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Biathlon World Champs to Air on Eurovision and Universal Sports

KONTIOLAHTI, Finland — Eurovision and Universal Sports will provide television coverage of the upcoming 2015 International Biathlon Union World Championships in Kontiolahti, Finland. The event, which takes place March 5 through March 15, will be broadcast live on Eurovision with english commentary from Chad Salmela. Universal Sports will air the footage in prime time on the dates included below.

Broadcast schedule (all times in EST):

Date Eurovision Webcast  Universal Sports Network TV
Mar. 5 Mixed relay: 11:15 a.m. 
Mar. 7 Men’s sprint: 7:00 a.m.Women’s sprint: 10:30 a.m.
Mar. 8 Men’s pursuit: 8:15 a.m.Women’s pursuit: 11:00 a.m.
Mar. 9 Mixed relay (from Mar. 5): 8-19 p.m.
Mar. 10 Men’s sprint & pursuit (from Mar. 7-8): 8-19 p.m.
Mar. 11 Women’s individual: 12:15 p.m. (no english commentary) Women’s sprint & pursuit (from Mar. 7-8): 8-9 p.m.
Mar. 12 Men’s individual: 12:15 p.m. (no english commentary)
Mar. 13 Women’s relay: 12:15 p.m. (no english commentary)
Mar. 14 Men’s relay: 11:30 a.m. Men’s relay (same-day): 7-8 p.m.
Mar. 15 Women’s mass start: 8:30 a.m. Men’s mass start: 11:00 a.m. Women’s mass start (same-day): 6-7 p.m. Men’s mass start (same-day): 7-8 p.m.

Kocher Silver in Second Canmore IBU Cup Sprint

Canada's Zina Kocher waves to the crowd after a second-place finish in the 7.5 k IBU Cup sprint in Canmore, Alberta, on Sunday. (Photo: Pam Doyle)

Canada’s Zina Kocher waves to the crowd after a second-place finish in the 7.5 k IBU Cup sprint in Canmore, Alberta, on Sunday. (Photo: Pam Doyle)

Saturday was a day for the youngsters, with Emma Lunder, new to the national team this year, leading Canada with a silver-medal performance in the 7.5 k IBU Cup sprint in Canmore.

Come Sunday, though, the veterans took over. Zina Kocher matched Lunder’s hardware, skiing the third-fastest course time and picking up a single penalty to place second. The three-time Olympian was 17.8 seconds behind Karolin Horchler of Germany, who won for the second day in a row.

“There is definitely huge fire inside of me that says get it together for God’s sake,” said Kocher in a Biathlon Canada press release, referring to her struggles earlier this season bouncing between the World Cup and IBU Cup.” Knowing the accomplishments I’ve had in the past helped me. I really just wanted to enjoy the fact I’m racing at home.”

She appreciated Lunder’s performance the day before, and is glad that Canada now has a strong women’s team: Canada is currently ranked 13th in the World Cup Nations Cup. The year that Kocher skied her first World Championships, 2003, Canada ranked 22nd in the world.

“It was so exciting for me as an older athlete finishing my career to see all these young athletes coming up that are so strong,” said Kocher. “I didn’t have that when I started. Today was extra special to have so many of my former teammates, friends and family around. Tonight will be a good celebration!”

After her perfect day on the range on Saturday, Lunder picked up three penalties in Sunday’s sprint to place 16th, 1:32.7 behind Horchler. She was followed one spot later by Erin Yungblut, who shot clean. Melanie Schultz and Claude Godbout finished 29th and 30th, and Leilani Tam Von Burg rounded things out for Canada in 33rd.

For the U.S., Katrina Howe led the way in 22nd with three penalties. Maine Winter Sports Center teammate Kelsey Dickinson placed 34th.

In the men’s 10 k sprint, it was a Canadian veteran who led the North Americans for a second day in a row. Marc-André Bédard placed 19th with one penalty, and finished the weekend with impressive 39-for-40 shooting. That put him 1:28.8 behind Florian Graf of Germany, the winner of the day.

