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Gabriela Soukalova turned a slow start to the season around with clean shooting and an 18-second win in the 7.5 k sprint in Pokljuka, Slovenia, today. The Czech star, who won her first Olympic medal last season, intentionally took it easy on the sports in the off-season in the post-Olympic year, but appears to be back with a vengeance just four weeks into the season.

Dorothea Wierer of Italy finished second with one penalty and Valj Semerenko of Ukraine third with clean shooting.

Rosanna Crawford of Canada place fourth, bumping up her personal best after Sunday’s fifth-place finish in a 10 k pursuit in Hochfilzen, Austria. Crawford had a single penalty in prone and finished 36.8 seconds behind Soukalova.

Hannah Dreissigacker led the United States in a tie for 17th and Susan Dunklee placed 19th.

Results

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(Press release)

CANMORE, Alta.—Biathlon Canada will send an experienced lineup of athletes from across the country to the 2015 Youth and Junior World Championships Feb. 17-24 in Minsk-Raubichi, Belarus, following a recent selection race.

The governing body for the sport will send four men and two women for junior races, and one men and one women for both the youth races.

A veteran group of junior men making a return trip to the international dance include: Stuart Harden (Alberta), Matthew Strum (Alberta), Aidan Millar (Alberta), and Carsen Campbell (Prince Edward Island). The women’s squad includes Sarah Beaudry (British Columbia), who won a bronze medal in the junior pursuit last year. Beaudry will be joined by Leilani Tam Von Burg (Ontario).

Two athletes will make up Canada’s youth contingent this year. Pearce Hanna (Alberta) will be Canada’s sole male, while Bryn Robertson (Alberta) will race for the women.

“Biathon Canada’s three day selection process provided an incredibly competitive pool of athletes in contention for a spot to be named to these teams,” said Chris Lindsay, high-performance director. “This group of athletes represents the best young biathletes in the country. I know Canada will be well respresented in Belarus.”

Athletes earned a spot on the team following selection races held in Canmore, Alta. in early December.

“Many provinces combined their own Canada Winter Games selections with our Youth and Junior World Championship selection races which helped to increase the number of athletes in the selection process making for an extraordinarily diverse field,” added Lindsay. “The number of athletes involved is a best-ever for Biathlon Canada, and a clear indications that clubs across the country are producing stronger athletes. It is these development programs that are core to future success for our sport at the elite level.”

For complete results from the selection process, please visit www.biathloncanada.ca

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Gottleib Taschler, an Italian who serves as the Vice President for Sport for the International Biathlon Union (IBU), has announced that he is temporarily stepping down from his post until doping allegations against his son, Daniel, are cleared up. Wire taps as part of the investigation into notorious doping doctor Michele Ferrari depicted Daniel Taschler obtaining EPO in a bid to make the World Cup. Gottlieb Taschler is accused of facilitating the interaction.

The IBU released the following statement:

This morning Gottlieb TASCHLER sent a personal written statement to the IBU Executive Board, which states the following:

‘I have been shocked by the recent media reports alleging that I have been involved in doping and, even worse, that I have helped to organize performance enhancing substances for my son Daniel.

This is simply not true; I will offer my full assistance in clearing up these massive accusations which put both me and my son’s integrity at risk. To start with, I will ask officially for insight into the report mentioned by the media. I will then fully cooperate with the Italian authorities, FISI, and other relevant bodies to help clarify the situation.

In order to protect the sport of biathlon and the good governance of the International Biathlon Union (IBU), I will temporarily suspend all my current roles within the IBU. This is my personal decision; effective immediately and to remain in effect until these serious accusations are proven invalid.’

 

The IBU takes notice of this decision by Gottlieb TASCHLER”

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With back-to-back sprint wins at Canada’s NorAm and youth-junior worlds team trials last weekend in Canmore, Alberta, 20-year-old Sarah Beaudry punched her ticket to Hochfilzen, Austria, to compete in the second IBU World Cup of the season this weekend.

Beaudry, of the Biathlon Alberta Training Centre, won the opening women’s 7.5 k youth/junior sprint on Dec. 4 by 54 seconds over American Kelsey Dickinson (US Biathlon/Maine Winter Sports Center). She went on to win Saturday’s 7.5 k junior sprint with clean shooting, besting another American, Maddie Phaneuf (US Biathlon/MWSC) by 49 seconds.

With one more year of junior eligibility left, this will be Beaudry’s World Cup debut.

