U.S. Biathlon Summer National Championships Returns to Jericho
by Sara Studebaker-Hall
Jericho, Vermont - After a one-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. biathletes were back in action at the Ethan Allen Firing Range August 7-8. With on-base housing still not available and border restrictions keeping our northern neighbors from joining the action, the typical camp atmosphere wasn’t quite as pronounced. However, the athletes in attendance all enjoyed being back together again for a set of high level races.
Most teams arrived on Thursday, and by official training on Friday the range was busy in preparation for the weekend of racing. The races were the first round of International Team selection, which will conclude at the Schutzenski Festival in Utah this October. The races also capped off the second Junior National Team camp of the season, allowing the top Junior athletes to compete alongside senior athletes on the matched fleet of Marwe rollerskis courtesy of FinnSisu.
Per normal Jericho conditions, Saturday was hot and humid despite the 9am race start time. All competitors raced the Sprint discipline on Saturday, with distances ranging from 10km for men to 4.2km for the youngest athletes. In the senior races, National Guard Biathlon’s Sean Doherty (Center Conway, NH) and USBA’s Clare Egan (Cape Elizabeth, ME) took home wins, with Sean shooting clean to win by 51 seconds over National Guard teammate Leif Nordgren (Hinesburg, VT) and Team Crosscut’s Paul Schommer (Appleton, WI). On the women’s side, National Guard Biathlon’s Deedra Irwin (Pulaski, WI) took the silver medal by one second over Craftsbury Green Racing Project’s Susan Dunklee (Craftsbury, VT).
On the junior side, National Guard Biathlon’s Maxime Germain (Anchorage, AK) returned to competition with only one penalty and the win over Crosscut’s Vincent Bonacci (Salt Lake City, UT) and Craftsbury’s Bjorn Westervelt (Stowe, VT), while Minnesota Biathlon’s Cheresa Bouley held off National Guard Biathlon’s Lina Farra and Crosscut’s Helen Wilson (Anchorage, AK), all of whom had two penalties on the day. In the Youth category, Altius’ Thor Sheppard took the win over Team SoHo teammates Wes Campbell (Park City, UT) and Theo Castonguay, while Minnesota Biathlon took the top two spots in the Youth Women’s field led by Alexandra Rud and Saylor Landrum ahead of Mansfield Nordic’s Mackenzie Greenberg. Tabor Greenberg from GMVS took the U17 boys win while local EABC athlete Brady Morigeau took the U15 boys class. Amelia Circosta from Craftsbury took the U17 girls class win and another local, EABC’s Kate Carlson won in the U15 girls category. In the master’s age classes, Vermont National Guard’s Brian Letourneau, Saratoga Biathlon’s Joseph Iwan, and local EABC athlete Pavel Dvorak took home gold medals.
Sunday saw more of the same hot and humid weather thanks to overnight rain storms. The National Guard and course volunteers did a great job clearing the water off low points and the range crew made sure everything was dry on the firing line ahead of zero. The senior categories started the day with Mass Start competitions. The women were up first, and despite a slight delay due to rifle malfunction from Susan Dunklee, she and Clare Egan led the race from the beginning. The final shooting was crucial, with both entering the range together. Two mistakes from Dunklee and clean shooting from Egan gave Clare the win for the day and impressive 28/30 shooting on the weekend. Craftsbury Green Racing Project’s Kelsey Dickinson (Winthrop, WA) rounded out the top three. Excitement was also high on the men’s side, though Paul Schommer paired excellent shooting with solid skiing to establish an early lead and never looked back. Clean shooting on the final stage and 18/20 on the day locked in first place for Schommer. The battle for second and third between Sean Doherty and Leif Nordgren was on, though. Another clean stage from Doherty cemented his silver medal, with Nordgren following in third.
All other categories raced a normalized “American style” pursuit on Sunday, with 5 second start intervals decided by your place in the Sprint, but results based on overall time rather than finish order like normal pursuit format competitions. In the Junior women, Team Crosscut had a podium sweep with Helen Wilson taking the win ahead of teammates Emma Stertz and Lexie Madigan (Truckee, CA). On the Junior men’s side, Bjorn Westervelt took the title over former EABC local and current Team Crosscut’s Tim Cobb in second and Mount Itasca’s Sam Stertz (Grand Rapids, MN) in third. The Youth podiums looked much the same from Saturday, with Alexandra Rud again beating out Saylor Landrum and Mackenzie Greenberg on the women’s side and Thor Sheppard again taking the top spot in the Youth men, beating out Theo Castonguay and Wes Campbell. Amelia Circosta capitalized on good shooting to again take the U17 girls win, while Fort Kent Outdoor Center’s Rowan Tanguay took home gold in the U15 girls race. Tabor Greenberg took the top spot again on Sunday in the U17 boys, while Methow Valley Biathlon’s Aidan Sands took the win for the U15 boys. Brian Letourneau, Saratoga Biathlon’s Chritian Otto and Pavel Dvorak all took home age class win’s for the Masters men’s categories.
Thanks to all the awesome volunteers at Ethan Allen Biathlon Club and Craftsbury Outdoor Center for helping make this event happen, and the National Guard for making this event possible. Congrats to all the competitors - we look forward to having our whole community together again at winter National Championships in Lake Placid, NY in March!
(Cover Photo by Reese Brown- Susan Dunklee on the range at Summer Nationals)
Full Results can be downloaded here:
(L-R: Kelsey Dickinson, Clare Egan, Susan Dunklee)