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Dunklee, Bailey, Currier Are National Champions

The U.S. biathlon season concluded this weekend, with Susan Dunklee picking up three national titles, Lowell Bailey two, and Russell Currier one as the domestic and World Cup fields converged in Jericho, Vermont. 90 athletes competed in the season finale, with an open and eight age group champions crowned for both men and women.

In the senior field, Dunklee dominated, picking up a 1:54.5 win over Joanne Reid in the sprint. Their World Cup teammate Clare Egan took third, +2:17.5. Dunklee’s win came despite three penalties; Reid and Egan each had four. Kelsey Dickinson of the College of Saint Scholastica took fourth with two penalties, the best shooting in the women’s field, +2:20.4.

In the men’s sprint, Currier of Maine’s Outdoor Sports Institute took the first win of the weekend by 10.8 seconds over Bailey, despite two penalties to the World Champion’s one. Leif Nordgren was third, +39.0 with three missed shots. Paul Schommer of the national team and Moose Biathlon was just a missed shot from the podium, +50.4 with two penalties.

In the pursuit, Dunklee missed just two shots out of 20 and extended her lead to five minutes, 18 seconds. Reid emerged in second place with five missed shots, three coming in the final stage. Maddie Phaneuf of the national team missed just two shots and moved from sixth up to third, +5:39.0. Egan suffered six missed shots and crossed the line fourth, +6:03.9, ahead of fifth-place Emily Dreissigacker of the Craftsbury Green Racing project (+6:29.8).

In the men’s pursuit, Bailey shot a perfect 20-for-20 and cruised to a big win of 2:22.5 over Nordgren, who had missed three shots. With six penalties, Currier held onto third (+2:37.7) and Schommer was again fourth (+3:12.3).

Finally, in the mass start Dunklee and Egan dueled to the end; Dunklee missed six shots and Egan four, but Dunklee managed to eke out a 7.7-second win over her teammate. Dreissigacker finished third (+1:20.6) with just two penalties, and Reid fourth with five (+2:07.3).

In the men’s mass start Bailey missed a shot in his first prone but was otherwise perfect, hitting 19 targets and picking up a 1:35.0 win over Nordgren, who had four penalties. Schommer finally climbed onto the podium — the first National Championships medal of his career — thanks to just three missed shots (+1:49.1). Currier was fourth (+2:33.4) and Travis Cooper of National Guard Biathlon fifth despite seven missed shots (+3:07.7).

Across age groups, the national champions are:

Sprint  (full results)

Russell Currier (Men)
Cody Johnson (Junior Men)
Marcus Gore (Youth Men)
Brian Bushey (Senior Boys)
Nate Livingood (Boys)
Jesse Downs (Master Men)
Eli Walker (Senior Master Men)
Robert Duncan Douglas (Veteran Master Men)
Patrick Brower (Senior Veteran Master Men)

Susan Dunklee (Women)
Hannah Streinz (Junior Women)
Grace Gilliland (Youth Women)
Anna Sofie Vylka Ravna (Senior Girls)
Natalie Teare (Girls)
Rebecca Anderson (Master Women)
Lisa Holan (Senior Master Women)
Martha Bellisle (Veteran Master Women)
Ildiko Hynes (Senior Veteran Master Women)

Pursuit full results()

Lowell Bailey (Men)
Cody Johnson (Junior Men)
Timothy Cobb (Youth Men)
Ethan Livingood (Sr Boys)
Van Ledger (Boys)
Scott Betournay (Master Men)
Eli Walker (Sr Master Men)
Robert Duncan Douglas (Vt Master Men)
Patrick Brower (Sr Vt Master Men)

Susan Dunklee (Women)
Hannah Streinz (Junior Women)
Kat Howe (Master Women)
Lisa Holan (Sr Master Women)
Martha Bellisle (Vt Master Women)
Ildiko Hynes (Sr Vt Master Women)
Chloe Levins (Youth Women)
Emma Stertz (Sr Girls)
Natalie Teare (Girls)

Mass Start full results()

Lowell Bailey (Men)
Cody Johnson (Junior Men)
Alex Kilby (Youth Men)
Ethan Livingood (Sr Boys)
Nate Livingood (Boys)
Jesse Downs (Master Men)
Eli Walker (Sr Master Men)
Robert Duncan Douglas (Vt Master Men)
Patrick Brower (Sr Vt Master Men)

Susan Dunklee (Women)
Eve Racette (Junior Women)
Rebecca Anderson (Master Women)
Lisa Holan (Sr Master Women)
Martha Bellisle (Vt Master Women)
Ariana Woods (Youth Women)
Anna Sofie Vylka Ravna (Sr Girls)
Natalie Teare (Girls)

North American/Canadian Biathlon Championships Recap

Race day at 2017 North American & Canadian Biathlon Championships in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Biathlon Alberta/Facebook)

The 2017 North American and Canadian Biathlon Championships were held as a single event last week in Canmore, Alberta, with sprints, individual races, pursuits, and relays taking place March 8-12.

On Day 1, Matt Neumann of British Columbia took the victory in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint, beating American Max Durtschi of US Biathlon by 18.9 seconds in 29:28.5 minutes. American Bill Bowler finished third (+46.5), and all three of the podium finishers shot 9-for-10, with Neumann and Durtschi missing a standing shot and Bowler missing one in prone.

In the junior men’s 10 k sprint, Pearce Hanna (Alberta) shot clean to win in 29:22.9, while Trevor Kiers (Ontario) finished 1:20.6 back in second with one penalty (0+1). Also shooting clean, Teo Sanchez (Quebec) finished third (+3:36).

Four junior women raced 7.5 k, with Alberta’s Darya Sepandj taking the win by 1:23.2 minutes in 26:40.8. Sepandj won despite four penalties (1+3), Emily Dickson of British Columbia placed second with two misses (1+1), and Caitlin Campbell (Prince Edward Island) finished third (+3:59.7) with six penalties (4+2).

Twenty women contested the youth women’s 6 k sprint, which Shilo Rousseau (Ontario) won by 1:44.8 in 19:55.0 with one penalty (1+0). Benita Peiffer (British Columbia) finished second with four penalties (2+2), and Gillian Gowling was third (+2:36) with one miss (0+1).

Thomas Hulsman (Alberta) shot clean in the youth men’s 7.5 k sprint to win in 21:52.4, 1:16.4 minutes ahead of Adam Runnalls, also of Alberta, in second place with six penalties (3+3). Quebec’s Youth World Champion Leo Grandbois finished third (+1:18) with five misses (3+2).

Sprint results

***

In the individual races on Thursday, March 9, Kurtis Wenzel (Alberta) raced to a 40.2-second win in the men’s 15 k, shooting four penalties (0+2+1+1) and finishing in 44:20.2. Neumann reached the podium for the second-straight day despite six misses (2+1+2+1), as did Bowler in third (+1:45.9) with six penalties as well (1+2+2+1).

André Boudreau (Prince Edward Island) won the junior men’s 12.5 k individual with 19-for-20 shooting (0+1+0+0). He finished in 40:04.5, nearly two minutes faster than anyone else. Charles Pepin (Quebec) placed second (+1:55.4), with five misses (1+1+1+2), and Kiers returned to the podium in third (+2:43.2) despite seven misses (2+1+2+2).

Hulsman raced to his second-straight win in the youth men’s 10 k, finishing with three penalties (1+1+1+0) in 32:11.2. British Columbia’s Bobby Kreitz placed second (+38.2) with four misses (2+2+0+0), and Grandbois repeated in third (+45.9) with five penalties (0+1+3+1).

Sepandj won her second-straight race as well in the junior women’s 10 k in 41:16.6 with eight penalties (1+3+2+2). Campbell placed second (+2:22.4) with seven misses (4+1+2+0) and Alberta’s Ashley Runnalls was third (+10:57.6) with 11 penalties (3+0+5+3).

Peiffer took the win in the youth women’s 7.5 k in 30:08.7 with five penalties (1+1+0+3). Rousseau finished 1:04.1 back in second place with six penalties (2+4+0+0), and Australia’s Gabrielle Hawkins reached the podium in third (+2:43.4) despite seven misses (1+3+2+1).

Individual results

***

After a rest day, racers competed in pursuits of varying distances on Saturday, March 11. Alexandre Dupuis (Ontario) won the men’s 12.5 k pursuit by 39.1 seconds in 37:43 minutes after shooting four penalties (1+0+2+1). Durtschi finished second with seven misses (2+3+0+2), and Wenzel was third (+1:00.1) with three misses (1+1+0+1).

Hanna pulled out his second victory of the championships in the junior men’s 12.5 k, finishing 23.6 seconds ahead of Kiers in second with a winning time of 38:42.1. Hanna had six penalties (1+3+2+0), Kiers accumulated eighth (2+1+2+3), and Lucas Boudreau (Prince Edward Island) reached the podium in third (+3:59.2) with three penalties (1+1+0+1).

Adam Runnalls won the youth men’s 10 k pursuit by 1:09.7 over Hulsman, finishing first in 30:54.9. Runnalls shot five penalties (1+1+2+1), Hulsman had three (1+0+2+0), and Alberta swept the podium with Sergey Bochkarnikov in third (+1:14) with four misses (0+1+0+3).

