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Former IBU Executive and Son Suspended for Two Years

On Monday, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Anti-Doping Tribunal announced its ruling in the case of Gottlieb Taschler, formerly the International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) vice president for sport, and his son Daniel, who was alleged to have doped between 2010 and 2011 in an effort to make the Italian Biathlon World Cup team.

The two were found guilty of cheating after an investigation revealed Daniel, a 29-year-old former Italian B-team biathlete who hasn’t raced since December 2014, received “micro-doses of EPO cycles” administered by Michele Ferrari between late 2010 and early 2011, according to Neveitalia.it.

While a criminal trial is still ongoing, the father and son were found guilty at the sporting level and each received two-year bans until June 12, 2018. Daniel was suspended for violating Article 2.2 of the Sports Anti-Doping Rules: use or attempted use of a banned substance or method. Gottlieb, president of the Anterselva World Cup organizing committee, was suspended for violating Article 2.9 in aiding and encouraging the cover up. The two may appeal to the Court Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In December 2014, Gottlieb stepped down from his post at the IBU. He and Daniel were indicted nearly a year later in late November 2015. A well-known doctor in the doping world, Ferrari had already been banned for life for participating in doping activities by the Italian cycling federation, and also banned by the U.S. Antidoping Agency (USADA) for working with Lance Armstrong, among other American cyclists.

As Neveitalia pointed out, the ruling is a huge blow to Anterselva’s bid for a World Cup in 2020 or 2021. Gottlieb, 55, a former Italian biathlete, earned bronze in the relay at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

US Biathlon’s 2016/2017 Nominations; Plus Bonus Drone Video

On Wednesday, the US Biathlon International Competition Committee announced its nominations for the 2016/2017 national team and development groups via a press release.

US Biathlon also filmed the above “experimental aerial” video from biathlon nationals. Click here to see it on YouTube.

National A Team Women
Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vt.), A 1 Team
Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), A 2 Team
Maddie Phaneuf (Old Forge, N.Y.), A 3 Team

National A Team Men
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, N.Y.), A 1 Team
Tim Burke (Lake Placid, N.Y.), A 1 Team
Sean Doherty (Center Conway N.H.), A 2 Team
Leif Nordgren (Marine, Minn.), A 2 Team

X Team

Women
Joanne Reid (Boulder, Colo.)

Men
Max Durtschi (Sun Valley, Idaho)
Jake Brown (Houghton, Mich.)

National Development Group – Seniors

Women
Emily Dreissigacker (Craftsbury, Vt.)

Men
Patrick Johnson (Truckee, Calif.)
Paul Schommer (Appleton, Wis.)
Alex Howe (Craftsbury, Vt.)

National Development Group – Youth / Juniors

Women
Chloe Levins (Rutland, Vt.)
Amanda Kautzer (Plymouth, Minn.)
Claire Waichler (Winthrop, Wash.)

Men
Brendan Cyr (Caribou, Maine)
Vasek Cervenka (Grand Rapids, Minn.)

“The strength of the team can be seen through Susan Dunklee’s silver medal and the men’s team ranking 6th in the Nations Cup for the first time ever,” US Biathlon Chief of Sport Bernd Eisenbichler said in the press release. “Susan, Tim and Lowell are ranked 14th, 15th and 17th, respectively, in the World Cup and Sean Doherty made history with his three medals at the IBU Junior World Championships, becoming the most decorated youth/junior biathlete in the history of the sport. We are already looking forward to exciting competitions next season but, of course, there is a lot of work to do between now and then. That’s where our focus is today.”

Another Positive Doping Test for Biathlon, Possibly Meldonium

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced on Wednesday that another athlete has tested positive for a hormone or metabolic modulator.

It is possible that this substance is meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List on January 1, 2016. If so, that would add to the list of Olga Ambramova, the first biathlete to test positive for the substance, and later Artem Tyshchenko of Ukraine, as well as Eduard Latypov of Russia.

However, without further details from the IBU, it is not possible to say whether the positive is for meldonium or some other hormone.

The athlete has not yet been identified, with the IBU only specifying that the sample was collected during an out-of-competition test in March. The suspension is provisional pending a decision on the “B” sample.

The IBU emphasized that the athlete should not take part in organized sport during the ongoing disciplinary process.

“No athlete or other person who has been declared ineligible may, during the period of ineligibility, participate in any capacity in a competition or activity (other than authorized anti-doping education or rehabilitation programs) authorized or organized by any signatory, signatory’s member organization, or a club or other member organization of a signatory’s member organization, or in competitions authorized or organized by any professional league or any international-or national-level event organization or any elite or national-level sporting activity funded by a governmental agency,” the organization wrote in their press release.

 

Bailey and Egan Hold Solid for Pursuit Wins at NorAm Championships

NorAm Championship racing continued on Friday in Fort Kent, Maine, with pursuit competitions for all age categories.

In the men’s 12.5 k pursuit, Lowell Bailey held onto his lead from the sprint despite three penalties, all coming in standing. (A recent analysis by the blog Real Biathlon revealed that Bailey is the athlete on the World Cup with one of the biggest disparities between prone and standing shooting: in prone he hit 94.2 percent of his shots, but in standing just 79.8.) National team buddy Tim Burke missed only one shot, also in standing, and maintained almost exactly the same gap from the sprint: he made up one second to finish 48 seconds behind Bailey.

Sean Doherty again earned bronze, +1:39, after a successful World Cup season. Patrick Johnson of the USBA X Team moved up to claim fourth, +6:00, while Ethan Dreissigacker of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project shot three penalties to move all the way from eleventh up to fifth (+6:44).

In the women’s 10 k pursuit, Clare Egan of the U.S. national team cruised to a big win with three penalties. That put her 2:24 ahead of Joanne Reid of Auburn Ski Club and Colorado Biathlon, who had also finished as the runner-up in the sprint and had four penalties on the day. With three penalties, Annelies Cook of the U.S. national team moved from fourth up to third place (+3:31), followed by Maddie Phaneuf of the USBA X Team (+5:09) and Emily Dreissigacker of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (+7:38).

In the junior division, Brian Halligan won the men’s race and Hannah Streinz bested Caitlin Campbell by 2:31 of the women’s win.

In the youth division, Chloe Levins and Brendan Cyr repeated their wins from the sprint by 6:30 and 1:23, respectively.

The competition series concludes Saturday with mass start races.

Results

Morning races (including youth categories)

Later races (including junior and senior categories)

Bailey, Egan Win NorAm Champs Sprints

Zeroing before the start of the sprint competition in Fort Kent. (Photo: USBA/Twitter)

Zeroing before the start of the sprint competition in Fort Kent. (Photo: USBA/Twitter)

The U.S. biathlon community is converging on Fort Kent, Maine, this weekend for combined U.S. Nationals and NorAm Championships. For the first time in several years, the World Cup circuit ended a week before and the senior national team is in attendance, growing the size of the field and the prestige of the titles.

In the men’s 10 k sprint on Thursday, Lowell Bailey topped the standings in 25:07.3 with only one penalty, coming in prone. With fast skiing despite the long World Cup tour, that put him head and shoulders about fellow national-teamers Tim Burke and Sean Doherty. With two penalties, Burke’s time was 49.1 seconds back, narrowly edging Doherty, who had one penalty, by just half a second.

Casey Smith of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project was fourth, +1:48.0, followed by USBA X Team athlete Patrick Johnson, +1:56.9. Both also had one penalty.

In the women’s 7.5 k sprint, national team member Clare Egan missed just a single target to win in 23:29.3. In the first national championships competition of her biathlon career, Joanne Reid of the Auburn Ski Club and Colorado Biathlon finished second +1:33.6 with three penalties, edging national team-er Hannah Dreissigacker by 3.3 seconds; Dreissigacker missed just one shot.

Annelies Cook, another soon-to-retire national team member, placed fourth, +1:52.8, followed by the USBA X Team’s Maddie Phaneuf, +2:22.4.

The junior titles went to Brian Halligan and Hannah Streinz, while Brendan Cyr and Chloe Levins picked up the wins in the youth division.

Results:

Early races (including youth categories)

Late races (including junior and senior categories)

Gow and Vaillancourt Earn Mass Start Wins; Albertans 1-2 in Nationals Relay

Canadian National Championships continued over the weekend in Valcartier, Quebec, with mass start competitions for juniors and seniors on Saturday and then mixed relay competitions on Sunday.

