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Fak, Dahlmeier Win Mass Starts; Crawford Crashes Out in Khanty Mansiysk

Darya Domracheva of Belarus finished fourth in today's 12.5 k mass start in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, and secured the first World Cup overall title of her career. (Photo: IBU Biathlonworld/Instagram)

Darya Domracheva of Belarus finished fourth in today’s 12.5 k mass start in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, and secured the first World Cup overall title of her career. (Photo: IBU Biathlonworld/Instagram)

The season ended on a high note for Laura Dahlmeier of Germany and Jakov Fak of Slovenia, who won the season-ending 12.5 and 15 k mass start competitions in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.

Fak shot a perfect 20 for 20 and went to the front after the third shooting stage. He skied the loop by himself, then calmly cleaned all his targets to finish up, skiing to an easy 10-second win. That also secured him third place in the overall World Cup standings.

This is a nice way to end the season and win the final event that I won the World Championship in,” Fak said in a press conference.

Tarjei Bø of Norway left the range in second place after the final shooting stage, but was caught on the trails by Russia’s Anton Shipulin. Shipulin left him in the dust once the pair entered the stadium, and skated to second place in front of a home crowd.

I only wish that I could have shot clean,” said Shipulin, who had two penalties and had to ski the fastest time of the day to make it up to second place. “It is always good to do well here at home, but I would have liked to won a race.”

Canada’s Nathan Smith collected four penalties to finish 17th, and Leif Nordgren of the USA picked up three penalties to finish 24th.

In the women’s race, things were marred on just the second loop by a major crash that snared at least a quarter of the field. On a fast downhill corner, one racer lost control and in the mayhem of trying to avoid her, others went down as well. Three racers fared worse than the rest. Weronika Nowakowska-Ziemniak of Poland lost a ski, which was eventually replaced; it cost her at least a minute and she went on to finish 24th.

Veronika Vitkova, a favorite to podium for the Czech Republic, also lost a ski. She began skating up the the trail on one ski, running with her other foot, until she could find a serviceman with a new ski. She returned to the race, but accumulated five penalties and eventually dropped out.

Canada’s Rosanna Crawford had the worst luck, with her ski running straight through the protective fence and becoming stuck. It was a painful way to stop from high speed, and it took help from several people to get her untangled. She did not continue the race.

With those competitors lost in action, the women’s field raced on. Darya Domracheva of Belarus took an early lead, but picked up penalties in the standing stages and dropped out of contention. Instead, Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic left the final stage first, and put a small gap on Dahlmeier. But Soukalova seemed to have used her energy too early, as later in the loop Dahlmeier drew even with her. Coming into the stadium, Dahlmeier put in a finishing sprint and dropped the Czech.

It was the second win of the season for the 21-year-old German, who ends the year ranked eighth in the total score.

I never thought back in August, October or even in February that I would win this race or any other this season,” she said in a press conference. “It has been a wonderful season for our team…Now I am ready for some holidays and no biathlon for 5 or 6 weeks.”

Marie Dorin Habert of France finished a solid third, and Domracheva fourth. That gave her the overall World Cup title, for the first time in her career.

For the United States, Susan Dunklee finished 19th and Hannah Dreisigacker 26th, each with six penalties.

results: men / women

Nathan Smith 5th; Fourcade Wins Last World Cup Sprint in Khanty-Mansiysk

 

Nathan Smith was back in the flower ceremony on Thursday, the first day of the final IBU World Cup stop in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, as the Canadian placed fifth in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint.

Coming off a silver medal at 2015 World Championships in the sprint, Smith had a single prone miss and finished 34 seconds after France’s Martin Fourcade, who shot clean and won in 23:47. Russia’s Anton Shipulin also hit all his targets and finished 13 seconds back in second, and Germany’s Benedikt Doll placed third with one standing penalty, 18.3 seconds behind Fourcade.

Latvia’s Andrejs Rastorgujevs cleaned and missed the podium by three-tenths of a second in fourth.

Smith finished 0.4 seconds ahead of Germany’s Arnd Peiffer, who was sixth, and 1.5 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Fredrik Lindström in seventh.

“I knew if my skiing came back up that a top-10 should be more than possible,” Smith wrote in an email. “I would say I actually exceeded my expectations a little today.  I would’ve been pretty happy with a top-16.”

