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Separating the Men From the Mice



Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) loves the Östersund courses. Photo: Manzoni/Nordic Focus


Tomorrow’s biathlon competitions are the first individual World Cup races of the season, and the Östersund, Sweden, courses are tougher than most.


With the opening mixed relay under their belt, the biathletes are headed into their first individual World Cup races of the season, starting with the men’s 20 kilometer on Wednesday, December 3.


Madshus racer Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) just announced that he is planning to race every World Cup race this season. But he is particularly excited about the World Cup opener in Östersund, Sweden. The 28-year-old, who has five Olympic medals, 11 World Championship titles as well as four silver medals and two bronze medals from the World Championships, is determined to dominate the podium, and loves the courses in Östersund.


“This venue has pretty challenging courses, long uphills, and only a little bit of recovery on the descents. The entry to the range is fairly easy, but the conditions at the range are often challenging,” Svendsen says to Norwegian TV station NRK.


While the Östersund courses ski well, they definitely separate the men from the mice, Svendsen explains.


“These courses have proven to suit me well in the past,” Svendsen grins.

Program World Cup 1 Östersund, Sweden (November 30 – December 7)

Sunday November 30: Mixed 2×6+2×7.5 km relay
Wednesday, December 3: Men 20 km
Thursday, December 4: Women 15 km
Saturday, December 6: Men 10 km Sprint
Saturday, December 6: Women 7.5 km Sprint
Sunday, December 7: Men 12.5 km pursuit
Sunday, December 7: Women 10 km pursuit


Complete schedules, start lists and results


It’s World Cup Time!


Madshus cross-country skier Heidi Weng (NOR) is ready for the World Cup opener i Finland this weekend. Photo: Nordic Focus


This weekend marks the start of the 2014-15 World Cup season for cross-country, Nordic combined and biathlon, featuring opening races in Finland and Sweden, respectively.


The FIS Cross-Country World Cup opens in Ruka, Finland, with classic sprint races for men and women on Saturday, and continues with classic 10km and 15km races for women and men respectively on Sunday.


Check out the national team rosters 


Complete results can be found after the events on the FIS web site


The Nordic Combined World Cup also takes place in Ruka, Finland, and gets underway with qualifications on the hill on Thursday, November 27. Friday features provisional competition, Saturday the athletes will go to the ski jumping hill in the late morning and race the 10km Gundersen format cross-country competition in the afternoon. Finally, the Nordic Combined World Cup opener concludes with the team competition on Sunday.


Complete results for Nordic combined can be found after the events on the FIS web site


The biathletes will gather in Östersund, Sweden, for an entire week of IBU World Cup competitions, starting with mixed relays on Sunday, November 30. On December 3, the racing continues with 20km individual competition for men, followed by the women’s 15km individual competition on December 4. On Saturday December 6, both men’s and women’s sprint races are on the schedule, before the first World Cup concludes with pursuit races for both men and women on Sunday December 7.


Madshus racers are eager to get started with the international race season, including all-time most winning biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR), who opened his season with winning the mass start at the Norwegian national season opener two weeks ago – with a field that was worthy of a World Cup.


For complete schedules, start lists and results, please visit the IBU home page.


Entering 2014 With a Bang

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) and Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) dominated the Biathlon World Cup in Oberhof this weekend. Photo: Nordic Focus


The year is not even a week old, but Team Madshus has already moved in on the podium and dominated the results both in biathlon and cross-country.


Emil Hegle Svendsen and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen have shown that they are a class of their own, owning the podium at the Oberhof World Cup this weekend.


On Friday, Super-Svendsen won the sprint by 4-tenths of a second to Bjoerndalen. On Saturday, the duo continued the party with another victory to Svendsen and second place to Bjoerndalen in the pursuit. And on Sunday, it was Synnoeve Solemdal’s (NOR) day at the races with a second place in the women’s mass.


On January 8 to 12, the IBU World Cup continues in Rupholding, Germany, with relays, individual events and pursuits for both men and women.


