This post will be updated with men’s comments as available.
The 2021 U.S. Biathlon National Rollerski Championships were held this past weekend in Jericho, VT, hosted by the Ethan Allen Biathlon Club.
As the annual event was held in a virtual format in August 2020 due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, the weekend marks a welcome return to public national level biathlon competition. Participants from clubs throughout the U.S. made their way to Northern Vermont to race a sprint on Saturday, followed by a mass start on Sunday.
Apart from the elite senior men and women’s fields, the races saw nearly 50 participants from the U15 youth level to the senior veteran age class. These athletes competed in a 10/12.5-kilometer pursuit stage on Sunday rather than the mass start.
“It was great to see athletes and coaches from across the country get back together,” commented US Biathlon team member Clare Egan in an email. “I was also happy to see an increase in numbers of participants — in the past we have had similar numbers, but almost half the field was Canadian. This year without the Canadians we hit those same numbers, so that was exciting. It’s a reflection of the growth happening at the club level in places like Bozeman, Craftsbury, Soldier Hollow, Truckee, Anchorage, Grand Rapids MN, Lake Placid, and others, where there are good facilities, coaches, and training groups now.”
Egan posted strong results this weekend, winning both the sprint and mass start events — and lots of maple syrup, the Vermont classic podium award. In the 7.5-kilometer sprint, she missed one target while shooting prone to finish with a time of 20:33.6. She finished 33 seconds ahead of Deedra Irwin of the National Guard Biathlon Team who missed one target per stage (1+1), with USBA teammate Susan Dunklee one second behind in third (1+2).
In the 12.5 k mass start, Egan again missed only one target, this time standing (0+0+1+0), leading her to double up on her victories with a finish time of 37:08.1. Dunklee missed three targets during her standing stages (0+0+1+2) and skied to second place in 38:03.8. Kelsey Dickinson of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) took the third podium spot in 39:22.2 (1+1+2+2).
“I was satisfied with my racing this weekend, especially the shooting,” Egan wrote. “I only missed 2 targets out of 30. That’s an excellent percentage for me and definitely what I am aiming for as I head into the World Cup and Olympics season. I had a really hard time on skis, but I think that it was entirely due to the intense heat and humidity.”
Both days saw temperatures in the upper 80’s with high humidity — which makes for hot radiating pavement and very sweaty ski boots.
“My training has been going well and I’m confident about where I’m at and the direction I’m headed,” Egan concluded.
On the men’s side, Sean Doherty of the National Guard Biathlon Team shot clean in the 10 k sprint, skiing his way to the top spot on the podium on his home course in a time of 24:33.3. Doherty was followed by Leif Nordgren of the VT Army National Guard who missed two targets (1+1) to finish in 25:24.8. Paul Schommer of the Crosscut Team in Bozeman, MT, rounded out the podium with two misses (1+1) and a time of 25:45.1.
The men’s podium rearranged itself in Sunday’s 15 k mass start. Schommer improved his shooting percentage, missing one shot in two of the four stages (0+1+1+0) and crossed the line in 38:15.6 for the win. Doherty followed 40 seconds behind with four missed targets (1+2+1+0) and a final time of 37:55.7. Nordgren took the third podium spot with a time of 38:36.8 with five misses (2+0+1+2).
Rachel is an endurance sport enthusiast based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. You can find her cruising around on skinny skis, running in the mountains with her pup, or chasing her toddler (born Oct. 2018). Instagram: @bachrunner4646