In the men’s 15 k mass start, Christian Gow took his second title of the week, an 8.9-second win over fellow national team member Scott Perras. Gow had four penalties to Perras’s six over the course of four shooting stages; and crucially, one fewer in the final shooting stage. Matthew Neumann was also in the mix, finishing third with four penalties, +11.5. There was a break before Matthew Hudec crossed the line in fourth, +1:32.6, and Carsen Campbell in fifth, +2:19.7.

The junior men had a 12.5 k mass start, with Aidan Millar picking up a big win, a minute and six seconds ahead of Alexandre Dupuis though both had three penalties.

In the women’s 12.5 k mass start, Audrey Vaillancourt earned her first title of the week after being on the podium in both the sprint and the pursuit. With perfect 20-for-20 shooting, the Quebec native picked up a sizable victory, but the fight for silver was intense. With ten penalties, Zina Kocher stole second, +41.8 seconds, ahead of Emma Lunder, who had nine penalties and finished +43.9.

In the junior women’s mass start, Leila Tam Von Burg had six penalties but skied to a whopping 2:29.4 win over Charlotte Hamel, who had just one.

Youth competitors had to face individual competitions, also with four shooting bouts but with individual starts and one-minute penalties rather than a penalty loop. In the youth men’s 12.5 k individual, Youth Olympic Games team member Ben Churchill had just two penalties and raced to a 12.7-second win over Zachari BolducAdam Runnalls kept the race competitive, finishing +56.4 with seven penalties and the fastest ski time.

In the youth women’s 10 k individual, Megan Bankes shot three penalties to six by Emily Dixon, but was able to take the title by 32 seconds. Sarah Poisson-Gregoire finished third, +1:10.5.

Sunday’s mixed relays featured teams of two men and one woman, and Alberta swept the first two places in the senior category. The team of Matt Strum, Lunder, and Gow avoided the penalty loop and earned a 3:32.2 win over the second Alberta team; Tyson SmithKocher, and Millar had three penalty loops. British Columbia’s team of Arthur RootsSarah Beaudry, and Neumann picked up third, +4:39.2 with two penalty loops.

The junior mixed relay was won the Ontario team of Trevor KiersTam Von Burg, and Dupuis, with the Quebec team of BolducPoisson-Gregoire, and Teo Sanchez winning the youth mixed relay.

Results:

Saturday mass starts and individuals (for youth women, separate results)

Sunday relays

Canadian Biathlon Nationals Kick Off in Valcartier

Canadian national championships for biathlon kicked off in Valcartier, Quebec, on Wednesday, with national team veteran Scott Perras earning a national title in the 10 k sprint. With a single penalty over two shooting bouts, Perras held off Christian Gow – newly returned from World Championships in Oslo, where he earned relay bronze with the rest of the Canadian team – by 25.4 seconds, thanks in part to Gow’s two penalties. Also with a single penalty, Matthew Neumann finished third, +1:22.7.

In the junior men’s sprint of the same distance, Aidan Millar earned a 19.4-second win over Pearce Hanna despite three missed shots to Hanna’s one. In the youth men’s 7.5 k sprint, Adam Runnals won by 40.4 seconds over Ben Churchill, likewise with three penalties to Churchill’s one.

In the afternoon the women hit the course with Emma Lunder claiming the 7.5 k sprint crown. Lunder had three penalties, but was able to best Audrey Vaillancourt, who had just two, by 35.9 seconds. Fresh off the plane from World Championships, Sarah Beaudry placed third with three penalties.

Leilani Tam Von Burg topped the junior women’s field by a whopping 3:49.1 – yes that’s almost four minutes – with one penalty to runner-up Kendall Chong‘s four. In the youth women’s 6 k sprint, Megan Bankes claimed a 1:03.6 win over Sarah Poisson-Gregoire, despite four when Poisson-Gregoire shot clean.

On Thursday, it was Gow who turned in near-perfect shooting, missing just one of his 20 shots in the 12.5 k pursuit. With Perras collecting three penalties, the young Albertan cruised past his older teammate and took a 48.9-second win. Carsen Campbell passed Neumann to claim third, having just two penalties to Neumann’s seven.

In the junior men’s field, Matt Strum claimed the win despite four penalties, taking a 22.5-second win over Alexandre Dupuis. In the youth men’s 10 k, Runnals doubled up after surviving a challenge by Teo Sanchez, who climbed up from fifth to finish second, +5.9.

In the women’s 7.5 k pursuit, Lunder and Beaudry each shot a single penalty, but Lunder – starting in bib one – claimed the win by 32.3 seconds. With two misses in the final stage, Vaillancourt fell to third, +2:56.2.

For the junior women, Tam Von Burg missed a painful eight shots, including three in each standing stage, and was eclipsed by Chong, who had just three penalties and climbed to a 43-second victory. In the youth women’s 6 k pursuit, Bankes doubled up despite seven missed shots, besting Darya Sepandj by 7.9 seconds.

Competitions continue over the weekend with mass start and relay competitions.

Results

Wednesday sprints: menwomen

Thursday pursuits: menwomen

European Championships Roundup: Tyumen Pursuits and Mass Starts

Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold (left) sprints past Russia’s Anastasia Zagoruiko on the final meters of the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit race at the 2016 Open European Championships. (Photo: IBU)

Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold (left) sprints past Russia’s Anastasia Zagoruiko on the final meters of the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit to place third at the 2016 Open European Championships. (Photo: IBU)

By Harald Zimmer

It would be understandable if this week, Russia’s Anastasia Zagoruiko experienced the type of nightmare where you are trying to run away from someone, but your legs seem to idle and you just cannot gain any ground. The figure chasing her in her dreams might be a young woman in the bright red spandex race suit of the Norwegian ski team.

Saturday was the windiest day of the competition week at the International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia. Nadezda Skardino of Belarus managed to cope best with the difficult conditions, shooting clean in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit until the final standing stage, when she incurred two penalties narrowly missing her first and last shot (0+0+0+2).

Regardless, she came out of the penalty lap and back on the course with a small lead to Germany’s Karolin Horchler who had shot clean in her last shooting, and defended it into the finish in a time of 30:01.7 minutes.

“Today I felt much better than during the sprint [where she placed fifth],” Skardino told reporters, according to an IBU press release. “Unfortunately before the sprint I had a long trip. But during the last few days I got some sleep and rest. So today, I felt good and confident, and glad to win.”

Behind Skardino, Horchler held her position from the sprint to repeat her silver medal, finishing 7.4 seconds back, also with two penalties (1+0+1+0).

“Silver medal number 2,” Horchler later posted on her Facebook page. “I am extremely happy about my competition today, which was exciting until the finish. With this atmosphere and in this brilliant stadium it is just fun. Thanks to the whole team and to everyone for keeping your fingers crossed.”

Third place went to 19-year-old Norwegian Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, also a gold medalist in pursuit at the 2015 Youth/Junior World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, who, by her own account was racing in her international debut against “senior” athletes this week in Tyumen.

In an exciting finish, she still caught up to Russia’s 27-year-old Zagoruiko, who had left the range after the final shooting five seconds ahead and held a lead until the last split time. But on the final downhill Tandrevold got into the draft of the Russian, and sprinted past Zagoruiko on the finish stretch without even using her poles. Tandrevold raised her arms and screamed in excitement as she crossed the line 0.3 seconds ahead to secure the bronze medal (+14.1, with three penalties).

“My first sprint win ever, just at the right time!” Tandrevold posted on Instagram, according to a translation.

After the noise level in the “Pearl of Siberia” arena in Tyumen initially dropped in a bit of a shock, the fair Russian audience quickly returned to cheering for the remaining athletes as they came into the finish. Sprint winner Nadine Horchler, Karolin’s older sister, finished the pursuit in sixth place (+37.8) with four penalties.

While the race with 60 starters wrapped up, the narrowly beaten Zagoruiko was crying in the finish pen, and had to be consoled by teammates and coaches. The spectators tried to cheer her up by giving her the biggest round of applause during the flower ceremony immediately following the race, though they also celebrated Tandrevold when she jumped for joy on the podium.

