Notes and Quotes: French Biathlon World Cup Weekend

Chelsea LittleDecember 19, 2017
Martin Fourcade of France leads the IBU World Cup 15 k mass start in Le Grand-Borland, France, on Sunday. (Photo: Glen Crawford)

LE GRAND-BORNAND, France — After a long weekend of racing, beginning with heavy snow and continuing with glazed tracks, the biathlon World Cup is on break for two weeks to recalibrate and rejuvenate as the athletes prepare for the rest of the season and the 2018 Olympics in February.

Here’s what some members of the field thought about the races this weekend – the bits of interviews and press conferences that didn’t make it into our race reports.

On Pressure

“This was tougher than some World Cups where we are less expected. But it’s also what we want, asking for a World Cup at home. We know that it’s not the same as when we are competing in Norway. It’s so much bigger in terms of emotions. I would do it again.”

— Martin Fourcade (France)

Susan Dunklee of U.S. Biathlon after the mass start, which moved her up to being ranked 30th on the World Cup after a disastrous first two weeks of racing had left her out of the points. (Photo: Glen Crawford)

On Annecy & Le Grand-Bornand

“I like this place. Four years ago I was on the podium too in the pursuit behind Johannes. I was one year later on holiday here. I like this place, I like the people. It’s a really nice nature, mountain, valleys. I know that I got some Reblochon cheese, too.”

— Erik Lesser (Germany)

“It was very loud. I couldn’t hear what my coaches were saying on the side of the course at all. I knew they were there because I could see them out of the front of my eyes, but their voices just got lost in that big, massive noise. Getting this many people here, is absolutely incredible. It has grown so much since last time [in 2013]. It’s a lot of positive energy, and that counts for a lot.”

— Susan Dunklee (USA)

“I love it. It’s definitely a different race course with those steep little bumps. But I think it could be [more often] on the circuit.”

— Julia Ransom (Canada)

“There are amazing trails that go up the valley. I just went for a classic cruise yesterday just looking around everywhere in awe. The food… We are staying right in the downtown, and the food in our hotels is like cheese and dessert after every meal. I’m like ‘oh no I have to pass on that…’ And the fans, too, I couldn’t believe it. They are so loud, cheering for everyone. I was a little bit overwhelmed just with the sound during the race. I was like ‘okay, keep going’. I love this place.”

— Emma Lunder (Canada)

Anastasiya Kuzmin of Slovakia leading the women’s mass start. (Photo: Glen Crawford)

“We had a really good atmosphere four years before. But now we really have so much snow in the mountains and in the village. That is why we all make biathlon – we love winter and we love the snow. I’m really happy to have such good conditions here.”

— Laura Dahlmeier (Germany)

“You can feel power from the mountains and the snow. What is more important is that there are many fans here… you feel the power from the people who are always supporting you. It’s like a big energy wave. On the track it helped me. Thank you so much.”

— Anastasiya Kuzmina (Slovakia)

“Every athlete has their World Cup which is their favorite and where they always do good races. And I think this is one of my top three venues on the World Cup. I really like it here.”

— Johannes Thingnes Bø (Norway)

“I want to point out that the organization and the popularity of biathlon grew a lot since 2013. I was really surprised to see so many people around the track cheering, not only local athletes but also international athletes. I could hear them saying my name. So I want to thank them for supporting us.”

— Anton Shipulin (Russia)

On Three Weeks of Racing, and Now a Break

Emma Lunder of Canada competing in the mass start in Le Grand-Bornand, France. (Photo: Glen Crawford)

“I think it’s great to finish with a nice race. Now I can enjoy the time at home, the time in France. And keep confident of the work which was done.”

— Justine Braisaz (France) after winning the mass start

“I think my shape is getting better and better and also on the shooting range. It’s important to make some good races, it’s good for your own feeling. It’s good for the Christmas holiday now.”

— Laura Dahlmeier (Germany) after finishing third in the mass start

“To have good races going into the Christmas break, that’s all I could ask for… Now we can feel like we did a good job, relax, and get some good training in.”

— Emma Lunder (Canada), who had her best-ever World Cup result and qualified for her first mass start

“Yeah, I definitely felt [the fatigue] today, but you kind of come to expect that after the first trimester. Now we have a good block of recovery time, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to a few days off.”

— Lowell Bailey (USA)

(l-r) Erik Lesser, Martin Fourcade, and Johannes Thingnes Bø after the mass start. (Photo: Glen Crawford)

“It is always a fight there. Today [Erik] Lesser was there also and [Anton] Shipulin is coming back top-six too. They will be stronger after Christmas.”

— Johannes Thingnes Bø (Norway), winner of the sprint and pursuit, after the mass start

“I’ll be getting some good volume training in, I think. Kind of reset the body and get a bit of a training load.”

— Scott Gow (Canada)

“I felt pretty tired today, and then on top of it everyone is fast in the mass start… I was looking forward, looking forward to the finish line.”

— Emma Lunder (Canada), after the mass start

“Now I’m just [working on] my good shooting and staying concentrated on the shooting position. I think I need a little bit more time, a little bit more practice. But I’m happy that my ski times are still good.”

— Anastasia Kuzmina (Slovakia)

Mission Accomplished

Scott and Christian Gow of Canada after the pursuit, where they both finished in the top 30. (Photo: Glen Crawford)

“I was hoping to just lock up the Olympic qualification and get that off my back, which is really nice. And then really just put together a solid three sets of races. Last year I was sick, and I wasn’t even in Europe at this point. I was kind of just slogging my way back to good health. So I’ve had some good races here and it’s a good block to start the year… Last year taught me how to grind through something that isn’t the best hand of cards that you could have been dealt.”

— Sean Doherty (USA), who was named to the U.S. Olympic Team after his performances this weekend

“I’m really glad that we are finally part of the podium. Finally third, on the World Cup.”

— Anton Shipulin (Russia), after finishing third in the pursuit and earning Russia’s first podium of the season


Laura Dahlmeier of Germany setting up to shoot in Thursday’s sprint. (Photo: Glen Crawford)

“I’ve been trying to win the yellow bib every year since I came in the World Cup. But I’ve never had a chance. So we will see this year. But I know it’s a long way there. Now I’m just focusing on the race today, and the next race, and not about the whole season. I’m in good shape here and I try to do the best I can.”

— Johannes Thingnes Bø (Norway), currently trailing Martin Fourcade by 20 points in the World Cup Total Score

On Ski Speed

I’m definitely working my way back into it. I don’t feel 100% on skis. I felt good all the way up to the beginning of the season, and then got set back with some sickness. But I’m still confident with how we trained this summer, and the path towards PyeongChang, so just have to stick to the plan.”

— Lowell Bailey (USA)

“Honestly, my skiing, I’m not very satisfied with it at the moment. It’s coming back, step by step, and week by week it has improved, but I feel like there is a lot of room there and I don’t totally feel like myself yet. There’s still plenty of season left.”

— Sean Doherty (USA)

Chelsea Little

Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.

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