When Russell Currier (Outdoor Sports Institute) was selected to the U.S. World Cup team after a one-year absence, there was just one piece of outstanding business: he was no longer qualified for the World Cup. So that entailed an early-season trip to the second-tier IBU Cup to re-make qualification criteria.
Currier raced in the 10 k sprint in Beitostolen, Norway, on Friday to do just that. He was the only American athlete there, and traveled with one coach, U.S. men’s team coach Jonas Johansson. The one-day reintroduction to international racing was far from dull for the skeleton crew.
Currier faced few problems on his skis, cruising to the tenth-fastest course time.
“Ski speed was better than expected,” he wrote in an email. “Two days of travel and jet lag, a one-man wax team and not the best feeling in the legs had my expectations on the lower end.”
But Currier shot two penalties in each of his stages, with some added challenges in standing.
“I accidentally ejected a magazine,” he explained. “It proceeded to bounce off the mat and beyond the firing line. Normally there is a coach with a spare clip for in these situations… [but] Jonas was checking my shots [on a digital network] without having to be in front of a scope. So, I had to wait for a race official to figure out what I was yelling about. The official that came over had, coincidentally, five rounds on him that I was able to reload my prone mag with. Still, the winds were so obnoxious that hitting three of five with a 50+/- second rest didn’t help.”
Currier had to hurry his way to the finish and his time, +3:09.4 from winner Vetle Sjastad Christiansen of Norway, earned him 44th place and points of 111.85 – just sneaking under the 125-point cutoff for World Cup qualification.
The whole experience was a bit wild.
“There was some pressure because I didn’t know what to expect,” Currier wrote. “It had been so long since my last race with this field. After my standing stage folly, I was more nervous.”
But he has since rejoined the U.S. team in Östersund, Sweden, where he will compete in the World Cup 20 k individual on Thursday.
“The whole race could have been so much worse and so much better,” Currier wrote. “The goal was to do well enough to make the points and then be in Östersund with the rest of the team ASAP, so with that in mind the race was a success.”