Top-25 finish for Brit Irvine
Biathlete Calum Irvine believes he has planted Great Britain’s flag firmly into the ground at the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival after racking up a top-25 finish and a new personal best to boot in Liberec.
The 16-year-old, chosen as Great Britain’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony on Sunday, showed just why he won under-21 biathlon gold at the British Championships in January as he completed the 12.5km Czech course in 44:56.8 minutes to finish 25th out of an 88-strong field.
Irvine’s time was 6:08 minutes behind winner Matthias Dorfer from Germany while compatriot Roman Rees took bronze and Norway’s Johannes Bo collected silver.
And Irvine was over the moon to show the rest of Europe that Britain shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to winter sports.
“I am really pleased with my race and I did a lot better than I had been expecting as I was hoping to finish somewhere in the top half of the field but 25th is fantastic,” he said.
“My shooting came together for the first time in a while actually and I was a bit annoyed with my last visit to the range as I managed to miss two of the five targets but overall I am pleased.
“And I thought my skiing was the best part of my race so that bodes well for when I go into the cross-country on Thursday.
“It was just great to finally get to compete because it has been building up for so long now and I was just really pleased to get out there and do well against some strong biathlon countries and show what Great Britain can do to.”
Also in the race was Irvine’s schoolmate Scott Dixon – son of six-time Winter Olympian and Eurosport commentator Mike – who recovered to finish 81st after a heavy fall that required medical attention afterwards.
But most of the action for Team GB was on the slopes with four athletes going in the giant slalom.
Jack Gower was the highest finishing Brit as his time of 1:41.44 minutes was good enough to finish 22nd, 4.52 seconds behind gold-medal winner Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway.
Nick Moynihan finished joint 31st with a run of 1:43.85 minutes, Sam Clissold was right behind him in 33rd with a time of 1:44.04 while Paul Henderson failed to complete his first run.
Meanwhile in the snowboardcross Jonathan Chan finished an agonising 33rd in qualifying to miss out on the final by one place.
But there was better luck for Max Thidling who finished 30th overall after progressing through the heats.
Elsewhere, there was another triple assault on the cross-country with Katy Homyer, Michael May and Ruaridh Newman competing in the 1km sprints.
It was Homyer to go first and she posted a time of 3:24.72 minutes to finish 68th with the top 30 advancing to the semi-final.
And both Newman and May also bowed out in the qualifying stage but were pleased with their finishes of 61st and 70th respectively.