Vebjoern Soerum And Ekaterina Bekh Win Junior Sprint Gold
Vebjoern Soerum of Norway won the Gold medal in one of the most awaited competitions at this year's IBU YJWCH, the junior men's 10K sprint. Soerum, with Norway's first Gold medal this year in junior competitions at these Championships, shot clean on his way to the 25:42 win. Said Karimulla Khalili won the Silver medal, also shooting clean, 14.4 seconds back. Soerum's teammate Sivert Guttorm Bakken won the Bronze medal, with one penalty, 36.3 seconds back. Ekaterina Bekh of Ukraine was 12,2 seconds faster than Kamila Zuk of Poland and 14,0 seconds faster than Hanna Kebinger of Germany ton win gold in Junior Women 7,5 km Sprint.
Ukraine's Ekaterina Bekh matched Soerum's clean shooting to take the junior women's 7.5K sprint later in the day in 21:03.6. Poland's Kamilla Zuk, despite two penalties, won the Silver medal, 12.6 seconds back. The Bronze medal went to Germany's Hanna Kebinger, who also shot clean but finished 14 seconds back.
With A Little Help From Adrenaline Rush
Soerum spent most of the last season competing in the Norgescup, the highest domestic level for Norwegian juniors should they opt not to attend IBU Junior Cups regularly. They know that being among the best in Norway will most probably propel them to best worldwide such is the depth of Norway's biathlon talent.
Soerum shot clean, had the fastest last lap of the day to finish ahead of Khalili who also shot clean but was a touch slower on his skis. “This was most definitely a perfect race for me. My shooting was composed and fast and I was fast on the skis, obviously. Strangely I felt tired in the first lap, but after the second shooting my coaches informed me that I had a small margin lead over Khalili and that Gold medal is within my reach. I got an adrenaline rush and gave it all. World’s Gold is a fantastic achievement and shows how good we are working.”
Number 16 Khalili was among the first finishers, with the second fastest range time and eighth on the tracks setting up a hotly contested sprint competition. Khalili, in the midst of a strong season that could see in the IBU Cup or BMW world Cup soon admitted, “The conditions were very demanding but I guess it was the same for all of us. I really had nothing left when I crossed finish line. I was very much looking forward to this race, I wanted to see how good my biathlon is compared to other two guys who finished on the podium and I am happy to see I can compete at their level. Tomorrow is another race and another opportunity to enjoy competition at the world class level.”
Bakken, one of the breakthrough athletes in the IBU Cup this season came to Osrblie with great expectations resting on his shoulders. He was disappointed in his individual competition with seven penalties, finishing 73rd. However, the eternal beauty of biathlon lies in the fact that fortunes on a dime and Bakken did just that today. He did miss one shot in prone but still managed to finish in the medals. “In this heavy, sticky snow it was difficult to do much time difference on the skis. I thought I was controlling the race well but that one miss was too much for me to get gold medal. I might have overtrained before these Championships but tomorrow is another race and another chance for the medal.”
Bekh’s Consistency Wins Gold
With the winner of the individual, Fanqi Meng of China competing with a chest infection but still finishing eighth; Ekaterina Bekh of Ukraine seized the opportunity to prevail in a very wet junior women’s sprint. Bekh went into the lead after the standing stage and never let go of first place. “This is my first world championships and to win Gold right away is amazing. I am completely overwhelmed. I was very concentrated at the shooting range and did my skiing well,” commented the joyous Bekh who looks up to the mighty Martin Fourcade of France while building her own career. “I actually feel sorry for Fourcade, it is not exactly the season he was probably expecting. Tomorrow’s race? No expectations, will just go about my business and see what happens.”
Zuk, a regular BMW IBU World Cup competitor admitted today’s competition was her best of the season for many reasons. “You know, I have made some technical changes before the season and I am still in the process of fully applying them. That is why I have been struggling. Missing two shots today would normally be a bad day for me, but considering the whole season it is a good day. I have changed my rifle-stock in Oberhof on top of everything,” said Zuk, who was the fastest skier in first and second lap and than crashed in the last one. “It cost me at least twenty seconds for I lost my speed and had to start from zero and with a climb to that. I am going home tonight and will rejoin BMW IBU World Cup in Canmore, Canada next week.”
Shooting clean for the third time this season while starting early number15, Kebinger finished third, earning her second medal of these Championships. “I feel my shooting technique allows me to deal with any weather conditions equally well, so rain drops were not an issue today,” said Kebinger who had to wait many longer than usual minutes to be sure she has won a medal. “I know this feeling from last year’s championships when I was also in Bronze medal position, waiting for the race to finish and than the girl with the number before last finished faster than me. My confidence is very high now and I can’t wait to start in pursuit. I felt already in the relay my form is on the rise and it continued to do so today.”