With just over seven weeks to go until the 2009 IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships, the team that will represent the United States Biathlon Association in the championships has been finalized. Five athletes will represent the country in the running cross portion of the competition, which takes place September 22-23 in Oberhof, Germany.
Stephanie Blackstone of Everett, Pennsylvania will be the only woman on the U.S. roster. Last month she captured her second consecutive National Championship and World Championship Trials title in Lake Placid. Blackstone is undefeated in domestic competition in the last two years. Through six races this season, Blackstone has averaged 40% on the shooting range and has dominated her competition on the running course. This will be Blackstone’s second appearance in the world championships. Last year she finished twelfth in both the sprint and pursuit races in France.
The top four senior men finishers at last month’s world championship trials have all accepted nomination to the team.
Samuel Morse of Camden, New York won last month’s world championship trials and in doing so captured his first National Championship. Through the three trials races last month, he averaged 48% on the range and used a strong run to dominate both the mass start and sprint races at the trials. He posted the fifth fastest time in the pursuit race. This will be his first time representing the United States in the world championships.
Douglas Hoover of Williamsburg, Pennsylvania finished second at the trials. This will be his fifth world championship, as he has competed previously in 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Last year, he finished 19th in the world championship sprint race and a 20th in the pursuit. Through eight races this year, he has averaged 71% on the shooting range and posted wins in four events. His best race finish at the trials was a second place finish in the pursuit, in which he shot 90%.
Danny Fink of Morgantown, West Virginia finished third at the trials last month. He has been a force on the summer biathlon national scene for over a decade as he has represented the United States on six previous world championships teams in 1997-2000, 2005, and 2008. He also qualified for the world championship team in 2001. But, that year the United States withdrew from the world championships as the team was slated to depart days after the September 11 attacks. At last year’s world championship in France he took 24th in the sprint and 21st in the pursuit race. Through four races this year, Fink has averaged 62% on the shooting range. He posted two top-three finishes at last month’s trials, including a second place finish in the sprint race.
Jason Hettenbaugh of Lima, New York qualified for his first world championship team after finishing as the fourth senior man at the trials. Through the three trials races, Hettenbaugh averaged 56% on the range and ran strong. He took fifth in the sprint race and fourth in the pursuit to give him fourth in the final standings. This was Hettenbaugh’s second attempt to qualify for the world championship team, as he previously finished seventh in the 2006 trials.