Ruhpolding, Germany, January 29. Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix MN), just 48 hours from a Bronze Medal in the Pursuit competition on Sunday, today finished 10th in the 12.5K Youth Individual competition, while Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) finished 15th in the Junior 15k Individual at the Youth/Junior Biathlon World Championships here.
Ethan Dreissigacker (Morrisville, VT) with just one penalty in the four-stage competition joined Nordgren in the top 20 finishers.
Nordgren with three penalties, finished 3:01.6 back, while Dreissigacker was 4:02.6 behind the now triple medalist at these Championships, Ludwig Ehrhart of France (one penalty), who won in 38:24.6. Ehrhart won Bronze in the Sprint, Gold in the Pursuit, and now Gold in the Individual. Manuel Muller of Germany, with two penalties was 1:10.4 back while Ehrhart’s teammate Mathieu Souchal, with one penalty took third, 1:22.9 back.
On a perfect shooting day with not a cloud in sight and the wind flags barely moving, Nordgren’s three penalties were one too many, thus keeping him out of the top eight finishers.
He explained, â€œThe first prone shot was clearly a miss, but I should have not missed the one in the second prone stage. That was the difference. Today, I saved too much for the last loop.â€ Going into the final standing stage, Nordgren was in 27th position, after single penalties in each of the first three stages. He shot clean in the final stage, catapulting him to 11th position. With a fast last 2.5K, he moved into 10th place by the finish.
Despite not making the top eight, Nordgren was still smiling, â€œThree places in the top 10 is pretty good. I was a little bit tired today, as I have a bit of a cold.â€
Although a top finish by Nordgren was expected, Dreissigacker simply overachieved today. Before the competition, when asked about his experience here, he commented, â€œIt is really inspiring.â€ That inspiration must have helped as he had only one penalty today. That single penalty tied him for top shooting honors with Ehrhart and Souchal in the field of 103 competitors.
The 17-year old shot clean in the first two stages then missed one in the second prone stage, before cleaning the final standing stage. After the two clean stages, Dreissigacker was in eighth position. â€œI felt really relaxed out there today,â€ he said at the finish line. Knowing he had one of the top shooting performances, the television cameras followed Dreissigacker on this final 2.5K loop. At the top of the Wall, his faced etched with pain, showed the effort as he struggled to crest the tough hill at 11.9K. When told how he looked on camera, he commented, â€œI think I felt worse. I was so tired I lost a pole.â€
Preston Butler (Marion, MA) and Raleigh Goessling (Duluth, MN) did not have as good of days on the shooting range as Nordgren and Dreissigacker. Butler, with seven penalties finished 11:17.4 back while Goessling had 11penalties, finishing 15:49.9 back.
In the Junior Men’s 15K Individual, Russell Currier overcame three penalties in the first two stages to finished 15th, 3:31 behind Jean Guillame Beatrix of France. After missing those three shots, Currier was mired back near 50th position. He then shot clean in the second prone stage, moving up to 28th position. In the final standing stage, he again cleaned, leaving the shooting range in 16th position. With his aggressive skiing style, Currier pulled himself up to 15th place at the finish completing an outstanding turnaround. Wit that 15th place, he matched his personal best which came in Saturday’s 10K Sprint.
The Maine Winter Sports Center athlete talked about his day, as he pulled on dry clothes in the finish area, â€œMy first prone misses were low, and I got some corrections that helped in the second prone. I did not want to give up after the three penalties today. Therefore, I just forgot about those stages and started over in the final two stages. My shooting has been improving since early January. Gary (Colliander) and I sat down then to see what was going wrong. He suggested some changes with the size of my aperture (on the sight). That made a huge difference and my shooting improved right away, especially in standing.â€
Yesterday temperatures reached plus 10 Celsius leaving the tracks soft and deep. However, it stayed near freezing today, making for fast icy skiing. For some athletes, this was helpful, but no Currier. He explained, â€œThis was not my best day skiing. These are not the best conditions for me, although they overall they were the best of the week. I like it when the conditions are soft, like yesterday. I am definitely a strength skier.â€
A video interview with Currier follows.
With the 15th today, Currier now has three top 20 finishes here, second on the team to Nordgren’s three top 10 finishes.
Rounding out the first three finishers in the Junior 15K Individual was Anton Shipulin of Russia in second, only six-tenths of a second behind Beatrix. Shipulin had two penalties, while his teammate Dmitri Blinov, with one penalty finished 32.5 seconds back. He edged the only athlete to shoot clean today, Nik Langer of Germany by 9.8 seconds.
Mark Johnson (Grand Rapids, MN), finished 42nd with five penalties, 5:52.9 back today while Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN) was in 62nd with eight penalties, 8:20.8 back.
The next competitions here will be the Youth and Junior Women’s Individual on Wednesday.
Live streaming video coverage of all of the competitions at the Youth and Junior World Championships competitions as well as archived highlights of the World Cup season, is available by clicking the athlete photo at the top of the news column at www.usbiathlon.org
Leif Nordgren with his parents