MOUNT ITASCA, Minnesota – After a winter which had already seen below zero (F) temperatures in Minnesota, no one really expected 33 degrees with rain for Saturday’s Sprint competition at the US IBU Cup Selection Trials, but that’s exactly what they got.
It rained for hours prior to the start, and only turned to huge, wet flakes of snow mid-way through the race. Conditions were predictably slow, but Wynn Roberts (National Guard) didn’t let that keep him off the top step of the podium. He finished the 10k course with a time of 23:35.0 after shooting clean in the prone stage, and only missing one in the standing.
Mark Johnson (Mt. Itasca Biathlon) was hard on his heels however, and if he had not missed one prone shot and another standing, the podium could have looked different as he was only 15 seconds behind (23:50.1).
Bill Bowler (Biathlon Alberta) was third at 23:54.7 after missing two prone and two standing.
Corrine Malcolm (US National Team) set the pace for the women as the wet snow continued to fall, with three total misses (2 prone, 1 standing), finishing the 7.5k course in 21:45.3.
1.1 seconds separated her from second-place Hannah Dreissigacker (Craftsbury GRP/US National Team), which was a great result considering she had one more miss in the shooting stage than Malcolm.
Also with four total misses, coming across the line in 22:06.3, was Katrina Howe (MWSC).
The snow continued into the night, and conditions for the Pursuit on Sunday were much more satisfying for athletes and coaches alike, as well as the Mt. Itasca course volunteers. Several inches of new snow had been worked into the trail surface for significantly faster conditions, and morning temps in the low 20s felt perfect.
Hannah Dreissigacker would be fastest for the women as she covered the 10k course in 31:36.4 and shot the best of any of the seniors, men or women, with only 4 misses over 4 shooting stages. Katrina Howe and Corrine Malcolm joined Dreissigacker on the podium again, with 5 and 7 misses respectively.
Bill Bowler stood on the top step Sunday with Wynn Roberts in second and Raleigh Goessling (MWSC) in third. Bowler had 7 misses to Robert’s 8 and Goessling’s 10, and finished the 12.5k course in 32:12.
Monday was make-or-break for the athletesm, as anyone who wanted to travel to Europe as part of the IBU Cup team for race 4 would likely need to notch the win today. Anyone lagging too far behind the first place finisher might be out of the running for a discretionary selection. The overall points winners for the weekend’s three races could count on a spot at the starting line for IBU Cup 4 in Otepaa Estonia on January 4th.
The format was a 15k Mass Start for the men and 12.5k for the women. Bill Bowler would be the victor today, shooting two better than Roberts, who missed 7 total. Wynn Roberts skied well though, and even with two more penalty loops than Bowler, only finished approximately 30 seconds off the pace. Mark Johnson followed him, with Michael Gibson (Vermont Biathlon) and Raleigh Goessling next.
Hannah Dreissigacker managed to hang on to first place and finish 8 seconds ahead of Katrina Howe, even with 3 misses compared with Howe’s exceptional results of only 2 misses over 4 stages. Corrine Malcolm joined them on the podium again in third but had a disappointing day on the range with 8 shots outside the black.
Based on results from all three events, USBA announced later Monday afternoon that the primary selections for the US IBU Cup Team would be Bill Bowler and Hannah Dreissigacker, with Wynn Roberts and Katrina Howe named as discretionary selections. Those athletes will join Jeremy Teela and Tracy Barnes, who qualified for the December period of IBU Cups, and Jay Hakkinen and Lanny Barnes, who raced the first period of World Cups but are moving down to the second tier of racing.
USBA announced that seven athletes will remain on the World Cup, based on results from the first period of racing: Tim Burke, Lowell Bailey, Russell Currier, Leif Nordgren, Susan Dunklee, Sara Studebaker, and Annelies Cook.
Full results for the weekend’s races, including Masters, Juniors, and Youth are available at www.minnesotabiathlon.com.
-Chelsea Little contributed reporting.