Getting to know… Denis Irodov

With three individual gold medals conquered at the IBU Youth World Championships in Obertilliach last winter, Russian Denis Irodov immediately booked a spot for himself among the up-and-coming stars in biathlon. His success, however, did not come out of the blue: just 12 months before his successful Austrian week, he had won two silver medals at the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympics. The 19-year-old is not the kind of person to indulge in his successes, but instead, he is literally hiding the medals as soon as he has taken them to be able to focus on the next competition. With such attitude and great determination, Irodov is working hard to confirm all the signs that seem to be taking him to bigger stages in the years to come.

BiathlonWorld: How are you? How did the summer trainings go?Denis Irodov: Everything is fine. Summer training before winter is coming to an end. I hope it was productive. I’m already missing the snow…

BW: What are the goals for the next winter?DI: Instead of focusing on overall goals, I’ll just try to do my job the best way possible and show better results.

BW: Last year you won 3 gold medals in as many competitions in Obertilliach, what memories come to your mind if you think about it now?DI: Of course, I recall the emotions and the atmosphere of the competitions, meeting interesting people. I wish I could go back and relive those happy moments.

BW: In an interview, we read that you take medals off and hide trophies so that every day is a new start. Where does this attitude come from? And also, do you still hide them even once the season is over?DI: Yes, I still think that if you fully understand your success, you may never achieve more. This is what motivates me to forget about all the previous medals before each new race and try to win new ones instead.

BW: In Obertilliach you missed just 3 shots in 3 individual competitions, but you come from a strong cross-country background. Where do you think your strengths lie as a biathlete?DI: It is a difficult question for me. But like many others, I think that a strong biathlete is a strong cross-country skier with good shooting skills. Probably then I was able to show good results both on the shooting range and on the track.

BW: Speaking of cross-country, do you still consider the possibility of competing in both sports or is biathlon your main focus? Looking back at the past, we heard that both shooting and skiing are things you tried since you were very young, thanks to your dad being a coach. Can you tell the story?DI: Biathlon is my first priority. But I shouldn’t forget about the opportunity to work and compete with cross-country skiers. In my opinion, it can help me become a little faster on the tracks. Yes, I’ve been skiing since I was 3 years old, and it’s a crucial part of my life. My father is still my personal coach, and he knows me better than anyone else. We fully understand each other.

BW: This winter, biathletes will compete in Beijing at the Olympic Winter Games. You've had a first taste of the Games in Lausanne 2020. What did you learn and what memories do you keep from then?DI: The Lausanne Olympic Games were wonderful. This was my first international competition. I was afraid of many things but the festive and cozy atmosphere helped me let go of my worries and enjoy the moment. Yes, it was awesome!

BW: One last thing, your Instagram name is Carbon Denya, where does this nickname come from?DI: Several years ago I had Carbonlite skis, I thought it was super cool. And carbon ski poles were amazing. Anyway, the word “carbon” for me was synonymous with cool, awesome, but also solid. And I can’t just call myself solid, right? But in the nickname, I can. That’s why I use CARBON. As for Denya, well, it’s very easy. I don’t like it when people call me Dan, it sounds too western. I prefer Denya, Denis – it’s simple, Russian, without ceremony.

Photos: Reichert/IBU

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