BREZNO-OSRBLIE, Slovakia (February 22, 2017) – Team USA kicked off the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships in Slovakia with two top-20 finishes in the youth individual races Wednesday. Chloe Levins (Rutland, Vt./Mountain Top Nordic Ski Club) finished 14th in the youth women's 10-kilometer race, while Vaclav Cervenka (Grand Rapids, Minn./Mt. Itasca) placed 16th in the youth men's 12.5km event.
Levins set down 17 of 20 targets to finish 3 minutes, 5.6 seconds behind winner Lou Jeanmonnot Laurent of France, who clocked the winning time of 34:00.9 with just one penalty. After a cold night with freezing temperatures, light rain persisted throughout the competition on Wednesday.
"There are a lot of positives to take away from today's race," Levins said. "Our skis were fantastic, despite the pouring rain. I'm happy to have managed good work on the range by sticking to my process. I'm looking forward to getting to know the track better in the coming days in order to attack it even more during the next competitions."
Behind the French gold medalist, Russia's Kristina Egorova won the silver medal with one penalty, 52.4 seconds back. Sweden's Elvira Karin Oeberg, with two penalties, took the bronze medal with a last loop surge to finish 1:16.1 behind Jeanmonnot Laurent, but just 1.9 seconds ahead of fourth place Ekaterina Sannikova of Russia.
Other Americans racing in the 93-woman field were Grace Gilliland (Eagle River, Alaska/Alaska Biathlon) in 46th, Amanda Kautzer (Plymouth, Minn./Loppet Nordic Racing Michigan) in 53rd, and Helen Wilson (Eagle River, Alaska/Anchorage Biathlon Club) in 62nd.
Cervenka endured five penalties on the range and came across the line 4:19.5 back of gold medalist Leo Grandbois of Canada. Grandbois was the only athlete in either race to shoot clean, winning with a time of 32:56.6. The silver medal went to Russia's Said Karimulla Khalili, with three penalties, 1:14.9 back. Danilo Riethmueller of Germany won the bronze medal, also with three penalties, 1:21.5 behind.
"Today's race started well for me," said Cervenka. "I had the third-fastest time after the first shooting, but with a couple clumsy mistakes on the range I was taken out of contention. Overall, I'll take my results as a fairly good race and I am excited to go for it in these next two events."
For Team USA, Jacob Pearson (Casper, Wyo./Casper Mountain Biathlon Club) finished 49th, Alexander Kilby (Anchorage, Alaska/Alaska Winter Stars) placed 75th, and Eli Nielsen (Stehekin, Wash./Methow Valley Biathlon) was 91st in the 101-man field.
The IBU Youth/Junior World Championships continue on Thursday with the junior men's 15km and junior women's 12.5km individual races.
Youth Women's 10km individual results
|1.||Lou Jeanmonnot Laurent (FRA)||34:00.9/+1|
|2.||Kristina Egorova (RUS)||+52.4/+1|
|3.||Elvira Karin Oeberg (SWE)||+1:16.1/+2|
||Chloe Levins (Rutland, Vt./Mountain Top Nordic Ski Club)
|46.||Grace Gilliland (Eagle River, Alaska/Alaska Biathlon)||+6:28.9/+4|
|53.||Amanda Kautzer (Plymouth, Minn./Loppet Nordic Racing Michigan)||+7:14.3/+8|
|62.||Helen Wilson (Eagle River, Alaska/Anchorage Biathlon Club)||+9:00.5/+6
Youth Men's 12.5km individual results
|1.||Leo Grandbois (CAN)||32:56.6/+0|
|2.||Said Karimulla Khalili (RUS)||+1:14.9/+3|
|3.||Danilo Riethmueller (GER)||+1:21.5/+3|
||Vaclav Cervenka (Grand Rapids, Minn./Mt. Itasca)
|49.||Jacob Pearson (Casper, Wyo./Casper Mountain Biathlon Club)||+7:45.3/+4|
|75.||Alexander Kilby (Anchorage, Alaska/Alaska Winter Stars)||+9:51.1/+5|
|91.||Eli Nielsen (Stehekin, Wash./Methow Valley Biathlon)||+14:36.9/+11