December 8th, 2013
HOCHFILZEN, Austria – Rosanna Crawford (above), Zina Kocher, and Megan Imrie started today’s World Cup 10 k pursuit with high hopes. After finishing Friday’s sprint in 17th position, Crawford had a shot at the top ten, if she played her cards right.
Things didn’t start off well for Crawford, however, who collected a penalty in the first prone stage and then three in the next. With clean shooting in both standing stages, she was able to claw her way up to 26th and salvage some World Cup points.
Her teammates had similar shooting woes. Megan Imrie’s five penalties dropped her from 35th to 45th, and Zina Kocher’s 10 left her in 57th place, over six minutes behind winner Synnøve Solemdal of Norway, despite starting in 25th.
“Shooting conditions are perfect,” head coach Matthias Ahrens said after the third stage. “I am not sure what is going on. Maybe they got a little too excited with the pursuit start.”No comments
December 7th, 2013
The Ukrainian women’s team raced to a very convincing victory in the 4 x 6 k World Cup relay in Hochfilzen, Austria, today, winning by 56 seconds over the Germans. Juliya Dzhyma, Vita Semerenko, Valj Semerenko, and Olena Pidhrushna combined to use just three spare rounds over eight shooting bouts. Pidhrushna collected a Ukrainian flag as she skied into the stadium to finish out the anchor leg, and the blue and yellow streamed behind her as the crowd cheered.
Laura Dahlmeier of Germany, last year’s World Junior Champion, anchored the Germans and outbattled Anais Bescond of France with a sprint nearing the end of the final loop. Russia, which had been in podium position, suffered a setback when veteran anchor leg racer Olga Zaitseva had to hit the penalty loop after her standing shooting. That allowed France and Germany to pass, and Zaitseva could never quite catch up.No comments
December 6th, 2013
Rosanna Crawford led the Canadian contingent in the women’s 7.5 k sprint in Hochfilzen, Austria, today, placing 17th with two penalties. Zina Kocher (25th, two penalties) and Megan Imrie (35th, two penalties) also had strong days, while Megan Heinicke was frustrated with four penalties which left her in 70th, just outside the cut for Sunday’s pursuit.
The U.S. women also had a tough day, with none making the pursuit. Lanny Barnes, newly promoted from the IBU Cup, had the best shooting with a single penalty and placed 65th. The other three women all had four penalties: Susan Dunklee in 66th, Hannah Dreissigacker in a tie for 71st, and Annelies Cook in 79th.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the North American ladies.No comments
December 1st, 2013
“I have never seen so many people in the penalty loop at once!” American Susan Dunklee wrote in an email to FasterSkier after today’s 10 k pursuit was canceled mid-competition due to high and swirling winds. “At one point there was a colorful parade of about 30 athletes crammed in the 150 m loop. Parts of the course were so snow blown that I had to V1 around a downhill corner.”
“The whole experience was absurd.” Dunklee added.
Officials stopped the event after it was determined that conditions were unsafe and potentially unfair, due to varying conditions for the athletes. Additionally, several of the large pine trees lining the course have also blown down in similar wind events during recent weeks, landing on the course. The men’s pursuit, scheduled for later in the day, was canceled as well. Neither will be rescheduled.
Canadians Megan Imrie and Megan Heinicke were both in top 10 positions at the time of the cancelation. Imrie completed her qualification for the Sochi Olympics in Friday’s 7.5 k sprint and was looking forward to the remainder of the season.
“…Now the rest of the World Cups are stress free and I’m ready to really fly,” she said in an email to FasterSkier prior to today’s canceled event.
American Annelies Cook was also having a good day after a disappointing performance in Friday’s sprint.
“I fought really hard and I was glad that I could push on my skis today,” Cook said about Friday’s race in an email to FasterSkier. “But I felt pretty disappointed when I saw that I was in 55th at the end of the day. I have higher expectations of myself than that. Now I am just trying to look at the race and be happy that I get to try again on Sunday because it is a privilege to be competing.”
Indeed, Cook was having a good day today: “I cleaned prone in the first stage and passed about 30 people who were all in the penalty loop at the same time. So I went from about 55th place to about 25th. That was pretty fun.”
But by the next shooting stage, conditions had turned for the worse. “I sat there and sat there and sat there – waiting for the wind to stop blowing my body all around.” Cook continued. “I hit one target and I was totally in my own little world because I didn’t even hear the announcement that the race was canceled. …Finally my coach told my teammate Susan (Dunklee) to go to me on the mat and let me know it was finished.”
“Biathlon is a crazy sport” she added.No comments
December 1st, 2013
The crazy wind conditions that have characterized this opening World Cup week in Östersund, Sweden, continued today, with the women’s 10 k pursuit race being halted after the athletes had been through three shooting stages. The men’s 12.5 k pursuit, scheduled for later today, was also canceled. It was the second time competition scheduling has been affected by high winds, with the women’s 15 k individual moved from Thursday to Friday due to dangerous conditions. Several of the races, especially last Sunday’s mixed relay, also had especially high penalty counts as athletes struggled to hit targets in the unpredictable conditions.
