The chaotic World Champs in Asia are history, now the US Biathlon team is looking forward to the next stop on the tour – probably the most important this year. It is the Pre-Olympic World Cup test event coming up next week on the biathlon course at Whistler Olympic Park.
While other nations already arrived on the Vancouver 2010 venue to get used to the time difference the U.S. team at least does not have to deal with those problems during the upcoming competitions. Not having to worry about jet-lag or day-long travels allows the team members to fully focus on the performance side of the Vancouver World Cup. “We expect to carry on with the good results from the World Champs. That means we at least want to have one of the men within the Top-10 in an individual competition. Top-8 is the goal for the mens relay and Top-15 a must for the womens relay”, explains High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler.
Hakkinen back with the team
Due to a long period of sickness, Jay Hakkinen was not able to race in Korea but according to Eisenbichler he will be in good shape for the World Cup in Canada. “Of course we have to see how he really is but he has the opportunity to race in the mass starts in Trondheim and Khanty-Mansiysk and that must be his goal!” Hakkinen himself was of course frustrated after his departure from Korea but he found his own way to deal with it: “Getting away from the World Champs atmosphere was helping me get re-focused on my training, and not to dwell on the disappointment of not being able to race at the seasons main event.”
Burke and Bailey gain new motivation in Lake Placid
Lowell Bailey logged his best World Championships ever in Korea and Bernd Eisenbichler is sure that we have not seen the last good results from Bailey this season: "He is eager for Vancouver. The track suits him and his form is just as good as in Pyeongchang.” After returning from Korea, Bailey trained back home in Lake Placid and gained new motivation from being around friends and family during the middle of the season. “After this week, I am hoping to carry the momentum from Korea forward through the last three world cups to have a strong finish to my season.” The same counts for Tim Burke who came back to Lake Placid for the first time since Christmas and was quite happy to be able to “catch up with family and friends and to sleep in my own bed”. After few days of recovering from the long travel he got right back into his full training schedule. “Training has gone very well and I am looking forward to racing in Vancouver. The Vancouver course suits my style perfectly, so I have high expectations for a top result there”, states Burke five days before the first races in Canada.
World Cup Premier for Roberts and Studebaker
Besides the usual team members, the coaches will also welcome two newcomers in Canada: Wynn Roberts and Sara Studebaker will join the team on the Olympic courses. Both are highly motivated for their first World Cup races – especially since they will take place on the tracks of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. “I am really excited to get the opportunity to race with the top biathletes in the world. The best way to really move to the next level with your training and racing is a large serving of humble pie, and this should be a pretty good piece. This is an opportunity that many athletes would love to have and I am just excited that I will be able to represent the United States at next years Olympic site”, states Wynn Roberts who proved to be the best U.S. junior at the World junior Champs in Canmore.
Studebaker also gains extra motivation from the fact that she will be competing at the 2010 Olympic venue: “Racing my first World Cup on the 2010 Olympic courses makes this opportunity that much more exciting for me.” Yet, she is also wise enough to not put too much pressure on herself: “In terms of expectations, I am trying to look at this as just another race - I want to go out there and put my best race together and see what happens.”
If you also want to see what happens in Whistler you can watch the World Cup live here: Click the WATCH US LIVE ON THE WEB link above the news box at www.USBiathlon.org. The first race will start on March 11th at 1:15p.m. EST.
US Team for Vancouver:
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY), Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME), Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK), Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN) and Jeremy Teela (Heber, UT)
Lanny and Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO), Haley Johnson (Lake Placid, NY), Laura Spector (Lenox, MA) and Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID)