Damn, I like Podchufarova.neineinei said:Biathlon:
Interview with Wolfgang Pichler:
https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=no&ie=UTF-8&u=http://www.sports.ru/tribuna/blogs/russiateam/715464.html&edit-text= (Google translate)
Describes a paralel group to his, initated by the ministry.
Some World Cup-names of the 'alternative team': Olga Vilukhina, Irina Starykh, Ekaterina Iourieva, Daria Virolaynen, Olga Podchufarova
This doesn't surprise me at all (and to a great extent it coincides with the Vladimir Korol'kevich group - who has taken over overall control from Pichler partway through the season, with the 'three groups with Pichler in overall control' moving to 'three groups with Korol'kevich in overall control'... especially fishy considering he had been in charge of the Ukrainian women's team that peaked so perfectly for the World Championships the previous year).
But what does surprise me is that Vilukhina is in there. She was part of Pichler's training group (that was Olga Zaitseva, Olga Vilukhina, Iana Romanova, Ekaterina Glazyrina, Ekaterina Shumilova and Svetlana Sleptsova if I remember correctly, so basically the core of the World Cup team, plus the enigma that is Sleptsova, who Pichler has suggested at various times is an obvious former doper but also a legitimate talent who requires a lot of effort to handle).
There was also some weirdness during the season about the replacement athlete for Starykh when she went positive after being nominated for the Olympics. If I remember rightly, despite Zagoruiko and Nazarova having better results they wanted to name Galina Nechkasova, but for some reason the IOC wouldn't allow it so they went with Nazarova instead. But then, Russian selection policies have been bonkers for years, with politics playing into things a lot, impatience of coaches, depth of squads and so on, so I didn't think too much of it at the time (although Starykh going from bit-part IBU Cup player to World Cup podium in an Olympic year was a bit too obvious if they're honest about it... Virolaynen also wound up on the podium of her very first World Cup race, although that was the really bizarre race won by the Austrian woman after some dramatic changes in conditions). I remember them at the Ruhpolding World Championships dropping Makoveev from the Individual (he had two weeks earlier won the last Individual raced on the World Cup) in order to start an injured Evgeniy Ustyugov who clearly didn't want or expect to be there. Why?!