Kamila Zuk and Igor Malinovski Win Junior Individuals
iKamila Zuk of Poland dominated the junior women's individual competition with two penalties to claim the Gold medal in 41:36.1 at the IBU YJWCH. In the junior men’s individual, the Gold medal went to Russia’s Igor Malinovskii, who finished first with three penalties in 41:48.5.
Junior Women’s Individual
Ukraine’s Anna Kryvonos won the Silver medal with the same shooting result, but was 3:04.7 behind. The Bronze medal went to Irina Kazakevich of Russia with three penalties, 3:20.0 back.
Germany’s Hanna Kebinger finished fourth with two penalties, 3:26.1 behind; fifth went to Myrtille Begue of France with three penalties, 3:32.6, while Chloe Levins of USA took the last spot in the top 6 with three penalties, 3:37.4.
No Clean Shooting
On a clear and sunny morning, 70 women left the starting gate to compete for the first junior individual medals. As the temperature rose to -10C today, the wind gusts were still crossing the shooting range as in previous days, without allowing anyone to hit 20-of-20.
The first shooting stage saw many athletes shoot clean; one of them was Kryvonos, who left the stadium in 2nd position. Zuk with one penalty was 22nd, while Kazakevich started her competition with two extra penalty minutes. In the first standing, Kryvonnos also made a mistake, dropping to fourth; she was followed by the Pole, who despite one more miss moved to fifth. The second prone finally saw clean shooting from Zuk, allowing her to take the lead with a 25.9 seconds advantage on Levins with only one extra minute. The Ukrainian missed one more time and was fifth, while Kazakevich with three total misses climbed up to the ninth.
After showing great speed on the track, Zuk came to the last standing with a huge advantage, which allowed her to miss two times. But experienced young Polish biathlete, who recently competed at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, was perfect. Shooting clean, she did not give the rivals any chance to overtake her, flying to her first-ever win. Ukrainian also was accurate at the final stage, moving back to the second. She was followed by Kebinger in third and Kazakevich in fourth. The difference between the German and Russian was only 7 seconds, which Kazakevich easily reduced overcoming her rival by 6 seconds at the finish, taking her first international medal.
After the finish, Zuk was very excited. “It is an amazing feeling for me because it is my first medal and it is Gold. I cannot believe it.” She also added, “I did not feel so good on the track today, but I did the best; I was trying to focus all the time and to do my job.”
Junior Men’s Individual
Behind Malinovski, the Silver medal went to Sturla Holm Laegreid of Norway with three penalties, 19.4 seconds back. Malinovskii's teammate Said Karimulla Khalili took the Bronze medal with two penalties, 23.0 seconds behind.
Danilo Riethmueller of Germany finished fourth with three extra minutes of penalties, 1:19.2 back, fifth place went to Italy’s Daniele Cappelari with two penalties, 1:26.7 behind, while Jakub Stvrtecky of Czech Republic despite four misses finished sixth, 1:30.1 back.
Battle Until Finish
An exciting junior men’s individual with the battle until the finish line, happened in the afternoon. Malinovskii, for whom this Gold medal became fourth in a row and first in the individual competitions at the YJWCH, started to miss from the first shooting. Leaving the stadium with three penalties after the third range, he was only ninth, 1:21.1 behind the leader. His only chance to reach a medal spot was clean shooting at the final standing. While the rivals made mistakes, the Russian managed to hit all five targets and left the stadium in second, only 5.9 seconds behind Laegreid in first. The Norwegian with early start number 12 also missed three times but was slower than Malinovskii on the final lap, taking one more Silver medal after one in the junior men’s relay.
With two penalties after three shootings, Khalili was seventh, leaving just two seconds before his teammate. At the last standing, he shot accurate, climbing to the third place. As the advantage over the fourth place was more than 30 seconds, he easily kept the Bronze medal until the finish, taking his second podium spot of this YJWCH.
Malinovski was glad to win but admitted that the competition was very hard for him. “I did not know that I was battling for the medal until I left for the final lap. Coaches told me everything was in my hands but it was very tough. Last loop was so hard and if not the coaches who were staying along the track, I would not stay at the podium at all.”