For the World Cup athletes, Thursday’s announcement by the U.S. Biathlon Association of team nominations for the second period of racing brought no surprises. Just as in the last weekend of World Cup racing in December, three women (Sara Studebaker, Annelies Cook, and Susan Dunklee) and four men (Lowell Bailey, Jay Hakkinen, Tim Burke, and Leif Nordgren) will represent the U.S. on the trails.
But the real excitement of the day came from the selection of the IBU Cup team. After a series of trials races in Mount Itasca, Minnesota, in which two different men and three women picked up victories, it was unclear which athletes would be picked to join the U.S. team for races in Forni Avoltri, Italy and Haute Maurienne, France in January.
On the men’s side, Russell Currier of the Maine Winter Sports Center made the cut after winning the pursuit competition by a minute and the mass start by more than two. Despite finishing third in the initial sprint – in which he had seven penalties out of only ten shots – Currier was able to clean up his shooting and make the team. He will be joining Bill Bowler and Jeremy Teela on the IBU Cup.
Other impressive performances at the trials came from Mark Johnson (Mount Itasca), who beat out national team member Wynn Roberts by 17 seconds for the title in the sprint, and from Sean Doherty, a New Hampshire junior who will be attending the Youth Olympic Games this year, who competed in the senior mass start and placed second.
On the women’s side, Hannah Dreissigacker of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project won the opening sprint, and appeared in good position to snag the trip to Europe. But after faltering on the range in the next two races, she left space for BethAnn Chamberlain (Maine Winter Sports Center) to win the pursuit and 16-year-old Anna Kubek (Mount Itasca) to claim the mass start.
Kubek, who like Doherty will be representing the U.S. at the Youth Olympic Games at the beginning of the month, ended up with the nomination, meaning that she will extend her time in Europe. She will join Tracy and Lanny Barnes and Laura Spector.
Katrina Howe (Maine Winter Sports Center) also picked up three podium finishes at the races in Minnesota, but was unable to translate any of them into a win.