Greetings for 2024 from Biathlon NZ - here's a quick NZ Biathlon news update.....
IBU World Cup
The newly minted American Team member (Campbell Wright) had a horror start to his IBU World Cup campaign with a serious illness that had him on heavyweight antibiotics and a significant time in bed. He thought he had recovered in time for the first World Cup but going into the first 20Km event in Sweden he only missed two shots but his legs were not quite as steady and he was 7 minutes slower than the leaders which is not anywhere near his normal. His team pulled him out of further races and sent him off to Livigno in Italy for some serious recovery time and last night he returned to action at Obersdorf in Italy in the10Km sprint where he was 95th out of the starting gate which reflected his lack of form in the earlier World Cups. He was the last of the American team to start but after missing three of his 20 shots his ski speed has improved significantly since the Swedish disaster although in a text post race he advised he was well off his peak. He is racing in a shorter 7.5Km Pursuit Sunday with two of his new team mates and will then be part of the 4 man relay team the following day. His first relay at an IBU event ever as in the past he was always "Man Alone". He is confident he is ready for this level of race frequency.
Baxter Pollard is the third BNZ NZOC Youth Olympic team member following Olivia Thomson who attended the very first event and Campbell Wright who competed in Biathlon and X Country events and showed we could be seriously competitive. All three were students at Mount Aspiring College (MAC) in Wanaka probably one of NZ's most important Snowsports breeding grounds. Baxter hopes to pursue an interest in Engineering for tertiary study once he finishes his time at MAC.
Like Campbell, Baxter has US citizenship as well as his NZ status and is currently training at the Auburn Ski Club near Lake Tahoe. He obtained access to Auburn with the help of Sally Jones who manages Tahoe Donner but used to run the Auburn Ski Club. He is accompanied by his Dad (Brian Pollard) although snow conditions are very sparse which is a complete contrast to the huge dump they had there last year. Should the snow not improve they will decamp to Colorado.
The route to NZOC Youth Olympic qualification for Baxter started with his first trip to Europe for an IBU camp In Slovenia with his coach Jason Sklenar (ex British Biathlon Olympian) his Dad and the Pettit sisters and their father a local Wanaka doctor. After the camp they participated in the IBU Junior Cup at POKLJUKA SLOVENIA followed by the second event at VAL RIDNAUN ITALY. Was a baptism by fire as the POKLJUKA course was seriously tough according to the competitors from the big Biathlon countries and they were competing against competitors up to three years older than them. They also set a NZ record as the first mixed relay team to compete at an IBU event and only the second relay team ever from NZ in an IBU event. Olivia Thomson led a girls relay team at a IBU World Youth and Junior event some years ago. Baxter and Lulu have no illusions about the toughness and the presence of spectators which was very different from their NZ races.
Baxter will fly to Korea from San Francisco and meet up with his coach Jason and Mum (Delwyn Moller) and his NZOC Youth Olympic team mates at the venue for the Youth Olympics.