Kummer Takes Gold in Women’s Mass Start

Déjà vu: Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold (bib 4) celebrates her bronze medal after beating Russians Olga Iakushova (bib 28) and Anastasia Zagoruiko (bib 3) in a sprint to the line in the women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start at the 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia. (Photo: IBU)

Déjà vu: Norway’s Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold (bib 4) celebrates her bronze medal after beating Russians Olga Iakushova (bib 28) and Anastasia Zagoruiko (bib 3) in a sprint to the line in the women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start at the 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia. (Photo: IBU)

On Sunday in the women’s 12.5 k mass start, almost the same scene as in the pursuit a day before repeated itself: five athletes enter the last loop within about 30 seconds of each other, and in the finish a certain Norwegian junior athlete had sprinted her way from fifth to third place.

In strong snowfall, Germany’s Luise Kummer was able to defend a lead after the final shooting to win gold in a time of 36:05.1 with two penalties in the four shooting stages (1+0+0+1). She crossed the line 8 seconds ahead of Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova, who had three penalties yet reduced the gap to Kummer by 10.5 seconds, but could not quite catch up to her.

“It was both [wind and nervousness], and the third thing was that my legs were shaking so much, so I just had to take more seconds than normally,” Kummer said of her final stage in the press conference. “I think at the third shooting stage I was luckier than everyone, I just took that chance and hit all the targets. Today in the morning I felt really tired, but from the third leg I felt better and more confident, and in the end I was quite happy that I could win.”

A few seconds behind Kummer and Fialkova, Norway’s Tandrevold again managed to close a gap of 5 and 10 seconds on the final loop to Russians Zagoruiko and Olga Iakushova, respectively, as she had done in the pursuit the day before. She made use of her fast skis and technique for the best finish out of the final downhill to win the sprint to the line, and again claimed the bronze medal (+11.3, with four penalties).

Iakushova finished fourth (+11.8, with three penalties), and Zagoruiko was fifth (+12.8, also with three penalties), with the Russians once again losing their lead and the chance at a medal to the young Norwegian on the final meters.

It was the second medal for Kummer at the European Championships after a silver medal in the single mixed relay with her partner Matthias Dorfer, and also the second for Fialkova after a silver medal in the mixed relay for Slovakia. Both Kummer and Fialkova competed on the IBU World Cup this season, with a 14th place in the sprint in Canmore, Alberta, the best result for Kummer and a sixth place in the pursuit in Ruhpolding, Germany, the best one for Fialkova.

The speedy Tandrevold posted the second-best course time behind Russia’s Svetlana Mirova (who finished 11th due to five penalties), wrapping up a great week with her third bronze medal (single mixed, pursuit, and mass start) at the European Championships, where she competed against senior athletes for the first time.

Results: Women’s pursuit | Mass start

Babikov Outsprints Teammate Garanichev to Win Men’s Pursuit

Russia’s Anton Babikov lunges across the line ahead of teammate Evgeniy Garanichev in the men’s pursuit race at the 2016 Open European Championships. (Photo: IBU)

Russia’s Anton Babikov lunges across the line ahead of teammate Evgeniy Garanichev in the men’s pursuit race at the 2016 Open European Championships. (Photo: IBU)

At least on the men’s side, the Russian fans in Tyumen had plenty to cheer for, as Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev and his younger teammate Anton Babikov dominated the men’s 12.5 k pursuit race on Saturday evening, skiing fast and shooting clean until both missed a shot in the last standing shooting.

The race was decided only on the last meters, after Garanichev had gone on the final loop with a 0.8 second lead and Babikov right behind him. Down the final stretch both athletes raced next to each other, with Babikov winning the lunge into the finish by 0.1 seconds despite Garanichev’s best efforts falling to the ground as he crossed the line.

“On the final lap I understood that both of us had enough power, so there was no reason to try to run away from him,” Babikov commented on his race against Garanichev, according to an IBU press release. “So I thought we could have a good battle in the finish sprint. I knew how he can finish fast, I saw it from the previous competitions. At the same time I knew my strengths and I took advantage of it.”

“Yes, I noticed that Evgeniy made a mistake and unfortunately I cannot completely ignore those moments,” Babikov added when questioned about the last shooting. “But luckily I missed only one target as well. This miss will be a stimulus to work on that.”

It was the first time that Garanichev got beaten during a race in Tyumen this week, after winning gold in the mixed relay in a similarly close sprint against Slovakia’s Martin Otcenas and then also winning the individual start 10-kilometer sprint on Thursday.

Coming into the finish with a significant gap 46 seconds later, the bronze medal went to Germany’s Florian Graf, celebrating across the line after he had narrowly missed a medal coming in fourth place in the sprint and mixed relay before.

“Yeeees there she is!! The first medal of the season and then even at the European Championships,” Graf later commented on his Facebook page, according to a translation. “The bronze medal means a lot to me and I am enormously happy!!!“

Graf Wins Men’s Mass Start

Germany’s Florian Graf competing in the men’s 15-kilometer mass start at the 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia, on his way to winning the gold medal. (Photo: IBU)

Germany’s Florian Graf competing in the men’s 15-kilometer mass start at the 2016 Open European Championships in Tyumen, Russia, on his way to winning the gold medal. (Photo: IBU)

On the next day following his bronze medal, things went even better for Graf in the 15 k mass start, winning gold in a time of 38:20.5 with only one penalty (0+1+0+0).

In easier wind conditions than during the women’s race, half the field stayed clean initially, and a fairly large group of eight biathletes remained close together until the third shooting. In the last stage, the leaders Germany’s Matthias Bischl (who finished sixth) and Austria’s Tobias Eberhard (who finished eighth) fell out of the top group with two penalties, while three athletes at the top remained clean and Russia’s Babikov only incurred one miss to return to the course in third place

On the final loop, Graf was caught by 33-years-old biathlon veteran Jaroslav Soukup of the Czech Republic making up a six second difference. But Soukup could not create a gap on the climbs, and with fast skis Graf was able to take the lead again out of the last downhill into the arena.

Seeing that he was unable to close the gap once more, Soukup stopped pushing hard and slid into the finish 4.1 seconds behind Graf to win silver.

Similar to Tandrevold in the women’s race, Bulgaria’s Vladimir Iliev managed to catch up to and ultimately overtake Babikov by skiing the fastest course time on the final loop (and third-fastest overall) to claim the bronze medal, 8.5 seconds behind Graf. After overcoming a 14.0 second gap from the last shooting stage, Iliev did not have to get into a sprint against the winner of the pursuit race on Saturday, who finished fourth (+14.3, with one penalty).

Graf crossed the line with a severely bleeding nose, though it was unclear what had caused the injury, and he did not elaborate on this in his first statements.

“I am very happy to be here today,” Graf said, according to an IBU press release. “It was a great battle with Jaroslav. I had only one mistake, so I am very glad about how I did my race. I did not feel so good, but was very happy about my shooting and skis.”

Asked about his experience in Tyumen, Graf added: “It is great place here, I really like it. I like the crowds, the public is very crazy, but in a good way, so I enjoyed staying and competing here.”

“Good things come to those who wait! I am so incredibly happy about the title European Champion in the mass start,” Graf later wrote on his Facebook page.

Garanichev skipped the mass start that he would have been qualified for, likely in order to get some additional rest ahead of the upcoming World Championships.

Results: Men’s pursuit | Mass start

World Championships

While the European Championships were the season highlight for many of the athletes competing in Tyumen, some will also make the trip to the World Championships in Oslo, Norway, beginning Thursday, March 3 with the mixed relay.

For Russia, Garanichev is sure to be on the team, but head coach Ricco Gross insinuated that he might add a few more of the young athletes, such as Babikov, who had very strong results during the last week of competitions in Tyumen.

Sisters Lead German Sprint Sweep; Garanichev Wins Second Gold in Tyumen 

Karolin Horchler hugs her sister Nadine Horchler standing on top of the podium at the flower ceremony of the IBU Open European Championships 2016 women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. (Photo: IBU)

Karolin Horchler hugs her sister Nadine Horchler, standing on top of the podium at the flower ceremony of the IBU Open European Championships women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint on Thursday. (Photo: IBU)

By Harald Zimmer

Three German biathletes swept the podium in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) 2016 Open European Championships, which are held this week in Tyumen, Russia.

