The US athlete selection Trials races for positions on the US Team to the upcoming IBU Cups in Europe continued over the weekend with a Sprint race on Saturday and a Mass Start race on Sunday. The races are scored on a percent back basis with each athletes times compared with the average of the top 3 finishers in the race. So being close to the top counts more than the finish places. Of course the top finishers get more points than those behind them. The US Olympic Biathlon Team has not yet been completely selected, so those named from these Trials may have an opportunity to move up to the World Cup from the IBU Cup, or even up to the Olympic Team.
In the Saturday Sprint races, Day 2 of the IBU Team Trials saw some light snow and a brisk, but variable SE wind. Only one athlete, Joanne Reid of the USBA team cleaned all her targets, letting her finish 1st in the Women’s 7.5 km event with a time of 21:22. In 2nd was Chloe Levins, USBA, with 2 misses, 1:14 back, and in 3rd was Maddie Phaneuf, USBA X Team, also with 2 misses and 1:25 behind.
In the Men’s 10 km race, Alexander Howe, Craftsbury GRP, missed 2 and finished in 24:26 for 1st place, Jakob Ellingson, Mt Itasca Biathlon/ National Guard Biathlon missed 1, finishing only 3.3 sec behind, while Jake Brown, USBA X Team, missed 2 and finished 13.6 sec behind for 3rd. Vasek Cervenka, Mt Itasca , was in 5th with 3 misses 50.2 sec behind. Jakob Ellingson, Jake Brown, and Vasek Cervenka are all from MN.
On Sunday, Day 3 of the Trials, the temps warmed up a bit, higher humidity ruled, and the SE wind continued to rise and fall causing many top shooters to visit the penalty loop. In Biathlon it is pretty much impossible to predict the top finishers even knowing the relative ski and shooting ability of the athletes, they have to combine both talents to win.
In the Men’s 15 km Mass Start event [see picture of start below] Jakob Ellingson and Russell Currier, USBA, left the range together, both cleaning the last standing shoot. Russell, with 3 total misses, finished 1st in 36:23 with some blistering skiing, 15 sec ahead of Jakob, who had only 1 miss total for 2nd. Patrick Johnson, California, finished 3rd with 4 misses, 1:16 back. Vasek Cervenka, was again in 5th place, with 5 missed shots, finishing 2:14 behind.
Vasek, an 18 yr old from Grand Rapids, was skiing in the Senior Men’s category, normally for those 21 yrs of age and up.
In the Women’s 12.5 km race, Chloe Levins, moved up to 1st, missing 3 shots and finishing in 36:43. Maddie Phaneuf, also with 3 misses, finished 2nd 10.1 sec behind, and Joanne Reid, missing 6 shots, was 3rd 1:10 behind. Siena Ellingson, Mt Itasca/ National Guard Biathlon, was 4th, missing 4 shots, finishing 2:11 behind Chloe.
The last race of the Trials will be a Sprint on Tues, after which the USBA International Competition Committee will examine the results and announce the team nominations.