As soon as I had gotten my stuff, I left the finish area and went and cooled down away from the TVs and the stadium,” he wrote in an email. “I knew I would probably stay in the top 10 but it was way too hard to watch the results.
Canmore, Alberta’s Aidan Millar was the third man onto the course in Saturday’s individual-start 10 k sprint at World Junior Championships for biathlon in Raubichi, Belarus.
With little information about his competitors, Millar had to just ski his own best race. He had a penalty in prone but then cleaned in standing, and was unsurprisingly the race leader when he crossed the line. The thing was waiting for the other 90+ racers to finish as well.
“As soon as I had gotten my stuff I left the finish area and went and cooled down away from the TVs and the stadium,” he wrote in an email. “I knew I would probably stay in the top 10 but it was way too hard to watch the results.”
As his team had predicted, it was a top-10 finish when all was said and done. Millar’s time put him in eighth, 44.9 seconds behind Russia’s Aleksandr Dediukhin, who won with a time of 24:49.0.
Millar’s split after the last shooting had him in fifth place, but he was unable to hold onto that position, and lost about 20 seconds to the leaders over the final 3.3 k.
Still, the result was a major recovery after the individual competition, where Millar missed nine shots. He was frustrated with himself and vowed to do better.
“The individual was pretty disappointing shooting-wise,” he explained. “So for the sprint I tried to shoot more in control and not get caught up in shooting fast.”
Despite those goals, Millar actually had the eighth-fastest shooting time in the field. That speed and accuracy helped him to his best-ever result in an international competition. It was also the best result for Canada so far at the Championships, including in the youth competitions which are held on alternating days with the junior races.
At last year’s World Youth Championships in Presque Isle, Maine, he placed ninth in the sprint. But this year is completely different, and not just because the junior field is older and more experienced than the youths, Millar explained.
“I would say it’s definitely a huge step up,” Millar wrote. “With last [Championships] being in North America some of the better countries didn’t send full teams so the field wasn’t as strong. So with the jump from Youth to Junior already making it more competitive the fact that it was in Europe made even that much more competitive than last year. With those things in mind, I’m finding it hard to believe that I was actually able to get that result.”