American Leif Nordgren missed one standing and ended up 21st, 1:14 behind Fourcade, for one of his top-five career bests.

“I’m pretty surprised with this result today, and really happy about it,” Nordgren wrote, adding that he started to come down with an upper-respiratory sickness after World Championships in Finland. “… The last loop I pushed as hard as I could, I was definitely starting to die a little, but about halfway through I got caught by Shipulin and it was nice to have someone to hang on to for the rest of the loop.”

Canada’s Brendan Green placed 30th (+1:23.5) with one standing penalty, and Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke finished 51st (+1:54.2) and 55th (+1:57.3) for the U.S.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth race recap on FasterSkier.com.

Results

In “Tough Day”, U.S. Women 18th in Oslo Relay

Susan Dunklee skied a strong leadoff leg for the United States in the 4 x 6 k World Cup relay in Oslo, Norway, on Sunday, tagging off in sixth but just 25 seconds behind the leaders. Dunklee used a two spare rounds in the standing shooting stage, but skied the fastest time of all leadoff skiers to climb from ninth place after standing up to sixth.

“Lately I’ve been feeling physically run down and a little burnt out from a lot of racing,” Dunklee wrote in an e-mail. “However, as soon as the gun went off the skiing felt great and the hunger was there. The first loop was a blast; Andreja Mali [of Slovenia], my 7th row start buddy (way in the back) started passing people like crazy and I hopped in behind her. Halfway around the first loop, she was leading the race.”

From there the team struggled with spare rounds and penalty loops, and dropped to 18th place before being lapped and pulled from the race. Hannah Dreissigacker – coming off a career-best sprint on Saturday where she shot clean – Annelies Cook, and Clare Egan each had two penalty loops.

“It was a tough day for the team and we know we have plenty of room to improve going forward,” Dunklee wrote. “The skills are there for sure; I think the main thing is going to be getting everybody’s confidence levels in a good place. Luckily we’ve got two weeks [before World Championships].”

Dunklee knows a thing or two about getting confidence back. After finishing 11th in the 15 k individual competition on Thursday, she picked up four penalties in the sprint and finished 69th; prior to the sprint, her weakest result all season had been 41st during the very first weekends of racing in Östersund, Sweden.

But picking up the fastest ski time in the relay helped begin to put the sprint in the rearview mirror, Dunklee said.

“I didn’t want to go into the break with the off feeling that I had yesterday,” she wrote. “Today felt much more normal.”

The U.S. men did not enter a relay team today, as they have only three men in Oslo. The IBU Cup team returned to the U.S and Sean Doherty, who has competed in several relays so far this season, is busy preparing for World Youth and Junior Championships, which starts this week.

U.S. Biathlon Association President Max Cobb wrote in an e-mail that the federation will announce its World Championships team selection “early next week”. The World Cup is on break until Championships begin on March 5 in Kontiolahti, Finland.

Results

Green on Antholz Pursuit: “The Pace Absolutely Crushed Me”

Brendan Green had a career-best day in the World Cup sprint in Antholz, Italy, on Thursday, placing fifth. That made a dilemma for the Canadian biathlete: how to approach Saturday’s 13.5 k pursuit?

“I had anticipated that I would likely have to red line it to catch and then ski with [Jakov] Fak and [Benjamin] Weger on the first loop,” Green explained in an email.

In a five-loop biathlon race, that was a risky maneuver. The fast pace so early ended up catching up with Green, who couldn’t maintain the speed or his string of perfect shooting.

“The pace absolutely crushed me,” he wrote of the first loop, where he hung onto the two skiers ahead of him. “I still managed to shoot clean that first bout and leave the range in 3rd, but I knew the pace was one I wasn’t going to be able to handle. The second loop was hard and I was starting to feel blown up, but by the third loop I felt like I was able to settle a bit and finally relax.”

Green missed two shots in each of the middle shooting stages, but by relaxing later in the race he was able to bring things back together. He cleaned the final shooting stage and moved from the mid-20’s up to 18th, a position he maintained until the finish.

“From then on I felt like I recovered a bit and felt stronger as the race went on,” Green wrote. “It was a great experience to be in contention for the podium for part of the race and it was a learning opportunity for sure. I’m happy to have had that opportunity and hopefully next time I can stay in contention for more of the race.”

And as for the end of the shooting streak? By cleaning the first stage, he brought his tally to 55 straight hits on the World Cup. After that, well, it was natural that there’s be some error sometime, and Green says he still thinks he has what it takes to turn in more good performances.