Fellow veteran Scott Perras placed 23rd with two penalties, followed by a passel of younger racers: Matt Neumann in 34th, Matt Hudec in 36th, Andrew Chisholm in 40th, and Macx Davies in 42nd.

For the U.S., Wynn Roberts again led the way, this time matching Howe’s 22nd-place finish. The National Guard Biathlon racer shot clean and finished 1:41.6 behind the winner. Patrick Johnson placed 44th and Ethan Dreissigacker 46th.

Results: women / men

 

Lunder Second on Home Turf in IBU Cup Sprint

EmmaLunder skis_pamdoyle ww

Canada’s Emma Lunder leaving the range en route to second place in Saturday’s 7.5 k IBU Cup sprint in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Pam Doyle)

Canada’s Emma Lunder cleaned her first IBU Cup race to finish second in the 7.5 k sprint in Canmore, Alberta, in front of a crowd of friends and family. Lunder, originally from Vernon, British Columbia, turned in the best North American performance of the day.

Lunder was one of only three competitors to hit all ten targets in the competition.

“I’ve never cleaned at an IBU Cup race,” Lunder said, according to a Biathlon Canada press release. “As I was leaving the range the final time, I was like woo hoo – I don’t have to do a penalty loop. What a great day.”

She left the range in second place, 2.9 seconds behind Karolin Horchler of Germany, but was not able to close the gap on the ski trails. Horchler took a 5.1-second win, with Marine Bolliet of France third, 2.9 seconds behind Lunder. Lunder had the tenth-fastest ski time on the day.

“That last loop I said to myself ‘You know this course better than any other girl so do whatever you can to make up seconds,” Lunder said. “There was people all over the course cheering my name and it was such an amazing day.”

Teammate Zina Kocher finished 19th with four penalties (+1:54.8). Former National Team-er Melanie Schultz is out of retirement and finished 27th with one penalty. Erin Yungblut, Claude Godbout, and Leilani Tam Von Burg finished 29th, 30th, and 33rd in the 36-woman field.

For the U.S., Kelsey Dickinson led the way in 28th with two penalties (+2:48.4) followed by Katrina Howe in 31st with four penalties.

In the men’s 10 k sprint, 2010 Olympian Marc-André Bédard led the way for Canada with a 21st-place finish, like Lunder with perfect shooting. He finished a minute and 15 seconds behind Alexey Kornev of Russia, who won the day. Kornev’s perfect shooting gave him a half-second victory over Anonin Guigonnat of France, who’d had one penalty.

Macx Davies was close behind Bédard in 23rd with two penalties, followed by Scott Perras in 25th with one penalty. Matt Hudec, Matthew Neumann, and Andrew Chisholm finished 40th, 43rd, and 46th, also for Canada.

The top American finish belonged to Wynn Roberts, who finished 29th (+1:44.9) with a single penalty. Patrick Johnson finished 35th with four penalties, and Ethan Dreissigacker 45th with two penalties.

Racing continues on Sunday with another set of 7.5/10 k sprints.

Results: women / men

 

U.S. Biathlete Smith Injured in Canmore Crash, In Stable Condition

Preparing for this weekend’s IBU Cup competitions in Canmore, Alberta, Casey Smith (Maine Winter Sports Center/U.S. Biathlon “B” Team) crashed into a tree and sustained major injuries, according to multiple sources.

After crashing “back first” into the tree, according to USBA CEO Max Cobb, Smith had to be moved by EMT’s. He broke his shoulder and injured his back. Smith was moved to Calgary for further treatment, where he was also found to have punctured his lung. He is currently listed in stable condition.

 

France and Russia Claim final Junior Titles; Canadian’s 9th and 16th, USA 13th and 14th

Jakob

Jakob Ellingson opens the relay for team USA. Photo credit to Jim Levins

The 2015 Junior World Championships concluded in Minsk Belarus on Tuesday with the junior women’s 3x6k relay and the junior men’s 4×7.5k relay. Rain before the start of competition made for difficult ski conditions.

