Whistler BC, Canada, March 30. The US won the 3 X 6K Mixed Relay competitions in both the Open and Junior categories today by putting together teams with three of the best athletes from both the World Cup and National Junior Team in the final competition at the Canadian National Championships.
The team of Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY), and Jeremy Teela (Anchorage, AK) were the overall winners in a time of 48:53. With 26 teams (Open and Junior) at the start on a beautiful spring day, Burke led off for the US. He cleaned prone and came to standing in first position. Four quick shots and four targets down. He commented, “I have not cleaned all year and when I hit the first four shots in standing, I thought…” He trailed off, knowing that it took three spares to drop the final target to clean. Nevertheless, he tagged to Johnson just a few seconds behind the Canadian Team.
Johnson used one spare in both prone and standing to clean, keeping the US even with the Canadians. She was matched against a man, so slipped back about 20 seconds over the 2K loop before the tag to Jeremy Teela, now matched against a female member of the Canadian squad. “I could not believe how fast I caught her. I do not usually race against women!” Over the short 2K Loop, Teela opened a big margin, and stretched it out even more with five-for-five prone shooting. Today, Teela needed all the territory he could muster, as he shot eight times in standing, but only dropped two targets. Three penalty loops later, he left the stadium just behind Jean Philippe Leguellec (QC). Everyone speculated that Teela would have a big sprint in the stadium, but he surprised everyone. “I knew I had faster skis, so I passed him on the downhill before the stadium, (giving the US a clear cut win).
The team from Quebec finished second in 49:01.7, while the US Team of Walt Shepard (Brunswick, ME), Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID), and Jesse Downs (Jericho, VT) took third. Shepard again shot clean today, giving him the best shooting percentage among US athletes here, while Downs nipped a Canadian team with a lunge at the finish to take third overall in 49:34.7. The team of Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) BethAnn Chamberlain (Fort Kent, ME), and Duncan Douglas (Honeoye Falls, NY) finished sixth in 53:02, with Sam Morse, Hilary McNamee (Fort Fairfield, ME) and Zach Hall (Nikiski, AK) was eighth in 56:55.7.
The Junior Team of Leif Nordgren (Marine-on-St. Croix, MN), Laura Spector (Lenox, MA), and Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN) took a similar route to the World Cup Team to the victory. Nordgren needed only one spare round in standing to clean, putting the US Junior Team in second position to Alberta at the tag to Spector. Spector shot clean with spare rounds in both prone and standing, but skied away from the Canadians by the tag to Roberts. Like his counterpart Teela, Roberts shot clean in prone and picked up penalties in standing (two). He skied a fast last 2K to take the Junior title in 51:48 to 52:20.9 over Alberta.
The Mixed Relay concluded both the Canadian Championships and the season for the US Biathlon Team. Tim Burke summed it up as he left the stadium, “I am going home for a few days, then a week or so of vacation in the Florida Keys to relax and get ready for the first camp of the new year in about 3 weeks. Actually, I feel very good and cannot wait to start training for next year.”