In the many weeks since we’ve updated this blog, a lot has happened in the biathlon world! Here’s a collection of news about athletes and national team staff for the women’s World Cup field. Stay tuned tomorrow to hear about the men.
- Miriam Gossner, the young German who had a breakout season last year, crashed her mountain bike near the small Norwegian town of Skarnes. She will miss six to eight weeks of training to recover from her injuries, which were quite serious.
“Miriam fractured the end plates of three vertebrae,” German Ski Federation doctor Bernd Wolfforth told biathlonworld. “She does not need surgery and will be treated with intensive rehabilitation measures during the next weeks. Miriam can start with biathlon specific training again in probably six to eight weeks. First, it is important that the fractures can heal and that Miriam is pain free again.”
- Behind Gossner and veteran Andrea Henkel, who won silver in this year’s World Championships, the German “Ia” training group will include Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, who shot into the top ten in her first season of biathlon; double World Junior champ Laura Dahlmeier, who collected six World Cup top tens after her late-season debut; and Franziska Preuss, who had two bronze medals at World Juniors. The selection of Dahlmeier and Preuss skips over slightly older athletes Tina Bachmann, Fanziska Hildebrand, Nadine Horchler, and Kathrin Lang, all of whom saw World Cup action as well; Horcher, for instance, had her best season ever with six top-20′s including two fifth-place finishes. Those four women have been funded on the development level according to DSV’s roster.
- The Russian women’s team, home of much controversy in the past, seemed to have a pretty good 2013 – no World Championship medals as fans had sure hoped for, but plenty of strong performances throughout the season. That came after the move of Wolfgang Pichler from Sweden to Russia, in what everyone hoped would be a stabilizing approach for the team. However, with the Olympics looming, more changes are coming: the women’s team has split into two different training groups. According to ski-nordique.net, Olga Zaitzeva, Ekaterina Glazyrina, Svetlana Sleptsova, Yana Romanova, and Ekaterina Shumilova voluntarily decided to stick with Pichler, while the rest of the women, most notably Olga Vilukhina, will go back to working solely with Russian coaches.
Ski-sport.ru has reported that the Pichler group began training in Tyumen, where they are holding an open training day for fans to come watch and interact with the athletes. From there, the group will travel to Andalusia in southern Spain for sunny dryland training until the end of May.
- The other group, led by Vladimir Korolkevich and Sergey Efimov, started training in Belokurikha and will continue in Novosiberk – no trips to Spain for them. Korolkevich, actually, was until recently the coach of Ukraine; he broke his contract to take the job back at home. “As you know, we had a verbal agreement on the preparation of the team up to the Olympic Games in Sochi, but, unfortunately, the expert is not kept his word, leaving the team on the eve of the Olympic season,” a frustrated Vladimir Bryznak, head of the Ukrainian Biathlon Federation, said in a press interview. He hypothesized that the new head of the Russian federation had actively lured Korolkevich away, behavior that he called unprofessional.
- In other rough news from Ukraine, the training center in Ternopil, home to newly-minted World Champion Olena Pidhrushna, seems to have been the victim of politics and is now headed towards becoming a real estate development.
- After jetting from zero women’s World Championhips medals to two when Krystyna Palka took silver in the Nove Mesto pursuit and Monika Hojnisz bronze in the mass start, Poland has named twelve women to their national team. In a press conference, the federation also discussed upgrading the venue at Szklarska Poreba to be able to hold international competitions.
- Tora Berger of Norway was the best-paid biathlete of the season, man or woman, in terms of prize money last year. She raked in 277,800 Euros, beating out Martin Fourcade of France, who earned 272,000 Euros.
- Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen, the 2011 World Cup champion, has agreed to mentor eleven young athletes for the next three years. “I can provide training and life management tips,” she told YLE. “The portrait of a young athlete’s life can look like chaos… young athletes are under a lot of pressure as to what is their number one priority. I believe that I have survived a lot of things and would like to tell young people some alternatives to how they manage their lives like this.”
- Here’s a video of Czech star Gabriela Soukalova going indoor skydiving with some of her teammates.
- After being told that she was severely overtrained and had to take a three-month break from biathlon, Marie-Laure Brunet of France, who had a disastrous season before stopping in mid-February, is back at it again. “I abused my motor for the last two years, but that seems to be in the past now and I have learned from my mistakes,” she wrote on her blog.
- Finally, in sad news, French biathlete Emanuelle “Manue” Claret, a World Champion in 1996, has died from leukemia at the age of 44. Ski-nordique.net has a slide show commemorating her career.