May 25

Biathlon Finland: Tero Seppel makes the double, Mari Eder half-tone

For the first time in many years, only the distant shadow of the new retiree Kaisa M-k-inen, hovered over the 2020 Finnish Summer Biathlon Championships held last weekend in Hollola, in the southern region of the country. In sweltering heat, Tero Seppel, completed the sprint/mass-start double ahead of Heiki Laitinen and then Tuomas Harjula, disqualified from the sprint after an excellent 10/10, with a good margin of lead, despite two mistakes on the first day and six the next day.

On the women’s front, favourite Marie Eder, who lives in Austria and had to remain confined when she arrived in the country, sank in the sprint (4/10) finished in third place, 50 seconds behind Venle Lehtonen, crowned Finnish champion with a 9/10. The next day, the 32-year-old biathlete, winner of two World Cups in 2017 in Holmenkollen, recovered to win, despite a bad 14/20 and a broken break, with more than a minute of margin over Nastasia Kinnunen, silver the day before.

 

Photo : Nordic Focus.

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March 10

Gérard Colin, profession coach

SAUT À SKI – Former ski jumping competitor Gérard Colin has become coach of the French team. Portrait of a pure sugar Vosgien who now lives in the Jurassic Grandvaux.

Gérard Colin, Jurassien des Vosges

“I was born in Remiremont, but I say I’m from La Bresse.” No matter if he didn’t see the light of day in the Moselotte Valley, Gérard Colin is a Vosgien cut from white fir. And for good reason, the little boy grew up in a book with pages that we already seem well yellowed. When he was only six years old, his parents moved out. His father, who got tired in the forest, undertook a courageous conversion into the spinning mills. “He went on an internship in Germany and came back foreman in charge of the turbines. My mother was weaving. I was going to see her at the workshop.”

He still remembers the noisy and repetitive slamming of old trades. “In the sixties, life was still rough,” continues the coach at the French Ski Federation. The Second World War is not far away. In the fall of 1944, the Bresse paid a heavy price. The Germans, determined to extinguish the hotbed of resistance that developed there, ordered the deportation and destruction of the small town. Five hundred buildings are totally destroyed, including isolated farms, systematically blown up. The population was forced to leave, under a storm of snow and shells, towards Plainfaing, hamlet of Cornimont, by the Lake of Ravens and the Pass of the Virgin.

Gérard Colin remembers seeing the barracks that were later erected to house all these families. “My brother and I found guns and ammunition in the woods. One day, we even came across a rocket,” he marvels today.

This did not prevent the carelessness of childhood. “In the Vosges, there were ski homes in every village that worked with the school. So we were cross-country skiing,” says the man who will be crowned French ski jumping champion ten times.

His first springboards, he erects them himself with his friends, a shovel in his hand. A small bump is enough to amuse the troupe that plays to scare themselves. Pascal Remy “Boulette”, “a great”, observes these kids and is surprised by the prowess of his neighbor: “He came up to me and said: “You saw how you jump. Wouldn’t you like to try to compete?” That’s how I landed at the club that Gervais Poirot was looking after [the Poirot sibling, also with Marcel and Gilbert, is well known to the Bressauds,]. He was the one who took me first on the little springboard of La Bresse. My heart was coming out of my chest because he was pounding so hard.”

Painter in building… then lined up at the 1984 Games

In 1974, Gérard Colin donned his first sweater with the tricolour crest. He is only 16 years old. In 1980, even though he worked as a building painter, and then in 1984, he participated in the Olympic Games: “In the Americas”, as my mother said, I was hungry. I was young, I didn’t understand what was going on. In Sarajevo, four years later, I was aware of my worth. I wanted to go.” Unlike 1988: “I was “selectable” for Calgary, but I knew I wasn’t going to do better.”

A contract with Customs allows him to approach his conversion with serenity. He becomes a coach. On three occasions, he was called upon to take charge of an elite French team in arre between. He settled in the Jura (he was in charge of the Tuffes stadium in Premanon) and travelled europe, even the world, of the great caravan of “swallows.” Far from his native Vosges. “I’ve been nostalgic since I left. Today I want to go back,” he says.

