After a three-day series of trials races at Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vermont, the U.S. Biathlon Association (USBA) has named thirteen athletes to the team for World Junior Championships. The event will be held in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, from January 29th to February 5th.
The team is headlined by top qualifiers Ethan Dreissigacker (Morrisville, VT/Dartmouth College/Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club/Ethan Allen Biathlon Club), Sam Dougherty (Anchorage, AK/Alaska Biathlon/Alaska Winter Stars), Corrine Malcom (Hayward, WI/Maine Winter Sports Center), and Carly Wynn (Queensbury, NY/Saratoga Biathlon).
“The Junior World Championship team is notable for its mix of experienced athletes like Grace Boutot, Dreissigacker, and Raleigh Goessling, and some new rising stars like Carly Wynn and Corrine Malcome,” said USBA President and CEO Max Cobb.
Dreissigacker led the junior men’s field at trials, winning two of three races. On the last day, he used fast, accurate shooting as well as some of the fastest skiing on the day to build a huge lead. Goessling was second, as he had been the day before. Dreissigacker and Goessling have been teammates before, and were optimistic about what they could accomplish at World Juniors.
“The first time with World Juniors, the goal is to get there,” said Dreissigacker. “Now, the goal is to do well there… if I had a good race, I could get up there. Although it’s always hard to tell with biathlon.”
Goessling, who is taking the year off from school to train for biathlon full time at the Maine Winter Sports Center (MWSC), agreed.
“I’ve been on teams with Ethan for a couple of years, and I think that both of us have the potential for some very respectable results,” he told FasterSkier.
The third junior man to make the team was Ben Greenwald of Saint Paul, Minnesota, who is also currently training at MWSC.
Malcom, another MWSC athlete, led the junior women over the three days of racing. After Boutot (USBA/MWSC) won the sprint on Tuesday, Malcome upped her game and prevailed in the next two competitions.
“It was really exciting,” Malcom told FasterSkier. “Last year, I jumped into trials really just on a whim. Right now, I’m taking time off from school, so I’ve only been training for biathlon since, well, May I guess.
“The first sprint race was okay. I shot 50%, which is kind of average for me. In the second race – it’s a shooter’s race because there are four stages, so I kind of said, well, we’ll see what happens. But then I shot 70% which for me was awesome… to be the top American junior was awesome. It’s nice to prove that I have improved.”
Malcome and Boutot are an interesting pair: unlike Malcom, who has less than a year of biathlon experience under her belt, Boutot has already made three trips to World Juniors and finished second in the youth women’s individual race in Canmore in 2009.
In the youth men’s division, Dougherty and Sean Doherty (Conway, NH/Saratoga Biathlon) led a tightly-packed field. While they were the most consistent performers, three different athletes won races at the trials: Ray Wonders (Anchorage, AK/Alaska Biathlon) on Tuesday, Dougherty on Wednesday, and Doherty on Thursday. Wonders will join the team at World Juniors, as will Casey Smith (Winthrop, WA/Methow Valley).
In the youth women’s division, Wynn dominated the field, winning every race by a solid margin. Kelly Kjorlein (Grand Rapids, MN/Mount Itasca) rode two second-place finishes onto the team, and Silke Hynes (Burlington, VT/Saint Michael’s College/Vermont Collegiate Biathlon) used clean shooting to snag a spot as well.
Tara Garaghty-Moates (West Fairlee, VT/Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club/Ethan Allen Biathlon Club) was named to the team as a discretionary selection, an unusual move. USBA noted her “outstanding ski speed in the trials races” in choosing her for the World Juniors squad.
Cobb was enthusiastic about the athletes USBA is sending to Europe.
“Seeing a team of 13 athletes coming from six different states is a great sign of the growth of clubs across the country,” he said in an e-mail. “I am not going to make any predictions about the performances at World Juniors for this year, but I will say that I expect several of the athletes on this team to make a serious run at 2018 Olympic Team – and who knows, maybe one will be on the 2014 team, too.”
He was also impressed by the organizational know-how he saw in Jericho.
“It’s been many years since a major event was hosted at the Ethan Allen Firing Range, and I was very impressed with the outstanding work of the club and the wonderful support and cooperation by the National Guard Sports Program. With over 100 youth and junior competitors, this was one of the largest national events for juniors we have had in many years. It is really heartwarming to see, and I think we are seeing the beginning of a blossoming of the sport across the country.”