Dickson continued to ascend up the podium in the junior women’s category, winning the 10 k pursuit in 36:52.5 with four misses (1+0+2+1). Sepandj finished 1:12.4 back in second place with eight penalties (2+2+2+2), and Campbell was third (+6:02.2) with 10 misses (4+2+3+1).

Rousseau notched her second win of the week in the youth women’s 7.5 k pursuit, which she took by 43.3 seconds over Peiffer in 28:31.7. Rousseau had four misses (1+1+0+2), Peiffer missed five (0+0+3+2), and Alberta’s Anna Sellers finished 2:48.2 back in third with four penalties (1+0+1+2).

Pursuit results 

***

Sunday, the final day of the championships, was co-ed relay day. The men and women teamed up in the senior category for a 3 x 6 k mixed relay, which Alberta 2’s Wenzel, Zina Kocher and Tyson Smith won in 56:08.2. Both Wenzel and Smith shot clean, and Kocher had a miss in each stage (1+1). Ontario placed second (+42.1) with Kiers, Dupuis and Erin Yungblut. After Kiers had three prone misses, Dupuis and Yungblut shot clean. Alberta 1 finished third (+1:45.7) with Matt Strum, Jessica Paterson and Nate Gerwin tallying just two misses on Strum’s first leg.

In the junior 3 x 6 k relay, Alberta 1’s Hanna, Sepandj and Chad Berling won by 46.5 seconds in 57:34.8. Hanna and Berling cleaned while Sepandj missed three (2+1). British Columbia took second with Angus Tweedie, Dickson and Jarod Algra tallying just two misses on Dickson’s second leg, and PEI’s Team Spud was third (+1:06) with Lucas Boudreau, Campbell and Andre Boudreau all shooting clean.

British Columbia raced to the win in the youth 3 x 6 k with Logan Sherba, Peiffer and Kreitz, all of which cleaned, in 56:57.7. Ontario 1 was second (+30.5) with Olivier Gervais, Rousseau and Tobias Quinn shooting clean as well, and Alberta 1 bested three other Alberta teams for third place (+3:30.8) with Hulsman, Sellers and Adam Runnalls combining for six misses.

Relay results

Complete results

Dreissigacker Snags Top 30s on IBU Cup

Emily Dreissigacker led the way for the U.S. biathlon team in Brezno-Osrblie, Slovakia, last weekend, with a pair of top-30 results on the IBU Cup. The Craftsbury Green Racing Project athlete started with a 27th-place finish in the 7.5 k sprint, missing one shot to finish +2:22.1. She followed that up in the 10 k pursuit by collecting just three penalties and moving up one spot to 26th.

Germany’s Denise Herrmann won the sprint on Friday – her second IBU Cup win. The former cross-country skier failed in her bid to make this year’s biathlon World Championships on a strong German women’s team, but is still a force to be reckoned with. She bested Russia’s Daria Virolaynen by 18.6 seconds despite having one penalty to Virolaynen’s clean shooting. Among other North Americans, Canada’s Leilani Tam von Burg was 41st (+3:37.9) and Erin Yungblut 44th (+4:06.4), each with three penalties. Team USA’s Hallie Grossman finished 48th (+4:40.0) with six missed shots.

In the men’s 10 k sprint on Friday, Russia’s Alexey Volkov took a 4.6-second win over Norway’s Fredrik Gjesbakk. It was a close race with Russia’s Dmitry Malyshko third, +6.2 despite a penalty; Volkov and Gjesbakk had shot clean. Paul Schommer led the U.S. in 38th (+2:27.1) with two missed shots, followed by Jakob Ellingson 54th (+3:26.5), Alex Howe 57th (+3:31.9), and Russell Currier 65th (+4:30.1). For Canada, Carsen Campbell placed 41st with one penalty (+2:37.7), followed by Matt Neumann 44th (+2:49.4), Matt Hudec 49th (+3:07.4), and Aidan Millar 56th (+3:27.9).

On Saturday, Virolaynen had just two penalties to move up and take the 10 k pursuit win by 14.3 seconds over Lea Johanedisova of the Czech Republic, who had started in ninth position and cleaned every target. Herrmann was third, +21.2 with five missed shots (and the fastest course time by 52.5 seconds). Tam von Burg finished 35th for Canada with two penalties (+6:39.0), while Yungblut and Grossman were lapped.

In the men’s 12.5 k pursuit, it was an all-new podium with Kristoffer Skjelvik and Tarjei Bø of Norway going 1-2 with zero and two penalties apiece, moving up from seventh and sixth place. The result was enough to net Bø — a world champion and former World Cup Total Score winner who has been struggling with health problems all season, and had only just begun racing at the international level — a World Championships nomination. Timur Makhambetov of Russia was third, +14.6, after accruing just one penalty and moving from fifth up to third.

Schemer finished 39th with four penalties (+5:36.6) and U.S. teammate Ellingson moved up to 45th with three missed shots (+6:45.7). For Canada, Neumann placed 42nd (+6:13.9) and Hudec 50th (+8:02.5). Howe and Millar were lapped, while Campbell received a two-minute time penalty for missing a penalty loop. That left him 51st (+9:18.9).

Sprint results: womenmen

Pursuit results: womenmen

Open European Championships Finish Up in Poland

Alexander Loginov of Russia on his way to a win in the 12.5 k pursuit at Open European Championships. (Photo: Jake Ellingson)

Alexander Loginov of Russia on his way to a win in the 12.5 k pursuit at Open European Championships. (Photo: Jake Ellingson)

By Erin Yungblut

DUSZNIKI-ZDROJ, Poland — After a rough start for North America in the 15/20-kilometer individual races last Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Open European Championships continued in Poland with extremely high-calibre racing and tight fields for the sprint, pursuit, and mixed relays over the weekend.

Paul Schommer (United States) climbing to 48th place in the Open European Championships pursuit. (Photo: Jake Ellingson)

Paul Schommer (United States) climbing to 48th place in the Open European Championships pursuit. (Photo: Jake Ellingson)

With many World Cup biathletes donning bibs, the sprint fields were tight and fast with little room for error. For North America, Paul Schommer and Alex Howe squeaked into Saturday’s pursuit, placing 58th and 59th, respectively, in Friday’s 10 k sprint. The North American women were undone by shooting woes and none qualified for the pursuit — the downhill range approach made for good shooting overall in the field, but a few bouts in all the races over the weekend seemed to be affected by shaky legs in a number of athletes.

After some tough prone shooting, both Schommer and Howe shot well standing and moved up to to 48th and 51st in the men’s 12.5 k pursuit on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Eastern Europe dominated the the results in both the men’s and women’s sprint and pursuit, with World Cup stars or athletes returning from doping bans topping the podiums.

The Russian teams were a formidable force for the relays on Sunday, winning both the regular mixed and the single-mixed formats. The highlight of the day was a bronze in the single mixed relay for the home nation by Polish couple Krystnya and Grezgorz Guzik, as well as the very loud crowd cheering for the Czech and Polish teams in the range.

Paul Schommer and Alex Howe of the United States skiing together at the start of the pursuit. (Photo: Jake Ellingson)

Paul Schommer and Alex Howe of the United States skiing together at the start of the pursuit. (Photo: Jake Ellingson)

With two women at the championships, the U.S. did not field a team in the single mixed relay, while the Canadian sprinting duo of Sarah Beaudry and Aidan Millar sharing seven spare rounds to tie for the second-best shooting in the field. The pair skied to 13th place (+1:56.1).

In the regular mixed relay, the American quartet of Emily Dreissigacker, Hallie Grossman, Max Durtschi, and Jakob Ellingson all skied solid legs and avoided the penalty lap, finishing in 14th with nine spare rounds (+4:47.4). The Canadians (Erin Yungblut, Leilani Tam von Burg, Matt Neumann, and Carsen Campbell) had an exciting day, narrowly avoiding being lapped by the Russians; they tied the best-ever Canadian shooting in a relay with only three spare rounds total. With other nations and coaches joining in on the cheering and back-splits, they ended up 16th on the day (+6:39.9).

Most of the teams at now head to either to Osrblie, Slovakia, for the next IBU Cup, or on to Hochfilzen, Austria, for World Championships.

First Report from Open European Champs

A grey, calm day for the 15/20 k individual at IBU Open European Championships on Wednesday in Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland.

A grey, calm day for the 15/20 k individual at IBU Open European Championships on Wednesday in Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland.

By Erin Yungblut

It was a tough start to racing in Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland, at the IBU Open European Championships (OECH) for the North Americans. After a week-long hiatus from IBU Cup, the 15/20-kilometer individual on Wednesday was fast with perfect shooting a must for a decent result on a grey, calm day. The Canadians trained for a week on the fresh snow in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, while the Americans enjoyed a sunny week in Dobiacco, Italy, before the event. With some nations using the OECH event as selections for World Championships in February, there were many World Cup regulars racing. Every nation can enter six athletes at OECH, and the event is often considered the “world championships” of the IBU Cup level.

The Canadian wax technicians jokingly coined the individual on Wednesday “Russian Nationals” after yet another strong showing at the top of the results sheet by the Russian team. The IBU Cup is usually dominated by the Russians (with six in the top eight a common occurrence on the circuit), and Wednesday’s race was no different, with two athletes having recently served two-year bans for EPO use standing on top of the podium. The best North American women’s result was Emily Dreissigacker in 41st, while Russell Currier led the North American men in 51st. Both the Canadians and Americans had mediocre days on the range, with the top shooting being 18-for-20 for both teams.