For him, contrary to what is said, “the Vosges and the Jura are not the same. Nature is different.” It’s already a matter of geology. The first rest on granite, the second on limestone. It’s also a story of ears: “At home, I hear constantly the sound of streams popping out everywhere on the surface.”

As soon as he returns home, he finds his old training courses, on the side of the Chaume de Champis or the springboard of Entre Les Gouttes. The melancholy is near. But the children he had with Marie-Pierre Guilbaud are Jurassic, although the civil status gave birth to them in the heart of the maternal Central Massif. In this family that lives only for sport, Clément became a biathlete and Lucie joined the group of hopefuls of the French team. This winter, they won’t see much of their father. With Robert Treitinger, he will do everything to ensure that Vincent Descombes-Sevoie and Ronan Lamy-Chappuis fly as far as possible.

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January 3

Vincent Descombes-Sevoie, hedge jumper

SAUT À SKI – Since 2011, Nordic Magazine has published a long portrait of an athlete in each of its issues. Each time, it is an opportunity to get to know the person whose exploits are admired. Find here the article that evoked, in December 2014, Vincent Descombes-Sevoie.

Vincent Descombes-Sevoie is a jumper who, as soon as he can, takes to the skies. In flight, it escapes the world around it. Although her escape calls for a field, she is short-lived and parades at high speed through her grey-green eyes. But it is indispensable to him, vital even, as oxygen can be for any human being.

To understand, it is necessary, as often, to go back to childhood. “I was always glued to my parents’ sneakers,” says the 31-year-old, who turns 31 in January. His mother did not forget this time: “On Sunday afternoon, he was already beginning to cry just at the thought, the next day, of leaving us. Everything scared him. No, really, he didn’t like school.” A phobia that his parents will try to cure through sport.

In this family of craftsmen – the father is a plumber – ski jumping is not a given. Except that the big brother, a bit of a kamikaze, already plays in the local club of The Houches, in Haute-Savoie. His presence reassures his youngest who, at the same time, finds himself loving this new universe that he discovers. “I was learning to manage events better.” In 1989, he was not six years old when he went by bus to Paris to jump on the springboard that was then installed in the Parc de la Courneuve: “For me, it was a real expedition. I remember before you jumped, you could see the Eiffel Tower.”

The coach’s name is James Yerly. “He was the smallest of the group. He had good results right away. At the national level, he was in the best. Already, he liked to win,” recalls the man who accompanied him for many years, before Pierre Bailly and many others took over. “He guided me with the right words, the right gestures,” thanks the athlete who, from time to time, visits him. “He’s still giving me advice,” he adds. “He knows what he has to do,” smiles the man.

He witnessed the chrysalis metamorphosis into a butterfly and the first flight of the butterfly. “I loved going to the fight. The jump unlocked the padlock that had been in me for years,” admits the current leader of the French special jump team.

François Braud, a member of the French Nordic combined team, knew him at the time: “We spent a lot of time together,” recalls the Chamoniard. I was going to his house: either we would take a springboard in his garden, jump until the end of the night and even forget to eat, or we would watch videos of looping until we knew by heart each jumper of the World Cup.”

Planica’s Promise

On the Mont Blanc committee, he rubbed shoulders with Kevin Arnould, Ludovic Roux, “almost idols”, did internships in Chaux-Neuve, Haut-Doubs, and even abroad. Vincent Descombes-Sevoie has found his way. One day, he goes to Planica, Slovenia. As a spectator, with the chamoniard fans and his family. At the foot of the springboard, he looks at his mother Patricia, and says, “One day I’ll come and jump there.”

At the age of 14, he joined the French Nordic combined team. “With Vincent, we know each other well,” says Sébastien Lacroix, “because he is one year younger than me. He made the handset until 2003 I think and we were often in the room together at that time.” From that time, the Jurassien keeps in mind a funny story: “In 2003, at the world junior championships I mistakenly put my name in his suit when he is much smaller than me [1.73 m versus 1.90 m, ed.]. Fortunately, he realized that before I tried to get into it. He’s got me with that a lot.”

