Interview With Russian Biathlete Evgeniy Garanichev - "The season was successful, I'm satisfied with my results in the World Championships."
|Posted on March 10, 2012 at 10:50 AM|
Exclusive Interview for Biathlon News International, by Raniya Kutumova, Russia
RK: Evgeny, how did you decide to skip from cross-country skiing to biathlon?
EG: When I was in the junior ski team, I often met the biathlon coach Vladimir Alikin (former A- team main coach – R.K.) and we talked a lot about skipping to biathlon. We went to do shooting exercises together, and he proposed that I to go to the Tyumen biathlon team and train with him. But finally it turned out I started my biathlon career with such great coaches as Maxim Kugaevsky, who taught me everything, and Pavel Muslimom, who became my shooting-trainer.
RK: Did you expect such great results in the beginning of your biathlon career?
EG: I thought to go through the selection to the Russian Championships and show good results there. Maybe, go to the IBU Cups. But sometimes I would quit everything – especially when I had shooting problems. But those times my parents gave me a great support and inspired me with the confidence. Then I started to think myself there are always hard moments and you just have to go through them.
RK: Was it hard, being a skier, to adjust to biathlon techniques?
EG: The main problem I faced was a shooting – coming to the shooting range, preparation, prone exercises. When we just did cross it was OK, but when we moved to rollers I faced some difficulties with coming to the shooting range, how should I place myself on the mat? But thanks to my trainers I got everything very fast. But then you get used to that. The same problem I had on the 1st winter training camp in Finland – the skis are several times longer than the rollers! But after some time I already did everything automatically, without thinking about the technique.
RK: And what about skiing with a rifle on your back?
EG: I didn’t feel a big difference skiing with or without it. Just during the summer trainings when you put the helmet on it made some discomfort – the rifle bumped to my head. But it was like that only at the beginning.
RK: In cross country you had pretty good results – you were the Junior World Champion. Do you think sometimes that you wish to participate in the cross country skiing competitions? Like some members of team Norway do, for example?
EG: No, I don’t want to go back to ski. I can see how I’m good in that component on the training sessions or control races. I might start somewhere with them but I’m not actually willing to. And trainers don’t suggest it. Besides, we have plenty of biathlon races as it is.
RK: At the beginning of the season how did you find your strength and your potential? What results did you expect?
EG: I trained with the main team and had a chance to compare my capabilities with the team’s leaders – Ivan Tcherezov, Evgeny Ustyugov, Maxim Maximov. I saw I was in a good shape in comparison to them. And if I was in the same level as they, I thought I could compete in the World Cups and achieve good results. For example, I thought I could be in the Top-10 or even be on the podium, so I had a feeling I could get the results!
RK: Who or what do you credit for the improvement in your shooting?
EG: It’s all about working with the shooting coach, Andrey Gebulov. And I also started thinking about the shooting work, analyze it. I started to pay more attention to that, now I’m more concentrated on the shooting range. And race by race I’m more confident about it.
RK: During this season you established yourself as an athlete who can show the results. Does it increase the pressure on you now?
EG: The audience might expect it from me, but trainers don’t say – you should win a medal. Fans – yes. And sometimes some of them write unpleasant and biased things. But at the same time they are criticized by others who understand more about biathlon. Sometimes I think – how could they judge the athlete if they are not at our place themselves? They should have run under these conditions, too! But sometimes the critics are right. In general fans write good things, words of encouragement. During the WCH we are compelled with more attention, and that imposes liability. I try to distract from the thoughts that this is the World Championships, and reason that if I can do well in Regular World Cup races, why not here?
RK: How did you adjust yourself to the Championships?
EG: Nothing special. I just continue to do my usual work. I can’t say I have extra worries the evening before the start. I try skip to other things, for example, signing the autograph cards.
RK: Before the World Championships did the coaches consult with you about your preferences regarding the races? Or about your position in the relay?
EG: No, they looked at our work during the season and the results we’ve showed and after that they said who would start in which race. And then, of course, the world ranking determine who goes to the mass start. The coaches give chance to everybody here. And about the relay, I prefer to be in the 2nd or 3rd leg. In Anholz , the coaches suggested I ski the last leg, but I was a bit afraid of that. Anyway, in Russian competitions I can start at any leg but the 1st one.
RK: Tell us about your results in sprint and pursuit races here?
EG: Comparing to the World Cups here it was more difficult to run. I was without strength in the sprint – especially at the last lap. I could manage my shooting but wasn’t satisfied with my ski work. It might be because I didn’t race for a long period. In the pursuit I felt I could do better – I skied confidently and lap by lap I would go faster. But this time I faced problems in the shooting range - there was intermittent wind. You come to the range, look at the flags – the wind is the same as it was during the zeroing. And you start shooting – and it changes! And I didn’t realize in time to make a sight correction, and that led to misses.
RK: Last year you also went to the World Championships, but didn’t have chance to compete. Were you not upset about that?
EG: Not at all! I went there to get some experience, and I might be put in a race, but last year I was the 7th or 8th in the team. I just thought it was not my last championships and I’d have other chances to compete.
RK: And what’s your number in the team now?
EG: I’m not sure, but maybe 3rd or 4th in the team…
RK: But you were chosen among four other best athletes to compete for Russia in the sprint.
EG: I can’t say I’m the strongest in the team. We all at a high level in the team and each athlete can show a good result.
RK: So you don’t give yourself some place?
EG: No, my job is just to show my best in each race.
RK: After your success in the World Cups did you feel suddenly there was a lot of worldwide interest in you personally?
EG: The fan’s interest always exists. But I try not to think about that a lot and focus on my work. Sure, more people started recognize me – and that pleases me. I had neighbors from my village who moved to Germany 18 years ago. And now they say I have a lot of fans here, they all cheer for me and with all best.
RK: And other foreign fans? Do they recognize you? Do they ask for a photo or an autograph?
EG: Yes, they do! During the trainings I hear they call me and cheer for me.
RK: And what is the other side of the coin?
EG: The most important is not to start thinking you became a star and ignore your old friends. On the contrary- with a success you have more people around you. And if fans ask to take photo with them I always come around. Some of them ask for the cards, other- to sign the flag. Even if I had a hard race I’d come over – they cheered for me! I try to do something good for them, too. We had a photo session for the new cards where the Russian athletes changed the role and were presented in other kinds of sports. As for me, I was a rugby player! On the cards it’s written “They could’ve been something else, but chose biathlon”. You turn the card – and from the other side it’s a photo from the race.
RK: After your successful competitions, who do you call first?
EG: I always call my parents first – they wait after each race. I call also my girlfriend and my personal coach.
RK: And how do you manage to mix personal life with your sporting life?
EG: Sport and studies add some difficulties – you can’t meet your family very often. But Internet helps in that – we could chat with Skype and after that I feel better and more comfortable.
RK: Did your parents come to the WCH to support you?
EG: My parents don’t have chance to go to the international Cups. And I myself don’t feel enough confident if they are at the stadium – It’ll increase the pressure. We will see if they come next year.
RK: Have you considered how you will relax after the season ends?
EG: The 1st thing I want to do is go to a sanatorium to heal my back and to recover. We’ll talk about that with my coach later after the Khanty-Mansyisk World Cup.
RK: Good luck for the end of the season!