By Piotr Bednarski | US Biathlon Director of Development
CORELAINE, Minn. — The mass start always makes for the most exciting biathlon event — with all competitors starting together and shooting at the same time. Four shooting stages with 15 km of skiing for the men, and 12.5 km for the women make it one of the longest biathlon events. With heavy snow at times, and gusty winds, Tuesday’s mass starts did not disappoint with some excitement on the shooting range. The slow conditions and steep Mt. Itasca climbs helped the fastest skiers make up some that time lost in penalties.
In the women’s race, biathlon turned the previous days results on their head. Eighteen-year-old Anna Kubek, who had been struggling with her shooting the first two day, came out swinging, missing 4 targets. Kubek led after the 2nd shooting, and grew her lead to 1:45 ahead of second place. Clare Egan (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) is new to biathlon, but has made rapid progress. She had the fastest ski split of the day, and with 9 penalties, still managed 2nd place. Tracy Barnes, Durango Biathlon, had no misses her first two races at Mt Itasca, but she struggled today with 7 misses, finishing 2:15 out.
In the men’s 15 km, Russell Currier (MWSC), came out on top — by 5 seconds — catching Casey Smith (MWSC) in the last kilometer after some really fast skiing to overcome 7 penalties on the range. Casey Smith had the best shooting on the day, with 2 misses out of 20, and led most of the race. Raleigh Goessling made it a MWSC sweep to finish third with 8 penalties, 1:48 out. Top local was Mark Johnson of Mt Itasca Biathlon, taking a break from medical school exams, to finish 4th with 4 penalties, 2:37 out.