“I knew my clean shooting streak would have to come to an end eventually,” he wrote. “It would have been amazing to keep it going for one more race, especially for today, but it was great that it lasted so long and hopefully I can continue to have strong shooting throughout the season. In talking with my coach Matthias after the race the misses sounded like they were very close with no big errors.”

Competition continues with relays on Sunday: “It’s been a really fun last couple weeks of racing so far and I’m looking forward to the relay tomorrow!” Green wrote.

Main race reportResults

Dunklee Sixth in Antholz Pursuit

Dunklee Antholz flowers

American biathlete Susan Dunklee (right) celebrating after finishing sixth in the 10 k pursuit in Antholz, Italy, today. Franziska Hildebrand of Germany and Marie Dorin Habert of France (left, center) finished fourth and fifth.

Susan Dunklee took Friday’s eighth-place finish in the 7.5 k sprint and turned it into a flower ceremony on Saturday. In the 10 k pursuit, she had just a single penalty in four shooting stages and skied the fifth-fastest isolated pursuit time to move up to sixth place. It’s a season-best for the American biathlete.

Darya Domracheva of Belarus started with bib one after winning the sprint and was never challenged, also missing just a single shot and skiing to a one minute, 21 second victory over Daria Virolaynen of Russia. Virolaynen started in bib 11. The battle for third place was an intense one: Dunklee, Kaisa Makarainen of Finland, and Marie Dorin Habert of France left the range together, fighting for fourth place. The pack stayed together for most of the 2 k loop, but Makarainen pushed hard at the end and caught Franziska Hildebrand of Germany, who had been skiing in third place. The Finn bumped her off the podium by just 0.3 seconds.

Hannah Dreissigacker, the other U.S. starter, moved from 60th – the final woman to make the pursuit cutoff – up to 42nd despite four penalties.

The two Canadian women, Rosanna Crawford and Megan Heinicke, finished 26th and 29th.

Results

Ukraine Biathlon Adds Lifetime Ban for Dopers

The Biathlon Federation of Ukraine President, Vladimir Brynzak, has decided that athletes convicted of doping offenses will be permanently banned from the national team. The decision reportedly comes after consulting with the International Biathlon Union (IBU). Ukraine’s biathlon team has had two major doping offenses in the last five years: the first when Oksana Khvostenko ingested the banned stimulant ephedrine in her cold medicine and the women’s team lost their 2011 World Championships silver medal in the relay; and the second last week when it was announced that Sergui Sednev had tested positive for EPO nearly two years before. His formal suspension has not yet been decided and his case is waiting to appear before the IBU’s Anti-Doping Hearing Panel.

According to a press release on the Biathlon Federation of Ukraine’s website, Brynzak writes:

I would like to inform the fans and all biathlon community about the initiative of our Federation regarding the incident with Sergey Sednev. We decided to unilaterally dismiss the athletes who were caught using prohibited medicine from the Ukrainian national team. It means that the athletes, in addition to the standard two-year disqualification by IBU, will no longer be able to become a part of the Ukrainian national team. We hope that such decision will influence those who will try to act dishonestly and discredit our federation. With this initiative we would like to emphasize the fact that we always support only honest competition, and encourage other national federations to support us.

It is unclear whether lifetime bans will stand up should an athlete appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The WADA Code does not stipulate that athletes can be banned for life after a single doping offense. U.S. sprinter LaShawn Merritt successfully appealed an International Olympic Committee policy that any athlete banned for more than six months for a doping violation could not take part in the next Olympic Games. CAS also ruled that the British Olympic Committee’s policy that athletes with a doping offense would never be able to represent Great Britain at any future Olympics was invalid.

Nevertheless, Brynzak hopes to move forward with the ban and hopes other federations will as well.

“This initiative was fully supported by IBU President Anders Besseberg and regards the unilateral decision to exclude for life from the Ukrainian national team all athletes who have tested positive for banned substances and were disqualified for a period of at least 2 years,” he wrote, according to the Italian website SnowAlps.com. “In other words, even once the disqualification of two years imposed by international bodies has ended, the doors of the Ukrainian national team will forever be closed. We hope that this choice will lead to reflection by those who attempted to pursue dishonest behavior and thus discredit on our federation. It is a gesture of good will and an act to emphasize that the Ukrainian federation to takes very seriously the fight against doping. We hope that other national federations will follow our example.”

