Before the US men’s biathlon team finishes its five week training camp over in Europe, there’s still some serious training to do. At the weekend Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Jay Hakkinen and Jeremy Teela will start at the World Championship in summer biathlon.
While lot’s of the world’s top biathletes will be missing in Oberhof, there are still plenty of competitors to make the races interesting. Among them the strong Germans like Michael Greis, Michael Roesch or Christoph Stephan. Also the Russians, Slovenians or the Czech team are set to start with some of their best athletes.
Though most of them see it as just another training competition, Jay Hakkinen just shrugs: “World Champs are World Champs. Gotta do well in it anyway!” Still, for the US team it will be more or less an opportunity to see where they stand and how the training the last weeks went. In an Olympic season their just can’t be yet another highlight.
“Basically now we just do normal endurance and shooting training. Over the spring and summer we worked a lot on the shooting technique and changed quite a lot”, explains headcoach Per Nilsson. “But now it’s time for them to just shoot. No thinking anymore, no big chances in the technique anymore. They just have to shoot. And that’s hard enough!”
Right now the team shows a good overall performance. Jeremy Teela often proved to be the fastest in the lane while Lowell Bailey showed one of the best shooting results. “You can’t tell exactly who would be the best here. Tim Burke’s overall performance for example is really good and the others also show strength in various parts. But it chances every day. So I guess they are all in a good shape.”
The only trouble they had was to find a good training spot. Since the WCHs in Oberhof already started with the cross competitions (and a good 10th place for US-competitor Samuel Morse in the sprint) the team wasn’t allowed to train in the biathlon stadium yesterday. After some discussions they managed to get permission to use the army-owned range just a few hundred meters away from the main stadium. Although it was just a small shooting range, it was perfect to meet the needs of the team. “There’s a good and tough rollerski course connected to it and for the shooting we had the privacy that we wanted.” The only thing that really made Nilsson laugh: “That’s typically German. Instead of writing ‘Length of the course: 2,5k’ they wrote something like: ‘2,435k’ on every single track they had. I have to take a picture of that and show them back home in Sweden how they do it here in Germany!”
Maybe he won’t have time for that after all. Today the team will relocate the training in the main stadium. The first competition will follow on Saturday. Till then they also planned some ski testing in the newly opened ski hall.