That in itself would be a great result for the team, but not extremely unusual. It even happened this season at the IBU World Cup in Hochfilzen, Austria.

What made Thursday’s race more special: gold medalist Nadine Horchler and silver medalist Karolin Horchler are sisters. And for the older Nadine, it was her biggest success at age 29, being rewarded for years of racing on the IBU Cup level after her biathlon career had stagnated.

Karolin Horcher (left, silver medal), Nadine Horchler (center, gold medal) and Annika Knoll (right, bronze medal) celebrating the podium sweep for Germany after the medal ceremony of the Open European Championships 2016 women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. (Photo: Karolin Horchler Facebook Profile/Viessmann Sport)

Karolin Horcher (left, silver medal), Nadine Horchler (center, gold medal) and Annika Knoll (right, bronze medal) celebrating the podium sweep for Germany after the medal ceremony of the Open European Championships 2016 women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint. (Photo: Karolin Horchler/ Facebook/Viessmann Sport)

At first, the 26-year-old Karolin had set the best time in the finish thanks to two clean shootings and a good course time that ultimately would be the sixth-best overall.

Then her older sister bested that time by 12.7 seconds, despite a penalty lap in the standing shooting and coming back on the course in second place, 1.7 seconds behind. But after a fast last loop Nadine crossed the finish line first to get the gold medal in a time of 21:53 minutes.

Starting late in the field with bib 62 and only two more athletes behind her, 22-year-old Annika Knoll shot clean and completed the German sweep (+28.5) with her first podium of the season. Knoll consistently lost time on the final loop after leaving the range just 2.4 seconds behind Karolin, but in the finish was narrowly ahead of Russia’s Anna Sherbinina (+32.0, with one penalty) and relegated her to fourth place.

“I knew I was second after the last shooting, but I felt really good on the track today, so I hoped to win,” Horchler said after her victory, according to an IBU press release. “I knew I was battling with my sister and it was a hard fight on the last loop. I am so happy about the podium; it is so cool to be there not only with Karolin, but also with Annika.”

“What a crazy day,” her sister Karoline posted on her Facebook page. “That was a great competition and the three of us can be all the happier together. THANKS and congratulations to the whole team.”

For Nadine, it was not only the biggest individual achievement of her career, after three bronze medals at European Championships in 2011 and 2012. A special kind of redemption for the biathlete was also that she won with the best course time (by almost 25 seconds over Russian Anastasia Zagoruiko, who finished 7th with two penalties). As was beating her younger sister in an important race.

At 29, Nadine had only been nominated once for Germany’s World Championships team in 2013 (where she achieved a 28th place in the individual competition, and only an 84th place in the sprint), and in the last three seasons, she had failed to make the World Cup team, only being called up sporadically.

According to her national team coaches, she was too slow on the courses and thus had to rely too heavily on flawless shooting performances to score World Cup points, much less get close to the podium. Her 1- best World Cup results all came during the 2012/2013 season, highlighted by a fifth place in the sprint and the following pursuit as well as a first place in the relay, all in a single week in Antholz, Italy. Then her career hit a standstill, and younger athletes including her own sister passed her by.

In 2014, doctors had diagnosed Nadine with “overtraining,” eager to qualify for the Sochi Olympics, which did not work out. She fell into “a deep dark hole,” as she later told a German newspaper in March 2015. “I could not focus anymore. It would have been easier for my head if somebody had found a virus or some kind of infection.”

But despite losing her “cadre” status which meant she had to compete as a self-funded athlete, she did not give up her biathlon career, and continued to race in the second-tier IBU Cup, where she finished third overall in the 2013/2014 season, and later second overall in the 2014-15 season.

“I sit here [at home] and have to watch the empty starting spot on TV. Sad but true as the leading woman in the IBU total score,” Nadine wrote on her Facebook page in March 2014, when a quota starting position at a World Cup in Pokljuka, Slovenia, was left unfilled by her national team coaches.

Many German news outlets immediately picked up her statement creating a bit of a media storm, as fellow former World Cup biathlete Kathrin Lang (formerly Hitzer) had also severely criticized the coaches calling their behavior “cowardly,” and the women’s team without Horchler and Lang had largely disappointed during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

“There surely will be a reboot, for which younger athletes will be preferred,” former German head coach Uwe Müssiggang told press agency SID back then.

Two coaches responsible for Germany’s women’s biathlon team got replaced after the 2013/2014 season, but that did not immediately help Horchler’s career either as other younger athletes surpassed her, spending another season in the IBU Cup.

For the current 2015/2016 season, she again tried to be on the World Cup team, but once more did not make the cut and was assigned to the IBU Cup, while her sister Karolin was picked for the World Cup team receiving starts in Östersund (Sweden), Ruhpolding (Germany, only for the relay), Antholz (Italy), Canmore (Canada, with a ninth place in the sprint as her best individual World Cup result), and Presque Isle (USA).

While Nadine Horchler most likely will not be a member of Germany’s team for the upcoming World Championships in Oslo regardless of her results this week in Tyumen (and probably neither will Karolin Horchler nor Annika Knoll), at least she can leave Russia with a big personal victory.

With her sprint win, Nadine has now also taken the lead in this season’s IBU Cup total score standings, moving up from fourth place before the European Championships which count for the IBU Cup.

Horchler has left open if she plans to continue her biathlon career beyond this season, after also completing an education towards a future career as a nonmedical practitioner for psychotherapy.

Veterans Garanichev and L’Abée-Lund Prevail in Men’s Sprint

Norway’s Henrik L’Abée-Lund (left, silver medal), Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev (center, gold medal) and Russia’s Anton Babikov (right, bronze medal) after the medal ceremony of the 2016 Open European Championships men’s 10-kilometer sprint. (Photo: IBU)

Norway’s Henrik L’Abée-Lund (left, silver medal), Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev (center, gold medal) and Russia’s Anton Babikov (right, bronze medal) after the medal ceremony of the 2016 Open European Championships men’s 10-kilometer sprint. (Photo: IBU)

In the men’s 10-kilometer sprint later on Thursday, the presumed favorite Evgeniy Garanichev, currently in eighth place in the overall IBU World Cup as the highest-ranked athlete among those competing in Tyumen and an Olympic bronze medalist in 2014, did not disappoint the expectations of his home crowd in the “Pearl of Siberia” biathlon arena.

Despite one penalty in his standing shooting stage, he claimed the gold medal in a time of 23:40.3 minutes thanks to his fast skiing with the best course time, ahead of three athletes who shot clean. A day before, Garanichev (age 28) had already anchored Russia to a win in the mixed relay.

“It is a double happiness for me to score the second win here, at the home stadium,” Garanichev said according to an IBU press release. “Today I managed to work good in the competition; yes, I had one penalty, but on the track I felt really strong.”

Regarding the upcoming World Championships in Olso, Norway, Garanichev added: “I’ve never had the competitive practices before the World Championships. Probably it is a small experiment and we will see how it works out. I will stay in Tyumen until February 29 [the day after the final competition] and then will go to Moscow where I meet my team.”

Coming into the finish a few minutes later, Norwegian veteran Henrik L’Abée-Lund, 29, secured the silver medal after losing some ground on the final loop but never taking the lead (+5.2 seconds, with no penalties), pushing Russia’s 24-year-old Anton Babikov to the bronze medal position (+9.7, with no penalties).

“I have never been in Tyumen,” L’Abée-Lund said, according to a translation of a press release by the event organizers. “It is a delightful [biathlon] complex. And the crowd here – just great.”

“I am happy with how I managed to shoot clean in the race,” Babikov said in the press release. “It was exciting to wait for the rest in the finish. I am very glad to be on the podium.”

Similar to Garanichev, Babikov already had won a gold medal with his partner Victoria Slivko in the single mixed relay a day before.

For L’Abée-Lund it was also the second medal in Tyumen after a bronze for Norway in the mixed relay. And it was his second gold medal at European Championships, after a victory with the men’s relay in 2009 in Ufa, Russia. He also won a gold medal with the Norwegian men’s relay at the 2013 World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

Germany’s Florian Graf came out of the sprint competition empty-handed, 19.6 seconds back in fourth place. He had started the race early in bib 4, and held the top position as 35 other athletes finished the race, until the two Russians and finally the Norwegian bested his time to push him off the podium.

