Junior Cup is back: Week 1 in Martell

We did not see a lot of Junior Cup action last year, but the first week in Martell, Italy reminded us how exciting these competitions with a mix of favourites and newcomers can be. There was no shortage of surprises, like the first podium for Ukraine in three years or five podium positions for the German team to name a few.

Nine different nations in TOP 10 in men's Individual

The junior men opened the competition week with the Individual, which saw eight different nations in the first eight positions. Germany’s Darius Lodl crossed the finish line in the fastest time with one miss on the shooting range, claiming the first victory of his young career. Stepan Kinash was the only clean shooter and closed the race in the second position, 12 seconds behind Lodl. This was the first podium for a Ukrainian junior man since Tsymbal in 2017/18. Elia Zeni of Italy showed an almost identical performance to the winner, but lost over 30 seconds in shooting time, securing one of the podium positions for the home team.

Slovenian Anton Vidmar finished fourth, followed by triple 2021 Youth World Champion, Russia‘s Denis Irodov and the second fastest skier of the day Renars Birkentals of Latvia.

Home team victory followed by a German trio among women

The Junior Women Individual saw a great German team result. Luise Mueller, Selina Marie Kastl and Mareike Brown all sparkled with strong performances both on the skis and shooting, coming to the finish line in second, third and fourth position.

There was only one woman performing better than the strong trio. The 18-year-old Sara Scattolo showed the third fastest ski time and despite missing once in each prone shooting, managed to finish first.

“I am very happy, especially with the shooting. I also want to thank my coaches for the preparation and my team for the skis,” the young Italian said after winning on home soil.

The fastest shooter of the race, Russian Liubov Kalinina lost her lead after shooting 3, where she missed twice, claiming fifth position at the end. Lisa Osl of Austria completed the top 6 of the competition.

Another victory for the Polish relay, German women on the top again

The first week in Martell wrapped up with Junior Men and Women Relays on Sunday. Team Poland with Badacz, Matusik, Gunka and Zawol finished on the top, claiming victory after last year's success in the Youth category. The young Poles were the only team who did not have to go to the penalty loop in today’s Junior Men Relay.

“Everyone in our team made a good job. We had very fast skis and good shooting performance today,” concluded Zawol after crossing the finish line with a comfortable lead of more than one minute to the others.

The German team finished in second position after one penalty loop and 13 spare rounds. Team Ukraine led all the way until the final prone shooting when Stepan Kinash left one target standing, finishing in third place.

The three exceptional German women from the Individual were joined by Johanna Puff and claimed victory ahead of Italy. The home team had the same shooting score, but Germany had the edge on the tracks. Austria and Ukraine battled for the remaining podium position in the last loop, Austrian Lara Wagner being more successful at the end.

Photos: IBU/Harald Deubert

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