It was a perfect day at Mt Itasca: 20 degrees at the start, no wind, and news had just come that US Biathlon’s rising star, Tim Burke, had just taken over the Yellow Bib on the Biathlon World Cup. The excitement was tangible in the stadium as the athletes prepared for the start of Day 4 of the Biathlon World Team Trials in Coleraine, MN.
Today’s Pursuit format generally favors the best shooters, and the top shooters came out on top. In the Women’s race, Tracy Colliander hit 19 of 20 and clinched her position on the IBU Cup team with a 1:20 minute buffer to second place finisher Laura Spector of Lennox, MA. Susan Dunklee, Baton, VT, placed third, finishing with the fastest ski time of the day, as she has in each of the 4 trials races.
In the men’s races, Walt Shepard, Yarmouth, ME dominated the shooting, hitting 19 for 20. His superb shooting was just enough to overcome the all out attack of Leif Norgdren, Marine on St Croix, who overcame poor a poor shooting score of 15 of 20, and finished only 5 seconds out and claiming the fastest ski time of the day. Nordgren came off sickness and poor shooting in the first weekend of racing and needed an exceptional result to stay in the running for the IBU Cup team. Zach Hall, Anchorage, AK, put together strong skiing and 16 for 20 shooting for third place. Hall has been on the podium in 4 of 4 races, and he has been the most consistent performer of the World Team Trials.
Today’s Pursuit race was the 2nd of 3 Junior World Team Trial races. In the Junior Women’s category, Grace Boutot, Presque Isle, ME placed first with local favorite Addie Byrne, Bovey, MN, in second place, 23 seconds out. Hillary McNamee of Caribou, ME finished 3rd. The Junior Men’s race was dominated by Leif Nordgren. In second was Mike Gibson of Burlinton, VT, and finishing third was Wayne McClure of Anchorage, AK.
In the Youth Category, a new shooting talent emerged, with Silke Hymes hitting 18 for 20 and winning by almost a minute. In second was Kelly Kjorlien of Grand Rapids, MN, with 6 penalties, and Andrea Mayo of Soldier Pond, ME managed a third place with 9 penalties.
Raleigh Goessling of Duluth, MN had a breakthrough race in the Youth Men’s 10km. He shot 18 for 20 and skied extremely well, winning by a margin of 2 min 12 seconds. In second, Ethan Dreissegacker of Craftsbury, VT had 5 penalties, and rounding out top 3 in the Youth Men was a newcomer to the podium, Matty Coleman of Methow Valley, WA.
With one race remaining in the World Team Trials some spots have already been claimed. As Development team coach James Upham stated, “Unofficial rankings with one race to go are: 1 Shepard 2 Hall 3 Roberts. They will be attacked by Nordgren who is finally healthy and skiing aggressively. Women 1 Colliander 2 Spector 3 Dunklee. Colliander is a lock. Cook and Wygant still can break in there. We take the top three men and women to Europe. A fourth is allowed based on discretion.”
The World Team Trials continue on Tuesday with at the Men’s 10km Sprint and Women’s 7.5km Sprint. Full results for all the races can be seen at www.minnesotabiathlon.com.