The Beijing Winter Olympics are over and Wanaka biathlete Campbell Wright (19) charged back into the fray last week almost.
Competing at the IBU Junior World Cup at Soldiers Hollow in the United States, Wright tested positive for Covid-19 on the last day of competition.
Biathlon NZ media spokesman and former chairman John Burridge said the teenage “lone wolf” Olympian delivered an impressive first outing at Soldiers Hollow, finishing sixth and just one shot making the difference between that and first place.
“Fading ski speed over the last lap robbed him of the podium finish [position] he was in when he left the range for the last time [in third place].
The illness could explain Wright’s drop in speed in his final race, Burridge said.
Wright hopes to compete in IBU Cup competition in Italy this week, which is the level below IBU World Cup.
He is registered for a 10km sprint tomorrow, and if he makes make the top 60 can then race the 12.5km pursuit on Sunday.
Wright and his family will then travel to Norway for the final IBU World Cup of the season.
Biathlon is not part of Snowsports NZ, but its sister sport of cross-country skiing is.
Pre-Covid-19, the Snow Farm was used by northern hemisphere Olympians to train out of season. Burridge said he hoped to see the Snow Farm host an Oceania Cup event in his lifetime.
It would need commitment from the International Biathlon Union and investment in a 16-stand shooting range (the Snow Farm has 10 stands), he said.
In Beijing, Wright finished ranked 32 in the 20km biathlon and 75 in the 10km. The fields had nearly 100 competitors.
Biathlon combines small-bore rifle shooting and cross-country skiing. The sport is still in its infancy in New Zealand.
The Wanaka club formed in 2009 at the country’s only cross-country ski venue, the Snow Farm.
Wright has two further years in the junior IBU category before moving to the full adult category, but is already competing as an adult in world cup events and at the Olympics.
His coach is Italian Luca Bormolini, who has worked several winters at the Snow Farm.