Junior women took to the icy trails first, and it was France that would take the lead after the second shooting stage and remain there for the finish. Chloe Chevalier opened for the French team and gave her teammate Julia Simon excellent position to continue the lead. Though, it was Lena Arnaud who would cross the line in 53:27.3 and solidifying her second victory of the week with relay women’s gold for France.

Following closely, Russia finished only 26.9 seconds behind France. Victoria Slivko, Natalia Gerbulova, Uliana Kaisheva took silver. Gerbulova used quick and accurate shooting shooting to keep close to the French team but during the final leg Russia could not hold on.

Anna Weidel and Helene Therese Hendel opened for Germany and kept them in contention. When Marie Heinrich started her race she was fighting for the bronze medal, only needing a single spare and an incredible effort of the track brought German onto the podium, 1:33.7 back.

For the USA Madeleine Phaneuf, Mikaela Paluszek, Hannah Streinz took to the tracks to claim 14th. Collecting one penalty loop and using nine spares the USA’s women finished 7:12.2 off the pace of the winning French team.

Canadian jurnior women’s team consisting of Megan Bankes, Sharah Beaudry, and Bryn Robertson finished 16th, also with a penalty loop and using 13 spares 8:38.7 back. Bankes and Robertson, both youth athletes raced up in age cattagory to field a full junior relay team.

Paul

Paul Thomas Everett helps USA men ski to a 13th place at Junior World Championship relay. Photo credit to Jim Levins

The Russian team of Aleksandr Dediukhin, Viktor Tretiakov, Eduard Latypov, and Alexander Povarnitsyn was a clear favorite for a medal. Three of their four racers already claimed medals in the individual races. Confidently taking the lead Russia seemed poised out front and only needing 4 spares to hit their forty targets made them difficult to challenge.

Povarnitsyn started with a comfortable 55-second lead over the rest of the nations, easily securing the gold and expanding the lead to win decisively in 1:19:59.7.

For Norway Andreas Kvam, Henrik Sagosen Smeby, Aslak Nenseter, and Vemund Gurigard fought to stay in touch of the lead team for the entire race. Norway only needed one more spare but could not match the nearly flawless Russian team. Even perfect shooting couldn’t help Gurigard close the gap and he finished 1:12.5 back in second.

Inspired by the victory of their female team mates Aristide Begue,Felix Cottet Puinel, Emilien Jacquelin, and Fabien Claude powered the French men onto the podium. Using eight spares France was 1:22.6 off the pace but only 10seconds behind the silver medal at the finish.

Pearce Hanna, Aidan Millar, Carson Campbell, and Matthew Strum raced for Canada. Hanna, also a youth replaced his fourth junior teammate who has struggled with sickness this week. Collecting a penalty loop in the first leg and using sixteen total spare rounds Canada finished 9th, 6:54.7 back.

USA’s junior men also collected a lone penalty loop and used 13 spares to claim the 13th position. Sean Doherty, Jakob Ellingson, Paul Thomas Everett, and Brian Halligan represented America in the final competition of the week.

Results Men / Women

 

Gold at Home for Belarus Youth Women, Russian Men; U.S. Women 12th, Men 15th

The youth men’s 3 x 7.5-kilometer and youth women’s 3 x 6 k relays held at the Raubichi Winter Olympic Training Center outside of Minsk, Belarus, on Monday, were the last chance for athletes to gain youth world champion status this year.

The Belarus women’s team collectively used seven spare bullets to hit their 30 targets, and was one of only two teams to avoid the 150-meter penalty loop. Dzinara Alimbekava, Hanna Sola and Darya Blashko were all in the top five in the sprint race of the same distance earlier this week, making them the favorite to win gold at home.

Russia led the competition’s early stages, though it lost its lead with a penalty loop and was unable to catch Belarus. Alimbekava, Sola and Blashko took relay gold on their home course for Belarus in a time of 51:50.2.

Despite a penalty loop in the second leg of their relay Russia’s Elizaveta Kaplina, Natalia Ushkina and Kristina Reztsova used their strong skiing to earn the silver medal. On the final leg Reztsova had decisively pulled away from the rest of the pack, but could not close the gap to Belarus and finished 14 seconds behind.

