Biathlon

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China continues big-name Winter Olympic coaching hires with biathlon king

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China took another step toward its bid for home success at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games by hiring two of the greatest biathletes in history as national team coaches.

Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the male record holder with 13 Winter Olympic medals, and his wife, Belarus’ Darya Domracheva, a six-time medalist, will lead a Chinese biathlon program that has never earned an Olympic medal.

Previously, China hired Shaun White‘s former coach to guide its snowboarding program, a world champion German to coach bobsledders, a world champion Canadian to coach skeleton sliders, a world champion Swede to coach curlers and Dutch and South Korean coaches in speed skating.

China, the closest rival to the U.S. in Summer Olympic medals over the last 20 years, earned its first Winter Olympic gold medals in 2002. It reached as high as eighth in the total medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

The Chinese dropped to 14th place in PyeongChang with one gold medal from short track speed skater Wu Dajing.

But if China’s success in hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics is any indication (leading 48 gold medals, 100 total medals), it will become a major factor in two years.

MORE: China’s Olympic men’s basketball streak in danger

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Laura Dahlmeier, two-time Olympic biathlon champ, suddenly retires

Laura Dahlmeier
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German biathlete Laura Dahlmeier, who won the PyeongChang Olympic sprint and pursuit, has retired at age 25.

“After an unbelievably tough season full of ups and downs, I no longer feel the one hundred percent passion required for professional sport,” was posted on Dahlmeier’s Instagram in a surprise announcement. “That’s why I have decided to end my active biathlon career after some time of reflection.”

Dahlmeier earned two golds and a bronze at her second Olympics last year. That came one year after the avid mountain climber became the first biathlete to win five gold medals at a single world championships.

Dahlmeier missed the first two World Cup stops last season due to unspecified health setbacks, including hospitalization in August and September when she feared she may never compete again.

She returned to make three World Cup podiums and earn two world championships bronze medals while still not 100 percent. Dahlmeier posted on her website Friday that she still is not the same athlete she was before the hospitalization.

Her retirement at such a young age is reminiscent of countrywoman Magdalena Neuner, who earned 12 world titles and a pair of 2010 Olympic golds and then retired at age 25 in 2012, citing a similar lack of desire.

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MORE: Olympic ski halfpipe medalist hospitalized by world-record try crash

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Dear fans, friends, partners and companions – it's time to say goodbye! 👋 After an unbelievably tough season full of ups and downs, I no longer feel the one hundred percent passion required for professional sport. That's why I have decided to end my active biathlon career after some time of reflection. Since my childhood, I have dedicated myself completely to biathlon, I was able to experience incredibly great and intense moments and got to know some wonderful companions and supporters, without whom all this would not have been possible. Many thanks for all the years I spent in this sport – they made me who I am! 🙏 To make room for new adventures, it's time for me to close the biathlon chapter. A detailed report about my reasons for ending my career can be found on my website – link in bio. I am looking forward to what is awaiting me now – see you out there! 🙂 Best, Laura ✌️ #bettertobefAst

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Clare Egan notches first World Cup podium in biathlon season finale

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In the final biathlon event of the 2018-19 season, American Clare Egan recorded her first career World Cup podium finish, placing third in the mass start in Oslo, Norway. She hit 19 of 20 targets and crossed the finish line 10.4 seconds behind winner Hanna Oberg of Sweden. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff finished second.

Egan, 31, made her Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but considered retiring from biathlon at the end of the last season. “I decided that I wanted to do one more year, just for fun, just to see how much I could learn and how good a biathlete I could become,” Egan said in a U.S. Biathlon press release.

Her decision to continue has paid off: since the start of the 2018-19 season, Egan has posted the top eight finishes of her career (including three top-10 results). She concludes the season ranked 18th in the overall World Cup standings.

“I skied much faster this year than I have in the past and I think that was due to finally finding a good balance in my training, between working hard and resting. I did not train more, but the quality was much higher. I’m very excited for the next season,” Egan told U.S. Biathlon.