“For me, things were starting to get serious,” the tricolour jumper continues. The courses are spiced with Fabrice Guy/Sylvain Guillaume sauce: wake-up, fasting, breakfast, jumping, bodybuilding… “But I was stagnating in cross-country skiing,” he admits. After two-three difficult years, he changed his discipline: he joined the beautiful French jumping team, alongside Emmanuel Chedal, David Lazzaroni, Nicolas Dessum, Pierre-Emmanuel Robe, Damien Maître and Benjamin Bourqui. However, due to a lack of results, it did not qualify for the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin.

The atmosphere is not at the party and Vincent Descombes-Sevoie isolates himself. “It wasn’t a group where I felt good,” he says. “When it doesn’t work out the way he wants it to, he gets a lot bit bit angry and gets a little bit close to himself. It’s a bit of a shame because in those moments, you may need to evacuate thinking about something else,” observes Sébastien Lacroix.

Until the late 2000s, Vincent Descombes-Sevoie wanted to prove to his teammates that he was not an exiled handset, but a jumper. A real one. To gain his status, he will clench his teeth and fists, then put his work back on the job a thousand times. “He’s a hard worker,” says Sébastien Lacroix. He’s always given himself 200% to perform, especially since the transition from the handset to the jump is far from obvious.” “I had to be in front,” he says. In front of Emmanuel Chedal, the number one, with whom he has no affinity and whose contract he takes over with Customs in 2007.

The year 2010 will serve as a trigger: Vancouver Olympics, two top 15 World Cups in Kuopio and Lillehammer, the first crossing of the 200 m. “I’m in the real world”, is surprised to think then the Haut-Savoyard who now lives only for the jump. He will no longer let his guard down. “He’s so passionate,” says Lauranne, his Jurassic wife with whom, in 2012, he had a baby boy, Louison. Even when he’s with us, his sporting career is his priority. Our lives are settled in relation to that.” She continues: “He loves us, we know that. We support him.”

A priesthood? “It’s my life,” replies Vincent Descombes-Sevoie. “He’s mostly a great dad who has fun with his little Louison, who’s having a laugh,” Braud said. “The birth of Louison has done him a lot of good, I think, and he is a happy and proud father of his son,” said Sébastien Lacroix.

Uppercuts

The athlete is not just a ski jumper. He also jumps hedges, obstacles that are all blows given on his shell. In 2013, his exasperation was too strong during the Tour des Quatre Tremplins, a highlight of the winter for this discipline that succeeds to the loners. His anger is found in the columns of The Team. Above all, a strong sense of injustice. “I explained things [mainly the lack of resources, the absence of a farter, dietician and physical trainer in the French team,] that didn’t please many people.”

Less than a year later, he learns that he will not go to Sochi, only Ronan Lamy-Chappuis will be on the Olympic trip to Russia. “I got confirmation of this by a text message from Marie-Laure Brunet who was supporting me. I was in transit at an airport.” Pudique, he says he was “disappointed” but did not think to stop, to throw his skis in the gutter, to turn the page. “I thought about my family and the people who supported me.” He had his suits,” Lauranne recalls.

Her husband’s reaction impresses him: “He was very strong. I admire him. He really managed to bounce back.” Especially since he’s not done with the uppercuts. “I’ve only done it my own way,” he concedes. Instead of the Olympics, Vincent Descombes-Sevoie must fly to the United States where the continental cup is contested. Except that his passport is no longer valid. “He took a blow to the head,” regrets Gérard Colin, his current coach, who is living this new event with him. He then reads more than dismay in the wet eyes of his athlete. In March, finally, he lost his title of French champion by a hair: “Ski jumping is details.”

“After Sochi, it was hard,” says the coach, who has tried to restore his confidence. “It was a bit complicated last season,” says Ronan Lamy-Chappuis. Vincent shut up. I had a hard time getting to him, I didn’t know how to react.” Since then, the pair has re-established themselves and, “during the summer, Vincent has progressed. He now knows what he’s worth. He has no doubt when he leaves the bar,” observes Gérard Colin, satisfied with his “small family.”