Already in the mixed relay a day before, Graf had missed a very good chance at a medal by shooting three penalty laps as the anchor leg for his team with the two Horchler sisters and Matthias Bischl. In the sprint he redeemed his shooting performance with two clean stages, but in the end – especially on the first loop where he only recorded the 24th best time – he just was not fast enough on the course to get on the podium.

His teammate Bischl placed sixth in the sprint (+37.9, with no penalty), also missing a medal again.

Still, Graf was encouraged by his improved performance:

“I am totally happy about my 4th place today in sprint at the European Championships,” he later wrote on his Facebook page. “The result gave me self-confidence again after it yesterday unfortunately did not work out as I and my teammates had wished for. I am looking forward to the next race! Thanks for your support and the words of encouragement.”

Races at the Open European Championships in Tyumen continue on Saturday with pursuits for the women and men where the times back from the sprint will carry over, and conclude with mass starts on Sunday. Races as well as full replays and shorter recaps can be streamed live on http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/

Sprint results: Women | Men

European Championships in Russia: Home Team Tops Both Mixed Relays in Tyumen

Russia topped the podium in the single mixed relay at 2016 Open European Championships, followed by Germany in second (l) and Norway in third (r). (Photo: IBU)

Russia topped the podium in the single mixed relay at 2016 Open European Championships, followed by Germany in second (l) and Norway in third (r). (Photo: IBU)

By Harald Zimmer

In each of the next two seasons, Tyumen in Western Siberia, Russia, is scheduled to host an International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup. This week, the new biathlon complex that has been mostly used for local events and invitational races so far is hosting the 2016 Open European Championships as a dress rehearsal.

Just ahead of the upcoming IBU World Championships in Oslo, Norway, from March 3-13, most of the best World Cup athletes did not make the long trip to Russia, allowing other athletes to shine there for a highlight of their season.

The “Pearl of Siberia” (Zhemchuzhina Sibiri) biathlon arena in the fairly remote location in the middle of large forests is impressive, with broad tracks, stands for thousands of spectators, many floodlights (so races can be held in the evening to also fit the broadcast schedules of TV networks in central Europe), and a large utility building with a mirrored glass front. Everything might be a bit smaller than the Russian biathlon venues in Khanty-Mansiysk or Sochi, but it is already on a similar level.

On Wednesday, competitions began with a 13.5-kilometer single mixed relay, a fairly new format that is not yet a part of Olympic Winter Games or IBU World Championships. It is somewhat comparable to a team sprint in cross-country, with one woman and one man teaming up and interchanging after a prone and a standing shooting, each skiing two legs for eight shooting stages overall.

Russia with Victoria Slivko and Anton Babikov, two athletes who have been successful on the IBU Cup this season, created a large gap to the rest of the field early on by shooting flawlessly on the first three legs, to the joy of the home crowd in the stands that were almost filled to capacity, an impressive audience for a second-tier championship and a midweek race.

Slivko, who hails from Tyumen, shot clean in all four of her shooting stages on a range that features a difficult approach coming out of a long downhill section (somewhat comparable to the World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, but even more pronounced), which makes it hard for athletes to control their heartbeat during the shooting.

This performance gave Russia the decisive edge to take the gold medal. Only on the final leg, Babikov had to react to changing winds, and required two spares each to hit all his prone and standing shooting targets. He preserved a lead of more than 30 seconds, crossing the line in a time of 36:59.0, with no penalties and four spares.

“When I was shooting, I did not feel the wind and had no idea how the rivals shot,” Slivko said, according to an IBU press release. “I was only doing my work and did not pay attention to the others.”

“I think it is a good sign for Russia to start with a gold medal,” her teammate Babikov said. “Just knew we have to do a good work, but before the competition our thoughts were more about the skies, what pair we have to choose, because with each day the weather is getting warmer and warmer. Sure, the home stadium gives the emotions, which you do not feel in the other places. I saw that there are many [local] people here, in some way it was hard, but on the other hand, it is a useful experience for us.”

Germany started with Luise Kummer, an athlete who appeared at three World Cup weekends this season, including the single mixed relay in Canmore, Alberta, where she placed seventh. On Wednesday her race got off to a bad start, when she broke a pole on the loop out of the stadium and lost contact with the top of the field until the first shooting.

After requiring two spares, she fell back 25.2 seconds behind Russia, and with another spare in her standing shooting she tagged off in sixth place. Her partner Matthias Dorfer moved up to third place, and Kummer was able to keep it there with a performance more in line with her usual standards on her second leg.

Dorfer went out for the anchor leg in a close competition with Sweden and Norway for the podium and with good skiing and a clean final shooting, secured the silver medal, 37.9 seconds behind Russia, with a team total of zero penalties and seven spares.

Norway with Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold and Christian Vetle Sjastad had been just out of the podium positions for the first three legs. But with just one spare on his anchor leg, Sjastad still managed to overtake Sweden’s Tobias Arwidson who shot fine with two spares in prone and a clean final standing shooting, but only skied the 17th fastest course time on his leg. Thus Norway was able to claim the bronze medal, 52.7 seconds behind the winner, with no penalties and six spares.

The Swedes with Arwidson and his partner Hanna Öberg, a gold medalist in sprint and pursuit at the Youth Junior World Championships earlier this season, had been in second position until the final leg, but fell behind Germany and Norway to finish fourth (+1:09.2) with no penalties and six spares.

These European Championships are “open” which means also countries outside of Europe can also participate. Some non-European countries, such as Australia, participated. The U.S. and Canada did not send any of their biathletes, most likely because of the upcoming World Championships in Oslo in a week, as well as the high travel costs to get to Tyumen.

Russia as the host entered a full team, including a few World Cup athletes, but the championships are also an important event for some other countries that place a high value on it to determine future rosters as well as financial support. Junior competitions are no longer included in the event, as they had been in prior seasons.

Results

Mixed Relay

Russia also won the mixed relay at the first day of Open European Championships, ahead of Slovakia (l) in second and Norway (r) in third. (Photo: IBU)

Russia also won the mixed relay at the first day of Open European Championships, ahead of Slovakia (l) in second and Norway (r) in third. (Photo: IBU)

Later on Wednesday, with the new floodlights put to good use at 6 p.m. local time to illuminate the otherwise dark course through the forests, races continued with a 2 x 6 + 2 x 7.5 k mixed relay, with two women and two men exchanging, and all other rules like in a “traditional” relay.

Despite the popular mental image of a frosty Siberia, temperatures were still around freezing point and with low wind speeds — perfect conditions for biathlon.

The race was defined by crucial penalty laps, and a few countries opting to use some of their best athletes from the IBU World Cup, while most rather started members of their developmental teams.

To the excitement of the home crowd in the now even-better filled stands in Tyumen, the Russian team, with anchor Evgeniy Garanichev (an experienced biathlete who ranks eighth in the men’s overall World Cup standings) also came out on top in this race in a close fight with Slovakia for the gold, in a time of 1:10:56.3, with one penalty and nine spare rounds.

Initially it had not looked very good for the home team. Starter Anastasia Zagoruiko had a penalty lap in her standing shooting, handing off in 11th position and more than a minute behind. Her teammates Olga Iakushova (currently ranked third in the IBU Cup) and Matvey Eliseev (the IBU World Cup men’s leader) had to work hard to get Garanichev back into a position where he could even contend for the medals, much less the victory.

Second place went to Slovakia, a smaller biathlon nation that made good use of the lesser competition in this championship, by starting their four best available biathletes: Paulina Fialkova (ranked 32nd among women in the World Cup), Jana Gerekova (35th), Matej Kazar (37th for the men), and Martin Otcenas (72nd). Slovakia had no penalties and required just five spare rounds.

At the third exchange to Garanichev, Russia was still 42.2 seconds behind. Slovakia was in first place after the final shooting, but Garanichev came back on the course now only 5.9 seconds behind, chasing after Otcenas. On the last loop, Otcenas was overtaken but refused to be gapped, and tried to attack one final time out of Garanichev’s draft on the last downhill into the flat finish section, skating side by side with the Russian who did not use his poles and swung his arms wildly, which seemed not the ideal technique. But Slovakia’s brave fight ended with the silver medal, 0.1 seconds behind Russia as Garanichev lunged across the line first.

