PRESQUE ISLE — Sergey Kushcenko strolled through the media room with a big smile.
As first vice president of the International Biathlon Union, he is here on official business, overseeing the IBU Biathlon Youth/Junior World Championships at the Nordic Heritage Center.
But as the secretary general of the Russian Biathlon Union, he was enjoying a successful day.
“Good day?” he was asked.
“For sure,” he replied.
Russia swept the women’s and men’s junior sprints Saturday afternoon and took three of the six medals overall.
Alexander Povarnitsyn won the men’s 10-kilometer race in convincing fashion, skiing fast to finish in 25 minutes, 45.8 seconds, 13.4 seconds ahead of Norway’s Tore Leren, who didn’t miss a shot — Povarnitsyn missed one — but couldn’t keep up on the skis. Russia’s Eduard Latypov was third, in 26:02.3, just edging the defending gold medalist, Claude Fabien of France.
Russia’s Evgeniya Pavlova won the women’s 7.5-kilometer race by a mere three-tenths of a second over Galina Vishevskaya of Kazakhstan. Pavlova finished in 21:08.5 with clean shooting, Vishevskaya in 21:08.8.
The difference there was one shot, missed by Vishevskaya in the standing position. That forced her to take a 150-meter penalty loop, which cost her about 30 seconds.
“Up until the very last second I thought I could do it,” said Vishnevskaya. “I missed by that much. It is disappointing.”
Pavlova, 20, had started and finished ahead of Vishnevskaya and could barely watch the Kazakhstan’s sprint to the finish.
“I was very nervous,” said Pavlova, through interpreter Michael Friedman. “I was just praying she was not going to catch up with me.”
The two then shared a laugh and a hug.
Only one other competitor had a clean 10-for-10 shoot in the women’s race — American Kelsey Dickinson.
When she finished, in 23:25.5, she was in fourth position. She would eventually finish 22nd.
“It was just fun to be out here on a course that’s our own turf,” she said. “I had absolutely no expectations. I just wanted to ski my own race.
“I was just thinking about the process. I had no goals in place. I was just happy to be here.”
Dickinson had shot clean only once before — at this range in the world championship trials. She was able to ski one of her best races in front of her parents, who flew in from Winthrop, Wash. “I haven’t seen them in about two months,” she said.
THE MEN’S race was less suspenseful because Povarnitsyn skied so well. He missed one shot, in the standing position, but pushed as hard as he could on his skis. Leren, in his first international race, knew he couldn’t catch him.
“I knew he had the one miss and I had two clean shootings,” said Leren. “I knew he went faster than me. I could see that he went so fast that I didn’t have a chance.”
Still, he said, “I’m pretty happy I could get on the podium in my first race.”
Povarnitsyn called his win “a big surprise for me. But I was in a good position and I won. Perfect.”
IT WAS a spectacular day for the 29 nations competing in the second youth/junior world championships help at the Nordic Heritage Center. While the temperature was still low — about 8 degrees — Friday’s whipping winds had died down and shifted so that they were at the shooter’s back on the range, rather than going from left to right.
Still, as Dickinson said, “It was pretty cold out there.”
Povarnitsyn, the men’s winner, noted, “Now, in Russia, it’s warmer than it is in Presque Isle.”
Leren, who was cheered on by a larger contingent of Norwegian parents, said the cold didn’t bother him. “I’m used to cold weather,” he said. “So it was fine.”
THE RUSSIAN teams have been in Presque Isle since Feb. 12 and they are obviously comfortable with their surroundings.
In addition to Saturday’s results, which included a fourth in the women’s race and a fifth and eighth in the men’s, Russia had a third and sixth in the men’s youth 7.5-kilometer sprint on Friday.
While the Russians obviously got some extra training in on the course at the Nordic Heritage Center, they cited the adjustment to the time difference as a bigger factor. Russia is about nine hours ahead of Maine.
“We took that time to get used to that,” said Latypov.
Asked what he liked best about his stay here, Latypov made a lot of new friends.
“He likes the people,” said Friedman, the interpreter. “They’re very nice.”
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:[email protected]Twitter: MikeLowePPH