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HomeAuthor Harald Zimmer

Harald has been following cross-country skiing and biathlon for some 20 years since the Olympic Winter Games in Albertville and Lillehammer. A graduate of Middlesex University London and Harvard University, he now lives near the Alps where he likes to go skiing, snowboarding and hiking. He is a former track athlete in middle-distance running, as well as a huge NBA fan.
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“That’s just biathlon for you,” biathletes often like to say when trying to explain the drastic ups and downs that are typical in their sport, both within one race and over the longer timeframes of a season or even a career. On Saturday in a surprising race outcome that should give hope to many biathletes on the fringes of the World Cup level struggling with these constant shifts, Germany’s 30-year-old Nadine Horchler achieved the first victory...

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Over her 12-year storied biathlon career since the 2004/2005 season, Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen had failed to reach the spot at the top of the podium during any World Cup race in Germany despite more than 50 race starts there. But this weekend at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, the 34 year old ended that streak and made it two for two, following up a sprint win on Saturday with a victory in the...

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Even Martin Fourcade himself seems surprised with his season so far in the record books. “I know what I did this season is incredible,” the French biathlon star said in Sunday’s press conference in Ruhpolding, Germany. “Even in my best dreams I could never imagine that.” Fourcade continued his series of stellar performances in the men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany. But he cut it close this time on his way to his 10th victory...

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Kaisa Mäkäräinen skied in a league of her own on Saturday. The five biathletes currently leading the International Biathlon Union (IBU) women’s overall standings also occupied the top five of Saturday’s 7.5-kilometer sprint in Ruhpolding, Germany. But when Mäkäräinen shoots clean in a race, even those fast skiers cannot keep up with “the Finnish flash,” as an announcer for German TV broadcaster ARD dubbed her, as she finished in 20:51.8 minutes for her first World Cup win of the season and...

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After twice shooting clean on Sunday, American Susan Dunklee found herself in third place going out on the next loop of the women’s 12.5-kilometer mass start at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup in Oberhof, Germany, pushing hard to keep up with Czech Republic’s Gabriela Koukalová and Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier. “I was not skiing a sustainable pace,” Dunklee explained in an email to FasterSkier. “Sometimes it makes more sense to keep yourself in the race...

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On Friday, the starters in the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup women’s sprint enjoyed some of the nicest weather longtime veterans of the sport ever witnessed in Oberhof, Germany. The next day for the 10-kilometer pursuit, the traditional biathlon venue in the heart of the Thuringian Forest mountain range showed its extremely windy and cold side again. “Today was back to a bit more normal Oberhof, except that it was really cold, -10 [degrees Celsius, 14°F] and...

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With cold, fierce gusts of wind blowing over the biathlon range in Oberhof, Germany, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit on Saturday was decided in the first standing stage. Out of a top group of seven athletes, only France’s Martin Fourcade was able to shoot clean to create a 35-second gap. In the final shooting, he cleared his targets in a slow but controlled rhythm, avoiding the penalty lap once again, while his...

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Gabriela Koukalová achieved the closest equivalent to a start-to-finish victory possible in a race against the clock in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint on Friday at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup in Oberhof, Germany. Starting and finishing the race as the very first athlete of the day in bib 1, the star biathlete of the Czech Republic managed to shoot clean in both stages, and because she also skied the second-fastest course time, no...

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Even Martin Fourcade is a mere mortal who can’t win every race he competes in. After winning the first three sprints of the 2016/2017 season and five races in a row, for once the French biathlon star had to settle for an eighth place after uncharacteristically missing three targets in his standing shooting stage. That left an opening for other athletes to shine on Thursday afternoon in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint at the International Biathlon Union (IBU)...

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A biathlon relay with athletes skiing around and through a huge soccer arena in a city with no snow seems like a crazy idea. But in the 1990s, the German cross-country skier and biathlete Herbert Fritzenwenger, who had retired from active sports after competing in the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games, believed there had to be some way to make biathlon even more attractive for viewers. He wanted to mix sports and entertainment bringing the sport...

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“The soft the supple step and sturdy pace, that in the smallest of all circles turns, moves like a dance of strength around a core in which a mighty will is standing stunned.” – The Panther, second verse, by Rainer Maria Rilke. English translation by Stanley Appelbaum At the turn of the 19th century, the Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist Rilke frequently visited the town of Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, on holidays with his family. Later...

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(Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Canada’s Julia Ransom.) Beaming with excitement, France’s Anaïs Chevalier could barely believe her good fortune of this race weekend in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, immediately following the first International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup podium of her career in Friday’s sprint with her first victory in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit on Saturday. She crossed the line first in 30:38.1 minutes, after shooting just one penalty in the four...

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On Friday morning, Susan Dunklee woke up with a cold. A mild one, but enough to dull the nervous system and wreak havoc on her shooting, she feared. But she had a race ahead of her, the first of hopefully three this weekend, and the US Biathlon veteran forged ahead with her race-day routine in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. “Once I started warming up, I felt mentally awake and ready,” Dunklee recalled in an email to...

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At the top of the starting field in the International Biathlon Union (IBU) men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit in Pokljuka, Slovenia, a large part of the race on Saturday was determined by two pairs skiing and shooting in almost perfect synchrony together: France’s Martin Fourcade with Russia’s Anton Shipulin, and the two Norwegians Emil Hegle Svendsen and Johannes Thingnes Bø. For the first three shooting stages, all four athletes shot clean and fast, with Shipulin able to close the...

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(Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Canada’s Scott Gow.) The exact details of Martin Fourcade’s record book depend a bit on who you ask. The official statistics of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) say the French biathlete got his 50th IBU World Cup victory on Friday in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint in Pokljuka, Slovenia. By his own count, he claims he already hit that milestone last week and this was his 52nd...

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Last year’s defending overall World Cup champion Gabriela Koukalová of the Czech Republic also had started out fairly well into the new season during the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup opening week in Östersund, Sweden. But a victory was still missing. She corrected that on Sunday, moving up from the third starting position, based on her sprint result, to the top of the podium in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit, in a time of 31:43.3 with only...

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Just like in the women’s sprint earlier on Saturday, drastically improved wind conditions compared to earlier in the week at the International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) World Cup in Östersund, Sweden, required the athletes to shoot extremely well if they wanted to have a place on the podium in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint on Saturday. France’s Martin Fourcade again did it the best, shooting clean in the two stages and skiing just as fast as all...

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When eliminating all external variables, often the most consistent athletes come out on top in biathlon. After a wind lottery strongly influenced the individual race of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup opening week in Östersund, Sweden on Wednesday, by Saturday the race course presented itself in near-perfect weather conditions with no wind, temperatures just below freezing point, freshly fallen snow from the prior night covering up most of the icy patches, and only...