Youth Individual Gold to Arttu Heikkinen and Sara Andersson

Finland’s Arttu Heikkinen after two early penalties, cleaned the last two stages of this morning’s Youth Men’s 12.5 km individual, to win the first Gold medal at the IBU Youth and Junior World Championships at Soldier Hollow in 36:58.6. A few hours later, Sweden’s Sara Andersson, after two misses in the first standing stage rebounded with two consecutive clean stages to win the Youth women’s 10 km individual Gold Medal in 38:58.2.

Header icon2022 IBU YJWCH Youth Individuals

Heikkinen: “This was a surprise”

Heikkinen who finished 37th in the individual at the recent IBU European Junior Championships at Pokljuka admitted there was a big difference between that day and his Gold medal effort today. “My skiing was a lot better than in Pokljuka and I did a lot better work on the shooting range, so I think that was the reason (for the big improvement).” As for winning the Gold medal today, he added, “I thought it was possible to do the perfect race, but this was a surprise!”

Andersson’s win “amazing”

Andersson did not expect to win after three penalties. “I did not think that three misses today would be good enough for a Gold medal but it felt amazing when I figured it out.” On winning in the extremely tough conditions at Soldier Hollow. “It is a really good feeling. It was tough today; I am not used to this altitude.”

Youth Men Individual

Behind Heikkinen, Jakub Borgula of Slovakia, also with two penalties won the Silver medal, 1:36.9 back. Germany’s Albert Engelmann, with four penalties, won the Bronze medal, 2:02.3 back.

Norway’s Andreas Aas, with three penalties, finished fourth, 2:15.8 back. Fifth place went to Switzerland’s Mathis Profit, with one penalty, 2:16.8 back. Pavel Trojer of Slovenia, with three penalties, finished sixth, 2:29.7 back.

Snowy night; windy prone stage

After a night of moderate snowfall, the first competitions at this year’s IBU YJWCH kicked of with snow flurries, -13C and overcast skies. The wind was doing its usual Soldier Hollow thing, blowing hard up the valley right to left on the shooting range, at times shifting directly into the athlete’s faces; all adding up to a tough day on the range. By the time the first competitors came to the first prone stage, the wind flags were flat. Starter number 1 Gasper Ozbolt set the stage by shooting clean to take the early lead. As the competition progressed, Trojer, shooting clean and skiing faster than almost everyone moved to the top of the first stage leaderboard by 13 seconds.

Standing penalties

The first standing stage changed everything unsurprisingly. Ozbolt again cleaned but was one of the few. Profit, not skiing as fast as the German cleaned quickly to move from tenth before the stage to an 18-second lead on the field. Slovenia’s Trojer, after a first prone miss cleaned standing to move close to the top with a clean stage. Heikkinen missed his second shot, but again his ski speed carried him into third position.

Heikkinen Cleans last two stages

The Finn continued his climb by closing all five targets easily in the second prone stage. Profit became only the second competitor to go to 15-for-15, moving to second 14 seconds behind Heikkinen. Aas after first and second stage penalties, cleaned to move into third position.

Heikkinen cleaned the last standing to take the lead with 2.5 km to go. Borgula after two early penalties, like the leader cleaned the last two stages, jumped from fifth to second. Profit’s perfect day ended when he missed his second shot which put him in third. Aas missed one shot that dropped him to fourth position. Engelmann after a miss in each stage added another, leaving 10 seconds behind Aas.

Fast last loop; Gold for Finland

Heikkinen flew around the last loop, with the lead well in hand. Borgula likewise protected his podium spot, hitting the line, with a big smile on his face and pumping his arms in glee after the finish. Engelmann was faster than Profit and Aas on the last loop, passing both to take the last spot on the podium.

Youth Women’s Individual

Behind Andersson, Germany’s Iva Moric, the only woman in the field to shoot clean won the Silver medal, 9.8 seconds back. Her teammate Selina Grotian, with two penalties, won the Bronze medal, 17 seconds back.

Fourth place went to Slovenia’s Lena Repinc, with two penalties, 25.6 seconds back. Julia Tannheimer of Germany, with four penalties, finished fifth, 1:13.6 back. Lora Hristova of Bulgaria, with three penalties finished sixth, 2:15.3 back.

Heavy snow: athletes vs. Mother Nature

Three hours after the men started, the Youth women got underway under less-than-perfect conditions, with heavy snowfall slowing the tracks, the temperature dropping a degree or two while the wind continued to be an issue with every stage. The steady snow and slow tracks made this a battle from start to finish: athlete vs. Mother Nature. Limited visibility and snow-blocked rear sights were typical in every stage. Andersson and Repinc battled from the start, with both among the few to clean the first prone. Late starter, third from the end and favorite Ilaria Scattolo did the same, with the Swede 19 seconds up on the field.

Penalties for Andersson

Andersson’s two penalties, worth 1:30 dropped her just 53 seconds behind Repinc who cleaned in the first standing stage, because the Swede was skiing very well. German teammates Moric and Fichter both were perfect, both leaving 32 seconds back in third and fourth before Scattolo came to the range. She again cleaned but was 49 seconds back, later falling from contention.

Grotian Moves up

Repinc had a bobble with a single penalty in the second prone stage, while Andersson was back to 5-for-5, moving top three seconds back. Moric remained clean after three stages, while Fichter missed a shot but was still in the top five. Grotian after an early prone miss climbed up close to Moric and Fichter despite another missed target.

20-for-20 for Moric

The Swedish and Slovenian rivals both missed a shot in the last standing stage, with Andersson heading into the last 2 km loop, with a 9.1 second lead. Grotian came back and cleaned the last stage to stay in contention, but Moric went to 20-for-20 in trying conditions to jump in front, 10.9 seconds ahead of Andersson. Fichter missed a shot putting out of the podium mix.

Andersson Holds on for Gold

Andersson’s solid last loop put her in the lead while Repinc faded, falling behind Grotian. At the 9.1 km split, Moric fell a couple of seconds behind the Swedish leader, losing a bit more time but still crossed ahead of her teammate Grotian, pushing Repinc to fourth position, giving the Gold medal to Andersson.

Photos: IBU/Bjorn Reichert

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