Two Year Ban for Piksons in Norandrolone Case

After a sample collected at an out-of-competition test in September 2014 tested positive for norandrolone, a prohibited steroid, Latvian biathlete Edgar Piksons was handed a two-year ban from the sport by the International Biathlon Union’s Anti-Doping Hearing Panel, the IBU announced on January 15.

Piksons, a 31-year-old career athlete, had about six times the concentration of noandrolone in his sample as is allowed by anti-doping rules. According to the panel’s minutes, he declined to have the “B” sample opened, stating that “there was a very small possibility that the results could differ.” Piksons subsequently retired, and did not attend the hearing panel because of financial constraints.

The Latvian two-time-Olympian’s written statements to the panel are more humble and apologetic than in most cases. Though Piksons does contend that he did not knowingly take the steroid – as does nearly every athlete accused of doping, whether it’s true or not – he wrote that even if it had entered his body accidentally through vitamins or supplements “my blind trust and unprofessionalism are not reasons to escape the liability.” He concludes by apologizing to Latvia and the world.

In the panel’s minutes, the investigators note that Piksons wrote the names of two supplements, Riboksin and Meditropin, on his doping-control forms. Both are anabolic drugs. Piksons wrote in his statement that he was prescribed the drugs by a foreign sport doctor he met at the Summer Biathlon World Championships in Tyumen, Russia. He does not name the doctor, but said that he found the person trustworthy.

Concluding that Piksons was irresponsible, the panel banned him from competition for two years.

Over the course of a long career, Piksons had two top-20’s to his name: 8th and 20th place finishes at 2011 World Championships in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

Sednev Tests Positive for EPO (UPDATED)

This weekend International Biathlon Union (IBU) President Anders Besseberg told Norway’s NRK news service that multiple positive doping tests would be announced in the coming week, with athletes from multiple countries. It has been revealed that one of the athletes is Ukraine’s Sergui Sednev. This was initially reported by Norway’s TV2 news channel.

“The TV2 learned from a source central to biathlon,” TV2 reports. “A Ukrainian coach – who does not want to come forward with their name – confirms the information.”

The Biathlon Federation of Ukraine has since issued a press release:

“The International Biathlon Union (IBU) reported about the positive analysis of doping test A of the former Ukrainian biathlete Sergei Sednev. The positive sample was taken on January 22, 2013 in Antholz. After the initial inspection in 2013 Serguei had not been informed about the positive sample and only after being reviewed in December 2014 the discovery of an indefinite prohibited substance was reported.

“The Biathlon Federation of Ukraine, in accordance with Art. 6.5 Anti-Doping Rules IBU, conducted an internal investigation, in which the athlete was not able to explain or refute the use of illegal substances. The positive results of doping tests were unexpected because the Biathlon Federation of Ukraine is constantly working with athletes, coaches, doctors, and rehabilitators regarding the inadmissibility of the prohibited drugs use.

“The athlete was given the opportunity of opening the B sample, which would have cost 2,500 euros. But as Sednev had finished his carreer after the poor results over the past seasons, he decided not to conduct the further analysis.

“The Biathlon Federation of Ukraine supports the work of IBU and WADA and supports the measures that are aimed at ensuring the integrity of sports. We hope for objective decision of the IBU Anti-Doping Commission regarding this case in accordance with the Anti-Doping Rules.”

Sednev did compete in one World Cup race this season, the 20 k individual in Östersund, Sweden, where he finished 83rd.

Sednev is a 2010 and 2014 Olympian – his top Vancouver finish was 10th in the pursuit, and in Sochi he finished 44th in the sprint – and won a World Cup individual race in Antholz, Italy, in 2009. His presence this World Cup season was not particularly missed: he ranked 93rd in the World Cup in the 2014 season, and scored just nine World Cup points. It was very believable that his absence in the last World Cup races was due to performance, not a drug ban.

Sednev has been competing internationally since 2001. The biggest impact a disqualification of his last season of racing would have would likely be through relays and their effect on Nations Cup points. He was part of a 10th-place relay team in Annency, France, and an 11th-place team in Ruhpolding, Germany, in the 2013-2014 season.

