NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine – On the eve of the start of the 2013-14 season, US Biathlon is pleased to announce that Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) and Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT) are the first three biathlon athletes nominated to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team.
Up to two male and two female biathletes were eligible to earn early nominations to the Olympic Team during the 2012-13 season by gaining two top-15 finishes in World Cup or World Championship competition, or by having a top-30 overall World Cup ranking. At lease one woman and one man will be nominated following the December World Cups, which conclude on Dec 17th. The remaining selections for the 2014 U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team will be made in January 2014. All nominations are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
Burke wrapped the 2012-13 IBU World Cup season with six IBU World Cup top-five finishes and is ranked No. 10 overall. The two-time Olympian (2006, 2010) is a likely contender for Team USA’s first Olympic medal in biathlon after winning silver in the 20-kilometer individual event at the world championships on Feb. 14. The finish marked his first-career world championships medal and the first for a U.S. biathlete in 26 years.
"It feels great to meet the early qualification standard for the Sochi team," said Burke. "This allows me to focus all of energy on being my best at the Olympics and not worry about qualifying for the team. I look forward to a great season ahead. I will do everything possible to be at my best for Sochi."
With five top-10 IBU World Cup finishes, Bailey is ranked 28th in 2012-13 overall standings. Also a two-time Olympian (2006, 2010), Bailey looks forward to his third trip to the Games in 2014. "After competing in Sochi at the pre-Olympic world cups in March, I feel prepared and excited for the coming Games," said Bailey. "Without the added stress of qualifying, I now can focus solely on the goal of an Olympic medal."
In her inaugural senior World Cup season in 2011-12, Dunklee placed 5th, a historic highest-ever finish for a U.S. female biathlete, in the women's 15k individual event at the 2012 IBU World Championships. Dunklee notched three top-15 finishes in 2012-13, highlighted with a 7th place finish in the 15k individual in Sochi at World Cup 8. " As the daughter of a two-time Olympian (Stan Dunklee,1976, 1980 Cross Country Skiing), I have been dreaming of the Olympics for a long time. Last winter our team previewed the Sochi venue and we had some great results; we embraced the course as "our course." I have been told that I will encounter new challenges in the coming year, unique to the Olympics. I have been working with our staff to anticipate and prepare for these challenges."
"Looking back on last season it's hard to call it anything but historic. From Paralympic Biathlon World Cup podiums by Dan Cnossen and Andy Soule to Sean Doherty's terrific gold and two silver medals at the Youth (U 19) World Championships to Tim Burke's amazing silver medal winning performance at the World Championships this was the best season ever for the US Biathlon Team," said US Biathlon CEO Max Cobb. "For the first time since the Olympic quota system was introduced, the women's team earned the right to bring five athletes to the Games in Sochi, the same as the men's team. The men finished top-10 in the IBU Nations Cup assuring five starts in World Cup events for the coming season and the women will have four. Tim Burke is ranked third in the Individual World Cup score and tenth in the overall World Cup score. And we also saw that we can fight for a medal in the Olympic debut of the Mixed Relay competition. I could not be happier that Susan Dunklee, Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke have met the early nomination criteria for the United States Olympic Committee to be named to the team for Sochi. ”
Team USA Opens IBU World Cup Season on Sunday With Mixed Relay in Ostersund
Opening Day Race for the 2013-14 World Cup season is Sunday November 24th at 9:30 AM in Ostersund, Sweden. Team USA will start the season with the 2x6+2x7.5-kilometer mixed relay, featuring two women and two men on the team. The event will be webcast live here, and results from the mixed relay can be found here.
“Our athletes came through the summer without any major sickness or injury issues, so we are very confident looking towards this upcoming season,” said US Biathlon High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler. “Of course Sochi is the highlight of that season, but we are not believing in solely peaking for those two weeks of the year, but instead we want to have a high constant level throughout the whole season. We’ll start that effort with Sunday’s mixed relay. The mixed realy is an event where we really see great potential and chances for our team, so even if its the first " real" race of the season, we are putting full focus on that one and all athletes and the staff are looking forward to start the season.”
"The athletes and the whole High Performance Staff did a great job throughout the summer and the fall and the team camaraderie and cohesion has never been better," said Cobb. "I am looking forward very much to the start of another exciting season."
The athletes in the mix for the mixed relay include Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY), Dunklee, Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) on the women’s side and Bailey, Burke and Leif Nordgren (Marine, MN) on the men’s side. The team is healthy, ready and eager to go. The coaching staff will make the final decision about who is starting on Saturday.
Team USA’s World Cup roster will be filled next week following the IBU Cup races in Idre, SWE November 22-24th. Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO), Hannah Dreissigacker (Morrisville, VT), Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), Sean Doherty (Center Conway, VT) and Jeremy Teela (Heber City, UT) will compete for the remaining spots – one for women, two for men - on the World Cup team. Results from Idre’s IBU Cup will be available here.