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US Biathlon Names World Cup Team for Trimester 1

Emily Dreissigacker (Craftsbury Green Racing Project/USBA B-team) racing to fifth in the women’s sprint at 2017 US Biathlon Rollerski Championships on Aug. 12 in Jericho, Vt. (Photo: John Lazenby/Lazenbyphoto.com)

(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 the decision to take Schommer was more straightforward than choosing between Dreissigacker and Reid.

“[Schommer] was the clear winner of the trials and showed a good and improving level as well as really good attitude throughout the whole training season, so it was a very logical and clear call,” he Eisenbichler.

“It was very tight between Emily and Joanne,” he continued. “We collected a lot of data over the training period for both and looked at that as well as on all the races they competed against each other, especially on the last ones in Canmore. Analysing all of that together, Emily just a had a very tiny advantage over Joanne.”

Reid struggled with health issues during the offseason and “missed some key training” as a result, Eisenbichler explained. “But the last weeks in Canmore showed already that she is on the right track back to a good performance level. We feel that she needs still a good training block now to make sure she is on top of her game from Jan. – March. We all know about her potential and capacity and are not worried about her coming back strong in January.”

In an email, Reid focused on praising Dreissigacker.

“We are all incredibly proud of Emily, who absolutely, beyond a doubt, earned her stripes this year, Reid wrote. “The goal is to put the four women who will perform the best in World Cups 1-3 onto the World Cup team and Emily is one of those women.

“She’s a solid shooter, which is just as important as ski speed in this sport, and when the chips are down she performs,” she continued. “She’s a biathlete I would want on my relay team any day, and to come from last year (when we only started three women in the first world cups) and now to have four solid women and to be able to start a relay is a blessing and will really help out this team.  A World Cup start is a privilege, not a right, and I really admire the ICC for the tough choices they have to make -but this choice would have been an easy one.”

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the ICC determined the pre-qualification criteria for next season’s (2018/2019) World Cups 1, 2 and 3. Athletes who achieve at one top-25 result this World Cup season or at the 2018 Olympic Games will be eligible. The U.S. will pre-qualify up to three athletes per gender, unless three or fewer start spots exist. In that instance, “up to one less than the start spots can be pre-qualified (i.e. 2 can pre-qualify if only 3 start spots),” the press release stated.

The IBU World Cup opens Nov. 26-Dec. 3 in Östersund, Sweden.

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