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Wild Rumpus Sports

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

Leif Nordgren (US Biathlon) skiing the second leg of the IBU World Cup men’s 4 x 7.5 k relay in Hochfilzen, Austria, this month. The U.S. men ended up ninth overall out of 26 teams; Nordgren will head to the IBU Cup circuit in January to battle for an Olympic roster spot. (Photo: IBU/NordicFocus)

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 56th in the sprint in Annecy-Le Grand-Bornand, France, before improving to 48th in the pursuit there.

Dressigacker had a top finish of 81st on the World Cup, coming in the 15 k individual in Östersund, Sweden. In the 20 k individual the same week, Schommer tied for 69th, his best finish of the racing period.

From the trials races in Minnesota, Phaneuf (US Biathlon) the first sprint – by 37.6 seconds over Reid (US Biathlon/Colorado Biathlon), with clean shooting to Reid’s one penalty – and last  sprint, by 16.5 seconds over Levins (US Biathlon/Mountain Top Nordic), with each having three penalties. Reid won the Dec. 16 sprint by a whopping minute and 14 seconds over Levins, thanks to the only clean shooting in the field. And  Levins won the Dec. 17 mass start by 10.1 seconds over Phaneuf, with each missing three shots in the four-stage race.

Currier, of U.S. Biathlon and the Outdoor Sports Institute in Maine picked up two wins in the trials series: the Dec. 15 sprint, by 25.8 seconds over Alex Howe of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project; and the Dec. 17 mass start by 15.1 seconds over Ellingson (Mount Itasca/National Guard) despite three missed shots to Ellingson’s one.

Two men won trials races outright but didn’t make the team. Howe was the top finisher in the Dec. 16 sprint, beating Ellingson by 3.1 seconds despite an additional penalty. And the final men’s sprint on Dec. 19 had a surprise win by junior Vasek Cervenka (Mount Itasca), who bested Raleigh Goessling (NIA) by 27.9 seconds with each having two penalties. But Currier and Ellingson were more consistent in their performances, with Ellingson never winning but finishing on the podium three times.

From the IBU Cup squad, three women and two men will be selected. The races will be scored based on a ranking of only the U.S. athletes and their relative time differences, with the best two results from each athlete counting. The competition formats are two sprints in Brezno, and an individual and a sprint competition in Arber. More information on the scoring process can be found here.

Trials results:

Dec 15 / Dec 16 / Dec 17 / Dec 19