“I never was an anchor in the international starts before,“ Garanichev said, according to an IBU press release. “I was trying not to think about anything, was battling until the last meter and glad I could win at the finish line. When I left the final standing, I saw the back of the rival, so I tried to do my best to catch him right away and to overcome.”

Norway claimed bronze medal (+1:04.1) despite 12 spare rounds, with a team that mixed newcomers with an athlete with extensive World Cup experience, with 21-year-old Sigrid Bilstad Neraasen, Bente Landheim, 25, Henrik L’Abee-Lund, 29, and Håvard Bogetveit, 23. On the third leg, L’Abee-Lund, who has four World Cup podiums to his name and won a gold medal with the Norwegian relay at the 2013 World Championships, twice used all three spare rounds, but like his younger teammates, he managed to avoid the penalty lap.

Germany had been in first place throughout the race, fighting for the lead with Slovakia. Nadine Horchler, her younger sister Karolin Horchler (another athlete with multiple World Cup starts this season), and junior Matthias Bischl had moved the team into an excellent position by skiing fast — with the Horchlers posting the best course times on their legs- – and requiring only three spares combined. But in the final prone shooting, the experienced anchor Florian Graf (a Youth/Junior World Championships gold medalist, and member of Germany’s senior World Championship teams in 2012 and 2013) had three penalties, ending the team’s quest for gold.

Graf came back onto the track in third place with Norway’s Bogetveit nearby, and even managed to create a small gap again by only requiring one spare in his final standing shooting. But with his tired legs from the additional penalty laps, he had no chance against Norway’s anchor on the final loop in the fight for bronze, placing fourth and severely shaking his head in disappointment as he crossed the line, 1:13.7 behind the Russian winners, with a team total of three penalties and seven spares.

Races in Tyumen continue on Thursday with sprints for the women and men. Live races as well as replays can be streamed online: http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/ibu/

Results

Schommer, Phaneuf, & Roberts Take Wins at Jericho NorAms

U.S. Biathlon headed to Jericho, Vermont this past weekend for North American Cup #5. While the races were attended by Americans and Canadians alike, there was slightly more pressure on the American athletes, as the races were being used for selection to the team for the final IBU Cup of the season. The prospect of one more ticket to Europe brought out a strong field, and led to some fast racing.

The weekend opened up Saturday with the men’s 10 k sprint. Despite taking 4 laps around the penalty loop, Paul Schommer of Moose Nordic emerged victorious on day one, with a time of 26:30.9. Right on his ski tails was Bill Bowler, who finished just 3.5 seconds back with 3 penalty loops. The day one podium was rounded out by Casey Smith of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project 6.4 seconds back with 2 misses. Overall it was a tight field, with 12 men finishing within 95% back of the leaders.

On the women’s side it was Maddie Phaneuf of USBA’s X Team who cruised to victory in the women’s 7.5 k sprint, despite three misses. Second place was Kaitlyn Miller of CGRP, a national champion skier who jumped into the world of biathlon for the weekend, and overcame 6 misses to finish 36.1 seconds behind Phaneuf. Her teammate Emily Dreissigacker finished just 1.1 seconds behind her with 4 misses.

The second day of racing dawned warm, which meant soft, sugary snow conditions out on course. This time the women were underway first with their 10 k pursuit. Once again it was Phaneuf who ran away with the win, beating second place Dreissigacker by 2:32.3. Phaunef also put in the third best shooting of the day, and the best by a woman, with just 3 misses. Mikaela Paluszek of the Maine Winter Sports Center moved up from fifth place to take third and the final spot on the podium with 6 misses on the day.

In the men’s 12.5 k pursuit, it was Wynn Roberts of National Guard Biathlon who overcame the sloppy conditions. Roberts charged up from twelfth place to take the top spot with just two misses. Schommer dropped back to second place, just 13.3 seconds back despite his 7 penalty loops. Russell Currier of Maine Winter Sports Center also made a huge jump in the second day of racing, moving from ninth to third in spite 9 misses.

Athletes selected from these races will compete at the final IBU Cup of the season at Val Martello in Italy.

The final NorAm Cup of the season, slated for Lake Placid, has been pre-emptively canceled due to warm weather. The next major competitions are thus Canadian Championships in Valcartier, Quebec, March 17-20, and U.S. Championships (which double as North American Championships) in Fort Kent, Maine, March 24-26.

-Silke Hynes

Results: sprintspursuits

Dunklee Second in Presque Isle World Cup Sprint

Susan Dunklee has her moment on the podium on "home" turf in Presque Isle after finishing second in the World Cup sprint to Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic.

Susan Dunklee has her moment on the podium on “home” turf in Presque Isle after finishing second in the World Cup sprint to Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic.

Susan Dunklee climbed up onto the second spot on the podium in Presque Isle, Maine, today, setting not only a personal best mark but also tying the best-ever finish by a U.S. woman.

Dunklee shot clean and finished 17.8 seconds behind Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic in the 7.5 k sprint. After crossing the line early – she was the 13th of 90 starters – Dunklee had to wait to see whether her time held up. It did, despite charges from Krystyna Guzik of Poland (third place, +19.1) and Marie Dorin Habert of France (fourth place, +20.5).

Joan Smith place second in a World Cup sprint in 1994, and Anna Sonnerup second in a World Cup race in 1991.

Dunklee’s previous best, and her first podium, came in March 2014, when she placed third in a World Cup sprint in Oslo, Norway.

Stay tuned for a full report.

Results

Blackhawk Ski Club Dominates Third Race of Wisconsin Biathlon Series

(Submitted by Ted Burns)

Mark Mehler (Blackhawk Biathlon Club) won the men’s race and Stephanie Osborne (Blackhawk Biathlon Club) won the women’s race at the the third race of the Wisconsin Biathlon Series held at Blackhawk Ski Club in Middleton, Wis., on Sunday, Jan. 31. The 12-kilometer time trial was shortened to 9.8 k due to thin trail conditions and pending rain but still drew a dedicated crew of biathletes from across the Midwest. Racers were spared the heavy rain, and were instead treated to slippery but warm conditions.

The time-trial format on the revised circuit still provided racers an opportunity to shoot a complete set of four stations and ski through the penalty loop for the entire race. Mehler beat out fellow Blackhawk skier Marc Class with strong skiing and improved shooting.

“Conditions were a little slick,  fast, and I shot well,” Mehler said. “I shot 1-1-3-2, 65 percent, which is better than normal.”

Despite strong shooting Class could not match Mehler’s speed on the snow or on the range.

“The first couple laps, I had trouble getting my head into it, after that it was fine,” Class said. “I haven’t skied in conditions like this yet this year, but once I got into it I felt like I got my heart rate up real good. The shooting went well. I shot slow and it paid off but I have work on shooting faster.”

With a late start Osborne was forced to fight through increasingly slippery conditions but still cruised to the win with fastest women’s time of the day.

“This was a fantastic day,” Osborne said. “Great snow, fast snow and lots of smiles from all of the participants.”

When asked how she fared on the range Osborne laughed and replied, “Oh goodness, we’ll have to work on some paper a bit at practice.”

The fourth race of the Wisconsin Biathlon series, which will also be a USBA event, will take place at McMiller Sports Center in Eagle, Wis., on Feb. 13.  For more information on the Wisconsin Biathlon Series visit the Blackhawk Ski Club Biathlon page.

Complete results

Email info@fasterskier.com with race reports from your region.

Norway Names Teams for World Champs, Canmore World Cups

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. Despite being unsatisfied with his form, Svendsen is on the team for 2016 World Championships.  He will sit out the next two World Cup weekends in North America to prepare.

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.Unsatisfied with his form, Svendsen is looking toward 2016 World Championships and will sit out the two World Cup weekends in North America.

Norway has named its teams for the next World Cup, and IBU Cup races, as well as for World Championships, which start on March 3 in Oslo.

