It takes two: Franziska Preuss
The leading medal-winner at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2012 is gunning for gold in PyeongChang.
No athlete made more of an impact at the first-ever Winter YOG in 2012 than Franziska Preuss. Aged 17 at the time, the German biathlete competed in four events and came back with four medals: golds in the sprint, mixed team relay and mixed cross-country/biathlon relay, and a silver in the pursuit. Six years on, Preuss is in PyeongChang for her second Olympic Winter Games, and has further success in her sights.
A fast starter
Three golds and a silver at the Winter YOG in Innsbruck was an incredible haul – made even more extraordinary by the fact that Preuss had only taken up the sport two years earlier. Her parents bought Preuss a trial lesson at a biathlon camp for her 15th birthday, and the teenager was immediately hooked. The camp, she says “changed her life” – and her Winter YOG medal collection stands as compelling evidence that she’s not exaggerating.
The Winter YOG was a huge step forward for Preuss, providing plenty of guidance and inspiration for her sporting future. “I learned a lot in Innsbruck,” she told olympic.org. “I decided after that to… really push myself hard at training, because in my mind the Olympic Games are a constant focus.”
In 2013, the year after her YOG triumphs, Preuss enjoyed further success in the snow. Along with winning relay gold and two individual bronze medals at the IBU Youth/Junior World Championships, she graduated to her national biathlon team and won two more medals at the IBU Open European Championships.
Her first Olympic Games in Sochi ended in disappointment, finishing 37th in the pursuit and 10th in the team relay. But subsequent seasons have seen Preuss build on the promise she showed at the Winter YOG in 2012: victory in the IBU World Cup’s mass start series in 2014-15, relay gold and mass start silver in the 2015 IBU World Championships, and further medals at the 2016 World Championships in Oslo.
On to PyeongChang
Preuss has proved a valuable team player this season, part of the quartet who finished second and first in successive World Cup 4x6km relay events in their home country of Germany last month. One of 16 Winter YOG biathletes at the Olympic Winter Games, she’ll be shooting for the podium in PyeongChang – and while she won’t match her YOG achievements, another medal for her growing collection looks well within her grasp.