Shooting turned out to be the difference for Kristin Vaagaa Floettum, Eline Grue, and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold of Norway. Using only four spare rounds between the three legs, Norway’s youth women were the top shooters of the day allowing them to claim the third-podium postion having finished 1:03.5 behind the winners.

Siena Ellingson opened the race for the U.S. but would collect three penalty loops in her fist trip to the range and a fourth in her second visit. Chloe Levins and Amanda Kautzer took over for the U.S., neither having to visit the penalty loop but using five and two spare rounds to hit their targets, respectively.

The American youth women finished 12th, 8:32.8 off the pace set by Belarus after their four shooting misses and the use of 13 additional rounds.

Proving to be dominant start to finish, Russia’s youth men were within seconds of the lead for the entire race and decisively pulled away over the last two legs. Hitting all thirty targets having used seven spare rounds Igor Shetko, Nikita Porshnev and Kirill Streltsov became youth relay world champions.

The Ukrainian team of Vitaliy Trush, Nazarii Tsebrynskyi and Dmytro Ivasenko was the only team to challenge the Russians. Within striking distance and only needing eight spare rounds the Ukraine kept the pressure on Russia the whole race. Ultimately unable to make up time on the tracks, Ukraine settled for second place 37.7 seconds off the pace.

Norway’s youth men used more spares (1+11) than any other team in the top six, but with powerful efforts on the skis still maintained a podium spot for the whole relay. Finishing 2:02.5 behind the winning time Uglem Jonas Mabakken, Andreas Kjeverud Eggen and Mattis Haug added to Norway’s medal collection with a third-place finish.

Americans Cameron Christiansen, Sam Zabell and Alexander Kilby struggled to hold onto the pack while having some of the strongest standing shooting of the day. The team incurred two penalty loops and needed nine spares finishing 15th, 10:59.6 off the pace of the Russians.

Results: Men / Women

 — Evan Girard

Doherty Bronze in World Juniors Sprint, Millar 8th

Sean Doherty of the United States made his mark on the World Junior Championships history books on Saturday, after earning multiple gold medals in the youth category in previous seasons. In the junior men’s 10 k sprint, Doherty finished third in 24:59.2 with a single penalty. It was a rebound after his 14th-place finish in the individual competition already held at this venue outside of Minsk, Belarus.

Back in 2013, Sean Doherty enjoyed every second of his time carrying the American flag across the finish line as a World Champion in the youth pursuit, the first American gold since 1997. In his first season in the junior age category, Doherty finished third in the World Juniors sprint in Belarus on Saturday. (Photo: UBSA/NordicFocus)

Back in 2013, Sean Doherty enjoyed every second of his time carrying the American flag across the finish line as a World Champion in the youth pursuit, the first American gold since 1997. In his first season in the junior age category, Doherty finished third in the World Juniors sprint in Belarus on Saturday. (Photo: UBSA/NordicFocus)

The win went to Alexsandr Dediukhin of Russia, who had been in third place after the final shooting. Dediukhin was the only one of the top competitors to shoot clean, and in bib 30 also a later starter. He attacked on the final loop and made up 2 seconds to take the win.

Doherty had the fourth-fastest split after the last shooting, but surpassed Niklas Homberg of Germany to secure a medal.

For Canada, Aidan Millar finished eighth. Like Doherty, he is making the move up from the youth category, where he finished ninth in the sprint last year in Presque Isle, Maine. Millar also had a single penalty, and was sitting in fifth after the last shooting. He was unable to hang onto that position though – possibly because as one of the earliest starters, he was at a disadvantage in that his competitors knew how fast to ski to beat him.

In the junior women’s sprint earlier in the morning, Maddie Phaneuf of the United States was the top North American finisher, placing 33rd.

Stay tuned for a full report on the men’s and women’s junior sprints later today.

