IBU YJWCH: Igor Malinovskii, Michela Carrara Win Junior Sprint Gold Medals
2016 IBU Youth Sprint World Champion Igor Malinovskii of Russia shot clean on a breezy morning to become the 2017 IBU Junior Sprint Gold medalist today. Malinovskii covered the 10K course in 24:2.2, 12.2 seconds ahead of teammate Silver medalist Kirill Streltsov, also shooting clean.Clean-shooting Michela Carrara of Italy won the afternoon Junior Women’s Sprint Gold medal in 20:57.8, giving Italy its second sprint Gold. Carrara’s teammate Irene Lardschneider won the Youth title yesterday.
Junior Men Sprint
The Bronze medal went to Roman Yeremin of Kazakhstan, with two penalties, 24.9 seconds back.
Anton Smolski of Belarus, with one penalty finished fourth, just .2 seconds behind Yeremin. David Zobel of Germany, also with one penalty, finished fifth, 38.2 seconds back, with sixth going to Milan Zemlicka of Czech Republic, shooting clean but 43.7 seconds back.
Return of the Sun
After three cloudy, warm, windy days, the sun popped out this morning, glistening on the tracks that were frozen hard and fast after a cold night. Accompanying the in-and-out sun was yesterday’s troublemaker, wind crossing the shooting range from left to right, at ties calm but at times very gusty.
Clean Shooting; Teammates Battle for Gold
The lightening fast tracks meant a fast approach to the shooting range. Individual Gold medalist Sindre Pettersen cleaned prone quickly to grab the lead for that stage. However all four Russian men also did the same. The Norwegian struggled in standing, with three penalties, falling out of contention. Numbers 51 Streltsov and 60 Malinovskii made standing look easy with fast clean stages. Those two performances pretty much took ended the battle for the top two spots; It was simply a matter of who would be faster on the last loop. Streltsov finished first, but in all the splits was behind his teammate by about 22 seconds. Malinovskii slowed in the last loop but crossed the line 12.2 seconds ahead of Streltsov.
Worked All Year
This gave Malinovskii his second IBU YJWCH sprint Gold medal; he was the 2016 Youth Sprint World Champion. He admitted there was a big difference between the two. “The Junior competition is much harder than the Youth. I worked all year for this moment…I tried to be really tactical on the shooting range today; the coaches kept telling me that I was battling for the podium but never told me it was Kirill until just before the finish.”
Streltsov, who also won the IBU Junior Sprint Cup commented, “I was very cautious on the shooting range today. I waited for a long time before I fired the last shot. I did not wait long enough last year, and missed. I did not want to make that mistake again today.”
Yeremin was the podium surprise. “I had no expectations and put no pressure on myself, so you could say I am surprised to be on the podium.”
Junior Women Sprint
Behind Italy’s Carrara, Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold of Norway, with one penalty won the Silver medal, 15.2 seconds back. The Bronze medal went to Myrtille Begue of France, also shooting clean, 31.5 seconds back.
Fourth went to Tandrevold’s teammate Caroline Erdal, also with one penalty. 41.5 seconds back. Simona Marikova of Czech Republic shot clean but finished fifth, 47.9 seconds back while clean-shooting Urska Poje of Slovenia was sixth, 50.7 seconds back.
The season-long Junior Cup sprint title went to Russia’s Ekaterina Moshkova, 17th today, but won and was second at the IBU Junior Cup in Pokljuka last month.
Sunshine; Wind Switches Direction
The women were treated to spectacular sunshine, but the wind shifted and was now coming up the valley from the right to left. The basically light wind helped make the competition quite close initially with a half dozen cleaning, bunched within 15 seconds after prone. Marketa Davidova and Erdal were just .1 seconds apart with Carrara 4.4 seconds back. The Italian came to standing first; cleaned rather slowly, taking the lead all the way to the finish. She now had to wait to see if anyone would challenge. Tandrevold was skiing at a similar pace, but had a prone penalty. She cleaned standing but could not gain any time in the last 2.5K. Begue cleaned both stages, leaving just 19.4 seconds back of Carrara after standing, but slowed and slipped behind the Norwegian. Erdal also challenged, but a single penalty kept her from the top 3. After number 45 Erdal finished, no one else was able to challenge for a medal. Carrara had Italy’s second sprint Gold.
Carrara was a bit overwhelmed, “I never expected to win a Gold medal so I am very happy. I missed six in the individual and today I shot clean.” Her coach Michela Ponza added, “In the individual, she was not very focused and reacted to the wind flags in the wrong way. Today was different; the focus was very good.”
World Cup Experience No Help
Tandrevold, with a lot of World Cup experience was nervous. “I was more nervous today than in the World Cup; I know I cannot be on the podium there. But I knew if I shot 9 or 10 today, I could be on the podium. I could feel the pressure but it was all from inside me.”
Happy on Podium
Begue shot clean but insists shooting is not her thing. “No, absolutely not; this is only the third time ever that I shot clean. Usually, I am much better on the tracks…I am just happy to be on the podium!”