The long downhill approach to the range in  Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland, at 2017 IBU Open European Championships.

The long downhill approach to the range in Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland, at 2017 IBU Open European Championships.

The range had only a few light breezes throughout the day, but the long downhill approach finishing with a short punch into the range was deceptively difficult for most, arriving on the shooting mat with lead legs/lower-than-normal heart rates. The course in Poland is wide and designed for TV with many long one and two-skate sections and only one steep climb. The snow was soft and mushy, deteriorating throughout the day, making for a lot of work with little rest.

Overall, the atmosphere in Poland is bright with the locals working hard to make the event happen without a glitch — despite a half-finished stadium building — and the spectators were loud and excited. At only their third event of the team’s first IBU Cup tour this season, the Americans will build on their decent skiing for the sprint, pursuit and relays this Friday through Sunday. With members of the Canadian IBU Cup team rebounding from the third illness to strike the team so far this winter, the Canadians hope to sharpen up their speed leading into the weekend as well.

The Canadian team is led by coaches Jacqueline Ackerman (Ottawa) and Jessica Blenkarn (Whistler) for the first time on this tour.

The Canadian team at 2017 IBU European Championships is led by coaches Jacqueline Ackerman (Ottawa) and Jessica Blenkarn (Whistler) for the first time on this tour. (Photo: Sarah Beaudry/Instagram)

US Biathlon Names Teams for IBU Worlds and Open European Champs

(Press release)

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine (January 21, 2017) – U.S. Biathlon is proud to announce the rosters for the upcoming IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria, beginning on February 6. The International Competition Committee also named the team for next week’s IBU Open European Championships in Duszniki Zdroj, Poland, beginning on January 25.

Below are the named athletes, including their previous World Championships and Olympic Games appearances.

IBU World Championships

Men

  • Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.) – 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016; Three-time Olympian (2006, 2010 and 2014)
  • Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) – 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016; Three-time Olympian (2006, 2010 & 2014)
  • Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.) – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016; 2014 Olympian
  • Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.) – 2015 & 2016; 2014 Olympian

Women

  • Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.) – 2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016; 2014 Olympian
  • Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.)
  • Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) – 2015 & 2016
  • Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.)

IBU Open European Championships

Men

  • Paul Schommer (Appleton, Wis.)
  • Russell Currier (Stockholm, Maine)
  • Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.)
  • Max Durtschi (Ketchum, Idaho)
  • Jakob Ellingson (Minnetonka, Minn.)
  • Mike Gibson (Stowe, Vt.)
  • ALTERNATE: Alex Howe (Gilford, N.H.)

Women

  • Emily Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.)
  • Hallie Grossman (Vermont)

The U.S. Biathlon staff and the ICC congratulate all of the athletes on their performances to this point in the season, and wish them continued success in Austria and Poland!

Phaneuf 10th in IBU Cup Pursuit, Gets World Cup Promotion

Maddie Phaneuf (U.S. Biathlon "A" team) on her way to a three-minute win in the women's NorAm mass start in Canmore, Alberta, in December. Phaneuf is now on her way to the World Cup. (Photo: Dan Guay)

Maddie Phaneuf (U.S. Biathlon “A” team) on her way to a three-minute win in the women’s NorAm mass start in Canmore, Alberta, in December. Phaneuf is now on her way to the World Cup. (Photo: Dan Guay)

Maddie Phaneuf (U.S. Biathlon “A” Team) made her IBU Cup debut for the season this weekend in Martell, Italy, and showed she meant business with a pair of top-12 finishes.

In Friday’s 7.5 k sprint, Phaneuf was 39th (+3:00.4) with three penalties. But she improved her shooting for the weekend, scoring 12th in Saturday’s sprint (+59.6) with clean shooting, and then moving up to 10th (+2:06.0) in Sunday’s 10 k pursuit with a single missed shot.

That earned Phaneuf a call-up for next weekend’s World Cup races in Ruhpolding, Germany. The U.S. has fielded a three-woman World Cup team all season, and besides competing in a sprint with the possibility of a pursuit, Phaneuf will also join Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan, and Joanne Reid for a relay.

“I’m excited to race the relay in Ruhpolding, the atmosphere there is amazing…so many people!” Phaneuf wrote on her blog. “I’m hoping to keep up the great shooting, and hopefully start skiing faster through the coming weeks. I’ve found that it usually takes me a few races to really get my ski speed up, so I’m not too worried.”

Friday’s sprint was won by Austria’s Fabienne Hartweger, who shot clean to take the first victory of her career. Also in Friday’s sprint, Siena Ellingson (Loppet Nordic Racing) and Emily Dreissigacker (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) finished 56th (+4:20.9) and 59th (+4:26.6) with three and four penalties, respectively. Hallie Grossman, also from the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, finished 68th (+5:32.1) with six penalties. The lone Canadian to start, Leilani Tam Von Burg, finished 58th (+4:25.6) with four missed shots.

In the men’s 10 k sprint on Friday, another first-time winner emerged: Andreas Dahloe Waernes of Norway, who had two penalties but held off Austria’s Nikolaus Leitinger by 9.6 seconds. Max Durtschi (U.S. Biathlon “X” Team) led the way for the United States in 41st (+2:29.0) with four penalties. Paul Schommer (+2:57.5) and Jakob Ellingson (+3:04.1) went 54-55 with five and four missed shots, respectively, and Alex Howe finished 78th (+4:12.5) with six missed shots. For Canada Carsen Campell led the way in 56th (+3:04.6) with five penalties. Pearce Hanna finished 74th (+4:00.3) with six missed shots.

In Saturday’s 7.5 k sprint, a new winner took the podium with Julia Simon of France shooting just one penalty. Dreissigacker again made the top 60, and again had four penalties. She finished 56th (+4:04.3) to qualify for the next day’s pursuit along with Phaneuf. Not making the cut were Grossman in 63rd (+4:31.7) with seven penalties, and Ellingson in 83rd (+6:49.4) with eight penalties. Erin Yungblut of Canada, starting for the first time of the series, had just two missed shots but still finished 64th (+4:38.4). Tam Von Burg accrued five penalties and also missed the pursuit, finishing 78th (+5:59.3).

In the second men’s 10 k sprint, former Junior World Champion Alexander Loginov of Russia collected a 44.2-second win over Norway’s Martin Femsteinvik, who shot clean. Loginov is coming back from a suspension for using the blood-doping drug EPO. Schommer missed six shots but still managed a 42nd-place finish (+3:20.4). Ellingson had two penalties to finish 47th (+3:29.6), also qualifying for the pursuit. Howe was 77th (+5:15.8) with five penalties. Durtschi did not start. Canada put Campbell in the pursuit: he had four penalties to finish 49th (+3:36.7). His teammate, Hanna, did not finish.

Come pursuit day, the Russians swept the top four places. Virolainen dusted Simon by 55.7 seconds despite both having three penalties. In between them were Irina Starykh – also recently returned from a doping ban and skiing up from seventh place thanks to just one penalty – then Victoria Slivko and Svetlana Mironova. Starykh and Phaneuf were the only two finishers to limit their shooting errors to a single miss. And of the two Americans in the race, Phaneuf wasn’t alone to move up with good shooting. Dreissigacker had four penalties and skied up 11 places to 45th (+8:10.9).

The men’s 12.5 k pursuit was dominated by Loginov, who missed four shots but thanks to the third-fastest course time skied to a 53.4-second win over Emilien Jaquelin of France. Schommer had six penalties but still moved up 14 places in the field, finishing 28th (+5:12.2). He was followed by Campbell in 31st (+5:23.2) with three penalties. Ellingson missed seven shots and finished 46th (+7:18.5).

Results: 

Friday men / women

Saturday men / women

Sunday men / women

IBU Youth/Junior Worlds Moved to Osrblie, Slovakia

After the Russian Biathlon Union voluntarily forfeited hosting rights to two International Biathlon Union (IBU) events last month, the IBU recently announced that Brezno-Osrblie, Slovakia, has been selected as the new host for its 2017 Youth/Junior World Championships.

Osrblie, which has hosted the IBU Cup as recently as last season, will host the championships from Feb. 22-28, 2017, replacing Ostrov, Russia.

According to Biathlon Canada’s Sarah Beaudry, who experienced in Brezno-Osrblie for IBU Cup racing, she wasn’t sure which other venues bid for the relocated Youth/Junior Worlds, but logistically, she felt it made sense. (Note: Beaudry, 22, has aged out of Junior Worlds.)

“…With a lot of Junior teams including both Canada and the USA already being in Nova Mesto for Junior Euro Champs it makes sense to keep it in Central Europe,” she wrote in an email. “The course definitely has some challenging climbs and fun downhills and the venue is on par with a lot of the other locations that I went to for World Juniors. The IBU needed to find somewhere to host a pretty major event that most venues plan for multiple years and I think it’s pretty great that Brezno-Osrblie is willing to do it on such short notice.”

As for a new venue for the IBU World Cup 8, originally slated for Tyumen, Russia, that decision will be “announced soon,” an IBU press release stated.

Currier 44th in Beitostolen Sprint, Re-Qualifies for World Cup

When Russell Currier (Outdoor Sports Institute) was selected to the U.S. World Cup team after a one-year absence, there was just one piece of outstanding business: he was no longer qualified for the World Cup. So that entailed an early-season trip to the second-tier IBU Cup to re-make qualification criteria.

