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How to get 300 million Chinese on skis?

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won four medals during the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo. Photo: Nordic Focus
Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won four medals during the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won four medals during the 2016 IBU World Championships on home turf in Oslo. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjørndalen is headed for China.

As China is hosting Winter Olympics in 2022, the Chinese president Xi Jinping wants to increase the effort on skiing. His goal is to get 300 million Chinese on cross-country skis. This is why China recently launched the project campaign “Bring the kids to the snow.”

To help get the project off the ground, legendary biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR), the most winning winter Olympian to date with eight gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze medal, is named the ambassador or the Chinese campaign. Bjørndalen, who became a father for the first time himself in October 2016, is an important part of the plan.

“We simply want to teach the Chinese to ski. Madshus has a solid network in China, so the foundation for the project is already set. My job is to get the Chinese inspired and excited about skiing,” Bjørndalen says to the Swedish newspaper SportExpressen.

“China doesn’t have the same tradition and culture for skiing as we do in Norway and Sweden, but it’s all about creating positive experiences. The Madshus project in China is targeted at the recreational level, and not geared toward elite development for the 2022 Olympics,” Bjørndalen explains, and continues:

“Winter sports are still small compared to the summer sports. But if we can get more Chinese to compete in cross-country and biathlon, we have a real chance to make an impact that will benefit skiing in the long run. There are many nations competing already, but the pool of elite athletes in biathlon and cross-country skiing is still small compared to many of the summer sports.” There are far more Chines.

Bjørndalen will travel to China in the spring, but until then, his number-one priority is the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, which the 43-year-old says will be his last.

Ready for World Cup-Level Racing in July

Heidi Weng at Lysebotn OPP last summer. Photo: Blink

Heidi Weng at Lysebotn OPP last summer. Photo: Blink

The Blink ski festival in Sandnes (NOR) opens on Wednesday and is now the largest summer ski festival in the world.

Each year, more than a 100 of the top World Cup level skiers and biathletes take part in the BLINK events, including Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Krista Pärmäkoski, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, Heidi Weng, Øystein Pettersen and more. The festival and events are also open to future stars, elite and amateur skiers, and more than 5000 kids are expected to stop by the kids’ world section to try out roller skiing and laser biathlon.

This year’s BLINK summer ski festival takes place from July 26 to July 29, and features a number of races and events, starting with the 60-kilometer Blink Classic classic roller ski race on July 26 that is a part of a brand new marathon roller ski world cup.

Next up is Lysebotn OPP on Thursday, July 27. The 7.5-kilometer uphill race is expected to be a fierce fight between Heidi Weng, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Krista Pärmäkoski – the Madshus’ turbo trio from the World Cup. Check out the start lists HERE

Friday July 28 and Saturday July 29 feature a number of cross-country and biathlon events in Sandnes city center, including sprints, super sprints and mass start races. Check out the complete schedule HERE

Kids get a chance to try their hand at biathlon. Photo: BLINK/ Axelar Svein Erik Fylkesnes

Kids get a chance to try their hand at biathlon. Photo: BLINK/ Axelar Svein Erik Fylkesnes

Wrapping up the World Cups

Heidi Weng (NOR), Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) swept the podium on the 7th stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: FIS
Heidi Weng (NOR), Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) swept the podium on the 7th stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: FIS

Heidi Weng (NOR), Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) and Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) swept the podium on the 7th stage of Ski Tour Canada. Photo: FIS

The IBU biathlon World Cup wraps up the 2017 season in Holmenkollen, while cross-country returns to Canada for a 3-day mini tour this weekend.

Madshus podium girls Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN), Heidi Weng (NOR) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) returns to Canada for the final World Cup weekend of the season.

The mini tour opens with skate sprints for men and women on March 17, continues with 10km and 15km classic mass starts for women and men respectively on Saturday, and concludes with 10km and 15km pursuits on Sunday.

Heading into the mini tour world cup final in Quebec, Weng is leading the overall World Cup with a total of 1746 points. Pärmäkoski sits in second place with 1446 points, while Østberg is third with 1352 points total.

Weng also leads the distance World Cup, while Pärmäkoski is third.

Bitahlon party
For the biathlon racers, the 2017 World Cup will conclude in Holmenkollen (NOR), the host of the 2016 IBU World Championships. The weekend features sprint races for men and women on Friday, March 17, continues with men’s and women’s pursuit races on Saturday, and concludes with mass start events on Sunday.

Marte Olsbu (NOR) earned her first two World Championship medals in Oslo last year when she won the bronze medal in the mixed relay and then anchored Norway to gold in the women’s relay. Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR), who won three individual medals at the World Championships in Oslo last year, as well as helping Norway to gold in the men’s relay, is also looking forward to cap off the season on home turf.

