Vermont biathlete Tara Geraghty-Moats spent the year training at a Swedish ski gymnasium, with the goal of improving her shooting thanks to full-time coaching; it paid off with a win in the junior sprint at Swedish Championships. In a month, she’ll move back to the U.S. to train with Algis Shalna and focus on the next World Juniors in Presque Isle, Maine.
After a successful demo in the small Alaskan village of Kiana last year, former national team biathlete Zach Hall coordinated an effort to introduce biathlon to six villages this year as part of Lars Flora’s NANANordic program. For kids in the villages, the combination of skiing and hunting just makes sense; for the athlete coaches, it was the experience of a lifetime.
At just 22 years of age, both Sophie Caldwell and Scott Gow competed in their first World Championships. A skier for SMS T2, Caldwell made several sprint quarterfinals on the World Cup this year, including placing 20th at World Champs. Gow contributed big to the Canadian biathlon team, finishing 31st in the 20 k individual at senior Championships, where he was also the youngest competitor to qualify for the pursuit.
With the Olympics looming, the U.S. Biathlon Association cut its national team to the smallest it has been in years, with no new members and only one athlete under the age of 25; development was cut almost completely. President and CEO Max Cobb hopes that good performances in Sochi will be a rising tide that lifts all boats in his sport.
2012 World Junior Champion Kurtis Wenzel began mulling retirement in December; despite his first World Cup start and a national title, come April, it still felt like the right decision. The Canadian biathlon team is also losing 2012 Female Biathlete of the Year Melanie Schultz, who struggled to find her ski speed – and motivation – all season.
Former college skiers Susan Dunklee, Annelies Cook, and Hannah Dreissigacker decided not to go straight to vacation when their World Cup biathlon season ended. Instead, they’re racing SuperTour finals – for most, the first classic races and first sprints of the season. After a collection of top-ten results, it looks like a good decision, but they’re also keeping things fun with an intra-team “Biathlon Cup” competition.
After Trip to Test Out Sochi, First National Title is ‘Perfect Way to End Season’ for Canada’s Wenzel
In his first year as a senior, Canada’s Kurtis Wenzel – last year’s World Junior Champion in the individual – saw his season progress as normal. Then, at the very end, things got exciting: he got the surprise call to race in his first World Cup, at the Olympic venue in Sochi, then returned home to win his first national championship.
Audrey Vaillancourt (Quebec) made it two for two, winning the pursuit at Canadian Biathlon Championships at Whistler Olympic Park on Sunday. Vaillancourt started first after her Saturday sprint victory and finished first despite missing four shots (1+0+1+2) in 31:43.4 for the fastest ski time of the day.
Fourcade Secures Last of Biathlon’s Five Crystal Globes with Mass Start Win; Burke Fourth in Sprint Finish
After blunders in Saturday’s pursuit, Martin Fourcade of France was back to his winning ways in the mass start, and has become the first man since Raphael Poiree to sweep all of the crystal globes. American Tim Burke was in the pack fighting for second, but despite pushing Emil Hegle Svendsen to his absolute limit had to settle for fourth by just 0.3 seconds.
Even Gabriela Soukalova’s mother, an Olympic silver medalist, was impressed with the dominant performances the 23-year-old from the Czech Republic has put on in Khanty Mansiysk this weekend. Marie Dorin Habert of France and Kaisa Makarainen of Finland rounded out the podium in the 12.5 k mass start.
Christoph Sumann was having a bad run of things. Just two weeks ago, you could find the 37-year-old former Olympic medalist dabbling in ski races – classic ski races – at home in Austria. But in today’s pursuit in Russia, the biathlete was back at the top of his game, shooting a perfect 20-for-20 while Martin Fourcade seemed a shell of his former self, accumulating five penalties.
In Final World Cup of Season, an ‘Epic Fail’ for Dunklee; Cook’s Three Perfect Stages Undone By One Bad One
As Gabriela Soukalova took her lead from the sprint and turned it into another victory in the 10 k pursuit, U.S. biathletes Annelies Cook and Susan Dunklee ended their World Cup seasons on a bitter note: after too many penalties, neither was able to qualify for the mass start. Dunklee added insult to injury by cross-firing on the wrong targets and receiving a time penalty. Still, though, she said it was a fun week.
Coming off the high of a top-five in Sochi, Russia, last weekend, U.S. Biathlon’s Tim Burke continued the momentum on Friday in Khanty-Mansiysk with a ninth-place finish in the 10 k sprint, the third-to-last race of the World Cup season. Lowell Bailey also had a strong finish in 11th place, two seconds behind Burke with perfect shooting.
Gabriela Soukalova didn’t want to race Thursday morning. Who could blame her? It was freezing in Siberia and she was set to start a 7.5 k sprint that evening. The Czech overcame her dread and won the IBU World Cup race over Germany’s Andrea Henkel and Miriam Gössner. Susan Dunklee led the Americans in 29th.
The Canadians will be the first to admit that things didn’t go so well for them at the recent World Cups in Sochi. But they aren’t letting it get them down – after all, next year is a completely different training cycle, and they won’t be peaking for anything but the Olympics. With an unusually full roster that even included Brendan Green, they made the most of their preview.