Setting And Fulfilling Goals: 2018/19 IBU Junior Cup Wrap-up
The beginning of a new season is always promising. Everyone is full of energy while daring to dream. At the first Junior Cup in Lenzerheide Slovenia’s Alex Cisar (19), Switzerland’s Sebastian Stalder (21), Russia’s Said Karimulla Khalili (20), France’s Gilonne Guigonnat (20), Germany’s Hanna Kebinger and Greenland's Ukaleq Astri Slettemark had similar goals - to win a medal from the Youth and Junior World Championships. The end of the season is time look back on the goals and how they were fulfilled.
Medals from the IBU YJWCH
Winning two individual medals at the YJWCH, one at the JOECH and on top of that winning the IBU Junior Cup Total Score, Hanna is extremely satisfied with the season. “This is more than I ever expected. And to see the progress I have made from last year to this year, I couldn’t be happier.”
Also winning two individual medals at the YJWCH, Alex admitted that the goals he set in the beginning of the season have been fulfilled big time. “If someone would have told me before the World Championships that I will win two-three medals, I would not have believed this person. I knew that I could fight for the medals, but I’d never expect that I could fight for the gold in sprint and then also in pursuit.”
Youth World Champion Ukaleq Astri didn’t expect to win Gold. “I hoped secretly that I can take the Gold, but I knew that this is going to be hard. I am very happy to have fulfilled my goal."
With goals unfulfilled, Gilonne, Sebastian and Said Karimulla are still happy with the season. Sebastian, who finished second in the IBU Junior Cup Total Score explained, “I didn’t reach all my goals but I got three podiums in the Junior Cup and I won the Individual cup. Also being in a good position in Overall Top Score, I think the season was good."
Unfortunately for Gilonne, she was sick and unable to compete at the IBU YJWCH; she didn’t have the chance to try to fulfil her goals. Nevertheless she was not too disappointed with the season. “I had a good start of the season and also I am happy in the end of the season,” says the athlete after winning Silver in sprint at the IBU JOECH.
Quite content with the season having won a Silver medal at the IBU YJWCH, Said Karimulla admitted the goal to win the IBU Junior Cup Total Score is not so important to him at the moment. “I lost points because I went to compete in the IBU Cup at Otepää. So now it is not so important for me. Overall I think it was not a very bad season.”
Measuring the Gap to the Senior Level
Most of the six athletes who shared their thoughts, had in addition to the Junior Cup races their first tries at senior level competitions. For Hanna, her senior competition debut occurred at the IBU Open European Championships in Minsk. “The individual there was my first ever 15K race. So I didn’t have any idea how I would feel." She thinks it is important for the young athletes to have these kind of experiences. “Then I see on which level I am at and how big steps I need to take during the next years.” Said Karimulla agreed with Hanna. “Senior races are a bit more difficult, but competing there I see the level and I know that I need to train harder to compete at that level.”
The senior level test also revealed that some athletes are not ready yet, like Sebastian, who had a World Cup start. “The World Cup level is extreme. They are so fast on the tracks and the tracks are more difficult than at Junior Cups. I saw that I’m not ready for WC right now, but I hope that in next two years I will be there and I’m fighting for good positions."
Taking the Next Step
Alex, who made the World Cup cut at the Duszniki Zdrój IBU Cup, could have started at the World Cup this season, but decided to wait. “For me it is important to gradually improve from season to season to the top level. I will try focus on Junior Cup level next season, but if all goes well, I would like to try to do some races at the World Cup.”
Many athletes admit that they don’t know what the future holds for them. Sebastian would prefer the IBU Cup. “I think I will be at the Youth and Junior World Championships next year. But I’m not sure if I will take part in the Junior Cup or at the IBU Cups."
Said Karimulla has the same wish. “I don’t know yet for sure, but I want to compete on the IBU Cup. I have been competing at the Junior level for three years now and I think I need to change the level. Next season I want be on top of the IBU Cup and I think it is possible.”
Also hoping to move up a level, Gilonne, with no senior experience, is excited about the future. “I hope that I can compete at the IBU Cup next year. I am afraid because it will be hard, but excited to have this good experience."
Still competing in youth category next year, Ukaleq Astri will concentrate on the IBU Junior Cup. “A podium in one race at the Junior Cup would maybe be the goal for the next year. But maybe I will also try a bit more senior competitions."
In a different situation, Hanna just finished her last Junior year and will move up. “First I have to do good on test competitions in summer. It doesn’t matter how good I was last season, it all depends on how well I do at the test competitions." Her aim is to start at the IBU Cup. “That would be my goal for the next year.”
* 2018/19 IBU Junior Cup Titlists*
Total Score: Hanna Kebinger, Tim Grotian
Pursuit Score: Hanna Kebinger, Said Karimulla Khalili
Sprint Score: Hanna Kebinger, Tim Grotian
Individual Score: Franziska Pfnuer, Sebastian Stalder
Relay Score: Germany
Nations Cup (Men and Women): Germany