The U.S. Biathlon Association (USBA) has concluded its trials series for World Youth and Junior Championships, to be held in mid-February in Minsk, Belarus. The trials were held in Mount Itasca, Minnesota, after being canceled from Anchorage, Alaska, due to a lack of snow.
USBA has named eight initial members of the team (press release below the story), and may name more athletes as discretionary picks after a meeting of its International Competition Committee on January 1.
The opening sprint was held on Sunday, with Brian Halligan (Maine Winter Sports Center, MWSC), Paul Everett (Methow Valley), Mikaela Paluszek (MWSC), and Chloe Levins (Mountain Top Nordic Ski Club) picking up wins.
On Monday, 10 k pursuit races were held on the basis of the first sprint. Cold temperatures reportedly made cold fingers ubiquitous and shooting difficult. In the youth men’s pursuit, Cam Christiansen of Nisswa Biathlon climbed from fourth place up to first thanks to only two penalties – by far the most impressive shooting in the field. He finished over a minute ahead of Everett, who had six penalties in total including a crushing four in the third shooting stage alone.
In a junior men’s field which struggled on the range, Halligan eked out a 9-second win over Jakob Ellingson of Mount Itasca, with seven penalties to Ellingson’s six. In the junior women’s field, the only entrant, Paluszek, nevertheless improved her performance, accruing only three penalties over the four-stage race.
The youth women’s pursuit came down to a battle between Levins and Siena Ellingson of Mount Itasca. Through three stages, Ellingson accumulated a big lead with only a single penalty to three by Levins. But in the final stage Ellingson missed four shots and Levins only one. After a furious final loop of skiing, Levins won by three seconds.
Temperatures were forecast to be so cold on Tuesday that racing was likely to be canceled, but race organizers were able to pull off a final set of sprint races. Halligan completed a sweep of the junior men’s series, winning the 7.5 k competition by a minute and 21 seconds over Jakob Ellingson. Zean Baker of Nisswa Biathlon placed third.
In the youth men’s 7.5 k sprint, Chistiansen again showed excellent shooting, picking up a single penalty to tally his second win of the weekend. He finished 22 seconds ahead of MWSC’s Brendan Cyr, who had two penalties, with Everett placing third with four missed shots.
Paluszek picked up four penalties in the 6 k sprint to again win her division. Two youth women, competing over the same distance, beat her: Hannah Streinz of MWSC, who had two penalties and won the youth competition, and Siena Ellingson, who had four penalties and finished 17 seconds behind Streinz. Amanda Kauzer of Loppet Nordic Racing finished third in the youth women’s field, also with four penalties.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 30, 2014. Mt. Itasca, Coleraine, MN. The US Biathlon Youth / Junior World Team Trails were completed today at Mt. Itasca in Coleraine, MN despite sub-zero temperatures. US Biathlon congratulates the following athletes, as well as their families, coaches and clubs, on their qualification for the 2015 IBU Youth / Junior World Championships in Minsk-Raubichi, Belarus, Feb 17 to 24, 2015. US Biathlon’s International Competition Committee may announce additional team members in the evening of Jan 1, 2015. The Youth (under 19) and Junior (under 21) World Championships will attract the best age group athletes from over 30 nations.
Maddie Phaneuf, Maine Winter Sports Ctr, USBA X Team, Old Forge, NY, pre-qualified by her 4th place at the 2014 YWCH
Mikaela Paluszek, Maine Winter Sports Ctr, Saxtons River, VT. Top ranked Junior women at the trials.
Chloe Levins, Mtn Top Nordic Ski Club, Rutland, VT. Top ranked youth woman at the trials
Siena Ellingson, Mt. Itasca / MN Biathlon, Minnetonka, MN. Second ranked youth woman at the trials
Sean Doherty, USBA X-Team, Center Conway, NH, pre-qualified by medals at the 2014 YWCH
Brian Halligan, Maine Winter Sports Ctr, Gansevoort, NY Top ranked junior man at the trials
Cam Christiansen, Nisswa NW / MN Biathlon, Pequot Lakes, MN. Top ranked youth man at the trials
Paul Everett, Methow Valley Biathlon, Tacoma, WA Second ranked youth man at the trials
US Biathlon wishes to thank the Mt Itasca Biathlon Club for organizing the trials on short notice due to a lack of snow Anchorage, Alaska, where the trials were scheduled. Full results will be posted soon at: http://MinnesotaBiathlon.com/
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.