New Gloucester, ME – The International Competition Committee of the US Biathlon Association named a team of five men and four women who will compete in the upcoming December Biathlon World Cups.
The nine-person team is the largest in several years, due to recent changes by the International Biathlon Union in allocating start positions. Under the new start rules, based on Nations Cup Points and World Cup Points, the US men can start five athletes, while the women can start four.
Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) tops the US roster. Burke is the top-ranked US biathlete, who finished 29th in Overall World Cup last season with 171 points, while placing 5 times in top 15 and twice in the top 8. He scored a milestone last March, becoming the first US Biathlete to record the fastest time in an international biathlon competition in the 12.5K Pursuit competition at the Oslo World Cup.
Joining him on the men’s team are Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) who had a season best 9th place in the Individual competition at Kontiolahti, Finland; Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) who had a personal best 11th place in the Pursuit competition at Pyeong Chang, Korea last season; two-time Olympian Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) and Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME).
December will mark the World Cup debut for Currier, a first year senior competitor. Last season, while still a junior level competitor by age, he competed at the World Championships in Ostersund, Sweden, as well as in the Junior World Championships in Ruhpolding, Germany. Currier began his ski/biathlon career in the Maine Winter Sports Center youth program and is the first Aroostook County (Maine) athlete to progress through the MWSC program to the World Cup level.
The four US women selected for the World Cup Team include Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY), who in her first World Cup level competitions last year finished 52nd in the Pursuit at the World Championships; Torino Olympic veterans Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), and Laura Spector (Lenox, MA).
Like Currier, Spector is a first-year senior athlete and a MWSC alumnus, making her World Cup debut this December. She also competed in the Ostersund World Championships last year and the World Junior Championships. Spector closed her junior career with a personal-best sixth place in the Pursuit competition at the Open European Championships last February.
Recent rollerski competitions at Soldier Hollow, Utah helped determine the December World cup Team. In those competitions, top junior competitors Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix, MN) and Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN) placed fourth and seventh in the overall standings during three days of competitions. Tracy Barnes and Lowell Bailey topped the women and men’s categories.
The Biathlon World Cup season opens December 3 in Ostersund, Sweden then moves to Hochfilzen, Austria for the following two weeks before the holiday break. Hochfilzen is hosting two World Cups, due to construction delays at the scheduled location in Pokljuka, Slovenia, which made it unavailable in December.