Ethan Dreissigacker (USA) skied to a top-20 in the World Junior 10km Biathlon Sprint, for arguably the top international race of his career. Kurtis Wenzel (CAN) was not far behind in 23rd to lead the Canadian squad.
The race, which determines the start order for the next event, Sunday’s 10km pursuit, was won by Russian Maxim Tsvetkov just ahead of the French duo of Florent Claude and Simon Desthieux.
Both Tsvetkov and Claude missed a single shot, while Desthieux was perfect both time through the range to finish 7.3 seconds out of the win, with Claude two seconds faster.
Dreissigacker, who was 53rd in the individual, was 1:28.5 off the pace, with a single penalty in standing.
“I felt a lot better than I have in the last few days,” Dreissigacker wrote to FasterSkier in an email. “In the first couple races here I didn’t feel very good skiing, and I think I let it distract me from shooting a bit.”
But today was different. Dreissigacker said that skiing “clicked” and that “shooting just kinda went the way it was supposed to!”
U.S. coach Algis Shalna described Dreissigacker’s performance as a “great race,” noting that he is in good position for the pursuit. The top-10 is just over 30 seconds away.
Dreissigacker started early, and was 6th when he crossed the line. At that point there was nothing to do but wait.
“I was pretty excited that I held onto 20th because that was my best result at my first Junior Worlds in Ruhpolding, Germany” Dreissigacker said.
Conditions were firm and fast, a strong contrast to the relatively soft track of earlier races.
Wenzel was unable to match his stunning victory in the individual, but was still solid in 23rd.
“The result wasn’t great but I am satisfied with my race,” Wenzel told FasterSkier. “It felt pretty good and my pursuit start is pretty good after today.”
Wenzel said he was “buzzing and less focused” on the range compared to the individual.
“I was thinking about competing with Vetle Christiansen on the range which might not have been the best,” Wenzel said.
After the first shooting stage, Wenzel had been caught by the Norwegian Christiansen, one of the race favorites. At that point, the Canadian aimed to finish ahead.
“I didn’t know he dropped out of contention so I thought I could be fighting for a top ten on the last lap. I had a big push to beat him in the last 300m,” Wenzel said.
Christiansen ended up in 13th place.
Casey Smith finished 47th and Raileigh Goessling 75th.
Goessling struggled on the range, accruing four penalties and will not start the pursuit.
Aaron Gillmor was 40th and Macx Davies 61st and Jasper Mackenzie 73rd for Canada.
“Our athletes only had average shooting, which wasn’t good enough for any top results in this strong field,” Canadian coach Richard Boruta told FasterSkier.” I would say the only male athlete from our team who can be happy with today’s race is Jasper Mackenzie.”
Chelsea Little contributed reporting.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.