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One team

Training camp of the Russian men’s team and the women’s squad of Wolfgang Pichler is in full swing in Font-Romeu, France. Unifying power of joint training sessions, ability to work under the stress in any weather conditions, and constant smiles on the faces of the best Russian biathletes are in the photo story of from the heart of the Pyrenees.


In Font-Romeu, which is located practically at the boarder of France and Spain, one can synchronize the watches with the weather – clear sky and bright sun in the first half of the day, exactly at 16:00 local time starts a storm and almost a tropical shower. In two hours, the raining stops and the sun comes out again. However, the training process does not stop despite the freaks of nature. No one is going to cancel the crosses, imitations, cycling trips and other exercises.


The second morning training session starts with a shooting competition. All Russian sportsmen gather at the shooting range to reveal the most accurate biathlete! At first, there are many jokes, but as the competition approaches, the tension begins to rise. “Our competition is a great training in a stressful situation. Like no other sportsman, biathlete should not only be strong physically and demonstrate endurance, but also keep a head cool,” explains Wolfgang Pichler.


After the first shooting 16 athletes are divided into eight pairs to start the elimination stage. In the first round, the winners are determined after prone and standing shootings. 10 seconds are added for every miss. The most accurate and fastest participants make it to the second round.


Before the start, Anton Shipulin suggests to “quickly deal with the girls and find out the strongest men”. However, the girls disagree and shortly after demonstrate their abilities in action. In the quarterfinals, Zaitseva, supported by Sleptsova, Shumilova and Glazyrina, knocks out Malyshko, and Yurlova – Tsvetkov. Loginov and Shipulin are on the other side of the semifinal table.  


In the final, Anton Shipulin meets Ekaterina Yurlova. “Déjà vu of the Christmas race!” the eliminated sportsmen make jokes. The fight for the champion’s title is tight and uncompromising. The audience represented by the coaching and team’s staff, as well as the sportsmen, cheer for every right shot and sigh with disappointment for the misses. Shipulin wins with two seconds over Yurlova.


The competitions is finished, but the training session continues. Athletes wear roller skis and go all together to the track. The usual for biathletes work out – skiing and shooting – attracts quite an impressive audience (by local standards). Despite the fact, that the French youth team trains with the Russian athletes side-by-side, our sportsmen get more attention.


“The conditions are great here – convenient shooting range, high quality track. Sportsmen live close to the complex – everything is perfect for training, nothing else to think of,” says the head coach of the women’s team Alexander Selifonov.


After the lunch and short break, the group of Pichler goes to the gym, and the boys have a cycling training plus power training in the nearest forest. Rain and storm, which start according to the schedule, do not prevent the team of Nikolay Lopukhov from performing its job. The day before, the girls’ team had the roller skiing training with the same weather.


Several days of the training camp in Font-Romeu are ahead, a short break after, and work again!

RBU Media Office