Biathlon Friends: Coming Together on International Day of Friendship
Friendships in biathlon come as naturally as in other part of life; a couple of people meet, find similar interests, share a laugh or maybe a competition week or months and become lifelong pals. For International Day of Friendship, several athletes commented on their biathlon “besties.”
The French Connection: Anais and Rosanna
Many biathlon friendships go way back in years, crossing oceans and adding language skills, like that of France’s Anais Bescond and Canada’s Rosanna Crawford. Bescond dug deep in her memory talking about her Canadian friend. "I met Rosanna years ago; I can't remember when but it was at a European Cup (now IBU Cup) around 15 years ago. We are almost the same age and took almost the same route to the World Cup. The easy thing with Sanna was that she speaks French, so we became friends and still are now! I have tried to improve my English with her. We spend so much time together, sharing nice moments and also some tough ones…”
Most of all, there is a special bond that Bescond sees in the biathletes. “Even with distances, culture and different lives, friendships exist and grow. She has visited me in France, and I have discovered her country a few times. This has been a big pleasure for both of us. Now I am on my way to her wedding with Brendan; I know we will keep in touch even after we both have retired from high level sport!"
Trevor and Oskar’s Cold Weather Challenge
Canadian Trevor Kiers and Sweden’s Oskar Ohlsson met via a cold-weather prank/challenge at the very cold IBU YJWCH in Otepää. Kiers explained, “Right at the beginning of the championships Oskar did a mini-interview on Snapchat about how the Swedish athletes would do well because they were used to the cold weather. My teammate Adam Runnalls laughed, thinking he obviously had never been to Canada where we were born in igloos and -10 is t shirt weather! So, we posted a video on social media of Adam the two of us sitting outside at -18 to show Oskar, although we had never met, captioning it, ‘the Swedes think it's cold, but we thought it was almost summer.’ He thought it was hilarious, responded with "Game on,’ and that's the way everything started.”
Good Luck Bump
From that point, the two have been fast friends, chatting occasionally online before seeing each other last winter at the IBU YJWCH in Osrblie. “We watched some of the youth races with the Canadian and Swedish Junior teams, and usually gave a good luck first bump at the start of races. It was also super cool watching him race on the IBU cup where I got to race later in the season… Building a friendship like that excites me every time I go to Europe. I've got friends and supporters everywhere now! In Osrblie, Oskar didn’t make the cut unfortunately, but he was out there cheering us on… It's a friendship that's going to last, and I always look forward to seeing him at races."
Maria and Ukaleq
Maria Tsakiri and Ukaleq Slettemark from warm balmy Greece and frigidly cold Greenland met through their parents and have become the best of friends. Tsakiri explained, “Our parents were athletes at the same time and then became our coaches! That is how we met. We have something in common: we both love biathlon. We always have a great time and trainings together! I call her ‘little star.’ I really believe in her!! She is an authentic girl, and always gives me her positive energy and…I love her."
Although Tsakiri has moved on to the senior ranks, there is no doubt that this international friendship will remain strong.
Kaisa and Miri
Just recently, a couple of old World Cup friends Germany’s Miriam (Gössner) Neureuther and Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen got back together after not seeing each other for a couple of years. Yet the two picked up again last week just as if the couple of years had been just a few days. Neureuther commented on their recent afternoon together.”Kaisa stopped to visit me on her way back from a training camp. We had not seen each other for at least 1.5 years because we were both always busy. We still keep in contact but it was so nice to see her again. I can tell you that she looks really fast!"
Weronika, Eva and Andreja: Talking and Laughing
The now retired trio of Poland’s Weronika Nowakowska, Romania’s Eva Tofalvi and Slovenian Andreja Mali were fast friends during their World Cup careers and remain so. Nowakowska remembered their first meeting. “I think I met Eva in my first World Cup season; I think it was 2007. She was the loudest person. I remember that and that is how we connected! And during that same season, I met Andreja at…a party in Pokljuka…We then became year round friends, not just during biathlon season. We would do coffee and talk and talk, and laugh about our races, dreams or cooking. Mali is a great cook. She cooks, we eat.”
Although all three are past their competition days, they remain close, with their next meeting anticipated at Tofalvi’s wedding next month.
The power of friendship goes beyond sports and professional careers, no matter where these athletes live or where their lives take them, they will always be friends.