BIATHLON: The names Ole Einar Bjoerndalen and Martin Fourcade may not be well known in Australia but in the world of winter sports they are royalty.
The duo have amassed a total of 18 Olympic medals and a staggering 64 World Championships medals between them having dominated a large part of the past two decades in the sport.
They will no doubt be aiming to add to this tally over the next week as the 2017 World Championships get underway in Hochfilzen, Austria, where an Aussie by the name of Damon Morton will get the chance to line up against the world’s best.
Son of Torino 2006 Olympian Cameron, Damon will make his World Championships debut as he looks to build towards emulating his father’s feats of making an Australian Winter Olympic Team.
“The competition at this event is likely to be what’s at the Olympics so I need to be on pace with these athletes if I want to have any chance to qualify for PyeongChang,” Morton, who will become Australia’s first Biathlon World Championships representative since 2015, said.
Lining up against the elite echelon of the sport for the first time, Morton is realistic about his goals for the event and moving forward.
“Juniors to IBU Cup, which I have been competing in, is a step up but IBU Cup to World Championships is a massive jump up.
“I just want to do my best and shoot clean and if I can do that then I think I will be able to get a result that I’m happy with. To be somewhere in the middle is my aim.”
Morton has been out on the snow in Hochfilzen for the past couple of days following a series of IBU and Junior IBU Cup events to start the season as he prepares for the biggest event of his life.
“It’s been great to get out on the track to train and I’m really looking forward to competing.
“Preparations in general have been going well. I did an IBU Junior Cup race in Pokljuka, Slovenia, as well as a training race and went quite well in that.”
Morton will line up in both the 10km Sprint and 20km Individual events and knows he is up against some stiff competition.
“I actually try not to think about racing against the big guns as they’re so far above my league that it’s a bit daunting.
“I don’t really have a biathlon idol but Fourcade is always the best so you might as well admire him.”
Morton’s first event is the 10km Sprint which takes place at 12:45am early on Sunday morning.
The 20km event then takes place at 12:30am Friday 17 February.