Home Team Czech Republic Dominates IBU SBWCH
The home team Czech Republic dominated this past weekend’s 2018 IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships, claiming thirteen medals, at least one in every competition over three days. Russia and Poland were the runner-up, each with five medals, but Russia ranked second with three Gold medals to one for Poland.
Big Crowds: Five Gold Medals
Cheered on by raucous crowds of six and nine thousand on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, the big Czech Team stars captured five Gold medals with two junior titles in the junior mixed relay and Jakub Stvrtecky sprint.
Vitkova, Krcmar and Moravec
Olympic medalists Michal Krcmar,Veronika Vitkova, Michal Krcmar and Ondrej Moravec supplied the three senior wins, in the men’s sprint, and the two pursuits. These three veterans were the unquestioned stars of the weekend; all three had an individual Gold and Silver medals, while sharing a Mixed relay Silver medal.
Stvrtecky and Hornig Lead Juniors
The Czech juniors had an equally sterling weekend, with Jakub Stvrtecky the men’s star with two Gold medals (sprint and mixed relay), while at the same time his teammate Vitezslav Hornig had an equally fine weekend with a Gold and two Bronze medals, mixed relay, sprint and pursuit, respectively.
Davidova: Super Junior/Senior
Beyond these Gold medalists, the Czech Team’s depth garnered four Silver and four Bronze medals. The leading lady of the supporting cast was junior/senior Marketa Davidova whose second leg helped garner a senior Mixed Relay Silver medal. She then switched back to the junior division, taking sprint Silver and pursuit Bronze. The bottom line is simply: a very good weekend for the home team.
Mixed Relay, Vasnetcova and Maleev
The highlight for the Russian team came in the mixed relay when they took the Gold medal with a group that included 2015 IBU World Champion Ekaterina Yurlova-Percht and multiple IBU YJWCH Gold medalist Nikita Porshnev, a second year senior. There was no doubt that the Russian squad would defend their 2017 title once anchor Yuri Shopin, took the tag and shot clean, securing a 52 second win over the home team, Czech Republic. Junior competitors Valeria Vasnetcova and Viacheslav Maleev also brought big smiles to the Russian fans on Sunday by taking both junior pursuit titles. Maleev who missed sprint Gold by seven seconds came back with a 21.3 second win in the last competition. Vasnetcova likewise came back for her pursuit win; after starting 1:06 back, she claimed the top spot after outshooting her rivals in the final standing stage.
Junior Star Kamila Zuk
Poland, like Russia and Slovakia is usually on hand for this late summer Championship; as usual they brought a strong team that racked up five medals. Their single Gold medal went to Kamila Zuk who won two Gold medals and a Silver medal at the 2018 IBU YJWCH in Otepää. Zuk put in a two-penalty performance to comfortably take the junior sprint 41.1 seconds ahead of Davidova. The young Pole barely missed her second title in the pursuit, finishing in the Silver medal spot, 8.8 seconds behind Vasnetcova. The veteran Monika Hojnisz, already with a fistful of IBU SBWCH medals over the past 9 seasons added more precious metal to her case. Hojnisz was part of the Bronze medal mixed relay team and then added the sprint Silver medal, finishing 7. 2 seconds behind Slovakia’s Paulina Fialkova.
Beyond these top three teams, Fialkova’s sprint win was a career milestone, giving her a senior IBU SBWCH gold medal to go along with her two junior IBU SBWCH Gold medals at Forni Avoltri in 2013.
Slovenia only won one medal this past weekend, a junior mixed relay Bronze, yet this young group showed excellent potential. The junior trio of Ziva Klemencic, Nina Zadravec and Polona Klemencic missed the podium in the junior women’s sprint, but finished 4-5-6, separated by 10 seconds. Their teammate 18-year-old Alex Cisar finished fourth in the junior men’s sprint and pursuit.
Adrenaline, a Bib and Winter on the Horizon
The 2018 IBU SBWCH are now history; everyone thee had the chance to test themselves against some of their winter rivals, get the adrenaline rush of putting on a bib once more and be a part of a typically enjoyable Czech Republic biathlon party. Now it is time to get back in the training mode as summer fades into autumn and then on the horizon is…the new BMW IBU World Cup season.
Photos: Petr Slavik