Re(co)nnaissance

Vincent Descombes-Sevoie’s lack of recognition. “I hope he gets it. I believe in it. I absolutely want him to get a result, something significant, to feel like he’s one of the best in the world.” “His strength is his professionalism and, in jumping, the way he flies.” His weakness? In my opinion, he is still too nervous in competitions,” said Austrian Robert Treitinger, the tricolour team’s physical trainer. “He knows what he’s worth and until he realizes his dreams, he’ll redouble his effort until he gets there,” adds Chamoniard handset Geoffrey Lafarge.

Today, Vincent Descombes-Sevoie says he’s in his head. “He’s more motivated than ever,” says Lauranne. “I was able to get up. It’s winter where anything is possible,” he smiles. He wants top 10s. And lots of other things. “Now I’m playing the winner.” Everywhere. All the time. Watch out for his mood when he is not satisfied with his jumps, regardless of the role the elements will have played.

When on February 24, 2012, during the first round of the world championships in Vikersund (Norway), he broke the French record with a jump of 225 meters, his wife Lauranne was pregnant. The family has just purchased a cottage, with an extra room. From there to see a happy omen …

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April 15

Nordic Ski Worlds in 2021: Germany Maintains

SKI NORDIQUE – Oberstdorf has no plans to ask for a postponement of the Nordic ski world championships, which it is due to host from February 23 to March 7.

The Nordic Ski World Championships are scheduled to take place from February 23 to March 7, 2021 in Oberstdorf.

However, during a live facebook post on Facebook, the president of the Italian Winter Sports Federation Flavio Roda caused a stir. He said that at the last FIS council, Germany had asked for a postponement.

She thus followed in the footsteps of the Italians. The Alpine Skiing World Championships scheduled for February 2021 in Cortina d’Ampezzo are expected to be postponed until March 2022. The coronavirus pandemic is definitely not without consequences for sports calendars.

However, in an interview with BR24 on 26 May, Florian Stern, a member of the organising committee, wished to correct: “We are not yet in the same position as the Italians,” he said.

A Plan B exists

According to him, it is the “Plan A” that remains relevant. “Next winter we should be able to organize World Cups and world championships with some minor restrictions.”

For now, organizers hope the races will be held in public. Unless the Covid-19 reappears massively on the European continent.

So there is a plan B: “We are looking in all possible directions, but the Nordic Ski World Championships in Oberstdorf will take place on the scheduled date.” A specific point will be made at the end of August/early September.

More Expensive Worlds

Anyway, the Worlds will be more expensive than expected. As announced by project manager Florian Speigl, the renovation of the Schattenberg ski jump will cost up to an additional 2.8 million euros. Modernization costs are currently estimated at 42.1 million euros.

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March 15

Nordic Skiing Oberstdorf Worlds: no public restrictions

SKI NORDIQUE – The organizers of the World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, have already sold 25,000 tickets.

Nordic skiing: stadiums 100% full

26.01.2020, Oberstdorf, Germany (GER):
Valentin Chauvin (FRA) – FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Oberstdorf (GER). www.nordicfocus.com. © Thibaut/NordicFocus. Every downloaded picture is fee-liable.

Already 25,000 tickets have been sold for the World Nordic Ski Championships in Oberstdorf in 2021. While the planet is still facing the coronavirus pandemic, the information may surprise.

“There is no discussion about a possible postponement or cancellation of the event. In addition, there are currently no restrictions on the public. For the moment, we plan to fill the stadiums 100%,” confirms one of the worlds’ bosses, Moritz Beckers-Schwarz, to our colleagues at the Augsburger Allgemeine.

The decision to reduce the number of spectators is up to the local authorities or the Bavarian government anyway, the press across the Rhine reminds us. “In the event of cancellation or capacity restrictions, the ticket price will be refunded,” Beckers-Schwarz said. The organizers are insured.

The Nordic Ski World Championships are scheduled in Oberstdorf from February 23 to March 7, 2021.

Photos: Nordic Focus.

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