Kontiolahti, Finland, November 27. The US Biathlon team kicks off its 2007-2008 Biathlon World Cup season here in two days.
For the first time in several years, the season will open under excellent conditions. Recent years have left northern and central Europe with virtually no snow and unseasonably warm temperatures in November and December. This year is the exception; Central Europe received heavy snowfall several weeks ago and continues to add to the totals almost daily. Most of Scandinavia has received lighter snowfalls, but temperatures well below freezing and bursts of light snow have kept the ground adequately covered with fresh powder.
Here in east central Finland, the forecast is for more of the same; daily light snow through the weekend. Accordingly, the trails at the biathlon stadium were ready for today’s unofficial training sessions. 33 nations with 135 men and 111 women will be on hand this week to start the season, which will run through the middle of March. Besides the well known venues like Oberhof and Ruhpolding Germany, Oslo, Norway and Antholz, Italy, the World Cup circuit will travel to Pyeong Chang, Korea in February for the first-ever World Cup in Korea.
Six US biathletes, led by Coaches Mikael Lofgren and Per Nilsson form the current World Cup Team. The team includes Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK),and Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO).