IBU Youth and Junior World Championships: Olympic Qualification and Success for Russians

28.01.2010, Torsby / Tanja Ohlson/Jerry Kokesh
Ferencz and Galich Win in Torsby
The IBU Youth and Junior World Championships in Torsby, Sweden continued today with the Individual competitions for the women. In the Youth category, two Russians Olga Galich and Elena Badanina were impressive on the tracks, taking the top two spots ahead of clean-shooting Rose-Marie Cote of Canada.

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In the afternoon the Russians missed a podium spot by only 0.7 seconds, as Anastasia Kalina finished fourth with two misses. The winner of the 12.5K Individual was Reka Ferencz of Romania, who shot clean on her way to a  42:05.1 win, ahead of Germany’s Karolin Horchler, who matched Ferencz on the shooting range but was 1:01.3 slower in the tracks. Third went to Leslie Mercier of France who had one penalty while finishing 1:15 back.

Second World Championship Title for Galich

The Gold Medal in the 10k Individual was the second of Galich’s career as she won her first title at last year’s Championships  in Canmore, AB, Canada, in the same event. Today she finished in 33:35.7 with two misses at the shooting range. Second place Badanina matched Galich on the shooting range, but the winner’s speed on the tracks put her 1:25.4 ahead of her teammate at the finish.

 However, while Galich has plenty of experience and has competed against the top senior athletes in Russia “several times”, Badanina was happy to even qualify for these championships. “This is the first time I compete on such a high level and it is the first time I have been abroad,” she commented. She had already reached her goal by qualifying for these championships, something that is “very tough” in Russia.  She is from The Tyumen region of Russia, the home of many successful biathletes  including Galina Kuklewa, Alexander Popov,  and Anton Shipulin.

Training Focused on Shooting

Both Russians were faster than Cote, who took the third spot on the podium after shooting clean. She was beaming with happiness but not too surprised by her good performance at the range, “I focused my training on the shooting and did a lot of dry firing and shooting on paper.” Still, she did not expect to be among the medalists. “I was born in 1993 and will have my first year really being in the youth next year.  I hoped for the top 20; this now is very impressive for me.”

Following Cote was Thekla Brun-Lie from Norway who finished fourth after missing two shots. When she left the range after the fourth shooting stage, she was about 29 seconds behind Cote. By the finish she had missed a medal by only 6.4 seconds. Finishing fifth was Iryna Kryuko of Belarus, who matched Brun-Lie on the shooting range but was almost 50 seconds slower. Sixth place went to Alexia Runggaldier from Italy. Two polish athletes rounded out the top eight, with Monika Hojisz ahead of her teammate Maria Bukowska despite four minutes of penalties, compared to Bukowska’s two.

Ticket to Olympics for Ferencz

The winner of the Junior 12.5K competition, Reka Ferencz, was extremely happy about her performance today it secured her a spot on the Romanian team for the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver next month. The teams have to decide on athlete nominations by Monday. The young athlete is definitely a big talent for Romania and obviously her training with teammate Eva Tofalvi paid off.

The biathlon power Germany is still waiting for a Gold medal, but Karolin Horchler won the Silver medal and thus reached her pre-competition goal. She commented, “I wanted to shoot four times zero today and was very nervous because the Individual is my favorite competition. But, I made it!” At the same time, she was considerate of her teammates: “Of course it is a pity that their shooting was not good today, but they still have another chance.”

“Successful At This Race”

Leslie Mercier trailed Horchler by 13 seconds at the finish despite one penalty. However, she was happier that Russian Anastasia Kalina who failed to catch her. She said: “I knew that others today were faster so I knew I could not make a mistake…My shooting depends on my concentration, I know I can do it, and was successful at this race.”

Behind Kalina was her teammate Larisa Kuznetsova, who also missed two targets and finished 1:41.7 back. The Italian talent Dorothea Wierer, who previously had won Gold in the Youth category, also missed two targets while finishing 2:07.3 behind Ferencz. Kristel Viikipuu from Estonia with two penalties, finished just seven seconds behind Wierer.  France’s Sophie Boilley with four penalties, 2:27.6 back finished eighth.

Many Nations at Medal Ceremony Tonight

The top athletes received flowers directly after the competitions, but, tonight the first medals will be awarded at a festive ceremony in Torsby. After only two competition days, athletes from eight Nations will receive medals. This illustrates the commitment and hard work of the national Federations to developing the next generation of biathletes.