At Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games’ biathlon events were held in French territory, the first time the YOG has been organised across two nations. The athletes didn’t disappoint providing a glimpse into the future of the sport.
Russia opens with a golden double
Russia swept the first two biathlon gold medals on offer at the Lausanne 2020. Alena Mokhova took gold in women’s 10km individual and Oleg Domichek in men’s 12.5km individual events.
Mokhova, who missed just two out of 20 shots, said: “My coach told me in the last lap that I was in the lead and I knew I needed to do everything I could. I tried not to think about the medals because I knew there were still a lot of strong athletes behind me who had yet to finish.”
In women’s competition Jeanne Richard (FRA) came in second, with Belarus’ Yuliya Kavaleuskaya taking bronze. Among men Lukas Haslinger (AUT) was second and Mathieu Garcia (FRA) completed the podium.
French biathletes fly flag at Les Tuffes
France’s biathletes gave their home crowd plenty to cheer about at the Les Tuffes Nordic winning the single mixed relay gold in commanding fashion. With the French flag flying high in one hand, a triumphant Mathieu Garcia glided across the finish line first. Italy took silver and Sweden – bronze.
“It was just amazing from the beginning,” Garcia said of Sunday’s gold medal-winning performance. “Jeanne did an amazing job and an amazing second turn by giving me the lead (at the final exchange), and I just finished the job. I knew I had to do a good shoot in the final round, especially in front of the French public. They helped me to focus.”
Zawol delivers gold for Poland
Marcin Zawol delivered Poland’s first medal of the Lausanne 2020 when he became a surprise winner in the biathlon men’s 7.5km sprint. He topped the 99-strong field. Denis Irodov (RUS) took silver and Vegard Thon (NOR) completed the podium.
“This is very amazing. By far my biggest international win,” Zawiol said at the Les Tuffes Nordic Centre. “I didn’t know what to feel when I crossed the finish line. It was incredible.”
Second triumph for Mokhova
Russian Alena Mokhova double her golden tally with a win in women 6km sprint. She was joined on the podium by by compatriot Anastasiia Zenova with Anna Andexer (AUT).
“It was disappointing that we didn’t do well in the single mixed relay and yesterday I wondered if the same would happen during the sprint,” said Mokhova. “But I woke up today feeling better and became more relaxed.”
Italy beats Russia to gold in biathlon mixed team relay
The Italian quartet crossed the line first in the mixed relay on the last day of biathlon competitions. They beat Russia to the top of the podium, and a stellar final exchange meant the French went home with bronze.
Oleg Domichek (RUS) held a lead of more than 25 seconds after the final exchange and looked set to power his side to the finish. Italian anchor Marco Barale (ITA), however, had other ideas. The 16-year-old was error-free through two rounds of shooting and knew he almost had gold in the bag when he sped out of the range first for a final lap.
“I don’t remember anything of the last shoot,” Barale, a silver medallist in the single mixed relay, said. “I was a little bit nervous, but I thought we have a medal already and I felt relaxed, and I shot good. I was thinking we’ve won so I was very happy.”
That was not the only unexpected development of the day. Norway had sat firmly in third place through three exchanges and looked certain for bronze until Mathieu Garcia (FRA) took over. The Frenchman posted two rounds of clean shooting, lifting his side from fifth to the podium.
What is biathlon?
Competitors must master the contrasting elements of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting in this all-encompassing event. That requires both endurance and pin-point accuracy – no easy feat when your heart is racing at around 180 beats per minute.
When you give it your all ♥ pic.twitter.com/JHICR32r2L— Youth Olympic Games (@youtholympics) January 11, 2020
This exhausting all-body workout has a history dating back to the 18th century, while is has been a regular fixture at the Winter Olympics since 1960.