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IBU Keeps World Cup in Russia, Slated for March, On Schedule

At an Executive Board meeting at the Olympics, the IBU (International Biathlon Union) decided not to move a World Cup competition in March away from Tyumen, Russia, even though Russia is currently not compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.

Two second-tier IBU Cup competitions will also go on as scheduled, one weekend in Uvat, Russia, and the other in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

“Firstly, the IOC had no concerns that all the competitions awarded to Russia before RUSADA was officially declared non-compliant were to be organised and conducted according to the initial plans and schedules,” the IBU wrote in a press release as their justification for the decision. “The IBU decided on the schedule for the 2017/2018 season prior to RUSADAs non-compliance.”

But the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is still not deemed compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency and that’s very unlikely to change between now and March. And the IBU itself had previously downgraded the Russian Biathlon Union to provisional membership in its international federation; three biathletes were disqualified from the 2014 Olympics for doping.

In December, Biathlon Canada wrote a letter to the IBU stating that they would boycott the event if it was to be held in Tyumen.

“We have a nation whose anti-doping organization is non-compliant, WADA code non-compliant in the Russian Anti Doping Agency,” Biathlon Canada President Murray Wylie told FasterSkier at the time. “So our pitch has been — Biathlon Canada, the Canadian federation — if you are WADA non-compliant, then you should be not hosting any IBU events, major IBU events… We voiced that quite strongly and that essentially is what we are saying.”

There have already been some reactions regarding the decision.

“Hugely disappointed with the [IBU] decision today to, despite considerable pressure, to keep the [World Cup] in Russia,” Monday’s Olympic pursuit silver medalist Sebastian Samuelson of Sweden tweeted, according to a translation.

Having the event in Tyumen would be “a huge, huge affront to clean athletes,” U.S. biathlete (and World Champion) Lowell Bailey told ESPN’s Bonnie Ford in an article published on Tuesday. “That’s saying to the world, to the athletes on the World Cup, the IBU executive board has no problem with doping, and they actually, in a sense, reward federations that dope. Because that’s a reward. It’s a monetary reward, pride, all of those things.”

Samuelsson was rewarded with numerous twitter replies from Russian accounts telling him to stay home, one of which called him a baby and another of which said he was “not welcome in Russia”.

Along with the abuse and threats hurled at Czech women who gained a 2014 Olympic relay medal after Russia was disqualified for doping, that might partly explain why athletes are in fact reluctant to go to Russia.

“Tensions are so high right now, [competing in Russia] is not something I feel comfortable risking,” American biathlete Susan Dunklee said in the same ESPN article.

A similar fight played out differently last season, when the Czech and British teams led a boycott threat of that season’s scheduled World Cups in Tyumen. That time, the IBU relented and moved the competitions.

U.S. Biathletes Plan a Racing Month in Norway, Seek Sponsors

With a month-long break in the IBU Cup schedule partly due to the Olympics, a group of American biathletes are planning a training and racing trip to Norway. Jake Brown, Paul Schommer, and Max Durtschi are coming off of Open European Championships in Ridnaun, Italy, where Schommer had a top finish of 46th in the 20 k individual, Brown was 74th in the same race, and Durtschi was 56th. “The trio comes from a diverse array of backgrounds ranging from professional cycling to collegiate track and field, however Nordic skiing has served as a common thread for all since high school,” the athletes write in a press release. “All three are current or former residents of the Olympic Training Center located in Lake Placid, NY where they train as members of the US Biathlon team… Having pushed each other in countless training sessions, Brown, Durtschi, and Schommer now look to be motivated by top level international…

Biathlon Canada’s Olympic Team Announced

On Tuesday, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced the 10-athlete roster for Biathlon Canada’s 2018 Winter Olympic team. According to a press release, five women and five men were named to the team, which will race in PyeongChang, South Korea, next month. The team includes Rosanna Crawford, who’s coming off her first career podium at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany. Three days after finishing third in the 15-kilometer individual, she placed fourth in the 12.5 k mass start this past Sunday. “I’m extremely proud to be able to represent Canada at my third Olympics!” Crawford said, according to the release. “ The team has had a great season so far and I’m looking forward to carrying this momentum into the Olympics!” Also on the women’s team is another two-time Olympian Megan Tandy, as well as Julia Ransom (who has placed ninth on the World Cup twice…

Nordgren and Currier Make Olympics as U.S. Biathlon Finalizes Team

Leif Nordgren and Russell Currier have been named to U.S. Biathlon’s team for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. They will join Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, and Sean Doherty, meaning that the team will be identical to that at the 2014 Olympics. The women’s team for PyeongChang was finalized earlier this week. The decision came after an IBU Cup sprint in Arber, Germany, on Saturday, that was the culmination of a four-competition selection series. The first two races were IBU Cup sprints in Brezno-Osrblie, Slovakia, earlier this month, and the third competition was a time trial in Arber. In that 10 k sprint, Nordgren finished 16th, 59.2 seconds behind race winner Vetle Sjastad Christiansen of Norway. It was a day after he had traveled to Ruhpolding, Germany, to fill out the U.S. men’s relay team, and then back to Arber again. Paul Schommer was 33rd in the Arber sprint (+1:53.9),…