The IBU has already suspended one athlete, Russia’s Alexander Loginov, based on the re-analysis of old samples using new analytical techniques. An additional provisional suspension was put into place on December 15, but the IBU did not initially release the name of the athlete, nor did any national governing bodies announce it. It appears that Sednev is the athlete in question.

On Saturday, Besseberg warned that more positive tests were coming.

“Because of new technology, we have developed new test methods that we can now test retest, and because of these tests, we found positive doping tests,” Besseberg told NRK. “I can not go into details on this here now. But we have positive samples and there is talk of athletes from several nations.”

It’s unclear whether he meant the suspensions of Loginov and Sednev – after all, Loginov’s suspension has been known for some time, but the two could be moving from provisional to final suspensions – or to additional, new positive tests.

Beaudry to Join Canadian World Cup Team in Hochfilzen; Six Headed to Alpin Cup

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

Complete results

Svendsen on Östersund: Separates Men From Mice

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

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

By Inge Scheve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete schedules, start lists and results

US and Canadian Teams for Opening World Cup Mixed Relay

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

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

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

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

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

Full start list

Makarainen Wins in Front of Hometown Crowd, Boe First Man in Sloppy Kontiolahti Sprint

International Biathlon Union Cup 8 was held in unseasonably warm conditions, with sloppy tracks and light winds characterizing the event in Kontiolahti, Finland. Hometown girl Kaisa Makarainen didn’t shoot clean, but she was fast enough to win (20:36.3, 0+1) on the 7.5-kilometer course, followed by Russia’s Olga Zaitseva (+6.1) and Finn Mari Laukkanen (+22.7), both of whom shot clean.

The men benefited from calmer winds but suffered sloppier tracks, with Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Boe shooting clean to take first in 23:33.2 on the 10 k course, followed by French star Martin Fourcade (+7.1) and German Arnd Peiffer, who had one penalty in prone (+7.2, 0+1).

Canadian Rosanna Crawford was the top North American woman, finishing 1:05.8 off the pace to take 13th, with one penalty in prone. Megan Heinicke’s was 15th (1+0), making two Canadian women in the top 15, followed by another Canadian, Zina Kocher, in 23rd (1+1). The top American was Hannah Dreissigacker in 28th (0+1), followed by Americans Susan Dunklee in 29th (1+3), Annelies Cook in 75th (1+4), and Sara Studebaker in 80th (3+3).

The top North American man today was another Canadian, Nathan Smith, finishing in 21st 1:05.4 off the pace, with one penalty in standing. He was followed by teammate Brendan Green in 26th (1+0), Americans Lowell Bailey in 29th (1+1), Tim Burke in 35th (0+1) and Leif Nordgren in 55th (0+2). Canadian Scott Gow was 59th (2+0).

Competition continues on Saturday with a pursuit.

Results: Men | Women

Schempp and Hofer Tie for First in Antholz Sprint, Green Eighth

In an interesting twist, German Simon Schempp and Italian Lukas Hofer  have tied in the biathlon World Cup 10 k sprint in Antholz, Italy with a time of 24:44.9 . While live-stream video footage initially showed that Schempp had won by 0.3 seconds, race officials soon adjusted the results to show a first place tie.

Arnd Peiffer (GER) finished third 4.3 seconds back.

Canadian Brendan Green had an excellent day after shooting clean and sitting in the lead for beginning portion of the race. He ultimately finished eighth, a career best result for the 27-year-old. His teammate Nathan Smith finished 22nd.

Americans Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke finished 19th and 50th.

Results

 

Bescond Wins First IBU World Cup, Dunklee Notches Fourth in Antholz Sprint

After cleaning both shooting stages and pushing hard to the finish in Antholz, Italy, Susan Dunklee (US Biathlon) enjoyed a moment as the race leader on Thursday in the IBU World Cup 7.5-kilometer sprint after edging Norway’s Tora Berger by 1.8 seconds with the fastest time. Not long after, she retained her spot on the podium in third after France’s Anais Bescond came through 10.7 seconds after with the eventual winning time of 20:30.2.

Germany’s Andrea Henkel finished moments later in second, 6.7 seconds back from Bescond, bumping Dunklee to third. Either way, it was still shaping up to be a career-best day for the American.

After Bescond, who had one penalty, captured her first World Cup victory, Dunklee ended up fourth behind Belarusian Darya Domracheva, who had two misses and finished 10.1 seconds back in third. Dunklee’s previous World Cup best was fifth.

