Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, February 23. Laura Spector (Lenox, MA) finished 6h in the Junior 10K Pursuit today, at the European Biathlon Championships.
Spector, in her final major competition as a junior competitor, moved from 12th position at the start to finish sixth, with five penalties, 3:16.4 behind Marine Bolliet of France. Bolliet, winning in 37:34.5, had three penalties, but was unchallenged throughout the competition. Veronika Vitkova of the Czech Republic finished second, with five penalties, 45.5 seconds back, while Mariya Sadilova of Russia, with four penalties, won the Bronze medal, 1:57.5 back. The five penalties forced Spector to ski her way to the top six finish, and the ensuing flower ceremony. From the outset today, she skied aggressively and it paid off handsomely.
She came to the first stage in 10th position. Although the wind never stopped today, it had died considerably from the time she zeroed until her first stage. Spector missed two shots in the first stage. She said, â€œI did not realize how much the wind had died from zero, but I got a correction that helped in the second stage.â€ Leaving in 13th position, she battled the soft, wet, mushy snow to move back into the top 10, by the second prone stage, where she had a single penalty.
Once again, she lost a position, only to regain it by the time she was back in the stadium for the first standing stage. As those around her missed two or three shots, she had a single miscue. This time, she left the loop in eighth position, within striking distance of the next two competitors. Again, she passed another competitor on the tracks to come to the final stage on point seven. With another single penalty, she flew around the sloppy loop, leaving in sixth position, which she maintained to the finish.
Spector had the third fastest ski time among the Junior Women, just 40.6 seconds slower than that of the third place finisher, Mariya Sadilova of Russia, who moved from 15th position at the start.
Spector was smiling as she came out of the finish area and commented, â€œI worked hard on the tracks to make up for those penalty loops today. These conditions (soft and wet) are actually good for me because I am small. I do not sink down, as some of the other girls. This is such a great way to end my junior career. I will really appreciate this flower ceremony.â€
Asked if a result like this justifies the time she has spent away from her education at Dartmouth, she added, â€œI do not regret any of the school time missed for biathlon. Every race is a learning experience.â€
A short video interview with Spector follows.
Brynden Manbeck (Grand Rapids, MN) finished 30th with 10 penalties, 9:22.9 back. Hilary McNamee (Fort Fairfield, MN) did not finish.
Two of the three US Biathletes in the Junior Men’s 12.5K Pursuit moved up today, while battling conditions that went from windy to windier to rain to sunshine. Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN) moved up from 27th at the start to finish 23rd, while Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME), jumped from 42nd to 27th. Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix, MN) shot clean in the second prone stage today, but had ten penalties in the other three stages to finish 39th, 9:15.7 back.
Even though both moved up, they were well behind the Gold medalist for the third time this week, Anton Shipulin of Russia. Roberts finished with six penalties, 5:45.4 back, while Currier, with eight penalties was 6:11.3 back. Shipulin was more vulnerable than in the two previous competitions, as he racked up eight penalties today, before crossing the finish line in 42:15.5. Despite the eight penalties, he was never threatened, leading from the start to the finish. The Silver and Bronze medalists, Dominik Landertinger of Austria and Krasimir Aniev of Bulgaria both had just four penalties, yet finished 18.5 and 57.5 seconds back, respectively.
Roberts had three prone penalties today, following them up with a clean first standing stage. Currier, with two prone penalties and two more in the first standing stage, was skiing faster than Roberts, which left the two battling as they approached the final standing stage. At that point, the rain had stopped but the wind continued to howl as they shot on points 23 and 24. Roberts gained the advantage on his teammate by with three penalties to Currier’s four. Currier commented, â€œI saw Wynn was beside me, but I did not look at his target until I was finished.â€ Roberts added, â€œIt was not a competition between us. We were both trying to shoot clean. I think if I had hit just one more target, I would have been in the top 20.â€
The final competition for the US Team here in Nove Mesto will be the Junior Women’s 3 X 6K Relay tomorrow afternoon.
Live streaming video coverage of the Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season, and archived highlights including those from the World Championships, are available by clicking the athlete photo at the top of the news column at www.usbiathlon.org