New Gloucester, ME. The 2008 Summer Biathlon National Championships and World Championships Team Trials open this Friday at the Whitetail preserve in Luzerne County near Bloomsburg, PA.
Competitions begin with the Mass Start on Friday, followed by Sprints on Saturday and closing with Pursuits on Sunday. Categories include juniors, seniors, and masters for both men and women.
The host Whitetail Preserve offers a variety of hunting options including quail and chukar as well skeet, trap, and sporting clays facilities. The biathlon range features 20 lanes with mechanical targets and is the only regulation size permanent biathlon facility in Pennsylvania.
This 21st US Summer Biathlon National Championships expects the largest field in recent years with over 50 competitors from 11 states participating.
Among those vying for both Championships and World Championships nominations are numerous former US Summer Biathlon National Champions. Keith Woodward (Stowe, VT) was the first US Summer Biathlon National Champion in 1988 in Memphis, Tennessee. He is back competing for a Masters title this year. Over the past 21 years, Woodward has collected five National Championships. Doug Hoover (Williamsburg, PA) has won the past two National titles and been a World Championships qualifier three times. He has dominated summer biathlon competitions in the eastern US this spring and summer, making him a strong candidate to defend his title. Other top men include former World Championships qualifiers Pat Bragassa (Rigby, ID), Steve Beck (Bettendorf, IA), and Danny Fink (Morgantown, WV).
The women’s field includes 1996 National Champion Tracy (VandeVenter) Dooley (Arlington, VA) and Anne Sick (Millville, PA). Former World cup competitor and 2006 summer Biathlon World Championships qualifier Erin Graham (Essex Junction, VT) expects to challenge the two former champions.
This weekend’s competitions serve as the qualifying event for the US team that will participate in the Summer Biathlon World Championships in Haute Maurienne, France in late September. The top competitors who meet the qualifying standards after the three competitions will be offered the opportunity to compete in France.