Currier raced in the 10 k sprint in Beitostolen, Norway, on Friday to do just that. He was the only American athlete there, and traveled with one coach, U.S. men’s team coach Jonas Johansson. The one-day reintroduction to international racing was far from dull for the skeleton crew.

Currier faced few problems on his skis, cruising to the tenth-fastest course time.

“Ski speed was better than expected,” he wrote in an email. “Two days of travel and jet lag, a one-man wax team and not the best feeling in the legs had my expectations on the lower end.”

But Currier shot two penalties in each of his stages, with some added challenges in standing.

“I accidentally ejected a magazine,” he explained. “It proceeded to bounce off the mat and beyond the firing line. Normally there is a coach with a spare clip for in these situations… [but] Jonas was checking my shots [on a digital network] without having to be in front of a scope. So, I had to wait for a race official to figure out what I was yelling about. The official that came over had, coincidentally, five rounds on him that I was able to reload my prone mag with. Still, the winds were so obnoxious that hitting three of five with a 50+/- second rest didn’t help.”

Currier had to hurry his way to the finish and his time, +3:09.4 from winner Vetle Sjastad Christiansen of Norway, earned him 44th place and points of 111.85 – just sneaking under the 125-point cutoff for World Cup qualification.

The whole experience was a bit wild.

“There was some pressure because I didn’t know what to expect,” Currier wrote. “It had been so long since my last race with this field. After my standing stage folly, I was more nervous.”

But he has since rejoined the U.S. team in Östersund, Sweden, where he will compete in the World Cup 20 k individual on Thursday.

“The whole race could have been so much worse and so much better,” Currier wrote. “The goal was to do well enough to make the points and then be in Östersund with the rest of the team ASAP, so with that in mind the race was a success.”

Results

Dunklee, Bailey and Burke Shine at USBA Rollerski Nationals in Jericho

Susan Dunklee racing to a win in the mass start at 2015 US Biathlon National Rollerski Championships in Jericho, Vt. (Photo: Paul Bierman)

USBA A-teamer Susan Dunklee racing to a win in the mass start last year at 2015 US Biathlon National Rollerski Championships in Jericho, Vt. Dunklee won both the sprint and mass start at 2016 rollerski nationals in Jericho last weekend. (Photo: Paul Bierman)

Susan Dunklee, Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke took wins at the US Biathlon National Rollerski Championships in Jericho, Vt., this past weekend.

All members of the US Biathlon Association (USBA) A-team, the trio of Olympians outcompeted the field in sprints on Saturday, Aug. 13, and then mass starts on Sunday, Aug. 14.

Dunklee took a 13.3-second win over Joanne Reid of Colorado Biathlon and USBA’s X-team in the 7.5-kilometer sprint, despite four penalties to Reid’s one. A-teamer Clare Egan picked up third with three penalties, a minute and one second behind Dunklee.

In Sunday’s mass start, Dunklee again picked up penalties – this time five – but cruised to a 26.7-second victory over Egan, who had three missed shots. Reid made her second podium by placing third, +1:19, with four penalties.

In the 10 k sprint, Bailey dueled all the way to the end with teammate Burke, who started two bibs behind and shot four penalties to Bailey’s two. That gave Bailey the win by just three tenths of a second. Jake Brown, of USBA’s X-team and Moose Nordic, was third, +59.2 with three penalties.

In the next day’s mass start, Burke got revenge and took the win from Bailey by 24.3 seconds, despite four penalties to Bailey’s three. It was Russell Currier of the Outdoor Sports Institute (OSI) claiming the final spot on the podium, finishing third with seven missed shots, +2:29.4.

Results from the competitions, as well as another pair of races to be held in Jericho in October, will be used to fill a pre-World Cup training camp roster and the pick the team for World Cup 1. Dunklee, Egan, Bailey, Burke, Sean Doherty, and Leif Nordgren are pre-qualified; the rest of the field are fighting for top billing in a best-3-of-4 scoring system. The trials winner for each gender will attend the pre-World Cup camp, as well as up to one more athlete per gender to be named on discretion.

Results: Saturday | Sunday

Former IBU Executive and Son Suspended for Two Years

On Monday, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Anti-Doping Tribunal announced its ruling in the case of Gottlieb Taschler, formerly the International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) vice president for sport, and his son Daniel, who was alleged to have doped between 2010 and 2011 in an effort to make the Italian Biathlon World Cup team.

The two were found guilty of cheating after an investigation revealed Daniel, a 29-year-old former Italian B-team biathlete who hasn’t raced since December 2014, received “micro-doses of EPO cycles” administered by Michele Ferrari between late 2010 and early 2011, according to Neveitalia.it.

While a criminal trial is still ongoing, the father and son were found guilty at the sporting level and each received two-year bans until June 12, 2018. Daniel was suspended for violating Article 2.2 of the Sports Anti-Doping Rules: use or attempted use of a banned substance or method. Gottlieb, president of the Anterselva World Cup organizing committee, was suspended for violating Article 2.9 in aiding and encouraging the cover up. The two may appeal to the Court Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In December 2014, Gottlieb stepped down from his post at the IBU. He and Daniel were indicted nearly a year later in late November 2015. A well-known doctor in the doping world, Ferrari had already been banned for life for participating in doping activities by the Italian cycling federation, and also banned by the U.S. Antidoping Agency (USADA) for working with Lance Armstrong, among other American cyclists.

As Neveitalia pointed out, the ruling is a huge blow to Anterselva’s bid for a World Cup in 2020 or 2021. Gottlieb, 55, a former Italian biathlete, earned bronze in the relay at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

US Biathlon’s 2016/2017 Nominations; Plus Bonus Drone Video

On Wednesday, the US Biathlon International Competition Committee announced its nominations for the 2016/2017 national team and development groups via a press release.

US Biathlon also filmed the above “experimental aerial” video from biathlon nationals. Click here to see it on YouTube.

National A Team Women
Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), A 1 Team
Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), A 2 Team
Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.), A 3 Team

National A Team Men
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), A 1 Team
Tim Burke (Lake Placid, N.Y.), A 1 Team
Sean Doherty (Center Conway N.H.), A 2 Team
Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.), A 2 Team

X Team

Women
Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.)

Men
Max Durtschi (Sun Valley, Idaho)
Jake Brown (Houghton, Mich.)

National Development Group – Seniors

Women
Emily Dreissigacker (Craftsbury, Vt.)

Men
Patrick Johnson (Truckee, Calif.)
Paul Schommer (Appleton, Wis.)
Alex Howe (Craftsbury, Vt.)

National Development Group – Youth / Juniors

Women
Chloe Levins (Rutland, Vt.)
Amanda Kautzer (Plymouth, Minn.)
Claire Waichler (Winthrop, Wash.)

Men
Brendan Cyr (Caribou, Maine)
Vasek Cervenka (Grand Rapids, Minn.)

“The strength of the team can be seen through Susan Dunklee’s silver medal and the men’s team ranking 6th in the Nations Cup for the first time ever,” US Biathlon Chief of Sport Bernd Eisenbichler said in the press release. “Susan, Tim and Lowell are ranked 14th, 15th and 17th, respectively, in the World Cup and Sean Doherty made history with his three medals at the IBU Junior World Championships, becoming the most decorated youth/junior biathlete in the history of the sport. We are already looking forward to exciting competitions next season but, of course, there is a lot of work to do between now and then. That’s where our focus is today.”

Another Positive Doping Test for Biathlon, Possibly Meldonium

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced on Wednesday that another athlete has tested positive for a hormone or metabolic modulator.

It is possible that this substance is meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List on January 1, 2016. If so, that would add to the list of Olga Ambramova, the first biathlete to test positive for the substance, and later Artem Tyshchenko of Ukraine, as well as Eduard Latypov of Russia.

However, without further details from the IBU, it is not possible to say whether the positive is for meldonium or some other hormone.

The athlete has not yet been identified, with the IBU only specifying that the sample was collected during an out-of-competition test in March. The suspension is provisional pending a decision on the “B” sample.

The IBU emphasized that the athlete should not take part in organized sport during the ongoing disciplinary process.

“No athlete or other person who has been declared ineligible may, during the period of ineligibility, participate in any capacity in a competition or activity (other than authorized anti-doping education or rehabilitation programs) authorized or organized by any signatory, signatory’s member organization, or a club or other member organization of a signatory’s member organization, or in competitions authorized or organized by any professional league or any international-or national-level event organization or any elite or national-level sporting activity funded by a governmental agency,” the organization wrote in their press release.

 

Bailey and Egan Hold Solid for Pursuit Wins at NorAm Championships

NorAm Championship racing continued on Friday in Fort Kent, Maine, with pursuit competitions for all age categories.

In the men’s 12.5 k pursuit, Lowell Bailey held onto his lead from the sprint despite three penalties, all coming in standing. (A recent analysis by the blog Real Biathlon revealed that Bailey is the athlete on the World Cup with one of the biggest disparities between prone and standing shooting: in prone he hit 94.2 percent of his shots, but in standing just 79.8.) National team buddy Tim Burke missed only one shot, also in standing, and maintained almost exactly the same gap from the sprint: he made up one second to finish 48 seconds behind Bailey.

Sean Doherty again earned bronze, +1:39, after a successful World Cup season. Patrick Johnson of the USBA X Team moved up to claim fourth, +6:00, while Ethan Dreissigacker of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project shot three penalties to move all the way from eleventh up to fifth (+6:44).