The World Championships squad consists of four women and five men:

Tiril Kampenhaug Eckhoff, Fossum IF
Synnøve Solemdal, Tingvoll IL
Fanny Horn Birkeland, Oslo SSL
Marte Olsbu, Froland IL

Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Simostranda IL
Johannes Thingnes Bø, Markane IL
Tarjei Bø, Markane IL
Emil Hegle Svendsen, Trondhjems Skiskyttere
Lars Helge Birkeland, Birkenes IL

Leading up to their home Championships, things haven’t gone perfectly for the Norwegians. Eckhoff, posed to become a star after winning a bronze medal in the 2014 Olympic mass start and then her first individual World Cup in 2015, only has one podium this year – third place in the mass start in Ruhpolding. In particular, she has been struggling with standing shooting.

Eckhoff plans to focus on shooting in the coming weeks.

At least one hour more than what I have done until now,” she told NRK of her shooting training. “Currently I use maybe half an hour. Now I’ll feed on the hour.”

She will also skip the World Cups in Canmore, Alberta, and Presque Isle, Maine, instead staying in the European time zone and competing on the IBU Cup along with Horn Birkeland.

On the men’s side, Tarjei Bø is currently in second place in the World Cup Total Score, having earned four podiums but not yet an individual win. Bjørndalen won the very first World Cup competition of the season and has two other podiums, but none recently, and struggled with shooting in Ruhpolding, which he blamed on rifle problems. Johannes Thingnes Bø has one win and one other podium so far this season.

Svendsen has two World Cup podiums and sits in fourth in the Total Score, but is unsatisfied with his season; he didn’t shine last season either, compared to previous years where he had won the Total Score or Olympic gold. He told NRK that he increased his training by 20% to try to come back from last season’s disappointment.

“Considering the season so far, there’s no doubt that it perhaps wasn’t the best idea,” Svendsen said. “We’ll see how it is when the season is over… we are only about halfway through yet… I felt good all the way [in training], but it is a delicate balancing act.”

Of the men’s team, only Birkeland will make the trip to North America. Birkeland won the opening single mixed relay of the season with teammate Kaia Wøien Nicolaisen, and the Norwegians are hoping to repeat the result in Canmore.

And unlike the women, the men’s stars will not compete on the IBU Cup in the meantime. Instead, they will focus on training.

The World Cup roster for Canmore:

Synnøve Solemdal, Tingvoll IL
Marte Olsbu, Froland IL
Kaia Wøien Nicolaisen, Asker SK
Hilde Fenne, Voss SSL
Lene Berg Ådlandsvik, Sørskogbygda IL

Lars Helge Birkeland, Birkenes IL
Henrik L’Abée-Lund, Oslo SSL
Alexander Os, Ishavslaget
Håvard Gutubø Bogetveit, Førde IL
Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen, Geilo IL

And the IBU Cup roster for Brezno-Osrblie, Slovakia:

Tiril Kampenhaug Eckhoff, Fossum IF
Fanny Horn Birkeland, Oslo SSL
Sigrid Bilstad Neraasen, Vingrom IL
Rikke Hald Andersen, Asker SK
Thekla Brun-Lie, Oslo SSL

Erling Aalvik, Kvam LSK
Vegard Bjørn Gjermundshaug, Alvdal IL
Andreas Dahlø Wærnes, Trondhjems Skiskyttere
Tore Leren, Vingelen IL
Fredrik Gjesbakk, Bossmo&Ytteren IL
Martin Rui, Froland IL

Germany Hosts Six Races in Eight Days: ‘Almost the Tour de Ski,’ Fourcade Says

After Ruhpolding, Germany, successfully hosted the last IBU World Cup races that were supposed to be held in Oberhof, Germany, athletes will be staying in Ruhpolding for another week for the originally scheduled fifth World Cup stop. Races will start Wednesday, with a men’s 15-kilometer individual competition.

Ironically, it finally started to snow during the last week in Oberhof, while temperatures in Ruhpolding remained high, creating difficult conditions on a loop with artificial and stored old snow.

“I could cry when I see images from Oberhof where everything is snowed in, and we have to step through the slurry here,” said German biathlete Arnd Peiffer. “This is just not my comfort-zone temperature.”

“Three competitions in three days, we will have six competitions in eight days,” France’s Martin Fourcade said after Sunday’s mass start. “That’s almost the Tour de Ski, but we are not used to doing that. It’s perhaps the first time in my whole life I do that in the World Cup. It will be important to have a good recovery.”

In related news, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) rejected initial considerations by the German Skiing Federation to potentially move the two German World Cups in Ruhpolding and Oberhof, traditionally scheduled for the weekends after New Year’s Eve, into February or March for future seasons, when meteorologists typically expect more secure snow conditions for the region.

“That is not happening. Our competition calendar is already determined until 2018,” IBU Race Director Borut Nunar (Slovenia) told Germany’s sportschau.de. “Besides, where are we supposed to go to? We don’t have snow in all of Central Europe. In Siberia and in Northern Scandinavia it is very cold [this time of the year], which would also pose a threat for cancellations.”

“I’m hearing about this for the first time. There has been no discussion about this,” added IBU’s General Secretary Nicole Resch (Austria), also calling the competition calendar a “logistical masterpiece” where dates and locations are not easy to move around due to travel schedules for the teams. “It’s unprofessional to invoke the weather [as a reason for problems]. It would be more professional to prepare for the weather.”

She suggested snow farming and snow depots as a workaround, stating that the IBU is collaborating with experts from universities on potential solutions.

— Harald Zimmer

Oberhof Canceled, Canmore Results, U.S. & Canadian Team Announcements

With no snow in low elevation areas of central Europe and none in the forecast, Oberhof, Germany, has canceled its biathlon World Cups which were slated for the first weekend of the New Year.

The International Biathlon Union is seeking alternative venues for a replacement, with Ruhpolding, Germany, and Pokljuka, Slovenia, reportedly in the mix. The IBU will announce the relocation by December 27.

There was plenty of snow in Canmore, though, so the Alberta venue hosted races which served as selection trials for various teams.

On December 17, senior sprints were won by Patrick Johnson and Maddie Phaneuf of U.S. biathlon; junior sprints by Alexandre Dupuis and Kendall Chong of the Biathlon Alberta Training Center; and youth sprints by Leo Grandbois of Quebec Biathlon and Nadia Moser of the Biathlon Alberta Training Center (BATC). Results

On December 19, senior sprints were won by Max Durtschi of U.S. Biathlon and Joanne Reid of Colorado Biathlon; junior sprints by Matt Strum of BATC and Caitlin Campbell of Biathlon Prince Edward Island; and youth sprints by Teo Sanchez of Biathlon Quebec and Megan Bankes of BATC. Results

On December 20, the senior pursuits were won by Casey Smith of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project and Reid; the junior pursuits by Aidan Millar of BATC and Campbell; and the youth pursuits by Zachari Bolduc of Biathlon Quebec and Bankes. Results

After those competitions, the American and Canadian biathlon federations have announced rosters for several international racing trips. The U.S. is reshuffling its World Cup roster, keeping only Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan, Annelies Cook, Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, and Sean Doherty on the squad for the (now relocated) Oberhof weekend.

Hannah Dreissigacker and Leif Nordgren will compete on the IBU Cup, along with six other athletes selected after the Canmore races. They are: Smith of Winthrop, WA, and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project; Wynn Roberts of Battle Lake, MN, and National Guard Biathlon; Durtschi of Ketchum, ID, and U.S. Biathlon; Reid of Boulder, CO, and Colorado Biathlon; Phaneuf of Old Forge, NY, and U.S. Biathlon; and Emily Dreissigacker of Morrisville, VT, and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project.

Biathlon Canada named four biathletes to compete a the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, in February. The competitions are only for athletes born in 1998 and 1999; the inaugural version of the Games was held in Innsbruck four years ago. The chosen four are Ben Churchill (Calgary, AB / Calgary Biathlon), Leo Grandbois (Sherbrooke, QC / Biathlon Quebec), Gillian Gowling (Calgary, AB / Rocky Mountain Racers), and Tekarra Banser (Kelowna, BC / Telemark Biathlon).