Results: men / women

Anna Kryvonos, Kirill Sterltsov Win Opening Races of IBU Youth World Champs

By Evan Girard

The ultimate test of the best youth and junior biathletes kicked off Wednesday at the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships in Minsk-Raubichi, Belarus. Youth skiers, ages 18 and under, took to the stage first for the individual races. Youth women raced 10 kilometers and youth men raced 12.5 k each with four trips to the range, alternating prone and standing positions, with each miss adding one minute to an athlete’s finishing time.

First on course was a group of 83 youth women. Many of the early starters raced well but the podium would not be decided until the end of the race. Elizaveta Kaplina of Russia was the 72nd woman to start her race and moved into second at the finish. Kaplina’s time in second was short lived when the 75th starter, Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold claimed, and ultimately held onto, the silver-medal position.

Ukrainian Anna Kryvonos was steady on the shooting range, missing only a single target on her second trip to the range on her way to the fastest time of 30:09.1 to claim the first gold medal of the week.

Both Tandrevold and Kaplina missed two targets each, though it was Tandrevold that gained the advantage on the trail, finishing second by 18.8 seconds and beating Kaplina by 9.9 seconds.

American Siena Ellingson was the top North American of the day, finishing 30th(+5:16.5) with five misses (1+2+1+1). Canada’s Megan Bankes claimed 42nd (+6:44.1) with eight penalties (1+3+3+1). Also for the U.S., Amanda Kautzer and Chloe Levins both missed eight targets, finishing 54th (+8:13.9) and 55th (+8:20.4), respectively.

The second Canadian youth woman, Bryn Robertson, was 66th (+9:22.5), also with eight misses. American Hannah Streinz took 70th (+11:21.3) with 11 penalties.

Youth men were the next athletes to take to the tracks, this time skiing the 2.5 k loop five times. Kirill Sterltsov of Russia narrowly came back to achieve the fastest time of 35:04.8 and to become youth world champion despite missing two targets in the opening half of the race.

Anders Emil Schiellerup of Denmark took full advantage of his early start as the third starter who went on to hit the perfect 20-for-20 and put the pressure on every athlete that followed. He finished just 4.7 seconds behind the winner to earn second.

Igor Shetko matched his Russian teammate Sterltsov’s shooting, but not his speed on course to finish 15.6 seconds off his pace in third.

For the North American men, Canada’s Pearce Hanna was the top finisher in 32nd (+3:56.9), missing six targets (1+2+1+2).

Americans Paul Thomas Everett finished 35th (+4:39.4), Cameron Christiansen was 51st(+6:35.7), and Sam Zabell was 70th (+9:00.9) all incurring five misses on the shooting range. Also for the U.S., Alexander Kilby was 74th (+10:44.8) with nine misses.

Results: Men | Women

 

Tam Von Burg Doubles Up at Canada Games, Hudek Earns First Gold

Leilani Tam Von Burg of Ontario and the Biathlon Alberta Training Center took her second win in as many competitions at Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia, on Tuesday. Missing a single target in the 7.5 k sprint, Tam Von Burg picked up a 55-second victory over Prince George native Emily Dickson, who had three penalties. Nadia Moser of Yukon placed third with four penalties, just over two minutes behind Tam Von Burg.

Tam Von Burg also won the 12.5 k individual competition on Sunday, over Moser and Dickson. The trio has an advantage towards winning more medals in Wednesday’s pursuits, where only three other women will start within a minute of Moser.

In the men’s 10 k sprint, Matt Hudek of Saskatchewan notched a 24.5-second win over Alexandre Dupuis of Ontario despite two penalties to Dupuis’s clean shooting. Jules Burnotte of Quebec placed third, another ten seconds behind with two penalties.

The men’s pursuit is shaping up to be more competitive, with Arthur Roots of British Columbia starting just 16 seconds behind Burnotte and keen to earn his first medal.

Results: men / women

US Biathlon Names Teams for World Championships, IBU Cups 7 & 8

(February 16, 2015) — US Biathlon is happy to announce the World Championship Team roster for the IBU Biathlon World Championships presented by BMW. The event will be hosted in Kontiolahti, Finland March 4 to 15 (more event info here: http://www.kontiolahtibiathlon.com/).  The team will train in Norway until they travel to the World Championships on March 2.

