Who is... Martin Fourcade?
France’s Martin Fourcade is one of biathlon’s preeminent superstars. The tall, dark and handsome Fourcade caught the attention of Olympic fans in Sochi with a pair of gold medal wins, but fans across biathlon-crazed Europe have been witness to Fourcade’s relentless pursuit of excellence for years.
Martin followed his older brother, Simon, into biathlon when he was 13 years old. The younger Fourcade did not always have the necessary focus or commitment, leading to many less-than-stellar finishes early on. But his coach at the time, Thierry Dusserre, an Olympic biathlon bronze medalist in 1994 in Lillehammer, helped Martin develop a work ethic which has led to incredible successes.
Martin Fourcade is an 11-time world champion, and has won 63 World Cup races over the course of his career. This dominance has translated into Fourcade’s six year run as the International Biathlon Union’s overall title winner, taking home what’s called the Big Crystal Globe, every year since 2012.
Small Crystal Globes are also awarded to the biathlete with the most points for each of four event disciplines at the end of the season. Fourcade has won 20 of them – accomplishing the sweep three times, including the past two seasons.
Although the athlete himself may see it differently, Fourcade’s silver medal performance in the mass start event at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver is widely regarded as the race when he earned the title of elite. Fourcade missed two of his opening shooting round targets, requiring him to ski two successive penalty loops. When he finally returned to the course, he was ranked 28th out of 30 racers. When he crossed the finish to take silver, he did it just 10.5 seconds behind gold medal winner Evgeni Ustiugov, and 16.6 seconds ahead of bronze medalist Pavol Hurajt of Slovakia.
An impressive feat if you also consider Fourcade had to make one last visit to the penalty loop after he missed a target in his final shooting bout.
During his 2016-17 campaign, Martin Fourcade broke the record set by Norway's biathlon legend Ole Einar Bjorndalen of 12 single-season victories. Fourcade amassed 14 top podium spots, including one at world championships, to eclipse Bjorndalen.
Fourcade’s six Big Crystal Globe is also paramount for the sport.
In two Olympic appearances, Fourcade has won four medals. His best performance at an Olympics came in 2014 in Sochi where he won gold in both the individual and pursuit, and added a silver to his haul in the mass start – the same event in which he won his first Olympic medal, also silver, at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
His four Olympic medal wins makes Fourcade the most decorated Winter Olympian for France.
Not altogether surprising, but beyond biathlon, this Frenchman has a penchant for cycling, something he loves to do as part of his off-season training routine.