After a summer of training and competition, the U.S. Biathlon Association (USBA) has announced updates to its national team roster.
In the spring, USBA had named a Development Team for the first time in several years, as well as a new “X Team” squad of more advanced development athletes.
“Back in spring when we started the new USBA team structure philosophy for the development side with the X-Team and the Development Group we clearly stated that these two teams are ‘open’ teams,” USBA Chief of Sport Bernd Eisenbichler wrote in an e-mail. “‘Open’ for talents we might find through the Talent ID Camp, and for our youth and junior biathletes and ‘young’ biathletes (time in the sport) who were close to getting named to a team already back in April, and showing good development and professional attitude through out the summer training.”
The Craftsbury Green Racing Project’s Clare Egan was initially named to the Development Team, but has now been promoted to the X Team. Egan placed third in the sprint at North American Rollerski Biathlon Championships this summer, an impressive result after learning to shoot only recently in her nordic career.
What’s the difference with Egan’s new nomination?
“The X Team is the ‘A’ team of the Development side, and the Development Group is the ‘B’ team,” Eisenbichler explained. “X team gives you a resident bed in Lake Placid and other benefits, but this season we want to really work very intensively with both teams to give them most time possible with biathlon training. So also the Development Group got a good amount of camp days in Lake Placid and/or Utah, so all the athletes have a good chance to develop as quickly and as far as possible in a short amount of time.”
Also promoted to the X Team is Max Durtschi, a Dartmouth College student who tried out biathlon only earlier this summer as part of USBA’s Talent ID Camp. A former professional cyclist who also had great success as a junior in cross country skiing, Durtschi has picked up the sport quickly.
Four other athletes have been named to the Development Team, most of whom also participated in the Talent ID Camp and have continued working on biathlon this summer. Headlining the group is Patrick Johnson, a former collegiate and SuperTour-winning cross country skier. He is joined by Kelsey Dickinson (College of St. Scholastica) and Jakob Ellingson (Loppet Nordic Racing), both of whom competed in 2014 World Youth and Junior Championships. Another St. Scholastica skier Paul Schommer was also named to the Development Team.
“To name them in addition now at the end of the summer is a great sign for what is possible in our new structure, if an athlete is willing to put in the work and develop through out the training period,” Eisenbichler wrote. “All athletes in the X-Team and Development Group will be invited to an on-snow camp in Canmore, Canada, at the end of November and to the IBU Cup Trials races in Minnesota right after. The camp will be lead by our Head Coach Development Jean Paquet.”