“The team has a great mix of youth and experience,” said Chief of Sport Bernd Eisenbichler.  “We have podium proven athletes in Susan Dunklee, Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke.  We have a very experienced 19 year-old junior athlete in Sean Doherty and Clare Egan had her first World Cup start at the end of January.  With five of the team members already having top 20 finishes this season it looks promising for great results from both the women and the men and we are especially looking forward to opening the championships with the mixed relay on March 5.”

Men
– Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.)
– Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, N.Y.)
– Sean Doherty (Center Conway, N.H.)
– Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.)

Women
– Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.)
– Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, Vt.)
– Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.)
– Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine)

US Biathlon is happy to announce the team for IBU Cups 7 & 8 in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, Feb 27 to March 7 (more information here: http://canmorebiathlon.ca/)

Women
– Kelsey Dickinson (Winthrop, Wash.)
– Katrina Howe (Fort Kent, Maine)
– Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.)

Men
– Russell Currier (Stockholm, Maine)
– Ethan Dreissigacker (Craftsbury, Vt.)
– Patrick Johnson (Truckee, Calf.)
– Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, Minn.)
– Casey Smith (Winthrop, Wash.)

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

Canada Eighth in Junior Mixed Relay

The last junior race of Open European Championships, a mixed relay, was held on Monday morning in Otepää, Estonia.

The Russian team, which has been dominant all week, was never in worse than second position. But that didn’t make it a less exciting race: when it came down to the anchor leg, Russia’s Alexander Povarnitsyn left the range 0.4 seconds behind Fabien Claude of France. Claude had won the sprint; Povarnitsyn had been third in the pursuit. It was obviously going to be a good race.

The Russian managed to pull away on the trails, and gave his team an 8.2-second win. Ukraine placed third (+39.8), one of only two teams in the field to avoid the penalty loop.

The Canadian team of Emily Dickson, Leilani Tam Von Burg, Arthur Roots, and Matt Hudec finished eighth (+6:39.9). Each racer had the eighth-fastest ski time of their respective fields, and they made three trips to the penalty loop while using 12 spare rounds.

“It has been an awesome opportunity for me to race in the Open European Championships this year,” Dickson, a first-year youth competitor, wrote on her facebook fan page. “Coming in to this event, I knew that I was a lot younger than most of the girls & that I would not be a contender for top results. Instead, my main focus for these championships has been to take in the experience, have some fun, and learn from some of the top biathletes in the world! Overall I am really happy with how the trip went just because I succeeded in all three of these goals. And now I am already excited to get back to training to see what kind of improvements I can make over the next few years!”

The United States did not field a team.

Racing in Estonia concludes on Tuesday with senior men’s and women’s relays.

Results

Open European Champs Continue in Estonia, Tam Von Burg 17th

Racing has continued in Otepää, Estonia, as part of Open European Championships this week. In Friday’s junior women’s 7.5 k sprint, Anastasiya Merkushyna of Ukraine shot clean to pull out a 5.4-second win over Austria’s Dunja Zdouc, who was also clean. It was the second runner-up placing for Zdouc at the championships so far, after finishing second in the individual competition as well. Russia’s Uliana Kaisheva placed third despite two penalties, just 12.9 seconds out. (Full results)

  • Leilani Tam Von Burg placed 17th for Canada with clean shooting. It is the best international result to date for the Ottawa native. Emily Dickson placed 32nd with two penalties.
  • Maddie Phaneuf led the United States again, finishing 27th (+3:04) with one penalty. “Waking up with a slight cold didn’t make the skiing very energetic today, but I was pleased with my shooting,” Phaneuf said in a USBA press release. “I’m hoping to fight off whatever I have by Sunday’s pursuit to end this week of racing with a bang.”
  • Her teammates Siena Ellingson and Mikaela Paluszek finished 52nd and 56th.

