Wild Rumpus Sports

Anna Maria Nilsson, Others Retire; More Hires and Replacements

– Sweden’s Anna Maria Nilsson, age 28, has announced that she is retiring from biathlon. Nilsson had competed in six World Championships as well as the 2010 Olympics, where she finished 16th in the sprint. This season, she had her first podium, finish on the World Cup. Her departure, along with that of teammate and former World Champion Helena Ekholm, leaves the Swedish women’s team reeling.

“This week, I have always launched into my training again,” Nilsson wrote on her blog. “It feels strange not to do so this year, but also nice. It is the hardest decision I have ever made, but it feels right.” She will spend her time this year coaching disabled skiers.

– Magdalena Neuner of Germany announced her retirement long ago, but several more athletes are joining her and the Swedes on the sidelines. Among them are Lois Habert of France, Tomasz Sikora of Poland, and Herbert Cool of the Netherlands. Ronny Hafsas of Norway, meanwhile, will focus on cross country skiing.

– Norway has named junior coach Espen Andersen Nordby as its new men’s coach, with Roger Grubben assisting with shooting. Grubben is a former national team coach who has also worked as Ole Einar Bjørndalen’s personal coach; Norway hopes that the duo can return the team to dominance in time for the Sochi Olympics. They replace Mikael Löfgren, who left the team in April; at the time, Löfgren said that the split was amicable, but he now says that he was fired.

“If we look at the last four years combined, we’ve had a good run,” Nordby said in a press conference. “The ability of the team is clearly there. Roger and I probably have a few changes to make, but the basic philosophy is there and we will continue with it. It is important to create a good team spirit where we trust each other, while still daring to take chances.”

– Norway also named its national team, and Johannes Bø will join his older brother, World Champion Tarjei Bø, for the first time on the senior team. Junior Hilde Fenne was also bumped up on the women’s side.

– Austria announced that Remo Krug will be taking over as men’s head coach. Krug formerly headed the German men’s team, and most recently was in charge of Germany’s IBU Cup women’s squad.

– Eight-time World Champion and all-around French legend Raphaël Poirée has signed on to assist Klaus Siebert in coaching the Belarus team.