25th Merry Christmas to all Playing Pasts readers
Japanese twin Masaichi and Shoichi Kinoshita were born on this day in 1954. Both were affiliated to the Cold Weather Combat Training Unit of the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force and took part in three biathlon events each at two different Olympics. Masaichi represented Japan at the Lake Placid Games in 1980 in the 10km sprint and the longer 20km event as well as being a member of the Japanese 4 x 7.5km relay team – his best placing was 28th in the 20km. His brother Shoichi appeared in the same events but four years later at the Games in Sarajevo, he faired slightly better, with the relay team achieving a 15th place finish.
Norwegian Biathlete Eirik Kvalfoss was born in 1959 and represented the Voss Voss Skiskyttarlag club. Aged 19, he came fourth in the 1km sprint at the 1979 World Junior Championships. Two years later he won his first World Cup victory in Anterselva, Italy. He was 1982 World Champion in the 10km sprint in Minsk and was placed second in the 20km and won yet another silver medal in the relay. He defended his world sprint title at Anterselva in 1983. In the 1984 Sarajveo Olympics he again won the sprint and came third in the 20km despite five penalty minutes, and he was also part of the silver medal winning relay squad. Between 1982-91 Kvalfoss was world champion three times (his third gold came in the 1989 20km event) and also won five silver and five bronze medals. In the Olympics however, although competing again in 1988 and 1992, he was not able to win any more medals after his 1984 success. Kvalfoss took a couple of seasons to adapt to the skating technique introduced in 1985, and five of his 12 World Cup victories came in the period 1988-1991 with this new technique. He won the World Cup in the 1989/90-season, and was known for his ability to give all he had at the final stage of a race. He was Norwegian champion nine times and carried his nation’s flag at the 1992 Opening Ceremony in Albertville. After failing to qualify for the 1994 Lillehammer Games he decided to call an end to his biathlon career. Kvalfoss married in 1994, settled in Oslo and has worked in the insurance business as a marketing manager.
Born today in 1961, another Norwegian biathlete and cross-country skier, also affiliated to Voss Skiskyttarlag – Grete Ingeborg Nykkelmo. She won four medals at the 1985 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld with a gold in the 20km, a silver in the 4×5km, and bronzes in the 5km and 10km. At the 1991 Biathlon World Championships, held in Lahti, she won a gold medal in the 7.5km sprint and silvers in the 15km individual and the 3×7.5km relay. In 1980 she became Norwegian champion in 10km cross-country running, representing Selbu IL, at the same distance she won one silver medal (1981) and three bronze medals (1979, 1982, 1985).Nykkelmo won the Egebergs Ærespris in 1990 for her top achievements and also won one additional cross country skiing event in 20km in 1986. She is married to Norway’s Olympic Gold medal winning cross country skier Vegard Ulvang
Canadian Nathan Smith was born in Calgary in 1985 and competed for his country at the 2014 Winter Games. At the 2015 Biathlon World Championships in Kontiolahti, Finland in the 10km Sprint he won Silver, becoming the first Canadian male biathlete to medal at a World Championship. At the 2015 Biathlon World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, he won the first biathlon World Cup gold medal of his career, the 12.5km pursuit race. In 2015, at the IBU World Cup in Ostersund, he teamed up with Rosanna Crawford and together they won silver in the season-opening single mixed relay. A year later at the World Championships in Holmenkollen, Norway. Along with team mates Christian Gow, Scott Gow, and Brendan Green they clinched the men’s relay bronze for Canada.
26th–Pavel Ploc (senior) was born in Pardubice in the Czech Republic on this day in 1943. He competed in two Olympics – 1968 at Grenoble in the 20km where he was placed 15th and Sapporo in 1972, where he contested both the 20km and was a member of the 4×7.5km relay team, that finished 12th. His namesake son took up ski jumping at the age of six and debuted on the World Cup circuit in the 1981-82 season. During his career, which lasted until 1992, Ploc junior competed at two Olympic Games and five World Championships. He won the Olympic individual normal hill silver in 1988, Olympic individual large hill bronze in 1984 and team large hill bronzes at the 1984 and 1989 World Championships. He also won silver in 1983 and bronze in 1985 at the World Ski Flying Championships. During the 1983 World Ski Flying Championships, he also set a world record of 181.0 m. Between 1983 and 1990, Ploc also won 10 World Cup events and his best finish overall was second in 1987-88 season. After finishing his ski jumping career, Ploc has worked as a ski jump coach, coaching the Czech Republic national junior team until 2002. In 1996, he opened a bed & breakfast in Harrachov and also entered politics. From 1998-2010, he was an elected member of the Harrachov town council. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Czech Parliament in 2002 but won that seat in 2006 and became a member of the lower chamber of the Czech Parliament for the Czech Social Democratic Party. He was re-elected to the parliament in 2010 and in the parliament, has been a member of the Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Physical Culture and Petitions Committees.
