France's Bourgeois Republique and China's Meng Win Junior Individual Gold Medals
The heavy snow and limited visibility that came on the second day at the IBU YJWCH in Osrblie left the competitors asking many questions. Those like Martin Bourgeois Republique of France and Fanqi Meng of China who won the junior individual Gold medals shoed the nerves of steel and perseverance that made them heroes of the day.
Meng Wins Junior Women's Individual in Great Style
Competing with the confidence of someone regularly tested at the BMW IBU World Cup and IBU Cup level Fanqi Meng of China won her first Gold medal at the IBU Youth Junior World Championships. Meng started wisely, not spending too much energy in the first lap, concentrating on her shooting. She knew, as did her Norwegian coach Tobias Torgersen that clearing all the targets would most probably bring her a medal.
“I am really, really happy today,” said Meng. “This is not just my win, it is the win of my coach, team’s technicians and waxers. Tobias Torgersen has been working on my skiing technique, going into details and insisting on improving those details. I feel the progress has been substantial. I also feel that competing at the BMW IBU World Cup level and IBU Cup level helped me get used to the stress of big competitions. It feels great that I was able to show that at the IBU Junior World Championships.”
Missing once and skiing thirteen seconds faster than Meng earned Juliane Fruehwirt of Germany the Silver medal, 1:08.8 back. She had previously shown great form at IBU Junior Cup 2 in France, winning her first competition at the elite junior level and brought that confidence in Osrblie.
“The win in Station Des Rousses gave me a lot of confidence. I can also only join Meng in thanking my team, this is as much theirs as it is my success,” said Fruehwirt who regularly trains with the great Laura Dahlmeier and observes how somebody who has already won everything in biathlon keeps looking for new levels of perfection. “Training with Laura gives me a lot insight into champions psyche.”
The Bronze medal went to Fruehwirth’s teammate Franziska Pfnuer, shooting clean, 1:35.8 back. The German wearing Bib number 1 basically cleared the tracks for the other competitors for three loops. She still kept her composure, shooting clean just as she did in the individual race at the IBU Junior Cup 1 in Lenzerheide.
“I like competing in the individual,” said Pfnuer. “I can concentrate on my race and don’t feel rushed by knowing what other athletes are doing.”
Finishing fourth was Tatiana Voronova of Russia, fifth place went to Mari Wetterhus of Norway and sixth to clean-shooting Tamara Steiner of Austria.
First Junior Gold Goes to France
Starting rather slowly, missing in the first prone but getting better with each lap while shooting fast and with great precision Martin Bourgeois Republique of France gradually paved his way to his first Gold medal at the IBU YJWCH in the junior men's 15K Individual, with a time of 44:30.1.
Stronger and Stronger
The very happy Bourgeois Republique commented, “This morning I didn’t feel particularly good. I started slowly, missed at the first prone but then started to feel better. As my legs started to feel stronger and stronger and conditions got more and more difficult I felt I just need to keep fighting and see how the race develops. I felt no additional pressure just because it is the IBU Youth Junior World Championships; I approached the competition as any other at the IBU Junior Cup. Do I get additional inspiration from men’s team at the BMW IBU World Cup? Of course I do. They are competing at an unbelievably high level. I looked up to Quentin Fillon Maillet before today’s race.”
Mikita Labastau of Belarus finished second, with one penalty just 2.9 seconds behind Burgeois Republique. Labastau has competed at just two IBU Cups this season but still felt he had a very good chance of winning.
“I did surely have a good shot at winning but missed once. The Silver medal is still a very good achievement,” said Labastau.
Skiing 27.6 seconds faster than any other competitor but missing twice inthe second prone while spending 1:22 on the shooting range was Bronze medalist Danilo Riethmueller of Germany, 4.2 seconds back.
“Two misses added a lot of extra time to my race today but that is how biathlon is,” said Riethmueller, currently ranked sixth in the IBU Junior Cup Total Score. “I didn’t spent much time thinking about two misses, I knew others have to shoot as well and that they will have their own issues. So I just kept concentrating and fighting.”
Riethmueller’s clean-shooting compatriot Julian Hollandt finished fourth. Fifth place went to Sebastian Stalder of Switzerland and sixth to the only other clean shooter Danil Beletskiy of Kazakhstan.
Photo: Evgeny Tumashov