Amanda Kautzer competes at the IBU World Cup in Antholz, Italy (photo by Nordic Focus)
Twelve American biathletes will take to the tracks in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, for the IBU Open European Championships beginning Wednesday, Jan. 25 and running through Sunday, Jan. 29.
For athletes like Vincent Bonacci (Salt Lake City, Utah/Crosscut Mountain Sports Center Elite Team & USABA) and Amanda Kautzer (Plymouth, Minn./Crosscut Mountain Sports Center Elite Team), they will look to use their recent foray into the IBU World Cup circuit as a springboard to success in Lenzerheide.
“After the World Cup in Antholz I have been slowly getting ready to race again, and I’m looking forward to a full week of competition here at the Open European Championships,” said Bonacci, who made his World Cup debut in the Antholz sprint. “The tracks here are great skiing but at race pace will definitely be incredibly challenging, but it is fun to be nestled up in the mountains and have nice snow and weather for a set of races.”
Added Kautzer, who also got her first taste of World Cup competition in Antholz: “It was definitely exciting. The biggest takeaway going into Euro Champs is that there is much less pressure on this event now compared to a World Cup. At the end of the day, it's just more biathlon races, and the fact that it's a championship doesn't change anything about how the racing works or how I need to approach the race to have success.:
For others such as Margie Freed (Apple Valley, Minn./Craftsbury Green Racing Project) and Luke Brown (St. Paul, Minn./Craftsbury Green Racing Project), this will be the first international race of the season, and in Freed’s case, the first of her career.
“I’m excited for my first international biathlon race,” said Freed, who will be competing in just her third biathlon race ever. “I’m coming off of the SuperTour ski circuit which has me feeling confident about my skiing speed. Though I haven’t shot as much as my U.S. teammates, I’ve been taking in all the information and tips from them. My plan is to follow the process I know.”
Bonacci and Brown will be joined on the men’s team by Maxime Germain (Chamonix-Mont Blanc, FRA/National Guard Biathlon), Vaclav Cervenka (Grand Rapids, Minn./National Guard Biathlon), Eli Nielsen (Stehekin, Wash./National Guard Biathlon) and Tim Cunningham (Georges Mills, N.H./NYSEF).
“I'm really excited to join the IBU Cup crew that has been competing so well already this year,” Brown stated. “I had a good preparation period back in Craftsbury and the pre-camp in Obertilliach was a good mix of fun and quality training. It's nice to be back to a venue I'm familiar with and enjoy. The courses have lots of climbing and as an added bonus are surrounded by beautiful mountains.”
Competing with Kautzer and Freed in the women’s events will be Kelsey Dickinson (Winthrop, Wash./Craftsbury Green Racing Project), Tara Geraghty-Moats (West Fairlee, Vt./Craftsbury Green Racing Project), Jackie Garso (Lake Clear, N.Y./Craftsbury Green Racing Project) and Grace Castonguay (Jackson, N.H./Team Soldier Hollow).
The competition schedule in Lenzerheide includes individual, sprint, pursuit and mixed relay races.
IBU Open European Championships – Lenzerheide, Switzerland (all times EST)
Wednesday, Jan. 25
4:15 am – Women’s 15km individual
8:00 am – Men’s 20km individual
Friday, Jan. 27
4:30 am – Women’s 7.5km sprint
8:00 am – Men’s 10km sprint
Saturday, Jan. 28
4:30 am – Women’s 10km pursuit
7:30 am – Men’s 12.5km pursuit
Sunday, Jan. 29
4:30 am – Mixed relay (W&M)
7:30 am – Single mixed relay (W&M)