DOBBIACO, ITALY – Military athletes from 12 Nations gathered together at Dobbiaco, Italy on February 1-6 for the 61st CaSTA international military ski competition. Hosted by the Italian Army’s Alpini Corps, this competition includes the combined results from alpine, Nordic and biathlon races for a Friendship Trophy among friend and allied nation’s armies in the spirit of Partnership for Peace. The USA was represented by U.S. Army and National Guard athletes and finished in 3rd place behind the winning host Italian team. Italy’s points total was 50 with Romania finishing 2nd with 29. The US team’s total was 26 with Germany and Spain finishing 4th and 5th with 21 and 20 points. Twelve nations took part.
The U.S. team’s best result came in the men’s team sprint competition with the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program member Jesse Downs and the Vermont Army National Guard’s Sam Morse. Downs and Morse finished 2nd to the German team of Jens Filbrich and Axel Teichmann with Italy finishing 3rd, 2.3 seconds behind the Americans. Downs and Morse also finished 9th and 11th in the 15 km Freestyle cross-country race and then teamed up with Minnesota Army National Guard’s Brian Olsen and Blake Hillerson for the 25 km military patrol race. Olsen who was a 2006 Olympic Biathlon team member at Torino finished 16th in the cross-country race. Germany’s Tom Reichelt was the men’s 15 km race winner with a time of 31:13.2. Italy’s Fabio Pasini and Sergio Bonaldi were 2nd and 3rd with German Rene Sommerfeld 4th. Downs finished in 34:21.0 while Morse and Olsen finished with a time of 34:52.2 and 36:21.1. The women’s 10 km Freestyle race was won by Italy’s Elisa Brocard with Germany’s Katrin Zellner 2nd, 0.4 seconds behind and Romania’s Mihaela Purdea 3rd. The Vermont Army National Guard’s Annaliese Baumer finished 8th for the US team.
As are many of the nations participating in this competition, Germany’s best nordic skiers and biathletes such as Teichman, Filbrich and Sommerfeld are members of the German military’s sport teams. The U.S. Army and the National Guard provide similar opportunities to competitive skiers in the U.S. through the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and the National Guard’s Biathlon Program. Both Jesse Downs and Sam Morse were state scholastic ski champions from the same High School in Camden, New York prior to their collegiate skiing at Northern Michigan University and Clarkson University and their entry into the military.