In the Tour the Ski, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) impressed everyone with her raid on the established elite from the very beginning. She posted the fastest qualifying time in the Oberhof sprint, won the sprint in Oberhof and continued with winning the sprint in Lenzerheide on December 31, then was 10th in the 10K Classic in Lenzerheide on Jan 1. Then Oestberg went home to prepare for the Olympics. (Story continues below)


Invild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) celebrates her sprint victory in Lenzerheide (SUI) on January 1. Photo: Nordic Focus

But when Oestberg left, Heidi Weng (NOR) picked up the pace, working her way to a third place overall in the Tour de Ski 2014, via a 4th place in the 10K Classic in Lenzerheide, an 8th place in the 15K skate on January 3, and a 6th place in the 5K Classic on Jan 4.


Furthermore, Krista Laehteenmaeki (FIN) finished 4th overall in the Tour de Ski, posting several top-10 results on her way. Other names to note: Hanna Kolb (GER), Sara Lindborg (SWE), and Hanna Erikson (SWE), who all delivered plenty of strong performances among the top 10.


And finally, in the mens Tour de Ski, Madshus racer Didrik Toenseth (NOR) steadily worked himself up the list and finished the monster climb in Val di Fiemme in tenth place.


Now the cross-country World Cup moved on to Nove Mesto (CZE) with individual and team sprints on January 11 and 12.

Flatland’s Impressive Comeback

Ann Kristin Aafedt Flatland in the pursuit in Oestersund Dec. 1, which was later cancelled. Photo: Manzoni/Nordic Focus


As the IBU Biathlon World Cup got underway last week, one racer really rose to the challenge: Madshus biathlete Ann Kristin Aafedt Flatland (NOR).


And there were plenty of challenges in Oestersund this week, mostly forces of nature. In Sunday’s pursuit, the women started in winds of storm force and even stronger gusts. Flatland nailed every single target in her standing series at the range. Then the race was cancelled because most of the athletes were not and the range officials were reporting traffic jams on the penalty loop.


“I’m disappointed that they cancelled the race,” she said after the competition was called off.


“I have never been in a race with this much wind. The gusts at the range made it hard to stand upright, and when I came in for my prone shooting, I could hardly get down onto the mat, so they probably made a good call to cancel,” she said.


Flatland started first in the pursuit after winning the Friday competition, her second career World Cup victory, and is off to a great start to the Olympic season. Flatland is back on the Norwegian National Team after a break to give birth to her daughter.

Solemdal’s Major Breakthrough

Madshus biathlete Synnøve Solemdal (NOR) was the talk of the town during the World Cup races in Hochpfilzen (AUT) this weekend. This was the major international breakthrough for the 23-year-old from Tingvoll, Norway.

“It was just crazy. I was the one who was the most surprised when it was all over. I really don’t grasp it yet. The targets seemed so large today,” Solemdal said to Norwegian television station NRK after the race on Saturday.

Solemdal nailed 19 out of the 20 targets without hesitation.

Halvard Hanevold, former world champion, Olympian and Madshus racer is impressed with Solemdal. Now an expert commentator with NRK, Hanevold points out her amazing potential.

“I dialed down my expectations for Synnøve prior to the race, and she put me to shame. This is insane. She combined speed in the track with confidence and skill at the range. That combination makes her the best in the world,” Hanevold says.

“I was very concerned before the race, and I’m very happy for her now. Prior to last season, she took a serious inventory of her approach to racing and started being a 24-hour athlete,” Hanevold says.

Synnøve Solemdal debuted on the World Cup circuit in the 2008-09 season, but Saturday’s victory was her first World Cup podium. On Sunday, she continued along the same lines and helped the Norwegian team to another World Cup victory in the women’s relay.

Synnøve Solemdal after her first World Cup victory in Hochpfilzen (AUT) on Saturday December 8. Photo: Manzoni/Nordic Focus


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