New Gloucester, ME. The International Competition Committee of the US Biathlon Association today named nine athletes to represent the US Biathlon Team at the Biathlon World Championships February 8 -17 in Ostersund, Sweden.
US Biathlon Executive Director Max Cobb commented on the diverse nature of this year’s team, â€œThis team represents a great mix of youth and experience; two junior athletes will be on the team after the World Junior Championships while three of the five men have had top ten performances at the World Championships in previous years.â€
Topping the roster are two Top 10 finishers from 2007: Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), seventh in the Individual competition at the 2007 World Championships and Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), who finished ninth in the Mass Start at those same Championship. Hakkinen and Burke are currently ranked 34th and 41st in the Overall World Cup rankings. After an early fast start, with top 15 finishes in the Kontiolahti World Cup, and a December slump, due to illness, both have recently come back with excellent results. Hakkinen had a 17th place in the Sprint and 16th in the Pursuit at Ruhpolding. Burke placed 26th in the Antholz Sprint and came back with 17th in the Pursuit. With these improving results, both expect to vie for top positions in Ostersund.
Joining these two on the men’s team are Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK). These two, along with Hakkinen and Burke comprise the men’s relay, which placed 8th at Ruhpolding and hopes to have a top six finish at the World Championships. Bailey had two top 30 finishes at Ruhpolding as well as an outstanding relay leg there. Teela’s ski speed in the final meters at Ruhpolding gave the US the eighth place finish in a photo finish with the Czech Republic.
An additional junior man will be added to the Ostersund roster after the Youth and Junior World Championships next week in Ruhpolding, Germany.
Cobb feels the experienced men’s team could provide some thrills in Ostersund, â€œThe team suffered some illness this season but is back on track now. I think they will have some Top 10 results, while I also think they have a chance to finish in the top six in the relay, which would be a huge stride for his group.â€
In addition to the four men, five women will compete in Ostersund. This group includes Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis, MN), Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY) and Laura Spector (Lenox, MA). The Barnes’ sisters, who among the most consistent performers on the shooting range in biathlon, are veterans of several seasons on the World Cup circuit and numerous World Championships. However, the other women are all World Championships â€œrookies.â€ Compton, as the US 5K cross-country champion is the fastest woman on skis in the US, but in just her first year of biathlon competition. Johnson, a veteran of several seasons in the Europa Cup circuit recently placed 12th in the Sprint at Osrblie, Slovakia. Spector is a junior competitor, competing in the Youth and Junior World Championships the week before Ostersund.
On the relatively inexperienced women’s team, Cobb added, â€œThis is a rebuilding year for the women’s team with three women on the World Championships Team for the first time. Together, these three represent the broad spectrum of development programs in the country; Laura from Dartmouth College is on the Junior National team, while also training at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Fort Kent. Haley recommitted herself to biathlon after college and has trained with the development team for several years, while Caitlin, began biathlon in May and has made excellent progress.â€
The 2008 Biathlon World Championships open with Sprint competitions on February 9.
Live streaming video coverage of Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season, as well as archived highlights, is available by clicking the athlete photo at the top of the news column at www.usbiathlon.org.