Russian biathlon this season lives in parallel with the international one: instead of the World Cup, there are internal tournaments in which you can get confused, instead of rivalry with the Norwegians and the French, there is a struggle between coaching groups (Istomin, Kaminsky, Bashkirov, Shashilov).
Who takes titles, why did Rostovtsev come and where are Loginov and Reztsova? Collected the main stories of our biathlon.
Frosty start of the season – 5 races canceled in the first stages
With no international competition, the Cup of Russia was made the main tournament . It started simultaneously with the World Cup, only the end of November and the beginning of December turned out to be so frosty that part of the races fell through due to temperatures below -30.
At the first stages in Khanty-Mansiysk and Uvat, 5 races were cancelled. When the competitions were nevertheless resumed, the athletes were filmed en masse – for example, 41 biathletes did not go to the sprint in Uvat. Athletes and coaches complained about the cold, and Matvey Eliseev left the individual due to frostbite ahead of schedule.
However, not everyone was afraid of the cold: in Khanty, the girls from the group of Mikhail Shashilov trained after the cancellation of the races, and the coach was happy: “Everything is fine, some were even hot.” Coincidence or not, but it was this group, with the exception of a couple of bursts, that looked more modest than others in the season.
Joint tournament with Belarusians: big prize money and ours as catch-ups
Starts abroad for our biathletes still took place. Back in May 2022, the RBU and the Belarusian Biathlon Federation (BFB) signed a cooperation agreement and planned a new tournament – the Commonwealth Cup .
The national teams of Russia and Belarus participate in the competition (Belarusians also came to the Kyrgyz Republic), and the countries host three stages each – the races in Sochi, Raubichi and Ryazan have already been held, ahead is the final in Tyumen. The tournament started back in August on roller skis and will end in March.
The prize money there is much higher than in Russian competitions. The total fund of the Commonwealth Cup is 40 million rubles, the Cup and the Russian Championship together – 20.4 million.
So far, Belarusians are leading in the new tournament: Anton Smolsky is trying to break away from Eduard Latypov, and Dinara Alimbekova-Smolskaya, it seems, has already left only silver and bronze for the Russians.
Rostovtsev – head (or not head) coach (or not coach)
The main event outside the track is Pavel Rostovtsev’s return to the national team . He left the team after the 2013/14 Olympic season, in which he coached women with Wolfgang Pichler. And now, after 9 years in business.
In January, information appeared that Rostovtsev was appointed head coach. Dmitry Guberniev predictably opposed this: after a skirmish and spitting at Sheremetyevo in March 2014, the commentator did not mention Rostovtsev on the air – even when listing world champions from Russia (Pavel – three times).
It turned out that it was really impossible to appoint Rostovtsev as the main one – he does not pass according to the criteria of the CSP / Ministry of Sports. The Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) found a way out: now he is vice president for sports. But the functions do not differ from those performed by the head coach.
Guberniev called the appointment “an attempt at a raider seizure” , and Rostovtseva – “the main one in glasses . ”
Pavel himself is more friendly, and spoke in detail about the tasks in his new position
Khalili kept the Cup of Russia, Goreeva took the title from Slivko in the last race
The Cup of Russia has already been played – men and women have completely different stories.
Karim Khalili took the lead from the very first stages – and despite the decline in January, he kept the advantage.
But for the girls, the denouement turned out to be dramatic. The most stable biathlete of the season is Victoria Slivko (who chose not the national team, but training with the region), she did not fall below 6th place in individual races. But due to the rules of scoring – the results of one race were deducted – Anastasia Goreeva caught up with her at the last moment . As a result, the girls have the same number of points, but Goreeva is the first, because she won three races at the very beginning of the season, Slivko had no victories.
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Khalili and Goreeva are united not only by training in Istomin’s group: “The globes will stand together side by side,” Karim admitted.
Who caught up with the collections? Kuklina’s winning streak and Kaplina’s breakthrough
Domestic starts – an opportunity to open up in a new way: no selections, a long season next to the leaders.
In women, the group of Artem Istomin and Vitaly Noritsyn progressed most noticeably. A year ago , Elizaveta Kaplina won the Russian Cup when the whole team competed at the World Cup and the IBU Cup. This time, she almost repeated her success in the race with the strongest – three points were not enough for the title.
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Ekaterina Noskova fought to the last for a place in the top 3, and since December she has been constantly taking medals in races.
But the most impressive breakthrough is with Larisa Kuklina (during the preseason, she moved from Istomin’s group to Yuri Kaminsky’s team). She won the super sprint as part of the Russian Championship, and also gave out a series of four victories in January.
In men, Alexander Povarnitsyn , representing the group of Sergei Bashkirov, looked great : several victories, enviable stability and second place in the Russian Cup.
Loginov has not run since December, Reztsova and Nigmatullina are on maternity leave
And where are the leaders of last season? Everything is simple for the girls: the winners of the 2022 Olympics Kristina Reztsova and Uliana Nigmatullina went on maternity leave. Kristina is still expecting her second baby, and Ulyana gave birth to a daughter in early February.
Valeria Vasnetsova (now Kayumova) gave birth in November and went to the start already in the final of the Kyrgyz Republic. Surprisingly, the shooting suffered the most due to the break: 38th in the sprint with 7 misses.
Another Olympic medalist, Svetlana Mironova, also returned only towards the end of the season – she missed all of December and January due to health problems. And the participant of the Games in Beijing, Evgenia Burtasova, asked not to lose her back in the fall – and she got lost (not a single snow race this season).
Maxim Tsvetkov fell for a significant part of the winter – he did not compete in January due to illness. By the final of the Cup of Russia he recovered and is now preparing for a long CR.
But Alexander Loginov (Maxim’s friend and partner in Bashkirov’s group) has not been performing since December: after a decent start, there were problems with form, health, and – it is possible – with motivation. As a result – places in the second ten. After that, Alexander fell ill, disappeared from sight, and so far has not disclosed plans for his return.
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