Hugh Pritchard, Biathlete

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Hugh Pritchard
Biathlete.co.uk

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2002/03

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Stories

Fritzenwenger the cow-killer

Nowadays the roller-ski track at Ruhpolding is closed for a couple of weeks in the Summer when the cows are grazing on it. But that was not always the case: in 1987, biathletes and cows shared the track. There is a descent in the circuit where a roller-skier can reach 70km/h. Coming down this precipice one morning Herbert Fritzenwenger, long-time member of the West German team, met a cow standing broadside across the track. All he had time to do was turn his shoulder into it. Herbert suffered a slight wrench to his shoulder. The cow died from internal bleeding two days later. (Story related by Ricco Gross)

First man off in Minsk

At the World Championships in Minsk in 1990, spectators by the thousand went to the stadium early to stand in the bitter cold and ensure their place by the trackside. They had been waiting for hours by the time the first man started: a British athlete who requests anonymity. He describes the feeling of surfing round on the crest of a great roar of enthusiasm; Mike Dixon tells of plotting his progress round the course by the noise. This particular athlete had a mental strategy for coping with the spectators on the range: as he skied into the range, he would look at the crowd and (inwardly) say to them "Now, just watch this!" On this occasion, however, the crowd watched and saw him miss 3 of his first 5. You can't win all the time. (Story related by Ian Woods)

The squats challenge

Sverre Istad was the fastest skier in biathlon, the Frode Andresen of his day. He was reputed to hold a squat position with his back against the wall for amazing long times, so at a post-race party one night a drunken Mike Dixon challenged him. After 2 minutes most people are dropping out; Mike got to 13 before deciding that he was doing himself too much damage. Sverre lasted another 30". After another whisky the memory of the pain had been replaced by anger at the defeat, so Mike challenged Sverre again, giving him a 30" head start. Mike's unique determination kept him going for another 45" after Sverr dropped out in tears after 10'. (Story from Mike Dixon)

"I have grown up in biathlon. I know everything." - Martin Glagow

Flying skis, flying skier

Frode Andrésen in the mass start of the relay in Khanty-Mansiysk: got to the end of the double-poling zone, started to skate and... both skis flew off in different directions. After retrieving them and this time closing the bindings, he still got to the range in first place. (Frode's story)

Old Times

John Moore, training for the 1960 Olympics, knew that he had to cover a lot of distance. He found it very hard to complete the training he knew he had to do, so he filled in his training log each evening, in advance for the next day's training: 100 miles of steady skiing... (and this was on wooden skis, with grip-wax the entire length of each ski!) He says he skied at the same speed in each race, so that by the time of the 50km he was doing comparatively well (this in the days when the Brit cross-country team was also the biathlon team).

Cold fingers

Kenyan cross-country racer Philip Boit: "when I started I used to fall over a lot and put my hands in the snow, and all my fingernails fell off. I think now my gloves were not very good."