Many Good Athletes and Teams; the Best of the Rest
Beyond the powerhouse teams, there are more top athletes including Darya Domracheva, Kaisa Mäkäräinen, Olena Pidhrushna, Jakov Fak, Fredrik Lindstrom and Tim Burke. At the same time, teams from Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Italy all had great 2012-13 seasons and will figure in the podium battles all season long. Part One will cover a few of the top women. Part Two with the men will follow in a couple of days.
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French Team: Martin and a Lot More
Copyright IBU/Rene Miko
These days, it is easy to view the French Team as Martin and company, but there is more to the French squad than its very visible leader. This is a team that year-in and year-out emphasizes the “T word:” Team. The men and women hold training camps together, although a bit less this past summer; they live for the relays, always do well in team events, and are frequently out on the tracks supporting their teammates.
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German Team: Veterans and New Hopes
Copyright IBU/Rene Miko
Last year, the German Team managed to finish second in the Women’s Nations Cup and fourth in the Men’s Nations Cup, yet only Andrea Henkel and the men’s relay managed a medal at the IBU World Championships. This was a big comedown for the always strong German squad that usually is battling for the top spot in the medals count. Also, both teams have a history of consistently being at or near the top of the Nations Cup standings. However, now as a the Olympic season approaches, the German team’s hopes may center on a couple of veterans, one barely 20-year old and a promising star trying to recover from serious injury.
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Dreams and Wishes Drive Czech Team’s Success
Copyright IBU/Rene Miko
When Nove Mesto na Morave was awarded the 2013 IBU World Championships, some people were skeptical that the Czech Biathlon Union could fulfill all of their promises. Yet, they steadily over four years built up the venue, their officials and staff as well as a fan base and voila... a spectacular IBU World Championships, as promised. The Czech Biathlon Team basically did the same thing, armed with talent, patient coaching and big dreams to have a spectacular 2012-13 season and as icing on the cake; claim a mixed relay Bronze medal in front of their adoring fans.
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Martin Fourcade: Confident and Prepared
Copyright IBU/Alexis Boeuf
The French biathlon team arrived in Sjusjoen Norway around 9 PM last Thursday evening after 10 hours of “comfortable travel; a flight to Oslo and then the bus to Sjusjoen. We are quite happy to be here. Tomorrow will be some classic skiing and then the camp officially starts on Saturday.” Martin Fourcade sat down for a few minutes just after arriving to talk about his summer training and the new season, which is now less than two weeks away.
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Landertinger Leads Austrian Team Comeback Season
Copyright IBU/ÖSV/Sonnberger
The Austrian men have been a small but powerful team for many years. From the 2006-07 season until the 2010-11 season, they sat comfortably in the top five in the Nations Cup standings, comparing favorably to the big teams like Germany, Norway and Russia. Then suddenly, in 2011-12 they fell to 7th after being decimated by injury and illness. The drop did not last long. They had a great comeback last season, jumping back into fifth, led by a personal best season from former World Champion Dominik Landertinger.
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Russian Team...It is All about Medals
Copyright IBU/Rene Miko
Russia has more biathletes than any other nation and at the same time, more athletes capable of winning or being highly competitive on the international stage. Their depth and talent is comparable to Kenya in the world of long distance running; for every star, there are several athletes no one has ever heard of who are just as talented. The Russian team won both Nations Cup titles in 2011-12; they won the Men’s and were third in the Women’s last season. Despite this, the Russian team has only managed four medals in the past two IBU World Championships; three by Anton Shipulin and one by Olga Vilukhina.
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Norway: Still a Powerhouse
Copyright IBU/Rene Miko
Last season, the Norwegian women won the Nations Cup carried on the broad shoulders of Tora Berger, while the men finished second behind Russia. Yet in some ways, they truly ruled the most important part of the season, the World Championships.
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The Battle is About to Begin; Season Opens in Östersund
Copyright IBU/Ostersund OC
The Sochi Olympic Winter Games are 100 days away and the new E.ON IBU World Cup season is even closer; 26 days. There are less than four weeks to go until the season-opening mixed relay inaugurates the first stage of the revamped Östersund Ski Stadium.
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A Summer Snapshot...In Photos Part 2
Copyright IBU/Martin Fourcade
Here is Part 2 of our athlete-submitted photo gallery; another quick look back at the summer as they prepared (and relaxed too) for the upcoming season.
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