The International Competition Committee of the U.S. Biathlon Association has announced which athletes will be competing at World Championships in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, in early March.
The men’s team is led by Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), who has been on a tear in recent World Cup competitions. He finished ninth in the mass start in Fort Kent, Maine last weekend – a career-best result for himself, and the only top-10 finish for any American athlete this season.
Bailey is joined by Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), who has two top-20 finishes to his name this season. Burke had an exceptional year last year, holding the yellow World Cup overall leader bib for a stretch. 21-year-old Leif Nordrgen (Marine, MN) and four-time Olympian Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) round out the men’s squad. Nordgren is the third-ranked American in the World Cup overall standings, while Hakkinen was named on discretion; he missed competing in December due to illness, but was able to ski to two top-30 finishes at the World Cups in Presque Isle, as well as contributing a solid leg to the mixed relay there.
The women’s team is led by Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) and Laura Spector (Lennox, MA), both of whom have had top-20 finishes this year. Spector made a splash earlier this season when she was the first American woman to qualify for a mass start event in six years. Studebaker, meanwhile, had some of her best races at the Presque Isle and Fort Kent World Cups, where she had a top finish of 14th. Studebaker is ranked 38th and Spector 48th in the World Cup overall standings.
Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY) will fill the third spot on the women’s team. After racing on the World Cup for only half a season, she has had a top-40 finish, which earned her a discretionary nod. Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY) will make the trip as well, filling out the relay team. Cook finished 59th in her only World Cup start of the year, but skied a strong leg in the mixed relay in Pokljuka, Slovenia.
World Championship competition begins on March 3rd.