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World Cup

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.



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

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

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.”


German Men Lose Biathlon Relay to Austrian Neighbors

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

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.


Switzerland Qualifies 3-Sister Relay Team for Olympics

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

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.


Green Completes Canadian Olympic Team Selection

Friday, December 20th, 2013
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

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

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.


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

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

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.


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

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

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).


Gasparin on a Roll, Wins Annency Sprint by 8.3 Seconds

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Just over a week after capturing her first IBU World Cup podium with a sprint win in Hochfilzen, Austria, Selina Gasparin of Switzerland racked up another victory in her second-straight 7.5 k sprint on Saturday in Annency, France.

Gasparin shot clean to finish in 20:51.4 minutes, 8.3 seconds ahead of Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen in second. Like Makarainen, Valj Semerenko of Ukraine missed one standing to finish third (+11.5).

Canada’s Rosanna Crawford was the top North American in 26th, missing one prone and cleaning standing to finish 1:01.1 behind Gasparin. Teammate Megan Imrie placed 40th (1+1), Zina Kocher was 45th (1+2) and Megan Heinicke placed 50th (1+2).

Susan Dunklee finished 60th for the U.S. (1+3), Annelies Cook was 62nd (1+1), Sara Studebaker 76th (2+1) and Hannah Dreissigacker 77th (1+3).