The 1978-1979 Biathlon World Cup was a bit different to the 2014-2015 IBU season events; for starters, it did not start until January 1979! 1978-1979 was a multi-race tournament over a season of biathlon, organised by the UIPMB (Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne et Biathlon). This was the second season of the “Biathlon World Cup”, was only held for Men, and included Junior events.
Australia sent a team of athletes to events that season including those at Antholz/Anterselva, Ruhpolding and Lake Placid. The Australians took part in Individual, Sprint and Relay events. The first-ever Australian team of Bob Cranage OAM, Lauri Jortikka and Andrew Paul (as a Junior), had paved the way earlier that decade.
Countries that AUS was up against in 1979 included some that no longer appear on any map: BRD, DDR and USSR. The Australian contingent, according to the team report of the time, included Lauri Jortikka (Team Captain), Paul L’Huillier, Barry Field, Andrew Milvain, Andy Brady, David DeGama and Kevin Bailey (Junior). Here are some of the results of that season:
World Cup 2 at Antholz/Anterselva, ITA
On 21 January 1979, the snow temperature was -4 Deg C and the air temperature -3 Deg C. 83 competitors started in the 10 km Senior Sprint, which included Jortikka, L’Huillier, Milvain, Brady DeGama and Field. AUS finished 69,70,71,72 and 73 behind winner Alexander Tichonow of USSR. In the 10 km Junior Sprint, Bailey put in the best AUS shooting performance of the day, bettering his Senior Team members (1+2) and finishing in 33rd position behind winner Wolfgang Schutzer of DDR.
The following day, the snow temperature was -6 degrees C and the air temperature -4 degrees C. 75 competitors lined up to take part in the 20 km Men Individual. Participants Jortikka, L’Huillier, Milvain and Brady finished in positions 62, 64, 65 and 66, behind winner Vladimir Barnaschov of USSR. In the 15 km Junior event, Bailey finished 28th out of 31 competitors, behind Sengei Dantsch of USSR.
The final event was the 4 x 7.5 km Relay. The team report states: “Snow temp -1 deg C. Air temp +1 deg C. Snowing.” The Australian Relay Team of L’Huillier, Jortikka, De Gama and Milvain finished in 18th position behind winners USSR; L’Huillier distinguished himself by shooting clear.
World Championships at Ruhpolding, BRD – results
1. 26 Jan: 15 km Junior: Bailey 62 (2+6+4), behind winner Thomas Klingen of DDR (0+0+0)
2. 28 Jan: 20 km Senior Individual: 68 Jortikka (0+7+4+0), 72 L’Huillier (1+0+1+5), 80 Milvain (4+5+3+5), 82 Brady (0+5+1+6) behind winner Klaus Siebert of DDR (0+0+1+0)
3. 31 Jan: 10 km Senior Sprint: 73 Jortikka (4+1), 75 L’Huillier (0+2), 82 Milvain (4+4), 84 Field (4+2) behind winner Frank Ullrich of DDR (0+0)
4. date unknown: 10 km Junior Sprint: 61 Bailey (4+4) behind winner Sergje Schuravlijou of USSR (1+1)
5. 2 Feb: 4 x 7.4 km Senior Relay: AUS Jortikka, Milvain, De Gama, L’Huillier 20th behind winners DDR
Lake Placid, USA Pre Game Competition – results
On 6 February the Seniors Sprint was held in clear weather, snow temperature of -12 degrees C and air temperature a chilly -18 degrees C. Senior Sprint Results were: 56 Jortikka (5+3), 59 Milvain (5+4), 60 L’Huillier (2+5) and 61 Bailey (3+3) behind winner Krokstad Terjr of NOR (0+2).
For the 20 km Individual on 8 February there was light snow, snow temperature was -10 degrees C and air temperature -9.5 degrees C. Results were: 62 Jortikka, 65 Milvain, 66 Brady, 67 Field, behind winner Anotol Alyabyey of USSR.
The 3 x 7.5 km Relay was held on 10 February in light snow, with a very cold snow temperature of -21 degrees C and air temperature of -23.5 degrees C. The AUS team of Jortikka, Milvain and L’Huillier finished in 16th position.