(Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Canadian coach Richard Boruta after Tuesday’s junior relays.)
It was the last day of IBU Youth/Junior World Championships, and for several juniors racing on Tuesday in Cheile Gradistei, Romania, the idea was to have fun. Maddie Phaneuf said that was a priority on U.S. women’s 3 x 6-kilometer relay team: “We hadn’t really set a goal for the day…I was just reminding the girls to have fun out there and do their best,” she wrote in an email.
Personally, she wanted to hand off to second-leg Siena Ellingson in a good position. Phaneuf did so, skiing the second-fastest scramble leg of 16 teams and coming into the first exchange in fourth, 42 seconds behind the leaders.
While she avoided the penalty loop on both shooting stages, Phaneuf used a total of three spare rounds to clean: two on the first prone, which put her back in 12th, and one in standing.
“It was fun to pick off the girls on the last loop and move up to 4th from 7th after my standing stage,” she wrote. “I felt really strong today and my skis were fast thanks to our wax techs.”
The Norwegian women’s team (Anne Marit Bredalen, Turi Storstrøm Thoresen and Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold) skied to the win in 55:26.3, passing Sweden on the last loop to win by 15.6 seconds with a team total of five spares (0+2, 0+3). Sweden took second with four spares (0+0, 0+4), and Austria reached the podium in third, 55.5 seconds back with seven spares (0+2, 0+5).
The U.S. finished 12th (+5:55.2) with one penalty and nine spares (0+4, 1+5). Ellingson shot identical to Phaneuf, cleaning with the help of two spares in prone and one in standing, and anchor Claire Waichler cleaned prone but had to ski a penalty lap after using all three spares in standing.
Fifteen teams finished. Canada did not. Kendall Chong started the team off with three penalties and six spares (0+3, 3+3) and tagged teammate Charlotte Hamel in 16th. While Hamel cleaned both stages without any spares, she couldn’t move up from that position. The third Canadian, Leilani Tam von Burg did not start.
“Leilani was getting sick and it was not sure until the last moment whether or not she will be able to race,” Canadian trip leader and Biathlon Alberta Training Center coach Richard Boruta wrote in an email.
The fourth junior woman on the team, Caitlin Campbell was hospitalized after crashing in the sprint last Saturday.
“She is not allowed to exercise much at this moment,” Boruta explained. “We did’t have any other chance than to include Leilani and hope for the best. However, it didn’t work out with her, but the other girls still felt that they would like to have one more opportunity to compete against the strong international field, one of the important things missing in Canada / North America.”
For Phaneuf, in her third and final Youth/Junior World Championships, she explained the relay was a good way to end the week in Cheile Gradistei. Individually, she notched three top 10’s: fifth in the 12.5 k individual, seventh in the 7.5 k sprint, and ninth in the 10 k pursuit.
“I think I ended my junior career on a really solid note,” Phaneuf wrote. “It was exciting to reach my goals and end I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.”
Next up for the 20-year-old US Biathlon development skier? Phaneuf said she’s headed back to the U.S., where she’ll spend just under a week training and recovering in Lake Placid, N.Y., before heading to Presque Isle for the IBU World Cup next week.
“During those races I have the opportunity to qualify for the World Championship team, so that’s definitely a goal of mine,” she wrote. “We’ll see what happens! Either way, I’m happy with how my season has turned out so far. It’s great to see how much I’ve improved from last year.”
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In the junior men’s 4 x 7.5 k relay, the Russians dusted the field by two minutes in 1:23:56.7. All four men (Dmitrii Shamaev, Viktor Plitcev, Nikita Porshnev, and Krill Streltsov) shot flawlessly in prone and everyone but Streltsov cleaned standing without any spares (Streltsov used two — the team’s only spares).
Germany claimed second (+1:59.6) with eight spares (0+4, 0+4), and the Czech Republic took third (+3:05.8) after using six spare rounds (0+1, 0+5).
The Canadian men finished 14th (+11:12.1) after skiing eight penalty loops and using 18 spares. Matthew Strum opened with one penalty and five spares (0+2, 1+3) and tagged the team in 16th, Alex Dupuis cleaned both stages, using one spare in prone (0+1, 0+0) to tag off in 14th.
The Canadians held onto the position from there, despite Aidan Miller skiing five penalty loops and using six spares (3+3, 2+3), then tagging Pearce Hanna in 14th. Hanna shot skied two penalty loops after prone and cleaned standing with three spares (2+3, 0+3) to finish about a minute behind 13th and 19 seconds ahead of 15th.
According to coach Boruta, top 10 was a reasonable goal for the junior men’s relay.
“Alexandre Dupuis was the only one who did have a good relay performance…,” Boruta wrote. “Charlotte [Hamel] did have a good day on the range as well, unfortunately her skiing is quite far off of the pace.
“Overall, all the top 20 (or even 30) placings are very respectable results and we should be happy, that we have at least few athletes who can be at that level,” he reflected on the team’s overall showing at the championships. “The competition is becoming stronger and more nations are in a position for good results.”
Biathlon Canada doesn’t fund programming for junior or youth athletes, so essentially “there is also no high expectation for their performance,” Boruta explained. “Those athletes are spending around $20,000 – $30,000 a year for the privilege to train full time and represent Canada internationally, but sometimes this makes it frustrating for the coach, because there is no real leverage if there is a need to change their attitude or anything.
“Our mandate is to develop athletes to such a level that they can make the jump from juniors to seniors and become competitive within a reasonable time frame,” he added, explaining that’s working so far.
Results: Junior women’s relay | Junior men’s relay
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- 2016 IBU Youth/Junior World Championships
- Aidan Miller
- Alex Dupuis
- Anne Marit Bredalen
- Brendan Cyr
- Brian Halligan
- Charlotte Hamel
- Cheile Gradistei
- Claire Waichler
- Dmitrii Shamaev
- IBU Youth/Junior World Championships
- Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold
- Kendall Chong
- Krill Streltsov
- Maddie Phaneuf
- Matthew Strum
- Nikita Porshnev
- Paul Everett
- Pearce Hanna
- Richard Boruta
- Siena Ellingson
- Travis Cooper
- Turi Storstrøm Thoresen
- Viktor Plitcev