Today’s races were canceled because officials deemed the conditions unfair (more difficult at some times than others, which would affect outcomes on the range differently for athletes coming in at different times) and dangerous. In the last wind storm, some of the pine trees lining the course fell down, which would obviously be very dangerous if skiers were on course at the time.
Racing resumes in Hochfilzen, Austria, on Friday.No comments
November 30th, 2013
Audrey Vaillancourt kept team Canada’s momentum going on the IBU Cup by snatching a third-place finish in the 7.5 k sprint in Beitostolen, Norway, today. Cleaning all ten targets, Vaillancourt, a 2013 World Championships team member, finished 27 seconds behind Svetlana Sleptsova of Russia, a six-time World Cup winner who is trying to get back to the Sochi Olympics.
Julia Ransom also had an excellent day for Canada, placing 14th with one penalty and Lanny Barnes of the United States was close behind in 16th. Claude Godbout of Canada placed 36th.
In the men’s race, Marc-Andre Bedard placed ninth for another strong finish for Canada; it’s his second top-ten in four races so far on the circuit. Brendan Green placed 28th, Macx Davies 45th, Scott Gow 52nd, and Christian Gow 87th. The lone U.S. entrant, Jay Hakkinen, finished 44th.No comments
November 30th, 2013
In the Östersund World Cup sprint today, Martin Fourcade (FRA) picked up his second consecutive win while Tim Burke (USA) made his first podium of the season in the 10 k sprint. Fourcade won by 6.5 seconds over Fredrik Lindström of Sweden despite a penalty; Lindström and Burke were clean. Burke was 31.3 seconds behind the winner.
Today’s results will be the basis of a 12.5 k pursuit tomorrow to finish up the weekend of racing.
Stay tuned for a full race report.No comments
November 28th, 2013
Jean Philippe Le Guellec of Canada opened the World Cup season with a fourth-place finish in the 20 k individual in Ostersund, Sweden, this afternoon. Sitting in third for much of the race, he was bumped off the podium by late starter Simon Eder of Austria. Le Guellec missed one shot and finished 25 seconds out of second place. Martin Fourcade of France raced to a huge victory, cleaning all four stages and winning by over two minutes.
Nathan Smith, also of Canada, placed 16th with three penalties, and Lowell Bailey of the United States placed 19th with two penalties.
Stay tuned for a detailed writeup of this and the women’s 15 k individual, which was won by Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic.No comments
November 27th, 2013
Wednesday evening’s 15 k individual biathlon competition in Ostersund was postponed by jury decision until Thursday afternoon. According to the IBU Facebook page, the stadium was hit with sleet and heavy winds just as the competition was about to start. The race has been rescheduled for 1:15 p.m. (CET) on Nov. 28.
The jury cited athlete safety as the primary reason for the change. The first skiers were headed to the start when the wind hit, blowing over tents and ripping banners free.
November 24th, 2013
It wasn’t the start the North American biathlon teams were hoping for in Östersund, Sweden – but hey, conditions were tough. Canada placed 11th and the United States 12th in the opening World Cup race of the season, a mixed relay, after each spent some serious time in the penalty loop. They weren’t alone: only two teams avoided the penalty loop, and both were rewarded with a podium (main article here).
As Canada’s Rosanna Crawford said, in a tweet: “The Canada vs. US relay battles begin!”
It was not the best result either team has seen in the mixed relay, but it was an improvement over last season, when Canada placed 15th and the United States 16th in the same race.
Canada had a strong start from Megan Imrie, who finished sixth in an IBU Cup sprint just yesterday. She made the quick transfer from Idre to Östersund and was in third place after the first shooting stage, having cleaned the targets with no spare rounds. Even after using all three spares in standing, she tagged off in ninth. From there, Zina Kocher took over, maintaining that position with three spare rounds in prone. But standing proved challenging with the windy conditions and she had to ski two penalty loops, dropping the team to 12th. Scott Perras had a similar experience, doing fine in prone but skiing three penalty loops in standing. He tagged off to Nathan Smith in 15th position. Smith, who was on the IBU Cup podium in Idre yesterday, turned in a strong leg, using just one spare round and passing several teams to move up to 11th. Canada finished 4:19 behind the winning Czech team.
Annelies Cook also started off strong for the Americans, cleaning prone with no spare rounds and heading out on course just behind Imrie. But her luck ran out in standing, where she had to ski three penalty loops; the team dropped to 21st. It was a long but steady climb back up in a race that was so spread out that there was serious danger of getting lapped (only 15 of the 26 teams were allowed to finish). Susan Dunklee managed to limit herself to a single penalty loop, grabbing three spots for the team, and then Tim Burke turned in the best leg of the squad, knocking down all his targets and using only two spare rounds. (both in standing). He moved the team up to 14th. Anchor skier Lowell Bailey was stuck with a penalty loop of his own; he was in 11th until Smith blasted past him on the final loop.
“Not the result we hoped for, but a solid start to a loooooong season!” Bailey tweeted after the race.
In other news, both teams debuted new race suits. The Americans have the new Adidas suits with blue and red highlights – much like Russia’s new duds, but with lighter-colored arms – while the Canadians sport a subtle camo pattern on their tights.No comments