In the women’s 10 k pursuit, Clare Egan of the U.S. national team cruised to a big win with three penalties. That put her 2:24 ahead of Joanne Reid of Auburn Ski Club and Colorado Biathlon, who had also finished as the runner-up in the sprint and had four penalties on the day. With three penalties, Annelies Cook of the U.S. national team moved from fourth up to third place (+3:31), followed by Maddie Phaneuf of the USBA X Team (+5:09) and Emily Dreissigacker of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (+7:38).

In the junior division, Brian Halligan won the men’s race and Hannah Streinz bested Caitlin Campbell by 2:31 of the women’s win.

In the youth division, Chloe Levins and Brendan Cyr repeated their wins from the sprint by 6:30 and 1:23, respectively.

The competition series concludes Saturday with mass start races.

Results

Morning races (including youth categories)

Later races (including junior and senior categories)

Bailey, Egan Win NorAm Champs Sprints

Zeroing before the start of the sprint competition in Fort Kent. (Photo: USBA/Twitter)

Zeroing before the start of the sprint competition in Fort Kent. (Photo: USBA/Twitter)

The U.S. biathlon community is converging on Fort Kent, Maine, this weekend for combined U.S. Nationals and NorAm Championships. For the first time in several years, the World Cup circuit ended a week before and the senior national team is in attendance, growing the size of the field and the prestige of the titles.

In the men’s 10 k sprint on Thursday, Lowell Bailey topped the standings in 25:07.3 with only one penalty, coming in prone. With fast skiing despite the long World Cup tour, that put him head and shoulders about fellow national-teamers Tim Burke and Sean Doherty. With two penalties, Burke’s time was 49.1 seconds back, narrowly edging Doherty, who had one penalty, by just half a second.

Casey Smith of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project was fourth, +1:48.0, followed by USBA X Team athlete Patrick Johnson, +1:56.9. Both also had one penalty.

In the women’s 7.5 k sprint, national team member Clare Egan missed just a single target to win in 23:29.3. In the first national championships competition of her biathlon career, Joanne Reid of the Auburn Ski Club and Colorado Biathlon finished second +1:33.6 with three penalties, edging national team-er Hannah Dreissigacker by 3.3 seconds; Dreissigacker missed just one shot.

Annelies Cook, another soon-to-retire national team member, placed fourth, +1:52.8, followed by the USBA X Team’s Maddie Phaneuf, +2:22.4.

The junior titles went to Brian Halligan and Hannah Streinz, while Brendan Cyr and Chloe Levins picked up the wins in the youth division.

Results:

Early races (including youth categories)

Late races (including junior and senior categories)

Gow and Vaillancourt Earn Mass Start Wins; Albertans 1-2 in Nationals Relay

Canadian National Championships continued over the weekend in Valcartier, Quebec, with mass start competitions for juniors and seniors on Saturday and then mixed relay competitions on Sunday.

In the men’s 15 k mass start, Christian Gow took his second title of the week, an 8.9-second win over fellow national team member Scott Perras. Gow had four penalties to Perras’s six over the course of four shooting stages; and crucially, one fewer in the final shooting stage. Matthew Neumann was also in the mix, finishing third with four penalties, +11.5. There was a break before Matthew Hudec crossed the line in fourth, +1:32.6, and Carsen Campbell in fifth, +2:19.7.

The junior men had a 12.5 k mass start, with Aidan Millar picking up a big win, a minute and six seconds ahead of Alexandre Dupuis though both had three penalties.

In the women’s 12.5 k mass start, Audrey Vaillancourt earned her first title of the week after being on the podium in both the sprint and the pursuit. With perfect 20-for-20 shooting, the Quebec native picked up a sizable victory, but the fight for silver was intense. With ten penalties, Zina Kocher stole second, +41.8 seconds, ahead of Emma Lunder, who had nine penalties and finished +43.9.

In the junior women’s mass start, Leila Tam Von Burg had six penalties but skied to a whopping 2:29.4 win over Charlotte Hamel, who had just one.

Youth competitors had to face individual competitions, also with four shooting bouts but with individual starts and one-minute penalties rather than a penalty loop. In the youth men’s 12.5 k individual, Youth Olympic Games team member Ben Churchill had just two penalties and raced to a 12.7-second win over Zachari BolducAdam Runnalls kept the race competitive, finishing +56.4 with seven penalties and the fastest ski time.

In the youth women’s 10 k individual, Megan Bankes shot three penalties to six by Emily Dixon, but was able to take the title by 32 seconds. Sarah Poisson-Gregoire finished third, +1:10.5.

Sunday’s mixed relays featured teams of two men and one woman, and Alberta swept the first two places in the senior category. The team of Matt Strum, Lunder, and Gow avoided the penalty loop and earned a 3:32.2 win over the second Alberta team; Tyson SmithKocher, and Millar had three penalty loops. British Columbia’s team of Arthur RootsSarah Beaudry, and Neumann picked up third, +4:39.2 with two penalty loops.

The junior mixed relay was won the Ontario team of Trevor KiersTam Von Burg, and Dupuis, with the Quebec team of BolducPoisson-Gregoire, and Teo Sanchez winning the youth mixed relay.

Results:

Saturday mass starts and individuals (for youth women, separate results)

Sunday relays

Canadian Biathlon Nationals Kick Off in Valcartier

Canadian national championships for biathlon kicked off in Valcartier, Quebec, on Wednesday, with national team veteran Scott Perras earning a national title in the 10 k sprint. With a single penalty over two shooting bouts, Perras held off Christian Gow – newly returned from World Championships in Oslo, where he earned relay bronze with the rest of the Canadian team – by 25.4 seconds, thanks in part to Gow’s two penalties. Also with a single penalty, Matthew Neumann finished third, +1:22.7.

In the junior men’s sprint of the same distance, Aidan Millar earned a 19.4-second win over Pearce Hanna despite three missed shots to Hanna’s one. In the youth men’s 7.5 k sprint, Adam Runnals won by 40.4 seconds over Ben Churchill, likewise with three penalties to Churchill’s one.

In the afternoon the women hit the course with Emma Lunder claiming the 7.5 k sprint crown. Lunder had three penalties, but was able to best Audrey Vaillancourt, who had just two, by 35.9 seconds. Fresh off the plane from World Championships, Sarah Beaudry placed third with three penalties.

Leilani Tam Von Burg topped the junior women’s field by a whopping 3:49.1 – yes that’s almost four minutes – with one penalty to runner-up Kendall Chong‘s four. In the youth women’s 6 k sprint, Megan Bankes claimed a 1:03.6 win over Sarah Poisson-Gregoire, despite four when Poisson-Gregoire shot clean.

On Thursday, it was Gow who turned in near-perfect shooting, missing just one of his 20 shots in the 12.5 k pursuit. With Perras collecting three penalties, the young Albertan cruised past his older teammate and took a 48.9-second win. Carsen Campbell passed Neumann to claim third, having just two penalties to Neumann’s seven.

In the junior men’s field, Matt Strum claimed the win despite four penalties, taking a 22.5-second win over Alexandre Dupuis. In the youth men’s 10 k, Runnals doubled up after surviving a challenge by Teo Sanchez, who climbed up from fifth to finish second, +5.9.

In the women’s 7.5 k pursuit, Lunder and Beaudry each shot a single penalty, but Lunder – starting in bib one – claimed the win by 32.3 seconds. With two misses in the final stage, Vaillancourt fell to third, +2:56.2.

For the junior women, Tam Von Burg missed a painful eight shots, including three in each standing stage, and was eclipsed by Chong, who had just three penalties and climbed to a 43-second victory. In the youth women’s 6 k pursuit, Bankes doubled up despite seven missed shots, besting Darya Sepandj by 7.9 seconds.

Competitions continue over the weekend with mass start and relay competitions.

Results

Wednesday sprints: menwomen

Thursday pursuits: menwomen

European Championships Roundup: Tyumen Pursuits and Mass Starts

Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold (left) sprints past Russia’s Anastasia Zagoruiko on the final meters of the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit race at the 2016 Open European Championships. (Photo: IBU)

Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold (left) sprints past Russia’s Anastasia Zagoruiko on the final meters of the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit to place third at the 2016 Open European Championships. (Photo: IBU)

By Harald Zimmer

It would be understandable if this week, Russia’s Anastasia Zagoruiko experienced the type of nightmare where you are trying to run away from someone, but your legs seem to idle and you just cannot gain any ground. The figure chasing her in her dreams might be a young woman in the bright red spandex race suit of the Norwegian ski team.

Saturday was the windiest day of the competition week at the International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia. Nadezda Skardino of Belarus managed to cope best with the difficult conditions, shooting clean in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit until the final standing stage, when she incurred two penalties narrowly missing her first and last shot (0+0+0+2).

Regardless, she came out of the penalty lap and back on the course with a small lead to Germany’s Karolin Horchler who had shot clean in her last shooting, and defended it into the finish in a time of 30:01.7 minutes.

“Today I felt much better than during the sprint [where she placed fifth],” Skardino told reporters, according to an IBU press release. “Unfortunately before the sprint I had a long trip. But during the last few days I got some sleep and rest. So today, I felt good and confident, and glad to win.”

Behind Skardino, Horchler held her position from the sprint to repeat her silver medal, finishing 7.4 seconds back, also with two penalties (1+0+1+0).

