BIATHLON: It might be one of the toughest Olympic sports on the program but nothing is slowing down young gun Darcie Morton as she continues her rise through the biathlon ranks.
The 17-year-old from East Gippsland has had an exceptionally busy year competing at the World Junior Championships before upstaging many of her more-fancied rivals at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The daughter of Torino 2006 Olympian Cameron and sister of top Australian men's athlete Damon, Darcie has recently wrapped up the Australian winter season and is pleased with the progress she is making.
"Overall, I was happy with the results and also my training," Morton said after winning both the U/19 individual and sprint event at the 2016 Australian Championships.
"My shooting wasn't as good as I would have liked it to be but I feel I am skiing faster. I completed some really solid training with the Australian team and Winter Youth Games coach Luca Bormolini and my health is better than it was this time last year so I am super optimistic for the future."
The results come off the back of some great performances in Lillehammer where she finished 16th in the sprint and 26th in the pursuit event.
"Lillehammer 2016 was an amazing experience and having competed there I now feel confident to do more international competitions and step up further next season."
With her best year date almost behind her, Morton is now looking to the next chapter of her burgeoning career as she prepares to head back overseas in pursuit of another successful European season.
"I am about to head back to Livigno, Italy, where I will train with Luca Bormolini and attend high school to improve my Italian while also studying German, Chemistry and Biology VCE via Distance Education.
"Luca is planning to have me train alongside a couple of really strong girls who are in the Italian national cross country skiing team and are a year or two older than me. I think this will not only challenge me to keep improving but will put me an environment where training is fun and stimulating."
Morton is aiming to race in the IBU Cup in December in a bid to qualify for the 2017 World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria. She will then drop back to the juniors and aim for some strong results ahead of the Junior World Championships.
And while there is plenty on the calendar, Morton is not pushing herself too hard too early in pursuit of her Olympic dreams.
"I am just content in progressing at the best rate I can and I think it is too much pressure to be dreaming of PyeongChang.
"I am quite aware that Biathlon is a long term development sport and I will just train as optimally as I can and keep an opened mind where the results can surprise me - like in Lillehammer!
"But there will be no surprise with the work that I put in on the training track - it will be high."