With the 2015/2016 season officially in the rearview, FasterSkier is excited to unveil its annual award winners for this past winter. Votes stem from the FS staff, scattered across the U.S. and Canada, and while not scientific, they are intended to reflect a broader sense of the season in review.
Sean Doherty, US Biathlon
Pardon if you’ve heard this one before: Sean Doherty, from Center Conway, N.H., is the best U.S. junior biathlete of all time.
The 20 year old proved it yet again this season, picking up another full collection of medals – bronze in the individual, silver in the sprint and gold in the pursuit – at Junior World Championships in Cheile Gradistei, Romania.
But Doherty went one better: he became the winningest young biathlete of all time, period. The gold medal was his 10th at Youth and Junior World Championships over the course of his career, a feat unmatched in the competitive world of biathlon; the ninth, silver in the sprint, was actually the one that gave him the record.
“I didn’t know I had done it until a good ways after the [sprint] race,” Doherty said in a phone interview from Romania. “I was in the press conference [and a reporter] asked the question, and I didn’t know until that point that I had set a new record.”
But that’s not the only thing her was up to this winter. Doherty continued to make his way as a reliable performer on the World Cup circuit, earning three top-20 finishes including 13th in the sprint on “home” turf in Presque Isle, Maine.
And he anchored the U.S. men’s team to eighth in the World Championships relay in Oslo, Norway – as well as to sixth-place finishes in Ruhpolding, Germany, and Antholz, Italy, and a fifth-place finish in Presque Isle during the regular season.
Doherty has now finished out his junior career, and will be on a diet of straight World Cups next season. His growth into a senior biathlete is one of the things that keeps the men’s team hungry and positive, supplementing the results of longtime veterans Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke, and fellow former top junior Leif Nordgren.
“In the men’s field right now, it’s so strong,” Bailey explained at World Championships. “Every team has a stacked team, it seems like. But I think we’ve put together a really competitive team. We have four guys who are routinely in the points. So on a good day we can be right there. The results have shown that we have improved every year. We’re hoping to build on that, and anything can happen.”
Katharine Ogden, U.S. Ski Team/Stratton Mountain School
Ogden, too, won FasterSkier’s junior of the year accolades last season. But she just kept right on going in 2016.
Starting with the first SuperTours of the season in West Yellowstone, Montana, Ogden put the senior field on notice when she won the 10 k skate by 1.8 seconds over Alaska Pacific University’s Chelsea Holmes.
Then it was on to U.S. nationals, where Ogden was fourth in the 10 k classic, third in the 20 k skate mass start, and eighth in the classic sprint.
Always positive, Ogden says that she’s enjoying being able to hang with the senior women.
“It was awesome skiing with Caitlin [Patterson], Chelsea [Holmes], and Anne Hart,” Ogden said after the U.S. nationals mass start. “Just being able to ski behind them is so nice for me, I can really learn a lot from them and catch a ride on the downhills.”
Ogden finished 13th in both of her individual starts at Junior World Championships, and earned start rights at the Ski Tour Canada. At the end of the eight-stage World Cup series she stood 36th, the seventh American.
“It was pretty intimidating in the beginning but I guess I’m kind of getting used to it,” she said.
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