“Silver medal number 2,” Horchler later posted on her Facebook page. “I am extremely happy about my competition today, which was exciting until the finish. With this atmosphere and in this brilliant stadium it is just fun. Thanks to the whole team and to everyone for keeping your fingers crossed.”

Third place went to 19-year-old Norwegian Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, also a gold medalist in pursuit at the 2015 Youth/Junior World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, who, by her own account was racing in her international debut against “senior” athletes this week in Tyumen.

In an exciting finish, she still caught up to Russia’s 27-year-old Zagoruiko, who had left the range after the final shooting five seconds ahead and held a lead until the last split time. But on the final downhill Tandrevold got into the draft of the Russian, and sprinted past Zagoruiko on the finish stretch without even using her poles. Tandrevold raised her arms and screamed in excitement as she crossed the line 0.3 seconds ahead to secure the bronze medal (+14.1, with three penalties).

“My first sprint win ever, just at the right time!” Tandrevold posted on Instagram, according to a translation.

After the noise level in the “Pearl of Siberia” arena in Tyumen initially dropped in a bit of a shock, the fair Russian audience quickly returned to cheering for the remaining athletes as they came into the finish. Sprint winner Nadine Horchler, Karolin’s older sister, finished the pursuit in sixth place (+37.8) with four penalties.

While the race with 60 starters wrapped up, the narrowly beaten Zagoruiko was crying in the finish pen, and had to be consoled by teammates and coaches. The spectators tried to cheer her up by giving her the biggest round of applause during the flower ceremony immediately following the race, though they also celebrated Tandrevold when she jumped for joy on the podium.

Kummer Takes Gold in Women’s Mass Start

Déjà vu: Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold (bib 4) celebrates her bronze medal after beating Russians Olga Iakushova (bib 28) and Anastasia Zagoruiko (bib 3) in a sprint to the line in the women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start at the 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia. (Photo: IBU)

Déjà vu: Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold (bib 4) celebrates her bronze medal after beating Russians Olga Iakushova (bib 28) and Anastasia Zagoruiko (bib 3) in a sprint to the line in the women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start at the 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia. (Photo: IBU)

On Sunday in the women’s 12.5 k mass start, almost the same scene as in the pursuit a day before repeated itself: five athletes enter the last loop within about 30 seconds of each other, and in the finish a certain Norwegian junior athlete had sprinted her way from fifth to third place.

In strong snowfall, Germany’s Luise Kummer was able to defend a lead after the final shooting to win gold in a time of 36:05.1 with two penalties in the four shooting stages (1+0+0+1). She crossed the line 8 seconds ahead of Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova, who had three penalties yet reduced the gap to Kummer by 10.5 seconds, but could not quite catch up to her.

“It was both [wind and nervousness], and the third thing was that my legs were shaking so much, so I just had to take more seconds than normally,” Kummer said of her final stage in the press conference. “I think at the third shooting stage I was luckier than everyone, I just took that chance and hit all the targets. Today in the morning I felt really tired, but from the third leg I felt better and more confident, and in the end I was quite happy that I could win.”

A few seconds behind Kummer and Fialkova, Norway’s Tandrevold again managed to close a gap of 5 and 10 seconds on the final loop to Russians Zagoruiko and Olga Iakushova, respectively, as she had done in the pursuit the day before. She made use of her fast skis and technique for the best finish out of the final downhill to win the sprint to the line, and again claimed the bronze medal (+11.3, with four penalties).

Iakushova finished fourth (+11.8, with three penalties), and Zagoruiko was fifth (+12.8, also with three penalties), with the Russians once again losing their lead and the chance at a medal to the young Norwegian on the final meters.

It was the second medal for Kummer at the European Championships after a silver medal in the single mixed relay with her partner Matthias Dorfer, and also the second for Fialkova after a silver medal in the mixed relay for Slovakia. Both Kummer and Fialkova competed on the IBU World Cup this season, with a 14th place in the sprint in Canmore, Alberta, the best result for Kummer and a sixth place in the pursuit in Ruhpolding, Germany, the best one for Fialkova.

The speedy Tandrevold posted the second-best course time behind Russia’s Svetlana Mirova (who finished 11th due to five penalties), wrapping up a great week with her third bronze medal (single mixed, pursuit, and mass start) at the European Championships, where she competed against senior athletes for the first time.

Results: Women’s pursuit | Mass start

Babikov Outsprints Teammate Garanichev to Win Men’s Pursuit

Russia’s Anton Babikov lunges across the line ahead of teammate Evgeniy Garanichev in the men’s pursuit race at the 2016 Open European Championships. (Photo: IBU)

Russia’s Anton Babikov lunges across the line ahead of teammate Evgeniy Garanichev in the men’s pursuit race at the 2016 Open European Championships. (Photo: IBU)

At least on the men’s side, the Russian fans in Tyumen had plenty to cheer for, as Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev and his younger teammate Anton Babikov dominated the men’s 12.5 k pursuit race on Saturday evening, skiing fast and shooting clean until both missed a shot in the last standing shooting.

The race was decided only on the last meters, after Garanichev had gone on the final loop with a 0.8 second lead and Babikov right behind him. Down the final stretch both athletes raced next to each other, with Babikov winning the lunge into the finish by 0.1 seconds despite Garanichev’s best efforts falling to the ground as he crossed the line.

“On the final lap I understood that both of us had enough power, so there was no reason to try to run away from him,” Babikov commented on his race against Garanichev, according to an IBU press release. “So I thought we could have a good battle in the finish sprint. I knew how he can finish fast, I saw it from the previous competitions. At the same time I knew my strengths and I took advantage of it.”

“Yes, I noticed that Evgeniy made a mistake and unfortunately I cannot completely ignore those moments,” Babikov added when questioned about the last shooting. “But luckily I missed only one target as well. This miss will be a stimulus to work on that.”

It was the first time that Garanichev got beaten during a race in Tyumen this week, after winning gold in the mixed relay in a similarly close sprint against Slovakia’s Martin Otcenas and then also winning the individual start 10-kilometer sprint on Thursday.

Coming into the finish with a significant gap 46 seconds later, the bronze medal went to Germany’s Florian Graf, celebrating across the line after he had narrowly missed a medal coming in fourth place in the sprint and mixed relay before.

“Yeeees there she is!! The first medal of the season and then even at the European Championships,” Graf later commented on his Facebook page, according to a translation. “The bronze medal means a lot to me and I am enormously happy!!!“

Graf Wins Men’s Mass Start

Germany’s Florian Graf competing in the men’s 15-kilometer mass start at the 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia, on his way to winning the gold medal. (Photo: IBU)

Germany’s Florian Graf competing in the men’s 15-kilometer mass start at the 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia, on his way to winning the gold medal. (Photo: IBU)

On the next day following his bronze medal, things went even better for Graf in the 15 k mass start, winning gold in a time of 38:20.5 with only one penalty (0+1+0+0).

In easier wind conditions than during the women’s race, half the field stayed clean initially, and a fairly large group of eight biathletes remained close together until the third shooting. In the last stage, the leaders Germany’s Matthias Bischl (who finished sixth) and Austria’s Tobias Eberhard (who finished eighth) fell out of the top group with two penalties, while three athletes at the top remained clean and Russia’s Babikov only incurred one miss to return to the course in third place

On the final loop, Graf was caught by 33-years-old biathlon veteran Jaroslav Soukup of the Czech Republic making up a six second difference. But Soukup could not create a gap on the climbs, and with fast skis Graf was able to take the lead again out of the last downhill into the arena.

Seeing that he was unable to close the gap once more, Soukup stopped pushing hard and slid into the finish 4.1 seconds behind Graf to win silver.

Similar to Tandrevold in the women’s race, Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev managed to catch up to and ultimately overtake Babikov by skiing the fastest course time on the final loop (and third-fastest overall) to claim the bronze medal, 8.5 seconds behind Graf. After overcoming a 14.0 second gap from the last shooting stage, Iliev did not have to get into a sprint against the winner of the pursuit race on Saturday, who finished fourth (+14.3, with one penalty).

Graf crossed the line with a severely bleeding nose, though it was unclear what had caused the injury, and he did not elaborate on this in his first statements.

“I am very happy to be here today,” Graf said, according to an IBU press release. “It was a great battle with Jaroslav. I had only one mistake, so I am very glad about how I did my race. I did not feel so good, but was very happy about my shooting and skis.”

Asked about his experience in Tyumen, Graf added: “It is great place here, I really like it. I like the crowds, the public is very crazy, but in a good way, so I enjoyed staying and competing here.”

“Good things come to those who wait! I am so incredibly happy about the title European Champion in the mass start,” Graf later wrote on his Facebook page.

Garanichev skipped the mass start that he would have been qualified for, likely in order to get some additional rest ahead of the upcoming World Championships.

Results: Men’s pursuit | Mass start

World Championships

While the European Championships were the season highlight for many of the athletes competing in Tyumen, some will also make the trip to the World Championships in Oslo, Norway, beginning Thursday, March 3 with the mixed relay.

For Russia, Garanichev is sure to be on the team, but head coach Ricco Gross insinuated that he might add a few more of the young athletes, such as Babikov, who had very strong results during the last week of competitions in Tyumen.

