The first race of the men’s World Cup biathlon season isn’t until Thursday, but one U.S. man has already seen action: Russell Currier competed in a 10 k IBU Cup sprint last Saturday in Beitostolen, Norway.
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) requires that all athletes competing in the World Cup to first finish an IBU Cup race – the next level down – within 15 percent of the leader. Currier, after proving himself to the U.S. Biathlon Association at trials in Canmore, AB, next needed to prove himself to the IBU.
Little did he know that the Beitostolen race might have saved him a lot of trouble. Many of his teammates who stayed in Ostersund were afflicted with a parasite in the water there and came down with stomach problems, while Currier has not (so far.)
FasterSkier chatted with him over e-mail to hear about the Beitostolen sprint, where he finished 66th, just over three and half minutes behind three-time World Cup medalist Simon Fourcade of France.
FasterSkier: So why were you the only American competing in Beitostolen?
Russell Currier: I was the only American that needed to compete in the Beitostolen IBU Cup. After a poor season last year, I needed to prove myself to the IBU again. This means being within 15 percent of the leader at an IBU cup. That’s where last weekend’s races came into play. I certainly didn’t show up any earlier than anyone else, and jet lag was around for the race.
FS: So how did it go?
RC: The race was awful, to make a long story short. On the other hand it was good enough. I was 12.5 percent back, and that was enough to get me back onto the World Cup circuit. I took the first loop at a high end threshold and proceeded to only miss one in prone. I took the second loop at the same moderate pace. I had a good focus going into my standing, but for some reason all of that went out the door when I took the rifle off. With four misses in standing and five total (50 percent average) I decided it would be best to pick up the pace on the last loop. I gave it an almost full bore effort. I was glad I did so, because I’m not sure if I would have made it in 15 percent otherwise. I’m not too overly concerned with the race, but am a little bummed about the shooting.
FS: Last year you didn’t get to compete internationally. What did you do this year to get back in the game, so to speak?
RC: Yes, last year was not a year to remember, and that’s pretty much what I tried to do – forget it. I put the frustration behind me, and gave this year a fresh start and focus. Training has gone very smoothly this year. With the start of a new four-year cycle, my coaches decided this year would be the best to ramp up the hours. There was a lot of volume in there, more than any other year prior, at least. Every training camp was productive, and allowed me to make strides in every direction. The biggest jump for me, however, was in skate technique. It’s like getting faster with out having to be any fitter!
Shooting is still my weak point. After investing in a new stock and barrel, and making a few minor changes here and there, I can at least say it’s heading in the right direction. In the end, shooting is all about confidence, so that will always be top focus for me.
FS: The men’s team is very successful right now. What’s the atmosphere like?
RC: The men’s team is great. We all get along fine, and we are all on the same page. The atmosphere is so great, in my opinion, because we’ve figured out how to balance the mental part of the sport. When it’s time to train, it’s time to focus. When it’s time to rest, it’s time to stop thinking about biathlon and rest. Some of us may complain about the weather or conditions from time to time, but none of us will train any less because of it.
FS: What are your goals for the season?
RC: It’s hard to make goals, as I have no idea where I stand in the field right now. I just don’t have much of a base to go off of from last year. I would have to say my goals would be to make all of the World Cup teams. That would include the Presque Isle and Fort Kent races, as well as World Championships in March. For now, I would really like to make the pursuit this Saturday.
FS: Thanks, and good luck!
RC: Thank you!