By Gary R. Blockus | Dec. 16, 2017, 5:54 p.m. (ET)

 

Clare Egan’s transition from NCAA Division III track and field All-American to U.S. Olympic qualifier is now complete.

But it won’t be in track and field that she’ll be making her Olympic debut. She’s swapped her running shoes for skis.

Egan, 30, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, qualified for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 as a biathlete with a 35th-place finish in the 10-kilometer pursuit at the IBU World Cup 2 event in Hochfilzen, Austria earlier this month.

Egan fought off bad weather conditions with low visibility in Hochfilzen on Dec. 8, with only two penalties during an event where only eight of the 102 finishers shot clean. She was just 1:56.1 off the winning time of three-time Olympic gold medalist Darya Domracheva of Belarus.

Up to two women would join Susan Dunklee on the team by the end of the third world cup, which concludes this weekend, with top-30 finishes. Egan missed automatically qualifying that way, but qualified as the highest-placing member of Team USA.

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Like many U.S. biathletes, she came late to the sport, converting from cross-country skiing in 2013 after she met future U.S. Olympians Hannah Dreissigacker and Dunklee at the Craftsbury Outdoor Training Center in Vermont.

They encouraged her to give biathlon a shot. Three more women will join Dunklee and Egan on the team by mid-January.

Egan’s athletic career started with running. She won Maine high school state titles in track and field, and had top-20 finishes in Junior Olympic cross country skiing events before attending Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she earned NCAA Division III track and field All-American honors with a sixth-place finish in the 1,500-meter. She also started the first ski team at Wellesley.

Cross-country skiing was a fun sideline activity for Egan, until she used her final year of NCAA eligibility for track and skiing while doing graduate work at the University of New Hampshire.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.