In the men’s junior sprint, a 10 k competition, Fabien Claude of France used clean shooting to post a 25-second win over Eduard Latypov of Russia, who had one penalty. Russians filled the next two spots as well, with Aleksandr Dediukhin and Alexander Povarnitsyn. (Full results)

  • Canada’s contingent of Matt Hudec and Arthur Roots finished 34th and 55th, respectively. Hudec had two penalties, while Roots struggled through six penalty loops.
  • The sole American in the race, Brian Halligan, placed 58th with four penalties.

Saturday meant senior racing, with more competitive fields since the previous age restriction to 26-year-olds and younger was lifted this season. In the women’s sprint it was Coline Varcin who kept the ball rolling for France. Like Claude the day before, she used clean shooting to power past the competition. Weronika Nowakowska-Ziemniak, currently ranked 12th in the World Cup total score, finished second, 9.7 seconds back; another World Cup stalwart, Ekaterina Shumilova of Russia, was third just one second behind. (Full results)

  • Canada’s Emma Lunder finished 33rd with three penalties, all of which came in the prone stage. Ranked 44th after leaving the penalty loop, she climbed her way up with clean shooting in standing and turned in the fourth-fastest last-loop time of anyone in the field.
  • Teammate Erin Yungblut placed 63rd with four penalties.
  • The United States did not field a team.

Finally, the senior men raced in their own 10 k sprint competition. It was another Alexey from Russia who won the day, but where Alexey Volkov won the 20 k individual earlier in the week it was Alexey Slepov in the sprint. Slepov shot clean to post a 14.5-second win over Norway’s Lars Helge Birkeland, who had one penalty. Antonin Guigonnat of France finished third, also with one penalty. (Full results)

  • Macx Davies was the top North American. The Canadian had three penalties to finish 28th (+1:33). Scott Perras will also make the pursuit, after finishing 48th with four penalties.
  • Their teammates Matt Neumann and Guillaume Bertrand finished 70th and 82nd with four and two penalties, respectively.
  • After skipping out on the 20 k competition, Leif Nordgren led the U.S. squad by placing 51st with three penalties. Russell Currier placed 62nd and Casey Smith 68th.

Racing continues February 1-3.

Rough Day on the Range for US, Canada at Open European Champs

Luminita Piscoran of Romania won the 15 k individual by 20 seconds despite five penalties, giving her country its first title ever. (Photo: http://otepaa.biathlon.ee)

Luminita Piscoran of Romania (bib 40) won the 15 k individual by 20 seconds despite five penalties, giving her country its first title ever. (Photo: http://otepaa.biathlon.ee)

Senior racers got their first chance at glory at Open European Championships in Otepää, Estonia, in the 15 k and 20 k individual races today.

Gold went to Luminita Piscoran of Romania in the women’s 15 k. Under extremely tough shooting conditions, Piscoran missed five shots – but between that and the tenth-fastest ski time, she came out ahead by 20 seconds. It was the first podium ever for a Romanian biathlete at the Championships. Second-place Christina Rieder of Austria had three penalties and the best shooting of the day. World Cup regular Ekaterina Yurlova of Russia placed third.

Canada’s two entrants, Emma Lunder and Erin Yungblut, missed ten and nine shots, respectively, to finish 47th and 55th.

In the men’s 20 k, Alexey Volkov of Russia came out on top with just two penalties. Sergey Semenov of Ukraine was the closest to touching him, with the fastest ski time of the day but four penalties; he finished 1:05 back. Vladimir Iliev of Bulgaria placed third +1:31.

Russell Currier led the United States in 55th with seven penalties, followed by Maine Winter Sports Center teammate Casey Smith in 61st with five penalties. Leif Nordgren did not finish the race, dropping out after the third shooting stage.

Macx Davies placed 45th for Canada, with eight penalties, and Scott Perras 54th with nine. Matt Neumann and Guillaume Bertrand rounded out the squad in 67th and 93rd with six and 12 penalties, respectively.

“Today wasn’t the best,” Davies posted on his facebook fan page. “Shooting 0,3,3,2 For a total of 8 misses out of 20. A poor performance when each miss adds a minute to my time. But I am happy with the skiing, my best 20km ski race I have done. Overall am OK day, considering the winds in the range, but looking for some big improvement going into the weekend races.”

