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

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

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

Saturday, January 24th, 2015
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

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

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

Friday, January 16th, 2015

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)

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

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

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

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

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
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

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

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

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

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

Friday, January 17th, 2014

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