Russia’s Yana Romanova placed fifth, with one penalty, 11.8 seconds back, and Berger was sixth (+12.5), also with one miss.

“I thought it was mistake, but I was happy to see my name up there,” Bescond told the IBU after the finish. “With one miss I thought it was not possible for the podium. But I gave my best on the skis … My skis were the key to my win today. The technicians did a good job in preparing them.”

Results

German Men Lose Biathlon Relay to Austrian Neighbors

relay start

RUHPOLDING, Germany – Yesterday, the German women’s biathlon team came oh-so-close to delivering a win for the home team in the relay. Today, the men came oh-so-closer.

Leading for several parts of the race, the Germans were skiing together with Austria and Russia on the last loop of the race. Dominik Landertinger (AUT) put on an aggressive charge over the top of one of the last hills, but after the initial surprise, Simon Schempp (GER) was able to stay with him. Schempp even passed over the top of that hill, and led on the fast and dangerous downhill into the stadium. The two dueled to the finish, with Landertinger throwing a leg across the line to earn Austria the win by just 0.1 seconds.

Anton Shipulin was unable to keep up with the pair, and brought Russia in in third place.

Stay tuned for more reporting.

Canada finished eighth, while the U.S. did not field a team.

Results

Switzerland Qualifies 3-Sister Relay Team for Olympics

Why was Selina Gasparin sobbing as her teammate Irene Cadurisch crossed the finish line in today’s 4 x 5 k World Cup biathlon relay in Ruhpolding, Germany?

It was a day this Gasparin had been waiting for for years. Gasparin is a trailblazer for Swiss women in a sport that has long been seen as for men only in this small, traditional country. As a girl she organized her own competitions and training, then became the first Swiss woman to compete in World Cup races, and then in the Olympics. At age 29, she won the first two World Cups of her career – the first for any Swiss biathlete, man or woman. She’s having a great season.

Being so young, women’s biathlon in Switzerland isn’t particularly deep. But Selina Gasparin spread the love of the sport within her family, and her sisters Elisa (22 years old) and Aita (19 years old) are also now competing on the World Cup. Last season they skied together on a relay team for the first time.

(Reportedly, Aita began biathlon at age 14, and her mother almost didn’t let her because she felt it was inappropriate for a girl to keep a firearm in her living space.)

As three of the best biathletes in Switzerland, it seems from outside that it’s a given they would travel to Sochi together to fill the country’s four quota spots at the Olympics for women’s biathlon. However, Swiss Ski, the governing body for snow sports including biathlon, has strict rules about who can represent the country – they don’t want participation, they want honor and glory. There are multiple ways to qualify, but this season, for instance, athletes need one top-15 or two top-25’s on the World Cup.

Elisa Gasparin, the middle sister, has also fulfilled these requirements and will join Selina. Aita, though, has not – nor has anyone else. It looked as if there wouldn’t be four women to make a relay team in Sochi.

Today in Ruhpolding, however, that changed. A relay team can also qualify even if all of its members don’t do so individually, by getting a top 10 performance in a World Cup competition this season.

During the oldest Gasparin’s career, often there hasn’t even been a relay on the World Cup. Over all the years since she began competing, this is only the eighth time Switzerland has lined up four women together. The previous best finish was 13th.

Elisa Gasparin started things out with only one spare round to tag off in 12th, just 25 seconds from the lead. Selina Gasparin used two spare rounds in prone, but nonetheless managed to catch the leaders: she was one of four women who came into the second exchange within a second of each other. Aita Gasparin shot perfectly to hang on to seventh place, and then Cadurisch tested their nerves by using all three spare rounds in both of her shooting stages.

In the end, though, she still crossed the line in 10th, 17 seconds ahead of the next finisher.

So Switzerland may have been three minutes behind the winning Russians, but those tears were tears of joy. The three Gasparin sisters, along with Cadurisch, are going to the Olympics together, the first Swiss women’s relay team to ever qualify for a Games, and almost certainly one of the only relay teams in any sport that contains three sisters.

