Biathlon Preview
The U.S. Biathlon Team will look to ride the wave of its history-making performance at last year’s world championships and capture its first-ever Olympic medal at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The U.S. team boasts a wealth of experience with six returning Olympians, including all five members of the Sochi 2014 men’s squad.

Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, New York) and Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, New York) will compete in their fourth Olympic Games and hope to utilize their experience to reach the podium in the men’s events. On the women’s side, Susan Dunklee (Barton, Vermont) has steadily improved since Sochi 2014 to become a legitimate threat to medal in PyeongChang.

Prior to 2017, U.S. men had won only two individual world championship biathlon medals — silvers in 1987 and 2013 — but Bailey inked his name in the record book by winning the country’s first gold medal in the 20-kilometer individual race. He finished the season ranked a career-best eighth in the world cup total score. The first U.S. athlete to qualify for PyeongChang 2018, Bailey hopes to become the first American biathlete to medal at the Games.

Burke placed 19th in the men’s 10K sprint in Sochi, finishing one place shy of his career-best Olympic finish of 18th place in the 15K mass start event in Vancouver 2010. After securing a pair of sixth-place finishes in sprint and pursuit at the world cup final in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, he ended the 2015-16 season ranked 15th in the final world cup standings, marking his best ranking since capping the 2012-13 season at No. 10.

No American woman had ever won an individual medal at the world championships before 2017, but Dunklee changed that with her silver medal in the 12.5K mass start. Dunklee finished 11th in women’s 12.5K mass start at her Olympic debut in Sochi. Since then, she has consistently improved her technique and advanced steadily up the world cup rankings. After earning top-20 overall rankings in 2014-15 (No. 17) and 2015-16 (No. 14), she finished the 2016-17 season 10th in the world cup rankings, a career best.

Storylines

  • The U.S. will be looking to win its first-ever Olympic medal in biathlon in PyeongChang. Team USA’s top finish from Sochi 2014 came from Lowell Bailey, who finished eighth in the men’s 20K.

  • Not long before the moment he appeared at the start line of his historic win at the 2017 IBU World Championships, Lowell Bailey found himself changing the diaper of his 8-month-old daughter, Ophelia, in the parking lot. Bailey was on the brink of retiring before last season, worried about leaving his wife Erika at home with a newborn baby while he traveled the world cup circuit, unwilling to be an absent father for the first seven months of his daughter’s life. He kept competing only because his family was able to travel with him last season.

  • Susan Dunklee, who will celebrate her 32nd birthday on Feb. 13, learned to ski with her family at age 2. However, she did not learn to shoot until she was 22-years old and moved to Lake Placid, New York, to join the U.S. Biathlon development program. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College where she helped her team win an NCAA skiing championship. Her father, Stan Dunklee, competed at the 1976 and 1980 Games as a cross-country skier.

  • First-time Olympian Joanne Reid, 25, is the daughter of 1980 Olympic speedskating bronze medalist Beth (Heiden) Reid, and the niece of Eric Heiden, a five-time Olympic gold medalist in speedskating. She was an NCAA champion cross-country skier at the University of Colorado Boulder, before taking up biathlon in 2015. Reid has an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics and a graduate degree in engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.

  • In addition to Dunklee and Reid, first-time Olympian Emily Dreissigacker, 29, also has some Olympic genes in her family. Her mother, Judy Geer, rowed in two Olympic Games (1976 and1984), and her father, Dick Dreissigacker, is a five-time U.S. champion and 1972 Olympian. In addition, her older sister Hannah, 31, competed at Sochi 2014, placing 23rd in the 15K individual race. Skiing at the junior nationals level in her youth, Emily would follow in her parents’ footsteps, going on to become a two-time All-American rower for Dartmouth College and twice competing at the U23 Rowing World Championships. She began her biathlon career in 2015.

  • New York natives Lowell Bailey (born in 1981) and Tim Burke (born in 1982) grew up in the afterglow of the Olympic Winter Games Lake Placid 1980. That inspiration has led them to three Olympic appearances apiece.

  • First-time Olympian Clare Egan, 30, graduated in 2010 from Wellesley College, where she competed in cross-country skiing and track and field, while also starting for the Wellesley ski team. She also skied in NCAA competition at the University of New Hampshire while earning her master’s degree in linguistics.

Athletes To Watch

Lowell Bailey
Bailey (Lake Placid, New York) will make his fourth straight Olympic appearance in PyeongChang. Just five days after becoming the first athlete to qualify for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, Bailey became the first American in history to win a biathlon world championship, taking the gold medal in the men’s 20K race on Feb. 16 in Hochfilzen, Austria. He placed eighth in the men’s 20K event in Sochi, marking his top finish in three Olympic Games.

Tim Burke
Burke (Paul Smiths, New York) also qualified for his fourth straight Olympic Games. He finished the 2015-16 season as the top American male at No. 15 in the overall world cup rankings.

Susan Dunklee
Dunklee (Barton, Vermont) became the first U.S. woman to win an individual world medal when she captured silver in the women’s 12.5K mass start race at the IBU Biathlon World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria, on Feb. 19. She finished the 2016-17 season ranked a career-best 10th in the world cup standings.

Qualification

U.S. biathletes have already met the minimum Olympic requirements as set forth by the International Biathlon Union.

Lowell Bailey became the first American to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 with a fourth-place finish in the 10-kilometer sprint at the IBU World Championships in February, nearly one year before the Games begin in South Korea. Just five days after becoming the first athlete to qualify for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team (his fourth), Bailey made history by becoming the first American to win a biathlon world championship, taking the gold medal in the men’s 20-kilometer. 

On the women’s side, Susan Dunklee joined Bailey in qualifying for the Winter Olympics, marking her second Olympic berth. She also turned in a historic performance, giving Team USA its first-ever women’s individual medal at a world championships by taking silver in the women’s 12.5K mass start. 

Click here to view the complete 2018 Olympic qualification procedures for biathlon

Selection

Various international competitions will be used to select the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. Up to two men and two women can qualify during the 2016-17 season, while the remaining selections will be determined through results at international competitions in December 2017 and January 2018.

Click here to view the complete 2018 Olympic selection procedures from U.S. Biathlon.

Editor’s Note: This selection process overview is designed to provide general information only and should not be relied upon by athletes attempting to make the U.S. Olympic Team. The selection process is formally governed by selection procedures published by each National Governing Body. Athletes and other individuals interested in the selection process should contact the appropriate NGB to obtain the full selection procedures, or to seek clarification of the process.

Key Dates

Jan. 15, 2017

U.S. Olympic Team announcement