Gold for France, Italy in Junior Relays

France’s anchor Jacques Jeffries outshot Norway’s Martin Nevland in the last standing stage, and skied to the Gold medal in the Junior men’s 4 X 7.5 km relay today at the IBU Youth and Junior World Championships in 1:14:57.6. Jefferies and his teammates Paul Fontaine, Remi Broutier and Oscar Lombardot needed nine spare rounds to claim the Gold medal in the final men’s competition of these Championships. In the very sunny afternoon women’s 4 X 6 km relay, Italy’s Hannah Auchentaller took the lead by cleaning the standing stage and skied a very fast last loop to give Italy the Gold medal in 1:16:47.4. Auchentaller and her teammates Linda Zingerle, Rebecca Passler and Beatrice Trabucchi had the best shooting of the competition with six spare rounds.

Header icon2022 IBU YJWCH Junior Relays

Jefferies, “So much pressure”

Jefferies felt he handled the anchor leg pressure well, staying focused in the last standing stage. “It was so intense and hard. When you are in the highest level of competition for our age group, with all the best athletes, there is so much pressure. The team did an incredible job and I managed to put it together which make me really happy. It was a really nice race…Obviously, you can hear when someone misses, but I am not a fast shooter, so I just took it one-by-one.”

Advice from Simon Fourcade

Before the competition, French Junior Coach Simon Fourcade, a three-time IBU Junior World Champion gave the team some advice. “He told us do what you know, keep it to yourself. Do not think about the others and everything will go alright, because we have done it before and we can do it again.”

Auchentaller’s standing stage, “You can do this”

Auchentaller’s standing stage was less nerve-wracking than the prone stage, but in the last loop, she was running a bit scared. “To be honest, I was not that nervous as I was in the prone shooting, because I knew I had to go clear to keep up with the German because she is a very good shooter. I just came to standing and told myself. ‘you can do this. Just keep on doing what you did the whole summer and winter long and it will be good.’” As for the last loop with just an eight-second lead, “I was (running scared) because I know Lisa is a very fast skier and they had great skis which we did also. I knew she was only a few seconds behind and I tried to give my best and it worked.”

Regarding her father, US Women’s World Cup Coach Armin Auchentaller, she added, “I think he was more nervous than I was, for sure and I think he may be partying a little now!”

Junior Men’s Relay

Behind the French Gold medal, Italy, with six spare rounds won the Silver medal, 13.5 seconds back. Norway with a penalty and nine spares won the Bronze medal, 21.4 seconds back.

Czech Republic, with four penalties and twelve spares finished fourth, 1:08.6 back. Slovenia, with one penalty and eleven spares finished fifth, 1:58.5 back. Canada, with one penalty and twelve spares, finished sixth, 2:25.6 back.

Final Spectacular Day

The final day of the 2022 IBU Youth and Junior World Championships at the Soldier Hollow 2002 Olympic Games Venue was just as spectacular as many of the days this past week in Utah. It froze just hard enough overnight to set the tracks, but by the time the fifteen Junior men’s relay teams started at 11 am local time, the temperature was up to +8C and rising under once again brilliant blue skies and the wind flags completely flat. Despite the perfect conditions, only the USA’s Bonacci went 5-for-5 in the first prone stage. Still, Italy’s Leonesio got away in the top spot with a single spare round, along with Czech Republic with nine other teams all within 16 seconds. By the time they reached the standing stage, eight teams were closely bunched, with Overby after a second spare round in front, followed by Canada, Italy and USA withing 10 seconds.

Overby Leads, Struggles in Standing

Overby stretched Norway’s lead to 14 seconds when he tagged Uldal with Zingerle taking the tag for Italy and France a step behind. Uldal cleaned prone easily in five shots while his French and Italian rivals used a spare round in second and third, 20 seconds back. The Norwegian’s 20-second lead evaporated when he needed all three spares to clean, ceding the lead to Sweden and Czech Republic; the trio all within a second with France and Italy 7 and 11 seconds out, respectively.

Saeter Regains Lead

Czech Republic’s Tomas Mikyska pulled away from his Norwegian foe, tagging Ludek Abraham 13.1 up on Norway’s Saeter, with France 19 seconds back. Saeter, Abraham and France’s Paul Fontaine came to prone together. Saeter cleaned in five shots, with Fontaine using a spare, leaving 12 seconds back. Italy’s Michele Molinari, with one spare left in third position. Norway held the gap over France into the standing stage. Extremely focused, Saeter closed his five targets before Fontaine ever fired. Two spare rounds dropped Fontaine 29 seconds back; Molinari cleaned in five, leaving 44 seconds back.