U.S. Names Women’s Olympic Biathlon Team; Dreissigacker 5th in Arber IBU Cup

The U.S. Biathlon Association has announced that Emily Dreissigacker, Maddie Phaneuf, and Joanne Reid will join Susan Dunklee and Clare Egan at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Dunklee and Egan were already qualified for the team, with Dunklee winning a silver medal in the 12.5 k mass start at 2017 World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria, and Egan having the next best results on the World Cup of any other American woman in December. Dreissigacker, Phaneuf, and Reid were chosen based on two IBU Cup competitions in Slovakia and an IBU Cup and a time trial in Germany. Just missing out on an Olympic berth was Chloe Levins, who also made the short list and competed in the four races. In the final selection race, Emily Dreissigacker notched a career-best IBU Cup finish of fifth place in the 15 k individual in Arber, Germany, on Thursday. She shot a…

US Biathlon’s 2018 Youth/Junior Worlds Team

The U.S. Junior/Youth World Championship Trials took place Dec. 28-29 in Coleraine, Minnesota, with men’s and women’s sprint races both days, according to a US Biathlon press release. From those two-day trials, cut short due to frigid forecasts on Dec. 30-31, the IBU Youth and Junior World Championships team was named. This year’s championships are Feb. 26-March 4 in Otepää, Estonia. Complete trials results The teams named Dec. 30 are as follows: Female Junior World Championship Team Chloe Levins (Rutland, Vt./VT Biathlon/Mountain Top Nordic Ski Club) – pre qualified from last season and IBU Cup Team Amanda Kautzer (Plymouth, Minn./Loppet Nordic Racing/Michigan) Lucy Hochshartner (Casper Mtn. Biathlon) Nina Armstrong (Lake Placid, N.Y./Harvard College) Female Youth World Championship Team Helen Wilson (Eagle River, Alaska/Alaska Biathlon) Grace Gilliland (Eagle River, Alaska/Alaska Biathlon) Lexie Madigan (Truckee, Calif./Auburn Ski Club) Emma Stertz (Grand Rapids, Minn./Mt. Itasca) Male Junior World Championship Team Cody Johnson (Fort Kent, Maine/Outdoor Sports Institute) Jake Pearson (Casper, Wyo./Casper Mountain Biathlon Club) Tim…

US Names IBU Cup Team, From Which Final Olympic Selections To Be Made

The U.S. Biathlon Association has named the shortlist from which its final team for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, will be selected. Lowell Bailey, Susan Dunklee, Tim Burke, Sean Doherty, and Clare Egan are already qualified, and will return to World Cup racing in Oberhof, Germany, in January, to make their final preparations for the Games. The rest of the potential team members will compete at two IBU Cup weekends in January, in Brezno, Slovakia, and Arber, Germany. That includes Emily Dreissigacker, Leif Nordgren, and Paul Schommer, who are moving down after competing on the World Cup during the first period of racing, as well as Maddie Phaneuf, Joanne Reid, Chloe Levins, Russell Currier, and Jake Ellingson, who earned their spots after selection trials in Mount Itasca, Minnesota. Nordgren had the best World Cup results of the group, contributing to a ninth-place men’s relay effort and racing to…

Russian Biathlon Union Downgraded to Provisional Membership

On Sunday at the conclusion of the World Cup weekend in Hochfilzen, Austria, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced its Executive Board decision to relegate the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) to provisional membership for the remainder of the 2017/2018 season. Based on a press release, which refers to the IBU Rules outlined in its 2016 Constitution, and IBU President Anders Besseberg, who spoke at a press conference on Sunday, Russia can continue to enter athletes and host IBU events and competitions, including the season-ending World Cup in Tyumen, Russia, March 20-25. The RBU can participate at IBU Congress meetings but it cannot vote — at least until the IBU Executive Board decides whether or not to restore its full membership next spring. The decision came as a direct result of the IOC’s recent move to ban Russia as a delegation at the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics. “It means in practice,…

Herrmann and Fourcade Win Sjusjøen Sprints, Scott Gow 29th

Germany’s Denise Herrmann and France’s Martin Fourcade started the international biathlon season off with wins on Saturday, besting a diverse field in Sjusjøen, Norway. In the women’s 7.5 k sprint, Herrmann missed a shot in standing, but nevertheless took an 8.7-second victory over Nadezhda Skardino of Belarus. Irina Kryuko, also of Belarus, was third 22.6 seconds behind Herrmann, even though both she and her teammate shot clean. Kryuko narrowly made the podium: France’s Anais Bescond was close behind in fourth (+23.5), Norway’s Hilde Fenne in fifth (+26.4), Ukraine’s Julia Zhuravok in sixth (+26.6), and Belarus’s Darya Domracheva in seventh (+28.7). In the men’s 10 k sprint, last year’s overall World Cup winner Fourcade took a convincing 13.2-second win over Erlend Bjøntegaard of Norway, with both men shooting clean. “It’s good for the confidence to have this result,” Fourcade told Norway’s NRK broadcaster. “I will try to get the same [results] this season as last year, although it may be difficult.” Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Bø rallied for third place and despite…

US Biathlon Names World Cup Team for Trimester 1

(Note: The following has been updated to include comments from US Biathlon Chief of Sport Bernd Eisenbichler and Joanne Reid.) On Tuesday, US Biathlon’s International Competition Committee (ICC) met to finalize its team for the first trimester of International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup racing (World Cups 1, 2 and 3), selecting five men and four women. According to a team press release, Paul Schommer (who was named to US Biathlon’s A 3 Team in April) will join Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Leif Nordgren, and Sean Doherty on the men’s team, while Kelsey Dickinson (who won US Biathlon’s rollerski trials) and B-team member Emily Dreissigacker will join Susan Dunklee and Clare Egan on the women’s team. Notably, Joanne Reid (A 3 Team), who was also in the running for World Cup starts, was not selected for the first trimester of racing. In an email, US Biathlon Chief of Sport Bernd Eisenbichler explained that…