“It almost feels like a World Cup. It is a great pleasure for us to see the youngsters from all over the world train on the modernised sports facilities of the Thuringia winter sports centre. They are the future of the international sport of biathlon. I'm sure that we can welcome one or the other at one of the World Cups in the next few seasons," said Thomas Grellmann, OC boss of the BMW IBU World Championships Biathlon and managing director of Oberhofer Sport und Event GmbH.
The idea of an annual international youth camp was generated in the course of the application for the 2021 World Championships and further developed with the second, then a successful application for the 2023 World Championships. It took place for the first time in 2017. After two cancellations due to the pandemic, it took place again this year, organised by Oberhofer Sport und Event GmbH in cooperation with the German Ski Association e.V. and the Thuringia Ski Association e.V. "We were positively overwhelmed by the interest and the number of registrations. This shows that Oberhof is known and valued worldwide as a biathlon Mecca,” added Grellmann.
Divided into three groups, the young biathlon athletes were looked after by experienced coaches.
"For the athletes, the camp is like Christmas and Easter together and definitely a great enrichment. They had an opportunity to develop both personally and physically,” said Zibi Szlufcik, DSV head coach for young biathlon athletes. He was assisted by Denny Andritzke, Norbert Baier, Sven Fischer, Gina Gautier, Florian Graf, Tim Meyer and Franziska Werl. "For our coaches, working with the international field of participants with the most diverse levels of skills is a great experience and a demanding task that they can use for furthering their careers. With the experience and gathered knowledge of this year's camp, everyone involved is well positioned to be able to hold such events in the other ski disciplines in the future," was sure Frank Eismann, President of the Thuringia Ski Association.
The training week wrapped up with a relay competition in the LOTTO Thüringen ARENA on the Rennsteig. The list was not decided by the passport, but by drawing lots.
More than just about biathlon
The young athletes' days in Oberhof didn’t evolve solely around biathlon. They spent an evening at the cinema in Suhl and got to know the state capital of Erfurt. Olympic champion Kati Wilhelm told them about her path to success - with all the ups and downs. They exchanged views on sports nutrition with nutritionist Helena Engel, and Amelie Heinrich highlighted current topics in sports psychology.
As one of the three sports development projects related to the BMW IBU World Championships 2023, the International Youth Camp was sponsored by the Free State of Thuringia. "Our modern competition and training facility proved they are more than ready for the World Championships 2023. But is not just about the biggest events, we are investing in the future of the next generations" says Thuringia's Sports Minister Helmut Holter.
The International Biathlon Union and the International Olympic Committee also contributed to the event.