Olena Pidhrushna is part of a veteran Ukrainian trio including the Semerenko twins that has been the heart of her country’s biathlon success in recent years. Pidhrushna’s career stretches back to her international debut in the Summer Biathlon World Championships, where she finished an inauspicious 12th in the cross sprint with four penalties. Since that time, Pidhrushna has won both Olympic and World Championship titles.
The 2013 IBU World Championships are the highlight of her career on an individual basis. She shocked everyone at Nove Mesto na Moravě with her first-ever win, shooting clean and upsetting the favorite Tora Berger to win the sprint Gold medal. The Ukrainian backed that up with Bronze in the sprint and closed the World Championships anchoring Ukraine to the relay Silver medal.
The WCH heroics carried her into the Olympic year of 2014. Although she had few personal highlights, the World Champion sprinter anchored the Ukrainian relay team to their greatest victory ever, the Olympic Gold medal. After that glorious season, Pidhrushna retired from competition, taking a minister’s post in the Ukrainian government.
Yet her retirement was short-lived; returning to biathlon for the 2015-16 season. She returned without missing a beat, having a career season that ended with 7th place in the World Cup Total Score. It was a season filled with more relay podiums and individual top ten results. Pidhrushna’s comeback was capped when she produced a devastating last loop for her second career win in the Canmore sprint, leaving the eventual Crystal Globe winner Gabriela Koukalová 33 seconds back in 7th place.
Most recently, the Olympic and WCH Gold medalist has struggled with illness, but remains the relay team anchor. The Olympic Gold medal team reunited for the first time since Sochi in December 2017 at Hochfilzen producing a sterling 5-spare round second place and giving hope to more Olympic glory at Pyeongchang 2018.
What do you remember about your first biathlon competition?
It was regional championships with a perfect weather, crazy jim-jam and first place in the end!
When did you realize that you could be good at this sport?
I don’t know, I just was happy with my results and did not think about the future.
What is your routine to get ready on race day; is it always the same?
There is no standard routine. It depends on my well-being and the start time. I can be active all day long or sleep until the departure for the Stadium.
Given the option, would you rather run, rollerski, cycle…or?
Alpine skiing…and dancing!
What do you do very well?
Packing bags! After 17 years in sports, I have a great practice
Describe a perfect day off from training or competition?
Good company, walking, and games outside…or a nice movie at the fireplace with a cup of tea.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Believe in the impossible!
In a city, on the beach or in the mountains on your perfect holiday; any place special that you love?
I really love mountains. I do not have a favorite place yet but surely there will be one!