Sisters Lead German Sprint Sweep; Garanichev Wins Second Gold in Tyumen 

Karolin Horchler hugs her sister Nadine Horchler standing on top of the podium at the flower ceremony of the IBU Open European Championships 2016 women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. (Photo: IBU)

Karolin Horchler hugs her sister Nadine Horchler, standing on top of the podium at the flower ceremony of the IBU Open European Championships women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint on Thursday. (Photo: IBU)

By Harald Zimmer

Three German biathletes swept the podium in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) 2016 Open European Championships, which are held this week in Tyumen, Russia.

That in itself would be a great result for the team, but not extremely unusual. It even happened this season at the IBU World Cup in Hochfilzen, Austria.

What made Thursday’s race more special: gold medalist Nadine Horchler and silver medalist Karolin Horchler are sisters. And for the older Nadine, it was her biggest success at age 29, being rewarded for years of racing on the IBU Cup level after her biathlon career had stagnated.

Karolin Horcher (left, silver medal), Nadine Horchler (center, gold medal) and Annika Knoll (right, bronze medal) celebrating the podium sweep for Germany after the medal ceremony of the Open European Championships 2016 women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. (Photo: Karolin Horchler Facebook Profile/Viessmann Sport)

Karolin Horcher (left, silver medal), Nadine Horchler (center, gold medal) and Annika Knoll (right, bronze medal) celebrating the podium sweep for Germany after the medal ceremony of the Open European Championships 2016 women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. (Photo: Karolin Horchler/ Facebook/Viessmann Sport)

At first, the 26-year-old Karolin had set the best time in the finish thanks to two clean shootings and a good course time that ultimately would be the sixth-best overall.

Then her older sister bested that time by 12.7 seconds, despite a penalty lap in the standing shooting and coming back on the course in second place, 1.7 seconds behind. But after a fast last loop Nadine crossed the finish line first to get the gold medal in a time of 21:53 minutes.

Starting late in the field with bib 62 and only two more athletes behind her, 22-year-old Annika Knoll shot clean and completed the German sweep (+28.5) with her first podium of the season. Knoll consistently lost time on the final loop after leaving the range just 2.4 seconds behind Karolin, but in the finish was narrowly ahead of Russia’s Anna Sherbinina (+32.0, with one penalty) and relegated her to fourth place.

“I knew I was second after the last shooting, but I felt really good on the track today, so I hoped to win,” Horchler said after her victory, according to an IBU press release. “I knew I was battling with my sister and it was a hard fight on the last loop. I am so happy about the podium; it is so cool to be there not only with Karolin, but also with Annika.”

“What a crazy day,” her sister Karoline posted on her Facebook page. “That was a great competition and the three of us can be all the happier together. THANKS and congratulations to the whole team.”

For Nadine, it was not only the biggest individual achievement of her career, after three bronze medals at European Championships in 2011 and 2012. A special kind of redemption for the biathlete was also that she won with the best course time (by almost 25 seconds over Russian Anastasia Zagoruiko, who finished 7th with two penalties). As was beating her younger sister in an important race.

At 29, Nadine had only been nominated once for Germany’s World Championships team in 2013 (where she achieved a 28th place in the individual competition, and only an 84th place in the sprint), and in the last three seasons, she had failed to make the World Cup team, only being called up sporadically.

According to her national team coaches, she was too slow on the courses and thus had to rely too heavily on flawless shooting performances to score World Cup points, much less get close to the podium. Her 1- best World Cup results all came during the 2012/2013 season, highlighted by a fifth place in the sprint and the following pursuit as well as a first place in the relay, all in a single week in Antholz, Italy. Then her career hit a standstill, and younger athletes including her own sister passed her by.

In 2014, doctors had diagnosed Nadine with “overtraining,” eager to qualify for the Sochi Olympics, which did not work out. She fell into “a deep dark hole,” as she later told a German newspaper in March 2015. “I could not focus anymore. It would have been easier for my head if somebody had found a virus or some kind of infection.”

But despite losing her “cadre” status which meant she had to compete as a self-funded athlete, she did not give up her biathlon career, and continued to race in the second-tier IBU Cup, where she finished third overall in the 2013/2014 season, and later second overall in the 2014-15 season.

“I sit here [at home] and have to watch the empty starting spot on TV. Sad but true as the leading woman in the IBU total score,” Nadine wrote on her Facebook page in March 2014, when a quota starting position at a World Cup in Pokljuka, Slovenia, was left unfilled by her national team coaches.

Many German news outlets immediately picked up her statement creating a bit of a media storm, as fellow former World Cup biathlete Kathrin Lang (formerly Hitzer) had also severely criticized the coaches calling their behavior “cowardly,” and the women’s team without Horchler and Lang had largely disappointed during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

“There surely will be a reboot, for which younger athletes will be preferred,” former German head coach Uwe Müssiggang told press agency SID back then.

Two coaches responsible for Germany’s women’s biathlon team got replaced after the 2013/2014 season, but that did not immediately help Horchler’s career either as other younger athletes surpassed her, spending another season in the IBU Cup.

For the current 2015/2016 season, she again tried to be on the World Cup team, but once more did not make the cut and was assigned to the IBU Cup, while her sister Karolin was picked for the World Cup team receiving starts in Östersund (Sweden), Ruhpolding (Germany, only for the relay), Antholz (Italy), Canmore (Canada, with a ninth place in the sprint as her best individual World Cup result), and Presque Isle (USA).

While Nadine Horchler most likely will not be a member of Germany’s team for the upcoming World Championships in Oslo regardless of her results this week in Tyumen (and probably neither will Karolin Horchler nor Annika Knoll), at least she can leave Russia with a big personal victory.

With her sprint win, Nadine has now also taken the lead in this season’s IBU Cup total score standings, moving up from fourth place before the European Championships which count for the IBU Cup.

Horchler has left open if she plans to continue her biathlon career beyond this season, after also completing an education towards a future career as a nonmedical practitioner for psychotherapy.

Veterans Garanichev and L’Abée-Lund Prevail in Men’s Sprint

Norway’s Henrik L’Abée-Lund (left, silver medal), Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev (center, gold medal) and Russia’s Anton Babikov (right, bronze medal) after the medal ceremony of the 2016 Open European Championships men’s 10-kilometer sprint. (Photo: IBU)

Norway’s Henrik L’Abée-Lund (left, silver medal), Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev (center, gold medal) and Russia’s Anton Babikov (right, bronze medal) after the medal ceremony of the 2016 Open European Championships men’s 10-kilometer sprint. (Photo: IBU)

In the men’s 10-kilometer sprint later on Thursday, the presumed favorite Evgeniy Garanichev, currently in eighth place in the overall IBU World Cup as the highest-ranked athlete among those competing in Tyumen and an Olympic bronze medalist in 2014, did not disappoint the expectations of his home crowd in the “Pearl of Siberia” biathlon arena.

Despite one penalty in his standing shooting stage, he claimed the gold medal in a time of 23:40.3 minutes thanks to his fast skiing with the best course time, ahead of three athletes who shot clean. A day before, Garanichev (age 28) had already anchored Russia to a win in the mixed relay.

“It is a double happiness for me to score the second win here, at the home stadium,” Garanichev said according to an IBU press release. “Today I managed to work good in the competition; yes, I had one penalty, but on the track I felt really strong.”

Regarding the upcoming World Championships in Olso, Norway, Garanichev added: “I’ve never had the competitive practices before the World Championships. Probably it is a small experiment and we will see how it works out. I will stay in Tyumen until February 29 [the day after the final competition] and then will go to Moscow where I meet my team.”

Coming into the finish a few minutes later, Norwegian veteran Henrik L’Abée-Lund, 29, secured the silver medal after losing some ground on the final loop but never taking the lead (+5.2 seconds, with no penalties), pushing Russia’s 24-year-old Anton Babikov to the bronze medal position (+9.7, with no penalties).

“I have never been in Tyumen,” L’Abée-Lund said, according to a translation of a press release by the event organizers. “It is a delightful [biathlon] complex. And the crowd here – just great.”

“I am happy with how I managed to shoot clean in the race,” Babikov said in the press release. “It was exciting to wait for the rest in the finish. I am very glad to be on the podium.”

Similar to Garanichev, Babikov already had won a gold medal with his partner Victoria Slivko in the single mixed relay a day before.

For L’Abée-Lund it was also the second medal in Tyumen after a bronze for Norway in the mixed relay. And it was his second gold medal at European Championships, after a victory with the men’s relay in 2009 in Ufa, Russia. He also won a gold medal with the Norwegian men’s relay at the 2013 World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

Germany’s Florian Graf came out of the sprint competition empty-handed, 19.6 seconds back in fourth place. He had started the race early in bib 4, and held the top position as 35 other athletes finished the race, until the two Russians and finally the Norwegian bested his time to push him off the podium.

Already in the mixed relay a day before, Graf had missed a very good chance at a medal by shooting three penalty laps as the anchor leg for his team with the two Horchler sisters and Matthias Bischl. In the sprint he redeemed his shooting performance with two clean stages, but in the end – especially on the first loop where he only recorded the 24th best time – he just was not fast enough on the course to get on the podium.

His teammate Bischl placed sixth in the sprint (+37.9, with no penalty), also missing a medal again.

Still, Graf was encouraged by his improved performance:

“I am totally happy about my 4th place today in sprint at the European Championships,” he later wrote on his Facebook page. “The result gave me self-confidence again after it yesterday unfortunately did not work out as I and my teammates had wished for. I am looking forward to the next race! Thanks for your support and the words of encouragement.”