According to Biathlon Canada High Performance Director Chris Lindsay, Beaudry joins a World Cup team with four women (Rosanna Crawford, Zina Kocher, Audrey Vaillancourt, and Megan Heinicke) and four men (Nathan Smith, Brendan Green, Scott Perras, and Marc-Andre Bedard).

Canada also selected a team to race at the Alpin Cup this weekend (in place of the rescheduled IBU Cup 2 in Martell-Val Martello, Italy): Macx Davies, Scott Gow, Christian Gow, Carsen Campbell, Emma Lunder and Julia Ransom.

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On the final day of NorAm racing in Canmore, US Biathlon X-team member Sean Doherty overcame won the men’s 15 k mass start by 3.9 seconds over Casey Smith (MWSC), despite five penalties. Smith had three as did top Canadian Guillame Bertrand (Rocky Mountain Racers) in third (+32.3).

Clare Egan (USBA/Craftsbury) crushed the women’s competition in the 12.5 k mass start, despite four penalties, for a 2:34.4-minute win. Katrina Howe (MWSC) was second, and Erin Yungblut (BATC/Biathlon Ontario) placed third (+4:11).

Stuart Harden (RMR) won the junior men’s 10 k mass start by more than a minute over Matt Strum (BATC/Canmore Nordic), and Jules Burnotte (ACBQ/Biathlon Estrie) overcame six penalties to won the youth men’s 10 k by 53 seconds over Teo Sanchez (ACBQ/Chelsea Nordic).

Phaneuf (USBA/MWSC) had six misses as well, but topped the junior women’s 7.5 k mass start by 36 seconds ahead of Leilani Tam Von Burg (BATC). Bryn Robertson (Foothills Nordic) won the youth women’s 7.5 k with four misses, 11.5 seconds ahead of Ellingson.

Complete results

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Saturday marked the second of three days of racing at Biathlon Canada’s Youth and Junior Selection Trials in Canmore, Alberta. The races will determine the nation’s World Youth and Junior Championships team, but a few senior athletes have competed in the two sprints so far as well, including the team which Canada will send to the December IBU Cup races in Europe next week. 

According to Biathlon Canada High Performance Director Chris Lindsay, best two of three races count.

In the NorAm senior women’s 7.5-kilomeer sprint, Julia Ransom (BATC) bested American Clare Egan (USBA/Craftsbury GRP) by 38.4 seconds with two misses and a winning time of 23:14.1. Emma Lunder placed third (+1:00.9).

In the NorAm senior men’s 10 k sprint, Canadian national-team member Macx Davies beat teammate Christian Gow by 19.5 seconds in 26:16.5. Both had two penalties, and Matthew Neumann was third (+1:38.2).

Complete results

Alexandre Dupuis (Biathlon Alberta Training Center) won the junior men’s 10 ksprint with perfect shooting, finishing in 27:58.4 minutes, 11.7 seconds faster than runner-up Stuart Harden (Rocky Mountain Racers).

Pearce Hanna (RMR) had two misses en route to winning the youth men’s 10 k by 27.2 seconds over Jules Burnotte (ACBQ/Biathlon Estrie) in 29:48.8.

Junior women’s 7.5 k sprint winner, Sarah Beaudry (Biathlon Alberta Training Center) shot clean to top American Maddie Phaneuf (US Biathlon/Maine Winter Sports Center) by 48.8 seconds in 22:50.

Emily Dickson (Caledonia Nordic Ski Club) missed one before winning the youth women’s 7.5 k sprint by 6.3 seconds over Nadia Moser (Biathlon Yukon) in 24:37.4. 

Youth-Junior National Team Trials results

 

 

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Scott Gow (Canadian National Team) and Sarah Beaudry (Biathlon Alberta Training Center) won the first sprints of the NorAm weekend in Canmore, Canada, on Thursday. The races also serve as selection trials for Canada’s World Youth and Junior Championships team, but a few senior athletes competed as well, including the team which Canada will send next week to the December IBU Cup races in Europe.

Gow eked out a 1.1-second victory over Casey Smith of the Maine Winter Sports Center and the U.S. National Team, despite having three penalties compared to Smith’s clean shooting. Christian Gow placed third, 13.4 seconds behind his older brother, with two penalties of his own.

Beaudry bested the women’s field despite having one more year of junior eligibility under her belt. Her single penalty earned her a 54-second win over Kelsey Dickinson of Maine Winter Sports Center, who had two penalties. Sienna Ellingson of Mount Itasca placed third with one penalty, a minute behind Beaudry.

Full results, including detailed results by age category, are available at Zone4.ca. Racing continues on Saturday and Sunday.