Andreas Heymann, who was born in Steinheidel-Erlabrunn in Germany in 1966, represented the Skiclub Bellegarde and has internationally represented East Germany, Germany and France. With the GDR team, he won bronze at the first edition of the newly created team competition at Biathlon World Championships in 1999. When he saw that the German team was perhaps not going to be so successful he moved to the biathlon federation of his then French wife Delphyne Burlet. Representing France, he won two World Cup races. He retired in 2000. His wife Delphyne competed at three Olympics, winning a bronze in the 1994 biathlon relay at Lillehammer. Her next best Olympic finish was sixth in the 15km in 1992. She won three medals at the World Championships, gold in the team event in 1993, along with a relay silver in 1993, and a relay bronze in 1999. She was French champion ten times and at the World Cup she started in 160 events, winning two titles, with 15 podiums, four individual medals – two silvers and two bronzes. Her best seasonal World Cup finish was sixth in 1992-93.
Kazakhstan biathlete Anna Lebedeva, born in Shchuchinsk in 1981, competed in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. Her best performance was 14th as part of the 2010 Kazakh relay team and best individual finish was 38th, in the 2010 individual 7.5km sprint. In 2006, she finished 52nd in the sprint, was lapped in the pursuit and placed 49th in the individual sprint. Her best performance at the Biathlon World Championships was 11th, as part of the 2010 Kazakh mixed relay team and best individual performance is 27th, in the 2009 sprint. As for World Cup achievements, she was seventh with the Kazakh women’s relay team in Antholz during the 2010/11 season. Her best individual World Cup result was a 19th place in the 2009/10 pursuit at Antholz. She is the sister of Marina Lebedeva, who represented her country at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games.
27th–Olav Jordet, who was born in Tolga, Norway today in 1939, represented Vingelen Skytterlag. He won his first biathlon national championship in 1962 at the age of 22. He repeated this feat two years later, when he also won the bronze medal at the Innsbruck Olympic Games. In 1965, he became Norway’s first World champion in biathlon on home ground at Elverum, hitting 19 shots out of 20 and finishing 22 seconds ahead of Soviet Nikolay Puzanov. He was also a member of the victorious Norwegian relay team, but in 1965 the relay was not an official event at the World Championships. In 1966 when the relay had become official, Jordet was again a member of Norway’s winning team. They defended their relay title in 1967, Jordet as usual skiing the second leg. Under difficult conditions in Altenberg, Germany, the team’s winning margin was the biggest in the biathlon history, with the Soviets in second place, 10½ minutes behind Norway. Jordet ended his biathlon career by winning an Olympic relay silver medal for Norway at the 1968 Grenoble Games. He then became a farmer in Vingelen, Tolga until his retirement.
Chinese biathlete Song Aiqin was born in 1970. Song, a Dalian student, has been biathlon since the late 1980s. She made her debut at the Biathlon World Championships in Feistritz in 1988, coming 40th in the sprint race. At the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville she competed all three women’s races – her best placing being 12th with the relay team. In Lillehammer she again contested the three women’s events, repeating her best placing with the relay team, this time 14th. In 1995 she competed in her second World championships, achieving her best international placing of 8th in the individual 15km, she was 42nd in the sprint event and with teammates Sun Ribo, Liu Jinfeng and Wang Jinfen, she was 10th. Song competed at the Biathlon World Cup between 1993 and 1995.
Brazil’s first Olympic biathlete Jaqueline Mourão was born in 1975. Raised in the mountainous city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, she began cross-country skiing at the age of 29 and competed in a XC-Ski race for the first time in December 2005. She participated in three Winter Olympics at Torino (XC-Ski), Vancouver (XC-Ski) and Sochi (XC-Ski & Biathlon) as well as two Summer Olympics in Athens and Beijing in Mountain Biking. For her 5th Olympic Games, she competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in both Country Skiing and Biathlon, and carried the Brazilian flag during the Opening Ceremony. She is only the second female three-sport Olympian, alongside Sheila Taormina of the USA – Taormina swam at Atlanta in 1996 (winning gold as part of the 4×200m freestyle relay), competed twice in the triathlon at Sydney (2000) and Athens, and then took part in the modern pentathlon at Beijing. In order to train for her skiing events Mourão uses the sand dunes that surround the beaches at Rio de Janeiro. Her next objective is to qualify and represent Brazil for her 6th Olympic Games in PyeongChang 2018.
