Biathletes Get Creative with Rifle Designs
It’s their pride and joy, their best friend, their precious diamond It’s their… rifle! Many biathletes express themselves through their rifles, putting their imagination and creativity into the designs. Biathlonworld took a look at the most creative rifles on the World Cup and IBU Cup tours and found some very unique designs.
As the top men approach the shooting range during the pursuit, the camera focuses on Russian star Anton Shipulin’s famous dragon. A closer look reveals the dragon’s sharp teeth and fearsome flames coming from its mouth. Shipulin shares a story on his rifle: made in Russia.
“Two years ago I had a friend help me with a design for my rifle. She told me you can pick any drawing or object. I didn’t have to think long, I had two ideas in my head: a lion or a dragon, and we opted for the dragon. I like the way my rifle looks, and it has become a talisman for me. The most important thing for me is not how it looks, but how comfortable it is, and my rifle combines the two.”
Johannes Thingnes Boe: Pink is the New Black
Another famous design can be found on Johannes Thingnes Boe’s rifle. To be more precise, its outrageously, eye-catching pink! The Norwegian star also sets the trend for other athletes: a biathlete from Korea, Kim Jongmin, painted his rifle pink just to look and shoot like Johannes!
Boe explained the choice of color for his rifle. “Last year my rifle was all pink. Before the season I got a new rifle stock, and I didn’t have the time to design it, so it’s pink in some places and the rest is standard. I tried pink because it was something new, and I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Next season I will choose another color. Maybe if people send me some drawings and I like some of them, I might pick one of them.”
Boe said that he’s happy to hear that his rifle is trendy this season. “It’s cool to be someone who guys from the smaller nations follow.”
The Gasparin Sisters’ Charm
Selina, Elisa and Aita Gasparin are not only a unique trio of three sisters competing in the same sport, but they also have special rifle stocks. Aita, the youngest, was the one who came up with the idea to put drawings on them. “We did it in summer 2015. I had a crowd funding project on the internet and lots of people sent me money so that I could get a new rifle. After that I came up with the idea for the paintings.” The main thing was to choose the design, because the sisters already knew who would be the painter. “We got to know an artist from Switzerland, who usually designs masks for ice hockey players. His paintings are really great, so we thought maybe it would be cool to have such nice drawings on our rifles. In the beginning it was really hard to choose just one picture, but then I decided to have the face of a snow leopard. I really like animals, and the snow leopard is really strong and fast, and it’s also very elegant.”
Aita explained the designs on her sister's rifle stocks. “Elisa has a painting of the mountains in the place where we were born with blue skies and snow. It’s a real biathlon picture.” Selina, the oldest sister, asked the fans to help her with her drawing, “She had some kind of a competition on the internet, where people sent her suggestions of what to do. In the end, she chose the best one and it was a piece of wood on fire.”
Quentin Fillon Maillet: Self-Made
The uniqueness of Fillon Maillet’s rifle is not its design, but rather the fact that the this talented athlete is all three: builder, designer and user of this rifle! It’s a time-consuming hobby and took this rising star six months on his computer. He explained, “I never stop looking for new ideas and solutions to shoot better. Nobody can know better than you yourself, what rifles suits you best. Last spring I also worked on a design for my rifle: I tried to incorporate a mirror on my rifle, but I couldn’t find a solution for it. Perhaps next year I will work more on the design before the Olympics.”
Russia’s Alexey Slepov is a very funny and positive person. He’s always in a good mood with a smile on his face. However, when it comes to the competitions, he’s focused and serious, admitting, “It’s better to work on yourself first and then on some sort of design.” After last season Slepov changed his rifle stock and had a Russian flag painted on it. However, he wasn’t the one who chose the design, “My personal coach has made this amazing rifle for me. It was originally only black and I trained with it for about two months. I actually wanted to leave the rifle as just black, but my coach said, “If you compete for Russia, you have to have the national flag,” so he painted it for me and I really like it!”
Lady Fortune on Joanne Reid’s Rifle
USA’s Joanne Reid believes that luck is an integral part of biathlon; this belief is reflected in her rifle. She explained, “The lady on the front of my rifle is the Lady Fortune - the mistress of biathlon. In a sport full of ups and downs, dependent on both skill and luck, chance is a part of our lives. Without Fortune’s favor, we cannot succeed, and she is a fickle mistress indeed. But remember, Fortune favors the bold! This representation of her I found beautiful, wild, and free, and yet tasteful at the same time.”