLATKAUKAS admitted that he made a mistake,” the IBU wrote in their press release. “He pointed out in a letter to the IBU that with his action he deeply disappointed the IBU, the Lithuanian Biathlon Federation and his team. He closed his comments by offering an apology to the whole Biathlon Family for his actions.”No comments
February 4th, 2014
The International Olympic Committee has apparently rejected Russia’s request to substitute Galina Nechkasova for beleaguered star Irina Starykh.
Starykh, who recently found that an anti-doping “A” sample had tested positive for a banned substance, has resigned from the Russian team. Her “B” sample was opened on Monday and news of its analysis should be due by the end of the week.
Allegedly, the IOC rejected Nechkasova because she was not on the national team roster at the beginning of the winter. However, she earned her first World Cup start at the final weekend of racing before the Olympics, and placed 59th in the sprint before racing her way up to 31st in the pursuit. Since then, she has been at European Championships, where she placed fourth in the individual and fifth in the sprint.
Instead, Russia is trying to substitute Olga Podchufarova. Podchufarova, a World Junior Champion last year, has not competed in any World Cup events so far this season. However, she did have two top-ten results at European Championships over the weekend.
Podchufarova is expected to act as an alternate. Accordingly, she will compete in the IBU Cup competitions in Brezno-Osrblie, Slovakia, this weekend, before joining the Russian team in Sochi once the first weekend of racing is complete.No comments
February 3rd, 2014
Anna Kubek started things off for the U.S. juniors in outstanding fashion today in the Open European Championships mixed relay in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
Kubek, of Mount Itasca Biathlon, cleaned her prone stage to leave in first place. In standing, she used a single spare round and sat in second, just 3 seconds behind Anastasiya Evsyunina of Russia. Kubek closed the gap by the time she tagged off, lagging by just 1.3 seconds after her six kilometers of racing.
Throughout the entire relay, men and women, only Evsyunina herself – who was also the gold medalist in the individual competition – and Andriy Dotsenko of the winning Ukraine team could match Kubek’s shooting accuracy. In fact, over half the competitors skied at least one penalty loop, even after using their three designated spare rounds in each stage. Kubek also had the second-fastest ski time of all first-leg skiers.
From there the U.S. began to encounter problems as Kelsey Dickinson needed all three spares to clean her targets in prone, and then racked up three penalty loops in standing. The team dropped to 4:43 behind the leaders. Jakob Ellingson added to that tally, with three penalty loops of his own; after Brian Halligan needed three penalty loops in standing, the team was pulled from the race as the leaders lapped them. The U.S. was in 11th place at the time.
They weren’t the only ones to have problems, however. Several teams matched their number of spare rounds, and in fact all but the top four teams were lapped and pulled from the race.
Ukraine took a hard-fought 11-second victory over Russia thanks to anchor leg Artem Tyshchenko, who used one less spare round than Russian anchor Alexander Povarnitsyn. Estonia placed third, 3 and a half minutes back, and Finland fourth, just over five minutes back.
Norway, Sweden, and Germany did not bring teams, nor did Canada have enough juniors on the trip to fill a roster.No comments
February 1st, 2014
Racing continued today in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, the site of Open European/Under-26 Championships for biathlon.
Scott Gow again led Canada in the men’s 10 k sprint, placing 22nd with two penalties. The competition was fierce at the top: Lars Helge Birkeland from Norway cleaned all ten targets to earn a 6.8-second lead over Maxim Tsvetkov of Russia, who had one penalty but faster skiing. Andrejs Rastorguyevs of Latvia and David Komatz of Austria tied for third, 28.4 seconds behind Birkeland.
Casey Smith and Wynn Roberts of the United States placed 30th and 38th with one and two penalties, and will join Gow and the rest of the top 60 competitors in the pursuit on Monday. For Canada, Jasper Mackenzie, Vincent Blais, and Andrew Chisholm placed 65th, 66th, and 68th.
In the women’s 7.5 k sprint, Marte Olsbu took the gold for Norway, narrowly beating Victoria Padial Hernandez of Spain. Olsbu had two penalties to Hernandez’s clean shooting, but prevailed by 1.2 seconds. Nevertheless, it was the first international biathlon medal for Spain. Iana Bondar of Ukraine, Sophie Boilley of France, and Galina Nechkasova of Russia were the next finishers, all placing within ten seconds of Olsbu.
Audrey Vaillancourt was the top Canadian in 23rd place with one penalty. Emma Lunder and Emma Lodge placed 48th and 59th. No Americans competed.No comments
January 31st, 2014
Anna Kubek (Mount Itasca) had the top North American performance at today’s junior sprint races in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, which are part of the Open European Championships weekend.
Kubek raced to 19th place in the junior women’s 7.5 k sprint, collecting four penalties and finishing 2:15 behind winner Tuuli Tomingas of Estonia. Kubek actually tied for 19th with Yuliya Bryhynets of Ukraine.
Also in the junior women’s race, Erin Yungblut placed 27th for Canada with two penalties, and Kelsey Dickinson rounded out the U.S. tally with 58th place and eight penalties. All three women will start the pursuit which comes next on the schedule.
In the junior men’s 10 k sprint, Matthew Hudec of Canada placed 24th with just one penalty. That landed him 1:54 behind Raman Yaliotnau of Belarus, the race winner. Brett Davie and Arthur Roots skied virtually identical races, each taking a penalty in each stage and finishing two seconds apart in 39th and 40th. Christian Gow placed 46th with six penalties.
For the U.S., Jakob Ellingson led the way in 44th with four penalties, followed by Brian Halligan in 49th and Paul Everett in 62nd. All except Everett qualified for the pursuit.No comments
January 29th, 2014
The IBU is reporting that three athletes, who they decline to identify, have failed anti-doping tests. The athletes are from Russia and Lithuania, and the tests were carried out at Annency, France, the last World Cup before the holiday break, and in Oberhof, Germany, the first World Cup after New Years. Only the “A” samples have been tested, and the IBU has issued provisional suspensions just 10 days before the Olympic Games begin in Sochi, Russia. The substances for which the athletes tested positive were also not named.
It is unclear whether all the athletes were headed to Sochi or not, as Russia travels with a larger World Cup quota than it will be able to bring to the Olympics. Likewise, Lithuania can send just one man and one woman to Sochi, but started four racers total in Annency. Biathlonnews.com reports that the Lithuanian athlete was not part of their Olympic delegation, but this can’t be confirmed until the names are released.
The Lithuanian biathlon federation president, Arunas Daugirdas, released the following statement: ““Lithuania biathlon federation has signed the Anti-Doping Convention, and we follow it. I, as President of the Federation, I believe that the Lithuanian athletes are honest and hard working to glorify our country.”
Star athletes such as Martin Fourcade have condemned the positive tests.
The last time the IBU issued a sanction was in the case of Oksana Khvostenko, who claimed to have taken cold medicine without realizing that it contained ephedrine. The substance is not considered particularly performance-enhancing, and Khvostenko was handed a one-year ban, however the Ukrainian women lost their silver medal from that year’s World Championships relay.1 comment