The U.S. Biathlon Association has announced its 2012-13 national team, which consists of 12 returning members and a single new nomination.
The squad is led by five Americans who achieved top-ten results on the 2012 World Cup circuit, and were rewarded with “A1” nomination: Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, Russell Currier, Jay Hakkinen, and Susan Dunklee. In total, seven women and six men will make up next year’s national team, a slight decrease from last year’s size.
Comings and Goings
The vast majority of last year’s national team was renominated for 2013. The two departing members are Bill Bowler and Wynn Roberts; Bowler competed in several IBU Cup races this year, topping out with finishes of 29th and 26th in Canmore, while Roberts, a 2010 Olympian, did not see international action and began racing for the National Guard partway through the season.
They are replaced by Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, VT), a member of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project ski team who has competed in a few biathlon races for each of the past seasons. Dreissigacker’s best ski results this year were seventh place in the skate sprint at U.S. National Championships, fifth place in the 5 k classic at Canadian Nationals, and seventh in the American Birkebeiner marathon.
In biathlon, she finished 26th in the individual race at Open European Championships in Brezno, Slovakia, and 16th at an IBU Cup sprint in Canmore. With the national team “B” nomination, Dreissigacker will make biathlon a prime focus.
“I’m excited about being named to the team!” she told FasterSkier. “I had some lows and some highs with biathlon this past year, but I’m excited that they chose to look at the potential showed in the high points. I’ve been wanting to do something different in terms of training and life in general, and so this is the perfect opportunity to keep training but to change things up a bit and get re-energized.”
The Same at the Top
None of the team’s top talent has gone anywhere, and the U.S. will likely see the same faces leading the way in the coming season.
Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) had five top-ten finishes this season, including a tenth-place result in the sprint at World Championships in Ruhpolding, Germany, and a fourth-place finish at the final sprint in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Burke, who earned the overall yellow leader’s bib for a period back in 2009-10, had surgery for compartment syndrome last spring, and this was his first season back at full capacity. He finished 20th in the World Cup Total Score.
Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) was right alongside Burke all season, and eclipsed him in the Total Score, finishing 14th. Bailey had nine of the top twelve results of his career this year, including two fifth-place World Cup results from sprints in Kontiolahti, Finland and Östersund, Sweden. He also contributed several head-turning leadoff relay legs throughout the season.
Burke and Bailey perhaps did the most to increase visibility for the U.S. men’s team this season, as they were near the front of mass start and pursuit races late in the game on multiple occasions and often in medal position.
Veteran Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) was re-selected based on a ninth-place finish in the pursuit in Hochfilzen, Austria, and a 36th-place ranking in the Total Score.
Currier (Caribou, ME) is on the “A” team for the first time, after breaking through on the World Cup this year with a pair of surprise sixth-place finishes in sprints in Kontiolahti and Nove Mesto, Czech Repulbic.
He is joined by Dunklee (Barton, VT), who was elevated to “A1” status after placing fifth in the individual race at World Championships, tying the best Championships result ever by a U.S. woman. At the final series in Khanty-Mansiysk, Dunklee placed tenth in the sprint and moved up to ninth in the pursuit. She finished her first-ever World Cup season ranked 34th in the Total Score.
Several more veterans of the team were also nominated to “A” status, with Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) receiving an “A2” nomination and Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY) and Leif Nordgren (Marine on Saint Croix, MN) coming in at “A3”. All three competed at World Championships and contributed to tenth- and eleventh-place relay efforts by the men and women, respectively.
B Team: Focusing on Developing Women
Four women and one man will comprise next year’s “B” team on the basis of their results at IBU Cup competitions. They are led by three-time Olympian Jeremy Teela (Heber, UT), who finished 11th, 12th, and 13th in IBU Cup action, and Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO), a two-time Olympian who helped the women to their 11th-place relay finish at World Championships.
Laura Spector (Lennox, MA) and Corrine Malcolm (Hayward, WI) also return to the team; Spector had an off-season in 2012 after leading the team for the first half of the 2011 season and becoming the first U.S. woman to qualify for a World Cup mass start in six years. Malcolm fought injuries in 2012, her first season with the national team. The final team member is Dreissigacker.
2012-13 U.S. Biathlon Team
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY)
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY)
Russell Currier (Caribou, ME)
Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT)
Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK)
Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID)
Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY)
Leif Nordgren (Marine on Saint Croix, MN)
Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO)
Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, VT)
Corrine Malcolm (Hayward, WI)
Laura Spector (Lennox, MA)
Jeremy Teela (Heber, UT)