IBU Youth World Championships (Otepää, Estonia): Youth women’s and men’s sprints
Sweden’s Karin Elvira Öberg raced to her third-straight win of the week at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Youth World Championships in Otepää, and Pascale Paradis led Canada in 15th in the youth women’s 6-kilometer sprint on Friday.
Paradis started 36th out of 92 women and shot 18-for-20, missing one on each stage (1+1), on a day when the top-two finishers had misses as well. With the ninth-fastest overall course time, Paradis, 15, finished 1:04.3 minutes off of Öberg’s winning time of 19:46.7.
Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Öberg started 65th and claimed the win with one penalty (0+1), continuing her undefeated streak at Youth Worlds after winning the 10 k individual and relay as well. She was joined on the podium by her teammate Amanda Lundström, who also raced to gold in the 3 x 6 k relay on Wednesday, and shot clean on Friday to finish 16.7 seconds back in third.
Between them, Finland’s Heidi Nikkinen placed second (+13.1), with one penalty (1+0).
In the first race of her first Youth World Championships, Paradis placed sixth to earn recognition at the post-race flower ceremony.
“After being shocked with the result I got for the individual it got me pretty excited,” Paradis recalled in an email on Friday. “But I knew that if I put too much pressure on myself I would get too nervous. But it really boosted my confidence to know that I had a chance to do well here!
“So I went into this race not expecting too much,” she continued. “This season I’ve been doing well in individuals so I was hoping for a good result but in sprints I haven’t been shooting great so I was super happy to see myself knock 8 targets down and I skied as fast as I possibly could, so overall I am super happy about my race!”
Paradis described the conditions as “perfect”, not too cold and with relatively calm winds.
“I was happy about my shooting just because it’s the best I’ve shot in a sprint race this year,” she wrote. “Skiing I felt really tired but my coach Andrew was on the hill cheering super loud and I dug deep and pushed myself to the max in this race and was extremely happy too see that I had skied one of my fastest races ever!”
In Sunday’s 7.5 k pursuit, the last day of the championships, she’ll start about 1 minute and 4 seconds back in 15th, just 2 or 3 seconds out of 12th place.
“I’m excited to be started really close to a few other girls right out of the gates for the pursuit,” Paradis wrote. “We don’t do many pursuits back home so this will be my second one ever and I’m super excited to see what it’s like on the international level. I really like doing pursuits even though they get me the most nervous, it’s just super fun to know where you are in the race the whole time and to just make up as many spots as you can during the course of the race.”
Two other Canadian women finished in the top 60 of the sprint to qualify for the pursuit, with Jenna Sherrington placing 46th (+2:25.3) with two penalties (1+1), and Benita Peiffer placing 51st (+2:40.4) with three misses (1+2). Shilo Rousseau missed the cutoff in 66th (+3:04.8) with four penalties (1+3).
Two American women qualified, with Emma Stertz in 52nd (+2:44.2) with two misses (1+1), and Grace Gilliland in 55th (+2:50.1) with one miss (0+1). Lexie Madigan finished 70th (+3:28.1) with four penalties (4+0) and Helen Wilson followed in 72nd (+3:28.9) with three misses (1+2).
In the youth men’s 7.5 k sprint on Friday afternoon, Russia’s Mikhail Pervushin won his third-straight race of the championships, shooting clean and finishing in 20:17.3. Italy’s Tommaso Giacomel also shot a perfect 10-for-10 to finish second (+21.9) for his first Youth Worlds medal. The Czech Republic’s Vítězslav Hornig rounded out the podium in third (+38.6) with one miss (0+1).
American Vasek Cervenka improved on his 27th place in the 12.5 k individual by finishing 24th on Friday (+1:59.2) with three penalties (1+2). He and two teammates qualified for Sunday’s 10 k pursuit, with Eli Nielsen placing 42nd (+2:51.2) with one miss (0+1), and Garrett Beckrich following in 46th (+3:01.3) with four penalties (1+3). Maxime Germain missed the top 60 in 74th (+4:33.9) with three misses (1+2).
Leo Grandbois led Canada in 33rd (+2:33.4) with three penalties (1+2). All four Canadian men qualified for the pursuit with Thomas Hulsman shooting clean for 35th (+2:35.3), Rory Gilliland finishing 52nd (+3:19.8) with one miss (0+1), and Ryan Elden placing 59th (+3:30.0) with one miss as well (1+0).
The junior women’s and men’s sprints are scheduled for Saturday, followed by the youth and junior pursuits on Sunday.