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Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen celebrates a photo-finish victory over France's Martin Fourcade in the men's 15 k mass start at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen (l) celebrates a photo-finish victory over France’s Martin Fourcade in the men’s 15 k mass start at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

By Inge Scheve

Today’s biathlon competitions are the first individual World Cup races of the season, and the courses in Östersund, Sweden, are notoriously tough.

With the opening mixed relay behind them, World Cup biathletes have the 20- and 15-kilometer individual races next, starting with the men’s 20 k on Wednesday at 17:15 CET (11:15 a.m. EST).

Norwegian biathlete and four-time Olympic champion Emil Hegle Svendsen after racing a cross-country race in 2011 Sjusjøen, Norway. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Norwegian biathlete and four-time Olympic champion Emil Hegle Svendsen after racing a cross-country race in 2011 Sjusjøen, Norway. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen, 29, who is coming off an Olympic season he said was less than stellar (despite gold in the mass start and mixed relay), recently announced that he is planning to race every World Cup race this season, and he’s particularly excited about the World Cup opener in Östersund.

Svendsen, with five Olympic medals (including four gold) and 11 World Championship titles, is determined to dominate the podium, and he loves the courses in Östersund.

“This venue has pretty challenging courses, long uphills, and only a little bit of recovery on the descents,” he told NRK. “The entry to the range is fairly easy, but the conditions at the range are often challenging.”

While the Östersund courses ski well, they definitely separate the men from the mice, Svendsen explains.

“These courses have proven to suit me well in the past,” he said with a grin.

World Cup 1, Östersund, Sweden (Nov. 30 – Dec. 7)
Sunday November 30: Mixed 2×6+2×7.5 km relay
Wednesday: Men’s 20 k individual
Thursday: Women’s 15 k individual
Saturday: Men’s 10 k sprint; women’s 7.5 k sprint
Sunday: Men’s 12.5 k pursuit; women’s 10 k pursuit

Complete schedules, start lists and results

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After all that, and getting her name cleared, German skier-turned-biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle has decided to end her career as an athlete.

The Olympic gold medalist in the 2010 team sprint tested positive for a banned stimulant at the 2014 Games, and was barred from competing for two years. The Court of Arbitration for Sport recently ruled that excessive, and reduced her sentence to six months. She had already served that time, so would have been free to compete this season.

“I’m missing three months of training,” Sachenbacher-Stehle told German broadcaster ARD in an exclusive interview. “The past few months have cost me a lot of strength. People haven’t always treated me very well, either…. “If I had known this back in May, things would have surely been different. My decision would have been much different, but now it’s November and too late for this season, and that’s why my decision went the way it did.”

 

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The United States and Canada have named their teams for the opening World Cup competition tomorrow, a mixed relay in Östersund, Sweden.

Two women’s legs of 6 k each, with two shooting stages, will be followed by two men’s legs of 7.5 k each, also with two shooting stages. Last year Canada finished 11th and the United States 12th.

The United States will compete Susan Dunklee, Annelies Cook, Tim Burke, and Lowell Bailey.

Canada will start Rosanna Crawford, Zina Kocher, Nathan Smith, and Marc-Andre Bedard.

Race time is 15:30 local time, or 9:30 a.m. EST. All races are broadcast live at biathlonworld.com.

Full start list

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Biathlon superstar Martin Fourcade has been in the news a lot in the past few days, for various reasons. In the spring and summer he had talked extensively about his goal of representing France at FIS Cross Country World Championships in Falun, Sweden, in February, and had forged ties with the French cross country team to train better for the new discipline. But after having a run-in with mono, Fourcade has given up on that dream for now. He will stick to biathlon this season, although he says that “no doors have been closed” in terms of cross country skiing in the future.

In unrelated news, his hometown of Font Romeu has dropped its sponsorship of Fourcade, despite the two Olympic gold medals he brought home in February. The contract was reportedly worth 40,000 Euros per year, and the small municipality (the town of Font Romeu itself has only 2,000 inhabitants) says that it has fallen victim to economic hard times and can no longer afford the sponsorship. Fourcade has expressed regret, saying that he enjoyed representing the Catalonian ski destination. Being Catalan is a major part of Fourcade’s image – and perhaps partly explains his fiery competitive streak.

Finally, the star announced that he plans to spend six months in Norway next summer. Although he will be training, he says that the trip will be as much personal as athletic: “I didn’t have a chance to do Erasmus when I was a student,” he explained, referring to the European Union program that sends students on exchange semesters to universities in another country. He said that he hopes to discover Norwegian culture as well as train with the world’s best athletes.

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