Results

Green Completes Canadian Olympic Team Selection

On the second and final day of the Olympic & IBU Cup Trials in Canmore, Alberta, Brendan Green made the cut as the final athlete selected to Biathlon Canada’s Olympic team. Green won both Thursday’s and Friday’s sprints.
On Friday, national-team members Scott Perras placed second (for the second-straight day) and Marc-Andre Bedard was third.
In the women’s 7.5 k sprint on Friday, Emma Lodge of Biathlon Alberta won in 25:03.7, edging teammate Audrey Vaillancourt by 15.4 seconds and Thursday’s winner, Julia Ransom, also of Biathlon Alberta, in third (+49.6).
With four men and four women, the team includes Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, Scott Perras, Nathan Smith, Brendan Green, Zina Kocher, Rosanna Crawford, Megan Imrie, and Megan Heinicke.
 
According to an email from Biathlon Canada, IBU Cup Team selections will be announced shortly. Those selected will have the opportunity to race in Europe at the World Cup #4, IBU Cup #5-6-7 and Open European Championships.

Semerenko Rebounds from Early Penalty to Win Annecy Pursuit; Crawford 19th

Third in Saturday’s sprint, Valj Semerenko of Ukraine steadily climbed her way to the top on Sunday in the IBU World Cup women’s 10-kilometer pursuit, winning by 4.2 seconds in 28:05.4. Semerenko had a single penalty in the first prone, but relied on fast skiing and 19-for-20 shooting to edge Russia’s Irina Starykh, who started 12th and finished second with clean shooting.

Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff placed third, 15.5 seconds after Semerenko, with a miss in the third stage. Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic finished fourth (+21.9) with one miss, and Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier cleaned for fifth overall (+28.6).

Leading the way for Canada, Rosanna Crawford climbed from 26th to 19th (+1:47.5) with three penalties, two of which came in the first stage and one more on the second prone. Teammate Megan Heinicke improved from starting 50th (+2:25.2) to finishing 33rd with two misses — one in each prone — and Megan Imrie placed 41st (+3:04.7) with four penalties, three in the third stage and one in the fourth.

Zina Kocher had seven penalties to end up 52nd after starting 45th, and the lone American in the race, Susan Dunklee had five misses to place 53rd of 58.

Results

Bø Stays on Top in Men’s Pursuit; Smith Rises to Eighth in Annecy

After his first IBU World Cup win in Saturday’s sprint, Johannes Thingnes Bø continued with his breakout weekend at Le Grand Bornand in Annecy, France, winning the 12.5-kilometer pursuit by 37.5 seconds in 31:43.7.

Bø had a single penalty on his second stage for the win, which he took over Germany’s Erik Lesser, who cleaned and finished second. Anton Shipulin of Russia was third with one miss on the third stage, 39.1 seconds behind Bø.

Canadian Nathan Smith went from tying a career-best 16th on Saturday (his best result in a sprint), to placing eighth in the pursuit, 57.5 seconds behind Bø and 18.4 seconds off the podium. He had two penalties, one in the first and last stages, and had the third-fastest range times on the first and second bouts.

American Lowell Bailey rose from 35th to 15th with 20-for-20 shooting and the second-fastest time on the second-to-last loop. He finished 1:11 behind Bø, US Biathlon teammate Tim Burke was 0.6 seconds behind in 16th with two penalties, one in the last prone and another in the final standing.

Canada’s Jean-Philippe Le Guellec shot clean to improve from 49th to 33rd (+2:19), and Scott Perras dropped to 48th with five penalties after starting 31st.

Results

Bø Blasts Men’s Sprint by Nearly 33 Seconds; Smith Ties Career Best in Annency

Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø left no question that he was in control Saturday at the IBU World Cup in Annency, France, winning the men’s 10-kilometer sprint by nearly 33 seconds with clean shooting in 22:06.7. Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic placed second, 32.9 seconds back, and one standing penalty put France’s Martin Fourcade in third, 37.1 behind Bø.

About 35 seconds off the podium, Nathan Smith finished 16th for Canada, tying his career best from earlier this season in Østersund (in a 20 k individual race) with a single standing miss (+1:08.4), and US Biathlon’s Tim Burke finished 28th with two misses (+1:21.5). Another American, Lowell Bailey also qualified for Sunday’s pursuit after placing 35th with two penalties (+1:40.5).

Scott Perras led Canada in 31st with a single penalty (+1:28), and JP Le Guellec made the top-60 cut to qualify for the pursuit in 49th with two misses (+2:03.1).

Also for the U.S., Leif Nordgren placed 83rd with three penalties for (+2:55.1), and Jeremy Teela was 87th with three misses ( +3:14.8).

Results