USA’s Doherty and Italy’s Vittozzi Take Youth Sprints

28.02.2014, Presque Isle / IBU Info/ JK
Silver Last Year; Gold in 2014
Sean Doherty of the USA and Lisa Vittozzi of Italy claimed the first two Gold medals at the 2014 IBU Youth/ Junior World Championships today, by winning the Youth Sprints. Doherty, with four penalties won the afternoon men's 7.5K title in 19:35, while Vittozzi won the morning 6K, with one penalty in 18:49.9. Both were Silver medalists in the 2013 Championships.

Copyright IBU/Luis Malknecht

Lisa Vittozzi of Italy claimed the first title at the today, by winning the Youth Women's 6K sprint in the morning . The Silver medal went to Germany's Anna Weidel also with one penalty, 13 seconds back, while France's Julia Simon matched her rivals with a single penalty, but won the Bronze medal, 18.4 seconds back.

Cold with Gusty Winds

Gusty winds and continuing cold temperatures greeted the competitors in the Youth sprints today. When the first competition started at 10 am, the thermometer was hovering at minus 17 Celsius with a sharp wind cutting from left to right across the shooting range, thus making clean or close-to clean shooting a hard task.

Fast Last Loop

After a single prone penalty, Weidel took the early lead by shooting clean in standing and flying around the tracks to claim an initial one minute lead on the field. Vittozzi, 2013 sprint Silver medalist became her biggest challenger with a quick clean prone stage. She missed a single standing shot, leaving with just a .4 second lead over her German rival. Gold would be determined on the final 2K loop. The Italian found some extra strength in that final loop and picked up 12.6 more seconds to claim the win.

Well Prepared

Vittozzi commented on her first World Championship title. "I prepared well for this competition and hoped for a top place, but never expected to be World Champion. On the final uphill, I started to think this might be a very good day for me, so I gave everything I had."

Gold for Doherty

Doherty won the afternoon Youth Men's title, with powerful skiing despite struggling on the shooting range. The Silver medal went to Germany's Marco Gross, with two penalties, 1.7 second back. Dmitri Shamaev of Russia won the Bronze medal, with three penalties, 18.9 seconds back.

Conditions for the Youth Men in the afternoon were the same as for the women although the wind seemed to gust at much harder at times.

Favorite Prevails

The pre-competition favorite Doherty was as troubled by the wind as anyone. He had two prone penalties which immediately put him at a 35 second deficit. Despite that, his skiing put him near the top of the field as he set up for standing. He hit the first two shots, missed on, hit another and missed the final one. Two quick loops around the Nordic Heritage Lodge barely fazed him; he left with the lead. While he was heading home, Shamaev with just three penalties, moved a few tenths ahead as he left standing. Doherty's medal hopes were pinned on his fast skis. He crossed the finish line initially with a 40 second bulge, while the Russian was still on the tracks. Shamaev could not match the US Olympian, crossing over 18 seconds behind. As the competition progressed, next-to the-last starter Gross challenged with a clean prone, moving into the top spot. He struggled in standing, resetting his position but left with just two penalties and a 13.8 second lead on Doherty. By the final split, Gross's lead was down to three seconds, but like the other challengers, he slowed down in the final kilometer, leaving Doherty as the Gold medalist.

Home Soil

Doherty commented on his shooting troubles. "I was worried after prone today, but the shots were just not falling. But I had super skis thanks to our wax techs and felt great on the tracks...I have no words to describe how it feels to win a Gold medal in a Championship on home soil."

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