Soldier Hollow athletes qualify for biathlon Youth and Junior World Championships
Two Soldier Hollow biathletes – Lina Farra and Vincent Bonacci – were named to the U.S. youth national team to compete at the Youth and Junior World Championship, scheduled to take place in Orsblie, Slovakia starting Jan. 26.
The two, who were announced as Youth and Junior World Championship competitors on Wednesday, represent the first athletes from the Soldier Hollow team to reach the international level of competition after the club was formed a year and a half ago.
Bonacci, an 18-year old Salt Lake City native, and Farra, 17, who has lived mostly in Heber, competed in the Youth and Junior World Championship Team Trials from Dec. 28-31 at Soldier Hollow. The competition included two sprint races and a pursuit.
Both Soldier Hollow athletes, and their six “SoHo” teammates, competed in the youth category.
Farra finished first in the opening sprint, fourth in the pursuit, and eighth in the closing sprint out of 15 competitors.
She was selected to compete at the Youth and Junior World Championship on the U.S. national youth team, alongside Lexie Madigan of Auburn Ski Club in Truckee, California, Helen Wilson of Alaska Biathlon Club in Anchorage, Alaska, and Emma Stertz of Mt. Itasca Biathlon in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Out of 29 competitors, Bonacci took second in the opening sprint, 11th in the pursuit, and third in the closing sprint.
Bonacci was selected to the team alongside Garrett Beckrich of Mt. Itasca Biathlon, Maxime Germain of Alaska Biathlon Club and Bjorn Westervelt of Craftsbury Biathlon/Vermont Biathlon in Stowe, Vermont.
Zach Hall, who coaches the Soldier Hollow biathlon team, said Farra and Bonacci had “near perfect” races in the opening race, but he was most impressed with their focus through the end of the series.
“I was really excited to see they were able to stay in the game mentally and compete through the finish of the final race,” he said on Wednesday. “And that’s certainly something that defines a good biathlete. It’s a sport that lives on a pendulum. One day you’re on the podium, the next day you’re not making the pursuit. You have to be able to hold it together through both sides of that.”
Hall said Soldier Hollow’s programming mainly focuses on getting young people outside and involved with healthy activities, but from the start Farra and Bonacci had plans to compete at a high level.
“As a coach, that’s always exciting, because when you work together with (motivated athletes), hopefully everybody does their best work,” he said. “If you get a little bit lucky and the cards fall right you get some good outcomes.”
Farra and Bonacci will continue to train at Soldier Hollow for two weeks before leaving to join the U.S. team in Europe.
By qualifying for the Youth and Junior World Championships, the two are prequalified for junior nationals in Anchorage, Alaska, in March. There, Hall will work with them again as the assistant team leader for the Intermountain Division team.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.