New Gloucester, ME, March 19. Eleven members of the Biathlon US Junior National Team, as well the top US women from the Biathlon World Championships will compete this week in the North American/ US National Championships this Thursday through Saturday at the Mount Itasca Biathlon Center in Coleraine, Minnesota.
This group heads the field of almost 100 competitors who will vie for North American and US National titles. Competition begins on Thursday at 11 AM CDT with Sprints in all categories, followed by Pursuit Format on Friday at the same time. The competitions conclude with Mass Start competitions on Saturday at 10 AM CDT.
Topping the entry list are four athletes (three juniors and one senior) who had successful international seasons this year.
The top senior level competitor from the US Biathlon Team who will compete this week is Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis, MN). Compton, although a first year biathlete, had the best result by a US woman this season with a strong 37th place in the 15K Individual at the World Championships in Ostersund. She also competed in the World Cups in Pyeong Chang and Oslo. In Pyeong Chang, she incurred a serious fall on a steep downhill, resulting in several cuts and whiplash-type injuries. She is fully recovered from that incident. In addition to her first year success in biathlon, she is also an accomplished cross-country skier, winning the US title earlier in the year.
After her breakthrough 37th place in Ostersund, she was asked what was going through her mind before that competition. Compton was a bit embarrassed as she commented, â€œBefore the start I was thinking about things like the feeds on the course, the wind, and other things as I walked to the start. Then I felt an official tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me that I needed my rifle to start. It was like, Oh; this is a biathlon race, not cross-country.â€ With her ski speed and the promise shown in the 15K, she reiterated her statement from earlier that week, â€œJust give me two years!â€ The competitions this week in Coleraine will be Compton’s first Biathlon National Championships.
A video interview from Ostersund follows:
Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix, MN) was the star of the US Team at the Youth/Junior World Championships in January. Nordgren captured the first medal for the US Team since 2002 with his Bronze in the Youth Pursuit competition. Nordgren made a dramatic move over the final 200 meters to overtake Lukas Hofer of Italy for the medal. Nordgren also placed sixth in the Youth Sprint, missing a medal by 6.5 seconds, and contributed an outstanding relay leg, using one spare round and having the third fastest opening leg among the Junior Men.
Laura Spector (Lenox, MA) added several honors to her resume this winter. She competed in both the Youth/Junior World Championships and the Biathlon World Championships the next week in Ostersund. In Ruhpolding, she had three top 25 finishes including 20th in the Junior Sprint. The next week in Ostersund, she made her senior level debut with a 62nd place in the 15K Individual and a leg on the Mixed Relay. After the two World Championships competitions, she closed her European season with a career best 6th place in the Junior Women’s Pursuit at the European Championships. Making a podium appearance for the first time in her junior career, she commented at the time, â€˜This is such a great way to end my junior career. I will really appreciate this flower ceremony.â€
Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) joined Spector on the US Team at the same three Championships. He and Spector were the only two junior level athletes named to the team for Ostersund. Currier had career best results in Ruhpolding with 15th place in both the Sprint and Pursuit, as well as 20th in the Individual competition. In Ostersund, he finished 79th in the 20K Individual, his first ever 20K competition. He also competed in the Mixed Relay.
The Championships this week are the final major domestic competitions of the biathlon season in the US, although several competitors will travel to Squamish, BC, Canada for the Canadian Championships next week at the 2010 Olympic Biathlon venue.
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Leif Nordgren at the Junior World Championships