This year’s Youth and Junior World Championships were held in Cheile Gradistei in Romania. We got underway on Thursday with the Junior Individual race for both men and women. The Junior category is open to anyone aged between 18 and 21.
The Women went first and was won by Austria’s Susanna Kurtzhaler who shot clean to win by 8.6 seconds. Second place went to the Ukraine’s Anastasiya Merkushyna who missed 1 target which cost her the gold medal. Bronze also went to Austria with Julia Schwaiger shooting clean to claim the final podium position.
It was a good day for Austria as they also won the Men’s Individual with Felix Leitner winning gold with a fantastic performance. Despite missing a target he won the race by 1 minute 50 seconds. Taking silver for Italy was Andrea Baretto who shot clean and with 2 misses in bronze was the USA’s Sean Doherty.
On Saturday we had the Sprint races with the women going first and we had a really close finish. Gold went to Sweden’s Hanna Oeberg who shot clean but won by just 0.6 of a second. Silver was won by Switzerland’s Lena Haecki who missed 2 shots but had a great ski. Bronze also went to Sweden with Anna Magnusson 12 seconds behind the winner with 1 missed target. France’s Lena Arnaud was 4th for the second race in a row.
The Men’s Sprint race came next and was won again by Felix Leitner. The young Austrian was on fantastic form winning by 11.5 seconds with 1 miss. The silver medal went to Sean Doherty with 2 misses and in bronze was Germany’s David Zobel who was 39 seconds behind with 1 miss.
On Sunday we had all 4 Pursuit races for the Youths and Juniors. The Junior women’s race went to Hanna Oeberg who held on to first place from the Sprint shooting clean. Lena Haecki held on to silver despite missing 6 targets and bronze went to Chloe Chevalier of France who came up from 5th to get onto the podium in 3rd.
The men’s race was won by over 30 seconds by American Sean Doherty. After winning bronze then silver he added the missing gold to his collection. That medal means he has won 10 medals at the Youth/Junior World Championships which is a record. Silver went to Russian Nikita Porshnev and double gold medallist Felix Leitner took bronze.
The final day of competition on Tuesday saw both the Women’s and Men’s Relays. The women were first in the morning and the 3×6.km race was won by Norway with a team of Anne Marit Bredalen, Turi Storstroem Thoresen and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold. The silver medal went to the Swedish Team of Hanna Oeberg, Sophia Myhr and Anna Magnusson who finished 15.6 seconds behind but only used 4 spare rounds to Norway’s 5. Finally bronze went to the Austrian Team made up of Susanna Kurtzhaler, Julia Schwaiger and Simone Kupfner.
The Men’s 4×7.5km Relay was the last race of the entire competition and the final gold medal went to Russia. Their team of Dmitrii Shamaev, Viktor Plitcev, Nikita Porshnev and Kiril Streltsov won by almost 2 minutes using just 2 spares. Silver medal went to the German team of Marco Gross, David Zobel, Lars-Erik Weick and Dominik Reiter. The final podium place was taken by the Czech team of David Tolar, Milan Zemlicka, Ondrej Hosek and Jan Burian to win the bronze medal.
That concludes all the races for the Juniors in what has been an exciting competition which has seen double gold medals for Hanna Oeberg and Felix Leitner. Sean Doherty made history by becoming the most decorated biathlete at the Youth/Junior level. His tally of gold, silver and bronze here in Romania takes his total up to a record breaking 10 medals. It will be very interesting to see what all our medal winners go on to achieve in the future. Some of them already have World Cup experience and others are just making their way in the IBU Cup. It is reassuring to see that there is lot of talented biathletes to look out for in the coming years.
Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!