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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

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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…

Bailey and Egan Capture Last Wins of U.S. Biathlon Trials Series

Lowell Bailey and Clare Egan won the final sprint competitions of a four-race rollerski biathlon series held in Jericho, Vermont. The races, organized by the U.S. Biathlon Association, serve as trials to select teams for an on-snow camp later this fall in Canmore, Alberta, and eventually for the first period of World Cup racing. Both Bailey, the 2017 World Champion in the 20 k individual, and Egan, who notched her first World Championships top-20 last season, are pre-qualified for that trip. Bailey shot perfectly in Sunday’s 10 k sprint, winning by 27 seconds over Sean Doherty and making it a clean sweep as the top American in all four of the trials races (two were held in August, and one on Saturday). Doherty and third-place Leif Nordgren each had three penalties, but Doherty was quicker; Nordgren finished 42.3 seconds behind Bailey. Paul Schommer missed two shots and finished fourth (+1:14.0),…

Bailey, Dreissigacker Win Jericho Sprints as Part of Trials Series

Lowell Bailey and Emily Dreissigacker claimed wins at the Ethan Allen Biathlon Range in Jericho, Vermont, on Saturday, as the U.S. Biathlon Association held rollerski sprint races as part of a trials series that will help them select teams for the World Cup this winter. Another sprint race will be held on Sunday, after which point at least two and possibly up to four athletes will find out that they are invited to attend an on-snow training camp in Canmore, Alberta, later this fall, from which the team for the first period of World Cups will be chosen. These athletes will join those which are prequalified for the camp and the World Cups: Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan, Bailey, Tim Burke, Sean Doherty, and Leif Nordgren. The additional athletes will be picked based on their best three of four results from the trials race series: two races in August, and the…

Dunklee, Bailey, Currier Are National Champions

The U.S. biathlon season concluded this weekend, with Susan Dunklee picking up three national titles, Lowell Bailey two, and Russell Currier one as the domestic and World Cup fields converged in Jericho, Vermont. 90 athletes competed in the season finale, with an open and eight age group champions crowned for both men and women. In the senior field, Dunklee dominated, picking up a 1:54.5 win over Joanne Reid in the sprint. Their World Cup teammate Clare Egan took third, +2:17.5. Dunklee’s win came despite three penalties; Reid and Egan each had four. Kelsey Dickinson of the College of Saint Scholastica took fourth with two penalties, the best shooting in the women’s field, +2:20.4. In the men’s sprint, Currier of Maine’s Outdoor Sports Institute took the first win of the weekend by 10.8 seconds over Bailey, despite two penalties to the World Champion’s one. Leif Nordgren was third, +39.0 with three missed shots. Paul Schommer of the national team and Moose Biathlon was…

North American/Canadian Biathlon Championships Recap

The 2017 North American and Canadian Biathlon Championships were held as a single event last week in Canmore, Alberta, with sprints, individual races, pursuits, and relays taking place March 8-12. On Day 1, Matt Neumann of British Columbia took the victory in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint, beating American Max Durtschi of US Biathlon by 18.9 seconds in 29:28.5 minutes. American Bill Bowler finished third (+46.5), and all three of the podium finishers shot 9-for-10, with Neumann and Durtschi missing a standing shot and Bowler missing one in prone. In the junior men’s 10 k sprint, Pearce Hanna (Alberta) shot clean to win in 29:22.9, while Trevor Kiers (Ontario) finished 1:20.6 back in second with one penalty (0+1). Also shooting clean, Teo Sanchez (Quebec) finished third (+3:36). Four junior women raced 7.5 k, with Alberta’s Darya Sepandj taking the win by 1:23.2 minutes in 26:40.8. Sepandj won despite four penalties (1+3), Emily…

Dreissigacker Snags Top 30s on IBU Cup

Emily Dreissigacker led the way for the U.S. biathlon team in Brezno-Osrblie, Slovakia, last weekend, with a pair of top-30 results on the IBU Cup. The Craftsbury Green Racing Project athlete started with a 27th-place finish in the 7.5 k sprint, missing one shot to finish +2:22.1. She followed that up in the 10 k pursuit by collecting just three penalties and moving up one spot to 26th. Germany’s Denise Herrmann won the sprint on Friday – her second IBU Cup win. The former cross-country skier failed in her bid to make this year’s biathlon World Championships on a strong German women’s team, but is still a force to be reckoned with. She bested Russia’s Daria Virolaynen by 18.6 seconds despite having one penalty to Virolaynen’s clean shooting. Among other North Americans, Canada’s Leilani Tam von Burg was 41st (+3:37.9) and Erin Yungblut 44th (+4:06.4), each with three penalties. Team USA’s Hallie Grossman finished 48th (+4:40.0) with six missed shots. In the…

Open European Championships Finish Up in Poland

By Erin Yungblut DUSZNIKI-ZDROJ, Poland — After a rough start for North America in the 15/20-kilometer individual races last Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Open European Championships continued in Poland with extremely high-calibre racing and tight fields for the sprint, pursuit, and mixed relays over the weekend. With many World Cup biathletes donning bibs, the sprint fields were tight and fast with little room for error. For North America, Paul Schommer and Alex Howe squeaked into Saturday’s pursuit, placing 58th and 59th, respectively, in Friday’s 10 k sprint. The North American women were undone by shooting woes and none qualified for the pursuit — the downhill range approach made for good shooting overall in the field, but a few bouts in all the races over the weekend seemed to be affected by shaky legs in a number of athletes. After some tough prone shooting, both Schommer and Howe shot well standing and moved up to to…