Ostersund, Sweden, February 11.Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) and Laura Spector (Lenox, MA) will make their World Championships debut in the Mixed Relay competition on today.
The two Maine Winter Sports Center athletes competed in the Youth/Junior Biathlon World Championships two weeks ago in Ruhpolding, Germany. Currier finished 15th in both the Junior Sprint and Individual competitions there, while Spector was 20th in the Junior Women’s Sprint. They are the first junior level athletes competing in the senior Championships for the US since Jay Hakkinen in 1997.
The Mixed Relay will be an all MWSC affair for the US as two alumni fill the other spots on the relay team. Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO) who trained in Fort Kent prior to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games complete the US Mixed Relay Team. This will be only the second time that the US has started this competition in the four times it has been a Championship event. Illness sidelined the US in 2005 and 2007, with the US finishing 18th out of 26 teams at Pokljuka in 2006.
The Mixed Relay, starting at 14:15 tomorrow (8 AM EST) should an exciting competition. Sweden is the defending champion and the medal-starved World Championships’ hosts would love to give their fans a victory. Nevertheless, Germany is bringing out the “big guns” with Olympic Champion Mikael Greis and 3-time World Champion Magdalena Neuner on their team. Both Russia, which has been strong in every competition so far, and Norway will challenge the German and Swedish teams.
In addition to starting in the Mixed Relay, Currier and Spector will also start in the Individual competitions, held in the evening. These will be the first-ever evening competitions at the Biathlon World Championships. The Ostersund Organizing Committee installed a completely new lighting system for both the stadium and the tracks to make these evening competitions possible. With the new lights, there is no need for supplemental lighting for television or the competitors.
The Women’s 15K starts at 17:15 CET (11 AM EST) on Wednesday, with the Men’s 20K on Thursday at the same time.
Live streaming video coverage of the Biathlon World Championships as well as Biathlon World Cup competitions for the remainder of the season, and archived highlights, are available by clicking the athlete photo at the top of the news column at www.usbiathlon.org.