The International Competition Committee of the US Biathlon Association has approved the nomination of Jesse Downs (Jericho, VT) and Bill Bowler (Wausau, WI) to the National “B” Team.
Traditionally, athletes have been named to the National A, B, or Development Teams at the conclusion of the winter season. This year the national team staff wanted to leave 1-2 spots for those athletes that showed great improvements over the spring and summer. The North American Rollerski Biathlon Championships were held this past weekend at Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vermont. The results of these races were one of the most important factors for the “B” team nominations. Jesse and Bill were ranked 3 and 4 respectively in the overall percent back rankings (see below) finishing close behind”A” team athletes, Lowell Bailey and Russell Currier, and ahead of other “B” Team athletes.
No women were promoted to the “B” team. This was primarily due to the fact that the “B” team women dominated the races at Jericho this weekend. Results are posted at www.biathlon.teamusa.org.
Bernd Eisenbichler, the National High Performance Director was happy to see Jesse’s and Bill’s results, “Late summer team nominations are a new thing for the USBA. This is a way for athletes to show significant improvements in skiing and shooting over the spring and summer and can still be recognized and rewarded before the snow flies.” By qualifying for the “B” team, Jesse and Bill will have additional support at fall and early winter training camps.
Jesse Downs, 31, started his biathlon training at the US Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University, after competing for several years on the Wildcats cross country ski team. He is currently a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), and trains with National Guard Bureau coach Sarah Lehto. Jesse has had to overcome a number of serious health issues over the last 5 years to bring himself back to high level of fitness.
Bill Bowler has been a member of the US Development team and resident athlete at the US Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY since the summer of 2008, training with coach James Upham. He graduated from Northern Michigan in 2008 with a degree in Economics. Bill is one of the youngest members of the national team, having just turned 23 on Aug 7th. Like Jesse Downs, he competed on the NMU Wildcats cross country ski team through out his college career. Having only trained seriously for biathlon for 15 months, Bill has made rapid progress in combining his ski speed and shooting.
The next major event for US Biathletes will be in mid- October in Soldier Hollow. These races will be one of the main factors in selecting a 5th man to the Men’s December World Cup Team. The women’s races will be October 12th and 15th and the men’s races will be October 19th and 22nd. Like the North American Championships, the Soldier Hollow races will be done on matched rollerskis, so rollerski speed will not be a factor.