Wild Rumpus Sports

Smith 15th in U26 Junior Individual; Norway’s Weather Wusses?

Welcome to the new biathlon blog!

-Wednesday was the last day of individual racing at the Under-26 Open European Championships in Osrblie, Slovakia, and featured individual-format competitions for juniors. The lone North American competitor was 19-year-old U.S. biathlete Casey Smith, who placed 15th in the junior men’s 15 k race. Smith missed just two shots over the course of four stages, and correspondingly received two minutes of penalty time. He had the 22nd-fastest ski time of the day and finished just over four minutes behind the winner, Alexander Loginov of Russia. Johannes Bø, younger brother to Norwegian superstar Tarjei Bø, was second, six seconds behind Loginov, who picked up his second victory in the series (results here).

-In the junior women’s 12.5 k individual, Marion Roenning Huber of Norway collected her first international win when she finished 1:23 ahead of Russia’s Olga Galich. Women’s results here.

-The U26 Championships were not an official part of the Canadian team’s yearly plan, so they didn’t send a team. They did, however, have one competitor, Megan Heinicke, who now lives in Germany with her husband. In the U16 races, Heinicke finished 18th in the sprint and then moved up to 15th in the pursuit. The 2010 Olympian told FasterSkier in an e-mail that she was happy with her shooting but disappointed with her skiing – and that because she’s not part of the Canadian national team, her season and the Championships themselves had been, well, interesting:

“I was in the best shape of my life at the end of this summer and was feeling very optimistic about the season, but had some health problems that resulted in me only doing two races before Christmas. Based on my health I was given a one race opportunity to continue racing this season at the Sprint at World Cup 4 in early January. Unfortunately I had a terrible race a missed the set qualification by four positions. Now I am finally healthy again and am taking races one step at a time as I slowly feel more like myself again. Every race opportunity is good for me right now so I am really glad to be here.

“It is a bit challenging being outside of the program, it means I have no funding, coaching, waxing or or other support from Canada and need to arrange everything myself. Luckily I have enough support privately to try and make that happen thanks to my husband who also happens to be an excellent coach. This weekend I owe a huge thank you to my father-in-law Matthias who made the 10 hour drive to Slovakia and helped me with just about everything, and to the Swiss team and their coach Markus who generously coached and zeroed me this weekend as well as waxed my race skis!”

-The World Cup is set to return to action tomorrow after a two-week break with sprint races for both men and women in Oslo, Norway. Athletes have been complaining about the weather, with forecasts set for highs of around six degrees Fahrenheit for the weekend. “I hope they have the balls to cancel it if it’s too cold,” Norwegian star Lars Berger told state broadcaster NRK; Ole Einar Bjorndalen said “It’s too cold to go racing.” They probably shouldn’t go to Moscow.