28th–Alfred Eder, who was born in Piesendorf, near Salzburg in Austria today in 1953. Having been a solider, he competed as a member of the Heeressportverein (army sports club) Saalfelden. He is the father of biathlete Simon Eder and was a coach of the Austrian biathlon team. He made his Biathlon World Cup debut on 13th January 1978, and competed in 18 World Cups, made 11 podium finishes, including a gold medal. World Championship wise, Eder represented Austria between 1976 and 1995, winning two bronze medals – the 10km sprint in 1983 and the 20km individual event in Holmenkollen in 1986. He is a 6-time Olympian, his first Games being in 1976 and his last in 1994. He received a life ban from the Austrian Olympic Committee in 2007 as one of 14 team officials who were implicated in doping activity at the 2006 Winter Olympics. The bans on Eder and 11 others were subsequently rescinded in 2009, after the Fédération Internationale de Ski dropped doping charges against Eder, biathlon director for the Austrian ski federation Markus Gandler and cross-country ski coach Gerald Heigl. Eder was appointed as Klaus Siebert’s replacement as coach of the Belarusian biathlon squad ahead of the 2014–15 season. His Son Simon, famed for his fast shooting times, having recorded sub-20 second performaces on the range, represented Austria in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, winning two medals: silver in the relay in 2010, and a bronze in the same event in 2014
29th-Former Finnish and American biathlete and cross-country skier Peter Juhani Lahdenpera was born in Helskini in 1935. He moved to the USA when he was 13 and competed in the first Olympic biathlon, which debuted in the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley, California. He was also on the US Nordic team, and went on to be a member of both US Biathlon and Nordic teams during the Winter Olympics in 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria and the 1972 games in Sapporo, Japan. At the Biathlon World Championships 1962 in Hämeenlinna he was placed 26th At his second Winter Games, 1964 in Innsbruck, he finished 36th in the individua event. After moving to Fort Collins and opening the Alpine Haus, a ski and sports shop, business proved so successful that it prevented him from trialling for the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics. After his active career Lahdenpera became a biathlon coach and supervised, among other things, the USA national team of the United States.
Biathlete Kathalin Czifra, who was born in Budapest today in 1972, competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics. She and the Hungarian team was placed 16th in the 7.5km relay Individually, Czifra came 64th in the spring and failed to finish in the 15km No athlete shot cleanly in this event, the winner was the German biathlete Antje Misersky, who had only the eighth best skiing time, but missed just one target. She had been second to the Russian Reztsova in the sprint, in which France’s Delphine Heymann-Burlet was on target for the gold medal until the final shooting round, when she missed two shots, and dropped back to sixth despite the third best ski time. The bronze medal went to Canada’s Myriam Bédard which was a surprise and was Canada’s first ever Nordic medal at the Winter Olympics.
30th-Not a single Biathlete, that I can find, was born today over the years, so I am highlighting a couple of other Nordic athletes. Stane Bervar, Slovenian ski runner was born in 1905 in Ljubljana. He appeared at the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, where he competed in the 50km where he was placed 30th.
Norwegian ski-jumper Sigmund Ruud, born in 1907, who together with his brothers Birger and Asbjørn, dominated ski jumping in the 1920s and 1930s. At the 1928 Winter Olympics Sigmund won a silver medal and at the 1929 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, he won the ski jumping competition and a bronze in the same event the following year. He also competed in the ski jumping competition at the Holmenkollen ski festival, which first began in 1933. At the 1932 Winter Olympics, suffering from appendicitis, he only finished seventh. For his contributions to ski jumping, Sigmund earned the Holmenkollen medal in 1949, the last of the three Ruud brothers to do so. Ironically, he was the only one of the three not to win the Holmenkollen ski jumping competition. Sigmund Ruud and fellow Norwegian ski jumper Jacob Tullin Thams are considered co-creators of the Kongsberger technique after World War I, a ski jumping technique that was the standard until it was superseded by the Daescher technique in the 1950s. Sigmund also served as chairman of the FIS Ski Jumping Committee in 1946–1955 and 1959–1967. He owned and ran a sport shop in Oslo and died on 7th April 1994
Joseph Brooks Dodge, Jr, born in 1929, grew up in the shadow of Tuckermanas Ravine in New Hampshire, and is considered one of the pioneers of extreme skiing in the United States. In addition to his Olympic appearances, he competed at the 1950 and 1954 World Championships, after winning the 1947 Eastern downhill when he was only 17. Dodge attended Dartmouth, but later earned an MBA from Harvard in 1957, before joining Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, a development firm. In the 1960s he helped develop heliskiing in the Canadian Rockies backcountry. Dodge also became a competitive glider, but in September 1978 he was involved in a severe crash in a glider accident. It took him several years to recover, but he eventually returned to the ski slopes.
31st – Czech biathlete Tomáš Kos, born in 1967, participated in three Winter Olympics and won a silver medal at Biathlon World Championships. He started competing in 1981 and made his World Cup debut in 1987.where he was placed 67th. The first highlight of his career was at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Kos was 22nd in the individual, 24th in the sprint and with Jiří Holubec, František Chládek and Jan Matouš was placed 11th in the relay race. In the post-Olympic season, he earned with an eighth place in a World Cup singles in Borowetz one of his best career results. In 1990 he won World Championship silver in Oslo, two years later at the 1992 Albertville Winter Games his best finish was 7th as part of the 4×7.5km relay. He retired as a competitive skier after the 1994 Winter Olympics and soon after was named as the national coach. In 2004 he was announced as head coach of the Slovenian national biathlon team. His hiring followed the appointment of former Slovenian Olympian Marko Dolenc as the head of the national biathlon assembly at the Ski Association, which oversees the national team. The overhaul of the coaching set-up came after the departure of Uroš Velepec as head coach and a vote of no confidence to the leading officials of the national biathlon assembly by representatives of clubs.