US Biathlon Debuts Tryout Camp to Target Development

BrainspiralMay 6, 20142
Dunklee in Lake Placid.
2014 Olympian Susan Dunklee training in Lake Placid, N.Y., last fall. US Biathlon is hosting a tryout camp for its development team in Lake Placid this summer from June 23-26.

There could be such a thing as national-team walk-ons as a result of an upcoming US Biathlon (USBA) tryout camp, a new format of its kind aimed at talented endurance athletes in the J1, OJ or collegiate age category.

The camp itself will be include four straight days of dryland sessions and evaluations from June 23-26 at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. Anyone interested in becoming world-class competitors is encouraged to submit an application.

Max Cobb, the USBA president and CEO, explained in an email that the camp is about evaluating one’s stage in the journey toward becoming a world-class competitor. “If you are a top J1 / OJ or college age skier and want to pursue biathlon this is a great opportunity for you to get to know the sport and hear from top World Cup biathletes,” he wrote.

Coach Jonne Kähkönen (l) assists Leif Nordgren with his final lactate test on Oct. 3.
Coach Jonne Kähkönen (l) assists Leif Nordgren with a lactate test last October during a rollerski workout in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“We will not have more than 10 athletes at the camp to ensure they get good coaching attention and we have time to get to know each athlete,” Cobb explained. “We hope to find athletes that, with a year or two of training, could be on the X-Team, and if they progress as fast as Susan Dunklee did perhaps contend for a spot on the 2018 Olympic team and be medal contenders for the 2022 Olympics.”

He added that there is no fixed upper age limit, but the USBA is looking for athletes ready to commit four to eight years to succeeding at the Olympic level.

Women’s national-team coach Jonne Kähkönen, who heads up most of the team’s offseason training in Lake Placid, explained that they came up with the tryout format due to growing interest and inquiries received in the past year.

“We also will focus more on the biathlon development to ensure a good pool of athletes in the future,” Kähkönen wrote in an email.

As for who should apply, Kähkönen wrote that those who’ve achieved some top results would be a plus, “but we will run a few field tests and want to see the potential the individual has to grow as a biathlete. Any biathlon experience is also a plus, but not necessary; it is more about the talent and the ability to learn the skills. We have done this successfully with college-aged athletes and they have been able to built the skills at a later age, so any ‘time gain’ we can get is a good thing.”

And what will the four days hold?

“We haven’t finalized the exact schedule for the days, but it will be full four days of action,” Kähkönen explained. “We want to see everyone on foot / on roller skis, shooting, skills / coordination in general physical exercising (games, strength circuit, flexibility etc.), so it will be an exciting and action packed mini-camp!”

Details below:

(From Team

US Biathlon Tryout Camp

Olympic Training Center
Lake Placid, NY

Start: June 23rd, after lunch
End: June 26th, after lunch


Camp Activities:

US Biathlon is looking for talented endurance athletes who are interested in becoming world-class competitors.  The tryout camp will help us evaluate your stage in this journey.

–        Physical tests, e.g. uphill run, 30 meter test

–        Strength tests and flexibility screening

–        Roller ski technique training with World Cup athletes Tim Burke, Susan Dunklee and Olympic Champion Andrea Henkel

–        Shooting drills and precision test

–        Question and answer sessions with World Cup athletes Tim Burke, Susan Dunklee and Olympic Champion Andrea Henkel

–        Final running Biathlon competition running at the Olympic Biathlon venue Mt van Hoevenberg

Needed material:

–        Gear for indoor and outdoor sport

–        Gym shoes

–        Running shoes

–        Roller skis, ski boots, poles

–        Writing material

Applications: please fill out the attached application form and email it to US Biathlon Chief of Sport Bernd Eisenbichler:

Invitations: will go out latest by May 20th

Travel: Applicants are responsible for their own travel.  Those arriving by air should plan to arrive in Albany, NY.

Housing & Meals: The camp will take place at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY.  Meals and lodging will be provided there.

Application For US Biathlon Tryout Camp


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  • Martin Hall

    May 6, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    This is a cool idea—a grand slam in baseball lingo—shooting clean in biathlon talk—-I’d comeback and do it in the fall to see the improvements and to add interest impact to yours and their overall maturation.
    You must have some sport psych guys who could present—-confidence in international racing/ training—-try to accelerate adaptation to European travel and competition—or not being a NA Rookie

  • dennisd499

    May 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Athletes interested in this camp should realize the very real possibility of gaining biathlon proficiency in several years. The Susan Dunklee, Hannah Dreissigacker stories of rapid rise to high level international biathlon success are true. World Cup XC skiers have made the transition. Historically, US Biathlon has produced good results with motivated, fast cross country skiers. The very basic requirements are ski speed and skill, and the ability to concentrate on the shooting with curiosity. The shooting is a brain game, challenging, rewarding, sometimes frustrating, but doable for the right mindset.

    Dennis Donahue US Biathlon Olympic Team ’72, ’76; USBA coach and program head, 1988-92

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