Races at the Open European Championships in Tyumen continue on Saturday with pursuits for the women and men where the times back from the sprint will carry over, and conclude with mass starts on Sunday. Races as well as full replays and shorter recaps can be streamed live on http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/

Sprint results: Women | Men

European Championships in Russia: Home Team Tops Both Mixed Relays in Tyumen

Russia topped the podium in the single mixed relay at 2016 Open European Championships, followed by Germany in second (l) and Norway in third (r). (Photo: IBU)

Russia topped the podium in the single mixed relay at 2016 Open European Championships, followed by Germany in second (l) and Norway in third (r). (Photo: IBU)

By Harald Zimmer

In each of the next two seasons, Tyumen in Western Siberia, Russia, is scheduled to host an International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup. This week, the new biathlon complex that has been mostly used for local events and invitational races so far is hosting the 2016 Open European Championships as a dress rehearsal.

Just ahead of the upcoming IBU World Championships in Oslo, Norway, from March 3-13, most of the best World Cup athletes did not make the long trip to Russia, allowing other athletes to shine there for a highlight of their season.

The “Pearl of Siberia” (Zhemchuzhina Sibiri) biathlon arena in the fairly remote location in the middle of large forests is impressive, with broad tracks, stands for thousands of spectators, many floodlights (so races can be held in the evening to also fit the broadcast schedules of TV networks in central Europe), and a large utility building with a mirrored glass front. Everything might be a bit smaller than the Russian biathlon venues in Khanty-Mansiysk or Sochi, but it is already on a similar level.

On Wednesday, competitions began with a 13.5-kilometer single mixed relay, a fairly new format that is not yet a part of Olympic Winter Games or IBU World Championships. It is somewhat comparable to a team sprint in cross-country, with one woman and one man teaming up and interchanging after a prone and a standing shooting, each skiing two legs for eight shooting stages overall.

Russia with Victoria Slivko and Anton Babikov, two athletes who have been successful on the IBU Cup this season, created a large gap to the rest of the field early on by shooting flawlessly on the first three legs, to the joy of the home crowd in the stands that were almost filled to capacity, an impressive audience for a second-tier championship and a midweek race.

Slivko, who hails from Tyumen, shot clean in all four of her shooting stages on a range that features a difficult approach coming out of a long downhill section (somewhat comparable to the World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, but even more pronounced), which makes it hard for athletes to control their heartbeat during the shooting.

This performance gave Russia the decisive edge to take the gold medal. Only on the final leg, Babikov had to react to changing winds, and required two spares each to hit all his prone and standing shooting targets. He preserved a lead of more than 30 seconds, crossing the line in a time of 36:59.0, with no penalties and four spares.

“When I was shooting, I did not feel the wind and had no idea how the rivals shot,” Slivko said, according to an IBU press release. “I was only doing my work and did not pay attention to the others.”

“I think it is a good sign for Russia to start with a gold medal,” her teammate Babikov said. “Just knew we have to do a good work, but before the competition our thoughts were more about the skies, what pair we have to choose, because with each day the weather is getting warmer and warmer. Sure, the home stadium gives the emotions, which you do not feel in the other places. I saw that there are many [local] people here, in some way it was hard, but on the other hand, it is a useful experience for us.”

Germany started with Luise Kummer, an athlete who appeared at three World Cup weekends this season, including the single mixed relay in Canmore, Alberta, where she placed seventh. On Wednesday her race got off to a bad start, when she broke a pole on the loop out of the stadium and lost contact with the top of the field until the first shooting.

After requiring two spares, she fell back 25.2 seconds behind Russia, and with another spare in her standing shooting she tagged off in sixth place. Her partner Matthias Dorfer moved up to third place, and Kummer was able to keep it there with a performance more in line with her usual standards on her second leg.

Dorfer went out for the anchor leg in a close competition with Sweden and Norway for the podium and with good skiing and a clean final shooting, secured the silver medal, 37.9 seconds behind Russia, with a team total of zero penalties and seven spares.

Norway with Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold and Christian Vetle Sjastad had been just out of the podium positions for the first three legs. But with just one spare on his anchor leg, Sjastad still managed to overtake Sweden’s Tobias Arwidson who shot fine with two spares in prone and a clean final standing shooting, but only skied the 17th fastest course time on his leg. Thus Norway was able to claim the bronze medal, 52.7 seconds behind the winner, with no penalties and six spares.

The Swedes with Arwidson and his partner Hanna Öberg, a gold medalist in sprint and pursuit at the Youth Junior World Championships earlier this season, had been in second position until the final leg, but fell behind Germany and Norway to finish fourth (+1:09.2) with no penalties and six spares.

These European Championships are “open” which means also countries outside of Europe can also participate. Some non-European countries, such as Australia, participated. The U.S. and Canada did not send any of their biathletes, most likely because of the upcoming World Championships in Oslo in a week, as well as the high travel costs to get to Tyumen.

Russia as the host entered a full team, including a few World Cup athletes, but the championships are also an important event for some other countries that place a high value on it to determine future rosters as well as financial support. Junior competitions are no longer included in the event, as they had been in prior seasons.

Results

Mixed Relay

Russia also won the mixed relay at the first day of Open European Championships, ahead of Slovakia (l) in second and Norway (r) in third. (Photo: IBU)

Russia also won the mixed relay at the first day of Open European Championships, ahead of Slovakia (l) in second and Norway (r) in third. (Photo: IBU)

Later on Wednesday, with the new floodlights put to good use at 6 p.m. local time to illuminate the otherwise dark course through the forests, races continued with a 2 x 6 + 2 x 7.5 k mixed relay, with two women and two men exchanging, and all other rules like in a “traditional” relay.

Despite the popular mental image of a frosty Siberia, temperatures were still around freezing point and with low wind speeds — perfect conditions for biathlon.

The race was defined by crucial penalty laps, and a few countries opting to use some of their best athletes from the IBU World Cup, while most rather started members of their developmental teams.

To the excitement of the home crowd in the now even-better filled stands in Tyumen, the Russian team, with anchor Evgeniy Garanichev (an experienced biathlete who ranks eighth in the men’s overall World Cup standings) also came out on top in this race in a close fight with Slovakia for the gold, in a time of 1:10:56.3, with one penalty and nine spare rounds.

Initially it had not looked very good for the home team. Starter Anastasia Zagoruiko had a penalty lap in her standing shooting, handing off in 11th position and more than a minute behind. Her teammates Olga Iakushova (currently ranked third in the IBU Cup) and Matvey Eliseev (the IBU World Cup men’s leader) had to work hard to get Garanichev back into a position where he could even contend for the medals, much less the victory.

Second place went to Slovakia, a smaller biathlon nation that made good use of the lesser competition in this championship, by starting their four best available biathletes: Paulina Fialkova (ranked 32nd among women in the World Cup), Jana Gerekova (35th), Matej Kazar (37th for the men), and Martin Otcenas (72nd). Slovakia had no penalties and required just five spare rounds.

At the third exchange to Garanichev, Russia was still 42.2 seconds behind. Slovakia was in first place after the final shooting, but Garanichev came back on the course now only 5.9 seconds behind, chasing after Otcenas. On the last loop, Otcenas was overtaken but refused to be gapped, and tried to attack one final time out of Garanichev’s draft on the last downhill into the flat finish section, skating side by side with the Russian who did not use his poles and swung his arms wildly, which seemed not the ideal technique. But Slovakia’s brave fight ended with the silver medal, 0.1 seconds behind Russia as Garanichev lunged across the line first.

“I never was an anchor in the international starts before,“ Garanichev said, according to an IBU press release. “I was trying not to think about anything, was battling until the last meter and glad I could win at the finish line. When I left the final standing, I saw the back of the rival, so I tried to do my best to catch him right away and to overcome.”

Norway claimed bronze medal (+1:04.1) despite 12 spare rounds, with a team that mixed newcomers with an athlete with extensive World Cup experience, with 21-year-old Sigrid Bilstad Neraasen, Bente Landheim, 25, Henrik L’Abee-Lund, 29, and Håvard Bogetveit, 23. On the third leg, L’Abee-Lund, who has four World Cup podiums to his name and won a gold medal with the Norwegian relay at the 2013 World Championships, twice used all three spare rounds, but like his younger teammates, he managed to avoid the penalty lap.

Germany had been in first place throughout the race, fighting for the lead with Slovakia. Nadine Horchler, her younger sister Karolin Horchler (another athlete with multiple World Cup starts this season), and junior Matthias Bischl had moved the team into an excellent position by skiing fast — with the Horchlers posting the best course times on their legs- – and requiring only three spares combined. But in the final prone shooting, the experienced anchor Florian Graf (a Youth/Junior World Championships gold medalist, and member of Germany’s senior World Championship teams in 2012 and 2013) had three penalties, ending the team’s quest for gold.

Graf came back onto the track in third place with Norway’s Bogetveit nearby, and even managed to create a small gap again by only requiring one spare in his final standing shooting. But with his tired legs from the additional penalty laps, he had no chance against Norway’s anchor on the final loop in the fight for bronze, placing fourth and severely shaking his head in disappointment as he crossed the line, 1:13.7 behind the Russian winners, with a team total of three penalties and seven spares.

Races in Tyumen continue on Thursday with sprints for the women and men. Live races as well as replays can be streamed online: http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/

Results