Damon continued his excellent rise in form on the back of completing an intensive 3 week National team training camp in Livigno, Italy, over X Mas and New Year which was designed to get him super fit for the World Junior Championships in Romania. On Saturday 16th Damon placed 2nd in the Mens U21 10km Sprint, just 18 seconds behind Luca Ghiglionne. Ghiglionne, currently the No.1 ranked junior male in Italy recently placed 3rd in the IBU Junior Cup 2 in Martell Italy. Saturday’s event saw athletes use 8 bullets to hit the 5 targets in each of the prone and standing positions with penalty laps for remaining un-hit targets of 150m. Damon used just 1 spare to hit clean in prone and also shot well and fast in standing missing just his last target. Unfortunately he needed two spares to knock it down which might have cost him outright first place.
Sister Darcie also shot clean in her U17 5km girls sprint but had to use all of her 3 spare bullets to achieve the result in both the prone and standing shooting positions and avoid the 150m criminal penalty loop. Darcie finished 8th but less than 1 minute behind the winner in what was a tight event where not being clean and quick on the range was costly.
Val di Fiemme is famous in Italy and the World as a heartland of cross country skiing and has hosted a number of XC skiing World Championships. It is also known for the Marcialonga World Cup Ski Loppet. However, it was the first time a Biathlon Italian Championships had been held in Val di Fiemme. The event was conducted as a ‘carnival’ together with an Italian Cross Country National Cup and Nordic Combined National Cup (Nordic Combined is ski jumping and cross country skiing). So, all of Italy’s best athletes in the three X C skiing based disciplines came together for one huge weekend of competitions.
On Sunday the Biathlon competitions began at 11.30am after the conclusion of the distance cross country events, during which the Australian Biathlon Team enjoyed watching and cheering for their Italian Livigno Ski Club team mates. Again a gusty wind picked up after a really cold and still – 12 degree morning, making the shooting quite tricky. Damon, although fast on the track, started badly in prone missing 2 out of 5 in the 2nd Men’s 10km Sprint (this time with only 5 bullets to hit 5 targets), but with fast skiing was only 30 seconds down on the lead with others also missing. Damon showed his maturity and experience in standing shooting fast yet perfectly controlled to be one of only 2 men to shoot clean in the gusty wind and avoid the penalty loop to head straight out onto the final 3.3km lap to the finish.
On the last lap Damon caught the leader Ghiglionne on split time as he had missed 1, 1 and went on to record exactly the same time to take equal first in the Men U21 with the next athlete over 1 minute behind.
Darcie also performed strongly in her U17 5km women’s event on Sunday 17th shooting 1, 2 penalties. However, it was 1 shot more than the athletes ahead of her and she finished 3rd and 48 seconds behind the winner. Italy has a very strong female development program from juniors to World Cup level and Darcie’s age category was most competitive with athletes vying for Youth Olympic selection.
Damon, who is Australia’s No. 1 ranked Male athlete, has been training under the guidance of the National Team and working with the VIS over the last 12 months since moving on from the NSW Biathlon team after struggling in the second half of last season. He is now beginning to reap the rewards of training in a professional club environment and under high the auspices of the National and State programs and associated top coaches and in what has been a well-coordinated training system. Damon spent all of July and August last year living at Dinner Plain and training at Mt Hotham, the site of Australia’s only biathlon range, alongside an Italian Junior team from the Livigno Sporting Club in Italy. Since mid-October, Damon has been training and racing in Livigno, Italy, with the local club which is led by X Italian World Cup athlete Luca Bormolini.
Damon and Darcie are members of The East Gippsland Biathlon Club Inc which has recently been launched to promote and foster Biathlon in East Gippsland. New club members are welcome and will have the chance to learn from Damon and Darcie in club events held throughout the year in East Gippsland and at Mt Hotham.
Article courtesy of Cameron Morton