The top Canadian and American women in the youth individual race at biathlon World Junior Championships on Monday couldn’t have had more different attitudes coming into the event.
Canada’s Julia Ransom, for instance, was looking for payback. After a strong showing in 2010 in Torsby, Sweden, Ransom struggled in 2011, producing a top result of just 36th place in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
“Last year was definitely a frustrating year for me,” she told FasterSkier in an e-mail. “I went into Nove Mesto looking for top tens and just couldn’t seem to pull it together.”
Looking to recapture the magic in 2012, Ransom arrived in Kontiolahti, Finland, with those same hopes.
“My goal of the day was to get back to the basics and just enjoy what I came here to do: test my limits and put on a good race,” she said.
For Ransom, it was mission accomplished on Monday, as she notched her first World Juniors top-ten by placing eighth in the 10 k individual. Over four shooting stages, she missed three shots, tying her for the best shooting of the day.
At this level, women are often more accurate on the range than men, but none of the field could overcome the Kontiolahti wind.
“I knew that with the blowing wind there wasn’t going to be a lot of clean shooting,” Ransom said. “That being said, the wind really did die down from the weekend.”
Ransom was pleased to have achieved on goal, and has now adjusted her sights slightly higher, bolstered by a result that placed her just over a minute out of the win. Ransom said that she’s set a new goal of a top-six finish.
“I felt much more confident than previous year; my shooting has really improved this year and our team really put in the work through out the summer and fall,” she said. “I am feeling really motivated for the rest of the races, knowing I was just one shot away from second place. My outlook this year is to enjoy what I am doing and see how far I can push my body. When this comes together, the results will follow.”
While the Canadian had the experience, the Americans were led by someone still wide-eyed regarding the international scene: Anna Kubek, for whom results were not the first thing to come to mind when asked about her experience so far.
“I am so excited to be here!” Kubek gushed in the first line of an e-mail to FasterSkier.
It’s the Minnesota native’s first year on the world circuit, and she’s had plenty of chances to learn. After strong performances at senior trials in Minnesota in December, Kubek moved on to Innsbruck, Austria, where she competed at the Youth Olympic Games.
Although the Youth Olympics gave her experience, Kubek didn’t know what to expect in Kontiolahti.
“I think the Innsbruck trip definitely prepared me for these races since it was one of my first international races, not including the German Cups we did a week before Innsbruck,” she wrote. “There are more competitors here than there were in the Youth Olympics. It’s more of a challenge to compete against older people, but a great opportunity.”
Because she wasn’t familiar with the level of competition, Kubek didn’t set results-oriented goals; she just wanted to “do my best and push myself beyond my limits.”
Like Ransom, she accomplished what she set out to do, placing 30th in her first-ever World Youth Championships race despite being two years younger than the most mature racers.
“Today’s race went pretty well,” she told FasterSkier. “I hoped to do better with shooting, but considering the wind, it was average.”
And in closing? That same enthusiasm she showed to start her missive.
“It was awesome to ski with some of the best youth biathletes in the world!”
For Canada, Ransom was followed by Sarah Beaudry in 33rd, Rose-Marie Coté in 47th, and Erin Oliver-Beebe in 50th.
The U.S. finishers after Kubek were Tara Geraghty-Moates in 44th, Melissa Manning in 58th, and Mikaela Paluczek in 72nd.