IBU Youth/junior Worlds
by Nick Stapleton
The 2016 International Biathlon Union (IBU) Junior/youth World Championships were held in Cheile Gradistei, Romania from Jan. 27-Feb. 2.
Germany's Marina Sauter had two misses to beat Myrtille Begue of France and Marketa Davidová of the Czech Republic for the win in the youth 10km Individual competition. Megan Bankes of Canada overcame six misses to finish 19th, the only North American to finish in the top 30.
Teo Sanchez of Canada was a strong 13th, while Adam Runnalls was 17th, despite four misses, while Harald Oeygard and Aleksander Fjeld Andersen from Norway took the top two spots in the 12.5km youth men's competition with one miss apiece. Michael Durand of Italy finished third.
In the junior women's race, American Maddie Phaneuf had two misses, but managed to finish in an excellent fifth place, while Susanna Kurzthaler of Austria shot clean to beat Ukrainian Anastasiya Merkushnya, who had one miss. Austrian Julia Schwaiger shot clean as well and finished third. Leilani Tam von Burg of Canada was 30th with two misses.
American Sean Doherty claimed third in the 15km junior men's race for his eighth Junior Championships medal. Austrian Felix Leitner won by a decisive 1:50 over Italian Andrea Baretto, who shot clean. “Today I felt strong on the skis and in control on the shooting range. I'm looking forward to the sprint and to more racing to come,” said Doherty post-race.
Canadian Nadia Mosner led the North Americans, finishing 19th with one miss in the prone in the youth women's 6km sprint, while Norwegian Karoline Erdal won by 28.5 seconds over compatriot Emilie Ågheim Kalkenberg. The Ukraine's Anna Kryvonos was third. The top three all had one miss in the standing session on the range. In the junior women's 7.5km sprint, American Phaneuf had another strong result, claiming seventh with one miss at 36 seconds behind winner Hanna Öberg of Sweden, who shot clean to win by just 0.6 seconds over Lena Häckl of Switzerland, who had two misses. Anna Magnusson of Sweden was third at 12 seconds back, while Canadian Tam von Burg was 28th with one miss.
In the youth men's 7.5km, Canada's Sanchez had one miss, finishing 17th, while his teammate Runnalls was 21st with two misses. Igor Malinovskii of Russia took the win by 26.3 seconds ahead of Norway's Endre Stroemsheim, who shot clean. Russia's Viacheslav Maleev was third with two penalties. In the men's junior 10km, Doherty improved to take silver at 30 seconds behind Leitner of Austria, who won for the second day in a row, with David Zobel of Germany in third. Canada's Bankes was 18th and teammate Moser finished 24th, as Kazakhstan won its first gold of the Championships in the youth women's 7.5km Pursuit courtesy of Arina Pantova, with one miss to grab a 3.4-second victory over Ukraine's Kryvonos, who missed three shots. Another minute back was Sauter of Germany in third, who missed twice. Phaneuf missed four shots and dropped from seventh to ninth in the junior women's race won by Öberg, who shot clean for Sweden's third straight junior women's medal. Switzerland's Häckl, who missed six shots, was second and Chloé Chevalier of France missed two shots for third.
Russia dealt another blow to the rival Norwegians, taking the top two spots in the youth men's 10km Pursuit, as Maleev won with two misses ahead of Malinovskii, who was 1:07 back despite seven misses. Oeygard of Norway took the last podium spot, 1:13 behind the winner with two misses. Canada's Sanchez finished 17th with one miss, while Runnalls was 19th with four misses. In the junior men's 12.5km Pursuit, Doherty continued his podium climb, moving up to the top spot with two misses to take a 29.6-second win over the Russian Nikita Porshnev. Leitner of Austria missed three shots and dropped to third. It was Doherty's 10th podium, ending his junior career as the most decorated athlete at Youth/junior World Championships. “I could not be happier right now,” said Doherty. “This race today was the perfect way to end my career as a junior. I could not have even imagined a better race.”
Canada's team of Emily Dickson, Moser and Bankes finished 10th at 3:51 behind Russia, who struck again in the 3x6km youth women's relay with Iaroslava Pervakova, Valeriia Vasnetcova and Polina Shevnina, winning by 24 seconds over the Czech Republic. Norway's team was third, with 11 misses and one penalty, while the U.S.A. team finished 16th, at 8:27 behind.
In the junior women's 3x6km relay, Norway was the clear winner, beating Sweden by 15 seconds and Austria by 55 seconds. The U.S.A. was 12th despite Phaneuf's fourth-best opening-leg time, while Canada did not finish.
Canada's team of Sanchez, Runnalls and Zachari Bolduc finished a stellar fifth, missing just five shots in the youth men's 3x7.5km. Norway scored a win over the strong Russian team, winning by 39 seconds. The next-best team, Italy, was 2:06.9 behind, while the U.S. team was 15th, nearly eight minutes behind.
Russia had the final word of the day, dominating the junior men's 4x7.5km race by missing just two shots for a 1:59.6 win over Germany. The Czech Republic finished in third, another minute back, while Norway finished a disappointing fourth. Canada's team was 14th with eight penalties, 11:12 back, while the U.S. team raced without star Doherty to finish 18th, at 17:33 back. – NS