With the new season edging ever closer, young athletes and coaches from around the biathlon world gathered in Pokljuka for the IBU/IOC Summer Training Camp. The camp’s goal was to support the twenty-one participating federation’s “existing structure by providing expertise and guidance to create a long-term legacy for our sport.”
Insight from Expert Coaches
66 athletes and 23 coaches from 21 National Federations came to the Slovenian venue for ten days of intensive instruction under the watchful eyes of six IBU Coaches including Canada’s Matthias Ahrens, Germany’s Norbert Bayer, Sweden’s Anna Wickström, Slovenia’s Nusa Pogacar and Robert Sitar, and Italy’s Luca Bormolini as well as Olympic Relay Silver medalist and IBU Sports and Event Manager Daniel Böhm. Supplementing the physical and shooting training were workshops on anti-doping, training plans, shooting, and ski/rollerski technique. Australian Boris Stanish admitted one workshop stood out. “My favourite presentation had to be Daniel’s life as an athlete because it gave me a great insight into what you have to do to succeed in biathlon…”
Five Nations Top Closing Competitions
The camp culminated with short individual competitions and a shooting test, a chance to show off new-found and improved skills. The winners were a true representation of the biathlon family, coming from five different national federations. Zefer Veliev of Bulgaria topped the shooting test where all of the athletes competed together. The winners of the youth short individuals were Manon Gabriel of Belgium and Matija Legovic of Croatia. Enkhchimeg Davaadulam of Mongolia won the junior women’s competition while Uros Lalovic of Bosnia Herzegovina took the junior men’s win.
Improving Skill Levels
That skill level impressed the former Canadian Head Coach. “I have been to several of these camps and the skill level continues to go up and up…Although there were some beginners; it is amazing the progress that can be made in a week. Just like in the World Cup where the level continues to rise, I see some that some more of these athletes going to the IBU Cup and being somewhat successful.”
Although the week was marred by less than perfect weather, the campers enthusiasm never waned according to Ahrens. “Wow; I must say it was unbelievable! From the start to end, I was amazed because this weather, with two days of pouring rain from morning to night, we still had two trainings. There was always high energy, high motivation and smiling faces. I was really impressed.” Continuing, There were two Danish athletes, only 15-years-old who were not that far behind a German or Canadian 15-year-old that I coach at home. They were so motivated and eager to learn; with no prompting they were always asking Norbert and the other coaches questions.”
Impressed Athletes and Coaches
One of the Danish athletes Alma Winslow-Lydeking was equally impressed with the coach’s contributions. “This has by far been the most rewarding biathlon camp I have participated in. Every coach contributed with different things based on background, career and experiences…and taught me about biathlon in many ways.”
Boehm was equally impressed with this youthful group’s efforts in less than perfect conditions. “The camp was delightful! To see all the motivation and progress despite tough weather conditions makes me feel optimistic that we will have a diversified, strong biathlon family also in the future and I was happy to offer some experience!”
The success of the IBU/IOC Training Camp is two-fold, according to Ahrens. “It is not just the athletes progressing but also their coaches. Hearing what some of them have for facilities like Kyrgyzstan that has a three-target range that is all gravel, with no rollerskiing and things like that. For some of them, the only camp in a real biathlon facility like Pokljuka is something very unique that takes them to another level…The majority of the training we did here was something these athletes never experienced before. That comes from the good mix of IBU Coaches here from Germany, Sweden, Italy and Slovenia. Just thinking about how much we had to explain, it is obvious that much was new to the coaches and athletes.”
Pokljuka OC’s Nina Jakhel was pleased to host the event while emphasizing its importance for the sport. “We take special pride in hosting so many athletes and coaches as well as seeing their motivation and the desire to learn… We believe that such camps are a great opportunity to further develop our sport of biathlon.”
The next IBU IOC Training Camp will be on snow in Martell, Italy at the end of November.
Photos: IBU/Theresa Jost, Žiga Kalan