PRESQUE ISLE — It was an historic day for the U.S. Biathlon program
Sean Doherty, of Center Conway, N.H., became the first U.S. biathlete to win a gold medal on U.S. soil when he won the youth men’s 7.5-kilometer race at the IBU Biathlon youth/junior world championships at the blustery and frigid Nordic Heritage Center.
Doherty missed four shots – two each in prone and standing positions – but skied fast enough on a perfect course to edge Germany’s Marco Gross by 1.7 seconds. Doherty finished in 19 minutes, 35 seconds. Gross, who missed just two shots, finished in 19:36.7.
When he finished and it was clear that Doherty would win the gold, the small crowd gathered at the race broke out in chants of “U.S.A. U.S.A.’’
Doherty, 18, had won a gold in pursuit in last year’s youth/junior world championships, along with silvers in the 7.5K sprint and 12.5K individual.
“This is unbelievable,’’ said Doherty, who competed in the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. “It means a lot to me. All the people who supported me were here to see it.’’
Lisa Vittozzi of Italy won the youth women’s 6-kilometer sprint, finishing in 18:49.9, with one miss. She was 13 seconds ahead of Anna Weidel of Germany.
Maddie Phaneuf, of Old Forge, N.Y., who trains at the Maine Winter Sports Center, finished fourth in 19:49.3. She was the only female to shoot a clean 10 for 10.