U.S. Biathlon and Biathlon Canada have released dates for national and continental biathlon competitions for the winter 2020-2021 season. Event types listed on the calendar include:
national-level events (scheduled respectively by Biathlon Canada and U.S. Biathlon)
continental events (co-scheduled by Biathlon Canada/U.S. Biathlon)
Download the PDF version of the calendar, or go to the Events page to view events individually. Invitations and details about registration will be added continuously throughout the summer as they are made available, if not already available.
North American Biathlon Competition Calendar 2020-2021*:
Continental Racing - USA/CAN
North American Western Open: Canmore AB December 5-6, 2020
North American Eastern Open: Jericho VT February 13-14, 2021
National Racing - USA
U.S. Winter IBU Cup Trials: Eastern USA - TBA December 17-20, 2020 (tentative)
U.S. Youth/Junior Team Trials: Anchorage AK December 27-31, 2020
U.S. National Championships: West Yellowstone MT March 24-28, 2021
National Racing - Canada
Canadian Tour 1 Trials: Canmore AB Week of Nov. 2 (tentative)
Canadian Jr/Yth Trials: Western Canada - TBA Approx. Dec 30-Jan 9
Canadian Championships: Valcartier QC Mar 22-28, 2021
National-level cross country skiing to highlight:
U.S. Ski Cross Country Nationals: Houghton, MI January 2021
Nordiq Canada WJr/U23 & Sr Trials: Whistler BC Jan 7-10, 2021
Canadian Ski Nationals: Gatineau QC Mar 14-20, 2021
Many of the races formerly scheduled as NorAms, or “North American Cups,” will now be organized as part of “Regional Cup” biathlon racing circuits, which are currently being scheduled and coordinated by regional organizers and leaders. A calendar with Regional Cup schedules will be updated by September 2020.
The calendar also highlights dates for major cross-country skiing championships in both nations. Both Biathlon Canada and U.S. Biathlon strongly encourage its competitive members to participate in both sports as needed to promote their development in the sport.
More background information about the North American Opens and Regional Cup plan for this season is available below, including a short video explanation of this year's updates.
*Please note that this calendar may change as our leadership and local biathlon clubs weigh considerations on how to safely host outdoor events in light of continuously developing COVID-19 public health considerations and state guidelines.
An overview of updates to 2020-2021 winter biathlon racing season in North America
U.S. Biathlon and Biathlon Canada are piloting new race naming conventions and scheduling formats for continental biathlon racing this year. The North American Cup, or “NorAm” as it is better known, will now fall under two different racing tiers this season: “North American Opens” and “Regional Cup” biathlon circuits.
“In practical terms, we’re going to see the same types of racing occur,” explains Danika Frisbie, Sport Program Manager at U.S. Biathlon. “We’re just setting up an organizational structure that will allow us to eventually build more incentives around regional biathlon competition and a handful of season highlight races in order to create more competitive fields and better serve athletes’ development in the sport.”
Formerly, the NorAm consisted of 7-9 races across the continental U.S. and Canada, with a total points list based on participation at each race. The circuit was designed to provide a racing alternative for elite athletes not selected to European racing teams. Over time, the practicality and competitive incentive to be able to travel to all of these races became increasingly unrealistic or and less valuable for gathering strong field sizes, especially for the non-senior athletes which comprise the majority of the NorAm competitive fields to this day.
In the new structure, the former NorAm races will mostly belong to regional circuits (“Regional Cups”), and two will be designated as “North American Biathlon Opens.” The Regional Cups are being scheduled by local race organizers and coordinators with a better sense of major regional competition calendaring needs, and will guarantee opportunities for youth race categories. The North American Opens will be focused on traditional IBU competition categories with prize money for junior and senior fields, to guarantee key competition opportunities for elite biathletes across age categories. Combined with SuperTour racing, JNQs, trials events, and National Championships, both race types should integrate into a quality race calendar for emerging youth athletes, and junior, senior, and elite masters level racers alike.
“In a nutshell, the NorAm circuit as it was designed is simply not serving us anymore. It’s unfocused. Athletes are motivated when there are clear competition opportunities, an organized system to test yourself and move up throughout your development. This is an effort to organize that system,” explains Frisbie.
The idea, as explained in this overview video, is that by focusing competition scheduling regionally, biathletes will have more incentive to race a series with meaningful results, and will have fewer instances where they need to choose between significant cross-country qualifiers or ski marathons and competitive biathlon races in their region.
Removing the burdensome process of scheduling a race calendar on a continental scale, which wasn’t practical for the majority of racers, will give regions the opportunity to schedule around the events they know are important to skiers and shared culture around those events.
Regional Coordinators are working with regional cross-country ski organizers and Canadian partners to round out a quality biathlon race calendar with these goals in mind for the 2020-2021 season. There are four American biathlon regions: East, Midwest, West, and Alaska.
As a first-go for this year, we are experimenting with the following North American biathlon regions to think about regional cup scheduling:
Atlantic Cup (PEI, Nova Scotia)
Eastern Cup (QC, ON, ME, NH, VT, NY, MA, etc.)
Midwest Cup (MN, WI, MI, etc.)
American West (ID, MT, UT, CO, WY, CA, WA, OR)
Canadian West (AB, BC, Saskatchewan)
Great Northern Cup (Alaska, Yukon)
For this calendar year, the Opens are located at classic venues that have historically drawn out the largest competitive fields: the season opener in Canmore, Alberta (December 5-6, 2020) and a mid-season race Jericho, Vermont (February 13-14, 2021).
Biathlon Canada and U.S. Biathlon will focus on providing more value to its championship and trials events, supporting the North American Opens with a prize purse for junior and senior athletes, and working to support regions with their competition programs.
Link to video overview: https://vimeo.com/user118652157/review/434456004/5f005ad243
Link to 2020 Coaching Seminar presentation slides explaining proposed competition organization: "Rethinking domestic biathlon competition in North America.pdf"