Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Canada’s Teo Sanchez and Adam Runnalls.
Three Canadians in the top 20? Not a bad first day, considering it took them 38 hours to get to Cheile Gradistei, Romania, no thanks to a flight cancellation.
All that behind them, two Canadian junior males and a female recorded the best races of their careers on the opening day of IBU Youth World Championships on Wednesday.
“The first day of competition is always an exciting one as everyone has been raring to go,” Biathlon Canada High Performance Eric de Nys wrote in an email. “I know our travel to Romania was very long and difficult … So, to see that athletes end up where they did is very encouraging.”
The women raced first in heavy fog, which initially postponed the youth women’s 10-kilometer individual race by 1 1/2 hours. Once they got off the start line, with 91 women heading out at 20-second intervals, 18-year-old Marina Sauter of Germany emerged as the winner in her international debut.
Two weeks ago, Sauter told her hometown paper she was surprised to have made the team. She missed all of last season after having surgery on her foot and ankle joint.
“After the surgery it was difficult,” Sauter said. “I could not jog or train on the track. Usually I just biked or rollerskied alone. I was still in pain after long distances. That’s why I was surprised myself by the performance level that was already possible this winter.”
At her first world championships, she was hoping to validate her results from the German trials.
“I just want to have good competitions,” she said at the time.
On Wednesday, she won the 10 k individual by 2 seconds over France’s Myrtille Begue. Sauter had two penalties — each adding a minute to her time — but no one in the women’s field shot clean. She won in 35:14.2, Begue had two penalties as well en route to second, and Marketa Davidova (Czech Republic) had three misses and reached the podium in third (+12.7).
Among the North Americans, Megan Bankes, 18, of Foothills Nordic, notched her first top 20 in her third IBU Youth World Championships in 19th (+3:21) despite seven misses (1+4+1+1).
“Megan Bankes had a fantastic result in 19th considering she missed 7, this shows she is skiing fast,” de Nys wrote.
In the men’s 15 k that followed, Canada’s 18-year-old Teo Sanchez (Chelsea Nordiq) placed 13th in his first international race. He had two misses, both in the first prone stage, then three clean stages to end up with just two total penalties and was 4:03.6 behind the winner.
“After the first stage my coach gave me a correction for the wind, two clicks left on my sights and I cleaned the rest of my shooting,” Sanchez wrote in an email. “My goals for these championships were simply to keep a clear head through it all and just race like I normally do. I didn’t want any drama for my first international race, and I avoided that quite nicely. For me, just being excited and having fun is how I keep my performance where it needs to be.
“So far this has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” he added. “Cheile Gradistei is beautiful and the race trails are really fun, though quite technical.”
Another Canadian, 17-year-old Adam Runnalls (Calgary Biathlon Racers) placed 17th (+4:50.4) with four misses (1+2+0+1) in his first world championships.
“I had really no idea what to expect and where my skills would land me,” Runnalls wrote in an email. “During the first race I tried to focus on the metal aspect of shooting, something I have been recently struggling with and it worked out.
“I was happy with all aspects of my race, skiing was nearly perfect and shooting was where it needed to be to stay competitive,” he continued. “I would say that all aspects of my plan came together and a top 20 was the result.”
“Teo and Adam had good all around races shooting well and skiing within the top 20,” de Nys wrote. “Zachari [Bolduc] also shot well and his skiing started slow but he was getting quicker with each bout of skiing.”
Bolduc, 17, of Biathlon La Poursuite, placed 31st (+5:44.7) with three clean stages and two penalties in his second stage (0+2+0+0).
Also in his first international race, Norway’s Harald Øygard won the youth men’s individual in 37:00.3 with a single penalty in the second stage. The Norwegians took the top two spots on the podium with Aleksander Fjeld Andersen in second place (+40.8) with one miss, and Italy’s Michael Durand was the only man out of 95 finishers to shoot clean and ended up third (+1:10).
“This was great fun and something I did not expect!” Øygard said in a Norwegian team press release, according to a translation. “I debuted internationally today, and just went out to do my duties and have fun. But then worked out everything on the firing line and the track, and besides, I had fantastic skis.”
Following two teammates in the top 20 and one just outside the top 30, Canada’s fourth man, Lucas Boudreau placed 66th with a clean first stage and three total penalties (0+1+1+1).
Leading the U.S., Cody Johnson finished 43rd (+7:17.3) with three misses as well (0+2+0+1). The U.S. men took 67th through 69th with Vaclav Cervenka in 67th with nine misses (1+3+3+2), Peter Carroll in 68th with seven misses (2+3+1+1), and Brendan Cyr in 69th with seven misses (2+0+2+3).
In the women’s race, Canada’s Emily Dickson placed 36th (+5:04.7) with four penalties (1+1+1+1), Nadia Moser finished 47th with eight misses (1+1+3+3), and India McIsaac was 74th with 12 misses (2+2+4+4).
For the U.S., Amanda Kautzer placed 59th with six penalties (0+2+1+3), Claire Waichler was 67th with 10 misses (3+3+2+2), Chloe Levins 72nd with eight misses (1+2+1+4), and Ariana Woods 79th with 12 misses (3+2+3+4).
- 2016 IBU Youth World Championships
- 2016 IBU Youth/Junior World Championships
- Adam Runnalls
- Aleksander Fjeld Andersen
- amanda kautzer
- Ariana Woods
- biathlon canada
- Cheile Gradistei
- Cody Johnson
- Emily Dickson
- Eric de Nys
- Harald Øygard
- IBU Youth World Championships
- Marina Sauter
- Marketa Davidova
- Megan Bankes
- Michael Durand
- Myrtille Begue
- Nadia Moser
- Teo Sanchez
- Vaclav Cervenka