U.S. Junior Athletes Race at First Jr IBU Cup of the Season in Poland

by Sara Donatello

Following the youth and junior trials at Mt. Itasca in Minnesota, the Jr. IBU Cup team was named for the back-to-back weekends of racing in Jakuszyce, Poland for IBU Junior Cup 3, February 1-4, and the 2024 IBU Junior Open European Championships slated for February 7-11. 

The IBU Junior Cup featured an individual and two sprint races over the four day period. Etienne Bordes (Tahoe City, CA/Team Crosscut) started the weekend with an IBU Junior Cup personal best 52nd in the men’s individual, with Thor Sheppard (West Yellowstone, MT/Team Altius) on his tail in 56th. Cale Woods (Bozeman, MT/Team Crosscut) also started the weekend with an IBU Junior Cup personal best 63rd. Van Ledger (Lake Placid, NY/Team Crosscut) crossed the line in 69th and Nathan Livingood (Bethel, Maine/Fort Kent Outdoor Center) finished in 76th in his first race as a junior. 

One of three U.S. women making their IBU Junior Cup debuts, Haley Finch (Anchorage, AK/Anchorage Biathlon Club) led the U.S. team’s individual results with a 50th place finish in the junior women’s individual. Hannah Chipman (Norwich, VT/Dartmouth College) also started the weekend with an IBU Junior Cup personal best 56th. Evelyn Hudrlik (Forest Lake, MN/Saint Michael’s College) and Brenna Barton (Bozeman, MT/Team Crosscut) finished 62nd and 64th in their IBU Junior Cup debuts. 

After a day off from racing, the U.S. Biathlon Team were back on the start line for the first of two sprint races. Bordes re-wrote his IBU Junior Cup personal best with a 37th place performance, missing just one target in standing. Despite missing three shots in standing, Ledger crossed the line in 52nd. Sheppard, Livingood and Woods finished 70th, 83rd and 86th. 

Chipman raced to 55th in the first junior women’s sprint, missing two shots in standing. Finch crossed the line four seconds behind Chipman in 56th with one miss on the day. Hudrlik and Barton raced to 71st and 80th. 

The final day of racing brought IBU Junior Cup personal best performances for five U.S. athletes with every athlete topping their first sprint result. In the second junior men’s sprint, Bordes finished 32nd, rewriting his IBU Junior Cup personal best for the second time in two days. Sheppard and Ledger, finishing 42nd and 43rd, both claimed  IBU Junior Cup personal bests and put three U.S. men in the top 45. Livingood had his best result of the weekend finishing 58th, with Woods crossing the line in 75th. 

Finch ended the weekend on an exciting note, racing to a personal best 31st and shooting clean, which made her 19 for 20 in her sprint races. Chipman also ended the weekend with a personal best 43rd. Achieving her top individual finish, Hudrlik crossed the line in 56th, with Barton finishing in 65th.
The U.S. Biathlon Team is sticking around Jakuszyce for the upcoming IBU Junior Open European Championships, slated for February 7-11. The weekend will feature an individual, mixed relay, single mixed relay, sprint and mass start 60 races. For spectator resources, visit Fans can follow the live action on the IBU App, click HERE for more information.

IBU Junior Open European Championships - Jakuszyce, POL

February 7

J. W 12.5km Individual 4:30 ET/10:30 CET

J. M 15km Individual 8:00 ET/2:00 CET

February 8

Mixed Relay 4:30 ET/10:30 CET

Single Mixed Relay 8:00 ET/2:00 CET

February 10

J. W 7.5km Sprint 4:30 ET/10:30 CET

J. M 10km Sprint 8:00 ET/2:00 CET

February 11

J. W 9km Mass Start 60 4:30 ET/10:30 CET

J. M 12km Mass Start 60 8:00 ET/2:00 CET