New Gloucester, ME, July 16. Doug Hoover (Williamsburg, PA) won all three men’s competitions this weekend at the North American and US Summer Biathlon National Championships in Fort Kent.
The 35-year old Hoover easily won the Sprint, Pursuit, and Mass Start competitions at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Fort Kent, from fields that featured many junior and youth competitors. As one of the most experienced competitors in the field, he was the favorite when the first Sprint competitions were on Thursday, coming through to win in 17:04 over the 4K distance. Even though he was out shot by the second and third place finishers, Alden Sims (Venus, PA) and Nick Peterson (Ely, MN), with four and three penalties to Hoover’s five penalties, the veteran proved the better runner to top the two junior division men by 49.9 seconds and 56.6 seconds.
Saturday’s 6K Pursuit saw the same three on the podium in the same places. This time, Hoover shot better than his rivals, and put more daylight between him and the younger men at the finish. In the 20 shot competition, Hoover had eight penalties, while Sims and Peterson had nine and twelve, respectively. In this longer event, Hoover finished in 27:33 to Sims’ 31:32 and Peterson’s 32:51.
Hoover’s third Championship of the weekend came in Sunday’s 6K Mass Start, when he literally shot his way to victory. Hoover matched up with Keith Woodward (Stowe, VT) a 20-year summer biathlon veteran to Hoover’s 15-year tenure. Hoover set the tone in the first two prone stages, with two total penalties to Woodward’s five. Woodward closed the gap with three penalties as Hoover faltered with four penalties in the first standing stage. With a sweep of the competitions on the line, Hoover sealed the deal with clean shooting in the second standing stage, romping to victory in 28:07.6, as Woodward missed once and finished 32.8 seconds back. Youth competitor Christopher Fisher (Altoona, PA) with 14 penalties finished 39.6 seconds farther back to take third.
Hoover’s problematic first standing stage came from running a bit too hard, windy conditions and a rifle jam, according to an interview in the Bangor (ME) Daily News. In that interview with sports writer Jessica Bloch, he commented, â€œThe action jammed on me but that was where the experience pays off. Someone inexperienced, that tends to rattle you. I just took the round out and shot it at the end. No problem I was just relieved [to clean]. I knew I was a strong enough runner that I had it.”
The younger competitors mostly from Aroostook County and the Maine Winter Sports Center programs won the women’s competitions. Grace Boutot (Fort Kent, ME) placed first in the 3K Sprint and second in the 5K Pursuit, while Hilary McNamee (Fort Fairfield, ME) grabbed second in the Sprint, but won the Pursuit. Boutot won the Sprint in 15:27.3, with three penalties, over McNamee’s 16:45.9 and five penalties. In reversing the places in the 5K pursuit, McNamee had seven penalties to Boutot’s ten and a 28:42 to 30:17 margin. Kaitlyn Bernard (Fort Kent, ME) was third in both the Sprint and Pursuit, with five and ten penalties and 17:14.9 and 30:54 efforts.
Youth competitor Molly Susla (Freeport, ME) won the Mass Start with thirteen penalties in 31:25.9. She edged Masters competitor Patricia Zerfas (Kensington, MD), with fifteen penalties by 3.2 seconds. Canadian Annalisa Percy finished third in 33:10.1, with nine penalties.
Hoover summed up the event, conducted by the 10th Mountain Ski Club, with additional comments to Bloch. “The area’s beautiful, the community’s been supportive and welcoming, and the venue’s unreal. It’s been one of the best organized nationals I’ve been to.”