Jefferies Wins Last Standing Duel

Saeter slowed over the next 2.5 km loop, giving anchor Nevland just an 11-second gap on French anchor Jacques Jefferies and 44 seconds on Italy’s Elia Zeni. The top two teams came to prone as they left the exchange, very close. Sprint/Pursuit Gold medalist Nevland missed his first shot, while Jefferies cleaned slowly in five shots. The duo closed their last target simultaneously, leaving now 32 seconds in front of the perfect Zeni. Neither of the top two gave a centimeter to the other over the next loop, with several changes in the lead, into the deciding standing stage. The leaders both missed multiple times with Jefferies cleaning with two spares while Nevland ended up on the penalty loop. Zeni, after one spare left the stadium on the Norwegian’s shoulder, 20.8 seconds behind Jefferies.

Italy’s Zeni skis to Silver

Jefferies had no problem maintaining his lead, skiing to the Gold medal. The Norwegian and Italian sparred over the last loop. Teammates screaming in support, pushing the two until Zeni pulled away on the last big uphill and crossed the finish line twirling his ski pole in the air, claiming the Silver medal with Norway taking the Bronze.

Junior Women’s Relay

Behind Italy, Germany with one penalty and eight spares won the Silver medal, 24.8 seconds back. France, with a penalty and ten spares won the Bronze medal, 2:51.4 back.

Norway with eight spares finished fourth, 3:34.2 back. Austria, with 1 penalty and twelve spares finished fifth, 4:03.6 back. Sweden, with twelve spares finished sixth, 6:04.7 back.

Sun-warmed final competition

The sun popped the thermometer up to +11C by the time the last competition, the Junior women’s relay started, making it truly feel like Soldier Hollow had transformed from deep winter into sprint over the last eight days. At the same time, the tracks transformed from fast to extremely slow. Half a dozen teams led by Italy’s Passler and Switzerland’s Lea Meier sped through the first-leg prone stage, all leaving within 6 seconds. Passler after a spare in prone. shot fast in standing to lead the field again, but Meier passed her on the next 2 km loop, pulling the Italian along with the two well in front of the other nine teams.

Zingerle Extends the lead

At the first exchange, Meier tagged first, with Zingerle going out for Italy six seconds later, followed by Germany 49 seconds back. Zingerle needed two spares to clean prone, extending her lead over the Swiss to 21 seconds, with Marieke Braun bringing Germany to 28 seconds back. The Italian stretched her lead coming into the standing stage as Braun moved into second position but close to 30 seconds back, with Norway up to third. Zingerle, shooting fast and clean was gone before the German was on the mat, padding her lead to 43 seconds. Norway and Austria left together 1:35 back

Trabucchi holds on in standing

Trabucchi took the tag with a 37-second lead over Germany’s Luise Mueller, with Austria’s Lara Wagner next but trailing by 1:18 with Norway another 11 seconds back. The Italian used one spare to clean while Mueller went 5-for-5, closing the gap to 23 seconds; Wagner matched to retain third position. Mueller closed in on the lead as they came to the standing stage, but Trabucchi went 5-for-5 while Mueller needed a spare to clean, pushing the lead back to 22 seconds. Wagner cleaned with two spares.

Germany Leads

The final exchange of these Championships saw Individual Gold medalist Lisa Maria Spark take the tag 4.2 seconds before Pursuit Silver medalist Auchentaller was tagged by the totally exhausted Trabucchi, setting up an anchor leg duel for the Gold medal. The Italian regained the lead coming into the prone stage, but Spark cleaned in five shots. Auchentaller used two very fast reloads to clean, but lost 12 seconds. The German’s lead held into the deciding standing stage, but she missed two shots, while Auchentaller cleaned in five. Still, they left with just eight seconds separating them. France and Austria lined up battling for a medal and Richard cleaned with three spares to move into third position.

Auchentaller Anchors Italy to Gold medal

Auchentaller was full gas in the last loop, with coaches nad teammates urging her on. With 900 meters to go, her lead was up to 25 seconds sealing the Gold medal for Italy. She crossed hands in the air and was quickly surrounded by her joyous teammates. Germany took the Silver medal and the comebacking French squad, over a minute from the podium when Jeanne Richard started her anchor leg, claimed the Bronze medal.

IBU Junior Nations and Relay Score Cups

The competitions closed with Germany sweeping the Men’s and Women’s IBU Junior Cup Relay Score and the Junior Men’s and Women’s Cup Crystal Globes.

Photos: IBU/Bjorn Reichert

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