Results: women / men

Phaneuf 20th In European Champs Junior Race

Estonia's Rene Zahkna gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he finished second in the junior men's 15 k individual race at Open European Championships in Otepää. (Photo: otepaa.biathlon.ee)

Estonia’s Rene Zahkna gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he finished second in the junior men’s 15 k individual race at Open European Championships in Otepää. (Photo: otepaa.biathlon.ee)

Maddie Phaneuf had the top North American performance on the first day of biathlon’s Open European Championships in Otepää, Estonia, placing 20th in the 12.5 k junior women’s individual competition. Phaneuf had four penalties and finished 4:56.9 behind the winner, Victoria Slivko of Russia, who only accrued a single penalty. It was a close race: Dunja Zdouc of Austria, the runner up, had a time just 9.9 seconds slower than Slivko. But, as a later starter, Slivko was able to overcome a slight deficit after leaving the range for the final time and make it to the top of the podium.

Also for the United States, Mikaela Paluszek and Siena Ellingson placed 46th and 48th out of 53 finishers with seven and nine penalties, respectively. Canada’s Emily Dickson and Leilani Tam Von Byrg were just ahead of them in 43rd and 44th, with eight and nine penalties.

In the junior men’s 15 k, both the U.S. and Canadian racers also strugged to find their marks on the shooting range. Matthew Hudec and Arthur Roots represented Canada with five and six penalties, respectively, to place 33rd and 40th. France’s Aristide Begue, who is a World Junior Champion in the discipline, won by over a minute with Estonia’s Rene Zahkna placing second. Begue was one of only two men in the field to shoot clean for all 20 shots; the other was Heikki Laitinen of Finland, who placed tenth.

Brian Halligan, the sole U.S. entrant, missed six shots and finished 53rd.

Racing continues in Otepää through February 3rd.

Results: men / women

IBU VP Taschler Praises Ferrari, Denies Helping Son Dope

In December, the Italian newspaper Gazetta Dello Sport reported that as part of the ongoing investigation into Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, who has aided doping athletes in multiple sports but most famously in cycling, police had recordings of wiretapped conversations between Ferrari and Gottlieb Taschler, the Vice President for Sport of the International Biathlon Union (IBU). Allegedly, Taschler set up a meeting between Ferrari and his son, Daniel Taschler, in 2010 to help Daniel obtain recombinant erythropoetin (EPO), a prohibited blood-doping drug.

Taschler temporarily stepped down from his post at the IBU, but did not comment extensively on the case at the time. He retained his role with the Organizing Committee of the Antholz World Cup. The biathlon World Cup competitions were held this weekend and while on site, the German broadcaster ZDF interviewed Taschler about the allegations.

Taschler claims that he has not seen the evidence from the wiretaps, and that his son did not obtain EPO from the doctor (or if he did, that he does not know about it).

However, Taschler did admit that he contacted Ferrari about his son: he says that he called about a thyroid problem.

“[I] brought him into contact, to be clear, not because of a doping thing,” Taschler said. It was at the time a health problem.”

He had consulted with several doctors in Germany and the thyroid issue was still unresolved, he said, so they turned to Ferrari.

Without seeing the evidence against himself, Taschler scoffs at requests that he resign permanently from his IBU position. ZDF reported that he seemed relaxed and certain that the allegations would be dismissed.

Daniel Taschler has only competed in a handful of World Cup competitions, with a top finish of 54th in the 20 k individual in Östersund, Sweden, in 2013.

From 1981 to 1983, Ferrari was the head doctor for the Italian national biathlon team. That coincided with the beginning of the senior Taschler’s career; he later made three Olympic teams in 1984, 1988, and 1992. In 1988 he was part of Italy’s bronze-medal relay team, as well as earning bronze in the World Championships relay in Oslo in 1986. He also had individual top-10’s at 1985 and 1986 World Championships.

“He did a great job then,” Taschler said of Ferrari’s involvement with the biathlon team. “How he screwed up later, that is his own problem. “As a man I’ve always had a good impression of him.”

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.