Marte Olsbu (NOR) anchored Norway to gold in the relay at the 2016 IBU world championships in Oslo (NOR). Photo: Nordic Focus

Marte Olsbu (NOR) anchored Norway to gold in the relay at the 2016 IBU world championships in Oslo (NOR). Photo: Nordic Focus

6 World Championship Medals

17.02.2017, Hochfilzen, Austria (AUT):
Vanessa Hinz (GER) - IBU world championships biathlon, medals, Hochfilzen (AUT). www.nordicfocus.com. © NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.
17.02.2017, Hochfilzen, Austria (AUT): Vanessa Hinz (GER) - IBU world championships biathlon, medals, Hochfilzen (AUT). www.nordicfocus.com. © NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Vanessa Hinz (GER) took home two gold medals from the 2107 IBU world championships in Hochfilzen (AUT). Photo: Nordic Focus

Madshus athletes took home three gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze from the IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen.

Germany opened the 2017 IBU Biathlon World Championships in Hochflizen (AUT) on the top of the podium as Vanessa Hinz helped Germany to gold in the mixed relay on February 9.

Next, Benedikt Doll (GER) earns his first individual World Championship gold medal on Saturday, February 11.

“First place feels really special,” Doll (GER) said after winning his first individual World Championship medal.

He didn’t miss a single target in the men’s 10km sprint. He raced faster than he ever has, and won his first individual World Championships gold medal with a 0.7 second margin.

“It’s amazing. It’s unreal. First place feels really special,” Doll said after his race.

Story continues below

Benedikt Doll (GER) won the 10km sprint at the IBU world championships in Hochfilzen (AUT) - hist 1st individual World Championship medal. Photo: Nordic Focus

Benedikt Doll (GER) won the 10km sprint at the IBU world championships in Hochfilzen (AUT) – hist 1st individual World Championship medal. Photo: Nordic Focus

The king delivers
On Sunday February 12 Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won his 45th World Championship medal, hauling into third place in the pursuit. He started in eighth place, almost 40 seconds behind Doll.

“I have many medals, but this is a brand new one and this was a victory for me,” Bjørndalen said after his race.

Story continues below

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) earned his 45th World Championship medal in the pursuit on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) earned his 45th World Championship medal in the pursuit on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Another relay gold
Vanessa Hinz went home from Hochfilzen with two gold medals in her pocket. On Saturday, she skied the opening leg for the German women and helped her team to another victory in the 4x6km relay.

Madshus skiers Iryna Varvynets and Anastasiya Merkushyna took home the silver medal for Ukraine, only six seconds behind the German women.

ryna Varvynets and Anastasiya Merkushyna took home the silver medal for Ukraine. Photo: Madshus

Iryna Varvynets and Anastasiya Merkushyna took home the silver medal for Ukraine in the women’s relay on Friday. Photo: Madshus

 

“First place feels really special”

Benedikt Doll (GER) won the 10km sprint at the IBU world championships in Hochfilzen (AUT) - hist 1st individual World Championship medal. Photo: Nordic Focus

Benedikt Doll earns his first World Championship gold medal, while Ole Einar Bjørndalen collects his 45th medal.

Benedikt Doll (GER) won the 10km sprint at the IBU world championships in Hochfilzen (AUT) - hist 1st individual World Championship medal. Photo: Nordic Focus

Benedikt Doll (GER) won the 10km sprint at the IBU world championships in Hochfilzen (AUT) – hist 1st individual World Championship medal. Photo: Nordic Focus

Germany opened the 2017 IBU Biathlon World Championships in Hochflizen (AUT) on the top of the podium as Vanessa Hinz helped Germany to gold in the mixed relay, the first event at the championships.

Story continues below

Vanessa Hinz (GER) helped Germany to gold in the mixed relay the opening event at the 2017 IBU world championships in Hochfilzen (AUT). Here from the pursuit on Sunday Photo: Nordic Focus

Vanessa Hinz helped Germany to gold in the mixed relay the opening event at the 2017 IBU world championships in Hochfilzen (AUT). Here from the pursuit on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

First individual gold medal
On Saturday, Benedikt Doll (GER) went all the way to the top of the podium. He didn’t miss a single target in the men’s 10km sprint. He raced faster than he ever has, and won his first individual World Championships gold medal with a 0.7 second margin.

“It’s amazing. It’s unreal. First place feels really special,” Doll said to reporters after his race.

It was only the third time in his entire career that Doll shot clean.

Story continues below

Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into gold in the sprint on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Benedikt Doll (GER) hauled into gold in the sprint on Saturday. Photo: Nordic Focus

The king delivers
On Sunday, Ole Einar Bjørndalen (NOR) won his 45th World Championship medal, hauling into third place in the pursuit. He started in eighth place, almost 40 seconds behind Doll.

“I have many medals, but this is a brand new one and this was a victory for me,” Bjørndalen said after his race.

“That means a lot for the rest of the championships, and I’m excited. If you have the perfect day, it doesn’t matter what the event is. But everything has to fall into place. I hope to do it again this week.”

The IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen (AUT) continues with the women’s 15km individual competition on Wednesday, the men’s 20km individual competition on Thursday, the women’s relay on Friday, men’s relay on Saturday and concludes with mass start events for both men and women on Sunday.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) earned his 45th World Championship medal in the pursuit on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (NOR) earned his 45th World Championship medal in the pursuit on Sunday. Photo: Nordic Focus

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