Only because she has changed her name to Koukalova!!! Finally I was getting some good scores! The favourites have to be Makarainen, Domracheva and Soukalova but only one of these has won it before. My favourite athlete from the Olympics though has to be the awesome Mr. She seems to have sorted out her shooting issues but with all the attention she has received after her Olympic glory and all the extra engagements outside of biathlon it has brought her, will she be able to keep her focus all the way to Khanty? The other biathletes will be watching out for her and like Domracheva she will have to try and maintain a good level throughout the season. Domracheva made light of a mistake at the shooting range thanks to her unmatchable speed on skis. We only have another 4 years to go until the next one in South Korea but it is a little sad that we are saying goodbye to some fantastic biathetes like Bjoerndalen, Berger, Henkel, Ferry, Bergman, Zaitseva, Mesotitsch and Sumann who have either announced their retirement or are very unlikely to compete in another Olympics.
Taking a well deserved bronze was Italy. The latter made up the deficit with a typically impeccable performance on the range backed by a strong ski, to ensure that anchorman Svendsen enjoyed a 43-second advantage going into the final leg. Marie Dorin Habert was amazing last season and pushed Gabi all the way coming second in the Total Score just 46 points behind. She had a great season last year on the World Cup and at the World Championships. World Cup leader Tora Berger finished 10th, more than 33 seconds behind the winner, while her fellow favourite Gabriela Soukalová could only manage 29th place, having registered three faults on the shooting range. If she can add a little more consistency she could make it a double World Title for France alongside Fourcade.
Despite two errors at the shooting range, Berger still managed to steer Norway into pole position as she handed over to Eckhoff, who delivered a faultless display of marksmanship. However like Starykh before her my joy was short lived as she too tested positive for an illegal substance and was disqualified. She can be fantastic over a race weekend but can she sustain that level over a whole season? With just one fault on the shooting range, the Belarusian completed the course in a time of 43 minutes 19. It has been really enjoyable supporting whoever has been in bib 23 this season. Valj Semerenko could not hold back her emotions during the flower ceremony. With Darya Domracheva missing the start of the season after giving birth to her first child in October the race for the title will be between five or six biathletes.
Domracheva, whose only previous Olympic medal was the bronze she won at Vancouver 2010 in the individual, said that her win had been far from easy. It just shows you though how small the margins are in biathlon between winning and losing. Two more points finishes from Garanichev and Gregorin took my total to 169 points for the weekend! Unsurprisingly it was won by Norway and meant that Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the greatest ever Winter Olympian winning his 13th medal. There are others who we expect to do well like Tiril Eckhoff. Kuzmina won in a time of 21:06. If she repeats her success then she possibly has the best chance of winning the overall title.
For those of you unfamiliar with biathlete23 I decided that as a feature on my blog I would follow whichever athlete was wearing bib 23 and record their scores and see how they did. They combined to deliver a powerhouse display, clocking 1 hour 09:17. So we better take a look at the other eight! In the end Anton Shipulin took gold for the home nation in a fitting end to an amazing Olympic Games for biathlon. On to Sunday and the Pursuit. Outside the Top 11 are more dangers lurking to thwart the favourites.
The large home crowd was swelled by Biathlon Fans Hungary on their first outing of the season and I am sure their blog and Facebook page will be full of great photos and interviews. In 8th and 9th places were Valj Semerenko and Veronika Vitkova. Then there is the raft of young talent coming on or back to the scene. She is a fantastic shot and copes well under pressure.
Not bad for a debut season in biathlon! Wierer möchte sich dem Bericht nach vor den Nacktfotos mit ihrem Verlobtem, Coach Stefano Corradini, absprechen. . In doing so she became the first woman to win three biathlon titles at the same Winter Games. I had no idea quite how interesting it would be to follow a bib number throughout the season but I have loved it.
None of the Norwegian top guns are attending which is a big disappointment but Martin Fourcade and the French team will be there so the crowds will be happy. What a great Games it has been and for Martin Fourcade, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen,Darya Domracheva, Anastasiya Kuzima and Emil Hegle Svendsen they get to say they are Olympic champion for the next 4 years until we get to Pyeongchang 2018!!! Russia, Norway, Germany and Austria all came in to the range together. The Mass Start was probably her weakest event last season but if she can improve her head to head racing she will have an opportunity to take the title. It is likely to be her final year in the sport and the World Championships might mean her main focus is not on the World Cup. What awaits the biathletes in Grand Bornand? We will just have to wait and Annecy! The biggest barrier to Laura however is her health.