Franziska Preuss shoots for the stars
German biathlete Franziska Preuss amassed more medals than any other athlete at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Innsbruck 2012, and has since confirmed her obvious potential at the highest levels of her sport.
In January 2012, just two years after being encouraged by her parents to try her hand at the biathlon at a training camp that “changed her life”, Franziska Preuss (GER) became the star of the show at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Innsbruck 2012. Earning no fewer than four medals – more than any other competitor – at the inaugural gathering, the then 17-year-old prevailed in style in the sprint, mixed relay and biathlon/cross-country relay, and finished second in the pursuit.
“I learned a lot in Innsbruck, like how to win over a big crowd, and how to manage the media. I also met a lot of new people,” recalled the young biathlete, an admirer of French Olympic biathlon champion Martin Fourcade. “I decided after that to improve my skiing and shooting, and to really push myself hard at training, because in my mind the Olympic Games are a constant focus.”
In 2013, she established herself in Germany’s formidable women’s biathlon team and made her debut in the IBU Biathlon World Cup. Another medal haul followed at the Junior World Championships in Obertilliach (AUT), where she claimed a bronze in both the individual 12.5km and pursuit, and a gold in the relay. She was subsequently selected to represent her country at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, where she participated in three events without making a significant impact.
Relay gold at Worlds
It was not until the 2014-2015 winter season that Preuss began to truly fulfil the enormous potential she demonstrated at Innsbruck 2012 on the senior international stage, as she racked up enough World Cup podium appearances to land the small crystal globe in the mass start category.
Going from strength to strength, she then teamed up with compatriots Franziska Hildebrand, Vanessa Hinz and Laura Dahlmeier to clinch the world 4x6 km relay crown in Kontiolahti (FIN), where the German quartet finished one minute ahead of France. A couple of days later, the Bavarian athlete was again in medal-winning form, picking up a silver in the 12.5km mass start by crossing the line only six seconds behind Valj Semerenko (UKR) and making just one shooting error.
“First I celebrated my 21st birthday earlier in the week, then there was the gold in the relay, and now this – it’s been perfect!” exclaimed an emotional Preuss after the race.
The versatile German is one of a number of athletes for whom the Youth Olympic Games have served as a veritable springboard for future success. The second Winter YOG in Lillehammer is sure to shine a light on a host of new exciting biathlon talents who will be hoping to follow in her footsteps.