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Oslo Roundup: North Americans Talk About a Great Weekend

The past weekend of racing in Oslo, Norway was pretty successful for North American biathletes. Here’s what a few of them had to say about it:

-Canada’s Jean Philippe Le Guellec wasn’t even supposed to start the mass start – he was the sixth reserve. But he got luck, nabbed a bib, and went on to finish 12th after skiing in the top six for a period of time. He said that his third race of the weekend was pretty tiring:

“The race itself went rather well in general,” Le Guellec told FasterSkier in an e-mail. “But, as you pointed out, my ski shape started to fade mighty fast after the first lap. It also didn’t help that my skis weren’t as fast as in the previous races. Fresh snow had fallen throughout the night and my skis didn’t seem to respond quite well to the fresh sheet. I had nothing left in the tank for the final lap once I got caught by the Swiss Benjamin Weger and Brendan [Green] who flew by. This is the first week-end all season that I actually race all three races and it’s the type of thing you build up endurance to… so I guess my body was just not used to that much racing.”

Le Guellec also had this to say about teammate Green, who had the three best results of his career this weekend despite a series of mishaps and injuries:

“B.man had an outstanding week-end and it’s definitely encouraging to have had a solid week-end like this leading up to World Championships. I feel if we can stay in good health and keep doing what we’re doing, no more, no less, World Championships will be promising this year.”

-The biggest talk of the weekend was Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen and his crazy sprint moves. But American Lowell Bailey said that a sprint is only good if you have a chance to use it.

“With regard to Svendsen, he’s a great athlete,” Bailey told FasterSkier. “He’s always been very talented in the final sprints. But, he’s just one of about 60 guys that could podium on a given day. That is the amazing part about this sport, it is so competitive right now!”

-Svendsen himself actually seemed to agree, telling the Norwegian broadcaster NRK that with great power comes great responsibility, a seemingly indirect jab at Petter Northug: “You have to be concentrated and not too cocky.”

-The U.S. women didn’t make the top ten like the men did, but they quietly had a solid weekend of their own, with a personal best for Annelies Cook and two season-bests for Sara Studebaker. The ladies said that they enjoyed racing at Holmenkollen, which is the most hallowed venue for ski racing and doesn’t do too bad for biathlon either.

“Oslo is a good venue for me,” Studebaker told FasterSkier. “I like the tracks here, and I think whenever you’ve had good results somewhere, that gives you an extra boost of confidence. The fans here are great, too. For some reason, we always have a lot of people cheering for “USA” and calling us by name in Oslo…they must really like American’s here…it’s pretty cool.”

“The fans are very friendly and supportive,” teammate Susan Dunklee agreed. “I’ve had a chance to get to know a few of the wonderful volunteers too. The crowd isn’t anywhere near as big as what it was for XC World Champs last year, but there were hundreds of school kids the other day and plenty of spectators along all parts of the course.”

-The World Cup has now moved to Kontiolahti, Finland, where it was reportedly -29 Celsius last night. Goodbye, Oslo!

Henkel Tops in Oslo Mass Start

Germany’s Andrea Henkel took her first World Cup victory of the season in Oslo today, winning the 12.5 k mass start at Holmenkollen by almost 30 seconds over Darya Domracheva of Belarus. Henkel had one penalty in the very first shooting stage, but shot clean after that and worked her way up through the field, taking the lead after the third shooting stage and never relinquishing it. It was the 21st World Cup victory for the 34-year-old German, who is also a World Championships and Olympic gold medalist. Henkel has said she will compete through the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but hadn’t had an excellent season so far. “It is nice to win any time,” she said in a press conference today “It is good to be back on the top… It would be nice to be on the podium more often.” Domracheva finished second despite four shooting penalties….

Burke: 6th Place Was a Good 30th Birthday Present

American Tim Burke’s comments about his 6th-place finish in the Oslo World Cup pursuit didn’t make it into our race report, but here’s what he had to say. On Friday, Burke turned 30, and he said that his best finish of the season was a good birthday present: “Today was a great way to bring in my 30th year,” he wrote in an e-mail. “This was my first zero-penalty four-stage World Cup race, so I guess it just took me this long to figure out that avoiding the penalty loop makes racing much easier!” Perhaps the best news is that Burke, who raced from 15th position up to 6th, didn’t think he was on top of his game yet. “I felt pretty good on the course today but I don’t feel like I am in my best shape,” he said. “I think I am still feeling the effects of a…

Green on Career-Best 9th in Oslo

Brendan Green (CAN) posted a career-best result in Thursday’s 10km sprint, shooting clean and skiing to ninth place. “I’m pumped to finally place in the top-10,” Green wrote to FasterSkier in an email. “This result is an important milestone for me, and I’m hoping I can have more like it in the near future.” Green points out that he had achieved his previous best of 14th on three different occasions, a fact that “was starting to get a little frustrating.” He described making it into the top-10 as “a sweet feeling,” but says that he knows he can do better still. “There’s still lots of work to be done and I know I have the potential to improve upon this result when things really come together, but for now I’m definitely happy with it,” Green said. He has not been able to point to anything specific as the root of…

Garanichev, Neuner Pick Up World Cup Wins, Banner day for North America

Evgeniy Garanichev (RUS) won the first World Cup race of his career, besting German Arnd Peiffer by a mere .7 second in the men’s 10km sprint in Oslo, Norway. Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) overcame two misses to take third, 11.8 seconds down. Both Garanichev and Peiffer shot clean. In the women’s 7.5km event, Magdalena Neuner (GER) won her sixth race of the season over Darya Domracheva (BLR). Neuner shot clean and posted the fastest ski time of the day, allowing her to cruise to a 38 second victory. Tora Berger (NOR) was third another 10 seconds back. Domracheva and Berger has one penalty apiece. The UNited States and Canada posted strong results in both races, in what may be one of the best all-around days for NOrth AMerican biathlon. In the women’s race, Megan Imrie (CAN) led the way in 17th, shooting clean while Sara Studebaker paced the US squad…

Smith 15th in U26 Junior Individual; Norway’s Weather Wusses?

Welcome to the new biathlon blog! -Wednesday was the last day of individual racing at the Under-26 Open European Championships in Osrblie, Slovakia, and featured individual-format competitions for juniors. The lone North American competitor was 19-year-old U.S. biathlete Casey Smith, who placed 15th in the junior men’s 15 k race. Smith missed just two shots over the course of four stages, and correspondingly received two minutes of penalty time. He had the 22nd-fastest ski time of the day and finished just over four minutes behind the winner, Alexander Loginov of Russia. Johannes Bø, younger brother to Norwegian superstar Tarjei Bø, was second, six seconds behind Loginov, who picked up his second victory in the series (results here). -In the junior women’s 12.5 k individual, Marion Roenning Huber of Norway collected her first international win when she finished 1:23 ahead of Russia’s Olga Galich. Women’s results here. -The U26 Championships were…