* Biathlon Canada also named its team for World Youth and Junior Championships, slated for Chiele Gradistei, Romania, beginning January 25. The nominations are as follows:

Junior Men

Aidan Millar                             Canmore, AB                            BATC / Canmore Nordic

Matthew Strum                       Canmore, AB                            BATC / Canmore Nordic

Alexandre Dupuis                   Ottawa, ON                               BATC / Chelsea Nordic

Pearce Hanna                         Edmonton, AB                          BATC / Rocky Mountain Racers

Junior Women

Kendall Chong                         Calgary, AB                               BATC / Foothills Nordic

Charlotte Hamel                      Sherbrooke, QC                        Biathlon Quebec

Caitlin Campbell                      Bedeque, PEI                            Biathlon PEI

Leilani Tam von Burg              Ottawa, ON                               BATC / Chelsea Nordic

Youth Men      

Teo Sanchez                           Wakefield, QC                           Biathlon Quebec

Adam Runnalls                       Calgary, AB                               Calgary Biathlon Racers

Zachari Bolduc                       Ste. Sophie, QC                         Biathlon Quebec

Lucas Boudreau                     Elmwood, PEI                            Biathlon PEI

Youth Women

Megan Bankes                        Calgary, AB                               BATC / Foothills Nordic

Nadia Moser                           Whitehorse, YT                         BATC / Yukon Biathlon

Emily Dickson                         Prince George, BC                    BATC / Caledonia Nordic

India McIsaac                         Calgary, AB                                Rocky Mountain Racers

U.S. Biathlon will be holding its trials races for World Youth and Junior Championships in Anchorage, Alaska, beginning on December 27th.

Mäkäräinen Bests Yurlova in Early Season Sprint

Competing in one of the first biathlon races of the season, a sprint in Kontiolahti, Finland, hometown athlete Kaisa Mäkäräinen bested 2015 World Champion Katja Yurlova of Russia by a whopping minute and 23 seconds over 7.5 k.

Billed as an “International Grand Prix”, the competitions featured primarily Finnish athletes but also those from Belarus, Russia, and Estonia. Yurlova, who trains independently from the Russian national team, has close ties to Kontiolahti as a training base.

That didn’t help as both she and Mäkäräinen, the 2011 and 2014 World Cup Total Score winner, missed two shots in standing.

The conditions were difficult,” Mäkäräinen told Finnish website Kestävyys Urheilu. “The prone was good, and four standing shots were under control, even if one of them went high. The last shot was off completely, it was useless error.”

Yurlova couldn’t keep up on the tracks and finished second. Annuka Siltakorpi placed third, also with two penalties, +2:36.

Matti Hakola led an all-Finland men’s podium in the 10 k sprint. With one penalty he bested second-place Mikko Loukkaanhuhta, who had two penalties, by 59.8 seconds.

Results

Biathlon Canada Finalizes World Cup/IBU Cup Teams

On Friday, three Canadian men and two women punched their tickets to start this season on the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup, after the second race of Biathlon Canada’s team trials at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta.

While Nathan Smith and Rosanna Crawford won the men’s 10-kilometer and women’s 7.5 k sprint on Friday, respectively, the two national-team members were already prequalified for the first World Cup trimester. So was Brendan Green, who placed second, 10 seconds off Smith’s winning time of 31:44.3.

But it was the men’s third- and fourth-place finishers, Christian Gow and Macx Davies, who earned two of the remaining three spots on the World Cup team, with Gow finishing 13.1 seconds back in third and Davies placing fourth (+17.1).

None of the 19 men who finished shot clean during the two-stage race; Smith missed four targets, and Green had three penalties. Both Gow and Davies had a single miss.

Scott Gow, who placed eighth (+1:33.6), also made the World Cup team for Period 1.

Matt Neumann, Pearce Hanna, Scott Perras, and Carsen Campbell finished fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively, to secure their spot on the IBU Cup men’s team.

While Crawford and Megan Tandy (formerly Heinicke) were prequalified for the women’s World Cup team, Zina Kocher and Julia Ransom were also nominated on Friday. Kocher placed third, 52.6 seconds behind Crawford, who won the sprint in 26:53.3 with a single miss. Ransom was fourth (+1:02.3), with two penalties. Kocher had three misses and finished 15 seconds behind Emma Lunder, who was second on Friday with two penalties.

Lunder, who ended up 37.6 seconds off Crawford’s winning time, was named to the IBU Cup team, along with Audrey Vaillancourt, Sarah Beaudry, Erin Yungblut, and Leilani Tam von Burg. According to Biathlon Canada’s team announcement, Yungblut declined her selection to the team.

Vaillancourt placed fifth on Friday, Beaudry was sixth, Yungblut seventh, and Tam von Burg eighth out of 10 women.

Friday’s 7.5/10 k sprint results

Tuesday’s 7.5 k/10 k individual results

Canada’s Trimester 1 Teams:

World Cup men

  1. Nathan Smith***
  2. Brendan Green***
  3. Christian Gow
  4. Macx Davies
  5. Scott Gow

World Cup women

  1. Rosanna Crawford***
  2. Megan Tandy***
  3. Zina Kocher
  4. Julia Ransom

***pre-selected based on performances from last season

IBU Cup men

  1. Matthew Neumann
  2. Pearce Hanna
  3. Scott Perras
  4. Carsen Campbell

IBU Cup women

  1. Emma Lunder
  2. Audrey Vaillancourt
  3. Sarah Beaudry
  4. Erin Yungblut**
  5. Leilani Tam von Burg

** declined selection

Crawford, Smith Win First Selection Races

Rosanna Crawford and Nathan Smith won the first competitions of a two-race series in Canmore to determine which Canadian biathletes will be racing on the World Cup and IBU Cup circuits at the beginning of the 2015/2016 season.

Crawford took a 34-second win over Zina Kocher, with Julia Ransom in third just five seconds behind in the 7.5 k sprint.

In the 10 k sprint, Smith took an even bigger win, besting Scott Gow by 45 seconds. Brendan Green was third, +1:00.6.

Smith, Green, and Crawford, as well as Megan Heinicke (who did not compete at the race), are pre-qualified for the first period of World Cups. The third and fourth members of the team will be selected based on results from today’s and Friday’s races.

Meanwhile, Gow and his brother Christian, Ransom, Macx Davies, Emma Lunder, Sarah Beaudry, and Audrey Vaillancourt are guaranteed spots on the IBU Cup tour, although they could move up to the World Cup. Other IBU Cup spots will be filled based on only Friday’s race.

Time trial results

Summer Biathlon World Championships Recap

This past weekend, Summer Biathlon World Championships (SBWCH) took place in Cheile Gradistei, Romania, a resort town 180 kilometers from Bucharest, the capital of the country. The races began on Friday with a mixed relay, continued on Saturday with a sprint, and wrapped up on Sunday with a pursuit.

Friday’s competitions started with excellent weather; the sun was out and the temperature was warm. However, by the time the senior competition started, winds began sweeping across the shooting range, affecting the accuracy of the competitors.

The Russian team of Ekaterina Avvakumova, Olga Kalina, Sergey Klyachin and Sergey Korastylev was able to persevere through the tough shooting conditions to get the win. The team took the lead on the last leg when Korastylev needed only two spare rounds during standing to pass his competition, which were picking up penalties. Bulgaria took second on the day, 26.8 seconds behind the Russian team and Romania rounded out the podium in third, 38.6 seconds back from the winners.

In Saturday’s sprint race, Ukraine’s Olga Abramova claimed the victory for the women with the Polish duo of Monika Hojnisz and Magdalena Gwizdon taking second and third. In the men’s race, Bulgarian Iliev Vladimir crossed the line first followed by Artem Pryma of Ukraine in second and Martin Otcenas from Slovakia in third.

For the pursuit race on Sunday, the wind yet again picked up. However, it did not deter Saturday’s winner, Abramova, from winning the women’s race despite five penalties. She was yet again followed by Hojnisz who claimed second despite having seven penalties. Hojnisz finished 52.7 seconds behind the winner. Rounding out the podium in third was Ukrainian Juliya Dzhyma who had only two penalties on the day and was 1:09.7 behind the winner.

In the men’s race, Otcenas was able to shoot pretty well on his way to victory, picking up only four penalties. Pryma also had only four penalties on his way to second place in the pursuit, 28.6 seconds behind Otcenas. Finishing in third was Matej Kazar of Slovakia who was able to ski strong despite having five penalties to claim the final spot on the podium, 42 seconds back. Saturday’s winner Vladimir struggled on the range in the pursuit, getting seven penalties and falling down to sixth place.

Meanwhile in the junior race, Romanian Marius Ungureanu claimed his nation’s first-ever gold medal at the championships.

More results and information